Grow podcast organically

9 Step Strategy to Grow Podcast Organically in 2020

You started a podcast, created some amazing episodes, and got your first subscribers. Now you probably want to take it to the next level and start growing it to get your podcast to as many people as possible. If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry! I’m going to give you a few tips on how to grow a podcast quickly and, best of all, organically!

Just in case you were wondering, growing a podcast organically means making sure it reaches the maximum amount of people with unpaid channels. Meaning through search engines and discovery tools, people use (like Google, Apple Podcast app, etc.).

Organic growth doesn’t require any paid ads or paid traffic, but it does require an effort to make sure all the necessary components are in place.


productivity schedule

1. Publish new episodes frequently and regularly

Just like Google, that favors blogs that publish content frequently and regularly, major podcast directories like Apple and Spotify do the same. 

Publishing new episodes frequently will not only give you more visibility, but it will also keep your listeners engaged. Try to stick to the same day(s) of the week to ensure more people will return to your podcast. Apple podcast algorithm can favor frequent publishers, and honestly, so do people!

How often should you publish new podcast episodes? 

As often as you can! For best results, especially when starting, aim for more than just one episode per week. If you record long, 1-hour episodes, this might feel very difficult. Try to adjust the length of the episodes. Instead of a 1-hour episode once per week, aim for 2 or 3 episodes of under 30 minutes each. You can even consider daily 10-minute episodes. 

What if your content requires longer episodes? 

You can either stick with the 1-hour format and see how it works. Alternatively, you can simply cut the episode in 2 or 3 parts. 

Make sure you don’t cut abruptly and provide a summary of previous episodes in the new ones. Unnatural cutting may affect you negatively. Grow your podcast organically by cutting long episodes in places where you jump between big topics.

If you already have a subscriber base, create a poll on your website or through your mailing list and ask them what they prefer. There’s no better way to make sure you are offering people what they want than asking them what they want! 


Engagement CTA

2. Grow a podcast through calls to action (CTAs)

Another thing algorithms love are signals from users. What does that mean? Easy. They prefer podcasts that get a lot of subscribers and downloads.

And what improves the number of subscribers?

Ratings and reviews from listeners.

So if you want to grow a podcast organically in a short time, don’t be afraid to ask your listeners for reviews. Do it during the show, at the beginning or at the end. Ideally, you don’t want to stop your content too often with these reminders. 

Are you already doing this, but people aren’t leaving reviews? 

Not everyone indeed feels like giving a rating or writing their thoughts on the podcast. After all, they are busy people who are probably listening on the go, while driving, or working. 

  • 48% of all podcasts are listened to at home
  • 26% of all podcasts are listened to in cars
  • 12% of all podcasts are listened to at work
  • 4% of all podcasts are listened to at the gym

An easy way to convince more people to leave a review is to have a competition or a giveaway. Make it something useful to your listeners, or something fun. The condition to enter – writing a review for your podcast!


Engagement point

3. Cross-promote episodes for more downloads

Many people find podcasts by looking for specific topics. They’ll find one episode that offers exactly what they were looking for, listen to it, then move on with their lives. Some might stay and look at other episodes, but most people don’t! 

So what can you do to improve the odds that they’ll listen to previous episodes as well? Mention them as often as possible. That way, people will get curious, maybe they’ll realize they want to hear more. The result? More subscribers and more downloads!

Probably the easiest way to grow a podcast organically is to promote your episodes in your other episodes!

This tactic is also viable since:

  • broad topics usually don’t get covered in one podcast episode,
  • there are natural topic an engaged listener can explore to advance his knowledge,
  • a guest on your show can have either a similar or conflicting opinion with some past guests, and your audience may be interested in exploring the topic further.

Front-sell your podcast episodes

If applicable, mention future episodes as well! You may not know the exact title, but you know the theme. 

Ideally, you are scheduling and even recording episodes weeks before you publish them. So let your listeners know what topics you’ll be covering in the future. If one or more happens to be related to the current one, it’s even better. People are curious by nature, so why not take advantage of it?


Number of podcast listeners - directories

4. Publish your show in all possible podcasting directories

A common mistake people make when starting a podcast is to publish only in one or two best-known directories. 

It’s true that Apple and Spotify dominate the market, but if you won’t grow a podcast as quickly as you’d like, by limiting yourself to them. You can easily be present in over 10 directories! 

Most listened to streaming services with podcasts in last month
Most listened to streaming services with podcasts in last month

Even if you capture only 1,000 subscribers in each, this is 10,000 subscribers in total that can amount to 40,000 downloads if you publish monthly. You don’t want to miss this opportunity!

What are all the bonuses you get from publishing to many directories?

  • Downloads in each directory will quickly add up, helping you grow your podcast organically. 
  • Your competition might not be in all these directories, which will give you the chance to stand out and gain more followers than them!
  • You’ll also be making your podcast more accessible. Believe it or not, not everyone uses Apple Podcasts / iTunes or Spotify, especially in the international market.
  • These platforms are also not available worldwide. By getting your podcast in all possible directories, you are making it more accessible and are extending your reach!

And if you think about it, it’s such a quick and easy way to expand your reach! Unlike most of the other things to do to grow a podcast organically, this one requires minimal work, so make sure you don’t miss this opportunity! 


Engagement title

5. Get discovered in Google

Often I see podcasters forget about Google. After all, people don’t really look for podcasts on Google! Or do they? They actually might be even if they don’t know it. 

In late 2019 Google started indexing podcast episodes! So while people may not be actively looking for a podcast via Google, their search might lead them to one.

Some ways to improve your reach include:

  • Create transcripts for each episode and publish them on your website. If applicable, allow people to comment on these transcripts as they would on a normal blog post. This will also boost engagement, which in turn will bring more subscribers, which will lead to a higher rank for your podcast and website.
  • SEO optimize your transcripts – Google loves SEO optimized content!
  • SEO optimize the description of your podcast and each episode. Use keywords like you would in a blog post. Capture the audience’s attention and get noticed by search engines! Your episodes will be indexed quicker and will rank higher on Google! 

And if you don’t have time to write transcripts, you can always outsource this to save time. You should publish the transcript as soon as possible, preferably at the same time as your episode.

There’s also another perk to transcripts – you are increasing the accessibility of your podcast, making it available to those with impaired hearing.

We are constantly using and testing various content writing and transcript preparing services. Check the recommended resources site for our recommendations.


Engagement website

6. Build a mailing list with a free content

Mailing lists are essential if you want to grow a podcast, a website, and any online business, really! 

Getting people to subscribe might be easier than you think if you do it correctly. 

But the fact is that everyone tries to ask for email addresses. The promise of a notification when a new episode has been published might not be enough. After all, major directories, like Spotify, offer this service through their app.

So how do you convince people to give you their email address? 

Free, valuable content, of course! People always ask for more content and more value. And they will rarely turn away a freebie! To grow your email list, make sure you offer something of value to your listeners. It can be additional information to something that was discussed during a podcast. Make a short presentation or a PDF and offer it as a freebie. 

That way, telling your listeners about it will come naturally during the episode, and it won’t sound like you are offering something random for the sake of getting subscribers.

Pro Tip: download all the free resources your competition is offering and making something much better! Doing things better than your competition is a guaranteed way to grow any business.

If you are scared of putting in all the work to create something that won’t bring you any immediate revenue, let me tell you a secret. An email list is one of those things that takes time to build, but once you have it, you’ll quickly see a return on investment. 


Engagement Mailing

7. Send emails to your subscribers

You got people to subscribe to your mailing list. Great! Now it’s time actually to send emails. And I don’t just mean the one email they subscribed for, the one containing the freebie. I mean regular emails.

Being in constant communication with your fans is a proven way to grow a podcast organically.

While it’s true that your email list is a great marketing tool, you shouldn’t send emails only when you want your subscribers to download or purchase a product. 

In short, write emails just to write, like you would a friend, without expecting much in return. Send informative, useful emails. They don’t have to be very long. You don’t need thousands of words to convey a strong message. After all, your subscribers are busy people. And busy people love bite-size information.

You can advertise your latest content by shortly stating what problem you are trying to solve in it, or what other kinds of value you are delivering.

How often should you send emails?

There’s no real formula for success. It all depends on who your audience is and what content you are providing for them. 

Most people will find that weekly emails are enough to get the result they want. You might also want to consider a daily email strategy, at least at the beginning. They could include prompts for various activities, quick “did you know” tips, or more. 

And of course, don’t forget to promote your episodes and even create a hype around the content you will publish in the future. 

In short, adapt to the type of content you provide via your podcast. Consider also an email series where you answer questions received from your subscribers. It is a fantastic engagement strategy that will not only help you grow a podcast, but it will ensure your audience stays with you for a long time. 

Don’t overlook automated email sequences

An easy way to keep new subscribers engaged without becoming exhausted is making use of an automated email series. Most mailing list providers allow you to easily create these funnels. You decide what emails you want to send and when to send them from the moment a person subscribes. The best thing? You only need to write those emails once, create the automatic sequence, and you’re ready to go. 


How to drive traffic and promote podcast - maximize value

8. Make the most out of each episode

If you want to really grow a podcast, you must learn how to get the most out of each episode and have good engagement techniques.

When you have an episode already recorded and published, try to get more value out of it.

You can get this through:

  • Making a transcript, publishing on your website and getting search engine traffic
  • Create the right quote image for Facebook or Instagram,
  • Convert it to a YouTube video – if you didn’t record video during a podcast recording session, make a simple slideshow with some attention capturing graphics and bullet points,
  • Prepare a Pinterest graphic promoting your episode,
  • Summarize most valuable part of the episode in an email to your subscribers,
  • Make sound bite materials ideal for promotion and quick consumption and promote them on your website or social media posts.

Basically, take all the value you have created with an episode and make it spread across the web with an appropriate format explicitly made for different platforms.


Engagement interest

9. Implement engagement techniques

I talked about building an engagement strategy with your audience before, I know. But honestly, this is such an important step, I can’t help but come back to it. You cannot grow a podcast organically if you don’t engage with your listeners.

It all starts with the title, so make sure you capture people’s attention from the start. Make sure you’re not just using a clickbait title and not delivering what they expect within the episode. This increases the chance that people will listen to 100% of an episode.

You got them to click on your episode, and now it’s time to provide valuable content. The length of the episode doesn’t really matter. Sometimes shorter episodes, published more often, are better. Not just because podcast directories like frequent episodes, but also because people are busy and want to hear the information quickly.

Make sure episodes are structured clearly. It should be almost like you’re telling a story! Educate your audience, make them feel like they learn something new during each episode. 

Make them blend in your storytelling so that they sound natural. Ask for your listeners’ opinion, give them prompts to check a website, leave a review, or download one of your freebies. 

The most important thing is to make them feel like you are addressing them directly through your questions. It should be like a conversation between friends. You’ve got better chances of turning friends into subscribers! 

Bonus: always bet on high-quality (4 actionable solutions)

In the long run, quality podcasts will win with shows that provide mediocre quality. Here are 4 short tips you can ensure your podcast delivers excellent quality:

  1. You love the topic – sure you can make a show about anything and create 10-20 episodes, but what about episode 100? That is why you need to choose a podcast topic you love, on which you would like to work for 2-3 years at least,
  2. Control the episode flow – to control better how your episodes flow and have more control prepare a podcast script,
  3. Sound like a pro radio host – invest in a great quality podcasting gear, including a good mic for podcasting, So your voice will sound like coming from a professional studio,
  4. Plan your recording sessions – finally, plan your recording sessions and take care of your voice. What you drink and if you have partied the night before recording actually makes a difference.

Conclusion

Growing a podcast organically is not as hard as it seems. 

Quality content and engagement are the keys to success, but there are more things to consider. 

The best thing? Most of these techniques are free and can be implemented without being a marketing expert. Don’t overlook Google! Podcast episodes are now indexed, so make sure to focus on episode description and create a transcript. Mailing lists are your chance to build a community, so make the most of them. Give incentives to subscribers and provide quality content through your emails. 

Don’t see your podcast as just the episode. Sure, the episode is the most important, but it takes so much more than that to grow a podcast!

About the Author
Chris Land

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.

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