With over 1 in 3 Americans now having listened to a podcast, it’s getting easier and more attractive to start and grow your own podcast.
The rise of podcasts is, in many ways, similar to the rise of blogs. Blogs grew more and more popular as a way for people to create their own newspapers, magazines, and periodicals, and now podcasts are continuing to grow in popularity as a way for anyone to make their own radio shows.
And just as it’s easy to write a blog, but hard to make it popular, it’s relatively easy to get started podcasting, but not so easy to promote it effectively once you do.
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Since so many podcasters use Patreon to earn support for their work, we reached out to them, and other podcasting pros, to get advice on the most effective strategies to promote your podcast, whether you’re just starting out or already have an audience and want to take it to the next level.
We took their advice and categorized it into these seven strategies that anyone can use to promote their podcast, with plenty of examples and tactics included to get the most out of them.
Ready to start promoting your podcast to thousands of new listeners? Then let’s get started with…
After you’re done recording an episode and getting ready to release it, it's time to put your show notes together. The show notes are that little description your listener will see next to your episode when they're deciding if they want to listen or not. And they're very important for getting listeners to hit play.
If writing makes you groan, don't worry. If you promote your show on social media or on your blog, you're already on the right track.
These show notes can take a variety of forms. You could keep them concise and focused on directing people to the episode, or you could list out further resources and related links mentioned from the episodes.
For example, the Sleep With Me podcast keeps it fairly minimal and provides a quick synopsis of the episode, a link to their Patreon page, and a couple other relevant links with the ability to play the episode directly from the post:
Then there are the more comprehensive show notes pages, like how they do it at The Minimalists. For their most recent episode (at the time of writing) on Clutter, they included the high-level topics they covered, their answers to some “lightning round questions,” and links to every single thing mentioned in the episode:
However you decide to do it, making your show notes valuable makes it easier for people to discover your podcast.
One way to leverage your show notes is through doing a bit of search engine optimization on them, so that they’re more likely to show up in Google.
It’s as simple as taking a few of the main topics from the episode, then crafting a headline around those topics and the guest’s name, so that you can rank for searches related to what was discussed in that episode.
For example, look at how Dan Shure from the Evolving SEO Podcast does his titles. Dan is an SEO expert, so he knows that for each episode, he can use the show notes to reach an even larger audience.
Check out the title he used in this episode with Aleyda Solis:
That’s the title he’s using on his site and for Facebook shares, but if we dig a little deeper, you can see that he actually crafted a separate title for Google:
By setting a slightly different “Meta Title” for the article, he can position it to rank for “international SEO steps” or “how to do international SEO.”
There are a few ways you can do this for your own podcast episodes:
If you have a high-profile guest on, use their name in the title along with what they were interviewed about. E.g. “Mark Zuckerberg Interview on Dropping Out of College, Learning to Lead, and More.” This way you can rank for people searching for their name.
If the guest doesn’t have as much of an existing audience, then you can focus on what people learned in the episode. If not many people knew who Zuckerberg was, we could instead title it “How to Drop Out of College and Work on a Startup (safely).”
If the guest doesn’t have much of an audience or you’re doing a solo recording, simply use the most interesting topic or two that you talked about as the title.
If you’re using WordPress and are unsure about how to change the meta title of your posts, the simplest way is to install an SEO tool like Yoast. It will add a widget to each article where you can change the SEO title and description.
One last thing on episode titles: keep the important information (guest names, topics discussed) close to the beginning of the title. Don’t let your episode number or podcast name take up prime real estate over the info that draws people in to listen
On top of optimizing your show notes for SEO, you can also tailor them to be very shareable on social media.
There are two parts to this: structuring the notes so they share nicely and creating calls to action within them.
To structure them so that they share nicely, you want to make sure you have a compelling title explaining what the episode is about, a “meta description” that goes below the title to provide more details, and a strong image to accompany the notes. Typically, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks will feature the first image in your article unless you set a specific “og:image” in your SEO tool. To keep things simple, have an interesting image come first on your show notes so it gets featured on social media when the show notes are shared.
For the Zero to Travel podcast, Jason includes a large image of whoever he interviewed so that they’re featured when the post gets shared on social media:
This puts a (well-deserved!) spotlight on your guests, giving them more exposure than just their name. It can also be a nice touch for making them want to share it with their audience.
Another idea: on the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, the show notes start with a large image that fits with the theme of the episode. When you go to share one of their latest episodes on scam artists, the first image you see is auto filled for Facebook:
If you don’t have any image with the show notes, then Facebook, Twitter, and others will either show a boring text-only link, or pull an image you don’t mean to share, like your site’s favicon or author photo.
On top of making the notes look good when readers share them, you can also include calls to action to share the notes within the notes themselves.
For example, at the end of your notes, you can include a call to action to listeners to share the episode along with their favorite lesson from it by using a Click to Tweet, similar to how I’ve done here:
What did you learn from this article? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here
By asking people to engage with you as a host, instead of just promoting the episode to their friends and followers, you’ll get much more follow through and build a better relationship with your audience.
If you can, another easy way to promote your podcast through your show notes is to make them fun and interesting to read, such as by adding more context that wasn’t in the episode, creating a narrative around the show, sharing a little known fact about the guest, or anything else that could be an entertaining bonus for listeners.
This is something Bryan Callen does with some episodes of his podcast. For example, in this episode called “The orchestra is playing together. Come join in the fun!” he has a more narrative, long form version of the show notes explaining the main concepts.
They’re interesting to read on their own, such as this passage on identity:
“And here is where it becomes important to realize the challenge we face: identity. You have been told stories about yourself. We tell stories about each other. And who we are and how we behave changes often within minutes. We get cut off in traffic and we get road rage. Someone opens the door for us and we feel all is right with the world. We get hangry and become snappy. We have a nap and want to give everyone a hug. And we all have our Fundamentalisms. We have things that trigger us and make us freak out. The challenge for all of us is to say sorry and kiss and make up.”
Simply having fun show notes like this can help you promote your podcast since people finding your show online, or getting sent a link from a friend, can get sucked in by your description of it even before pressing play.
But your show notes are only one way to reuse some of your podcast content. You can also reuse the audio itself to help promote it.
Once you’ve recorded a podcast episode and uploaded it to your provider, there are a number of ways you can use that same audio on other platforms to help promote your podcast.
Google is the most popular search engine, and YouTube (not Bing, Yahoo, or others) is the second most popular. So once you’ve set up your podcast to rank in Google through the show notes, head to YouTube.
You have a couple options for making your podcast YouTube friendly. First, you could simply create a movie from your audio with your podcasts logo as the “video,” and upload that to YouTube.
This is what the Sword and Scale podcast does with their episodes. They have a looping visual behind their logo that repeats while the audio plays, and then link all the episodes together in a playlist so you can watch them in order:
Then in the description, they include a link to the episode’s notes on their site:
If you want to get a little fancier, you could record your episodes as you’re doing them, and then edit the video to jump back and forth depending on who’s speaking. That’s what Lewis Howes from The School of Greatness does with his episodes:
Then in his episode descriptions, he includes most of the show notes and a number of calls to action:
Another option beyond just republishing is to give some “behind the scenes” looks at how you record your episodes, like the Brain Candy team does.
It gives you a glimpse into how they record their show, which helps build a closer relationship with their fans.
However you do it, by republishing your episodes on YouTube or adding bonus content, you have the potential to reach more listeners through a new channel and get discovered through a different search platform.
If you don’t use SoundCloud to host your podcast, then republishing your episodes on a SoundCloud channel can help you reach subscribers on a new platform and make it easier to share your episodes.
For The Last Podcast on the Left, they include a SoundCloud widget for each episode that lets you listen to the episode right there on their page. There are three benefits to this.
One, you can listen to it right there, which saves you time having to navigate elsewhere.
Two, you can go to their SoundCloud channel and subscribe to their podcast there. If you don’t want a dedicated podcasting app or want to subscribe somewhere that you can listen on your computer and phone, this is really convenient.
And three, you can share their podcast episodes and people can listen to them directly through Twitter. This is a pretty cool trick. Here’s me sharing that episode on Twitter, and you’ll notice, you can just click play and listen to it directly from SoundCloud:
If you want your audience to share your podcast in a way that’s easier for other people to listen to, then SoundCloud is a great place to republish your episodes.
For other social networks, you can’t repurpose the episode per se, but you can use parts of the episode as promotion strategies.
For each episode, you could take a few quotations from it, put them over your logo, and share those on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or any other social network you want to promote to.
You could also create a simpler graphic to share the part of the episode, like Buffer did to promote their podcast. They created these handy graphics for their episodes which look great on Twitter and Facebook, to make the episodes more shareable, and even give away the templates they used to make them:
There’s almost always a way to use some part of your episode on social media.
One simple way to have your podcast promote itself, assuming you’re doing interviews, is to interview people who already have their own audiences.
This can be especially effective in the early days of your podcast, since it provides both some initial exposure, and also some social proof of the quality of the show you’re putting on. Higher caliber guests that listeners recognize are a good sign that you’re going to be producing a high quality show.
To get the most out of having a high-profile guest on your show, make it as easy as possible afterwards for them to share the episode with their network.
Send them an email when it launches with a link to your show notes and the episode on iTunes, and also give them a few scripts they could use to let their audience know about it. You can give them a Click to Tweet like you included in your article with a pre-filled tweet about the episode, or include a full email that they could send to their audience.
Either way, you want to make it easy for them to share the episode with their following, without being too pushy.
Grant, from Millennial Money Minutes, said they think about this for each guest they have on:
“We’ve tried to interview guest who have their own networks in our niche, so when the episode goes live, they share us within their network – so since we are all in the personal finance space it give us very targeted exposure. It’s not a random guest – we always interview guests who always have a following that will align with ours.”
Andy Holloway from The Fantasy Footballers said something similar:
“Guests are key to growing a small podcast as they help you gain notoriety and ordinarily guests like to share and proliferate their appearance on your show. Connect with guests in your area of expertise, invite them on and make it extremely easy for THEM to share YOUR podcast. That means after they’ve come on the show give them a pre-made tweet, links to the episode, etc for them to share.”
Find great guests, give them as much reach as possible via your show, and then make it as simple as possible for them to share the episode with their audience.
Another great way to promote your podcast is to go on other podcasts in your niche. Appearing on other podcasts may be the best way to spread your own show, since you’re reaching people who are interested in your topic and who are already in the habit of listening to podcasts.
To do this, get in the habit of reaching out to go on podcasts regularly, following a strategy similar to the one that Taylor Pearson outlines here.
- Make a spreadsheet of all the podcasts in your niche that you could go on.
- Find their contact info.
- Each week, reach out to a few of them with a pitch for why you should go on their show.
As you build relationships with these other podcasts, you’ll also likely find good candidates to bring on your own show. This is a great way to keep cross-promoting shows with other podcasters, since many people will listen to multiple shows on similar topics.
Tom Merritt from the Daily Tech News Show said this played a big role in promoting his podcast in the beginning, both by going on podcasts as a guest and hosting guests himself:
“Have guests and be a guest. The kids these days call it “collaborating” I hear. Bringing people on your shows exposes your audience to variety and likely will expose the guest’s audience to what you do. Guesting on other people’s shows of course exposes them to you.”
Another benefit to creating detailed show notes similar to the ones that we showed from The Minimalists above, is that by linking out to people from your notes and mentioning them in your show, you get the opportunity to reach out to them afterwards.
If it’s an individual, you can visit their site and social profiles to figure out a good way to reach out to them, or simply ping them on Twitter after it releases. For brands or companies, you can find one of their marketing people on LinkedIn and reach out to them, or again, ping the company on Twitter once it releases.
One way to make this easier if you’re using Twitter is to phrase the tweet in a way that makes it easy for them to retweet it. If you have a tweet like:
Then you might just get a like. But if you phrase it a little differently, like:
Then you have a tweet that’s easy for them to retweet for you. This makes it much easier to leverage the Twitter audience of someone you’ve mentioned.
In addition to promoting each new episode you release to your own audience, you can also promote it to other audiences that are open to interesting articles, videos, podcasts, and other media.
Dan Shure, from the Experts on the Wire podcast earlier, said that this did the most for promoting his podcast:
Part of why this works is that those communities are relevant to the topics he’s discussing. People on Inbound and GrowthHackers are generally looking for more marketing and growth tips, as are many people on ProductHunt.
An interesting note regarding LinkedIn that Dan shared is that it’s much easier for a post to go viral on LinkedIn, since a “like” on LinkedIn shares whatever you liked with your network:
“I think LinkedIn is performing well because every time someone even ‘likes’ or comments your LinkedIn post – this actually is a ‘share’ because they show up in their connections feeds. When I look at the stats for who has seen my LinkedIn post – it’s mostly 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Often in the hundreds or thousands.”
You can also try posting your podcast episodes to reddit, so long as you do it carefully. Most reddit communities hate any whiff of spam and self promotion, so you have to approach it from a genuine interest to provide information.
Scott Britton from Life-Long Learner did this by posting text posts that described what the episode was about and why it might be valuable to people:
Text posts like this (instead of just posting the link) tend to do better on reddit for self promotion since you don’t earn any “karma” for posting it, so it seems less like you’re trying to milk the community.
Whatever your podcast is about, try to find a few communities that you can become a part of where they’ll enjoy your episodes and where you can reach more people who may be interested in new episodes as you post them.
The final way to promote your podcast that we’re going to cover is making it easier for people to find your podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast providers by getting more reviews.
Where you show up in these hosts is a combination of how many reviews you have and how many downloads your show is getting, so while all of the tactics so far will help increase your number of downloads, you also want to put some thought into getting more reviews.
Beyond just hoping that your listeners will leave reviews on their own, there are a few ways you can encourage them to do so.
The simplest way to get listeners to write reviews is the same way to get them to share your podcast: ask them!
Drew Ackerman from the Sleep With Me podcast said that this was the simplest, and in many ways most effective, way to get more engagement with his show. Just asking his audience to share the show and support it has helped it grow over time to a top rated podcast with 1,700+ reviews on iTunes.
Another way to get more reviews for your show is to run a giveaway, where listeners can earn rewards in return for leaving a review on iTunes.
Chris Winfield of the Deconstructing Success podcast ran a reviews giveaway right when his show launched. He offered over $1,200 in prizes to people for going to iTunes, leaving a review of his show, and then sending him an email with their review. This way he got a huge spike in initial exposure on iTunes, likely ending up in the “new and noteworthy” section, and getting more listeners from people just browsing the iTunes store.
Typically your goal when you promote the podcast is to have people subscribe to it on iTunes or another podcast provider, but you could also use an email list as the primary driver of engagement.
This is part of Sujan Patel’s strategy with the Growth Mapping Podcast. The first call to action on their homepage is not to listen to the show, rather, to join the email list to get updates on new episodes.
This allows them to reach their audience more directly than via podcast episodes, and allows them to send other updates that aren’t just new episodes, such as asking for reviews or getting ideas for new topics.
You now have the main strategies that top hosts are using to promote their podcasts. If you’re gearing up to launch your podcast, then you can look at starting to bake these into your launch process.
Or, if your podcast is already out and growing, look for one or two of the tactics here that would be a good fit for you and see how you can incorporate it into your efforts.
If you try one that ends up working for you, or find a new strategy for promoting your podcast that we haven’t included here, be sure to let us know in the comments!