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Guest Post by Milja Milenkovic, community manager at DesignAdvisor.Net: The colors you choose for your podcast cover art can greatly influence listeners’ first impressions and could even affect whether someone takes the all-important step and presses “play” in the first place. You might be thinking, ”Podcasts are audio, and the minimal visual aspect is not the main point at all so why bother with it?” The very fact that the visual element is so small means that you need to make it count!

Table of Contents

The Impact of Color

Color choices for podcast cover art can be a science
Color choices for podcast cover art can be a science

Human beings are such visually wired creatures that even the small bit of cover art on your podcast can set the tone for the listening experience. Various color choices can trigger a whole host of different emotions and convey different meanings to the observer. The impact on color is more significant than most people realize. In fact, Design Advisor claims that 62-90% of product assessment is based on color alone!

So let’s take a look at how you can enhance the impact of your podcast through the colors you use for your icon and podcast cover art, and even your website. First, we will break down the messages conveyed by each color and follow that with a few questions you should be asking yourself when deciding what colors will work best for your particular podcast. Color psychology can be a significant ally in web design as well not only in terms of aesthetics and mood but also when choosing the color of CTA buttons and other elements. To learn more about how the psychology of color can boost your website conversions, take a closer look at the infographic below.

What Kind of Message Does Each Color Convey?

Green: Growth and Health

Podcast pover art closeup photography of green leaf plant
Photographer: Hello I'm Nik | Source: Unsplash

This calm and peaceful color gives a sense of health and harmony, but also symbolizes nature and growth. Depending on the topic of your podcast or business, green could be a great cover color to attract your listeners. It’s a popular choice within the energy sectors as well as finance, household, technology and some subsections of the food industry.

Blue: True and Trustworthy

podcast cover art blue wall and shadow image
Photographer: MAURO BIGHIN | Source: Unsplash

There’s a reason why they say ‘true blue’ for something that is tried and tested. Blue is a tranquil color that is a worldwide favorite across the board. If you want to send a message of stability, reliability and trust, you can’t go wrong with blue. Remember, there is a myriad of different shades of blue available, so don’t be worried about not standing out.

Red: Bold and Passionate

podcast cover art person wearing red running shoe
Photographer: Martin Widenka | Source: Unsplash

There’s no denying that red stands out. That’s the reason it’s used for anything from clearance sale signs to stop signs. The sight of red has also been shown to increase people’s heart rates, and it is undoubtedly the color of emotion and passion. If the content of your podcast is bold and passionate, maybe red is the right color for your cover design.

Orange: Ambition and Confidence

orange fruit with orange background
Photographer: Holger Link | Source: Unsplash

Orange comes between red and yellow on the color wheel and is a warm and enthusiastic color. Orange gives a feeling of confidence and is said to stimulate the logical areas of the brain and also to encourage creativity. It is a favorite with kids and young people, as well as those who are young at heart.

Yellow: Bright and Sunny

podcast cover art headphones on yellow
Photographer: Malte Wingen | Source: Unsplash

This warm and cheerful color has a powerful effect, especially when set against a dark or contrasting background. Yellow stands out in the crowd and works well for the food industry, household and energy sectors. It is a symbol of joy, cheerfulness and optimism.

Purple: Rich and Regal

photo of ice cream
Photographer: Sharon McCutcheon | Source: Unsplash

The color of kings and queens, purple is indeed associated with royalty and wealth. It is a favorite in the beauty industry and for anti-aging products. Purple suggests eternal youth and wisdom, with a whiff of mysticism. Does the message of your podcast fit with this image? Then perhaps purple is the color for your cover!

Pink: Pretty and Positive

pink balloons
Photographer: Amy Shamblen | Source: Unsplash

As a lighter shade of red, pink is also a passionate color, but with a much softer touch. There are many different kinds of pink, from pastel salmon to bright fuschia. In color psychology, pink denotes compassion, nurturing and hope. The feelings which tend to be evoked by the color pink are usually positive, warm, comforting and calming.

Grey or Silver: Stylish and Sophisticated

The color silver as it applies to podcast cover art
Photographer: Robert Haverly | Source: Unsplash

Silver and its close cousin grey are very useful as neutral colors that bring balance and give that sleek accent, much like the proverbial silver lining. Silver and grey can be beautifully matched with just about any other color.

Black: Classic and Elegant

silver headphones on top of black surface
Photographer: Frank Septillion | Source: Unsplash

Black is in a class of its own. It speaks of luxury and elegance, as well as power, authority and strength. If you want a professional and timeless look to your podcast cover, you might want to choose a simple black and white design.

White: Pure and Perfect:

Photographer: Verne Ho | Source: Unsplash

White is such a versatile and useful color, whether you use it as a background for your podcast cover art or as part of your icon. White gives a fresh feeling of cleanliness and perfection, and can also stimulate creativity.

Questions to Help You Choose Your Podcast Cover Art Colors

What is the topic of your podcasts?

What are your podcasts about? What is your message and what industry or sector do you identify with in terms of your product or service? Given the above basic messages associated with the different colors, which one most closely fits for you?

Who are your listeners?

Do you anticipate that most of your listeners will be men or women, wealthy or budget conscious, professionals or amateurs, younger or older folks? Bear your demographic in mind when making color choices as different groups of people tend to respond differently to colors.

Do you have a logo or brand color?

If you already have a logo or brand color, then you are more than halfway there. Let your listeners identify you immediately when they see your logo. Make sure that the format you use for your podcast cover art and icon will look good on any platform you might choose to use.

What about color combinations?

Once you’ve identified what your main color should be, you may want to add an accent color or two. You could choose a shade or tone of the same color, or go for a different, complementary color. Try to limit yourself to no more than three colors to avoid an over-the-top appearance.

What kind of impression does the overall look leave?

With the limited space available for your podcast icon, you need to make sure that your overall look is not cluttered or messy. Keep it clean and simple with fonts and images that stand out, are easy to read and recognizable.

Now that you have some ideas and pointers about the power of color in visuals, it’s time to choose that icon and cover art for your podcast! Let them be a fitting visual complement to your amazing audio content!

Infographic: 40 "Psychology of Color" Facts

Infographic: 40 "Psychology of Color" Facts

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 2018 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • check
    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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    Guest Booking Services
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    General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?


Podcast Content Syndication – Beyond Podcast Directories

Podcast directories aren't enough for podcast distribution. In this episode we will learn why. We will also learn how to automatically and widely syndicate episode show notes content for quick traffic and SEO rank wins. This is the primary marketing approach we are taking for our podcasts.

Episode 8: Easy Content Syndication and Podcast Distribution For Multiple Channels

Overview & Episode Content

  1. What is Content Syndication? (01:10)
  2. What Are the Benefits For Podcasters & Bloggers? (01:45)
  3. How does this work, and how can I automate it? (04:20)
  4. SCREENCAST: The StoryChief platform we use for this (07:45)
  5. DEMO: Our podcast distribution and syndication process (12:25)
  6. COMPARISON: StoryChief's free, basic and pro plans compared (21:45)
  7. CASE STUDY: Results we have seen
  8. Invitation to join our ambassador network

What is Content Syndication?

Content distribution and syndication for podcasters
Content syndication for podcasters

Here is a definition from Search Engine Watch:

Content syndication is the process of pushing your blogpost, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then re-publish it on their own sites.

So this applies to podcasts as well. We want to create Brand Awareness for our podcasts by publishing our show notes stories on multiple websites, communities, social media and email channels.

What Are The Benefits?

Podcast Distribution & Show Notes Syndication Benefits
Podcast Distribution & Show Notes Syndication Benefits

Question: Why should podcasters care about content syndication?

Aren't we already doing a form of this when distributing our episodes to iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play?

  • Answer: Yes indeed we are.
  • However, we are only publishing audio content on iTunes.
  • And we ought to do the same with episode show notes.

Multi Channel Presence

Content syndication is to our podcast show notes what podcast directories are to our audio files. A way to distribute our content widely. And a way to establish presence on multiple content and social platforms.

Traffic and Discoverability

This results in greater traffic and discoverability. When your episodes go live, you probably already share your show notes post on Facebook, and perhaps on Twitter. But have you thought about publishing your episode show notes as articles on Medium? (I get a lot of traffic from doing this) Or on Blogger?

The idea we are about to explore involves distribution of your show notes to as many platforms as possible.

And the benefits of this extend far beyond traffic alone.

SEO Backlinks

My backlinks from high domain authority sites have increased by 231% in 2 months of launching my podcast. This is largely resulting from the podcast distribution and syndication method we are covering here. (There are some graphics and figures at the end of these show notes)

For those of you unfamiliar with SEO, increased backlinks mean increased rank in the Google search engines, and this means better placement in the search results. I have some concrete examples of this later on, but some of my podcast episodes and blog posts are ranking on page 1 or 2 of the Google search results within 2-3 weeks after publishing. And my site does not have a particularly high ranking Domain Authority.

How Does This Work, And How Can I Automate It?

Automating Podcast Content Syndication
Podcast Content Syndication Automation

You could of course distribute your show notes to a bunch of different platforms manually. Generally this involves re-posting your episode article via copy paste, or sharing your own episode show notes URL on social media. And that's perfectly fine, but it is a lot of work, and there are pitfalls:

  • The manual approach is super time consuming
  • Each platform has slightly different rules, layouts and features
  • The more platforms you want to distribute to, the more manual work it becomes
  • If you are not careful or SEO savvy, then your podcast episodes will rank on 3rd party sites instead of on your own. We've written extensively about how to prevent this, and talked about Digital Sharecropping in Episode 7 "5 Reasons NOT to Promote a Podcast on Facebook [S1E07]"

So doing this manually is a bit foolish. And there are some great content syndication platforms out there. But there is one particular platform that is great for podcast distribution of show notes. And it addresses all the above concerns.

The platform is by a Belgian company called StoryChief, and I'd like to tell you about how we use it, and how it has revolutionized our podcast content syndication process.

Why StoryChief?

We use StoryChief for Podcast Show Notes Content Syndication
  • Podcasting Ready
  • Blogging Optimized
  • Content Calendar
  • SEO Ready With Canonical Tags
  • Lead capture integration
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Suitable for advanced marketers
  • Provides ready-made blog
  • Built-In Coaching for SEO and Readability
  • Flexible open platform with lots of embeds, integrations
  • Collaboration & Approval Workflows
  • Outsourcing Ready

StoryChief Podcast Distribution & Syndication (7:45)

podcast distribution and syndication
StoryChief podcast distribution and syndication map

Here is a quick summary of where StoryChief can distribute your podcast show notes.

Publish to multiple websites you own (7:55)

With StoryChief you create a layer above all your web sites, which simplifies the show notes production processes. After your show notes are finished in StoryChief, just publish it to your podcast's websites with one click. The layout will automatically be adjusted to defined branding of your website.

I especially like that on WordPress, any images you include are automatically imported into your social media library. And if you use Yoast SEO plugin, as most of us do, the SEO settings you define in your article will transfer over to your WordPress site, such as your SEO keywords or meta description.

Publish to your personal blog you get with StoryChief (9:30)

Don't have a blog website yet? You can use the free blog you get with StoryChief. It's auto generated when you start an account. Personally I don't use it or drive traffic to it, but I still publish each show note article there because I get a back link.

Create Social Media posts which link to the article (9:55)

Create Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin post to promote your story. The links will go to your primary website.

Publish to the new AMP channels (10:25)

Improve click through rate by 70% by boosting loading times on mobile devices. Publish your stories to Facebook and Google as AMP version.

Promote stories through your ambassadors and influencers (10:40)

Increase reach by 1000% by sharing your brand stories through the personal social channels of your colleagues, friends and influencers. My invitation to join our own Ambassador network is below and also at the bottom of this post.

Embed stories in automated newsletters (12:00)

Easily setup news digests by integrating your favorite mailing tools with StoryChief.

Publish to communities (12:10)

Increase reach and brand awareness by publishing to Medium.com, blogger.com communities.

Content Syndication Demo (12:25)

Content Syndication Demo

As you know, this is a both a podcast audio as well as video series, and in this next segment I will doing a video demo. So for those of you listening to this, I'll do my best to describe what's going on:

Podcast Distribution and Syndication Destinations (12:45)

Let's take a look at the integrations that are possible when using StoryChief. Let's go and start with the available channels that are possible to be configured. As I mentioned, StoryChief comes with its built in blog, and we can have a quick look at that so that you can see what that looks like. Here is my Polymash Podcast Growth System blog that I've set up as part of the StoryChief. As I said, I don't really use it, but I do get backlinks from it, and so that's useful.

Publish to Blogs, Website and CMS Destinations (13:10)

My primary place where I publish is WordPress. You can also hook up an API to basically publish to almost any website out there. Some of my marketing buddies out there will be using HubSpot or Magento, that's another famous CMS that's out there. So you can see you there are a whole range of choices. Another good one that's maybe worth pointing out is Shopify. I'm not sure whether that applies to you as a podcaster, but it could.

Content Hubs (13:50)

Content hubs are next, this is where you would configure Medium. Most of the time you have a personal account on Medium, but I also run a publication called Podcasting Strategy Launch and Marketing on Medium. So those are two different places that I typically syndicate this content. Let's go back to content hubs: I've also set that up the Podcast Growth Show on Blogger. As I mentioned, it's owned by Google. And finally I create an RSS feed. There are many purposes for that, that I won't go into any details.

Social Media Destinations (14:30)

On Facebook, both Facebook pages as well as Facebook groups are promoted, Twitter and Linkedin.

Ambassador Networks (14:40)

Here are the referral or the ambassador networks that we talked about a little bit earlier. I have to have them configured at the moment, one for podcasting and one for just general digital strategy. But you can easily see how, if your podcast is about multiple topics, you could easily use it for that. If you have multiple seasons, you could possibly set it up to where your podcast season one has an ambassador list that's different from season two. So this is kind of up to you to decide.

Press Releases (15:05)

Press releases, if you are big enough to warrant occasional press releases, and you have an episode on which you're talking about an event or something that are really not worthy, that would lend itself to a press release, that's a great option to have.

Email Marketing (15:25)

Email marketing, it comes built in with MailChimp. It comes built in with campaign monitor. But we'll go in a minute, we will look at what the integration strategy is. And because you can hook it up to Zapier quite easily, it basically you gain access to almost any marketing automation platform that's out there for capturing leads.

Lead Generation (15:40 & 16:30)

On the Lead Capture site, there are many ways in which you can capture a lead inside your story. So if you're mentioning something in the podcast that's a worthy add on, or you're asking people to sign up for something, or even if you don't have this built into your website. We use Thrive Marketing Automation tools to help with this. But even if you don't have anything like that, StoryChief helps you by providing it.

Mobile Platforms (15:50)

Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles is what's available right now, and that can be quite helpful. I'm still in the process of starting to utilize these.

Other Integrations (16:30)

All right, so here we are in the integration screen, where you set up, and by the way this stuff don't let it overwhelm you. These are one time set up activities. I'm just trying to point out the rich distribution potential that you get on this platform, and most of it is a matter of a one time effort, and then it is as simple as actually just clicking to publish at the end of this.

The web hook is the way that you connect at Zapier, and as I mentioned, that just opens up a whole world of other integration platforms.

Content Calendars (17:00)

StoryChief comes with a built in content calendar. But it also integrates to external content calendars. You can have everything that's gonna go live, including on social media, you can integrate that into your Google Calendar, or into your Upper Calendar or into your Outlook Calendar. So I love that part.

Podcast Syndication Ready Editor Embeds (17:15)

Editor Embeds is where it gets interesting, especially for podcasters. Because what I want to highlight is that StoryChief supports Anchor, Pippa, SoundCloud, Mixcloud and Libsyn as well. StoryChief are working aggressively on adding other audio platforms to be directly supported. I'm sure Blueberry isn't far away.

Story Chief Editor embeds that are podcast syndication ready
Podcast distribution ready

Right now, there isn't a native integration with Blueberry at the moment. But, I think that if that's something that you need, let me know. I would reach out to them. I was the one who initiated getting Libsyn on board. I suggested that on their public roadmap, and they've been very responsive in implementing some of the features that we as podcasters were pitching to them.

A Quick Overview of the StoryChief Editing Environment (18:09)

I thought we'd have a quick look at the actual Editor itself. It's broken down into sort of a number of interesting components.

Editing could not be easier (18:17)

Those of you that have you ever written on Medium, the StoryChief editor works very much like that. You just basically get a screen that is as easy as pie to just start typing something in. As you're typing it, you can turn text into headings, into quotes. You can add links, you can even comment back and forth with your team. And this ability to comment is a wonderful collaboration strategy, where you can manage multiple writers, or you could outsource your Show Notes production.

SEO coaching (19:04)

I've mentioned the SEO coaching components before. Here the show notes that I'm actually preparing for this very episode that you're listening to right now. It's in an earlier stage than what you would see on my site, but I thought I'd share with you what this looks like. StoryChief provides an SEO sidebar that actually tells you what to do, and walks you through a number of steps to optimize your show notes for SEO.

Readability Coaching (19:38)

And it also has a area here a way you can get a score on the readability of your posts. So keeping it simple, adding headings, breaking it up, not having too many long sentences, and a flesh reading score. Which is sort of like how complex is the grammar that you're using, and getting a good score of that is an SEO factor now. Google actually uses this as a rank indication signal. I don't know how much weight it carries, but it carries some. Besides it just makes for a better reading experience to have your show notes be very easy and scannable.

The approach that we take is, is that our headings by themselves allow you to scan through an episode and very quickly see what's going on. People do scan a lot these days. So that's how it's organized.

Tabs for staying organized and to simplify the UI (20:30 )

The editing environment is split into wizard-like tabs. This is where you progress from writing, to a summary, to determining your audience, to actually publishing.

And after you write, you basically go to the summary area where you can manage the episode settings and Metadata. This is also where you put a cover image, where you add an excerpt for your WordPress blog, where you apply categories and tags. So this is all baked into StoryChief and it all translates over to any other platform that you publish to. These settings are going to trickle down into WordPress, they are going to trickle down into Drupal and Joomla, and they will be honored on as many platforms as they can be honored in.

Defining your audience (21:15)

The last part of the publishing process is that you select your audience, and this is where you can schedule your shotes notes to go live at some future date.

The best part of that is, at the end of the day when you click that publish button and you see it going live …

The 16 destinations we publish to (21:40)

As you can see here, I'm currently doing my podcast distribution and syndication to 16 destinations. Facebook pages, Facebook channels, my Medium personal profile, my Medium publication, my WordPress Blogs, my Linkedin profiles and so forth. Some people that I've seen have to up to 20 or 30 channels that they've configured. I think it's a great feeling when you then actually click the publish button and you see it go live everywhere.

StoryChief Free Version, Basic and Pro Versions

Try it for free, but the basic version costs only $10

So when I first thought I saw this, I thought it was super-exciting, because it just saves us so much time and it was a no-brainer for me to try to integrate this into our workflow.

Sign Up for Free To Try This For Your Podcast or Blog

I'd encourage you to try this for your own blog or podcast.

If you'd like to sign up for the free version, below is a link. Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link and if you ever upgrade I will earn a small commission at no cost to you. But I hope to have earned your trust with this site, blog and podcast – I have been putting significant work into this in order to provide next level thinking about podcast growth.

StoryChief Free Account Link
Get started for free and set up your account

Get started for free, but the basic plan is only $8 a month (when paid yearly)

It's 5 episodes (or stories) for 10$/month, 10 episodes for 20$/month, 15 for 30, 20 for 40, 25 for 50 up until 30 for 60$; and 20% discount if you pay yearly.

But the paid version is extremely reasonably priced for what it does. Then some of the more sophisticated integrations that we've talked about, are available in the Pro Plan. But I think that podcasters will get a lot of use and time savings, even out of the basic version and I think it's totally affordable to do it.

Feature comparison

As I mentioned, there is a free version that you can get, and then there's a Basic, Pro and Enterprise versions. I'll skip the enterprise one, but here's a feature comparison.

Free version for evaluating the platform

You can see that what you're getting with the free version is quite a lot. You had five stories a month, you could really get a feel for the platform and start utilizing it even with the free version.

Why the Basic version is right for podcasters

With the basic version, you actually get that ambassador network and some of the more, from my perspective, useful features that we've talked a little bit about.

The basic version is actually quite feature rich. For example, you do get the content calendar version history. You get a content approval and rejection, which are the collaboration features, to where you can assign shown notes to someone and communicate back with them.

Here's everything you get with the $8 a month basic plan:

  • 5-30 Stories a month
  • Unlimited Users and Collaborators
  • 50 Ambassadors/Press/Influencers
  • Free Blog
  • Publish to your own Website
  • Collaboration/Reviewer Comments
  • Share Story on Social Media
  • Publish to Medium.com and Blogger
  • SEO Assistant
  • API Access
  • Export to Word/PDF/Zip
  • Content Calendar
  • Version History
  • Content Approval/Rejection
  • Newsletters/Emailing
  • Lead Generation Forms (Teamleader CRM, Hubspot CRM)
  • Custom Domain for your
  • StoryChief Blog
  • Editorial Briefs
  • Access to Talent Pool (only available in Benelux)
  • Feeds and AMPs (Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, RSS, MailChimp)
  • Version History
  • PRO Channels (e.g Hubspot)
  • PRO Integrations (e.g Salesforce, Calendar Sync, …)
  • Zapier Integrations
  • Publish to Messengers (soon)

You get that integration into email letters, lead generation forms. You get that custom domain and editorial briefs and a number of other benefits that is appear integration. All of that is included in the baseline version for only $10 a month, or $8 when paid yearly. So I just think this is a smashingly good deal.

Results We Are Seeing

podcast syndication and distribution results
Backlinks to my podcast and site have increased by 229% (Source: KWFinder)

Even though we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with this tool, I hope you do see the value of distributing your show notes as widely, and to as many different networks as you can, just like you're doing with your podcast audio.

We've certainly had great results from it. Several of my episodes actually resulting in a good amount of traffic. I mean, I'm ranking for keywords that have sort of like 500 visits a month. Click here for the examples from RANK Tracker.

But if I can be on page one for that, I'm happy. I don't expect to be ranking for something that has 25,000 searches a month. That's a bit too competitive for me. I talked about that a lot in our SEO courses, how to basically match your podcasts website with the kind of keyboards and that you can actually rank for. Something that's commensurate with your site. As I mentioned, we'll be going into that in a future episode.

Keyword rank index increase from content syndication
Rank index increases (source: SERPWatcher)

In terms of business benefit, I've landed several clients as a direct result of Google search from the above process. Results that featured my syndicated content. Plus, several people have contacted me to collaborate and to help them with their own podcast content strategy and show launches, something I love doing…

So I hope that you found this inspiring. Please visit PodcastGrowShow.com, get your free sign up link for StoryChief.

Can you see yourself doing this and getting similar results?

Try this out yourself and see what you think, and let me know in the comments what you're thinking, and what your process is and how you could integrate that. I'm hoping that you could see yourself doing this. Scroll up for the link to the free StoryChief sign up.

Invitation To Join Our Ambassador Network

One last thing I almost forgot is the ambassador network. If you'd like to join my ambassador network, I would hugely appreciate it. If we have complimentary topics and our content is in sync from an SEO, or Inbound Marketing or podcasting perspective, maybe there's a way that we could work together and support each other.

So here is a signup form where you could join my ambassador networks. I would love to have you be part of that, and I would love to be able to support you in any way that I can.

5 reasons why the recommended Facebook ad process to promote a podcasts is flawed

You may think running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote a podcast. Facebook ads allow you to precisely target your audience amd promise to increase your subscribers in a cost-effective way.

And I totally agree. Facebook is the best paid promotion platform for a podcast, our regular listeners may remember Episode 3 “Paid Podcast Advertising – a Look Behind the Scenes“.

My point with this episode is not to argue that Facebook is a poor platform to advertise podcasts on. Rather to point out that the Facebook Podcast Promotion Process most bloggers and marketers recommend it is flawed.

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

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

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

Many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android or Spotify 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, or to simply go with your podcast host’s default episode pages and minimal content
  • The writers make the point that iTunes and Stitcher is, after all, where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
  • The advice is that direct links to the iTunes episode is the best way for Facebook ads to capture people on mobile devices. And also for targeting Android audiences by sending these ads to Google Play or Stitcher episodes directly

And we see many podcasts following this advice and missing out in the process.

I fundamentally disagree with sending your Facebook Ad traffic directly to your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links for the following five reasons:

#1: It Costs Too Much

The Cost To Promote a Podcast
Facebook Ads cost too much if all they are used for is to send traffic to iTunes

Sure, your ads may get you more listeners for your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. But Facebook podcast marketing ads should also have a better goal in addition to just adding listeners. Because 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.”

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, 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.

FB Ads for Podcasts: ‘Cost per anonymous listener’ <> ‘Cost per qualified lead

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

Apple and Google don't need more traffic from promoting a podcast
Apple and Google don’t need more traffic from your promoting a podcast

You are paying for ads traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.

Really?

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

#3: Blind Dates

Would you go on a date without ever asking the other person's name?
Would you go on a date without ever asking the other person’s name?

Don’t let your site visitors and podcast listeners stay anonymous. That’s like going on a date without ever asking the other person’s name.

iTunes and Facebook may know who your listeners are. But they won’t let you, the publisher, in on that secret. You 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 attract listeners to visit your show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote a 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. They could discover links and resources about your guests. And they could be downloading relevant resources from you in exchange for an email address.

So, when recording your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132”. 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

Digital sharecropping
She who does the work should benefit

In 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.

The term “Digital Sharecropping” was first coined by Nicholas Carr

…the distribution of production into the hands of the many – but the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.

So, what we often see with new clients who come to us for help is this: They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook. Their videos can be found 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 all social and ad traffic to promote your podcast should land on your own great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern. It is called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.

The effort (or cost) involved in creating a podcast home page and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run. The time spent pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place.

Your content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST.

Only then should it be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.

Outward Syndication

We call this process “Outward Syndication”. Many podcasters build their own system for sharing new podcast episodes once they are published.

The process we follow for our clients cross promotes their episode show notes posts gradually, across a range of platforms. These syndication channels include Youtube, Medium, Blogger, Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, Linkedin Personal pages, LinkedIn Business Pages, Google Plus, BeBee, and other social networks.

Why do this gradually?

Before episodes are promoted on any 3rd party platforms, we want to ensure that the show notes page goes live on our own site first. And that our own episode page gets indexed by Google first. We don’t want to search for our episodes online only to see our medium article pop up in the search results. Therefore we use a “rel=canonical” tag to indicate where the original article lives. This is true to Google, Bing and other search engine crawlers as well.

There are several ways to do this and to ensure our episode is indexed on our own site first. First, we can use Google’s webmaster tools (AKA Google Search Console) to manually submit our episode post for indexing. This is quicker than waiting 2-3 weeks for Google’s crawler to come around and visit your website. Typically we do this the day we publish to instantly be included in the search results. We discuss the importance of SEO based podcast cornerstone content strategy elsewhere on my blog, but we have seen episodes rank in the top 30 results within a week using our approach.

Delay by 2-3 weeks

So it is only after that has happened that we publish and syndicate on other platforms. Getting back to the “rel=canonical” setting when publishing on other platforms. Take Medium for example: It is very important to use their own content import tool, which uses the “rel=canonical” tag and honors the original source of the article and channels the Google rank score to that original post. So do not just copy / paste your episode show notes into a new Medium article, use their import tool.

Podcast Promotion and Syndication with StoryChief

Automating MultiChannel Syndication For Podcasts

We utilize a platform Called StoryChief, which automates the cross platform syndication of podcast and blog content. What I really like about StoryChief is that it

  • Automatically applies the “rel=canonical” settings when publishing on other platforms.
  • Supports Libsyn Podcast player widgets

I will talk about how we utilize StoryChief to automate much of our podcast episode syndication in an upcoming episode. If you’d like to find out about StoryChief in the meantime, below is a link (disclaimer – this is an affiliate link:)

StoryChief Content Syndication Platform

Content syndication for your podcast episodes

There is a one-time up-front effort in setting up multiple platforms to syndicate to, but promoting an episode to multiple platforms with built in audiences like Medium makes this worth it.

To conclude the topic of “Digital Sharecropping”

Having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages builds a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list.

  • Would you not rather build free traffic and rank for your site? Don’t overlook the value of SEO for your show notes pages. This is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I often write about.
  • I think most marketers would agree that an email list is still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence.

#5: Analytics & Measuring Performance

Analytics is important when using Facebook to promote a podcast
Analytics are important when using Facebook to promote a podcast

How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads?

For me the answer is this:

Success = how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog.

The Facebook marketing term for this is called a “conversion”. It is NOT how many people clicked on your ad, nor how many more anonymous 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 ads cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Facebook won’t know 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.

So don’t set this as your Facebook Ad campaign goal.

A better goal is to measure “Conversions”

Facebook algorithms are more effective when optimized for conversions. When setting up an ad campaign on Facebook, you can choose “conversions” as the goal. A “conversion” is triggered every time someone goes to your podcast subscriber “thank you page”, so you will need one of these on your site.

Facebook learns from who signed up and then increasingly shows your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. You will 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)

Conclusion

If you use Facebook to boost or promote your podcast, don’t send traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher. Instead, send traffic to your own episode show notes pages. Be sure your site features a “subscribe by email widget” that redirects to a thank you page, and triggers a “conversion” on Facebook.

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.

Podcast Advertising – a look behind the scenes of the top 3 platforms

Podcast Advertising, especially with paid ads, might not be something most podcasters consider in promoting their show and growing their subscriber base. Lots of questions arise:

  • How effective are paid podcast advertising strategies, and do they work for podcasters trying to promote their show?
  • Which ad platforms are the most effective? And which are the most affordable?

We take a look behind the scenes of 3 platforms, Google AdWords, Facebook and Podcast Ad Networks.

Using Paid Podcast Advertising Strategies

Using paid ads for promoting a podcast may not be for everyone. A lot of casual podcasters are in it just for the fun. If their show grows organically, fine. But spending money on ads is not something they’d consider.

However, when podcasting is part of a business content strategy, then paid promotions seem to make more sense.

Still, here are some common questions and objections:

  1. It is an expensive way of getting new subscribers?
  2. Measuring the effectiveness of paid ads is difficult?
  3. Your ads may not even be reaching podcast listeners?

A Podcast’s Business Purpose

I find that podcasting for business is more inbound than outbound. Successful business podcasts should offer solutions, solve a prospects problems or provide training and education. Thus they are extremely effective in building a brand’s authority.

But Podcasts are not effective for direct response selling to cold traffic.

If you are a business getting into podcasting as a way to sell something, stop. You might be better off advertising on existing podcasts in your niche. We cover this later in this episode.

On the other hand, if a business has a good inbound content marketing funnel, podcasts can serve as a great entry vehicle. As a business podcaster you get to talk to your ideal and relevant audience when they are in a receptive mode. Think about what people are doing when listening to their favorite podcast, the one you are appearing on. They are likely commuting, working out, going for a walk.

This listening modality is very different from interrupting an audience in the middle of browsing through their Facebook feed. So the “getting to know, like and trust” factor is huge in podcasting. And this is why Podcast Listeners are such a lucrative audience. You get to offer solutions, entertainment, education – and present your core ideas to them. But this takes the vision to invest in a longer term “inbound” strategy.

High Ad Awareness

Podcasts result in exceptionally high awareness levels for ads.

Among those who listen to or watch podcasts, just over two-thirds (67%) say they’re aware of ads in podcasts. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, the number far exceeds the 26% of smartphone users who recalled seeing an ad in a Facebook newsfeed in the last 30 days, or banner ad on the mobile web (22%)

Podcast Advertising Stats
Podcast Advertising Response Rates (source: Magid Study)

I’d like to compare several podcast advertising platforms in this episode, and point out the differences between them. Not all ad platforms are created equal.

So here’s my take on 3 platforms.

  1. Google AdWords
  2. Facebook Paid Ads
  3. Podcast Ad Networks

Podcast Advertising With Google Adwords

Podcast Advertising With Google Adwords
Google AdWords is the 800 lbs gorilla. Can it work for podcasters?

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? How do you even know if your ads are reaching podcast listeners? On AdWords you cannot target podcast audiences easily.

My own view is that you need measurable results for AdWords to make sense.

For most businesses this means sending traffic to a good podcast landing page with a compelling reason to subscribe to their podcast.

Often such landing pages features an incentive for subscribing to the podcast via email, for example a guide, gift, contest or give-away. At least these landing pages should collect email addresses. Using Google Ads to send cold traffic to iTunes and hoping that people subscribe is difficult to measure, and not worth it in my opinion.

So we don’t use it except for certain corporate podcasts or non-profit podcasts in search of PR (as we are producing several). Some organizations have a PR budget, and promoting their show on AdWords seems appropriate for them.

For example, we have a non-profit organization with a podcast that has a grant from Google. We should all be so lucky! Podcast advertising using AdWords makes sense when the cost is reduced by such a grant. Plus, in their case Google stipulates that the grant money be spent this way:)

When is AdWords Appropriate?

If you are promoting high ticket products, services or programs costing hundreds or thousands of dollars, then running a podcast advertising campaign costing $5-$20 per click may appear to make sense.

But assuming that you can convert 3% of these clicks into podcast podcast listeners and subscribers, your cost per subscriber would be between $170 and $670. If you think that’s expensive, so do I.

One example where AdWords could make sense is a Financial Investment and Trading Podcast. A client signing up to such a podcast and becoming a client later is worth many thousands of dollars.

But for casual podcasts with a small budget I think Adwords are hardly ever worth pursuing.

Facebook Advertising For Podcasts

Facebook Ads For Podcasts
Podcast Advertising With 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 your main podcast landing page that features an incentive for signing up.

Where to Send Facebook Traffic?

When you’re first starting with Facebook ads, you should send these ads to your podcast home page, not your episode pages. Do not simply boost your episode shared post on Facebook. This is because boosting an individual episode show notes post seems like a quick solution but rarely converts as well as a carefully crafted visual leading to a conversion optimized page. And your ad should be designed to specifically outline the listener benefit and value proposition of your overall podcast.

Some podcasters promote on Facebook by sending traffic straight to their iTunes page. This makes no sense to me, since iTunes makes for a very poor landing page. By sending your valuable ad traffic to iTunes, you miss the opportunity to present the benefits of signing up for your podcast, and to capture an email subscriber in the process. Plus, from an SEO perspective, iTunes doesn’t need traffic or social signals, but your own site does.

So let’s assume you are sending ad traffic to your own podcast homepage. You therefore want to ensure your podcast home page is optimized for conversion. We have a huge guide on podcast design patterns for conversion, I suggest you check it out.

There is an exception to this rule.

If you have a lead magnet or give-away specifically for each episode, Facebook can be a great way to take advantage of that. Your visual for the Facebook ad can focus on the lead magnet give away, instead of on static or boring podcast art. Your Facebook episode specific ads should make it clear that there is a “must have” lead magnet associated with the ad.

The more your “lead magnet” is aligned with the topic of the episode, the better the conversion rates will be.

Targeting Podcast Listeners On Facebook

As I mentioned, targeting podcast listeners on Facebook can be tricky. Here is our 5 step process for creating custom Facebook audiences that are more likely to be podcast listeners. You can use this to drive Facebook traffic to your podcast’s home page. By the way this is an example of an episode specific lead magnet:

Podcast Advertising and targeting on Facebook

Using Facebook Paid Ads For Contests

A popular and effective way to gain podcast subscribers is by running a contest or give-away on Facebook. This used to be a popular podcast launch strategy. Contests were typically set up to ask for an iTunes review in exchange for entering the contest. However, the iTunes algorithms have changed since then. Reviews no longer play as much of a role in driving a podcast into the New and Noteworthy section.

That said, contests can work for subscriber growth even after the initial launch period. The benefit here is that people entering your contest are providing their email address, and you can make it clear that by entering the contest your listeners are signing up for email notifications when new episodes launch.

The prize for a contest does not need to be anything super expensive.

But it should be aligned with the topic of the show. It is much more important that the prize is relevant. Take a Customer Experience podcast for example. Rather than giving away an iPad or some other expensive gadget, consider giving away tickets to the premiere Customer Experience Conference that year. If you were to give away an iPad you would get tons of meaningless content entries of people just fishing for an electronic gadget. But it you are giving away conference tickets, you can be sure that people entering your contest are interested in your topic, and thus ideal podcast subscribers.

Here are some good Facebook Contest Resources.

  • Heyo – Beautiful and easy to set up, including a free trial and affordable monthly rate after that.
  • Wishpond – Lots of contest templates to choose from. Also includes a free trial.
  • Shortstack – A platform for contests and quizzes. More options and a greater learning curve.
  • Agora Pulse – Most affordable platform, and ROI focused.

For a more complete review of Facebook Contest platforms, check out this in-depth review by Venture Harbor.

Additional Ways To Use Facebook for Podcast Advertising

While Facebook advertising is affordable and effective, it is also a pretty vast topic, requiring lots of expertise. We will do a deep dive into this in a future episode. Here are just some additional ideas on utilizing the Facebook ads platform.

  • Facebook Messenger bots to invite people to subscribe or leave a review. These messenger bots result in you acquiring leads with emails.
  • Installing Facebook Pixels on your site and re-targeting your site visitors to subscribe.
  • Running Facebook ads to social share gates, using our favorite social share gate tool called “GoViral”. This saves you from having to create a landing page, and still results in people sharing your podcast pages with their Facebook audience in order to “unlock” your lead magnet offer.

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.

Podcast Ad Networks

Podcast Ad 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.

In-podcast advertising networks are so effective because 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 taken action and purchased or signed up for something 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.

On the surface, these numbers compare very favorably to advertising on Facebook or AdWords. However, there is a rub: Podcast networks charge per download, and the number of downloads do not equal the number of listens. And in order for your in-podcast midroll ads to work, you need people to listen, right? How many downloads are actually listened to depends greatly on the type of podcast. A daily news podcast might have a much lower download to listen ration vs. a podcast with a loyal fan base. Just something to keep in mind.

Midroll

  • Midroll is the largest player in this field, with an inventory of over 300 podcasts, and a focus of matching podcasters with
  • Here is a link to Midroll’s metrics, demographics and pricing, everything you need to know to advertise your own show on one of the best known podcast ad networks.

Authentic

Archer Avenue

  • Archer Avenue works with you to ensure your ads are placed only on the shows you are interested in. They can also help you design an audio ad matching the style of the show you would be advertising on.

Advertise Cast

  • Advertise Cast has an interesting tool to help you find podcasts to advertise on, as well as predict the total spend of your campaign. Look for the “filter” tool in the left sidebar of their site. You can set the Cost Per Thousand (CPM) downloads to display podcasts that match your budget, and then proceed to select shows that would be a good fit.

Podgrid

  • Podgrid focuses on small to medium sized shows, and go the extra mile to match you with the best podcasts to advertise on.
  • Because they are small, they work to match your budget. Thus I think they are a good choice if you want to experiment with a limited budget.

Podcast One

  • Podcast One is a large network with 200 shows and “400 million impressions” according to their page.
  • They claim to be able to offer metrics on spots actually being heard, instead of using downloads. This is done through “3rd party verification”. I do no know to what extent this increases their pricing, something you might wish to ask when reaching out to them,

How To Get Started With Advertising on Podcast Ad Networks

If placing ads on podcast networks seems intimidating, there is a good article on Adopter Media explaining podcast advertising rates and how they work. It answers the most common questions about how costs are determined and common pricing approaches.

In order to figure out if this will work for your podcast and your budget, I would suggest the following: Study each podcast network website listed above. Remember that the best outcome results from being aligned with the show you are advertising on.

  • Make a list of podcasts that would suit your niche and messaging.
  • Set a budget you would be comfortable with for 1/2 year.
  • Contact each network through their online form and describe what you are looking for.
  • If your budget is limited, try the Podgrid network first.

All of the podcast networks are very customer friendly. They offer consulting sessions to help you get started, and I’d suggest phone or Zoom meetings with each one to get a sense of how they work and how well aligned you are with their stable of available podcasts.

Conclusion

All in all, I think I can summarize it like this.

  1. Google Adwords is appropriate only in rare circumstances. If your podcast is associated with a “big ticket item” business, or if you have a grant:)
  2. Facebook is the most versatile podcast advertising platform simply because it’s targeting flexibility and relative affordability.
  3. Podcast Ad Networks are the most effective way to get to existing podcast listeners, but require a decent budget.

This episode reveals how “Podcast Guesting” is one of the best possible marketing strategies for podcasters.

Episode Overview

  1. What it is and why care
  2. Careful – best practices matter throughout
  3. Process overview
  4. How to best get started
  5. Using a guesting service vs the DIY approach
  6. A walk through demo of the DIY approach

What is “Guesting”, And What Are the Benefits?

Being a guest on other peoples podcasts is good PR – not just for podcasters.

As a result there are several programs out there that teach why this is such an effective marketing approach for start-ups, authors, speakers and entrepreneurs to create PR and promote their business.

Steve Olsher “Profiting From Podcasts” comes to mind

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 free directory and contact information for 670 podcasters whose show you could appear on.

Podcasters have a built-in advantage

Podcast guesting is a good opportunity for people who do not podcast themselves. But it is an even better opportunity for those of us who do have a podcast and want to promote it. This is because as a podcaster you will have a decided advantage:

  • You are used to podcasting and fluent “on air”
  • Great sound quality is part of your own mission
  • Furthermore you are empathetic with the needs of a podcast host, and able to create value for the show you will appear on

Benefits of Podcast Guesting

The tactical benefits are too many to count.

  • Great for your SEO: Guest appearances on podcasts usually result in a back link to your business website. This is a big deal because links to your site are one of the most important ranking signal Google uses. So if you are podcasting as content strategy and want your show to appear in search results more easily, you’ve got to have links to your site. Each time you appear on someone else’s show, this is a likely outcome.
  • It’s evergreen: while you are likely to get an initial boost, the episode you appear on will continue to exist. And will allow people to discover your own business or podcast.
  • Above all, you can attract your ideal audience: people who listen to podcasts already. If listeners like you as a guest, they will check out your own show. We have seen this countless times. A great appearance on a popular show can skyrocket your own podcast subscriber base overnight, especially if your podcasting website is designed for conversion.

If you can take your own message, mission and values and match it with that of your host’s podcast, you are attracting a super engaged audience.

Careful: Best Practice Matters

I mentioned Steve Olsher’s list of 600+ podcasts with contact info. Whatever you do, don’t abuse this list – for example by sending an impersonal mass email asking to be on 600 shows. Certainly your name will be dirt in the podcasting community if you do that!

And this is true for generating a DIY list as well: There are ways you yourself can get contact info to outreach to people. But you will want to follow best practices and do your research ahead of time. So throughout this episode, we’ll point out best practices to follow to increase your success rate.

How Best To Get Started With A “Podcast Guesting” Strategy

Steve’s Olsher’s list features big podcasts with established audiences, and that’s great.

Start Small

However, don’t start there. Start with smaller players, if you are in a smaller niche yourself, and work your way up. To appear on the big shows, prove that you are worthy guest with a worthy message, and a large audience yourself.

Grow Big Later

So instead, start with the smaller players in your field, and get practice. Having been a guest on other shows will help to get on the big shows later.

The “Guesting” Strategy Process

The podcast guesting strategy breaks down into components:​​​​​​​

  1. Researching the best podcasts to appear on​​​​
  2. Finding Contact Info
  3. Outreach campaign to pitch why you would make a great guest
  4. The actual appearance
  5. Follow-Ups

Researching Podcasts To Appear On

You can use iTunes to research podcasts in your niche. Do some SEO keyword searches, locate podcasts that are good candidates for your own message, and look up the podcast website in the iTunes app. I recommend entering candidates in a Google Sheet.

iTunes vs Google

iTunes is a rather poor discoverability and research tool. Another way to do this is with a simple Google search, by entering a term or keyword and then adding +podcast at the end. In most cases there will be write ups. For example, let’s take “positivity” as the keyword and try this:

The results reveal several listicle posts about the top positivity podcasts to listen to. Perfect! Let’s drill down to examine each.

Via Player FM

Another good platform to research podcasts to appear on is Player.fm. This is because they list the number of subscribers on their platform, and this will show you how popular each one is.

Time for a mini demo (Video at 7:30)

  • searching for shows
  • filtering to display results from the last year
  • investigating each podcast site for Alexa Rank and Domain Authority
  • make sure they are interview shows

So, build a list of about 20 podcasts you would love to be on. We have a Google Sheets template for this process, and I am sharing a link to that at the bottom of this episode. Click here for that.

Finding contact information

The next stage in the process is to identify email addresses. The tool I am using is a Chrome extension called Hunter.

Some podcast sites may only have a contact form, and that’s OK too, but the majority will reveal email addresses.

So, build a list of about 20 podcasts you would love to be on,

Setting up podcast guesting outreach campaigns

There are basically 2 ways to approach this:

Time or money

Either you handle an outreach campaign by yourself, or you hire someone to do it for you. Several companies that specialize in arranging podcast guest appearances have sprung up in the last year or two, and this can save time.

Here is are two quick start services that offers to do the hard work for you. You don’t get as much control about which podcasts you get to appear on. But I would recommend this in broader niches. For specific small niches, it might be more effective for you to start out doing research yourself.

Perfect Podcast Guest:

How would you like to have hundreds of podcast producers, hosts, and other media outlets contacting YOU to be a guest on their show? Their concept is that they will list you as a potential guest in their directory. So it is a way for podcast hosts and producers to find you.

They offer 2 plans:

  • Get a 30-day listing for only $1. Subscription is $9.99/mo*.
  • A yearly plan, where you get two months free, for $99*

Interview Valet:

This premium service does a lot of the work for you, and can get you on some great shows. But it comes at a price of $750 a month. So depending on your situation, this may jump start your guesting efforts.

Podcast Bookers:

Their ideal clients are book authors, business owners, marketers, digital agency owners and entrepreneurs with a record of success and a story to tell.​​​​​​​

Their ($99)$450 per month starter plan comprises

  • 2 Bookings Per Month
  • Dedicated booking agent
  • Find and research great shows
  • Customized pitching
  • Contact and follow-up
  • Scheduling & confirmation
  • Detailed email summary
  • Replacement if show cancels
  • Custom “one-sheet” for pitching

 

We feature even more guest booking services in our podcast resources guide:

FREE 2018 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • check
    Gear Guides
  • check
    "How To" Tutorials
  • check
    Music & Sound Effect Libraries
  • check
    Software & Tools
  • check
    Guest Booking Services
  • check
    General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?

The DIY Way:

Doing outreach campaigns yourself can be easy and is cost effective. But you need some time,  a thick skin, and cannot have a low tolerance for rejection if you don’t want to spend a ton of money. I am assuming you are a resilient podcaster and entrepreneur here.

The good news is that you will build reusable assets the first time you run a podcast guesting campaign. Each additional podcast guesting project will take less and less time.

I would still recommend going this route. Here is why:

Because as a podcast producer we have seen tons of examples of people pitching us to be on one of our shows. 9 times out of 10 these are impersonal mass emails.

Your opportunity here is to do the opposite and to do this right: research and personalize each time you reach out to someone.

  1. Listen to a few recent episodes, not just one
  2. Jot down something you liked about their show or interview
  3. Write down 3 different ways in which you could add a new perspective to a topic they have covered
  4. Be aware about your hosts current content themes if any [xxx]

The Podcast Guesting Outreach Template

First, develop an email outreach template, and then heavily personalize it using the above research before you send it.

  • What unique information can you teach their audience?
  • Are there interesting stories their audience will benefit from hearing?
  • Can you think of the most relevant advice and knowledge for your podcast host’s audience?

Keep in mind that this template will need to only be created once, and has additional benefits. It could also serve for other outreach campaigns, such as guest posting and link building. We have a template for you to download in our resources section at the bottom of these show notes. Click here to access.

One Sheeter

Next, design a standing PR kit “One-Sheeter” for your podcast and add this as an attachment or separate section. This is another on-time only effort.

This sheet should be all about you, your podcast, the topics, audience, social proof. If you are creating your podcast one-sheet, remember this won’t replace the pitch; however, it will supplement and enhance it. A sample outline of a podcast one-sheet might therefore include:

  • A Short introduction
  • The value or topic areas your podcast covers
  • Other places you have been featured (i.e. other podcasts)
  • Your environment/equipment
  • Audience stats for social media
  • A link to your online calendar
  • Contact information
  • Sign off/thanks

Your Outreach Email

Because a one-sheeter alone does not replace your outreach email, your email should include these elements (courtesy of “Podcast Bookers”)

  1. Step #1: An enchanting subject line that grabs attention. Your subject line makes or breaks your pitch.
  2. Step #2: A personal greeting that builds a connection. Greet the show owner by name.
  3. Step #3: A killer opening that introduces you powerfully. Your opening lines should say who you are and why you’re writing.
  4. Step #4: A compact body that highlights your story. In the body copy, focus on the novelty of your story. Your originality is what gets you the gig. Show the host why your story is different. Keep searching until you find a unique angle. You should also add a dash of social proof to showcase your authority. There are so many ways of demonstrating your authority. Here are some of them:
    • Share some popular podcasts you’ve been featured on.
    • Brag about top industry blogs you’ve been featured on.
    • Mention any notable press mentions if you have any.
    • Reference an industry-related book if you’ve written any.
    • State any industry awards you’ve won over the years.
  5. Step #5: A convincing close to ram the point home. Close with a stirring conclusion that compels the host to respond positively to your request. A question makes a good call to action.2

What if no one responds?

  • Don’t take it personally
  • Be persistent
  • Don’t re-send the same email, keep adding value: Here are some ideas for adding elements to follow up emails:
    • Share links to other podcast episodes you’ve been on
    • Add social proof in the form of testimonials for your speaking or writing
    • Link to articles you’ve written that align with one of the topics you pitched

Time Savers

Here are some time saving tips:

  • Use TextExpander (or your emails built-in template system) to prepare and then personalize your podcast guesting outreach emails. This works great for one-at-a-time emails.
  • Use Chrome extensions like Hunter and YAMM to automate the outreach process so you can send campaigns to dozens if not hundreds podcast hosts. We demo this process in detail in the video at the top of this page, and in our downloadable guesting system at the bottom of these show notes.
  • Use some sort of tracking system.
    • We use a marketing automation platform called SharpSpring (think HubSpot but a fraction of the cost).
    • G-Suite and Gmail allow you to send trackable links
  • But even so, there are free options to track.  At least you will know if your recipient opened the email or not.

Your Guest Appearance

Putting thought into the podcasts you appear on means thinking about the host on the other end of your interview. Again, you as a podcast know about this, right?

Make it easy for your host, especially if you have never met. Follow the process they outline for you, if they ask you to use their tools and forms, go along with it.

Make sure you listen to recent episodes of their show.

Look up your host on their “about” page, and learn about them as a person, something you can weave into the conversation as appropriate.

Be aware of the format and structure of the show you are appearing on.

Follow-Ups

After your interview, support your host in the way you wished your own guests would. Reach out and thank your host, and offer your support in sharing the show notes. Ask if there is anything you can do to help create these, for example links, image and other information you should have already sent to the host in the form of your one-sheeter.

Links Mentioned In This Episode


Downloadable Outreach System – Our Guesting Templates

Podcast Guesting Templates

As featured in our video demo (at 7m:30sec), below are the templates we use for this. Just unlock these below and you will get

  • Podcast Guesting Outreach Email Template – (via Google Docs)
  • Outreach Database & Personalization Template – (via Google Sheets)
  • Integration ready for use with YAMM mail merge tools so you can contact 100’s of podcast hosts – in a highly personalized way.


UNLOCKED! Thanks for joining us!

Here are the links, these are public read only documents on Google Sheets and Google Docs, just copy them to your own account to start using them.

  1. Outreach Email Template for you to customize for your own show
  2. Outreach Database & Personalization Template
  3. I highly recommend installing the Hunter – Email Capture Chrome Extension
  4. Also the YAMM – Yet Another Mail Merge Outreach Campaign Tool
  5. Be sure to watch the YAMM support instructions on how to set up a campaign.

To see how this all works together, be sure to click below and the video will start right at 7m:30s:

Be sure to just ask me any questions in the comments, or better even join our Facebook Discussion Group for Podcast Marketing as well!

Cheers, Juergen


Conclusion

Podcast guesting may sound like a lot of work. But believe me, it is worth it. There are SEO services out there charging $500+ for a guest post article or back link from a reputable site. And this strategy is better. You will get an evergreen audio interview about your podcast and business, with a back-link to your site. You will also be speaking to and engaging a new audience that is already listening to podcasts and ready for your message and mission.

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
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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.

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