As a brand new podcaster, one of the first challenges you'll face is finding your first podcast listeners.
And with 700,000+ competing podcasts, it’s becoming harder each year to stand out in an increasingly saturated market.
But there’s good news! Podcasting is still a relatively new medium, so there’s plenty of opportunities to create a great show with raving, loyal fans.
We just need to figure out how to find them.
In this post, I’ll share eight strategies to find your first podcast listeners, even you don’t have a pre-existing audience.
1. Friends & Family
There’s no better place to start than with people who already know and support you! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many friends have tuned in to my podcast. Even people I went to college with and don’t regularly see have gotten in touch to share that they’ve enjoyed - and even recommended - my show!
And those recommendations are huge. Because even if your friends and family aren’t your target listeners, they might know people who are.
What I recommend doing is emailing your friends, family, and anyone else you’re comfortable contacting to share your new podcast. Wait until you've published a few episodes, and then send a succinct email explaining what the podcast is about, who it’s for, and a link to your website.
I’d also ask them to do at least one of these things:
- Share it with someone they think would enjoy the podcast,
- Leave you a 5-star review in Apple Podcasts,
- Tune in!
2. Try Pinterest
Pinterest is my favorite “social media platform” for podcasts that talk about health, lifestyle, blogging, food, and a number of other topics.
I hesitate to call it a social media platform though because I see Pinterest as something much bigger:
A search engine.
Pinterest users are looking for something with far more purpose than those of us going to Instagram for our daily puppy pics. They want recipes. They want DIY crafts. They want Instagram marketing tips.
And if your podcast addresses any of Pinterest’s most popular topics, it’s the perfect place to find new listeners.
3. Go on “tour” (aka be a guest on other podcasts)
This is the highest-impact strategy on the list! When you appear as a guest on another podcast, two important things happen:
- You’re seen as an expert with a point of view. (And as a real human with a personality!)
- You’re putting yourself in front of people who already listen to podcasts.
That second point is key! Of all the marketing tactics here, this approach is the only one guaranteed to put you in front of existing podcast listeners in a meaningful way, where they really get to know you.
And since data shows that the average podcast listeners tunes into 7 different podcasts regularly, going on tour is a great way to make yourself the newest addition to their playlist.
4. Do a promo swap
This is another popular tactic among longtime podcasters. In a promo swap, you read a short blurb about another podcast during your show, almost like an ad roll. And in exchange, they read a blurb about your podcast during their show. (Typically you write your own blurb, but the other host reads it.)
Promo swaps are great, but only if you have similar audiences of similar size. Big time podcasts won’t benefit from a promo swap with newer podcasts, so the key to a successful promo swap is to find another podcast that’s around your size, or just slightly larger.
5. Make it easy for your guests to promote your show
If you interview guests on your show, their audiences are prime potential listeners. To make it as easy as possible for your guests to promote their episode, I recommend emailing them the day goes live with a link to their episode and a simple ask to share with their audience. You could even include links to your existing social media promotions (Tweets, Instagram Stories) so that sharing is as simple as hitting “retweet.” Make it easy!
6. Guest post where your ideal listeners read
Guest blogging has long been a favorite marketing tool for bloggers and business owners. And it can work just as well for podcasters!
Brainstorm blogs or websites where your ideal listeners subscribe or search for solutions. If you can contribute a guest blog to those sites, you’ll get in front of a new audience with relevant interests. (Plus, the blog gets truly valuable content for their readers. It’s a win-win.)
7. Facebook groups and communities
There are thriving online communities for every topic and audience you could imagine. The tricky part is knowing how and when self-promotion is allowed because every Facebook group has very different policies.
For example, some groups offer a weekly dedicated thread where anyone can promote their own podcast episodes, resources, or services. But other times, you’ll be able to grow your podcast by being truly useful in a community. If someone has a question and you have a podcast episode that perfectly addresses their pain point, it’s not selfish to include a link in your (thoughtful) response!
As long as you read the community guidelines first, engaging sincerely in relevant online forums can be a great way to find initial listeners.
8. Don’t forget to ask for referrals!
In your podcast’s outro, you should always include a CTA (call-to-action) to invite listeners to do something. Often, you’ll be asking them to subscribe to your show or join your email list to stay updated, but in your early episodes, you may also want to ask them to share your podcast with a friend.
It might sound something like this. “We’re so grateful that you’ve tuned in for today’s episode about X. If you have any [friends/family/co-workers] who you think would enjoy this episode too, we hope you’ll pass it along and help us reach even more great listeners like you.”