How to Grow Your Podcast Audience

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Podcasting is a great promotional tool, and an easy way of showcasing your talent. And after you've recorded the podcast, you'll want to build an audience of listeners. Creating an audience for media is not an exact science. However, there are a few things you can do to help your podcast pick up listeners.

The most important element of gaining a podcast audience is how you distribute your podcast. Podcasts are distributed through RSS feeds. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, and works as a syndication service for blogs and podcasts. When a user subscribes to a publisher's RSS feed, the publisher's content (the blog or podcast) will be downloaded as soon as it's published to their website. RSS feeds also contain information about the podcast, like its title, author, length, and website. In order for a podcast to be hosted through iTunes or another service, like Blogger or WordPress, you'll need to set up an RSS feed. Of course, you can always just publish your podcast's audio files onto your own website or blog, but setting up an RSS feed will allow listeners to subscribe and automatically download your podcast as soon as you publish it.

RSS feeds are written in XML, a programming language that can be easily read by both people and computers. XML can be written in any text editing software (like Microsoft Word or TextEdit) and is relatively easy to learn, although there are many services that will create your podcast's RSS feed if you're not up for learning a programming language. If you're hosting the podcast on a webpage through WordPress or Blogger, you'll be able to use their RSS-creating services. Writing your own RSS feed code will grant you the most control over your RSS feed and be easier to fix if there are mistakes, but requires the user to know XML, which can be time consuming to learn and use. Using a free RSS service is much easier and quicker, but the user has less control over the actual feed and offers worse search engine optimization (SEO), meaning its harder to find on search engines.

Another important, although very different, element in building an audience for your podcast is based on the actual content of the show. Making a point to prepare for each episode before hitting record will make a huge difference in the quality of the podcast. Make an outline for the show and plan things out. Shooting the breeze on tape gets old fast. Try to network and connect with other podcasters of similar backgrounds and styles. Hosting guests on your podcast can be a great way to add listeners, as your guest will likely bring their own blog or podcast traffic to your show. Requesting listener questions can also help to keep your audience coming back each week.

There's no guaranteed method for success in building a media audience, just as there's no formula for making a viral video. Controlling the distribution, connecting to communities, as well as just sharing your podcast on Facebook and Twitter, however can make a huge difference.