Today it seems like everyone has a podcast, from professional chefs and fitness enthusiasts to marketing experts and true crime sleuths. In fact, there are over five million podcasts in the world with over 70 million episodes between them.
That’s a lot of potential competition, but with over 90 million weekly podcast listeners in America, it’s pretty much a guarantee that there are listeners out there who are looking for a podcast like yours.
There’s only one catch—they have to hear about it first.
The best way to get more listeners is through podcast promotion. Whether you’re kickstarting your first podcast or refining your existing promotional strategy, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn effective ways to find new listeners and grow your following.
To attract more podcast listeners, you’ll need to follow some general marketing and networking best practices. This can include being active on social media, interacting with forums and Discord servers and getting the most out of your podcast distribution platform. You’ll want to try out a few different tactics and stay consistent with the ones that work best for you.
Publishing your podcast to a single directory—like Apple Podcasts or Spotify—will throttle your reach. While there are a few bigger players in podcasting, you’re leaving listeners on the table if you go all-in on one directory. That’s where using a hosting service like PodBean or Buzzsprout comes into play.
Podcast analytics from Buzzsprout.
Podcast hosting services store your audio files and distribute them to multiple listening apps, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Deezer and iHeartRadio.
Here’s a brief rundown of how it works:
Create an account with a podcast hosting service.
Upload your audio files and enter all the details about your podcast, including artwork.
Sit back and watch your podcast hosting service distribute your show to multiple directories.
It’s as simple as that. Keep in mind, each directory will have a different link to your podcast, so you’ll want to make a Linktree or something similar for your social bios so listeners can easily find the link for where they listen.
Now that you’ve published your podcast everywhere possible, it’s time to make it easy to find for users on each podcasting platform. You need to boost your ranking to increase your podcast’s visibility on platforms like Apple Podcasts. Here’s how earning positive reviews and prioritizing podcast SEO (search engine optimization) will improve your ranking.
Subscriber count, reviews and ratings are key elements of podcast ranking algorithms. The more subscribers and positive reviews you have, the higher you’ll appear in search results when people are looking for a podcast in your niche.
The best way to get subscribers and reviews is by asking nicely. Recommend that listeners subscribe, rate and review once or twice each episode, ideally in the beginning or middle, before they’ve gone to the next episode in their queue. Be sure to gently stress the importance of these actions so that your fans understand that it’s a free way to support the podcast they love—yours.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of tailoring your content to rank higher in search engines like Google. It can also boost your rankings on platforms like Apple Podcasts and YouTube.
Creating SEO-rich content will propel your podcast to the first page of search results. You can optimize your content by crafting episode titles, descriptions and show notes that include popular keywords that your audience is searching for.
Providing podcast transcriptions is another way to benefit from SEO keywords. Just like a high-ranking blog post, a transcription that includes strong keywords will earn more organic traffic from people who are searching on Google.
YouTube has over 2.6 billion users, and it's one of the best social channels for growing your personal brand. As a podcaster, you can gain new listeners by publishing a video version of each episode.
The most effective way to promote your podcast on YouTube is to create an actual video version of your podcast. If you record in-person, set up a camera or two and capture your podcast session. Or, if you record remotely, you can use webcams and use a tool like Zencastr to record both video and audio for your podcast.
If you’re camera shy, you can simply upload your audio with a static image like your logo or create a slideshow with relevant images. You could also use a tool like Descript to easily create a video version of your podcast where the transcript appears on screen.
Make sure the video description lists the need-to-know information about your podcast, including links for social channels, merch and more.
Since before Facebook even allowed business profiles, social media has been an essential tool for promoting everything from household brands to local bands. Nowadays there are dozens of social media sites, which can make social promotion time-consuming.
Instead of dropping an occasional post on every social media platform you can find, go all-in on one or two—ideally the ones your podcast listeners are most likely to spend time on. Younger crowds are big into TikTok, Millennials are still sold on Instagram and older listeners spend their social energy on Facebook.
After you determine which social media channels you want to use, create profiles for your podcast and begin promoting your content on a regular basis. Above all, social media is social so you should engage with your audience whenever the opportunity comes.
Similar to creating YouTube videos of your podcast, sharing short clips on video-focused platforms like TikTok and Instagram will help you earn new fans.
Keep your videos short and sweet for the best podcast promotion results. That’s not hard considering both TikTok and Instagram limit most videos to under three minutes—though we strongly suggest going shorter than that. If you’re planning on posting podcast clips to YouTube Shorts, those have a limit of just one minute, so we recommend trying to keep clips under 60 seconds.
Find the most immediately interesting or entertaining parts of your podcast episode and post them throughout the week. Tools like Descript, which allow you to edit videos with the ease of editing a Word doc, are perfect for finding and creating these clips.
Unlike social media or podcast landing pages on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, your own podcast website is a way for you to have complete control over how your podcast is seen by others. These days, you don’t need any real technical chops to create a website for your podcast—most editors are either drag-and-drop or what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) formatting, both of which are easy to pick up.
A well-designed website can attract a wider audience for your podcast. (Credit: Bowie’s Piano Man Podcast with Mike Garson)
Your website should include links to most recent episodes on major podcast platforms, a dedicated blog post for each one with a transcript and relevant links, as well as merch and an email sign-up form (more on those last two later).
Remember that SEO we talked about earlier? With the help of keywords in titles and transcripts, people may be able to find your podcast and episodes through Google or Bing. That means people who aren’t necessarily looking for podcasts can still find your content. It’s a bit of an investment up front, but it can pay off by making your podcast visible to an even wider audience.
Engaging with your community will help you build strong relationships with potential listeners you can gently promote your podcast to. You may even find other podcasters in the same niche who would love to collaborate with you. Either way, being authentic and nurturing these relationships is a great way to establish a reputable online presence.
Posting clips of your latest episodes on Instagram is a solid start when promoting your podcast, but we challenge you take it a step further by sparking conversations with members of a forum, group or Discord server. Assuming you share your podcast with the right community, your podcast will flourish in no time. Just be sure to get permission before self-promoting in someone else’s group.
It’s not what you know—it’s who you know. Having professional, broadcast-quality sound is only half the battle. You’ll also need to develop strategic partnerships with other podcasters. Whether you team up for a single episode or an entire season, it'll help you establish credibility and advertise your personal brand to new fans.
Some common tactics include:
Exchanging ad space with a podcaster (also known as an ad-swap)
Promoting each other’s podcasts on social media
Co-hosting episodes together
The problem with social media is that you never know if your audience is going to see your posts. With email, you know for a fact that your messages are landing in your fans’ inboxes. Sending a weekly email when a new episode drops is easy, can be free to start and totally automatable.
The first and hardest part is collecting email addresses. Email marketing software like MailChimp and Klaviyo can give you code to embed email capture forms on your website, or you can create a stand-alone page that you add to your Linktree.
You can spend 15 minutes building an email campaign each week or you can automate email deliveries when new episodes drop via your podcast's RSS feed. Most email marketing software providers have automation built in, but you can also use a tool like Zapier instead.
Merch isn’t all about making money—it can also help you build an audience. Selling branded shirts, hats and more to your fans is a powerful promotional tactic that puts your name out there.
Investing in promotional podcast merch doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Our general advice is to make and give away or sell affordable products that make it easy for your fans to show support. You don’t even have to worry about buying in bulk and shipping merch out thanks to dropshippers like Printful that make it easy to build a webstore you can set and forget. As your podcast grows, you can start selling a wider collection of merchandise, tailored to what gets your fans excited.
By distributing your podcast across multiple channels, leveraging video production, applying good SEO practices and selling branded merch, your podcast promotion tactics will show results in no time. To keep listeners engaged after they discover your podcast, you’ll want to ensure your episodes sound great. Check out our podcast equipment checklist for a rundown of everything you need to create a professional-sounding podcast.