In this post, I'll share some of the key trends in podcasting right now, and highlight some ideas for growing your podcast in 2022 and beyond. And keep reading for the opportunity to enter our Pitch Your Pod contest by January 16 and a chance to turn your podcast dream into a reality!
Table of Contents
- Podcasting Industry Growth Means Opportunity
- For Podcasters, Consistency Is (Still) Key
- Growing Your Podcast Audience Takes Active Marketing
- How to Reduce Podcasting Overwhelm and Avoid Burnout
- Engage with Your Listeners and Build Podcast Superfans
- Turn Your Podcast Dream into a Reality!
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Podcasting Industry Growth Means Opportunity
According to data from Buzzsprout, the podcast industry has grown significantly—from roughly 60,000 shows in 2014 to more than two million today.
But this massive growth doesn’t mean prospective podcasters have missed the boat. Far from it. The podcast industry is still growing.
Plus, a lot of the people who started podcasts in early COVID have dropped off. That means a lot of listeners are out there right now, looking for their next show.
Which means an opportunity for you, aspiring podcaster—or existing podcaster who wants to up your game and grow your show.
For Podcasters, Consistency Is (Still) Key
The key to taking advantage of this podcasting opportunity is consistency.
As one example, Pat went live on YouTube every day for a year with the Income Stream show.
You don’t have to do the same thing with your podcast (and we wouldn’t recommend it!).
But in general, the more you show up for your audience, the more you’ll become a part of their life and tuning in to your show will become a habit for them.
Not to mention, all that practice is going to make you a lot better at creating your podcast content.
So how consistent should you be, at least at the start of your podcasting journey?
The podcasts that Buzzsprout sees sticking with it are the ones that make it past the ten-week mark.
“Once they hit that ten-week point,” says Alban Brooke, “it’s a game-changer for whether or not they stick with it long term.”
That’s why he tells people to start by committing to releasing an episode every week for ten weeks. Succeeding with that will put you in a group of roughly 600,000 active podcasts that have produced at least ten episodes.
Oh, and of course, if you haven't started your podcast yet, that's the first step! Click here to start your podcast using our free how to podcast guide.
Growing Your Podcast Audience Takes Active Marketing
What if you’ve pushed through your first ten episodes, seen some early growth, and… that growth has slowed, or even stagnated? A lot of podcasters find that an early growth spurt leads to a frustrating plateau.
Unfortunately, a lot of podcasters—and content creators in general—also take an “If you build it, they will come” approach.
But that won’t work today. You have to actively market your show.
Here are some strategies that can help you push your listenership back on the incline slope.
Strategy #1: Getting Exposure on High-Growth Video Channels (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube)
A number of successful podcast creators have grown their shows by sharing content on high-growth channels like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and even YouTube. They're leveraging the algorithms on these channels to get exposure they can redirect to their podcast.
The basic strategy is to create a short piece of video content that borrows from your podcast episode, then invite viewers to the podcast to hear the full story.
Once in a while, one of these videos may even go viral. You can find case studies about podcasters who have gained thousands of new listeners based on just one viral TikTok video or Instagram Reel.
And a number of famous podcasters have used YouTube clips to attract listeners and then direct them to their podcast feeds.
The key is that the video content has to be related to the podcast episode you’re driving people to. You need to tell a story that’ll hook people in to want to hear the rest of the episode.
It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many creators get tripped up by not following this crucial point.
How do you pick a high-growth platform to pull off this strategy? Alban always encourages creators to find the platform they understand and can create great content for.
Strategy #2: Guesting on Other Podcasts
It helps to remember the big principle behind successfully growing your show, which is finding audiences that don't know you already.
Repurposing your podcast episodes and putting them on your Twitter or Facebook feed is fine, but by and large they're going to be seen by people who already know you exist.
So how do you get your podcast in front of new ears?
Guesting on other podcasts is a tried-and-true and still very effective option.
(If you’re looking for a way to scale your podcast-guesting outreach, we like what Podcast Hawk has to offer.)
Another is including your podcast episodes in blog posts on your site, which helps people find your show via Google’s search algorithm.
If you write a blog post about a topic you’ve already covered on the podcast, link to that episode in the post itself.
Strategy #3: Paid Advertising and Sponsorships
What about paid acquisition? Is it something podcasters should be thinking about?
The short answer is yes, and there are two main strategies here: paid ads and sponsorships.
Paid ads are definitely a viable strategy for growing your show. Just know that there's a right way, and a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way is to put ads directly on Facebook or Google and hope that a cold audience will start clicking and listening.
The experts at Buzzsprout have never seen anybody successfully grow a podcast that way. There’s just too much friction in the way of getting someone from the ad to your show.
As Alban says, they’ve “only seen people lose a lot of money” this way.
So how do you reduce the friction and do podcast ads the right way? The key is to advertise on apps that already have a captive audience of listeners—apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Podcast Addict.
You could also look into sponsoring another podcast—paying a fellow podcaster to give you a shoutout.
Trying this on some of the bigger shows could get expensive, but there are a lot of small, fast-growing podcasts looking to monetize that might be a better fit.
For a deeper dive on monetizing your podcast, check out this post by Heather Osgood of True Native Media on getting started with podcast ads.
How to Reduce Podcasting Overwhelm and Avoid Burnout
As content creators, consistency is key. But burnout is also real.
That’s why you need to set a game plan for creating and marketing your show that’s sustainable.
A lot of people hear stories of the most successful content creators—like John Lee Dumas, who started Entrepreneurs on Fire by doing a daily show—and they think I'll do the same thing. But that just doesn’t work for most people, especially if you've got a full-time gig or have kids at home.
So find a content creation cadence that fits your life, and that you’ll be excited to do. For a lot of people, allocating one day a week to creating your episode is a good choice.
Since “If you build it, they will come” doesn't work, you also need to carve out time for marketing. There’s almost always more you can do to market your show, but start with putting just an hour aside each week for marketing.
If you’re on TikTok, maybe that means spending an hour making a video to promote your latest episode and engaging with people on TikTok. If you’re on LinkedIn, it’s writing a post that ties into the content in your episode.
Start small, and stay consistent.
Engage with Your Listeners and Build Podcast Superfans
Podcasting is a long game. The podcasters who stick with it for years are most likely to find the success (and download numbers) they’re looking for.
The average new podcaster, though, is getting roughly thirty-seven plays per episode. That may sound small, and it is.
But small can be mighty.
That’s because each of those thirty-seven people is a real human being. And one of the superpowers you have when you're small is that you actually can engage with every one of them.
Ask people to reach out, and then honor it when they do. If someone sends you an email, mention it on the podcast. If you get a positive review, read it on the air and thank the listener. If a fan posts something about your podcast on social, like it and thank them for sharing it.
Elevate your superfans. Connect with them and learn more about them, so you can better serve them and attract more just like them.
Turn Your Podcast Dream into a Reality!
We've all asked the question, “You know what would make a great podcast?” — and most likely nothing ever comes of it.
What if SPI could help turn that question into reality? Your very own podcast!
Introducing Pitch Your Pod: a brand new, first-of-its-kind competition where you “pitch” SPI on the amazing podcast you've always wanted to make, but for whatever reason never have!
By the way, a lot of the insights in this post were taken from Pat Flynn’s conversation with Alban Brooke, head of marketing at Buzzsprout, during SPI’s first Audience Driven Summit in October 2021, our two-day deep-dive into the most effective, relevant ways to build an audience today.