podcast promotion tips with photo of podcasting expert donna papacosta

After you hit “publish,” your work as a podcaster is not done. Promoting each episode will help you expand your podcast audience and reach the goals you’ve developed for your show. Here are 16 podcast promotion tips I’ve developed on my own podcasting journey.

1. Start with an effective, catchy name
Learn from my mistake. When I started my own podcast back in 2005, it was merely an experiment so I could learn about this new communications tool called podcasting. Little did I know I’d produce the show for more than a decade. I named it Trafcom News Podcast, based on the domain name for my business, Trafalgar Communications. Lame, right?

Nowadays when I work with a client, we try to come up with a name that’s catchy and also conveys the essence of the show. Here are a few good examples gleaned from Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes): Planet Money; Grammar Girl; Inside PR; This Week in Tech; Revisionist History; and Barstool Sports. They’re short and convey the subject matter and tone of the podcast. Be sure to do your research when picking a name; avoid confusing names or those already in use.

2. Be sure your cover art is memorable
Remember that your cover or album art has to attract eyeballs even when people are seeing it in a tiny format. It’s best to work with a designer who is familiar with podcast cover art. Be sure to check the Apple site for the latest specs. If your art meets Apple’s requirements, it should be suitable for most other directories, too.

3. Submit your podcast to directories
Be sure to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts (this is new; read the documentation here), Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker and other directories. Here’s a good list of current podcast directories. You might also consider sharing your show on Soundcloud (although I don’t recommend Soundcloud for hosting).

Spotify will distribute your podcast if it meets their criteria. Rather than submit your show directly, you must submit it to Spotify through your podcast hosting service. Mine is Libsyn, which I highly recommend.

When you list your show in directories, use effective keywords and a description.

4. Consider joining a podcast network
A podcast network is a group of podcasters who join together and include advertising in their shows. As part of a network you may see your audience grow, and you might earn some money too. But there are potential downsides. What if the network advertising goes against your values? What if your audience is turned off by ads that sound canned and contrived? When a host reads a message with sincerity, listeners pay attention. This might not be the case with slick ads dropped into your show by the network.

You do need a sizeable audience (perhaps 10,000 downloads or more per episode) before a network will speak with you. If you’re considering joining a network, check out this post by Simon Owens.

5. Publish show notes
You want people to find your podcast when they search online for relevant information. Show notes, because they are text-based, improve your chances of being found when people do a search, since search engines are not yet adept at searching audio files.

Podcasters love to complain about the time it takes to write show notes; admittedly, they can be a time suck, especially if you publish detailed show notes with time codes. In addition to the SEO benefits, show notes also offer value to listeners who might want to follow up on something they heard on your show. For example, did you mention a book or a course? Include a link in the show notes so the listener who was in her car or on a treadmill can find the info.

Be sure to optimize your podcast’s show notes for SEO by including a relevant title and meta data. If you’re using a WordPress blog to publish your show notes, be sure to add the Yoast plugin, which will vastly increase your SEO technique.

6. Think about adding a transcript
A podcast transcript goes a step beyond show notes. It can increase your SEO juice, because you have more text content wrapped around your episode. I use Rev for most of my transcript production, although if I need something really quickly I will use a machine transcript engine like Sonix. Machine transcription is very fast, but also less accurate. Always check the text before publishing it.

If you do produce a transcript, you can use it later as the basis for other forms of content, such as blog posts, articles, white papers, Q&As, and so on. (My corporate clients like to see a transcript during the podcast approval process.)

7. Tell the world; share your podcast link
Use every opportunity to display your podcast’s name and URL; make sure everyone knows that you produce a podcast. Include a link in your email signature, in your newsletter, even on your business card. Be sure to promote your own podcast by being a guest on other people’s podcasts. If you do an interview, be sure to ask your guest to share news of the episode too (but don’t be upset if they choose not to do so). No one should ever be able to say, “I didn’t know you had a podcast!”

8. Don’t hide your podcast on your website!
I can’t tell you how many times someone has called me to ask how to boost their podcast visibility, and I can’t even find their show on their website! “Oh, you have to click on News, then July, then Media, then Podcast.” You lost me at the second click. Be sure your podcast is obvious to everyone who visits your site, and include a “subscribe” link as well as an embedded player. I like Simple Podcast Press as a player [affiliate link].

9. Create a promo episode, or episode 0
Before launching the first episode of your podcast, you can publish episode 0, which introduces you and your content to your potential audience. Think of it as a short promotional piece. Focus on useful content, not on talking on and on about yourself. Episode 0 is certainly not required, and you should be introducing the purpose of your podcast – briefly – in each episode. For example, I used to say something like: “Hi, I’m Donna Papacosta in Toronto, and this is Trafcom News, a podcast for people who care about communicating in person, in print and online.”

10. Allow podcast comments; build a sense of community
It’s not easy to build community, but there are podcasts that have succeeded at this. Shel Holtz’s For Immediate Release comes to mind. I have high hopes for the Spin Sucks podcast from Gini Dietrich, which just launched. Gini has already built a well engaged community on her Spin Sucks blog.

11. Connect with other podcasters
In the early days of podcasting, it was relatively easy for show producers to get to know each other and publicize each other’s shows. Now the field is a lot more crowded. Still, you can build relationships with podcasters whose content is complementary to yours. Listen to their shows and comment on them. Share their content on social media. Become a guest on their podcast.

12. Ask for reviews
When I was at a podcasting conference in Las Vegas a few years ago, I remember Mignon Fogarty (of Grammar Girl fame) saying something like this in her talk: “Don’t just ask listeners to rate or review your show on [then] iTunes. Give them a reason.” In other words, let listeners know that positive ratings and reviews help to make your show discoverable to other listeners. Ask for ratings and reviews; don’t be shy.

13. Use social media wisely
Be sure to share new episodes on all the platforms where you are active, including Pinterest. I’m amazed at how much traffic comes from this photo-heavy platform. Of course, you have to include a nice graphic for each episode to be most effective. In fact, a snazzy graphic for every episode is a great idea, no matter where you are sharing it.

When promoting your show on social media, include some enticing quotes. Look at the transcript of your show, and highlight the most “quotable quotes” to be included in tweets and other social media snippets. Grab the Twitter handles of any guests featured on your podcast and be sure to use those handles when you share the episode.

Be careful about automated social media shares. It’s worth taking the extra few minutes to craft a platform-specific message. The content I share on Twitter is not the same as the content I share on Facebook or LinkedIn, and I write my messages accordingly.

14. Consider an email list
Don’t overlook an email list as an old-school form of communication. When someone shares their email address with you and asks for your content, you’ve been given a gift. Let them know when you publish a new episode, and think about sharing some behind-the-scenes content in your email newsletter. Your audience will appreciate it.

15. Seek patrons
Patreon is a platform that provides tools for podcasters (and other creators) to run a subscription service, and build relationships with listeners or “patrons.” I think it’s best to build your show and your audience before asking for payments from people, even small payments. That being said, some podcasters have built healthy audiences, and incomes, using Patreon.

16. Think about paid promotion
It’s true that increasingly we are becoming a “pay-to-play” world. If your budget allows, you can run ads and/or promoted content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat or other social platforms, depending on your audience demographics and your objectives. If you haven’t done this before, do your research first. It’s easy to waste your money if you don’t know what you’re doing. Hootsuite publishes a handy guide on social media advertising.

The final word
Of course, all of these tips are worthless if you’re not producing a relevant show with good production values. Do your best. That’s what your listeners deserve – and expect.

What podcast promotion tips would you add?