I have put a tremendous amount of time writing this article so that it is truly helpful for you. I want all of the information in this article to be practical and actionable.
Enjoy the tips–they have helped me to generate over half a million dollars in revenue during the first year of my podcast (though not the first year of my site).
In addition to these tips, I’ve put together a thorough audio-guide to help you turn your podcast into a full-time income. If that sounds interesting to you check out Podcast Advance!
Get a Bank of Questions
Most of the informational podcasts I enjoy are either in a question and answer format (with listeners calling in their questions) or at least have a question and answer segment. Think about the talk radio shows you’ve listened to. Most of them have some sort of question and answer component. When you are starting a podcast, this can be difficult to include because you don’t have an audience to send in questions.
The best solution I have found for this is to utilize Fiverr.com. Fiverr is a website where you can pay $5 to get people to do things for you. When I’m starting a new podcast, I spend about $25 on Fiverr buying “voice over” gigs and then I send the people a list of questions I want them to ask on the podcast. They send you an mp3 of the questions, and you’re off to the races.
Question and answer can really add a sense of community to your podcast because audience members get to hear from others who like your show too.
Give clear directions on how to subscribe
When I introduce myself to someone and tell them that I’m a professional podcaster, I often get blank stares. Most people do not know what a podcast is, much less how to subscribe.
At the end of every podcast episode, I give clear directions on how to subscribe to my show. Feel free to copy and paste my directions into your show notes for each podcast episode.
8 Weeks of New and Noteworthy
iTunes has a prominently-display section for “New and Noteworthy” podcasts. When you launch your show, you are likely to show up in this area for at least part of the first 8 weeks that your show is new. After the first 8 weeks, you won’t be able to show up in this section again unless the Apple gods smile upon you.
The 8 weeks of new and noteworthy is your best chance for building an audience. Do not waste it. I see so many podcasts launched on iTunes that are not ready for prime time, which means the podcasters are squandering the 8 most important weeks of their podcast’s existence.
Give away something for reviews
I’m frankly not sure whether or not iTunes uses reviews as a way to rank podcasts. I have run a few experiments and sometimes the reviews seem to help, but sometimes it seems that the reviews have little or no effect on the podcast ranking. But even if the reviews do not affect the ranking, they DO change how people browsing through iTunes view your show.
Getting someone listening to a podcast while in their car to remember your show when they go home, go to iTunes, and write a review, is difficult. The only way I have found to get people to write reviews is by offering something to them.
It would be dishonest to buy the positive reviews, but I offered anyone who reviewed my podcast (1 star or 5) an entry into one of my online courses for free. Each week I picked one winner. Doing that for half a year got my podcast over 900 reviews, and almost all of them are 5-star.
Interview a podcaster with a medium audience size
When your show is new and has fewer than 10 episodes, I would encourage you to focus on getting interviews from people with a medium-sized audience. The problem with this is (1) the big names usually aren’t interested in being interviewed on a new show, and (2) even if they agree to be interviewed, they have likely been interviewed so many times before that they won’t be interested in linking their audience over to the interview on your show.
If you invite someone to be interviewed on your show who has a medium sized audience (under 100,000 fans on social media) they will likely be flattered to be on your show. Be sure to follow the next tip for how to get them to send their audience over to you!
Send link email after interview with guests
I have interviewed many people on my podcast. After the interview, some of them link over to the interview and send me traffic, but not all of them do.
One way that helps to convince interviewees to link over to you from their website and social media is to do the work for them. If the person has a large audience, they are likely quite busy. Send them an email thanking them for being on the podcast and then say, “I know you’re very busy, so I created some social media posts for you so you can copy and paste them to your followers if you’re interested in sharing the information you told me in the interview.” Then write a quick tweet they can copy and paste, a facebook post, a suggested post for Google Plus, etc.
iTunes separates each country into a different iTunes. This means that if someone in Canada reviews your podcast, that review will not show up for those in the United States. If someone in the United States reviews your podcast, it won’t be visible to those in the United Kingdom.
Most podcasters are only seeing a fraction of the reviews of their own show because of this. I highly recommend downloading the free software “Comment Cast” so that you can see all the reviews from all of the iTunes stores around the world.
Being aware of the reviews in other countries is very important. My show gets about 40% of the downloads from outside the United States, and by paying attention to the reviews I am reminded when I make mistakes like saying “inches, pounds, feet, or refer to cities in the United States only.”
Get them involved through some other channel
Podcast listeners are flaky. You will certainly get some raving fans who you hear from frequently, but others may download an episode and then forget to check back for more. Or, they may have downloaded your podcast when traveling and they wanted to have more shows to listen to while traveling, but then forget about your show and don’t subscribe.
It is imperative that you get your podcast listeners hooked with at least one other channel. For example, do a giveaway for podcast listeners who join your email list or for listeners who follow you on Facebook. That way you can grab the casual listeners and keep them connected to your brand.
What is the best day of the week to launch?
I see a significant drop in podcast downloads over the weekend no matter what day I release an episode. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tend to see more downloads than Thursday and Friday, and Saturday and Sunday drop significantly in terms of downloads. In order to maximize your time on the new and noteworthy section, it makes sense to launch at the start of a week.
The trouble with picking what day to launch is that iTunes takes about a week to approve your podcast. Given that waiting period, you are probably most likely to get a Monday launch date if you submit your podcast to iTunes on a Wednesday. Also, keep in mind major US holidays, which could disrupt the time it takes Apple to approve the podcast.
Have ten episodes at time of launch
One of the ranking factors for podcasts is downloads in the last 24 hours. That being the case, the more downloads you can generate, the better you rank. It is always important to rank well, but doing so during the first 8 weeks of your show gives the added advantage of being more likely to show up high in New and Noteworthy on those days.
Most all of the shows in the New and Noteworthy section will have only a handful of episodes available since they are new shows. Thus, a new listener who downloads all the episodes will only generate a handful of downloads.
I recommend putting together a 10-episode series that is available on the day you launch your podcast. This could be an audio course, audio book broken up into chapters, etc. Then, in every subsequent podcast, you can invite listeners to download all episodes to get a free audio course on the topic. This can have a tremendous effect on the downloads you receive, because it makes one listener download at least 10 episodes.
Frankly, most newer podcasts I listen to bore me. They always seem to ramble. One way that can help keep you produce more structured and useful content is to include segments in your show. Segments break up the rambling by providing structure of where you need to go during the show.
Common segment examples are listener questions, recommended products or resources, interviews of industry experts, book reviews, listener feedback on past shows, and news.
Have a publishing schedule.
Most new shows “podfade,” a term podcasters use to describe how many shows fizzle out before reaching 20 episodes. Experienced podcast listeners know this and wonder with each new subscription if they will become wrapped up in a show that will only let them down.
Thus, especially when your show is new, consistency will convince podcast listeners who stumble on your show that they can trust the show not to podfade.
No matter how motivated you think you are now, recognize that you will burn out, become distracted, and eventually miss publishing if you aren’t working ahead. I highly recommend working at least 3 weeks ahead in your publishing schedule. If you are using WordPress for your podcast, scheduling out episodes to post on certain days is simple.
Use AudioJungle for intro music
The best place for inexpensive and high quality music for podcasts that I have found is Audio Jungle. Most songs are only $15 (US) and can be used on a podcast.
Fiverr for intro and outtro
Many podcasts have a narrator do an intro and outtro in their podcasts. Some also include DJ drops between segments. Fiverr.com is excellent for this.
I have used Fiverr on many occasions for “Voice over” gigs for my podcasts and am rarely disappointed.
Eye-catching artwork at least 1400px square (48 hours logo)
iTunes only shows your show’s artwork (thumbnail picture), name of the show, and the creator of the show in search results. Thus, users are essentially browsing through a gallery of thumbnails to select a new show.
I cannot emphasize enough how dramatically quality artwork can determine the success or failure of your show. Spend $100 on 48hourslogo.com as a prize for designers to compete over your artwork and you can select the best design to use as your artwork. It will likely be the best $100 you ever spend on your podcast.
Downloads in 24 hours is a ranking factor, so publish often
Earlier, I mentioned that downloads in the last 24 hours is an important ranking factor in iTunes. Another way to take advantage of this metric is to publish often. Consider publishing more than once per week, especially while your show is in the 8-week gauntlet.
Keep episodes to under an hour (I like 40 minutes)
I also mentioned previously that most newer podcasters tend to ramble in their first 10 episodes until they get the hang of it. I certainly did (and sometimes still do!). I recommend setting a hard limit on the length of your podcast to avoid this. I have never listened to a podcast that could fill an hour without rambling, and most of the time I appreciate a podcast staying under 40 minutes.
Set up pretty links
It can be difficult to convince audio listeners to convert into website visitors. This is especially true when links you mention in your audio podcast are difficult to remember. Telling a listener to check out a new article at http://incomeschool.com/this-is-a-great-article-about-podcasting is unlikely to generate pageviews.
Pretty Links is a free WordPress plugin that allows podcasters to create easy-to-remember links that redirect users to the actual location of a post. Thus, you could say on your podcast to go to incomeschool.com/podcast and they would be redirected to the longer URL mentioned above.
Every podcast needs a bump
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes. Countless blog businesses have started and succeeded by showing up well in this area. Showing up in New and Noteworthy is the easiest way for any new blog to quickly gain an audience. It is infinitely easier than trying to get Google to send you traffic.
However, many new podcasts will only sporadically show up in New and Noteworthy during their first eight weeks. iTunes will help you to create a new audience, but most shows need some kind of push of downloads in order to begin ranking well in iTunes.
I recommend planning out 5 or 10 incredibly high-value articles to publish on your website right at the beginning of your show’s debut on iTunes to give it the extra push it needs to show up well right from the beginning. Without a little push of downloads, your show may sit idle for a few weeks before it finally peeks its head into New and Noteworthy.
Request to be on other podcasts 2 weeks before your launch
Another way to get that initial bump in downloads your show will need is to be a guest on other podcasts and mention your new show. While most podcasters will likely turn down your request to be interviewed on their show, you will likely get some to bite. Be willing to be turned down and email 10 or 20 other podcasts and see if you can convince them to let you be a guest on their show.
Most will turn you down, but the ones that give you a chance could be the break your new show needs to succeed.
Read negative reviews of the competition
One of the most valuable things I did when I released my podcast was to spend an entire eight hour day reading reviews of other podcasts in my industry. I read what listeners liked and did not like about each show, and paid special attention to the negative reviews.
Doing this made me keenly aware of what I could do to impress my listeners, as well as mistakes to avoid.
Use a generic name
Podcast listeners only get two extremely short bits of text to aid them in determining whether your show is worth listening to: your title and the name of the creator of the show. Choose a generic name to show listeners that your show is on the topic they are interested in.
For example, if you search in iTunes for a show about Internet Marketing, would you be more likely to subscribe to a podcast named “Biz Dominate” or “The Internet Marketing Show”? Most likely, you would be interested in The Internet Marketing show. It’s exactly what you were searching for. Biz Dominate may cover just about any business topic, so you wouldn’t be sure it is what you are looking for.
I generally recommend choosing the most generic name possible for your show. Don’t get cute, and don’t choose a name that needs further explanation to communicate what your show is about. No clever name is necessary if you can convince the potential listener that your show is precisely on topic.
Delete half of your episodes
Before I launched my podcast, I heard the advice from an experienced podcaster that I should always have the courage to delete an episode and re-record it if it didn’t meet my quality standards. I took that advice to heart and ended up deleting about half of the shows I recorded early on. Re-recording forced me to become a better podcaster and produce a higher quality show. Over time, I improved and did not need to re-record nearly as often.
Maximize your iTunes SEO
There is a lot more to showing up well in iTunes than what I could cover in this article. I highly recommend checking out my iTunes SEO article to get the full scoop.
Release Two Episodes on the Same Day
One technique I’m currently using with my new Income School Podcast is that when I notice that I’m lagging in the new and noteworthy section, I release two episodes on the same day. That doubles the number of downloads I get on a particular day because each subscriber downloads twice. This can really help you to rank higher in iTunes because one rankings factor is the number of downloads you’ve had in the last 24 hours.
List Your Podcast in Multiple Categories
Showing up in New and Noteworthy is great, but showing up in New and Noteworthy for multiple categories is AWESOME! If your podcast could possibly fit in more than one category, be sure to list it in 3 DIFFERENT categories (not just three different subcategories of the same broader category).
Launch On Multiple Platforms!
This is the tip I used to nearly triple my podcast downloads overnight. I’d worked for two years to build up my podcast to a successful level, and then I finally implemented this tip and BOOM! Things really took off.
What I did is started recording video of me doing the podcast and also livestreaming my podcast on Facebook Live. I have NO IDEA why I don’t see more podcasters doing this. You’re already going through the work of preparing an episode and getting guests. Why not just turn on a camera and also upload it to Youtube and do it live on Facebook Live?
I created a 3.5 hour audio course that I call Podcast Advance where I share the tips I’m using to create a steady income from podcasting, and how I’m getting shows to rank high in iTunes even as podcasting gets more and more competitive.
Podcast Advance is a brand new product, and I’m excited about it so I priced it way too low just so I can get people excited about the product and starting to use it. I want this information out there, and my hope is that you’ll love it and I can get you to stick around IncomeSchool.com. Check it out here. It has some information in there that I know you’ll never see other podcasters talking about.
Example of a Video and Audio Podcast Being Recorded Simultaneously
If you want an idea of what my shows look like on video, check out this youtube video below. I have a short video tutorial showing how I do it on Podcast Advance.