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Tips for distributing and promoting your first podcast

 

Welcome back to The Burst’s ‘Podcasting A-Z’ series!

In the first post of the series, I explained best practices for setting up your podcast for success. Next, we’re going to discuss podcast promotion basics that will help you grow your audience and stand out against the crowd. We’ll be touching on:

  • Syndicating your podcast
  • Social media for podcast promotion
  • Creating a podcast website
  • Encouraging listener interaction
  • Obtaining social proof
  • Leveraging your network

Syndication

An important fact about today’s consumer is that they have mad brand loyalty. From toothpaste to potato chips to podcast apps, people like what they like, and it can be challenging to get them to switch things up.

What does this mean in terms of distributing your podcast?

Since it’s difficult to motivate listeners to change their habits, your best bet is to distribute your show widely and have it be everywhere that they are.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard via Audioburst Search

There are the obvious places to post your show, such as Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and Spotify, but there are also many other platforms and podcatchers (apps that play podcasts) to consider. Here are a few to get you started:

Get social

Now that you have published, branded, and submitted your podcast to podcatchers far and wide, it’s time to hit the metaphorical pavement!

Social Media is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your show. Most people are members of at least one social platform, so it’s a great way to reach current listeners as well as a logical place to recruit new ones.

As the two most well-known social media sites around, you’ll likely want to start with Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter, create accounts for both you (the host) and your show. On Facebook, you can begin with a show page.

Post on your show’s Twitter and FB page each time a new episode is released and on Twitter, have your host’s account retweet it. Your episode release posts should include a link to a platform where your followers can listen to the episode (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.) or if you have one, to the show notes section of your website. Even better than either of those, however, is to embed an audio player directly into your social post. Using an embedded player will allow your listeners to check out your new episode without even leaving the site. Also, consider pinning the post containing your most recent episode to the top of your feed for easy access.

The ladies from the parenting podcast One Bad Mother “are doing a great job” with their social media presence. They’re present and accounted for on both Facebook and Twitter:

One Bad Mother / Facebook
One Bad Mother / Twitter

They post on both platforms when episodes are released…

…and on Facebook, they’ve pinned the most recent show:

One Bad Mother / Facebook

Once you have Twitter and Facebook nailed down, you should think about your podcast’s intended audience before deciding where else you should have a social presence. It might be SnapchatPinterest, or in the case of One Bad Mother, Instagram:

One Bad Mother / Instagram

Instagram is an excellent platform to choose if your show is on a topic that would benefit from visuals (cooking, fashion, travel), if you’re selling merchandise, or if the listener demographic you’re attempting to attract are heavy users of the service (ex. Gen Z tends to prefer Instagram and Snapchat over other platforms).

Aside from showcasing any impressive visuals you may have, you can also post audio clips of your episodes like the OBM crew did here:

Other tips for promoting your show on social media:

  • Respond promptly and consistently

You want your followers to feel important and connected to you on a personal level, so be sure to respond to their tweets, comments, and messages right when they come in to encourage engagement.

  • Tag brands and influencers in your posts

Leverage the networks of people with more significant followings. Even one mention, share, or retweet from a big name can create a buzz and project credibility.

  • Use hashtags

Help people find you by effectively using hashtags. There are best practices for every platform, so to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your hashtags, check out this great post by Sprout Social on the topic.

  • Post in groups

There is a Facebook group for just about everything, which means that there is most certainly one for your show topic. There are even entire groups just for podcasters to promote their most recent episodes. Join relevant groups and become part of those communities. While some won’t let you post links, most will allow you to mention your show when you introduce yourself, and some have weekly threads where you can post your most recent episode in the post’s comments.

Even for groups where self-promotion is off the table, getting your name in front of other podcasters can help gain visibility.

Here are a few podcast-related groups to check out:

Have a website

One of the main challenges podcasters face is discoverability. The issue with discovery is two-pronged. On the one hand, podcasts are more in vogue than they’ve ever been. With thousands of shows in existence and new ones being created each day, competing for listeners’ time is a tough job. On the other hand, for the 7 out of 10 Americans familiar with podcasting, there are still 3 Americans who’ve never heard of it.

The best way to help both groups find your show is not just to be part of audio libraries and podcast directories but to also get your brand to surface on the one place where just about every person is: Google.

Being accessible via text-based search is critical, as it is going to get you listeners who may not know what a podcast is, but are interested in what you do.

Say you host a podcast about learning to play the clarinet. People who have a burning desire to pick up a woodwind instrument may not rush to Apple Podcasts to find out what brand of instrument to buy. They will, however, be on Google searching for ‘what brand of clarinet should I buy?’ When they do, that is when they will find the website for your podcast and the show notes for your episode covering just that.

When these prospective clarinetists land on your site, you want to have everything having to do with your podcast aggregated in one place. This will help them locate you on all of the social and podcast platforms you can be found on and let them learn more about you and your content.

An example of a well-done podcast website is the site for the podcast Serial.

Season 1 / Serial

The most successful season of any podcast ever created would probably be Season 1 of Serial. The season covered the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a student at a Baltimore high school. While the story and its audio were captivating, there were a lot of details which were hard to keep track of while just listening to the audio.

Serial used their website to add a visual layer to their storytelling, posting copies of letters, pictures, timelines, and a ‘People Map’ online to give their listeners more information.

S1E1: The Alibi / Serial

Season 1: People Map / Serial

The show has taken different approaches to show artwork and the material posted on their site for each season, but in all cases, it gives listeners someplace to go when they want ‘more.’ They also have a nice menu that tells you where you can find them on the web, and how to listen to their show.

Navigation Menu / Serial

Still not sure what to include on your site? Here are some ideas:

Show notes for each of your episodes that include:

  • Podcast audio (preferably via an embedded player)
  • Episode summaries
  • Episode transcripts
  • Guest bios and contact info (if any)
  • Sponsor information (if any)

An ‘About’ page that includes:

  • General information about the show
  • Host bio

A ‘Contact Us’ section that includes:

  • Links to all of your social pages (FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Either an email address or contact form

While building an attractive website and getting a custom domain may sound expensive and complicated, through the use of platforms like WordPressSquarespace, and Wix, you can get a website up and running quickly, for as little as $5 per month.

Encourage listener interaction

Avoid being a passive host, and instead, encourage listener interaction. Invite your listeners to email you, reach out on social, or give you a call. Ask them to let you know what they’d like to hear on your show, or to share their experiences on a topic you’re going to be covering in an upcoming episode.

The Gimlet podcast Reply All not only invites users to interact with them via email and social; they plan entire episodes around listener interaction.

In episode #139, hosts Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt opened up ‘The Reply All Hotline’ to take calls and help listeners solve their problems, “big and small.”

But call in shows aren’t the only listener-based episodes the show does.

Super Tech Support’ is another listener-based recurring segment on the show. In the segment Alex and PJ invite users to write or call in with their tech problems, then they pick an issue and dedicate an entire episode to resolving it:

In a recent airing of the segment, they tackled the issue of why the podcast 99% Invisible seems to break the stereo systems in Mazda vehicles. It’s a really good episode!

One of the things that make podcasting (and audio in general) so well-liked is the connection that the listener feels with the creator.

Welcome that bond and make an effort to bring your listeners into the fold. An engaged listener is likely to become an evangelist for your brand and recommend you to others. Many people get their podcast recommendations from friends, so get on people’s ‘must listen’ lists!

Seek social proof…ask for reviews

Whether we’re talking podcasts, restaurants, or a blender listing on Amazon, nothing spreads the word faster and encourages adoption more than a 5-star review.

There are many ways to encourage the review of your show; the easiest is to just ask.

This is Love is a podcast all about, well, love. Host Phoebe Judge (of Criminal fame) approaches asking for reviews in a very straightforward way. She inserts a call to action (CTA) seamlessly in the show credits by saying “If you like what we’re doing here with these love stories, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts.”

Simple as that. Take a listen for yourself….the CTA is at 0:42:

Listen to This is Love E12 Credits | Audioburst
Aired on This Is Love: This is love is created by Lawrence spore and me Nadya Wilson is our senior producer audio mixed…
search.audioburst.com

Another approach is to reach out to listeners via your social media channels following your episode drop and ask there. The Mad Scientist Podcast went this route and even included an incentive for leaving a review…a sweet sticker:

Along the lines of bribery, you can also try to get reviews by running contests via your social media channels where leaving a review for your show is part of the entry requirements:

No matter your approach, positive reviews are public-facing proof that you produce quality content that is worth listening to, and you can’t go wrong with that.

Leveraging your network

Once you have your content syndicated, a website up and running, and active social media channels, it’s time to start ramping up your promotional efforts. While the idea of networking may sound extremely overwhelming, the best advice is to start small and focus in on your own network.

Begin with letting your friends and family know about your new project. A great way to do that is to post on your personal social media accounts:

Aside from getting those close to you to download and listen, there’s a good chance that they’ll take the initiative and share with their networks. You can even ask them to:

Once everyone in your immediate circle is in the know, you can start to look at other connections in your life. Do you know anyone in the audio or podcast industry? Other podcasters, perhaps?

Earlier, we discussed joining podcast related social media groups as part of your social media strategy. These groups are an easy way to meet other podcasters and find people who are creating similar content. When you find someone whose audience you think has a crossover with yours, drop them a private message, introduce yourself, and ask if they might be open to plugging each other’s shows.

As for what types of cross-promotion you could do, maybe you could recommend each other’s podcasts in an episode, or on social media. Another method used by many pro-podcasters, especially those who are part of podcast networks is to put a sample episode for another show in your feed.

For example, the notable true crime podcast My Favorite Murder dropped an episode of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad into their feed back in April. The show was a new addition to Exactly Right Media, the podcast network created by the hosts of My Favorite Murder:

Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad Episode 1 via the My Favorite Murder feed in Overcast

While it’s true that this is an easier feat to accomplish when part of a network because the network handles the negotiations, there’s no reason it can’t work for you too. You’ll never know until you ask, so reach out and start networking!


Thanks for reading the second post in our ‘Podcasting A-Z’ series. The third and final post in the series will be tackling next step promotion tactics…stay tuned!

Tips for planning, publishing, and branding your first podcast

 

Here at Audioburst, we feel that podcasting is a great way to share your thoughts, personal experiences, and unique point of view with the world and the American public agrees! 70% of the U.S. population is familiar with the medium and 32% have listened within the last month. (Edison Research)

Even more staggering is the news that there are now over 700,000 podcasts in the Apple Podcast directory!

With competition this steep, it can be overwhelming for a new podcaster to figure out how to set up a podcast for success… but never fear! We’ve put together a series of posts to get you from podcast novice to pro in no time.

In this first post, we’re going to talk about:

  • Planning your podcast

Before you begin

The most important place to start when thinking about how to promote your podcast comes before even recording your first second of audio. Taking a moment to sketch out why you are creating a podcast and who your target audience is will help you clarify your goals for the project.

Start by writing down the basics:

When approaching the ‘why’ and ‘what’, you might want to take a look at this post from the NPR Training series.

It advises you to be intentional and ask yourself some “deep and difficult, even existential questions” such as:

  • What is this idea? No, really. What is it?

The answers for the rest of the questions (who, where, and how) are the qualities that make up your ideal listener.

Here is a ‘burst’ from the Duct Tape Marketing podcast discussing how you can define your ideal client….or in this case, your ideal listener:

Listen to Defining your ideal client | Audioburst
Aired on Duct Tape Marketing: marketing strategy started really and on course as you have to think about how you can…
search.audioburst.com

Knowing your target audience will help you focus in on the type of podcast you’re going to make, as well as where you will ultimately choose to promote your show.

If you’re struggling on where to begin, start by looking at podcasts in the genre your show will be part of:

  • What social media channels do they have a presence on?

Examine these questions for several shows and see if there’s any crossover or patterns. You should start to see what kind of person listens to this type of podcast. From there you can sketch out how your perfect listener is similar and more importantly, how they are different.

Providing quality content is a must

Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to sit down and actually start creating content.

Many people will tell you how easy it is to create a podcast, and while they’re not wrong in the sense that the medium is highly accessible and requires minimal equipment, this accessibility can be a double-edged sword.

The market is highly saturated and if you’re not producing quality programming, all of the promotion in the world won’t convince listeners to stick with your show.

So, what makes quality content?

Excellent sound

Making a show sound good is equal parts recording and editing.

Everything from choosing the right equipment and recording environment to how you handle discourse markers (filler words like um, uh, etc) can have an effect on your finished product.

For tips on how to master the sound of your show, take a look at this post from Buzzsprout’s blog. It gives the following pointers for creating a great sounding podcast:

Source: How to Record, Edit, and Mix a Great Sounding Podcast via the Buzzsprout Blog

Planning

While it may be tempting to just hop in front of the mic and start talking, a little planning can go a long way.

Wondering what a podcast script might look like?

The Parents on Demand (POD) Network produced a video which has some great tips on script writing and delivery that will help step up your content game:

Why Your Podcast Needs a Script or Outline via YouTube

In the video, Sunny Gault walks you through one of her own scripts step by step. When it comes to advice on how to write scripts of your own, she suggests that you:

  • Think about your show in sections and block them out, including how long each section might run

Gault also advises that half of the battle of recording a semi-scripted podcast episode is the delivery.

Her recommendations for producing natural-sounding audio are:

  • Pretend you’re talking to one person

Pro tip: The linked script above is a google doc which Gault has made available for anyone to use. She suggests saving it to your own drive so that you can use it as a template for your show’s script. Check it out!

Naming your podcast

If you haven’t already picked a name, it’s time.

Podcast hosting platform Messy.fm suggests making your show name both memorable and search-friendly by thinking of the two items separately:

The Title’s job is to be memorable — something catchy, fun, a little inside-jokey, that listeners will easily remember.

      

      

The Sub-title’s job is to be search-friendly — have descriptive keywords that give more information about what exactly the show is about that are also likely terms a potential listener would type into the podcast directory when they are searching for a show like yours.

Once you’ve found a name you like, be sure to run it through a username check tool –there is nothing more disappointing than choosing a name and then finding out that every username even remotely related is already taken!

Bonus: Even if your name isn’t taken on the username check tool, just do a quick Google search to make sure your chosen name isn’t being used somewhere online. This will come in handy when you begin to think about SEO, social media marketing, and creating a website.

Select a reliable host

You have the audio, now where to put it?

As you might suspect from the name, a podcast hosting platform is the service that ‘hosts’ the audio files for your show.

Aside from providing an easy way for you to store your episodes in the cloud, a host is often who will supply you with your RSS (‘rich site summary’ or ‘really simple syndication’) feed, which allows you to easily distribute your content to podcast apps, directories, and audio search engines like Audioburst 😉

(Note: You can also create your own RSS feed, but it can be a bit more complicated. To find out more about RSS feeds and how to create your own, listen to this podcast episode of ‘The Audacity to Podcast’)

These days there are many hosting services out there and choosing one will come down to your specific needs.

The factors you will want to consider when researching are:

  • Storage: How many episodes can you store?

To get you started on your search for the perfect host, here are some widely used platforms to consider: BlubrryLibsynBuzzsproutPodBeanSpreakerAnchorMessy

Creating content for the ‘Netflix’ generation

We’re living in a world where dropping an entire season of a TV show all in one day is the norm, and while podcast listeners are used to having to wait a week to hear the next installment, should you consider queuing up two or three episodes for your launch date?

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there on whether or not this is a good idea, however here are a couple of things to consider when making your decision:

Ease of production

How long does it take for you to research, record, and produce an episode of your podcast? Will stockpiling episodes push back your launch?

Is your content evergreen?

Podcasts tied to current events may not work as well when recorded too far in advance.

Launching with multiple episodes can give your new listeners the chance to get to know your work, create more opportunities for engagement, and help build anticipation for your next release, however, if your episodes take a long time to produce or your content is reliant on timeliness, then it might do more harm than good.

When it comes to determining success, there are plenty of shows on each side of the argument.

In the Dark, an investigative journalism podcast whose first season focused on the 1989 Jacob Wetterling kidnapping case took the approach of having two episodes queued up for their 2016 launch day:

Episode list for In the Dark via Overcast

In contrast, Gimlet Media’s Homecoming podcast, a scripted fiction program that would later be picked up for TV production on Prime Video, didn’t launch with any additional episodes:

Episode list for Homecoming via Overcast

Both podcasts have done well despite their different choices on episode count at launch. One might speculate on reasons for each approach, such as Homecoming’s star-studded cast (Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer) not requiring as much build up as the 27-year old true crime case featured in season one of In the Dark.

However, with such strong, quality content, it’s likely that both productions would have been successful regardless of how many episodes they dropped on launch day.

Probably the best advice one can follow when it comes to making this decision is from Colin Gray on an episode of The Podcast Host:

“When it comes down to it, what we’re saying is don’t procrastinate. If creating three is going to make you hold back for ages on launching then don’t bother. Just put one out and see what happens…Whatever helps you get your show out quicker is better.”

 

Think about branding

As audio people, we’re definitely all about the content, however, in the land of marketing, packaging can be just as important.

Yes, we’re talking about cover art.

We know, we know. You’re a podcaster, not Andy Warhol. Don’t worry. You don’t have to do it yourself, nor do you need tons of money to get something designed.

The first thing to do when considering artwork is to think about the personality or ‘voice’ of your podcast. Is your show more:

  • Funny or Serious?

The reason you examine your show’s voice is to ensure that whatever art you create is in-line with who you are.

Here’s an example:

Cover art for the Still Buffering podcast

Still Buffering is a podcast hosted by three sisters. Sydnee and Teylor were teenagers in the 1990s, whereas their younger sister Rileigh recently finished her freshman year of college. Each week the three ‘Smirl Girls’ compare and contrast their teenage experiences.

The show is personal, funny, and relatable. To relay this feeling, the show uses artwork that shows each sister’s individual personality. The handwritten tagline almost gives off the feeling of a diary, or school notebook, drawing back to the subject of their show.

For other examples, you might look to podcasts that have the same feel as your show.

Podcast ‘Comedy Classics’ in the iTunes store

What characteristics does their artwork focus on? A clean image of the host? The show’s title? Once you’ve eyed the competition, jot down a few ideas about what you’d like your cover art to look like. This can either be a few bullets on the copy, color scheme, and types of graphics you like, or you can sketch it out. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

Then you’re ready for design.

If you’re artistically inclined, you can take a stab at it yourself, or alternatively, you can look into getting artwork designed by a freelancer through a service like Fiverr or Upwork. While prices on the platforms vary, you should be able to find an option for just about any budget.

Search results on fiverr

Want to up the ante? While you’re at it, you may want your designer to whip up artwork for your show’s future social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc).

For info on formatting requirements for various platforms check out Sprout Social’s Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes.


We hope these tips have inspired you to take your podcast idea from paper to reality. Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we will discuss the basics of promoting your podcast and amplifying your reach.

Audioburst and Blubrry Partner to Bring the Power of Audioburst Creators to the Blubrry Community

Last June, Audioburst unveiled a new platform for content creators and radio broadcasters, Audioburst Creators. This platform allows podcasters to instantly get full transcripts of their shows, edit our signature bursts (short-form audio snippets) as they please, take advantage of new monetization and distribution opportunities, and effortlessly share their content with the world, all for free.

After meeting a warm reception from early adopters, we are now pleased to partner with Blubrry, the leader in podcast hosting, to offer these same tools to their community.

Through this collaboration, new and existing Blubrry users will be able to opt in to Audioburst Creator’s suite of tools allowing them to transform their audio content into searchable, accessible, and shareable moments for the very first time.

How it works

Transcribe

Users enjoy automatic episode transcriptions within minutes of hitting publish. Each time a new episode of a creator’s show is added to the library, the transcript is emailed directly to their inbox for use in tagging, further content creation, and marketing efforts around SEO.

Edit

Automation and making everything easy is what Audioburst does best, but sometimes things need a human touch. Our editor puts users in complete control of their content, enabling them to create their own audio burst, capturing the perfect moment by sound or transcript.

Share

Bursts can be shared on popular social networks straight from the editor, or via a player embedded directly on a website for easy access. Users can also create video bursts within the platform to download and share on social, or upload to video platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo.

Amplify

Audioburst facilitates increased discovery and distribution by including Creators content in our expansive audio content library, making it available via Audioburst Search and through distribution partners such as Samsung, LG, Bytedance, and Nippon Broadcasting Inc.

Earn

Creators have the opportunity to monetize their audio content with a competitive 15% revenue share going to all of Audioburst’s existing and forthcoming revenue partners.

A perfect match

Both Audioburst and Blubrry are excited to see Blubrry customers gain access to all that the Audioburst experience has to offer:

“Our mission is to empower podcasters and radio professionals with a robust solution for monetization, distribution, and discovery,” said Amir Hirsh, Co-Founder and CEO, Audioburst.

“The integration of our Audioburst Creators platform gives Blubrry’s thousands of creative community members the unmatched tools to transcribe audio content, increase exposure, and earn money.”

Todd Cochrane, CEO of Blubrry added, “This partnership with Audioburst is exciting for our Blubrry customers as I’ve been a big fan of their technology for some time. The audio bursts, automated transcripts and indexing of audio content will allow Blubrry customers to reach new listeners and engage with a wider audience.”

 

Learn More

Interested in giving it a spin? Sign up for Audioburst Creators or check out us out on Blubrry!