Podcast popularity has exploded over the past few years, even though the format’s already in it’s second decade. More podcasters produce more shows than ever, while new devices and ubiquitous bandwidth enable more consumers to listen. If you’re thinking about jumping into the podcast game, you might be asking yourself, “just how many podcasts are out there right now, and how can I stand out?”
According to Variety, Google’s already tracking more than two million distinct podcast feeds. Podcast Insights examined more than 750,000 active podcasts and counted more than 30 million episodes as of June 2019. That’s a growth rate of nearly 50% per year when tracked against the figure of 550,000 podcasts that Apple reported at their Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2018. Longtime radio consultants at Edison Research have also shared data that suggests that podcast production isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
The podcast landscape is indeed getting more crowded every day, but we don’t consider that a problem. It validates this growing market, especially when you consider the size of audiences that crave quality productions in their favorite niche interests. For every superstar podcast that gets coverage in the New York Times, a hundred solid shows have built solid audiences that support themselves through patronage or as part of sponsored content marketing campaigns.
Instead of worrying about whether we’ve hit peak podcast, we think you should be concerned about building the kind of quality show that helps you set yourself apart among your peers. Your competitors are vying for listeners’ ears just as fiercely as you are. What are you doing to stand out from the competition?
It’s easy to fall down search result rabbit-holes, trying to game the Apple Podcasts directory. Those strategies may have worked in the early days, but competition for the “new and noteworthy” slots just won’t work unless you’re ready to sink a major marketing budget into a new series launch.
Smart and successful podcasters know they need to earn listeners’ time, attention, and loyalty by mastering the art of consistent marketing and promotion. It’s never been more critical to produce creatively original and high-quality shows and know how to get attention.
Podcast marketing and promotion best practices:
Provide value for your audience.
There’s no point in promoting your podcast unless you’re committed to providing real value to your audience. No amount of marketing will grow a lousy show. Avoid gimmicks or shortcuts. Marketing hacks may work in the short-term to goose your launch metrics, but they won’t sustain your audience growth. When researching, scripting, and recording your show, think critically about the message you’re sending and why it’s so important for your audience. They’re not just subscribing to hear your voice, so it’s your job to deliver the value they want to receive from spending time with your show.
Get comfortable in your niche.
Marketing your podcast gets a lot easier when you embrace the idea that not everyone’s going to be interested in your show. Instead of aiming for a million downloads, visualize your first thousand listeners. What do they already listen to? How would you complement the other shows in their feed? An audience persona exercise can help you discover where your show fits in to their world, especially if you’re thinking about places you can advertise or other shows where you might pitch yourself as a guest.
Experiment and course-correct based on real data.
Don’t fly your plane without any instruments. Even if you’re only investing a little bit of time or money to promote your new podcast, embrace experiments that result in real data. You don’t even have to engage in creepy ad tracking techniques—just ensure that you’re watching which of your experiments result in new listeners over time. Keep in mind that your audience may not share your same technology habits—just because you spend a bunch of time on Reddit, or Hacker News, or Pinterest doesn’t mean your audience hangs out in those communities.
Delegate time-consuming production tasks to experts.
Building a solid podcast marketing campaign often takes as much time and energy as developing a show itself. That’s one reason why many of today’s most successful podcasters hire experienced podcast producers. When someone else is handling research, guest booking, and post-production, you’ve got more time on your hands for building your network and growing your audience. Contact our onboarding team today to learn more about how we’re helping podcast professionals stay focused on what matters most.