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How to grow your podcast audience

January 24, 2022
A comprehensive guide to getting more loyal listeners for your podcast.

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It’s no surprise the question we receive most often from podcasters is, “How do I grow my audience?” You’ve spent time and effort planning and creating your first episodes, or maybe you’ve already built up a solid catalog. But you might be lacking an audience size to match the quality of your podcast.

If so, you’re not alone. Putting your podcast out there is a major first step—not to mention a great accomplishment. But word of mouth alone will only get you so far. To get your podcast in the ears of more listeners, you have to take the necessary steps to reach them.

That’s why we put together these tips for growing your podcast audience—because whether you’ve had a show for a while or are just starting out, everyone’s story deserves a chance to be heard.

Target your specific audience

Before you commit to any particular growth strategy, try to narrow down your intended audience. While you may be thinking, “My podcast is for everyone!” keep in mind the key to growing your listeners is to find your niche. Rather than casting a wide net, pinpoint the unique value your podcast brings to the world and consider the audience who is most likely to listen to (and benefit from) your show.

The more specific your topic is, the easier it will be to identify and appeal to your audience. For example, the “Growing Up Halal” creators speak to a very specific community that they identify with: young Muslim-American women who feel they don’t have an adequate platform or representation.

Similarly, Angela Belt’s podcast, “The Mood Board,” focuses on the “intersection of race, culture, and interior design”—a concept very specific and unique to her interests and identity.

If your show switches topics, genres, and tones, you may want to narrow your focus in order to attract consistent listeners.

Research your podcast audience

In what part of the world do they live? What are their interests? What other podcasts do they listen to? Spotify for Podcasters’ built-in analytics can help you track down demographic data and trends with your current listeners—dig as deep as you can to put yourself in the mind of your audience.

Do your own research to find out where your listeners are most active online. Do they use social media platforms? Do they follow particular hashtags or subreddits? Figuring out where your audience already engages will help you learn where and how to reach them. You can start by asking your listeners on Spotify via an Spotify for Podcasters Q&A and polls.

Your yearly Spotify Podcaster Wrapped is another window into your audience and how they engage with your podcast. You can find out how many dedicated listeners you have who tune in to the majority of your episodes. You can discover the most popular times when your audience listens to your podcast and schedule episode releases and announcements accordingly. Both Wrapped and Spotify for Podcasters analytics can show your episodes with the most listens to inspire future content.

Connect with your listeners

Once you’ve identified your audience, it’s time to connect with them. Some platforms might deserve more attention than others depending on your audience—don’t be shy about where you promote your show. Connecting with your listeners starts with getting the word out on any and all channels where you can reach them.

Focus on building a community around your podcast. By creating opportunities for listeners to engage with your podcast and each other, you can foster a sense of community that’s rewarding to be a part of and builds a dedicated following.

For example, the “Teenager Therapy” podcast does an excellent job of speaking to their community of other young people with similar experiences, challenges, and questions. On Instagram, they post video clips from their recording sessions and then ask their 62,000 followers how they feel about different episode topics.

On social media

When you start a podcast, it’s important to create dedicated social media accounts. Promoting your show on social media platforms makes it easy for people to discover it and provides a perpetual outlet to promote your content.

Follow these tips to get the most out of marketing your podcast on social media:

  • Post about every new episode on both your podcast and personal social media channels.
  • Use branded hashtags specific to your show, so listeners can contribute to the conversation.
  • Include hashtags about your topics and guests (if applicable).
  • Tag guests, organizations, TV shows, artists, and anyone or anything else mentioned in episodes with an active social presence.
  • Reply to comments to keep your audience engaged.
  • Post in relevant Facebook and Reddit groups.
  • Tailor additional short-form video content for Instagram Stories, Reels, and TikTok.
  • Post shareable images, including quotes from episodes, behind-the-scenes photos of your recording setup, and photos with guests.
  • Extract short audio clips from episodes to post on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Host a giveaway contest. For example, ask social media followers to follow your podcast on Spotify or respond to a question on Instagram for a prize—like your podcast merch.
  • Be sure to tag @spotifyforpodcasters! We’re always looking to learn about great new shows.

Through your website

Creating a website for your podcast is another way your audience can discover your show, listen to episodes, and learn more about you and your creative process. Adding a blog to your website can add even more value. Your blog can dig deeper into background information on guests and explore episode topics even further. Blog content can also give your audience an inside look into your production process and how you select topics and interview subjects.

A website dedicated to your podcast will also help potential listeners find you online when they search for terms related to your show. A blog can help extend your search engine optimization (SEO) value even further. The more content you have with your podcast’s name and keywords related to your topics, the more it will help to improve your site’s search rankings.

If you already have a personal or business website, add a section dedicated to your podcast where you can post episodes and other related content.

As a Spotify for Podcasters user, one of the built-in tools you can leverage is your own profile page that can serve as your podcast website or complement your main website. It’s a streamlined home for all of the content related to your show, including links to your social accounts, a designated spot for your podcast trailer, and a colorful background that’s designed to match your podcast cover art. Customize your profile according to your own creative vision and share it everywhere to showcase all of your podcast content with a single link.

With emails

Email creates a direct line between you and your newsletter subscribers. It’s another delivery device for your episodes—you can tease about upcoming episodes and package with other content about your podcast. You can add an email subscription button to your website and promote a link to subscribe on your social media channels.

Through your episode description

One of the best ways to get your show discovered and make a strong impression on potential listeners is to write a compelling episode description.

Try to keep it short and sweet (two to three sentences max) but preview the topics you'll be discussing throughout the episode. Make sure to include specific keywords that will grab your audience's attention: names of guests, timely trends, breaking news, or places.

Remember, the end goal is to convince potential listeners to press "play" so try to pique their interest and leave them wanting more instead of trying to summarize your episode!

Using Spotify for Podcasters' Q&A and polls

Q&A and polls make your episodes interactive. The Interact tab in Spotify for Podcasters is the place to create, edit, and manage listener feedback for your show on Spotify. You can easily select episodes to add questions or polls to and engage your audience while they’re listening. This makes them feel like they’re a part of your show.

Remember, that listener responses to Q&As are private. You can strengthen that connection by publishing your favorite responses on episode pages, like in the example below from “The Motivated Mind" podcast. This also gives you material to talk about in future episodes.

You can even use this feature to turn your audience into collaborators like the “Beyond the Screenplay” team did when surveying their audience in the example below.

Optimize your show for search-results success on Spotify

Did you know that you can now take a peek at some of Spotify’s best practices for search results? By optimizing everything from your podcast title to episode descriptions to match listeners’ search terms, your chances of being discovered are better than ever. You can now learn for yourself how everything you write has an impact on search results within Spotify—and in turn, your show’s growth.

Cross-promote with other podcasts

There are millions of podcasts on Spotify alone, and every creator wants to grow their audience, no matter how many listeners they have. Use your fellow creators as a resource and create a network to support each other. Connect with like-minded creators and those with podcasts that complement your own. Give them a shoutout on social media and introduce your listeners to them in episodes. Chances are they will return the favor.

Take it a step further and invite other podcast creators to be a guest on your podcast. Look for opportunities to go on other podcasts as a guest yourself to potentially attract a whole new audience of different listeners. Engage with other creators online and build a wishlist of podcasts you want to land a guest spot on. Then, pitch the idea to the creators of those podcasts, including why you want to be a guest and the value you could provide for them in return.

Complement your audio with video content

Now with video podcasts on Spotify, you can opt to record entire episodes as videos, so your audience can watch and listen to your podcast. This way, you can reach more people with more ways to consume your show. They may want to get to know you better by watching your episodes front and center on their screen or having it play in the background while they multitask.

Short-form videos are also incredibly popular, so platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Triller are perfect spaces to share quick, fun video content with soundbites from your episodes. That can include video clips of episode recordings, bloopers, behind-the-scenes outtakes, and anything else your audience might enjoy.

Welcome a guest

A guest can be a great way to expand your audience. Guests can be friends, experts in a field, or someone you’ve always dreamed of talking to. Encourage your guests to promote the podcast episodes they’re on, which will help you tap into their followers.

Make it easier for them to promote you by giving them a mini press kit with assets they can easily post, like suggested copy, a link to the episode, your awesome cover art, an interesting quote from the interview, and a special photo from the recording session. Tweet about your guests and tag them. They’ll be more likely to retweet and share with their own followers.

Celebrate past guests’ accomplishments. When something big happens for them, congratulate them publicly, and reshare their episode. Similarly, keep track of holidays, micro-moments, and current events relevant to your podcast. Post about them, making a connection to your show. Become a relevant, reliable source of information for your listeners.

Build ratings for your podcast

Your podcast rating gives your show credibility and social proof—both of which are effective ways to attract new listeners. Rack up those five stars by directing listeners to rate your podcast wherever you can: on your main show page, in your individual episode pages, on your website, in emails, on social media, and in your episodes.

Create a trailer

Trailers are an easy way to hook new listeners by giving them a sneak preview of what your show is all about. Creating a trailer is also a chance to pinpoint the unique value of your podcast and to practice pitching your show under concise constraints.

And when you record a trailer with Spotify for Podcasters, we’ll automatically send you a transcribed, animated video that brings your words to life. Your trailer video is optimized for sharing on social media, so you can post it everywhere to spread the word about your show.

Set your goals and track how you’re meeting them

What does success mean to you? What metrics are important to you? They could be quantitative, like your subscriber count or your number of total episode plays. Or maybe they’re qualitative, like a high rating or an engaged listenership.

Determine your baseline of success and grow your audience with that intention in mind. If your idea of success is generating ad revenue, you might grow your audience toward a particular monthly ad income. If you want to know how your show impacts your listeners, your strategy might include outreach and engagement. Spotify for Podcasters' built-in analytics dashboard makes it easy to measure and visualize your podcast performance, and if your show is on Spotify, you can find additional insights about those listeners using the Spotify for Podcasters analytics dashboard.

No matter what your podcast audience goals are, remember, sustained growth requires time and effort. It might be a while before your podcast takes off, and that’s okay. With a positive attitude and consistent promotion, you can begin to convert more fans. When in doubt, remember why you got started in the first place. Your podcast is something to be proud of whether you have one or one million listeners.

Feeling inspired?