Launching anything involves hard work, some strategy, and a lot of planning. So it’s little surprise that when launching something as complex as a podcast, with its many moving parts, it can become difficult to take the time to properly lay out a launch sequence ahead of time.
But believe me, a bit of planning and effort here will go a long way towards ensuring that your podcast gets off to the start you’re hoping for.
Here we’re going to break down exactly what you need to get your podcast launched, the right way, so you can start growing your audience.
There are a Six things you will need in place before you pull the trigger on your podcast launch. They are:
- A launch group of episodes
- Your website and media host setup
- A contest to generate buzz
- A core group of loyal fans to help you build momentum
- Social Media Strategy and Content
- An email list and autoresponder
As part of your podcast launch it’s key that each of these items be in place at the right time. Let’s walk through each aspect of your podcast launch, step-by-step.
A Launch Group of Episodes
I have to admit something, and it’s a little embarrassing. When I launched my first podcast I just recorded a monologue intro type of episode into Garageband, edited it up a bit, and published it. That got my feed live and I submitted it to iTunes. No matter that my first real episode wasn’t actually released for another 2 weeks.
What a wasted opportunity!
Here’s the thing when it comes to podcast launching: iTunes, the largest podcasting platform and search engine in the world, gives any New show 8 weeks to quality for their New and Noteworthy section.
The Noteworthy part of this is hand-picked by the team at Apple, so you have less control over this, but the New part you surely have a finite amount of time in which to get your show listed.
This section in iTunes has changed a lot over the past year or so, but it is still a great place to aim for if you want to really supercharge your audience growth.
Although Apple doesn’t disclose their ranking algorithm publicly, it’s a safe bet that your podcast rankings include these following metrics:
- Number of downloads of an episode in the first 24 hours
- Total downloads for your show as a whole
- Number of Rating and Reviews
- Estimated subscriber count
Based on this we can come up with a strategy for releasing our podcast launch content in a way that gives us the best chance to land in that New and Noteworthy section.
A fair warning here though, landing or not landing in New and Noteworthy does not make or break your show. Think of this just as a reflection of a successful podcast that is launched properly. Whether you make it in that classification or not following the steps we describe below will give you a successfully launched podcast.
So how many episodes to launch with? That’s always the question isn’t it? While there is no 100% definitively right answer here the answer is “between 2 and 5”. Where you land on this spectrum depends on a few things:
- Your capacity to create content easily and quickly
- How often your podcast will publish on an ongoing basis
- Your podcast style and format
If you’re able to very easily create new content then you might want to err on the side of 5 episodes for launch day. Have a tough time creating content or your show will be less often than a weekly publishing schedule, then best err towards the 2 episode launch grouping.
Either way you go, the goal here is to give your audience a good, representative sampling of your content, so they can know what to expect. And, it has the added benefit of padding your show’s overall download statistics.
More episodes should mean more overall downloads/listens in iTunes.
The balance to strike here is to publish enough content to give your audience a taste of what to expect in the future, but not to overwhelm them with an enormous amount of content, that they might not listen to all of it. Publishing 10 episodes on the first day, for example, would likely mean that 5+ of your episodes would never get listened to by your new audience. Best to save those extra episodes for your regular publishing schedule.
Setting up your Website and Media Host
Here’s where your life gets exponentially easier than some of your podcasting colleagues. With Seriously Simple Podcasting you can set up your WordPress site to manage your entire podcast, with just a few clicks of a button.
If you haven’t already, check out this video that walks through how to set up your podcast RSS feed, and your hosting account, in just a few minutes.
Once you’ve got your podcast RSS feed configured and your Seriously Simple Hosting account setup it’s time to get your show submitted to iTunes, Stitcher and Google play.
From a timing perspective, if you have a solid launch day you want to begin publicizing your show, it’s a great idea to submit to the podcasting directories a couple of business days ahead of time.
So if you’re wanting to launch on a Thursday, I’d submit your podcast RSS feed to iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play on Monday morning. That will give each of these platforms time to review your show and send you the approval email and link.
Creating Buzz for Your Podcast
Launching your podcast is really no different than a lot of types of product launches. In order for this to be successful you have to build some buzz around it, and get people excited about what’s coming in your new show.
The best way we’ve seen to do this is to create a pre-launch contest.
Your pre-launch podcast contest will be a way to do a few things all at the same time:
- Build your launch email list
- Get potential listeners excited about your new show
- Engage potential sponsors and partners in your podcast
With each of these entrants are encouraged to share your content via email, posts on their website, and on social media. With each new share they post it gives them more “tickets in the hat”, and a better chance of winning.
Running a contest is a subject unto itself, but the cliff notes version here is that you want to run a contest with a prize, or sets of prizes, that are highly specific to your audience. So, if we were to run a contest here we might give a way a really sweet podcasting mic (like the Rode Podcaster), or a years worth of Seriously Simple Hosting. Or maybe both?
The goal with your prize is that it should attract ONLY people who you want to be engaging with long term. Giving away an iPad will draw in a lot of people, but maybe not entirely the types of people who would enjoy your podcast. Specificity here is huge. Otherwise you’ll find yourself left with a contest audience that won’t respond well to your new podcast messaging.
Building Your Launch Team
Now that your contest is under way it’s time to think about who is going to be on your core launch team. Think of this group as the podcasting family you always wish you had.
In here will be parents, friends, coworkers, the guy you helped move a couch last year, and anyone who you can rely on to take some specific action and help spread the word about your new podcast.
Make no mistake, this is not going to be some digital marketing ninja team. This is going to be a very manual, in the trenches kind of group who will go out there and start the momentum for your podcast. They will be the ones who will:
- Leave the first reviews in iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play for your show
- Share your show on social media and relevant message boards
- Personally reach out to influencers in your space
Once this core bit of momentum has been built for your podcast it will be much easier to encourage others to leave reviews, subscribe to the show, and your podcast will gain that social capital that everyone wants.
Social Media Strategy
No matter what industry or niche your podcast is in there will be an element of Social Media promotion that you’ll want to participate in. The first step in deciding this strategy is to figure out where your audience already hangs out.
a ‘foodie’ type podcast? Instagram or Pinterest may be best
a Tech or Startup podcast? Twitter is probably the place to focus
an Entertainment podcast? Facebook is the way to go
Truth is no two podcasts are the same, and no two social media strategies are going to be the same either. The first priority is to focus on identifying where your audience is already congregating, and then how you can elegantly insert yourself into their conversation on those platforms.
A few ideas to think about are:
- Starting a Facebook group for your podcast – If you don’t have a Facebook group for your brand, start one…TODAY. They’re the best way we’ve seen to build a community and engage with them in a 2-way conversation.
- Take advantage of social scheduling tools – Buffer, Hootsuite, CoSchedule are all great tools to allow you to automate the process of posting to many social media platforms. Save yourself some time and loads of headaches by setting up your accounts with one of these tools and get things set on autopilot.
- Leverage your guests audiences – if you have guests on your podcast one of the best ways to grow your listenership is through co-promotion of your guest to their audiences. If your guests have audiences that are similar to your target audience, and the guests are willing to share your podcast episode (which they should be!) with them then this is a great way to sort of ‘pollinate’ your two audiences and messages.
Email Marketing Campaigns
I received a podcast launch email just today from a business who I know for a fact has only ever sent out 2 ‘mass mailing’ type of email broadcasts. The first was when their business first launched from a consultancy, and the second was the launch of their podcast.
Your podcast launch is indeed a proper launch, and as these customers did you should treat it as such.
There are very few times when I think it’s appropriate to email EVERYONE on your email list, but the launch of your podcast absolutely qualifies as one of those times.
You’ve done a ton of work to get ready for this day, and now it’s time to share that message with everyone you know.
If you’ve run a contest prior to the launch of your podcast then you have a big buzz built up about your show, and your new email subscribers will be excited to hear from you that the show is now live. Share the good news, and watch those download numbers start to rise!
After your podcast ‘launch’ is officially over it’s time to set up systems and processes to continue to stay in touch with your podcast audience, and let them know about new episodes and developments in your show.
If your listeners are truly interested in your topic then they will enjoy hearing from you, and want more information than you’re able to give just in the podcast itself. So whether it’s email, social media, online forum groups, or in-person meetups find a way to connect with your listenership in a way that allows for that 2-way dialogue that they’re looking for.
Get Ready For Your Podcast Launch
So, how many of these 6 steps do you have in place for your podcast launch? You’ve already done a massive amount of work to get ready for the big day, don’t fall just a few steps short of a great podcast launch.
Following this 6 steps in this Podcast Launch Guide will ensure that your show hits the ground running, starts growing its listenership, and gains your brand the extra notoriety you’ve been looking for.