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Spotify is well on its way to becoming the Netflix of podcasting. They single-handedly propelled the business of podcasting into the big leagues this week. Spotify announced they are planning to spend a cool budget of $500,000,000 (That's 1/2 a billion!) on podcasting acquisitions. For starters, they purchased Gimlet Media, reportedly for some $230M, as well as the Anchor podcast platform for $60M.

From the Spotify perspective, I agree with the analysis of the Wall Street Journal and others: This model means a focus on premium content and acquiring exclusive podcasts only available on Spotify. I think this theory covers both Gimlet as well as Anchor acquisitions.

Of course there are more questions than answers at this point. So what follows is speculation:

Does Netflix of Podcasting Imply Exclusive Content?

I could see that if their strategy succeeds, exclusive versions of the best and most desirable podcasts may only be available on Spotify, driving new subscribers to their overall platform.

So yes, I anticipate that Gimlet Media will produce some bespoke content for Spotify.

But I also I think there are a lot of variations on how this could play out when it comes to exclusivity – for example offering ad supported versions of exclusive podcasts outside of Spotify, meaning iTunes and elsewhere.

The Future of Podcast Monetization?

Also, I would predict that podcast hosting, ad platforms, monetization and reimbursement models will be routed through Spotify. Could they be going for a model of reimbursing premium podcasters as they currently reimburse musicians?

This could mean a democratized monetization model for mid-level podcasts, with micro payments to podcasters that are not currently commanding enough downloads to easily run ads inside their shows. I see this as a positive alternative for podcasts that don’t have any monetization options outside of Patreon.

However, the emphasis being on MICRO-payments, as in “Podcasters, don’t quit your day job”.

Symbiotic or Competitive?

I am also wondering if this is symbiotic with Apple and iTunes, or competitive when it comes to discoverability?

Will Spotify finally be able to break up Apple’s quasi monopoly in the podcast discoverability space?  

Just considering my own  behavior: I happen to have a Spotify music account. I NEVER search for any music on iTunes anymore. I search in Spotify directly. So just imagine a future to where Spotify would be the first place to search for interesting podcast content to listen to.

Considering Anchor

If you want to be the Netflix of podcasting, you need content. Content you develop, or acquire. My understanding is that Anchor owns the podcast content hosted on their platform, and so I am assuming that with this acquisition Spotify will acquire direct ownership of a massive amount of transitioned podcasts, leaving them to be able to decide on monetization and subscription and discoverability models.

Considering Gimlet

From the Gimlet perspective, this is the best exit their investors could expect now or in the future. In my opinion, I think there may also be an opportunistic element for Alex Blumberg to get his life back and move forward in the best possible way.

I imagine him being able to move towards more fun and meaningful opportunities within Spotify. Gimlet with its storytelling chops should be the perfect podcast content strategists. I think Alex and his team could be focused on developing interesting content – rather than Gimlet being a money making entity beholden to investors. 

One of the most compelling aspects of Startup as a podcast has been the intimacy of sharing of his journey, including the stress on work life balance. Listening to the last few episodes of that, combined with the show WithoutFail, it seems like the stress levels have not lessened, so with this exit perhaps the pressure from keeping investors happy will be eased.  

More acquisitions coming?

I am again speculating for now, and I think the picture will become clearer over time.

But yes, Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek's  $500 million budget leaves room for additional deals. In addition to new acquisitions of  podcast networks and content I would not be surprised if Spotify will also start to acquire podcast specific technology and ad platform companies. Not naming any names at this point. And rumors are afloat that Netflix might acquire all of Spotify.

So as a podcast producer, how do I feel about this all?

I think any movement within the podcasting industry that rivals Apple, or makes them move a bit faster on the innovation front, is a good thing. 

In this season we have occasionally touched up our own podcast workflow. For those of you who follow us, you realize that we often talk about “podcasting as a content strategy”. So as we approach the end of season 1 of our Podcast Growth Show, I thought it was time to zoom out for a big picture episode.

Basically, this episode is our blueprint to go from podcast content strategy to execution.

Web Audio Player:

From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint

From Podcasting Strategy to Execution
From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint, Click for expanded detail

So I’d like to reveal our overall podcast workflow, all the way from strategy to execution. And in this episode I’ll reveal all our little secret tips, tricks, tools and gear we use to save massive amount of time along the way.

Strategy Segment

For both new and existing podcasts, it is good to start with the end in mind, to have clarity about your audience, as well as confidence that the value proposition for your listeners, as well as the reason why you are doing a podcast is clear.

Planning Segment

A lot of people just want to get started and hit the record button already. But unless you already have a dozen or so episodes under your belt, you will discover that there is a lot of planning involved. Especially if podcasting as content strategy is something even remotely on your horizon. I talk to new podcasters all the time, and some get lost in the planning stage. Let’s discover how having a planning framework helps us retain clarity.

Execution Segment

I’d like to go into how we approach podcast production ourselves. This is only one of many possible ways, and in no way am I suggesting you should adopt our methods. There is a lot involved, and it can sound scary. We tolerate an amount of complexity because it produces results for us. And complexity doesn’t mean things can’t be automated, simplified or even outsourced. Both complexity and simplicity can co-exist. For us, it’s the results that count.

Promotion Segment

This entire season has been about how to promote a podcast. So we may already have covered some of the methods we use to promote each episode. I’ll keep that segment short.

Season Strategy

Podcast seasons can help organize our podcast workflow
Podcast seasons can help organize our podcast content strategy

We like the concept of seasons, as it provides some amount of flexibility when thinking about the overall goals for your podcast as business content strategy.

Advantage of Seasons

Do we have a solo show or an interview based show? Do we have a co-host? Does our podcast have a theme? Would we like to try a different episode structure? Are we afraid your audience is getting bored with our content? What if we want to change up? Or are we suffering from “podfading” and just plain tired and need a break?

All of these can be addressed by organizing our podcast into separate seasons:

  • They allow us to take a sabbatical from your own show if we need a break
  • They enable us to develop focused themes for each season
  • We can switch the format of the show, including who is hosting, guesting or if it’s a solo show
  • And all of that with no surprises for our listeners, as we announce the end of the current or start of the next seasons
  • Each season is a good excuse for a podcast re-launch and much needed promotional activities

Value Proposition Design

I know a lot of podcasters who just barrel on producing episode after episode without ever pausing, re-thinking, changing direction or taking stock. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the audience is with us on this.

Other podcasters plan each season carefully, and conceptualize exactly what they want to cover, who their guests will be, and most importantly what experience they want to create for their audience. Either way:

Periodically revisiting the value proposition of our podcast is an excellent habit.

But just how we do that? We have developed a process for developing a podcast’s branding and value proposition. This Value Proposition Design (VPD) process is driven by over a hundred trigger questions designed to achieve clarity about our audience. To be more specific, clarity about what our listening audience is experiencing, what problems we help them solve or wrestle with, and what goals and transformation we help them achieve.

Not only that, there are also over 100 trigger questions to get us to think about how well our podcast topics match up to our audience desires, needs, tasks and expectations.

We have online forms for these trigger questions, and the answers we produce during this process are worth their weight in gold: They become a rich source of podcast themes, episode topics, SEO keywords, episode titles.

Think of your podcast as a product – with a market fit

This clarity is what you can when going through the VPD process.

Focus on Overall Goals

It is also important to keep focused on our podcast goals, and to periodically revisit these.

Perhaps we started out just wanting to have fun and get our message out to the world, but now we are finding ourselves wanting to build a list, or speak on stages, or to use your podcast as a vehicle to help promote a book. These are significant shifts in goals, and require significant adjustments to the way we utilize and market our podcast.

Strategy Planning Session 3 Month

Of course none of this has to do with the week to week podcast workflow of producing episodes in the middle of a season.

I’m just pointing all of this out as an important baseline activity that we try to do every 3 months or so. And to point out 3 things:

  1. If you are about to launch a podcast, take the time to go through the VPD process to achieve clarity and a product market fit for your show
  2. If you already started to podcast without any of this in mind, it’s not too late to start and revisit once in a while
  3. If you have a podcast based on seasons, revisit your goals and value proposition for each seasons

Podcast Episode SEO Research

SEO for Podcasts

Why do we do SEO research for something audio based?

SEO = Developing A Business Asset With Positive ROI

Our own podcast website gets 65% of subscribers from SEO search. 50% of my new clients come from search. Our podcast is less than 2 months old at the time of this recording, and has yielded 4 new clients and many more prospects. Not from iTunes discoverability, not referrals. So our entire podcast workflow is based on solid SEO research.

You may think that this is all overkill. And again, I will point out that this is just the process we follow because it works for us and our results speak for themselves. BTW, we have a whole course on podcast SEO.

For Our Podcast, 80% Planning and 20% Execution is Normal

Topical Research

So the assumption is that we do have clarity about our goals and value proposition for the audience. At this point, we want to identify potential SEO opportunities and turn these into topics for our season long episode plan.

The goal is to be able to rank for our show notes pages.

And there are 2 important pitfalls that we avoid by doing some quick SEO research:

  1. If we target impossibly difficult keywords, we will never rank on page one in Google, and thus we will never get search result traffic or new listeners
  2. If we target obscure keywords that no one ever searches for, we may rank on page one of the search results, but no one will ever visit our podcast from that.

SEO Keyword Opportunities

I myself may have a bit of an unfair advantage, because Polymash started life in part as an SEO agency. So we have access to some enterprise level SEO tools.

But the good news for podcasters is that there are affordable and even free tools out there to do the same thing.

So here is a quick demo (at 13:50 ) of how we identify high opportunity keywords using Mangool’s SEO suite, particularly the KWFinder utility. This is a central part of our podcast workflow, and KWFinder is by far my favorite and simple to use SEO keyword research tool. We have coached a ton of podcasters to use it to good effect.

Disclosure: This free sign up is an affiliate link

It gets better: This keyword research tool is only on part of an entire SEO suite to quickly add the following capabilities to your podcast planning:

  • KWFinder: Our favorite keyword research utility for podcasters.
  • SERP Watcher: Allows us to track progress as you start ranking for your desired keywords
  • SERP Checker: Provides deep insights into Google search results, and allows us to judge which keywords to target and which to stay away from

Converting Podcast SEO Keywords into Episode Ideas

So in the podcast workflow, once we have identified a list of keywords with potential, it is time to take these keywords and base our episode plan on these.

In our Google Sheets planning template we have developed a formula to address the following SEO issue:

Each site has something called Domain Authority and Alexa Rank, which indicates how likely the site’s content will rank on Google. This means every site needs to target keywords that are commensurate with their Domain Authority and Alexa Rank.

For old, established and popular sites it is easier to rank for more difficult keywords.

But new site owners with low DA and Alexa rank need to choose key-phrases they can actually rank for.

The formula we have developed matches the domain authority of any site with the keyword difficulty to target on KW Finder. This is all about prioritizing high opportunity topics, from high opportunity keywords.

Google Sheets to Organize Output

We have developed a Google Sheets template to help map this out.

Episode Topic Identification

Identifying topics for each podcast season
Identifying topics for each podcast season

Here is the process we follow to identify episode themes and topics based on our Podcast SEO research.

SEO Based Topics

As I mentioned earlier, we base our podcast episodes on our prior SEO research. By the time we are mid-season, we usually have a range of potential topics for a season to choose from, and hundreds of potential SEO keywords to choose from as well.

Initial Titles

Initially we develop working titles for each episode before we even incorporate relevant SEO keywords from our list. But at some point it is important to design episode titles with relevant keywords that fits the topic, and that are commensurate with the ranking power of our site as well.

Episode Title Optimization

The exact wording of our episode titles is more important than many podcasters realize. You can have a great episode, but if the title is not compelling, click worthy, interesting or thought provoking, people will never click through.

Sure, your existing subscribers may listen. But this is about attracting new listeners and subscribers. Just think about where your episode titles appear, and what role they play in your podcast workflow and the way people consume podcasts.

  • People may see your episode title on their iPhone or listening device of choice. Will they be interested enough to tap and listen?
  • People may come across your show notes and episodes as a result of a Google search. But will your episode title be compelling enough for them click through?
  • Your episodes titles may appear on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Will it arouse people’s curiosity?

So what makes a click-worthy episode title?

CoSchedule Headline Optimizer

There are a bunch of tools out there that help, for example the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule is a well know the social media scheduling platform we use, and they have developed a wonderful tool for designing highly converting titles for blog posts as well as for podcast episodes.

The tool is free, and you can try it out here. Their recommendations are based on a ton of research, word usage and title patterns proven to be successful on social media. Their algorithm checks for the presence of unusual words, power words, emotional words and the structure and length of each title.

Of course, fair warning: Don’t become a slave to such a tool.

Making Title Optimization Part of our Podcast Workflow

But my point is more about following this thinking process and formulating a range of potential titles. I guarantee you this: If you formulate only a single title for each episode, it will never be as good as if you formulate 7+ titles to choose from. So it is making this discipline part of our podcast workflow that makes all the difference.

Google Sheets to Organize Output

For us to stay organized and to collaborate on SEO research as well as podcast topic and title planning, we again use our trusty Google sheet template to stay organized.

Episode Recording Preparation

Episode Recording And Script Preparation
Episode Recording And Script Preparation

OK so we’ve finally gotten closer to actually recording an episode.

Pre Recording Notes

Our own podcast’s current season is a solo recording effort.

Using StoryChief For Script Development Ahead Of Time

If you’ve listened to our previous episode “How To: Easy Podcast Distribution And Content Syndication [S1E08]“, you would have learned about the StoryChief app we use to distribute our show notes to more than 16+ platforms.

Podcast Syndication With StoryChief

But we also use StoryChief to develop our solo episode scripts. This saves us a lot of time later, after the recording process. And because this season is video based, the podcast workflow to incorporate video is by nature a bit harder.

If you are interested in giving StoryChief a try, they offer a free account:

Our podcast workflow utilizes Story Chief
Disclosure: This free sign up is an affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later

Beyond this it’s 5 stories for 10$/month, 10 stories for 20$/month, 15 for 30, 20 for 40, 25 for 50 up until 30 for 60$; and 20% discount if you pay yearly.

Episode Specific Template Google Docs

Google docs are great for collaboration with clients, and we have designed our template to work for preparing, ID3 tagging, and creating show notes.

Episode Metadata

Our episode preparation template on Google docs that works for solo, interview or co-host driven formats. We also use this for our own podcast, but that is for capturing titles, descriptions, video metadata, ID3 tag information, embed codes for the episodes once everything is done.

Episode Video Data

This season combines an audio podcast with a video tutorials, demos and more. Because we cross publish each episode to our YouTube Channel as well, it is important to formulate the YouTube tags, description and links for each episode, and again our template allows for this.

Our Podcast Workflow Process for Video + Audio Recording

Podcast production workflow containing audio as well as video
Podcast production workflow containing audio as well as video

Finally, after all this planning, we are ready to record something.

ScreenFlow Video Templates For Youtube Channels

I use a somewhat unusual setup for podcast + video recording. You may have heard of desktop screen recorders like Techsmith’s Camtasia and Telestream ScreenFlow? These are screen recorders that also use your webcam. Many people use them for creating courseware or evergreen webinar content. We’ve used both extensively here at Polymash. But for our podcast workflow a clear winner emerged:

ScreenFlow launched an innovation this year that I had been looking for a long time.

It automates the production process with the ability to configure recording templates. These templates then place your video into a template with a pre-existing intro, outro, lower thirds, resizing and repositioning the webcam image as a picture in picture on the screen.

ScreenFlow templates save us an amazing amount of time for our YouTube channel

If you click play on the video above, you can see the effect. After the initial setup of my YouTube channel, I do nothing more to produce these videos, other than to press the record button. Clever, no?

If you are relatively new to podcast, and video is not something you are considerding right off the bat, here is our review of several new and highly innovative podcast recording software

TelePrompter Secrets

You might also have noticed that in my opening sequences I talk directly to the camera. Hopefully I come across as fluent in these videos, but what you may not realize is that I’m assisted by a mini teleprompter attached to my webcam.

  • My scripts live on an iPad on my desk, which I can speed up or slow down as I record. It’s a strictly one man operation.
  • The actual teleprompting screen is driven by my iPhone, and all of this allows me to look directly into the camera as I record my episodes.

If you are curious about this setup, below is an (affiliate) link to this amazingly small and affordable teleprompting device.

Meet our unique mini teleprompter

Big part of our podcast workflow: The ability to record smooth video
Big part of our podcast workflow: The ability to record smooth video

We use a compact, versatile, and easy to use teleprompter that helps us quickly deliver polished show notes to our listeners.  Until now, teleprompters have been clunky, expensive, and difficult to operate–and many required film studios or a production team.  This teleprompter changes all of that.

It’s a simple tool that helps us nail smooth delivery using just a smartphone and our desktop computer, DSLR, or webcam.

Our video production workflow is so much easier using a mini teleprompter
Our video production workflow is so much easier using a mini teleprompter

Podcast Quality Audio While Recording Video

One issue with doing a video podcast, especially one where one stands or moves around, is audio quality.

While sitting I can use my microphone and arm easily, but if I’m standing or moving around I like to use a wireless mic. This is also true for general video production or conducting on-camera interviews. I really did a lot of research before investing in this piece of kit.

What we use is what I feel is the most affordable and yet high quality pair of wireless lavalier microphones on the market. I think the quality is as good as the famous Sennheisers, but the price is 1/2. The system is called the COMICA CVM-WM300(A). There is also an optional interview mic to take this setup on the road and conduct amazing mobile podcasts and or video interviews.

Again, if you’d like to check it out, below is an (affiliate) link.

Lavalier systems can be useful add ons to podcast and video recording workflows
Lavalier systems can be useful add ons to podcast and video recording workflows

Live Audio through Loopback and Audio Hijack

We produce our client podcasts using a professional audio editing platform called Adobe Audition.

One of my favorite things is when podcast clients comment on how amazing they sound on the podcasts we produce for them.

This is in part because as a former audio engineer and record producer I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get that professional “broadcast” sound. (Let me know in the comments if I should do a special episode on that, happy to share!)

But it is also because Adobe Audition comes with some professional and sophisticated tools to help us shape a warm and inviting sound profile for each podcast host of guest.

So far, so good. But when recording video as well as an audio podcast, things become more complicated. And time consuming.

We would have to extract the audio tracks from video to import them into Adobe Audition to achieve the same custom broadcast ready sound, and then re-import them into the video. Too much work…

Luckily, I’m both lazy and smart:

Loopback interface for routing audio on my desktop
Loopback interface for routing audio on my desktop

So we’ve come up with a shortcut to get broadcast quality video sound, using 2 apps by a company called Rogue Amoeba:

  1. Loopback to create virtual audio devices to take the sound from apps and audio input devices, then pass it to any audio processing software.
  2. Audio Hijack, which functions like a real-time, virtual mixing console with EQ, compression and noise gating built in.

These 2 apps allow me to apply sound profiles in real time. Ordinarily this is done with a mixing console or in post-production, but this happens live. So the final video has that “broadcast” ready sound as it is being recorded.

Our Audio Hijack setup to produce real time optimized audio
Our Audio Hijack setup to produce real time optimized audio

The other advantage is that I can create profiles to attempt to make my lavaliers sound the same or similar to my Heil PR40 mic. (I can hear audiophiles groaning now). But at least I can get similar sound quality.

Audio Extraction and .mp3 Files From Video

Our podcast workflow includes several conversion tasks
Our podcast workflow includes several conversion tasks

So now that we have the video portion of our podcast recorded, it’s time to extract the audio from the video and to export and upload it to our podcasts’ .mp3 file

Video to Audio Conversion

We use the Wondershare Video Converter app to extract a high quality audio file from the video.

Loudness Standards, Noise Removal, Voice Leveling

A swiss company called Auphonic has developed a brilliant set of audio automation tools every podcaster should check out. We use Auphonic desktop app to automate the following steps:

  1. Establish a noise profile
  2. Applying Noise reduction from that noise profile
  3. Speech Volume Leveling
  4. Industry standard loudness standards for broadcast ready files at -16LUF
  5. Export to .mp3 formatted output file

This automation saves us at least 20 minutes per episode.

Audio Export to Libsyn

So now we finally have the .mp3 file to upload and release on our podcast hosting software Libsyn. First we apply the episodes title, descriptions and other podcast metadata to the .mp3 file. Then we upload to Libsyn and schedule the episode to go live at the desired time.

Video Export to YouTube

Remember we are using Screenflow to record our video content. It has the built in ability to export each video to our Youtube channel, including custom thumbnails, tags, descriptions and links. So the video portion of our podcast was already uploaded and scheduled on YouTube in a previous step.

Multi Channel Show Notes Syndication

Sign Up For Free, Disclosure: The above affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later
Sign Up For Free, Disclosure: The above affiliate link, if you choose to upgrade the account later

I will keep this short, since syndication and distribution of show notes was the topic of an entire episode, episode 8. Suffice it to say this:

A critical step in our podcast workflow is to distribute and syndicate our show notes to as many platforms as possible.

After all, our podcast’s audio files are being syndicated to be available in iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play.

Content syndication with StoryChief is to show notes what RSS feeds are to your podcast audio.

Finalize Episode Show Notes on StoryChief

Because we prepare our episode scripts in StoryChief, by the time we record our episode the show notes are 90% written already.

Embed YouTube Video Player

So all that’s left is to embed the episode video into StoryChief.

Embed Libsyn Audio Player

We love StoryChief as a content syndication in part because it is podcast ready. We easily embed the Libsyn player widget into our episode to allow site visitors to choose their modality: Read, Listen or Watch.

Embed Lead Generation Widgets

Another reason we love StoryChief is that it allows for embedding various lead generation and email capture widgets. So if our episode has a “Lead Magnet” like a bonus guide, mind-map or check-list, we embedding it right in the StoryChief show notes.

Publish to 16+ Channels

At the end of the day, our show notes are scheduled to go live and to trickle out to an ever growing list of platforms, communities and blogs and “Ambassador Networks”

1/2 Year Evergreen Social Boost Campaign

Saving time in our podcast workflow involves creating evergreen social campaigns
Saving time in our podcast workflow involves creating evergreen social campaigns

In an upcoming episode I am planning to go into detail about how we create a 1/2 year long automated campaign to promote each episode on social media. Over the years we have tried and used a ton of different platforms for this.

The one I think is most innovative is called CoSchedule. It allows us to design a social campaign on autopilot.

I am lazy, but engagement cannot be automated

I answer every RT, question or DM related to our podcast episodes. But that does not mean I want to spend a lot of time on social media crafting individual tweets and social shares for our episodes.

CoSchedule has a clever automation concept called “social helpers”. These are content snippets that help to produce a varied social feed, with different hashtags, images, messages. It shares our episode show notes content, but does not repeat the same tweet or image all the time.

Again, it’s the sort of one time up-front effort that takes some time to set up initially, but then saves a ton of time for each episode. If you are interested in seeing this in more detail, let me know in the comments.

Conclusion

Again – this episode was just the process we follow because it is producing results for us. I do not recommend it to everyone, and the fact that we are producing video alongside the audio portion complicates things a bit.

If you are a new podcaster or a business considering podcasting as a content strategy, you may well think all of this is overkill.

But keep in mind that the lion share of the work goes into the initial planning, the setting up of templates and designing and implementing the various automation steps. And this is a one time only effort. And the routine production can be done by other people.

If you’d like to chat and explore possibilities for your own podcast workflow, feel free to book a time with me.


FREE 2019 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

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    Gear Guides
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    Music & Sound Effect Libraries
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Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast Marketing With Social Contests And Give-Aways

Promoting a newly launched podcast with a Facebook contest used to be a very popular podcast marketing tactic. The idea was to launch a contest featuring a relevant give-away and to boost it with paid Facebook ads. To enter the contest, contestants were asked to subscribe to the show, leave an iTunes review, and then to email the iTunes ID name used for the review to the podcast host as proof. The podcast host would then enter the applicant into the contest drawing.

Why Contests Are Still A Good Idea For Marketing A Podcast

In today's episode we examine:

  • The reasons why this is not as popular launch strategy anymore
  • But also why this podcast marketing strategy is still a good idea today
  • Prize selection tips and why they are key for this podcast marketing strategy
  • Contest Structure
  • We will cover some of the best paid and free contest platforms
  • Tips for setting up and running such contests
  • Need some help for your own contest launch?

iTunes Focused Launches Have Changed

Podcast marketing no longer focuses on iTunes alone
Podcast marketing no longer focuses on iTunes alone

The reason this was a successful strategy a few years ago was that the "New and Noteworthy" algorithm within iTunes was driven by the number of reviews a podcast would receive in the initial weeks after launch. And contests were a great way to get lots of reviews in a short amount of time.

Since then, the algorithm to rise to the top of iTunes has changed. It is no longer driven by the number of reviews. Instead, at the time of this writing, the number of new subscribers have the most impact, followed by the number of episode downloads. Therefore the number of reviews no longer contribute to being at the top of the “New and Noteworthy” section.

As I have said elsewhere:

I feel that podcasters needlessly obsess about getting into the "New and Noteworthy" section.

The reality is that over the last two years iTunes has become a highly competitive space, given that major popular radio stations have shifted their energies from terrestrial and satellite radio to podcasts as a way to create a digital presence.

And there has been evidence that being featured in "New and Noteworthy" typically yields only a few hundred additional subscribers.

Podcast marketing through “Launch Contest” is less common now

The main reason is that N&N is no longer as influenced my the number of reviews a podcast gets. Besides no longer being as effective, setting up a launch contest usually takes a good deal of time to set up. You need landing pages, marketing automation capability and time. Or money to spend on contest platforms.

But if you have the passion, time and effort to spare, a launch contest will still give your podcast launch a great boost, for some of the below reasons:

But iTunes Reviews Are Still Important

Reviews are still important and should not be ignored. They lend credibility and social proof to a podcast. Seeing that dozens of people are leaving great reviews for a podcast you might enjoy might tip the scale for you to take action and subscribe. On the other hand, seeing a podcast on iTunes with no reviews at all also tells you something.

Why a Launch Contest is Still A Good Idea

Getting reviews and testimonials is as hard as it ever was. We've seen this play out countless times. People are happy to offer leaving a review, but iTunes doesn't make this process very straight-forward. So when it comes down to it, even your friends and relatives somehow don't get around to it without repeat reminders.

Contest Prize Selection

Prize selection matters in podcast marketing  with contests
Prize selection matters in podcast marketing with contests

Adding the right prizes and incentives is key. The selected giveaways don’t have to be expensive. It is more important that they be relevant, and related to the podcast topic or context.

So for example, for a customer experience podcast you might have a contest to win free tickets to the biggest yearly Customer Experience conference. That beats offering an iPad as a prize, simply because your subscriber and contest participants are much more likely to actually care about your podcast and topic, instead of just trying to win an iPad.

Another example might be a podcast about podcasting, podcast growth and promotions such as my own show. If I were to run a contest for the Podcast Growth Show, I would choose to give away a premium microphone or podcasting gear package as the grand prize.

Why Choose Multiple Prizes?

But one prize is not enough. By giving away multiple prizes, you increase the desirability and success of your contest simply because there are better odds and many more ways to win.

The most successful contests offer a single grand prize, and then a number of secondary prizes in decreasing value.

In fact, you should give away a free resource for everyone entering your contest. This could be a simple lead magnet PDF, as long as it is related to your podcast's topic and focus.

Podcast Marketing Contest Example Prizes

For the Podcast Growth Show, here is how I would plan to structure my own podcast contest. My goal would be to attract new podcasters. So my prize selection would focus on thinking about what would be relevant for new podcasters.

Pretty much every podcaster I know tried to save money during their initial studio setup. And the thing they most likely tried to save money on is their microphone boom arm. A cheap version of this can be highly frustrating to use, and a more professional model with greater reach and a more solid feel is a pleasure to use. Believe me, podcasters will appreciate the difference.

  • 1st Prize: Premium RODE PSA1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm (a $109 value)
  • 2nd Prize: A Great Dynamic Podcast XLR and USB Microphone – The Audio Technica AT2005 (a $79 value)
  • 3rd Prize: 15 copies of our "Podcast Marketing & SEO Online Course" – (a $97 value)
  • 9th-25 Prize: Our Podcast Marketing Bible Ebook (a $9.97 value)
  • Prize for all contest entrants: "How To Market Your Podcast" ebook and access to our online "Podcasting Resources Guide"

Contest Structure

Podcast promotion contest structure
There are many facets to consider when launching a podcast promotion contest

As I previously mentioned, the launch contests of yesteryear focused on getting iTunes reviews. But that should no longer be the only focus now. For me, it is much more important to attract the right listeners to join my email list and to subscribe to my podcast through email notifications.

So my focus would be to get contest entrants to

  1. Subscribe to my show via email
  2. Subscribe to my show's YouTube channel, because I feature lots of cool "how to" and demo videos there
  3. Like my podcast's Facebook page
  4. Join our Facebook podcast marketing group
  5. Leave an iTunes review

Multiple Actions to Enter The Contest

These are multiple actions to take, and people might think this is a lot to ask just to enter a contest. And that is right, except:

Each action completed creates additional chances to win the prize

So the logic is this: You must subscribe to my email list, that part is required because otherwise I cannot communicate with you and send you the prize. But if you complete the other additional steps, each completed tasks enters you in the contest additional times, greatly increasing your chances of winning one or more prizes.

And, each action is weighed differently: For example, subscribing to my Youtube channel is worth an additional 5 entries, but leaving an iTunes review is worth 25 additional entries.

The genius of this approach for podcast reviews is that it makes it a no-brainer for a contest entrant to do the hardest thing: Leave you an iTunes review.

Later in the podcast I explore the differences between a DIY approach versus utilizing one of the contest platforms out there. This approach of multiple contest entries for multiple actions is only possible by using proper contest management platforms like.

An example of multiple actions to increase your chances

In our video we feature a great example of this in a contest currently underway. The company is Syrp, and they are giving away some photo gear. Click below to start the video at 10:44 seconds:

At 10:44 – an example of multiple ways to enter a contest

Is it necessary to validate iTunes Reviews?

Unfortunately I don't know of any platform that integrates with iTunes directly to validate if someone actually left an iTunes review. But in my mind, most people will do so if asked, because they are afraid of missing out and being found out. What if you were to ask them for the iTunes name they left a review under before sending them their prize?

  • Note that with the Gleam.io platform, there are several easy ways to enter a contest by answering a question or by leaving a comment – and here you can simply ask the user to enter the iTunes name under which the review was left.

Creating Contest Landing Pages

If you want to create a contest, you will want to set up a contest landing page. A contest landing page is a distraction free website or page where you can send ad traffic to, and where people can learn about and sign up for your contest.

You can build such pages manually, but you may not need to when using the contest platforms we will discuss a bit later. They handle the creation of and simplify the design of landing pages, and some even allow you to create multiple versions of these pages and conduct A/B tests to see which ones perform best.

Q: Do you need to A/B test pages? A: It depends. There are people out there that have tested their contest pages. Here are some links to these tests and their outcomes. Why not learn from their tests and model your landing page on their winners? This will save you time and effort.

Generally speaking, it seems that contest landing pages with video perform better.

The Facebook Ad Campaign

Once you have a landing page, it's time to set up a Facebook campaign to boost your contest landing page. Facebook marketing is too big a topic to tackle in this episode, but here are a few tips to make this work:

Setting Up And Using Facebook Ads Manager

Creating A Facebook Ad

There are many easy ways in which you can create a Facebook ad. You shoot a quick video or FB live post, create one or more images about your contest, and come up with some fun language to use for a Facebook post.

We use the AIDA method when creating Facebook ads and landing pages for contests:

  • A =Attention – Ask a provocative question or make a statement that earns the attention of your audience
  • I=Interest – Expand on attention grabbing line with something that will peak their interest and explain.
  • D=Desire – What's in it for them to enter your contest. Duh, that's easy, right?
  • A=Action – This is the call to action, what you want them to do

Finding The Right Audience

The key in making Facebook ads effective and affordable is to show your contest ads to only your very best, most relevant audience. In Facebook parlance this is called "audience targeting". If you have never done Facebook ads before, this can be a bit tricky. Basically you are trying to limit the number of people who see your ads to only those interested in your primary topic.

Targeting Podcast Listeners

But that is not all: You also want to make sure the audience your Facebook ads are shown to are likely podcast listeners, and that part is much harder.

podcast marketing with Facebook Ads
The 5 Step Process to Advertise To Podcast Listeners On Facebook

We have a 5 step process to target likely podcast listeners on Facebook. It walks you through our method on Facebook Ads manager, and you will learn how to target people generally interested in your podcast's topic, but who also are likely podcast listeners.

Free vs Paid Contest Platforms

Are paid contest marketing platforms worth it?

Should you use a paid contest platform like the ones we outlined above? Or is there a way to build this all for free?

Advantages of Paid Contest Platforms

Paid contest platforms are the way to go. For a relatively low monthly fee they offer a range of distinct advantages over a DIY approach.

They integrate with social networks. This means they validate that someone actually shared a post, liked your Facebook Page or Youtube channel. All of this before they are entered in the contest.

Most paid platforms offer pre-built contest landing pages for you. You get up and running much more quickly, and don't have to invest in fancy landing page builders.

They send out custom email reminders. This saves you from having to create your own email funnels, saving a lot of time.

Some have A/B testing built in. This means you get to test out multiple landing pages to see which perform better.

Here are some of my favorite contest platforms to consider:

Rafflecopter

  • Rafflecopter – One of the most affordable platforms out there. Rafflecopter offers a free plan, trials for the more advanced plans starting at $13 a month at the time of this writing. While an easy platform to start with, it is basic.
  • It lacks some of the more innovative features features found on higher priced platforms.

Gleam.io

  • Gleam.io – I really like Gleam.io. It is a smart and flexible contest platform. It rewards people to take multiple actions to promote you while entering your contest. This increases the viral potential of your podcast marketing or launch contest. After having reviewed about 10 different contest management platforms, Gleam has emerged as my favorite. It is, however, not the least expensive, the Pro plan being $45 a month.

Upviral

  • Upviral – a good alternative to Gleam if the expense of that platform is a hurdle. By automatically emailing reminders, setting goals and providing incentives/rewards, your contest entrants stay on track and deliver. They get rewarded, you get new subscribers and everyone’s happy! Upviral has an example case study on their site of their own podcast launch contest which resulted in 7000 contest site visitors, 450 leads and 50+ reviews on iTunes.

Contest Domination

  • Contest Domination – a flexible platform that offers 7 day trial and a per contest payment option for $100 for a month. The benefit of their approach is that you get access to all features, where some of the other popular platform restrict their features for the basic plans.

To summarize these contest platforms, I feel that Gleam is the most innovative platform to try, and you can expect to spend perhaps $90 for a pro plan for a 2 months campaign. The major spend for podcast launch campaigns comes from Facebook ads anyhow, I would expect to spend between $20-$50 a day for the duration of the campaign. Be sure to check out Episode 3 of our podcast on Paid Podcast Advertising – A Look Behind The Scenes [S1E03]

Free Contest Platform Options

If you want to run your podcast launch contest with absolutely no additional expense, here are some ways to do it as well as some things to keep in mind:

  • To save money on prizes, you can give away content and prizes that don't cost you anything, like courseware, or eBooks or other premium content you have previously developed
  • You can use your own email list software like Mailchimp or Constant contact or even free Gmail automation tools like YAMM (we covered YAMM for Podcast Guesting Outreach in episode XX of our podcast)
  • You will need to develop your own landing pages on your podcast or blogging site.
  • Rely on your social network for free promotion and awareness of your contest, with a big enough following you can save on promoting your contest with paid ads
  • You can use tools like GoViral – a free platform from Growth Tools which ensures and validates social sharing. It is great to use as an add-on for thank you pages.
  • Try out GiveawayTools – a new contest design platform that's currently still in beta, but is free and integrates with several social platforms.

So it can theoretically be done for free, but it will require a large investment of time on your part.

My own view is that a zero cost and DIY approach is not likely to succeed

And the question you should ask yourself is about the relationship between time spent and likely effectiveness of the contest campaign you are setting up.

Need a guide to help with your own contest launch?

I've just published a resource for folks wanting to set up their own contest. This is published in "Open PDF" format, meaning the entire guide is provided on-line with no sign-up required, but you can download it guide as an option if you want.

Podcast Marketing with Launch Contests
Podcast Marketing with Launch Contests

I also offer some ways to collaborate around setting up your own launch contest, from low cost "DIY" sanity checks all the way to "Done for you" contest setup and management.

Conclusion

Apart from getting iTunes reviews, a podcast marketing contest with the right prizes and incentives can quickly add a ton of visibility and email subscribers to your podcast.

While it may not reliably get you into the "New and Noteworthy" section of the iTunes podcast directory any more, having some great reviews still lends social proof and credibility to your podcast. And email subscribers to your show are a permanent asset.

If you decide to run a podcast marketing contest, I recommend using a paid contest platform, as this will save you a ton of time and effort.

Today’s episode is a little different. We are going to talk about the importance of building a great podcast home page, and the role it plays in promoting your podcast.

Podcast Homepage Design Patterns

Let me apologize in advance: Talking about podcast homepage design patterns is a mostly visual exercise. It you are listening and not able to see the video and the show notes, I’ll try my best to verbally explain the page layout elements as we go through.

But the episode features a YouTube video where you can see the visual bits explained in detail, and I’d encourage you to watch it above.

What we are talking about is a highly converting podcast homepage design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page” – optimized to create a guided experience for your site visitors, and to encourage them to subscribe to your podcast via email. The video covers 2 versions of this – a more complete version for established podcasts with multiple seasons or topics, and a simple version for new podcast sites with a narrow niche and a focused audience.

But first I want to outline the reasons behind focusing on email list building instead of on iTunes rank and “New and Noteworthy” presence. I get asked about this a lot, especially by “podcasting purists” and “old school” podcasters who are experienced and may already have a solid audience and following. For them, understandably, the primary goal is to serve listeners on iTunes.

Why Podcast Homepage Design Should Focus On Email List Building instead of iTunes Subscribers

The holy grail of podcasting is to get iTunes Subscribers, right? And to get into the “New and Noteworthy” charts, right? And so podcast homepage design should focus on getting visitors to your site to subscribe on iTunes, right?

Well, not from my point of view. For a number of reasons: The iTunes podcast ranking algorithm as well as the “New and Noteworthy” charts are seriously broken at the time of this writing. The top 200 podcasts are being gamed and exploited, and are full of entries who are paying thousands of dollars to overseas click farms for instant presence in the top charts. This is not just my opinion, but has been extensively covered in the podcast news beats. If you want to see a comprehensive video explaining how this is the case, and what the impact on the iTunes ecosystem is, just watch this video by Lime Link.

So why design your podcast website to get people to subscribe on iTunes, when you could be getting people to subscribe to your podcast via email notifications?

I would gladly trade 1,000 iTunes subscribers for 100 podcast email notification subscribers.

Email list building sounds like such a trite concept, but even today it is still one of the most valuable assets your business can build. The fact is that you can provide your audience with more valuable context, and you get to better position your episodes through the email notifications you send. Should you still encourage your listeners to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher? Of course, but it is better to do so after they have opted in via email.

The Inbound Philosophy of the “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” Design Pattern

“Conversion Optimization” is such a crass term. Sounds vaguely exploitative, like you are somehow tricking or taking advantage of your audience.

Let me try and debunk that.

The “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” design pattern is intended to better serve your audience.

It is meant to create a better experience for them. It is based on empathy with your audience. Your podcast homepage design should be intended to help your audience discover your best and most relevant content. Content that resonates the most with their own situation and listening goals, and is also what you are most proud of.

Creating a Guided Experience

And so, the intention is to create a guided experience for your visitors. This means hiding distractions, and reducing some of the options that some visitors may be accustomed to. For example, the presence of a comprehensive menu with lots of choices at the top of the page. Or buttons to jump off to iTunes and Stitcher where they can simply subscribe. From a UX perspective, you may think these make it easier for your visitors, when in fact they can create cognitive friction, overwhelm, and too many choices.

The idea is not to make it “harder” for your visitors to find these links, but to simply guide them on a journey to better understanding your topic, how your podcast addresses their own needs, and how best to stay connected with your content.

None of this can happen if you “make it easy” for your site visitors by placing a “Subscribe on iTunes” button on the top of your site. That just sends them straight to the iTunes store, where they will see a homogenized list of episodes with no context, no background story, no differentiation between one episode and the next.

The subscribe on iTunes links are still there, of course, but placed near the bottom of the page. This means as your visitors scroll through your podcast website, you have the chance to encourage them to discover your content and subscribe to your show via email.

And this is where “Pilot Stories” come in. But first, let’s walk through the upside down podcast home page design one section at a time:

Again, apologies for the visual nature of this, but what follows will talk through a number of website design elements called “page sections”. These are the building blocks of modern web design. They can be thought of as horizontal bands of grouped content. Most of us are familiar with websites that have a “Header” or “Above the Fold” or “Hero” page section. Well, there are other less prominent sections as well, and we’ll talk through each one involved in the “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” pattern.

The “Above The Fold” Section

Above the fold is defined as

positioned in the upper half of a web page and visible without scrolling down the page.

The above the fold section is the first thing that creates an impression when we visit a site. It is often where we find a “Header” or “Hero Image”. The top of the page should be dedicated to one thing: getting people to sign up to your podcast via email.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Above The Fold
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Above The Fold

Look Ma, No Menu: This is what makes it an “upside down” page. Menu links are moved to the footer instead. If you must have menu items, limit them to 3-5.

Showing Face: Showing a face above the fold increases conversions, trust, engagement

Call To Action: Deliver a solid call to action above the fold, but make sure this is NOT an iTunes button.

Social Proof Section

The social proof band establishes you’re not a weirdo, and if possible outlines your best reviews, or that your podcast was in the top 100, or that you’ve been featured elsewhere, including on TV, or even if you’ve appeared on other podcast shows. It is often implemented as a set of light grey logos where you might have been featured, or can include testimonials from your guests. The design reason for “greyed out” logos are that they are a more humble brag, and less likely to visually compete with the design of your site.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Social Proof Section
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Social Proof Section

In our video, notice the design treatment for this section.

The Roadmap Section

The roadmap section provides an multiple choice on-ramp to let your site visitors self-select their journey through your content. It is most often designed as a section with a set of columns or content boxes with an icon, a headline, short description and a button to find out more.

It provides an “at a glance” overview of your podcast’s content, while at the same time encouraging your visitors to select what they are most interested in. Clicking on your road map section represents a sort of “micro-commitment” to further engage with your content.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Roadmap Section
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Roadmap Section

A good example of a roadmap would be for guiding your site visitors through multiple seasons of your podcast. Each season would have a title, a description, and a button to find out more about it. A click on each button triggers a smooth scroll down the page to a pilot story section, which further explains the season and offers some of its best content. This sort of self selective exploration of your content allows your visitors to find what they want as well as stay on your site.

SEO Tip: For extra credit, implement a WordPress plugin called “Reduce Bounce Rate“, which communicates with Google Analytics and records scroll movements. In our tests we have observed improvement in bounce rate from the 80s to the 30s.

The Role of Pilot Stories in Podcast Homepage Design

As covered in our video, there are multiple ways in which pilot stories function within your podcast homepage design to highlight your very best best content.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Pilot Story Section
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Pilot Story Section

If you have a single and focused niche you may only need a single pilot story. But if your podcast homepage design is intended to offer multiple categories of content, or multiple seasons, then you can add “Pilot Story” sections for each.

For listeners unable to see the illustrations in our show notes, the pilot story section features not only the headline and compelling description, but also a mini grid of your best episodes on the related topic. Our own design approach is to split this page section vertically, with the pilot story on one side, and a mini episode grid on the other side.

This allows you to highlight your best content, instead of hiding it deep inside your site. Use Google analytics to identify the best and most popular episodes from the past, and then feature them here.

Pilot Story Section For Seasons

For people with seasonal shows, these sections can tell the story of each season.

  • Having a section for each season provides you with a chance to outline the value proposition of listening to each season.
  • It also lets you highlight the best and most popular episodes, and allows people to jump to the show notes pages for each episode that resonates with them.

Pilot Story Section For Topic Categories

Another way to position the pilot story sections is to categorize your content. Does your podcast offer advice, or tips? If so, chances are that your episodes fall into multiple categories of advice and tips.

  • You can develop a “Pilot Story” for each category, and highlight the best episodes for each.

Your Pilot Story’s Call To Action

One thing all pilot stories have in common is that they offer you the chance to highlight your best content. And it also provides you with the opportunity to offer your audience a call to action. What is it you want them to do?

Don’t miss any new episodes…

The simplest way to implement this is to simply offer a way to subscribe to email notifications as a way to stay connected with your show.

A more advanced call to action provides additional incentives to your audience.

For an example of this, see season 2 of the Positivity Strategist Podcast.

Podcast Website Design Example of a Call To Action
Podcast Website Design Example of a Season And Call To Action

This podcast season talks about “Seven new literacies for living and leading in our times”, and the gift being offered for people to subscribe to the show is a “7 Literacies Guide” to go along with listening to the season.

Associating your podcast homepage with strong calls to action also allows for utilizing paid ads and post boosts on Facebook and other platforms. And, make sure your podcast episode files use Facebook correctly and link to your show notes pages rather than to iTunes.

Podcast Subscription Links Section

Finally, here is the section about how to subscribe on iTunes or other podcast directories. This appears right at the top of the podcast home page in too many podcast homepage designs.

The reason for placing this further down is this: By the time that people scroll to this section, your pilot stories have had ample time to communicate the benefits of signing up via email.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - iTunes Links Section
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – iTunes Links Section

Minor tip: If you use the icons and graphics provided by each podcast platform, consider adding text explanations under each graphic. Your readers might not recognize each graphic.

The Episode Grid Section

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Episode Grid
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Episode Grid

Like the iTunes links, your complete episode grid is purposefully moved towards the bottom of the page layout. This  so people are likely more likely to scroll and discover the highlighted episodes in the “Pilot Story” sections above.

The Navigation Footer

This is what makes this home page “upside-down.”

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Episode Grid
The Upside Down Podcast Homepage Design Pattern – Episode Grid

Most websites have their navigation at the very top of the page, but moving it to the bottom of the page, we have increased focus and conversions.

Conclusion and Examples

We use this design pattern on a number of pages ourselves. And this design pattern is obviously not limited to podcasting websites and homepages. Here are some examples we built for a clients in different industries:

Additional Downloadable Resources

If you are interested in a downloadable PDF version of this design pattern as featured and covered in the video with all the annotations and explanations, please click here to sign up for our podcasting resources guide, which features a PDF version of the entire design pattern with lots of implementation notes.

WordPress Ready Made Podcast Home Page Download

Also, I am creating a “Done For You” version of this design pattern, ready to install on any WordPress site, let me know if that is something you would want in the comments.

How to promote your podcast main image

The current podcast ecosystem is a challenging one to promote your podcast in, admittedly. First: there are currently north of 525,000 shows that have produced around 18.5 million episodes. Assuming an average length of about 1 hour, it would take you 2,111 years to get through all the current episodes on just iTunes. It's a crowded space, for sure.

Add to that the increasing role of Chinese click farms, which have an outsized impact on the top 200 for iTunes. The charts are gameable, hackable, and a lot of people are doing just that. The Youtube video above was put together by LimeLink, and if you're a podcaster you owe it to yourself to check it out. Careful, you might get depressed, or worse, be tempted to try the same for your podcast. Don't! This post is here to help.

Compounding that: launch algorithms have changed, and reviews don't matter as much as they once did. The older (still common to many) model of giveaways and contests won't work as well as it did even 1-2 years ago.

As a result of the overall landscape, promoting your podcast has to come from newer sources. But what exactly are those sources? How do you promote and market your podcast in 2019 and beyond?

This is why I put together this (pretty exhaustive) post, and hope that it will prove useful for beginning podcasters, but also that the veterans will find some podcast promotion tips and tactics they may not have considered yet.

Oh, and there is now also an entire Podcast and Youtube Channel about this. It's called "The Podcast Growth Show", and if you find some of this material useful or have podcast promotion tactics you can share with us, I'd love it if you joined our community.

Submitting Your Shows To Podcast Directories

The place to start? Promote your podcast by submitting to podcast directories…

This was also the topic for episode 1 of the podcast growth show, called Podcast Directories – The Best Ones To Boost Your Podcast.

OK, this is basic, but also necessary, so let's start here. Ensuring your podcast can be easily discovered by listeners on existing platforms is key. It may be a passive promotion method, but still, it is worth it, especially doing during your podcast launch phase.

This is also one of the easiest marketing approaches you can take. You're looking to make sure your podcast has the most reach possible. Being in as many podcast directories as possible is a great start towards that end.

Now, I've seen some good blog posts about this topic alone, but that's why I'm including web stats for each directory: For each directory below I'm including sign-up links as well as web traffic stats from Similarweb. I'm doing this to provide a relative measure of popularity for each platform. I'm adding this research as a form of encouragement.

You can decide for yourself if the traffic to these directories is worth your submission effort. My own approach: if the platform has more than 50K visits a month, it's worth submitting. Many have 100s of million visits a month. So, let's get to work, and if you're a veteran podcaster, use the list below to double check.

iTunes

iTunes is pretty obvious, and I'm just listing it here for completeness. It is the most important directory. But perhaps not for the reason you think.

Most people focus on submitting to iTunes in order to be in the "New and Noteworthy" section. But for me the most important reason to submit to iTunes is that most mobile apps (AKA podcatchers) use the iTunes directory to list all available podcasts inside their app. This means you need to submit to iTunes if you want your podcast to be found on a majority of podcatchers out there.

Spotify

Spotify is a relatively new player, but has been growing fast. Most podcast hosting services now provide integration with Spotify. In Libsyn, for example, you can define Spotify as a target publishing destination. Libsyn also provides detailed "how to" guides on setting this up in the first place.

  • Submissions to Spotify are handled inside your podcast hosting platform. This should be the preferred way to publish on Spotify, as I understand it "preferred partner hosts" like Libsyn integrate with Spotify so that you get analytics.
  • Spotify also just launched their Podcast Portal, which means you can submit your podcast manually if you are not with a preferred partner. However, your episodes will be cached on Spotify, and this means your analytics won't reflect listener credits in your hosting platform. This is why you should submit via your Spotify preferred podcast hosting platform if possible.
  • Web Stats: 251M visits a month

Stitcher

Formerly the #2 podcast promotion and listening destination. Lately I feel the platform has become somewhat ad saturated, and there a lot of other listening apps and platforms have emerged. Stitcher requires it's own submission process.

Google Play

Google play is putting a lot of effort into developing their podcast app and overall podcasting ecosystem. This is good news, and if your show is not on Google Play yet, I would definitely add it there.

  • Google Play has a podcast portal where you can submit your show.
  • Web Stats, including podcasts and music: 1.4B visits a month

TuneIn

TuneIn has been around a long time, with available apps for almost all operating systems and mobile devices.

  • Their process is straight forward using their submission form.
  • Web Stats: 24M visits a month

iHeart Radio

iHeart Radio is another podcast directory that gets your podcast information from your hosting platform. In Libsyn, for example, you can define iHeart Radio as a target publishing destination. Libsyn also provides detailed "how to" guides on setting this up in the first place.

  • Submissions to iHeart Radio are sometimes handled inside your podcast hosting platform. For example on Libsyn.
  • Here is a direct link to submit your show
  • Web Stats: 27.72M visits a month

Blubrry

Blubrry is best know as a podcast hosting platform. So if you publish your show on Libsyn or one of the other podcast hosting services, Blubrry may not be something you've considered. However, Blubrry has a very popular podcast directory not limited to only Blubrry hosted podcasts. So as part of promoting your podcast, you should consider adding your show to this directory.

Podbean

Mainly a podcast hosting company, but also has an extensive podcast directory

Spreaker

Like Blubrry, Spreaker is both a hosting platform as well as a podcast directory. You can submit your show even if it is not hosted there. You sign up for an account, and then supply your RSS feed there.

Player.fm

Player FM is the multi-platform podcast app that helps you find shows on the topics you care about and play them at your convenience, even when you're offline.

Acast.com

A podcast hosting service with it's own app and directory. You can submit your show to be featured on their site and inside their app.

Digital Podcast

Digital podcast is a directory that will help you promote your podcast by listing it there. Their submission process is really simple, all you need to do is to create an account and then paste your podcast RSS feed URL.

Radiopublic

Handpicked podcast playlists from people who love podcasts.

  • Click here for the submission process
  • Web Stats: 378K visits a month

ListenNotes.com

Podcast search engine that claims to have audio transcripts of 542,280 podcasts. Their web stats seem to indicate a good level of activity, so I am listing it here.

iPodder

  • iPodder has a simple submission process on their site, you suplpy name, email and your podcast feed.
  • Add your podcast to iPodder
  • Web Stats: unavailable, may indicate the platform is no longer active

Good Pods

Good Pods is a little different in that it is a podcast curation platform. This means you need to apply and provide a brief justification why they should promote your podcast and why it should be included in their directory.

  • Apply here to be considered in their directory
  • Web Stats: Not available, may indicate the platform is no longer active

More detailed instructions?

If you would like to promote your podcast by submitting to each one of the above directories, each of the links provided are pretty intuitive. But are looking for more detailed instructions, a good start would be here.

Podcast Guesting On Other Podcasts

Guesting is a great way to promote your podcast
Guesting on other shows is a great way to promote your own podcast

Steve Olsher 's Profiting from Podcasts is a program for non-podcasters and podcasters alike to appear on other people's shows. As part of his site he gives away "lead magnet". This is a currently free directory and contact information for 670 podcasters whose show you could appear on. So that is one useful resource for this.

We also dedicated an entire episode for a deep dive into this topic, especially if you are the DIY type and want to avoid spending money on expensive programs.

In our tutorial video we show step by step how to automate a highly personalized "podcast guesting" outreach campaign.

So read on for some summary tips on this topic, but if you are interested in our deep dive and ready to explore details on how to execute podcast guesting outreach campaigns, please check out episode 2 of the Podcast Growth Show called Podcast Guesting – A Cure For Stalled Subscriber Growth [S1E02]

Here is the short version:

Work the bigger players in your space

Listen to full episodes of some of the bigger players in the space you're podcasting in. Make notes. Find their contact info and email with feedback. Be open and honest, saying something like

"I'm very interested in podcasting in this space. I particularly loved how, in Episode XXX, you talked to Guest XXX about Topic XXX and got him to admit Fact XXX. I'd love to know more about your process for guest selection, guest prep, and more. Would you have maybe 20-30 minutes for that? I'd be willing to help you out with elements of your show in return for your time."

A message like that articulates what's in it for the bigger-name show. Now you might get to work on their show, learn from them, or maybe eventually be a guest or get intros to their previous guests. You're on your way.

Steve was very gracious in making this list available, so please do not abuse it.

What do I mean by that? Do not send cold mass emails to all 670 big name podcasters! besides not getting on any of these shows, your name will be dirt in the podcasting community.

Instead, do this: Ask yourself if you're 100% ready. If you can answer "yes" to 4 out of these 5 questions, then you're good:

  1. Have you already been a guest on at least 20 other shows?
  2. Have you already added value to the person you're reaching out to in a meaningful way?
  3. Do you have your own show, or a substantial online presence, and have you already connected with, or had a podcaster on my show?
  4. Have you made your presence felt in their community?
  5. Do you know this person, their interests, likes, dislikes and have a solid affinity for them?

Work the smaller players in your space

Steve's Olsher's "profiting from podcasts" list features some pretty big podcasters with established audiences, and that's great. However, if you are in a smaller niche, you may have an even better success rate by doing some of the initial leg work yourself.

Reaching out to other relevant podcasters in your niche is easy, and iTunes is the perfect tool to look up interesting shows in your category. Each show lists a website, and you can quickly get a sense how professionally each podcast is set up. Almost all podcast websites have a contact form or other way to get in touch, and again you can send a templated email requesting to be on their show.

You will want to listen to the show you want to appear on, and comment on something that you heard and liked about it. This gives you a much better chance of being accepted than sending what may look like a templated mass email.

The more personal you make your inquiry, the better the results.

To promote your podcast, guesting can be a crucial part of the ecosystem. When you appear, you inherently get to promote your podcast and other work (provided you're interesting, which we'll take as a given right now).

If some listeners like what you have to say, they will jump over to your own podcast and subscribe.

Using Paid Ad Strategies

Marketing your podcast using paid ads
Marketing your podcast with paid ads can be very effective – especially on other podcasts

Using paid ads for promoting a podcast is not for everyone. But appropriate if you have a budget, for example for business podcasts where lead generation and email list building are part of the overall objective.

And don't just think "ads don't work" – not all platforms are alike. When it comes to promoting your podcast using paid ads, there are a few options.

Paid ad strategies is the topic of our Podcast Growth Show video episode called Paid Podcast Advertising – A Look Behind The Scenes [S1E03].

It explores 3 platforms in greater detail, and also offers our simple 5 step process to better target podcast listeners with Facebook Ads:

Promote your podcast with Facebook ads
To promote your podcast with Facebook ads, you will want this 5 step quick guide

But read on for the Cliff Notes summary of our deep dive, here's my take on 3 platforms.

Google Adwords

Generally speaking AdWords is expensive. So the question you'll want to ask yourself is this: Can I afford driving traffic to my podcast at $5-$20 per click?

My own view is that you need measurable results for this, and for most businesses this means sending traffic to a good landing page that features a gift or give-away and collects an email address. Sending ad traffic to iTunes and hoping that people subscribe is difficult to measure, and not worth it in my opinion. On AdWords you cannot even target podcast listeners easily. So we don't use it except for corporate podcasts (as we are producing several)

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most affordable paid choices for promoting a podcast. It may seem easy to simply "boost" an episode specific post on your podcast site, and then hope people listen and subscribe.

But I would not recommend this approach when first starting out. Instead, I would recommend sending traffic to a dedicated podcast landing page that features an incentive for signing up. Boosting a post is a quick solution but rarely converts as well as a carefully crafted visual and ad specifically outlining the listener benefit and value proposition of your overall podcast.

Consider combining these ads with "Share Gates" covered later in this post.

If you have not done so before, getting started properly with Facebook ads can be intimidating, so consider taking a Facebook ads course or hiring someone experienced to help you get started.

In Podcast Advertising Networks

With both AdWords and Facebook you will mostly be advertising to non-podcast listeners. It is difficult to target podcast listeners only on Facebook, and next to impossible on Google.

But this is why in-podcast advertising networks are so effective. By default, your entire audience consists of podcast listeners.

One great way to get new listeners is to advertise on other existing podcasts in your niche. Most podcasters only think of podcast advertising networks as something to help them monetize their own show. But placing an ad inside one of the most popular podcasts in your niche can be super effective. According to Midroll, 61% of podcast listeners have purchased from such podcast ads.

The real benefit of this approach is the fact that you are advertising on your medium. if people are listening to your ads, that means they are podcast subscribers already. It is much easier to convince them to check out your show, than to show your Facebook or AdWords content to people who may not even listen to podcasts at all.

So how much does this cost? Here is some information from Midroll, by far the best known podcast advertising network.

All Midroll podcast ads are priced on a cost-per-thousand downloads model, or CPM. For instance, with a $25 CPM, a spot on a show with 10,000 downloads per episode costs $250; with 100,000 downloads, it’s $2500.

So let's do the math. If your ad is highly relevant to the audience of the podcast you place your ad into, and assuming 3% of listeners take action and subscribe to your show, your cost per new listener would be $0.83. If only 1% of listeners take action, then it would be $2.50 per subscriber. Either way, these numbers compare very favorably to advertising on Facebook or AdWords.

How To Promote Your Podcast By Leveraging Your Own Guests

Your own guests need to play a role in growing your podcast
Make sure your guests help you by sharing episodes they appear on

If you have an interview show, you might expect that your guest will help you promote your podcast. But make sure this is not an unspoken assumption on your part. After having launched over a dozen shows, I've found that getting your podcasts guest to share episode links with their own social networks can be like pulling teeth.

And the more connected and "famous" your guest is, the less likely they are to do this without being prompted.

Go Through Lengths To Present Your Guest In A Good Light

For example, we have an on-boarding sequence when we book guests on our shows. During this phase, we ask them to fill out a simple form, and to provide social media links, books they are promoting, short bios, profile pictures etc. This is so that we can create a great looking guest section with pictures and links to their work. In other words, you want to create great looking show notes that your guests would be proud to share and help with promoting your podcast.

Make your expectations clear from the beginning

But in our guest on-boarding sequence we already make it clear that we expect podcast guests to share the episode on their social networks, in a nice way. And we tell each guest that when the show goes live, they will receive ready made sharable links and notifications.

Create macros and scripts for sharing links

What you need to be doing here is leveraging the power and networks of your guests to promote episodes, but also promote your own episodes. Again, this needs to be done sparingly to an extent; you don't want to be seen as a self-promoter. That usually gets you silenced algorithmically on Twitter and other sites. But if you have scripts for yourself and your guests, it's an easier process.

Some Example Scripts

Use something similar for Facebook/LinkedIn and/or Google+

“I was just on the [NAME OF PODCAST] with [YOUR NAME] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. If you’re [REASON WHY SOMEONE MIGHT BE INTERESTED], listen here: [PASTE THE LINK FROM STEP #1)

Use something similar for Twitter and include a service like ClickToTweet:

“I was just interviewed by [YOUR TWITTER HANDLE] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. Listen here: [INSERT SHORTENED LINK FROM STEP #1]”

Automate This Process Using Text Expander Or Email Macros

Scripts are designed to make your process easier. You can even make them a Macros in your email so that deployment is just a matter of filling in the brackets.

A great tool for this on Mac is an application called Text Expander. This will allow you to enter templates like the above and recall them at the touch of a button or shortcut key. And a popup will prompt you to simply fill in the blanks with the needed information.

Beyond Guests, Make It Easy As Pie To Share Your Episodes

Ensure your podcast episodes are easily shared
Ensure your podcast episodes are easily shared

This means having social share buttons on your episode landing pages that are bright, high, and prevalent. You don't want people having to dig around to share with their networks. Make it easy. We over-complicate so much in marketing (and, well, life). Why over-complicate this?

There are dozens of helper platforms out there that place attractive social share buttons next to your episodes.

Look for the type of share buttons that float on the side of your podcast. This way your social share icons are always "above the fold" and visible in the browser window.

Contests and Promotions To Gather iTunes Reviews

Podcast launch promotion contest
Promote your podcast and get reviews with a contest

This used to be a very popular launch tactic. The idea was to launch a contest, and ask people to enter the contest by leaving an iTunes review, and then emailing the iTunes ID to enter the contest as proof.

iTunes Has Changed

Since then, the algorithm to rise to the top of iTunes has changed. It is no longer driven by the number of reviews. Instead, at the time of this writing, the number of new subscribers have the most impact, followed by the number of episode downloads. Therefore the number of reviews no longer contribute to being at the top of the "New and Noteworthy" section.

Therefore the "Launch Contest" is less common now. Besides no longer being as effective, setting up a launch contest usually takes a good deal of time to set up. You need landing pages, marketing automation capability and time. But if you have the passion, time and effort to spare, a launch contest will still give your podcast launch a great boost, for some of the below reasons:

But Reviews Are Still Important

Reviews are still important and should not be ignored. They lend credibility and social proof to a podcast. Seeing that dozens of people are leaving great reviews for a podcast you might enjoy might tip the scale for you to take action and subscribe. On the other hand, seeing a podcast on iTunes with no reviews at all also tells you something.

Adding The Right Incentives

The tactic of offering some kind of incentive, give-away, or lead magnet for leaving a review still works well for getting reviews.

The selected give-aways don't have to be expensive. It is more important that they be relevant, related to the podcast topic or context. So for example, for a customer experience podcast you might have a contest to win free tickets to the biggest yearly Customer Experience conference. That beats offering an iPad as a prize, simply because your subscriber and contest participants are much more likely to actually care about your podcast and topic, instead of just trying to win an iPad.

Promoting your podcast with social contests is also the topic of our video episode 6 of the Podcast Growth Show: Podcast Marketing With Social Contests [S1E06]. We examine and recommend both free and paid platforms to do social contests right.

Leverage Email Subscribers With Social Media Share Gates

market your podcast launch with GoViral
The idea is to try and promote your podcast launch to go viral.

The contest launch tactic described above has a sister. You can run this campaign as a variant of the more traditional launch contest. The difference? Much easier and less time consuming to set up.

Introducing the GoViral Tool

Bryan Harris over at GrowthTools has a great free tool called GoViral. GoViral gets you more quality traffic and shares by offering a free gift to your new subscribers in exchange for sharing your site with their friends.

GoViral automatically gets people to share your content – it’s instant word of mouth.

A Dead Simple Setup

The cool thing about GoViral is that it creates the social share landing and download pages for you behind the scenes, and this makes it dead simple to set up. So the sequence is as follows:

  1. Susan signs up for your email list
    This could be on your homepage, for a webinar or in a blog post.
  2. GoViral offers her a gift for sharing your site
    This could be anything from a free PDF, to a discount, to a free course.
  3. GoViral gives her the gift and you get free traffic
    Works with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and 16 other services.

GoViral is integrated with most social media platforms, and checks behind the scenes that someone actually shared your podcast link before making the gift available.

We have used this system extensively to increase our webinar registrations by ~35%.

Want to see GoViral in action? Great!

Here is a live example of this: You can download a PDF version of this entire Podcast Marketing Guide by sharing it on Facebook. For one thing, if you are enjoying this post, I'd appreciate it! Plus it makes a handy reference.

How to promote a podcast GoViral Demo image
Help us out by sharing this post!

Just click the download button above to see the GoViral system in action.

How To Promote Your Podcast Organically With SEO

Promoting a podcast with SEO is a long term strategy
Promoting a podcast with SEO is a long term strategy

We actually have an entire dedicated SEO course on how to promote your podcast, but realize most podcasters are probably looking for quicker solutions when first launching their show. The rest of this article has been covering all sorts of other promotional approaches, but overlooking organic search is short sighted and a strategic mistake.

Getting Long Term Traffic

In the rush to launch a promote a podcast, this is often overlooked, or placed on a back-burner, and before you know it you're 25 episodes in without taking advantage of the long term benefits of SEO. Optimized episode landing pages tied to long-tail, low-competition keywords will drive valuable traffic to your site.

Transcription Services Are Your Friend

Transcripts are your SEO friend, and increasingly affordable. The reason you want to use transcripts in your show notes is that Google will index this content, and attribute more rank to your episode because of the length of the episode show notes post. Machine based translation is getting more accurate, and costs around .10 a minute. 100% accuracy comes at a slightly higher cost, about $1.00 per minute. Still, considering the time it would take you to write bespoke show notes, this is an easy time saver investment. It's a nice 1-2 punch of automated services and human narrative context.

When you do this, pay attention to readability. Transcripts are almost always hard to read, and often look line dense, run-on text. And people on the internet like to "skim" content. Plus, from an SEO perspective, Google's new search algorithms values content quality, and this means readability in addition to length.

Our "best SEO practice" is to break said transcribed shows notes into readable chunks with H2/H3 headers for the main themes of the episode.

Ideally the H2 and H3 headers tell the story of the episode for someone just glancing and skimming.

Content Strategy & Patience In Promoting Your Podcast

Invest the time to promote your podcast
Content marketing takes time

This is a broader content problem in marketing. Anything with content takes time to develop, but if it's tied to a business that needs to show short-term results, leaders often lack that time.

Embrace The Time It Takes

If this is a solo effort, you need to make the time and you need to embrace it.

Being passionate about your podcast is almost a pre-requisite.

For example: we know two gym owners who launched a supplement business and, at the same time, a podcast. It took about 75 episodes consistently week-to-week before their traffic started to go way up, and that was largely because one episode in the 60s-range was about the Keto Diet, drew a lot of attention, and helped them out getting noticed for other episodes. But 75 episodes weekly is about a year and a half. It will take time.

That Said: Plan Interesting Topics

podcast marketing takes time
Interesting topics can come from researching your audience

Look at BuzzSumo and similar sites to see what has interested people in your niche before. Ask people on LinkedIn. Ask people on Twitter. Ask your email list. (More on that in a second, as the email list is somewhat the holy grail of this process.) Have conversations with people.

Let's go back to that small business example again. Supposed you pose a question like "What episode topics would you like to hear?" on LinkedIn and several say they want to know how to improve hiring on a budget. Well, find a good guest for that (again it's about research), produce the episode, and when it's produced, GO BACK TO THAT THREAD and share it with those who asked for it.

They'll find value and are much more likely to share it around more. Interesting, consistent, relevant-to-core-target content is going to help any podcast launch well. It takes time, but you'll get noticed faster on that approach.

Join a podcasting community or network

Podcasting networks actively help cross promote, but can be difficult to get into
Podcasting networks actively help cross promote, but can be difficult to get into

What are "Podcast Networks"?

A podcast network is a collection of podcasts that are produced, distributed or made available to advertisers through a single company, or network.

Some bigger podcast networks include Panoply, Maximum Fun, PodcastOne and Gimlet Media.

The advantage of being a member is that these networks frequently have agreements to cross-promote other podcasts on the network. Therefore the ability to attract advertisers is better for the entire group as well. Be prepared that you will be asked to promote the other participants as well, often you don't have much of a choice about who gets promoted. So joining one of the big players is a no brainer.

However, in order to join a network, the burden is on you to show that you can bring existing audience equity to the table (this audience could be from a different medium) or your product is so good, that given the megaphone, you will quickly build equity for the network (this could be in the form of a unique vantage point, expertise, or refined production skills).

Be careful about smaller podcast networks

Think twice about joining a smaller podcast network just to save time and effort, or because they promise you to build a site. And especially if they ask you to give up your feed and offer to host your show from their own feed. You will want it in writing that your podcast feed will be given back to you once you leave the network.

The ideal situation is to join a network that allows you to keep your own personal website and hosting arrangement.

Use your email list

email list building is underated for engaging with your podcast audience
Email is underrated

This is where we recommend you focus some energy and effort.

People opt-in to your lists because they care about some element of what you've put forth. So, now you've got a podcast (or you built the list with the podcast). Well, if they opted in, they are somewhat interested. Keep them interested. That starts with good subject lines. Use the same techniques already covered in episode title development.

Your Guests Make You More Interesting

Think of the most interesting, different-sounding point that your guest made. Figure out how to spin that into an emotional subject line. You can use Headline Analyzer Tools (CoSchedule and others have this) to see how powerful a headline is, and then use said headline as the subject line for the email about a specific episode.

Every so often, engage with your people about guests they want to see, topics they want covered, how they feel about the show in general, and more. Be human. Respond to these emails directly. Marketing automation is the bee's knees but people want to think they're having a convo with the actual creator. You might drum up some business for yourself as well in this process.

Many do email marketing wrong because they just blast out the latest thing they have with a generic subject line and limited context. That gets you low open rates and high unsubscribe rates. At that point, why even have an email list? Be interesting and different. It takes work and sitting down and thinking about the most intriguing thing said on an episode, even if it was just one tiny nugget, but it's worth a ton if you do this with every email send.

Make Your Your Podcast Homepage Design Less Egocentric

Make it more about your audience than your podcast

How do you design a podcast site to engage your audience? Make it more about them, and less about you and your show. And while you do that, you will increase conversion and list-building opportunities.

The Definitive Guide To Design Podcast Sites For Conversion & Engagement

How can you do that? Glad you asked. We have a full long-form article on how to design podcast sites for list-building optimization, where we discuss The Upside Down Podcast Homepage — and we also debate the relative merits of 1,000 iTunes subscribers vs. 100 dedicated email list subscribers. (Hint: the latter is more important.)

By the way, there is a free design pattern for the optimal podcast home page to download.

Figure out your audience and engage it

Finding your ideal podcast audience
Finding your ideal podcast audience is the start

Even though we did not list this at the beginning, this is where almost everything marketing-and-sales-related needs to start, and it's no different with podcasts. It's just that it's time consuming. And anything time consuming often gets overlooked. But OK, let's assume you've got some time.

Let's say you want to target small business owners; that's actually a relatively common target for podcast producers in the business genre. You need to start by thinking this out loud to yourself:

Where do small business owners hang out?

Well, scaling a business is hard. Very few do it successfully. In all likelihood, then, a small business owner would be hanging out on his/her:

  • LinkedIn overall
  • Specific LinkedIn groups
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • HBR and similar sites comments
  • Facebook groups about SMB/entrepreneurship
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Their own email looking for emails that seem helpful (this goes to a point later on)

Make a list of where your audience is or would be. Find groups connected to said audience. Join those groups.

Your Contributions Are Key

And now, this is the part many people miss. It's not about joining those groups and just blasting every episode. That won't work — and on Reddit, it might even get you shadow-banned.

What will work is this: join those groups and contribute to discussions. It's time-consuming, yes. But it's important. Add value to discussions and respond to the comments of others.

After you do this about 20 times, you can start sharing episode links — but this is a big one — ONLY share the links if they are relevant to a specific discussion.

In short, you want to make your sharing conversational and not forced. If it's part of an ongoing dialogue about, say, doing taxes as a small business and you have an episode about that, it's totally relevant and within the knowledge flow people need, they will click on it and listen. But if you just blast that episode devoid of context, it's a much steeper hill to climb.

5 Mistakes to AVOID when promoting your podcast

Podcast marketing mistakes to avoid in podcast promotion

Apple actually recently launched their own podcast marketing best practices, and since Apple is where about 500 billion hours of podcasts have been streamed, it seems like a great place to get some tips on what to do — and maybe more importantly, what not to do.

A few things Apple says to avoid include:

Mistake #1: Long Flowery Intros

  • Skip the vague, flowery intro and let the people know what they can expect to hear.

Mistake # 2: Non Relevant Show Notes Content

  • After you tell listeners what to expect, make sure they know how to find what you’re talking about. Whether it’s a specific episode or your show in general, give them a link to go to.

Mistake #3: Poor Images and Screenshots

  • Pick screenshots wisely. If you want to display a screenshot of your show as it appears on Apple Podcasts, capture it from the Podcasts app using a mobile device, like iPhone or iPad. (If you don't know how to take a screenshot from an Apple device, read this.)

OK, and here are some mistakes we often see

Mistake #4: Lack of Content Strategy

  • It is much more difficult to promote your podcast episodes without planning ahead. This means scheduling and producing episodes a couple of weeks in advance. This will allow you to dedicate more relative time towards ideas for promoting the show, thinking of good episode titles, and writing show notes.

Try not be in a rush

  • Plan and research your episodes ahead of time. If your show allows it, plan for content themes. This can enable you to implement a powerful SEO ranking technique called "cornerstone content", where several related episodes share links to one primary episode about the theme. We have consistently used this to SEO boost blog posts and episodes onto page one of Google search results.
  • Research a bunch of potential keywords for an entire season. Then you can craft your episode titles and show notes to be optimized around high value keywords. These are long tail keywords with low difficulty scores, but that still attract search volume. Use a utility like KWFinder to do the research.
  • Make sure your show notes are of sufficient length. If your show notes are less than 300 words, the likelihood that your content will appear in Google search result is close to zero. You will want to have show notes that are at least 700 words or longer to give your content a chance visibility.

Mistake #5: Weak Episode Titles

  • Don't create boring episode titles. Avoid titles that start with "This week our host XXXX talks to our guest YYYY about ZZZZ". Don't start episode titles with "Episode nnn:" Within iTunes and all podcatchers, space for your episode title is at a premium. So don't waste it with obvious, redundant or irrelevant. Podcast listeners increasingly consume podcasts on a per episode basis, by searching. So your episode titles have a fraction of a second to attract a listener.

Make sure your episode titles pop.

  • Write down 7-20 versions of your planned episode titles – do this every time, and I can almost guarantee that the quality and click-worthiness of your episode titles will improve. We use a tool called CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to craft our episode titles. 
    • For examples of this, search for "podcast content strategy" – polymash shows up on page one, or google "customer experience podcast" – our client Customer Bliss shows up on page one, or "appreciative inquiry" – our client Positivity Strategist is on page one, or "podcast SEO course".
  • Learn a bit about SEO – think of it as an investment that will pay dividends for years to come. I offer an SEO for podcasters course, take advantage of this, or learn the basics of SEO elsewhere. The importance of titles, as well as how to create more interesting ones, is covered there in detail.
  • DIY or Done For You? If the concept of doing SEO yourself makes your eyes glaze over, invest in some help to make your show grow.

How do we help? Why are we writing this article, even?

Years ago, we were helping a client with her overall content strategy. If you've worked in digital at all, you know that people from previous business model generations often don't initially "get" how to market with content, and this client — while great overall — was no different.

Ultimately, we convinced her to try podcasting as a content strategy, and the results have been amazing. It has bolstered her brand within her expertise area, and allowed her to build a community through her podcasting.

Perhaps more importantly, she just loves being a well known podcaster now, and meeting all the people she gets to impact with her show. (Think about the impact of the first season of Serial and you'll probably understand what we mean.)

And this has been true for everyone we have helped launch a podcast as a content strategy. We design a very-targeted, very-contextual, and very-successful approach to launching podcasts. We also help with podcast promotion and subscriber (email!) growth, too.

And our clients eventually prefer podcasting to blogging, since the content ideas and content strategy emerges much more effortlessly. Plus, they are more likely to advance to video and multi-channel content models.

All marketing is two things:

  1. Storytelling
  2. Effectively building a community

All great podcasting is those two things as well. It's a different landscape than it was even in 2016, but you can do this.

You can help us by downloading a PDF version of this post

If you'd like to have a downloadable version of this podcast marketing guide for reference, please share it on Facebook:

Help us out by sharing this post!

This video walk through outlines a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page” – optimized to create a guided experience for your site visitors, and to encourage them to subscribe to your podcast via email. The video covers 2 versions of this – a more complete version for established podcasts with multiple seasons or topics, and a simple version for new podcast sites with a narrow niche and focused audience.

A video walk-through tour of the “Upside Down Podcast Home Page” design pattern

In this post I want to outline the reasons behind focusing on email list building instead of obsessing about iTunes rank and “New and Noteworthy”.

Why Podcast Website Design Should Focus On Email List Building instead of iTunes Subscribers

The holy grail of podcasting is to get iTunes Subscribers, right? And to get into the “New and Noteworthy” charts, right? And so podcast website design should focus on getting visitors to your site to subscribe on iTunes, right?

Wrong, in my opinion. The iTunes podcast ranking algorithm as well as the “New and Noteworthy” charts are seriously broken at the time of this writing. The top 200 podcasts are being gamed and exploited, and are full of entries who are paying thousands of dollars to overseas click farms for instant presence in the top charts. This is not just my opinion, but has been extensively covered in the podcast news beats. If you want to see a comprehensive video explaining how this is the case, and what the impact on the iTunes ecosystem is, just watch this video by Lime Link.

So why design your podcast website to get people to subscribe on iTunes, when you could be getting people to subscribe to your podcast via email notifications?

I would gladly trade 1,000 iTunes subscribers for 100 podcast email notification subscribers.

Email list building sounds like such a trite concept, but even today it is still one of the most valuable assets your business can build. The fact is that you can provide your audience with more valuable context, and you get to better position your episodes through the email notifications you send. Should you still encourage your listeners to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher? Of course, but it is better to do so after they have opted in via email.

The Inbound Philosophy of the “Upside Down Podcast Home Page” Design Pattern

“Conversion Optimization” is such a crass term. Sounds vaguely exploitative, like you are somehow tricking or taking advantage of your audience.

Let me try and debunk that.

The “Upside Down Podcast Homepage” design pattern is intended to better serve your audience.

It is meant to create a better experience for them. It is based on empathy with your audience. Your podcast website design should be intended for your audience to discover your best and most relevant content. Content that resonates the most with their own situation and listening goals, and also is what you are most proud of.

Creating a Guided Experience

And so, the intention is to create a guided experience for your visitors. This means hiding distractions, and reducing some of the options that some visitors may be accustomed to. For example, the presence of a comprehensive menu with lots of choices at the top of the page. Or buttons to jump off to iTunes and Stitcher where they can simply subscribe. From a UX perspective, you may think these make it easier for your visitors, when in fact they can create cognitive friction, overwhelm, and too many choices.

The idea is not to make it “harder” for your visitors to find these links, but to simply guide them on a journey to better understanding your topic, how your podcast addresses their own needs, and how best to stay connected with your content.

None of this can happen if you “make it easy” for your site visitors by placing a “Subscribe on iTunes” button on the top of your site. That just sends them straight to the iTunes store, where they will see a homogenized list of episodes with no context, no background story, no differentiation between one episode and the next.

The subscribe on iTunes links are still there, of course, but placed near the bottom of the page. This means as your visitors scroll through your podcast website, you have the chance to encourage them to discover your content and subscribe to your show via email.

And this is where “Pilot Stories” come in. But first, let’s walk through the upside down podcast website design one section at a time:

Above The Fold

The top of the page is dedicated to one thing: getting people to sign up to your podcast via email.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Above The Fold
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Above The Fold

Look Ma, No Menu: This is what makes it an “upside down” page. Menu links are moved to the footer instead. If you must have menu items, limit them to 3-5.

Showing Face: Showing a face above the fold increases conversions, trust, engagement

Call To Action: Deliver a solid call to action above the fold, but make sure this is NOT an iTunes button.

Social Proof

The social proof band establishes you’re not a weirdo, and if possible outlines your best reviews, or that your podcast was in the top 100, or that you’ve been featured elsewhere, including on TV, or even if you’ve appeared on other podcast shows.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Social Proof Section
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Social Proof Section

In our video, notice the design treatment for this section.

Roadmap

The roadmap section provides an on-ramp to let your site visitors self-select their journey through your content.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Roadmap Section
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Roadmap Section

This could be navigating through multiple seasons or categories. Each segment or column on the road map smooth scrolls to a pilot story section further down the page. This allows your visitors to stay on your site.

SEO Tip: For extra credit, implement a WordPress plugin called “Reduce Bounce Rate“, which communicates with Google Analytics and records scroll movements. In our tests we have observed improvement in bounce rate from the 80s to the 30s.

The Role of Pilot Stories in Podcast Website Design

As covered in our video, there are multiple ways in which pilot stories function within your podcast website design to highlight your very best best content.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Pilot Story Section
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Pilot Story Section

If you have a single and focused niche you may only need a single pilot story. But if your podcast website design is intended to offer multiple categories of content, or multiple seasons, then you can add “Pilot Story” sections for each.

Pilot Story Section For Seasons

For people with seasonal shows, these sections can tell the story of each season.

  • Having a section for each season provides you with a chance to outline the value proposition of listening to each season.
  • It also lets you highlight the best and most popular episodes, and allows people to jump to the show notes pages for each episode that resonates with them.

Pilot Story Section For Topic Categories

Another way to position the pilot story sections is to categorize your content. Does your podcast offer advice, or tips? If so, chances are that your episodes fall into multiple categories of advice and tips. You can develop a “Pilot Story” for each category, and highlight the best episodes for each.

Your Pilot Story’s Call To Action

One thing all pilot stories have in common is that they offer you the chance to highlight your best content. And it also provides you with the opportunity to offer your audience a call to action. What is it you want them to do?

Don’t miss any new episodes…

The simplest way to implement this is to simply offer a way to subscribe to email notifications as a way to stay connected with your show.

A more advanced call to action provides additional incentives to your audience.

For an example of this, see season 2 of the Positivity Strategist Podcast.

Podcast Website Design Example of a Call To Action
Podcast Website Design Example of a Season And Call To Action

This podcast season talks about “Seven new literacies for living and leading in our times”, and the gift being offered for people to subscribe to the show is a “7 Literacies Guide” to go along with listening to the season.

Associating your podcast homepage with strong calls to action also allows for utilizing paid ads and post boosts on Facebook and other platforms. And, make sure your podcast episode files use Facebook correctly and link to your show notes pages rather than to iTunes.

Podcast Subscription Links Section

Finally, here is the section that unfortunately appears right at the top of the podcast home page in too many podcast website designs. By the time that people scroll to this section, your pilot stories have had ample time to communicate the benefits of signing up via email as well.

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - iTunes Links Section
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – iTunes Links Section

If you use the icons and graphics provided by each platform, consider adding text explanations under each graphic. Your readers might not recognize each graphic.

The Episode Grid

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Episode Grid
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Episode Grid

Like the iTunes links, your complete episode grid is purposefully moved towards the bottom of the page layout, so people are likely more likely to scroll and discover the highlighted episodes in the “Pilot Story” sections above.

The Navigation Footer

This is what makes this home page “upside-down.”

The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern - Episode Grid
The Upside Down Podcast Website Design Pattern – Episode Grid

Most websites have their navigation at the very top of the page, but moving it to the bottom of the page, we have increased focus and conversions.


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Additional Resources

Also, if you are interested in a downloadable PDF version of this design pattern as featured and covered in the video with all the annotations and explanations, please sign up for our Podcasting Resources Guide above.

WordPress Ready Made Podcast Home Page Download

And I am creating a “Done For You” version of this design pattern using the Thrive Architect content builder, which means this will be a “ready to install” customizable page template on any WordPress site, let me know if that is something you would want in the comments.

Most podcasters find that after the initial success of launching their show, podcast growth becomes harder. Meaning, it becomes harder and harder to gain new listeners and subscribers.

Growing a podcast audience by relying on iTunes New and Noteworthy, or promotions via social media, or submitting to all sorts of podcast directories is a finite thing. Yes, these are all good and necessary steps in promoting a podcast, but eventually, the growth slows down or stops altogether.

The Podcast Growth System

This is why I’ve been working to compile insights we have gained over the years in launching different shows for a variety of clients. For most, podcasting has become a great content strategy for growth. So I am very excited to announce the launch of a podcast marketing system, as well as a book that teaches these techniques.

The approach we have taken incorporate Podcast SEO. And I don’t just mean “Search Engine Optimization” on iTunes, Stitcher or other podcasting platforms, I mean optimizing podcast episode planning and websites for discovery on Google and Bing.

For podcasters, applying simple to follow SEO techniques represents a massive traffic advantage in optimizing the time they likely already spend creating show notes and episode posts. And, these techniques are much more sustainable and evergreen when compared to short-term promotional or paid campaigns (which of course also have a place in the system).

Keep It Simple, Stupid

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” –Albert Einstein

Podcast SEO Marketing Course

Learn more about how to grow your podcast with the “Podcast SEO Marketing Course”

SEO can seem intimidating, so we’ve tried to keep it simple, with video tutorials and easy to follow downloadable templates. In other words, an expert guide on how to grow a podcast audience, email list and web presence with podcast SEO marketing through step by step guides and practical SEO exercises for your show’s pages.

Any podcaster can learn to build a listener base and gain traffic for their podcast organically and without having to spend money on ads.

The ROI of Podcast SEO

Podcast SEO ROIYou question the ROI of spending time on SEO? I beg to differ, have a look at this graphic from the Positivity Strategist Podcast, it illustrates that the podcast is receiving $2,000 worth of clicks a month (This analysis provided by SpyFu analytics, who measure what we would have to pay in Google Adwords for the exact keywords driving traffic to the podcast website and show pages) This comes from the exact techniques we are teaching in this course.

Podcast Home Page Design

We also have some free video resources on our site pointing our conversion optimized design patterns that help grow your email list. Optimizing your podcast homepage for conversion and email sign up will help you grow your podcast subscriber base.

How To Promote Your Podcast And Increase Your Listener Base

We also have a comprehensive guide on traditional non-SEO methods of growing your podcast audience, and it outlines multiple strategies, most of which happen outside the iTunes ecosystem. A good read for anyone whose eyes glaze over at the thought of SEO based marketing strategies.


The Podcast Growth System

The Podcast Growth System 8 Tips


What Other Podcasters Are Saying

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Robyn Stratton Speaker, Author & Founder, Positivity Strategist Podcast

Getting on page one of Google Search Results

“Polymash helped me get on page one of Google for my main business keyword, even though it is competitive! Now 65% of my site traffic comes from organic search.”

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Jeanne Bliss World renowned CX Author, Speaker, Founder at CustomerBliss

Rank as #1

"My goal was to rank as #1 on Google for the keyword ‘Customer Experience Podcast’. Polymash helped me get there, just Google it!"

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Larry Hagner Author, Speaker, and Founder of The Good Dad Project

The Real Deal

“Polymash is the real deal! I originally started working with Juergen to simply assist me with podcast production. What I received from him in service, dependability, turn around time, guidance, and coaching far exceeded my expectations. Without his help, I would not have successfully launched my podcast and re-branded my website. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”

Coming Soon:

The Podcast Growth Show Podcast

Contact me here to be notified when it launches, and let me know your questions and what content topics you’d like us to most talk about on the podcast.

 

 


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If you have a podcast, then one of your top priorities will be to increase your audience size. After all, if you create a podcast to which no one listens, does it even matter?

So at first glance, you may think that running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote your podcast and help increase your listening numbers and subscribers. After all, Facebook will allow you to finely target your audience and do it in a very cost-effective way.

My point with this post is not so much to argue that Facebook is inherently a poor platform to advertise podcasts on, but rather to point out that there is a better way to do podcast marketing than most marketers recommend.

There has been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook, and I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:

So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote your podcast?

The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your ad.

So many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android episode pages.

  • They argue this is better than sending people to a show notes page on your site
  • In fact, many of these posts argue that you don’t need show notes pages at all, and can save the time and effort
  • They say that iTunes and Stitcher is after all where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
  • They advise that this is the best way to capture people on mobile devices, by targeting an iOS audience for the direct link to the iTunes episode, and by targeting Android audience and sending them to the Stitcher episode link

I fundamentally disagree with promoting your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links  for the following five reasons:

#1

It Costs Too Much

Sure, your ads may result in getting more subscribers to your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, but Facebook podcast marketing ads should have a better goal than just to add listeners to your podcast. And the cost per new listener is usually quite high.

Think of it this way, in terms of analytics: “Cost per anonymous listener” IS NOT THE SAME THING AS “Cost per qualified lead or email subscriber.” You could be adding leads for your business, building your email list, increase the rank and traffic for your site, and building a digital asset for your brand.

Instead, you could be getting greater value and ROI from your Facebook ads by focusing on lead generation and list growth instead of on just getting more listeners.

#2

iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic From Your Facebook Podcast Marketing

promote-your-podcast-on-itunesYou are paying for traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.

Really?

Instead, your site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank, and authority.

#3

Blind Dates

promote your podcast with a blind dateiTunes and Google play traffic may slightly increase your subscriber and listener stats at Libsyn or Blubrry. Of course, this cannot truly be measured, since Facebook won’t know how many listeners subscribed to your show on those platforms.

Click here for a complete analysis of Google AdWords vs Facebook Advertising for podcasts

More importantly, you don’t know whose these listeners are. Since you are not capturing their email address, you have much less of a chance to engage with them, even if they are big fans of your show. If you don’t manage to send them to your website and show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote your podcast.

Instead, your podcast listeners could be coming to YOUR site, because you offer valuable additional episode information there. They could be signing up to receive podcast notifications via email, or finding links and resources about your guests, and downloading these resources from you in exchange for an email address.

So, during your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132” – and mention this often, for example at the start of the show, create your own mid-roll segment inviting people to visit your site, and include it again in the outro.

#4

No Digital Sharecropping

facebook podcast marketing without digital sharecropping in promoting your podcastIn my opinion, too many authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and small businesses spread their entire online presence across 3rd party platforms. They want authority and recognition in their space but are also conscious of the promised audience, engagement, ease of use and time savings these platforms promise.

They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook instant articles. Their videos exist only on Youtube, their podcasts episode only on Soundcloud, iTunes or Stitcher. In other words, on platforms they themselves don’t own outright, but platforms that have a built-in audience and engagement.

In the long run, this is short-sighted

What to do instead? I am not proposing to avoid these platforms. However, I am saying that traffic to promote your podcast should land on your site.

And this content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST, and then be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.

The effort involved in creating and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run and pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place. You need to build system for sharing from this central platform only once – the week to week effort of recording episodes and publishing show notes for them adds up only gradually, and much of the process and subsequent syndication of your content can be automated.

For our clients, we specialize in automation of the entire podcast production and publishing workflow, including automatically syndicating your episode content onto many other platforms. The content calendar tools and automation processes we use for this is the topic of another upcoming post, feel free to subscribe to our blog to learn more.

In short, having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages allow you to build a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list. Would you not rather have free traffic and rank for your site? Would you not rather earn organic search traffic over time? And I think most marketers would agree that email lists are still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence. Overlooking the SEO value of your show notes pages is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I write about elsewhere on this blog.

The Importance of Building A Conversion Optimized Podcast Home Page

Podcast Website Design Patterns For Conversion And List Building

If you agree with the idea that your site is a valuable way to gain podcast subscribers, then you will want to build a great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.

#5

Analytics & Measuring Performance

How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads? For me the answer is how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog, NOT how many more listeners you might be getting on iTunes.

Before running ad campaigns on Facebook, you get to decide the “Goal” of each ad campaign during the setup process. Simply measuring “clicks to a website” is the weakest form of available analytics, yet this is the only goal you can use when sending traffic to iTunes or Stitcher.

Facebook cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or even if they listened to an episode after clicking on your ad. So how do you optimize or test your ads? If you are sending your ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher as proposed by many marketers, then the only way you can tell if these ads are even working is to see if your Libsyn or Blubrry stats increased during the time you ran the ad. And of course, even then you don’t know the identity of the people who subscribed.

promote your podcast and know your numbers

A recent marketing webinar from SharpSpring pointed out that focus on conversion rate was by far the most important metric to measure.

A better goal is to measure “Conversions”, and Facebook algorithms are more effective in showing your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. However, for this you need to install a “Facebook Pixel” on your site, so that actual sign-ups to your podcast email subscription list can be recorded on Facebook. Having a Facebook Pixel on your site is not complicated, there are great plugins for this. (My favorite is PixelYourSite, which makes installation and managing Facebook Pixels a snap)

Facebook then improves the targeting of who they show your ads to, based on who signed up, and builds in effect a custom audience for your on the fly during the campaign. This results in a much better use of your advertising dollar.

Conclusion

IMHO, having a highly converting home page for your podcast is critically important – to promote your podcast and build a subscriber list outside of iTunes. And so is having episode specific show notes pages. Most good podcasts already do. So if the way you promote your podcast is to be sending Facebook ad traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher, I’d encourage you to do otherwise.

 

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One of our most popular posts of 2017 continues to be about starting a podcast as a content strategy, and since then podcasts have been getting even more popular. We produce podcasts for clients and help them with the launch strategies to get their podcast into iTunes New and Noteworthy. But sometimes it’s not just about having visibility on iTunes, increasingly clients are interested in using their podcast show notes content as a passive traffic driver to their own primary website or to their show’s website.

In general, I feel people are overly focused on iTunes podcast SEO (Also known as ASO for “app store optimization”). And this often results in overlooking the value of podcast marketing techniques that result in email subscriber and list growth, instead of gaining an audience of anonymous listeners on iTunes. For example, I’ve written at length on how Facebook podcast marketing is often done in a way that drives traffic to iTunes or Stitcher and results in no traffic to the podcast host’s site, and personally, I think this is a mistake.

So I’ve been coaching a lot of solopreneurs and podcasters on SEO, and even launched a self -paced online course to help them position their show’s site and show notes pages, and showing them the tricks in making sure that podcast episode show notes are SEO optimized in order to contribute to a site’s traffic and ranking. Of course, optimizing a podcast episode is almost identical to optimizing a blog post, so even if you do not have a podcast, read on…

Podcast SEO Marketing Course

Our new extensive Podcast Marketing course

What this podcast SEO course focuses on

There are a lot of misconceptions about how SEO works, and how to set up podcast episodes in a way that contributes to a sites’ overall rank with search engines. For the purpose of the course, we focused on keyword research-based content marketing techniques and how to boost show-notes using SEO optimized show notes posts for podcast episodes.

WordPress vs other CMS systems

We will focus on how to do this with WordPress, although the techniques discussed here a true for any other content management system. Even though we may discuss certain plugins in this post, we will cover what the plugins actually do step by step so that you can use it on non-Wordpress based sites.

“Link Building”

Link building techniques are still all a huge part of a successful SEO strategy and are a huge topic by itself. Google rank in large part depends on incoming links to your show pages from other sites. The idea is that your podcast guests for a show will reciprocate for the links you are creating to their site, by writing their own short piece of content that links back to your podcast show notes page, thereby providing valuable “google juice” and increasing the rank for your site.

Link Building Tip: Ask your podcast guests to link to your episode of their interview on their own site. We are pretty insistent on this as part of the deal before even booking guests for many of the shows we produce.

We won’t be going into the details of external link building techniques and will cover this in detail in a different blog series. However, I would point out that this course should result in your content becoming more search engine optimized and friendly, and this means more people will be able to discover, share and link to your content even organically. Typically, you do have to ask and encourage your guests and fans to create links to your show or episode pages, but the rewards in terms of Google rank increases can make the difference between being on page 20 vs being found on the top page(s) of the search results)


Podcast SEO Concepts Overview

The high-level topics of SEO optimizing podcast episode show notes we will discuss in this series are as follows:
POdcast SEO Optimization Topics

  1. Keyword Research

    How to research and choose a good key-phrase or keyword that is aligned with your content. This key-phrase should be what you think people might look for on search engines, and your content should be the perfect answer and fit for their question. We will discuss SEO concepts keyword difficulty scores.

  2. Good Titles and Headings

    Once you have found a key-phrase you would like to optimize for, then the episode title, content and images of the show notes post will be subtly changed or “optimized” around this key-phrase. This is what we will go through step by step in this series of posts. We also touch on the importance of good titles in terms of ASO (App Store Optimization), where your shows keywords are searchable on the iTunes app store itself.

  3. Internal Link Building

    Creating an internal link structure means that Google values your content more, and can more effectively determine the context and theme of your primary topics.

  4. ASO (App Store Optimization on iTunes)

    Discoverability on iTunes is relatively limited, but we will go into what is known about iTunes search, and how you can ensure your show and episodes are discoverable for the keywords you think people may search for.

  5. Cornerstone Concepts

    Cornerstone SEO strategies involve creating authoritative long-form content around a theme and then surrounding it with smaller articles, blog posts or episodes that link to the authority posts. This approach gives rise to the creation of content themes for your episodes, and a way of linking these to become more powerful in the way that Google indexes and ranks them.

  6. Content Optimizations

    How to optimize paragraph headers (sometimes also known as H2 Tags), the main content text of your post ensuring the right “Keyword Density”, how to SEO optimize images, and why including them in your show notes is important.

  7. Search Result Visualizations

    How to design the way your post looks in search results by selecting right SEO Titles and meta-description and testing this with “preview snippet”. Creating a compelling episode title as well as a great short description that shows up in search results is not the only key in being found, but also determines how many people will actually click through once they see your episode title and description in search results.

  8. Advanced SEO Strategies

    How to use more advanced and strategic SEO techniques, such as competitive research, external link building, and using various analytics tools to target SERP (Search Engine Results Page) positioning.

A Note About Using SEO Plugins

Using Yoast SEO (Formerly known as WordPress SEO)

Yoast for Podcast SEOYoast SEO (Formerly WordPress SEO by Yoast ) is one of the most complete and easy to use SEO assistance plug-ins. While there are other solutions out there, (Premium SEO Pack & All in One SEO Pack receive honorable mentions), I can highly recommend using Yoast, because it teaches the techniques needed step by step as you go through the process of optimizing each post, and it provides easy to understand feedback on how well each technique is implemented. So if you have a WordPress based blog or site, do yourself a favor and install this plugin.

Of course, the use of a plug-in alone does not guarantee SEO success

  • Plugins can assist, but there are certain fundamentals and principles that are key to understand in getting your podcast episodes to generate search traffic.
  • The best SEO plugin in the world will not increase your site rank if you don’t understand the SEO fundamentals that make this plugin tick when you use it to optimize your content.
  • So what we will cover in this series are these fundamental SEO optimization concepts and steps of optimizing your content. So you can succeed with these tips without ever installing a plugin like Yoast SEO. It’s just that this plugin makes it easier, provides feedback and additional insights, and automates some of the more complex background tasks like creating an XML sitemap and submitting this to search engines automatically.

So I won’t go into the specifics of how to use the Yoast SEO plugin here, but there are many great tutorials and videos out there. If you are installing Yoast for the first time, here is my favorite setup post by Yoast himself, and what I like best is that he has kept this article up to date since the plug-in was first introduced in 2008.


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You might not think tips on how to start a podcast have anything to do with content strategy…

But before you laugh, for the right sort of business, launching a podcast can be an amazing content strategy driver…

How to start a podcast as content straetgy - Google trend statistics

Google Trends Interest Over Time Graphic

Sure, podcasts have been hotting up in the last couple of years, as articles in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post pointed out.  Breakout shows like “Serial” and “Start-Up”  were responsible for increasing awareness of podcasts, and most terrestrial radio stations, and their advertisers are launching podcasts as part of their digital strategy. Alex Blumberg of PBS recently left his well-paying job as host of “This American Life” and “Planet Money”, and raised $1.6M+ for his new podcast venture “Gimlet Media“.

Here are some recent market size statistics to consider as of 2018

  • 67 million people listen to podcasts – monthly.
  • 112 million Americans have listened to podcasts.
  • As of 2016/17, podcast listening increased by 25% per year in the United States.
  • As of 2017/18, podcast listening increased by 11% over the prior year.
  • 85% of listeners hear all of a podcast.
  • Average listeners subscribe to 6 different podcasts and consume an average of 5 episodes per week.
(Stat Reference and some insights about the above at: Convince & Convert)

Impressive stats, wouldn’t you agree? But the success of this approach is more pragmatic. Assuming you want to launch an interview show with thought leaders in your space, the show notes accompanying each episode can be a huge traffic generator for your site, and lead to Google rank increases, since it is in the interest of the thought leaders to cross promote each episode.

How to start a podcast - launch effect on Alexa rankings

Podcast Launch Effect On Alexa Rankings
(click to see a larger version of the graph)

We produced and launched a podcast for our client “Positivity Strategist” and as a result, the site sky-rocketed in Alexa and Google ranking within the following three months, and their email list is growing exponentially, solely due to a successful podcast strategy.

We’ve since repeatedly used Podcasting as a content strategy to grow traffic to client sites or to get them to improve their rank on a variety of search engines.

The attached Alexa Ranking comparison chart shows the effect of positivitystrategist.com (in blue) as well as one of its competitor sites (in green) launching a podcast late in 2014.

POdcasting as Content Strategy List GrowthAnother example of how successful podcasting as content strategy can be was for a client podcast that followed our launch and content strategy called “the MFCEO Project“. It built an email list of over 17,000 within 1.5 years, and their 1.5 year old website gets 35K visitors monthly. It should be noted that there was a substantial social media presence on Instagram before we started, but that is the point: Podcasting as a content marketing strategy when done right can convert anonymous followers into more concrete email list subscriber, and most marketers recognize both the importance and difficulty of this.

In his awesome article how recent Google patents are shaping the future of SEO, Neil Patel predicts both the rise and fall of podcast’s popularity as tied to driverless cars. While podcasts are a form of content that is currently taking advantage of commute time for drivers, he predicts that eventually, other forms of content will become popular once hands-free driving allows us to consume video and visual content while driving.  (Neil even kindly linked to this post in this article, a big thanks!)

One additional content marketing benefit is that there is no shortage of topics to write about since the show’s guests and schedule pretty much set a highly relevant agenda for show content and related posts.

And while we love building a loyal listenership, this article is not just about how to start a podcast, it’s about how to start a podcast as a content marketing strategy for your business and web site.

It’s not for the faint of heart, and it is a long tail type play, but for organizations with a host “personality” and a point of view, it can be a hugely successful way of generating valuable content for both listeners and website visitors.

Benefits of an interview style podcast

Some of the  benefits of an interview style podcast with thought leaders in your area of business are:

  • Meeting, collaborating and establishing working relationships with thought leaders in your space. Each episode of your podcast gives your guests a chance to talk about their experience, products, books or latest offerings. So you are essentially promoting them on your podcast, which is why it is beneficial for them to be on your show. Therefore most of the time getting guests is relatively easy, and we have seen lasting relationships come out of supporting each other in this way.
  • How to Podcast As Content Strategy BenefitsBecome an authority in your field. Often the intent of an inbound content marketing strategy is to establish your business and your websites as authorities in your industry segment. There are few better ways than to have a regular podcast interview show to establish this authority not only in your own mind but in the mind of your listening audience as well as your website visitors.
  • Google page rank, domain authority and overall SEO for your site. These factors are driven by having high-quality incoming links. SEO is an ever-changing field, and what worked in years past no longer works today, most SEO experts agree that high-quality content and inbound links are the gold standards here. And since your show notes will promote and feature links to your guest’s site and latest products, it is a fair exchange to ask that they feature your episode on their site, as well as cross-promote it on their own social media channels. So 50 episodes into your show, you will have 50 high-quality inbound links, as well as all the traffic and social media mentions these episodes generated.
  • Self-generating topics of discussion for posts on your site. Sure, you will need to prepare to think about guests and invites for your podcast strategically, but usually what emerges from each conversation is highly relevant content, easily turned into long form show notes that will constitute a large percentage of your content strategy.

Finding your passion and your voice

One caveat: You, or someone in your organization, needs to have a passion for your topic of choice. So if the ONLY overall reason you want to start a podcast is to increase page rank and generate traffic for your site, then this may not be not enough. Starting a podcast should not be a chore, it needs to come from the heart, and it needs to show passion.

  • How to podcast, bored listenerAudio is more intimate. The connection with your audience is deeper and more intimate on an emotional level, and so are the relationships you build with your fans and followers. I know that for podcasts I myself listen to, I feel “I know” the host. This may be a mirage, to use a visual metaphor for an audio phenomenon. But ultimately my experience is one of being connected more deeply than I would be by just reading someone’s blog posts.
  • Audio is an interesting medium in this way. Your enthusiasm, or lack of it, will instantly shine through to your listeners, and be either a turn-on or turn-off. The effort required to launch a podcast is high, as are the rewards, but if it does not come from the heart, and if you don’t feel you can find something of value to share, don’t even start. I would argue the same is true for writing and blogging, but in audio format, it is way more apparent.
  • Be clear about your value proposition to your listeners. Just like when writing blog articles, the listener experience should be front of mind. We love doing Value Proposition Design workshops for our clients when building web sites, and similarly the exercises we help our clients with apply here: clarity around who your likely listeners are, what they are interested in, what they can gain from listening to your show, or what pain relievers to their issues and problems you can provide.
  • Niches are good, up to a point. In thinking about topics for your show and episodes, the more narrow the niche of your topic is, the better. This may seem counter-intuitive, but there are many examples of extremely small niches doing well in podcasting, and establishing a loyal listenership. But if you are launching a podcast for your business, the focus should be on what best serves your particular audience.

Focus on concept and content more than the equipment

You might think that starting a podcast is all about high-quality sound and production value, and therefore you will need to focus on getting the right equipment.

  • Great Expectations. It is true that with the rise in popularity of podcasts there are increased listener expectations around having great sound, but there are many great sites that offer tips on how to start a podcast from a technical perspective, as well as how to do it affordably. No matter what budget, starting a podcast is relatively affordable in terms of money, but it can consume a fair amount of time.
  • What To Focus On. Having great equipment won’t automatically make you a great podcast host or producer, so the focus should go into the planning, concept, and automating the production process. Statistically speaking, most podcasts shut down after only 7 episodes. There are many reasons for this, and my own guess is that people under-estimated the time and dedication it takes. In order to see results in terms of a content marketing strategy, obviously your podcast needs to last longer than 7 episodes, so don’t over-focus on equipment, go with basic equipment for low cost to start with. If your podcast makes it past 25 episodes, reward yourself with a nice microphone upgrade:)

Find strategic guests with an existing platform

When inviting guests for your podcast, there is a strategic way to look at this:

  • podcast episode show posts are a giftIt is a good idea to set expectations with your guests up front. Be crystal clear about the fact the this is a mutually supportive endeavor and win-win gift exchange, where you create a piece of great content that promotes your guest, and that in return you expect a blog post or resource-link back to your site and the episode post in return, as well as active guest participation in sharing the episode on social media.
  • Having a platform.  Of course you want to pick your guests to be interesting and entertaining for your audience, but ideally, your guest should also have a popular site, with a Google page rank of 4+, as well as a large social media presence. It may sound harsh, but otherwise getting links back from a dormant or low-value site is of little SEO value, and guests with little or no social media following are not likely to help share your episode widely.

Promote your podcast, but not just in iTunes

As of late 2018 / 2019, the current iTunes podcast ecosystem is difficult in terms of marketing. Discoverability is low, and there are 600,000+ shows to compete with. So how can people discover you?

In addition, the iTunes charts are currently badly broken, although Apple is aware of this fact and is starting to address it. The top podcasting charts are hackable and people are gaming the system to get into the top 200. There are many podcasts there that don’t belong, and we provide details as well as solutions here: We just published a comprehensive guide to podcast marketing and promotion.

The point is that promoting a podcast needs to happen outside of iTunes, and the above guide explains strategies and over 50+ marketing tactics in great detail

Write great long-form show notes

how to podcast with long form shownotesLong form content is better in terms of SEO, while 300+ words are required from an SEO perspective, 700 words plus is better.

  • Create standard headers and footer. We follow a recipe for creating a standard header and footer segment for each episode. We use automation tools like Text Expander to create show notes footers, with pre-programmed subscribe links to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher; a standard section on how to share the podcast; where to find links to books or sites mentioned in the episode.  This helps in creating longer form notes post.
  • Create some standing segments for questions you ask each guest.  You might also find that you have some standing questions you ask each guest, and you can prepare a show notes template that already includes the <H2> titles for each segment.
  • Use a Transcription Service or Dragon Dictation software: We have had some pretty good luck with using Dragon Dictation software to process our podcast recording and to transcribe the content into a text file. While this process does not produce punctuation, it is helpful in creating summary notes or themes for show notes segments. There are many transcription services that will do a better job, and turn around a full transcript of each episode in about one day. The only drawback is that this approach is a bit more expensive.
  • Podcast Transcription Services Using AI: The New Players on the Block
    • There are several very interesting alternatives emerging using artificial intelligence and Google speech to text translation engines. One of these services is called Temi, a transcription service that is automated and very effective and accurate, as long as the speaker speaks English. It struggles with accents but is otherwise very accurate.
    • IBM Watson, their cloud-based supercomputer, also features a nearly free transcription service, but I have found it not to be as accurate as Temi.
  • Include a nicely formatted audio player bar for each episode. We have found that many of our listeners visit the web page and listen to the entire episode there, using our built-in web player. This is great in terms of getting high Google analytics engagement and time on site scores, as well as very low bounce rates.
  • Invest 1-2 hours to learn the basics of SEO for podcasters, using our free 5 part SEO for podcasters tutorial series.

Build A Conversion Optimized Podcast Home Page

Podcast Website Design Patterns For Conversion And List Building

We recently published a video walkthrough which outlines a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.

It is designed and optimized to create a guided experience for your site visitors and to encourage them to subscribe to your podcast via email.

The video covers 2 versions of this – a more complete version for established podcasts with multiple seasons or topics, and a simple version for new podcast sites with a narrow niche and focused audience.

Why focus on podcast email subscribers?

In the last few years, we have been lucky to help launch a dozen or so podcasts. And most of our clients have been obsessed with getting into the “New and Noteworthy” section of iTunes. However, as of late 2018, it is worth pointing out that the iTunes charts are somewhat broken and full of podcasts that have simply hacked their way into the charts. To see how this is possible, just watch this great video by Lime Link, about how the podcast ecosystem is being hacked. Please do NOT use these techniques to get your own show to rank, Apple will at some point have to address the weakness in their algorithm, and I expect a lot of shows to get banned in the process.

Invest in your sound quality and the editing process

Make sure you make your guests and yourself sound great.

Earlier I mentioned about audio as a medium being more intimate. This means it can also be more annoying – when a lack of sound quality results in a “hard to listen to” experience, people will bail much more quickly than if they encounter one or two spelling mistakes on a blog post.

The better and more professional your podcast and each episode sounds, the more likely your guests will see it as an asset they are eager to share on their site, their social media and as part of their PR kit.

  • Sound Editing Resources. If you are editing the episodes yourself, there are several resources to help producing high sound quality regardless of  your software of choice. One of the best is Ultimate Vocal Formula, a generous course run by Rob Williams, which offers great editing tips, a terrific cheat sheet for correct use of equalizers and compression to shape your show’s sound to be broadcast standard.
  • Remove “Ums”, “Ahhs”, “You Know” and “Lip Smacks”. Unless your guests are totally fluent public speakers, if you are like us you may be surprised to notice just how many of these flubs are in the un-edited field for each episode. I can’t stress how important the editing process is in shaping the overall listener experience. I was interviewed on a podcast recently and was surprised to find I say “you know” all the time. The podcast editor removing this was a relief for me and saved much embarrassment. So take the time to make your guests sound great.
  • Be Ruthless. We not only try to remove flubs, but we may at times even delete irrelevant or repeating and rambling parts of a longer conversation, in order to create a better and more concise episode.
  • Sound Tracks and Segments. Having a great sound track and theme intro, even having repeating show segments with their own theme music can make your show stand out and sound professional and broadcast ready.

Promote and build your e-mail list

How to start a podcast email list buildngWhen people visit your show notes page, they should have an easy way to subscribe to podcast episode reminders via email.

  • Mention an easy to remember show-notes URL during each episode. Use tools like “Easy301 Redirects” or “Prettylink” to create short URLS in addition to your long episode specific URLs. This is because you want to mention an easily accessible URL during the episode to encourage listeners to visit there, find out more about the guest, or download special offers and lead-magnets. So for example, instead of “myshow.com/long-podcast-episode5-description”, create a short URL for episode: “myshow.com/5”, which is easy to remember for listeners.
  • Offer a way to subscribe via email. Make sure visitors have an email opt-in to be notified for each episode. We use a Mailchimp based automated RSS driven email campaign to send email notifications out for our podcasts. Most other marketing automation engines can generate RSS triggered emails. However, even if your platform does not offer this in an automated fashion, think of creating manual email notifications to your list as an advantage: It allows you to be more specific and personal in each email you send out.
  • Email notification do’s and don’t’s:  Be careful not to provide the entire show-notes within your email. Your email is meant to alert your subscribers to the fact that a new episode is available, and to raise some curiosity about it. And then get them to visit your site, that should be the primary goal and single CTA. Plus, who reads long emails anymore.
  • Promote opt-ins and giveaways. Where applicable, create downloadable content for each episode, and allow clients to opt-in for these using tools like LeadPages.

How much time will it take, and are there good ways to save time?

podcast content strategy - saving timeI’ve heard experienced podcasters agree that that the overall time it takes to produce a podcast episode is about 4-5 times the amount of time of the actual episode recording length. I would say that this is a conservative estimate, coming from people who have their workflow down to a finely honed art, with templated processes and automation.

Overall, the steps involved are

  • Guest Management. Identifying guests, inviting them and scheduling pre-interviews and the actual interview
  • Recording. Recording the actual episodes sound files.
  • Producing. Editing the audio files in audio software, outputting the .mp3 files, tagging the .mp3 files with show information, uploading to your podcast hosting service, and preparing episode titles and summaries, as well as scheduling each episode for release and distribution on feeds and social media.
  • Show Notes Production & Promotion. Writing a blog article to accompany each episode, with links to your guest’s site and resources, as well as managing social media shares.

However, there are ways to save time:

  • Establish a schedule and stick to it. John Lee Dumas of the highly successful “Entrepreneur on Fire” podcast shares that he sets aside one day a week to schedule, record and produce content for a month. In our experience, this is no small feat, and podcast related activities tend to bleed into the rest of the week. This is, of course, subject to your resources.
  • Automate as much as possible. When producing podcasts we have templated everything, from guest invite emails to basic show notes structure, episode footers and other lead magnet downloads. This greatly decreases the amount of time to produce show notes.  (I will share our process for applying some great automation tools in the near future).
  • Get help. If your business has the resources, you can easily farm out some of the more time consuming aspects of doing a podcast. For example, you can assign interns to handle guest scheduling and invites. Or, you can take advantage of podcast production packages like the ones we offer here at Polymash, where the only thing a host has to worry about is the actual recording of the interview, and where everything else from editing to basic show notes and publishing of each episode is taken care of.

Formulate A Podcast Content Strategy

Cornerstone content is an SEO concept that works particularly well with high quality and long-form content. It builds on the most important themes of your site or business and creates an internal linked network of related content on your site. For each “cornerstone”, a long-form 2,000+ words article or “hero post” is created, and then other articles on your site are modified or created to link to this one “cornerstone” piece of content.

When Google indexes your site, these many internal links provide context and point to the “cornerstone” article as the centerpiece. Google recognizes the importance of the “cornerstone” article for your site, and typically ranks it more highly than individual shorter articles.

This approach works very well in planning out your podcast content strategy.

Podcast SEO Marketing CourseIn our Podcast Marketing & SEO course, we teach creating a 6-month podcast content strategy using step by step methods to identify the best keywords, topics, and themes for your podcast, and then implement these themes using the “cornerstone content” approach. We typically use the episode show notes, and for cornerstone pieces add transcriptions to the posts, which results in long-form content.

Since Google introduced “Rank Brain” in late 2017, their focus has shifted to measuring “quality content”. Google does this by measuring bounce rate, time on page, scroll distance and other factors. Suffice it to say that the more you can engage someone to stay on your hero post or episode, the more likely Google will rank your episode highly.

Last Tip: Define what success means for you

When first launching a podcast, it is easy to get caught up in your download stats. Don’t.

You can set your own goals and ways to measure success.

For example, building a loyal listener base can matter, or maybe it’s establishing lasting relationships with peers and clients.  There is intrinsic high value in having people want to listen and visit your site because they are truly interested in the topic. Our bounce rates on podcast episodes are below 20%, sometimes in the low teens. And our email sign-ups have skyrocketed.

This is a longer term strategic investment, but as you can see from the Alexa ranking graph at the top of this post, the reward can be massive.

FREE 2019 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

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    Gear Guides
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    "How To" Tutorials
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    Music & Sound Effect Libraries
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    Software & Tools
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    General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?

  • If you’ve made it this far reading a long post about how to start a podcast as content strategy, then chances are it might be a good fit for you.  I’d love to hear your perspective, please leave a comment!

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