Becoming The Podfather: A Guide To Building A Podcast Audience

Never underestimate the power of a great podcast!

Podcasting has been with us for the last decade, although the concept of someone making an audio recording that other people can listen to later is hardly novel. A defining characteristic of a podcast involves its distribution online, where people can either listen via a live data stream or download it onto a portable device like a smartphone or MP3 player.

Having debuted on iTunes in 2005, the podcast’s meteoric rise has made global celebrities out of presenters and introduced tens of millions of people to thematic celebrations of the spoken word. However, with so many existing channels, making a new podcast stand out is genuinely challenging. Below are some of the ways in which even an amateur with basic recording tools can build a loyal and substantial audience:

1. Be regular.

It isn’t necessary to upload a new podcast every day, though large amounts of content will enable new audience members to binge-listen to your back catalogue. A couple of weekly blogs should be sufficient to keep people interested and ensure that listeners of each podcast will keep the next episode in the forefront of their minds. Maintaining relatively consistent clip lengths is another useful piece of advice.

2. Have a theme.

It’s important to explain at the outset – preferably on the webpage where your podcasts are hosted – what these recordings are about. Even if the theme is simply freeform ramblings about that day’s news stories, make it clear what people can expect. It’s perfectly acceptable for individual podcasts to have a specific focus, providing they all tie into a broader narrative theme that will attract (and retain) listeners interested in these areas.

3. Tell people things they don’t know.

While listening to the pub bore carries a certain morbid fascination, few of us want to hear well-known facts or half-formed opinions being regurgitated ad nauseum. A podcast should be informative and knowledgeable, even if it’s ultimately opinionated, and listeners should feel that they’ve learned something along the way. This should also encourage them to tune in regularly, something that won’t happen if you’re simply reiterating commonly-known information.

4. Invite guests onto the show.

Listening to one voice can become quite monotonous, whereas interviews and joint presentations offer greater diversity. Differences of opinion make for excellent discussions, as well as inspiring listeners to take sides. Try to pick guests who don’t talk in a monotone, and always clearly introduce who they are and why they’re participating. Regular guests maintain consistency and frequently share podcast links among their own friends and followers, potentially attracting new listeners.

5. Encourage interaction.

Don’t present a podcast as if it represents the final word on a topic. Encourage audience participation through voting or by reading out comments. Finish each podcast with a call to arms, encouraging the audience to leave comments on the hosting website and then replying to these comments.

6. Don’t be overly advertorial.

Many people reading this blog will be seeking new ways of promoting their business, and a podcast can be a useful vehicle for this. However, nobody wants to listen to a protracted advert. An estate agent discussing how great they are won’t build an audience; conversely, an estate agent listing off common mistakes made by homeowners might amass a fairly significant audience over time.

7. Use decent recording equipment.

Nobody will listen to a podcast if the sound quality is muffled or distorted. A proper microphone will deliver far better results than a mobile phone app, while basic editing software can trim out interruptions and reduce levels of background noise. Speak clearly and convey enthusiasm in your podcasts – listeners will always engage with passionate, knowledgeable presenters. Podcasts can also be video files – avoid cluttered backgrounds or poor-quality webcams, and address the camera as much as possible.

8. Utilise social media.

Irrespective of whether podcasts are hosted on a corporate website or a personal blogging page, social media is crucial for promoting new uploads and increasing follower levels. Dedicated Facebook and Twitter profiles are essential, while Google+ is desirable; LinkedIn can also provide a channel for promoting new podcasts.

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