Defining your podcast’s target audience is the first step to building a strong community around your show before you even release the first episode. Think of these listeners as your muse. It’s a symbiotic relationship—you create special content for a specific audience who, in return, drives your podcast forward.
Expand for key takeaways:
Establishing your target audience is one of the very first steps when starting a podcast and what will guide the unique design of your show. So, it’s something you should consider carefully to set yourself up for success and keep monitoring for long-term growth.
Narrowing down the audience for your show will give you a much better chance of actually reaching them. The podcast boom over the years means there are many different types of listeners out there, all with different interests and tastes. So, instead of trying to reach as many of them as possible, target the ones that you can make a real connection with. Those will be the listeners who find particular value in your show that they can’t find elsewhere.
A target podcast audience also helps you focus and refine your personal podcast brand. If you know exactly who you’re speaking to and what they want out of your show, you can cultivate consistent content, style, tone, purpose, and messaging. This all contributes to making your show distinct, memorable, and able to stand out in the crowded podcast space. Nail this pivotal initial step, and the rest will flow much easier.
Define your niche
Knowing what makes your podcast unique will help you identify who it will appeal to. Start with what your podcast topic will be.
Questions to ask yourself when deciding on a topic include:
- Why am I starting a podcast?
- What am I interested in or curious about?
- What can I talk about at length and long term?
- What am I uniquely suited to talk about?
When you land on a topic, go deeper to further develop your niche. What are some episode ideas you have that other similar podcasts haven’t covered? What will your signature style and tone be? What format will you use: interview-based, solo monologue-style, video or audio-only, co-hosting with one or multiple partners, answering listener calls or emails, etc.?
A niche might come easily to people who happen to already have a very specific skill, background, or hobby, like an avid bird watcher, for example. But, if your niche isn’t as obvious or apparent, your topic might be more general or broad with a spin that makes it uniquely yours. For example, you could talk about a variety of random topics, but maybe it’s who you do it with or where you do it that makes it niche—like with your mom or in your garden.
Do your market research
Get to know your potential audience. When you’re brainstorming your podcast niche, ask for feedback from your network. Post a survey or a poll on the social media accounts where you’re active, asking your followers to weigh in on potential topics and if they would listen to gauge interest. Talk to your family, friends, and coworkers. This is also a good way to generate interest and start connecting with your prospective listeners before launching your podcast.
Another way to research your target audience is to investigate the audiences of other podcasts that could be similar to yours. Use those shows that inspire and influence you to get a better idea of who you could reach. Check out the social media followings of other podcasts. Take note of who is engaging with their content. Do they fall into certain demographics, like age, gender, interest, profession, or background?
For more direct access to the details of particular podcast audiences, ask the creators themselves. Send them an email or direct message on social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to form that connection. Or, network on Discord. Podcast creators, in general, are a supportive bunch. You may even find a mentor or a future podcast guest in the process.
Design an audience persona
Now, it’s time to put all that thought and research you’ve done into an exercise that is as creative as it is practical. This is the step where you explore and establish all the traits and characteristics of your specific audience. It’s like you’re putting together a vision board for your ideal listener.
Some factors to consider when developing your podcast’s audience persona are what problems they have, how your podcast could help them, what their passions and hobbies are, and what their personality is like. Take the insights you’ve already gained based on your niche and market research, and use these details to create a fully-conceived persona.
For example, let’s say your podcast is about early-stage career advice for your industry of expertise. Your audience persona could look like people aged 22 to 35 who are job-seekers or looking to advance their careers. They are creative, ambitious, professional, and value their personal and free time. Some of their career interests and concerns include interviewing for jobs, how to be more productive, how to get noticed by leadership, how to get promoted, etc. For fun, they like to travel, read, cook, listen to podcasts, watch television and film, and attend live performances.
Creating a persona like this will help you come up with episode and guest ideas, develop your podcast style, know what channels to distribute and market your podcast in, and give you demographics for targeted podcast ads to monetize your podcast.
Expanding on our career advice podcast example, some episodes and guest ideas could include interviewing a productivity expert on their top tips for how to do more in less time and interviewing a CEO about how to climb the corporate ladder in the first years on the job.
Be adaptable to a changing audience
An initial target audience will give you a strong head start. But as your podcast progresses, you might find that you’re attracting different types of listeners than what you expected. Or, you might realize you’re not reaching your intended audience or the number of listeners you had hoped for. In these cases, it’s worth reassessing your target audience and tweaking it to find a better fit.
Depending on what your audience looks like at any given point, you might want to expand and elaborate on your target audience persona. Or, you might change it to more accurately reflect your current listeners. There are several ways of analyzing your current audience. Spotify for Podcasters has built-in podcast analytics that provides a range of helpful data, from listener demographics like age, gender, and geographic location, to your most popular episodes, to drop-off points when listeners stop tuning in.
Another way to get to know your current audience better is with Spotify for Podcasters' Q&A and polls tools. These features allow you to interact with your audience directly. You can ask them questions about themselves, about particular episodes, and what kind of content they like, don’t like, and want to see more of.
So, if you find your listeners are more men than women or more older people than younger people, you can focus on topics, guests, and promotions that appeal to the audience segments you’re not reaching. As for the people you are reaching, you can discover the content that’s resonating with them and the gaps you can fill with different content you’ve yet to create.
Ready to record
Taking these steps puts you in a really good spot to start recording episodes. By determining your podcast’s target audience, you’ve come up with a topic, carved out your niche, and learned exactly who you’re talking to and how to reach them.