In the last five years, podcasting has grown as a respected storytelling medium with millions of listeners around the world. Whether you love true crime or fictional drama, political commentary or Dungeons & Dragons, there’s probably a podcast for you—Apple Podcasts reported more than 500,000 active podcasts on its platform in 2018. With a market so large, it takes a lot to stand out and make an impact on an audience.

As an avid podcast listener and a producer of my own podcast, Monsters Out of the Closet,  I was thrilled to attend PodCon in January. Now in its second year, this Seattle-based convention brings together thousands of podcast fans, creators and professionals for a weekend of live shows, panels, workshops and meetups. After attending several workshops and networking opportunities at PodCon, I was reminded of a few lessons that podcasters can use to better connect with and grow their audiences through podcast marketing.

iPhone with ear buds plugged in and sitting on desk

Be familiar with the creative landscape

Art isn’t created in a vacuum. With so many podcasts out there, you must be clear about where your show exists in this ever-expanding digital landscape. Does your show concept overlap with that of existing shows? What other podcasts share your target audience? What formats do these similar shows follow? How do they position themselves through marketing? What strategies could work for your own show?

Know what makes your podcast different

While it’s important to understand and emulate comparable content, be sure to differentiate on either a conceptual or an administrative level. For Monsters Out of the Closet, we recognized that because our content was crowdsourced from listeners rather than written in-house, our show was different from otherwise similar fiction shows. The difference affects how we use podcast marketing to reach our audience and contributors and also how we approach financing.

Understand your goals for engagement

Imagine success for your podcast. Are you hoping for a high download count or a smaller, more loyal audience? Are you looking for social media shares or direct listener participation? Having a clear vision for your ideal engagement can guide the focus and depth of your podcast marketing efforts.

Be deliberate in your messaging and voice

Even though listening to podcasts can be a solitary experience, word of mouth—especially on social media—is critical to attracting listeners. Once you’re confident in your show’s positioning and how you’d like to engage your audience outside of listening, it’s important to find and maintain a voice on social media, where you’re most likely to interact with current and potential listeners. It’s also worthwhile to create a basic press kit to ensure consistent messaging when others talk about your show.

Support other creators

There is a vibrant online community of podcast listeners available to you. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect the equally passionate community of podcast creators. Podcasters are enthusiastic about uplifting and supporting other shows, especially when they have a personal relationship with the creator. Beyond helping with your search marketing, in my experience, these connections can lead to knowledge sharing and invaluable connections with peers. Consider how you can create win-wins with peer podcasts. Could you invite other podcasters as guests on your show? Could you cross-promote? Remember, rising tides lift all boats.

Exploring a new marketing medium on behalf of a professional organization can seem daunting. But if you are considering the merits of developing an industry podcast, being proactive and intentional in your marketing can make all the difference when making a meaningful connection with your audience.