Starting a podcast with no audience is a daunting task, but it can be done! There’s some fantastic rags to riches stories in podcasting – some of the biggest podcasts today started from having no audience, like Welcome to Nightvale.
Here’s our guide on how to start a podcast with no audience.
The beauty of podcasts is that your topic can be just about anything, from pens, to the porno your dad wrote. With that being said, there are still some considerations when choosing your podcast topic.
First, make sure that your topic is something that you will never get tired of talking about. You could be hosting your show for years to come, and if you lose enthusiasm for your topic over that time, so will your audience.
Then, double check to make sure that your topic is interesting to other people. If your premise is just an inside joke with your friend, it might have a hard time establishing a wider audience.
You can then research other podcasts similar to your topic, and make sure you aren’t directly copying another show. You need to find an angle to stand out from the crowd.
If you need more help choosing a topic for your podcast, we’ve written a whole article that delves into further detail. And once you’ve chosen your topic, you’ll need to choose a name for your podcast. Once again, we’ve got a whole article to help you with that step of the process.
If you see pictures of professional podcasting studios, you might get the false impression that podcasting is expensive. But that’s not true! It can be really cheap to achieve good audio quality at home.
With cheaper gear, you won’t sound quite like those professional podcasts, but the big secret is that very few people can tell the difference between “good” sound and “great” sound.
To see a full list of gear to buy as a beginner podcast set-up (for less than $200!), check out our full article.
In order to host your podcast’s audio files, and to distribute them to the various podcast listening apps, you’ll need to choose a podcast hosting platform. There are an overwhelming amount of options each with unique features. Many cost money, but there are plenty of free options as well, including the three most popular choices Anchor, Spreaker, and iVoox.
To learn about the dozens of hosting options in more detail, be sure to check out our article, “The Complete List of Podcast Hosting Companies.”
Common advice for new podcasters is to record 3 episodes before publishing anything, because you’ll likely learn a lot in your first few recordings. You want your first episode to really hook listeners, so it’s useful to work out the kinks before publishing.
When you publish your first episode, you’ll want to make sure it reaches as wide of an audience as possible. That means you need to submit your podcast to every podcast listening app. Every app has their own method, so we’ve compiled them all into one handy article about how to submit your podcast everywhere. If you are short on time, the most important places to submit your podcast are Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podchaser.
As a side note: If you need help naming your podcast episodes, we got you covered with this article’s 8 tips for naming your podcast episodes.
Gaining your first listeners is by far the most difficult and daunting step. You are starting a podcast with no audience, and it’s harder to go from 0 listeners to 1, than it is to go from 1 listener to 10. Once you’ve got any audience, it becomes infinitely easier for your audience size to snowball. Along with these tips, be sure to read our full article about how to promote your podcast.
The number #1 way that listeners discover new shows is through the Google search bar. They search for a topic they’re interested in, like “baseball podcasts”, and then peruse a listicle for a show that catches their eye. You can use Podchaser lists to make your podcasts discoverable to people Googling for new shows.
The family-friendly zoology podcast “Just the Zoo of Us” has made great use of Podchaser’s lists. They’ve created various lists about topics their show covers like podcasts about animals, and included their own show at the top of the list. Now anyone Google searching for podcasts about animals will find their list and find their show!
Social media is essential to expose your podcast to a new audience. To promote yourself, you should authentically involve yourself in conversations about topics you cover, while avoiding over promoting your show.
Some practical tips are to ask questions, share insightful articles, and promote other podcasts and platforms. Here’s the social media’s open secret: everybody wants to promote posts that make them look good.
So if you want a platform to post about you, tag them in a tweet that links to their platform only. If you link to their platform and their competitor in the same post, neither one will want to share for fear of promoting their competition.
Podchaser is really active on Twitter, and we love shouting out podcasts who reply to our posts. If we interact on Twitter, your account will be exposed to new audiences, so follow us on Twitter and reply to our Tweets!
You may not have an audience yet, but you still know people. Ask your friends and family to review your podcast on Podchaser and on any other platform they use. Podcast reviews provide social validation for the quality of your podcast, which then entices your first listeners to download.
Many podcasters will tell you that the best marketing tool is word of mouth. Authentic testimonials between like-minded people are a time-tested method to build a dedicated audience
So how do you get your growing audience to tell their friends about your show? Simply ask them too. For many years, My Brother My Brother and Me hosts, the McElroy brothers, asked their listeners to spread the word, specifically stating that they relied entirely on word of mouth to grow their podcast. Now the McElroy’s have a few books, a series of graphic novels, a TV show, and several successful podcasts.
Podchaser is designed top to bottom with discoverability features to help podcasters grow their shows. To get the most out of Podchaser, you’ll need to claim your podcast. Then, you can add credits, reply to user reviews, use Podchaser as your podcast resume, and more! To go in depth on how to use Podchaser to grow your podcast, read the full article.
Let’s recap the 6 steps to start a podcast with no audience: