I get asked the same question all the time by new podcasters. I see it asked in forums, blog comments, and groups. Everyone wants to know the same thing:
“How do I get traffic and attention for my podcast?”
And it’s a good question, but this isn’t the question that is really being asked. The thing a person really wants to know is this:
“How do I get the most traffic and attention for the least amount of effort?”
That sounds a little cynical, doesn’t it? But it isn’t as rude as it sounds. It’s a legitimate question, but the answers for the two questions are quite different.
There aren’t any real secrets left as to how to stand out online. It’s a combination of content, voice, hustle, luck, and more hustle. Hustle is important. I don’t mean the kind of hustle that leads to tricks and traps to get attention, but hustle as in hard work and diligence.
If you want to get traffic and attention, you should:
– Sound good. High quality audio speaks volumes for your podcast and how much you care about it.
– Do it regularly, and on time.
– Get good guests.
– Know your subject, or be genuinely curious about it.
– Keep in contact with your listeners.
– Build a body of work.
That’s a lot of effort right there. It’s more work than most people are willing to do, and in some cases, more money than someone is willing to spend. And don’t get me wrong, making an effort and spending money are two different things, even if they occasionally collide.
There are thousands of podcasts out there (and millions of blogs), but if you want someone to spend their time and attention on yours, you will have to be there for them, at least as much as you want them to be there for you. And differentiating yourself from those other podcasts will take something more than simply posting an audio file. It takes the desire, willingness, and effort to be better than merely good enough. It takes a little more than just showing up.
If you don’t believe me, take a listen to the top ten podcasts in iTunes.
Looking at that list, you see that most of them are backed by a public radio station or NPR, which doesn’t seem fair at first. The others on that list all sound… good. Really good. And they come out regularly. And they don’t take shortcuts, or try to do less for more. They work hard for their audience.
Which gives you something to strive for. It shows what works, and what doesn’t work. And it shows that there is value in doing a good job as opposed to slapping out up with the least amount of effort. It proves that hard work matters and makes a difference. Radiolab is a lot of hard work to produce. Marc Maron doesn’t miss a week, even with his traveling schedule. Repeats and clip shows happen, but in the end, you know the good shows will be back, and will bring the quality they always have in the past.
So what can you do to stand out? A lot. And it really isn’t a secret, but it’s hard work. And the work itself can be fun.