Creating a new podcast and working to immediately build an audience for it can be challenging. Figuring out a topic you want to discuss on your podcast isn’t too hard, and while it can be difficult to get right, creating great content can be perfected with enough time, passion, and production work. Once that’s all done though, how do you make sure you’re able to reach audiences who are as passionate about your show as you are?
Particularly if you’re a podcaster who doesn’t have a marketing budget for new listener acquisition, your options are limited. Making sure your podcast is optimized for search engines is certainly a good start, building up your podcast’s social media presence can help, and making sure your content is as high quality as possible so you can retain every user who comes across your content is a must – but getting new users can still be difficult with such limited options.
This is particularly true for podcasters who aren’t part of a small or medium-sized network of other podcasters, or who have no money to use for audience acquisition through resources like paid social media or direct buys on other podcasts.
So what options does that leave you with?
One of the best is to build partnerships with like-minded podcasts in an effort to cross-promote each other’s podcasts.
While this may seem relatively straightforward at face value, there are a lot of things to consider in order to actually do this correctly. Here are just a few things to think about as you go through the process of building a strong cross-promotional podcast strategy:
1. Who is Your Audience?
The first step when starting to build out a cross-promotional relationship with another podcast actually comes before you start doing any outreach to other podcasters.
In order for cross promotion to work correctly, you need to make sure you fully understand your audience. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to understand if another podcast actually has listeners who will be interested in your content.
It’s one thing to secure a cross-promotional relationship with another podcast, but if it’s with a podcast that has an audience that has little in common with your own, you’re unlikely to find much success when it comes to providing enough value to retain these new listeners on your podcast long-term.
By first understanding who your audience is you can make sure you’re considering podcasts with relevant audiences from the start. Whether it’s talking to listeners on your podcast’s social media platforms, using a survey service like SurveyMonkey to learn more about your audience, or meeting up with a few of your listeners in person, do what it takes to understand who your listeners are and what they want. This is worth the time – it will pay huge dividends beyond just cross-promotional success down the road, as ultimately this sort of insight into your listeners can help inform your ability to attract advertisers down the road.
2. What Would be Relevant to Your Audience?
Once you’ve identified who your audience is, it’s time to consider what kind of content would be particularly relevant to them.
For example, if you’ve found that your audience consists largely of male millennials who love movies and television, you can more confidently identify what other things those individuals will care about (in this case, maybe you can safely assume that they’ll also be interested in podcasts specifically about an individual movie or television show).
Once you’ve identified what might be relevant to your audience, you can set out to find what podcasts cover these topics. In this way, you can use audience interest in two slightly different topics to bridge the topical gap that exists between your podcast and another.
A great tool you can use to streamline this process it to use a web app like Podible. Simply check your podcast and find out what podcasts are deemed to be particularly relevant to your own so that you can quickly build a list of possible partnership targets.
In this way, you can cut out some of the heavy lifting you’d have to do on your own to make these connections and rely on existing relevancy algorithms instead. Even if the options you’re given are a bit too large for you to conceivably reach out to build a relationship with much success, you can use them as a starting point to identify what types of podcasts might make the most sense.
3. What Can You Offer Others?
After identifying what kind of podcasts would be a good fit, it’s time to consider what you can offer them in exchange for a partnership. Remember that you’re essentially asking another podcast creator to do a spot for your content on their show – so you’re going to have to do a little bit of salesmanship to explain why a partnership would make sense.
At the most basic level, you need to demonstrate to the other author what value you can offer them. While your audience numbers could obviously be a key metric for this, it actually doesn’t have to be in a lot of cases. If you can make the case that your limited audience is comprised entirely of high value potential new listeners who are all but guaranteed to join the listening audience of another podcast long-term, that might be enough to sway a larger podcaster’s interest in your offer.
Other metrics you might highlight are the longevity of your podcast, the amount of episodes per week or month, general audience growth over time (if you want to build a long-term partnership), or any other networks/podcasts that you’re already associated with that you can also leverage to help the relationship flourish.
4. What Can Others Offer You?
It is important throughout this entire process to not lose sight of what other podcasts can offer you. Again, listener numbers are a clear starting point to consider if you have access to them – but there are a lot of other things you should be considering as well.
It may seem obvious, but one of the most important things to take some time looking at is the quality of the podcast itself. Is it produced well? Does the podcaster talk about subject matter that has some commonalities with yours? Are the episodes substantial enough to keep you interested for the duration of each episode or do you find yourself losing interest quickly?
If you’re finding that you’re bored, annoyed, or generally underwhelmed by a podcast it goes without saying that they shouldn’t be a partner for you. Remember – a podcast you’re partnered with is a reflection of your own content. If you’re bored with their content, chances are your current listeners would be too – undermining their trust in you to send them to other podcasts they’ll like and undermining your ability to provide value to other cross-promotional partners moving forward.
5. Trade Content
If you’re sure that the podcast would make a great partner, it’s time to consider how exactly you’re going to promote each other. Is it as simple as a shout out directly from the podcaster at the beginning or the end of a podcast or do you want to give them a much more custom soundbite to play that you’ve produced? Maybe you want to actually dedicate some time on each other’s podcasts to do an interview or guest spot.
As you’re thinking about the most effective way to do this, consider your audience and theirs and consider what would resonate best. You want to make sure you’re minimizing the impact this will have on your regular content while still providing the best opportunity to trade audiences between podcasts.
6. Track Progress
Once everything is in place, it’s important to make sure that you’re tracking the progress of your efforts. Whether this means just generally looking for upticks in downloads or listens in your existing analytics or trying to send audiences from other podcasts to a dedicated landing page on your podcast’s site and tracking the amount traffic that gets there, make sure you have some ability to show the value of the relationship with hard numbers.
Your podcast only has so much room for cross-promotional efforts, so if you find that something is simply not working you want to be able to transition away from it as quickly as possible so that you can fill the space with another partner quickly and efficiently. This will be a lot less awkward to do if you can show your podcasting partner in crime that things just aren’t working with hard numbers as opposed to subjective opinion.
Follow these tips and you’ll be attracting new audiences and building relationships with other podcasters like you in no time at all!
Any other tips to building a great cross-promotional relationship with your podcast? Let me know at @austinpaley on Twitter!