Hear me now: 6 tips to get your podcast heard by the world

22 Aug 2016

Getting a podcast listened to is not just hard, but really hard when so many people are beginning to release their own, so to help you out, here are six tips to give you as good a shot as any.

With hundreds of thousands of podcasts online in nearly every language out there, it might seem daunting and impossible to get your podcast heard by an audience outside of yourself and perhaps a few friends.

There is, of course, the harsh reality that if your podcast is not of a high standard or the subject material is simply not engaging, no amount of promotion or sharing is going to help in making it successful.

But for all those who have potentially created the next Serial, there are plenty of opportunities to get your voice heard, literally, but it can still be a challenge if not orchestrated right.

So with that in mind, we’ve found six key tips you need before you power up that microphone.

Be artistic and frequent

Aside from obvious tips like having a good quality microphone to record, everything else involved with the process needs to be of the highest quality.

For example, deciding on your podcast cover art could be enough to determine whether someone can be hooked in to what it might offer, or ignore because it looks poorly produced.

With a minimum dimension of 1400x1400mm, your cover art can be just a high-resolution image of yourself, or even better, you could hire an artist to illustrate a stand-out cover.

Artistic head

A good illustration can capture the eye of the podcast listener. Image via Shutterstock

With this in the bag, you can then start submitting it to every possible source of audio, from iTunes to Soundcloud.

It is also important to remember that the majority of podcast listeners, at least when considering a new one, will look for routine uploads.

This means that even if you’ve had a tough day and you don’t feel like recording, the fact you have promised your fans a podcast on a Thursday will mean you should really get that podcast done for Thursday.

Getting on iTunes

It cannot be stressed enough how important iTunes is to your podcast, both in terms of it actually making it on the digital airwaves, but also in getting you noticed and successful in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

One sure-fire way is by making the ‘new and noteworthy’ section of iTunes, where all growing success stories have started.

Podcasts like Serial and the latest chart-topper, Revisionist History, made their mark by making this limited but influential list.

New and Noteworthy

From the moment you upload your first podcast to iTunes, the next eight weeks are make-or-break for you.

The best advice is to not just record one episode and release as you go along for these eight weeks, but record a series of podcasts and then release them as frequently as you can, or at least bi-weekly.

While not a guarantee that you will make it, a podcast worthy of listening to has a chance of making the list.

Be a fame-seeker

Even if you are not a fan of celebrity culture, getting a big name to come on your show can be a major boost to your listenership as fans of that person will, in many cases, just want to listen to hear them talk about their life.

A good example in Ireland is the very popular An Irishman Abroad podcast hosted by comedian Jarlath Regan, who invites famous Irish emigres to talk about their lives in and outside of Ireland.

While interviewing celebrities is the format of that show, having the occasional guest on your own podcast can make it a big deal as they will likely share it among their own large audience, too.

If you have a good network of people within the podcast community, you could even ask to appear on their podcast in the hope that listeners like what they hear and begin to follow your podcast as well.

WTF Podcast Obama

US President Barack Obama appearing as a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast in 2015. Image via The White House/Pete Souza

Blog regularly

With WordPress being one of the many ways to host a podcast, running a companion blog can be a great way of adding an extra string to your bow.

Aside from just hosting the podcast, the blog can dive into greater detail using the written word on a topic spoken about during the show.

It can also be used as a means of linking back to specific sources cited during the show that can also help in raising awareness among the websites you’re linking to.

Get your fans to help out

If your podcast has built a small but dedicated following, then recruiting them will be necessary to help get the word out.

While getting them to talk about it on social media is an obvious step, other small but crucial things can help.

Have you ever listened to the end of a podcast and heard the host say something along the lines of, “and don’t forget to rate and comment about us on iTunes”?

Ratings podcast

While the vast majority of users tend not to bother rating or commenting on what we listen to, even just a few dozen favourable ratings can make an enormous difference to your show standing out from the crowd on iTunes.

When it comes to determining the rank of your podcast, ratings is one of four factors that result in a high or low ranking, the others being subscriber numbers, downloads and reviews.

Join a podcast network

This is perhaps for those of you who have gotten their podcasts up and running for a while and are developing a growing audience, albeit it slowly.

By looking at the top charts on iTunes for podcasts, it quickly becomes apparent that the vast majority of the highest ranking podcasts are either established radio shows, or part of a podcast network.

While a few exceptions exist in Ireland of podcasts that are successful outside of networks – Those Conspiracy Guys being one of them – it’s generally better to have the support of a network.

While a network can vary in size from a large media organisation to smaller firms, these groups will act as your agent when dealing with getting the name of your podcast out there.

If you plan on making money from your podcast, then a network will also arrange deals with advertisers to appear on your show on your behalf.

When you’re trying to produce a top-quality podcast, the business end of things can get a bit lost, so allowing a network to do the work for you can come as a relief, but for a cut of any profit.

Microphone image via Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic