Building an audience for your podcast is hard.

Why is it hard?

Because it requires constant vigilance, repeated processes, and continuous determination.

In other words, you have to work for your audience.

No podcaster is given an audience.

You have to earn it.

But before you can do that, you have to first go out there and:

  • Step #1 – Find out where your audience lives online and in the marketplace
  • Step #2 – Connect with your audience and earn their trust
  • Step #3 – Then convince them to become listeners with compelling content

Again, that requires work.

Lots and lots of work.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready to do what it takes to earn an audience!

Step #1 – Find

First, you need to find your audience.

Ask yourself this question:

Where does your audience live?

It’s your topic, your passion, and the core to your podcast.

As a result of being a subject matter expert, you probably know where your audience goes for information, conversation, and debate.

A simple way to consider this is to think about is:

  • What does your audience read?
  • Where does your audience shop?
  • What does your audience buy?
  • Where does your audience share their thoughts?

This is what it means to find out where your audience lives.

Many of your audience members live online.

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to start.

However, not everyone is producing a podcast that has a big online audience.

In that case, ask yourself:

  • What does your audience read?
  • What events do your audience attend?
  • Where does your audience hang out?
  • Where does your audience work?

Finding your audience in the real world is just as relevant as finding them on the Internet.

Once you find your audience or a location where your potential audience congregates it’s time to watch them.

Like a nature photographer or even a big game hunter, you need to watch your target audience with great enthusiasm.

You’re looking for them to tell you something about their position on your topic.

These observations should include an understanding about:

  • What do they complain about?
  • What are their pains?
  • What are their likes?
  • What are their loves?
  • What is controversial?
  • What is the topic everyone is talking about?
  • What is the topic no one is talking about?

Observer our audience with the same passion as you would present your topic.

What you learn will greatly influence what comes next.

Step #2 – Connect

Knowing what your audience is doing will become very valuable to your show preparations.

Ideally, you want to now inject yourself into the conversation.

Not to pimp your podcast.

Jumping in only to promote yourself will only alienate you and poison the well to your podcast engagement efforts.

Instead, you need to do the following:

  • Give
  • Give
  • Give
  • Give
  • Give
  • Then promote yourself
  • Then give some more

No, you don’t see a mistake there.

It does say “Give” five times.

This the formula to engaging with your audience online or even in real life.

Before you can sell anyone on your podcast, you need to give back first.

You need to start being a member of the community and begin showing folks that you really do care about this subject.

Start with answering questions.

Plenty of places — especially groups on Facebook — have new members that need beginner help.

Start with reaching out to those getting into your topic and telling them the answer (from your point of view), or where they can find the answer.

Think about your topic and start asking questions yourself.

Ask about the controversial, ignored, or hot topics to see what kind of conversation you can get started.

But always do it from a place of service.

Give your knowledge, your best tips, your time-tested advice, and your lessons learned freely.

Follow in the footsteps of others that give away their own knowledge with a catch.

You’re not there to sell them, you’re there to give to them.

Then do it over and over and over again.

Become the “go to” subject matter expert or someone people think of when they do get stuck or confused.

In parallel with building your reputation with your target audience, you should be collecting each of those conversations with a purpose.

That purpose is to reuse that content in your show.

If you have a hotly contested conversation within your audience group online, carry that over into an episode.

Don’t replay the conversation word for word, but use it as a jumping off point for your podcast.

Build episodes around those discussions where you take what you offered as advice and restate it in a podcast.

Take your point of view and present a solution to any given problem.

Use the issues and problems you encounter within your audience as the foundation for both micro and macro solutions that you talk about.

Several micro conversations might form one consolidated episode, while one macro conversation might become a theme for several episodes in a series.

There also could be topics that don’t have solutions or have two equally good solutions.

This is the Apple versus PC or Coke versus Pepsi arguments.

In this case, you’re either going to need to take a side (and stick to it) or bring guests onto your show to argue the other side.

This is what it is to Connect your audience.

By observing them in the wild, you already know what everyone is talking about.

Step #3 – Convince

Connecting with your audience now gives you a huge advantage.

You now have a content generation machine just full of good ideas for future episodes.

This will make your podcast relevant, it will give your content value that his compelling to your target audience.

Does it always have to be what your audience is interested in?

Of course not!

It’s your show.

You can present or ignore any subject you feel like presenting or ignoring.

It gives you the option to focus on topics that everyone in your group is talking about, or to bring up topics that your audience may not have considered.

This gives you power over the conversation.

It also makes you look very involved with your topic.

However, if you remember the advantage you have over others by finding out what your audience is NOT talking about?

You now have the power to bring those topics up as you see fit too.

Having knowledge of what everyone is and is not talking about provides you with a very big picture view of your topic.

Additionally, when the time comes for you to change the subject, you now have all the topics and issues ready to go before anyone else.

This is the core to the Convince step in the process: Leadership!

Once you have a strong relationship with your audience groups, you now have the capability to start leading the conversation.

This process starts with deciding what you think everyone should be talking about.

Looking at all that has been said by your audience, the trends in your topic, and what podcast episodes you have already created, pick a topic that you feel strongly about.

This could something that was already discussed, but chances are there is something you have been wanting to talk more about.

Then, when you’re ready, the next time you connect with your audience, present this topic as a new conversation.

Only in this new discussion, relate it back to the podcast episode on the same topic.

This makes your podcast a continuation of what you’re talking about, not the sole reason for talking about it.

You already give away your best tips.

Only now you can start to safely promote specific podcast episodes that relate back to the discussion you are starting.

Extending the conversation this way should always be in connection with something relevant.

Don’t push people to an episode that does not extend the conversation.

What you will find with this step is that it start to lead people interested in learning more right to your podcast without looking like you are leading them to it.

It is simply an extension of a discussion that can only come AFTER you have gained your audience’s trust.

If you have presented the content in a helpful way, then some of those visitors to your podcast will become subscribers.

Finding out where they live and becoming a trusted source is essential to producing subscribers that become fans of your podcast.

Listeners don’t subscribe on accident.

But sometimes they need a reason to choose you over all the other podcasts out there.

Give them a compelling reason by earning their trust first.

The rest will follow.

And now you know.

Posted by Kyle Bondo

Kyle Bondo is a thinker, podcaster, author, and creative strategy dragon seeking to make a small dent in the universe. With over 12-years of experience in finding creative ways to solve business and technology challenges, Kyle is the missing link between your ponytails and propeller heads when it comes to implementing a continuous delivery strategy. Kyle is an avid speaker at both technology and sports conferences, produces podcasts about racing (Merchants of Dirt and Get Lost Racing), and enjoys working on wicked process problems.

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