Recording is finished, the editing is done, and you have published your episodes. It is now time to discuss marketing your podcast.
Your podcast may be good, but without proper marketing strategies, it may never be discovered. Many podcasters before you have had good ideas which they threw with hopeful expectation into the abyss of the internet. Sadly, many of their hopes and dreams were crushed because they failed to follow the proper steps to create awareness and, as a result, their efforts were never rewarded, their podcast never went anywhere. We plan to help you avoid this pitfall by advising you to take a few important marketing steps prior to, and after your podcast hits the streets. The four most important tools for building awareness for your podcast are: your website, your logo and artwork, social media, and merchandise.
The first thing to get up and running before your first episode airs is your website. In a way, the website will be the mothership of your podcast. The website will be where your newest fans and your biggest fans alike go to check you out. Because of this, you need to make sure that you have made the necessary preparations for their arrival.
A lot of people tend to get nervous when talking about website building and design. It’s okay if you have no experience with web design before reading this. This guide is meant to help you and at least give you a starting point. If you don’t have the knowledge of how to go about building a website, we strongly urge you to reach out to a professional web designer who can help bring your ideas to life. Find someone that is willing to work with you to build a website that coincides with our checklist. Below is a checklist of things that your website should contain upon launch.
- Your website should have a blog.
A blog is very important for ensuring that people have something new to look at each time they come to your sight. Consider having daily or weekly blog updates and assign someone from the podcast to be in charge of writing them. The blog is meant to characterize the people behind the mics, in order to make you more interesting to the fans. The blog can also be used to update fans about upcoming events, or perhaps pose questions to the fans for future episodes. Whatever you want your blog to involve, simply ensuring that you are consistent in style and posting frequency can do wonders for listener interactions, which will ultimately lead to more fans in the future!
- Your website needs an active cover page.
An active cover page simply stated means a homepage that has things to look at and do. You want your fans to be able to load up your website and see various information about your podcast. Maybe you will have your beautiful faces on the side of the page with info about yourself. From there, the fan could click a link that would take them to your bio page or some other engaging information. Doing something along these lines is a good idea so that people can better get to know you. You will also more than likely want to have a place on your homepage where users can directly access your episodes and listen to them. As you grow bigger, you might even want your own forums, where fans can talk to each other.
- Your website needs donation links.
If you want your fans to be able to support you, then it is a good idea to include a donation link somewhere on your website. However you want to do that is up to you, but we recommend Patreon, because it works well with a podcast. You can advertise for your Patreon on your episodes and ask for support, as well as offer rewards to your most dedicated supporters. Just make sure to have the link on your website be in a place that is easy to find. This will help streamline the process for people who want to give you money.
- Your website needs Your Episodes.
This seems obvious, but somewhere on your website you need to have your episodes, either in links or in hosting. Most podcasts use hosting sites like Libsyn to store their episodes. Doing it this way is fine, just make sure that you include download links on your own website. Make your website the one stop shop for everything specific to your podcast. How you format the episode display on your website is also important. Your podcast hosting provider should have tools available to allow you to embed a feed of your episodes on your website.
If you consider these points and add a few, if not all, of these features, your website cannot help but turn out solid. For podcasts that want to be part of the PodBelly network, we strongly urge you to make sure you have all of the key features we recommend. This level of efficiency will help your podcast and the network to run smoothly, which equates to more money and fans for everyone.
Podcast Episode Cover Art
So we have mentioned Episode Cover Art in a few places now. It’s time to fully explain what we mean. So after you create an episode and compile all the audio and editing together into your finished product, cover art is the final touch that you add to the finished product. Think of it like the wrapper on a candy bar. When you go to the store to buy a candy bar, you probably gravitate towards one that is covered in a pristine wrapper from a brand you recognize rather than a loose piece of chocolate sitting on the shelf. Even if that loose candy bar is the best tasting chocolate on the planet, you have no way of knowing that, because chances are you wouldn’t even try it. This same principle applies to podcasts. Having cover art for your episodes makes you look professional and, more importantly, conveys your brand. At PodBelly, we strongly recommend that you create Cover Art for your podcast. The cover art will build and reinforce your identity. There are a few dos and don’ts of cover art that you should be familiar with.
Do: Produce your cover art yourself. By this we mean working for 30 minutes a week on each episode to produce something that is relevant and branded for your podcast and is entirely your creation.
Don’t: Use copyrighted material in your cover art. Make something yourself, it could even be your logo, just don’t take something from someone else. Doing this is an easy way to run into trouble further down the line. Unless you have to, try to come up with something fresh and original, or in other words, copyright free.
Do: Aim to have individual fresh cover art per episode. This means spending a little time creating an image for each episode that you put out. This cover art should have something that is consistent on it that ties into your overall brand, but different enough to be fresh and inspired. Think of it as each episode being a new sequel in an awesome series of movies, ie Avengers movies, Lethal Weapon, Terminator etc, . Each instance of cover art will have a new piece of art on the front that will hint or reference something that happens in the episode.
Don’t: Simply use the same cover art for every episode. If you have no way to make it work, then you CAN, but the fact is that your brand will appear overall weaker if you avoid custom art for each episode. We recommend to those that are busy and can’t find time for cover art to simply choose something that is easy to customize. It may seem silly, but it is very impactful to have the variation. It will make you look much more professional. Do keep in mind, though, that having the same, stagnant cover art every time is still miles above having nothing.
As long as you keep the Do’s and Don’ts in mind, your cover art should turn out great. Just remember to keep it up. We really hope we’ve hammered this message in enough to make it stick: Consistency is key.
The Big Three. When it comes to social media marketing, the big three names you probably already know are what you will be using. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each of these social media platforms is important in its own way. Think of each social media service as a tool for your marketing. Each serves a different purpose but having all is necessary to complete the overall job. So with that said let’s jump into the specifics.
Facebook is the oldest out of the three, but also the most used. The primary use of Facebook for your podcast will likely be in the form of fan integration. Facebook offers features like the group creation system, which can act as a hub where your network of fans that can post and talk to each other. This system is hugely important because it creates a sense of community. When people see others enjoying something, they are more likely to want to get involved and enjoy it themselves. Facebook’s greatest strength is that it can help your devoted fans have a platform to express themselves to a group of people who share similar values. So to review, Facebook’s biggest strength is community building. You will need to do two things on Facebook.
- First, you must create a Page.
The page will be like the cover letter to your resume. It will provide basic information about you and address initial questions people have. This page will explain what you are, who you are, how the episodes go, what your fans are like, and link back to your website. This is the page that you will be inviting all of your friends to click the “like” button. There is no cap to how many people can like the page. This is also a place where you can post clips of your show as well as whatever updates and information you think your fans should know. Try to keep up with it in order to keep it active. A ghost town facebook page isn’t very enticing.
- Second, you should create a Facebook group.
Simply start a group, set your fellow podcasters as administrators, and then start inviting people that like your podcast page to join the group. Make sure to mention the Facebook group during your episodes so that people who listen to and like your show will know about it. Explain the steps your fans must take: ie just liking your Facebook page, or perhaps something more involved and arduous in order to prove their undying devotion to the podcast and that they are worthy to join the ranks of elite fans. The choice is yours. Whatever you choose, eventually you will want to invite them to the group. The group is special. It is your community hub. It is a place where you can go live with your fans and make posts that they can read and interact with. You can post clips here, and announce new episodes or anything else you want to announce, such as new releases of merchandise. Make sure to be active at least a couple of times a week.
Next we have twitter. Twitter is another useful tool for the podcaster. Twitter, along with Instagram which we will touch upon next, are going to be the social media platforms that grow your fan base the quickest. So while Facebook is used to keep your community intact, Twitter is used to grow the fanbase. There are many reasons that Twitter is better than Facebook at this, so let’s get into it.
- Twitter is all about resharing peoples posts.
Probably the most important thing to understand about twitter is that it operates on a system of sharing ideas. This means if someone tweets about your podcast, all his friends can see it, and if they share it all their friends can see it and so on. This is by far the best way to spread the word about your podcast or special events you are doing.
- When you tweet @ something on twitter, it automatically creates a two way linking system.
Essentially this means if someone @’s your podcasts twitter profile, it will appear on your wall and their wall, and anyone who sees your name can click it, which will take them to your page. This is huge. There are many ways you can use this to your advantage. One effective strategy is to encourage your fans to tweet their favorite quotes or moments from the show @ your podcast’s twitter. This will basically get your fans to market for you in a way that serves both sides. Your fans get to show everyone something that is interesting or funny to them, and anyone who sees that has a chance of discovering you and maybe listening to your podcast. Make sure you include links to your website on this platform.
The third and final major social media you can make use of will be Instagram. Like Twitter, this social media platform will help grow your fan base quicker than Facebook. Instagram is unique in a few ways. First you can have a very high amount of tags on your post, which can expand who sees it. Second, Instagram is almost entirely visual, meaning that you use it to show people something, not really explain something. This will be most effective for the purpose of selling merchandise to your fans.
Instagram is a way of creating a menu of sorts for your podcast. We recommend keeping your instagram “clean”, meaning no personal pictures or posts, no memes or unrelated content. When a potential new listener stumbles on to your instagram account they should be presented with an account that has a relevant name and is focused and concise. Like all of your social media accounts your instagram account should be the name of your podcast if available or as close as possible.
Below are some ways you can use Instagram.
- With Instagram, you should try to post unique images multiple times a week that are tagged with anything you can think of that even remotely has to do with your podcast. You want to grow your potential instagram audience by creating tags that will make it so that anyone who happens to be looking for the tagged word, might stumble onto your page.
- Once you have a following, you can take pictures of your merchandise, explain how the offer (if you have one) works, and then link back to your website. Say you have some T-shirts made for the podcast. It would be a good idea to have your attractive friend model the t-shirt and get some different pictures that you can upload.
- Additionally you will want to make posts about your newest episodes whenever they come out. Use cover art for episodes as the image, which is one of the reasons making cover art for every episode is a good idea. Posting each episode will serve the simple purpose of making sure as many people as possible see that your new episode is available. A good practice is posting on episode release days to alert your current and future listeners that new content is available. The more listens you get the better!
With that said, we recommend taking advantage of the opportunity that instagram offers to give a viewer a sample of your show by utilizing the ability to post videos on your account. The method we suggest is using a unique cover art image mixed with an audio highlight from that episode. There are several programs you can use to accomplish this task from Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premier, iMovie, Final Cut Pro and even phone apps have the ability to add your audio highlight to your cover art. When choosing an audio clip try to choose an interesting topic point or comical moment followed by laughter. You goal is to draw the listener in or to entice them with just enough interest that they want to know more kind of like an audio appetizer.
Be consistent and punctual with your instagram posts they will serve as a reminder to your current fans that your still around and creating content they love. To new listeners, they will use your instagram as a menu of what your show has to offer from past to present. They can also browse through episode titles and sample you audio highlights to get a feel for your podcast. Be sure you have a web link listed in your instagram profile making it as easy as possible to find your podcast. Also, be sure to engage with listeners in the comment section and always check your direct messages from fans.
Promotional Items and Merchandise
The last aspect of marketing regards creating and selling promotional items and merchandise. All the good brands do it, and for a very good reason. Branded merchandise is a very interactive way to advertise. Be sure to create and provide things like apparel, mugs, stickers, pins, etc. Your loyal fans love your podcast for a reason and like to show off that love to others. Provide them with a way to do so.