The No 1 WORST Way to Get More Podcast Listeners

Female typing on internet forum to get more podcast listeners

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Everyone wants to get more podcast listeners.

And I get it.

Because without listeners, you’re just talking to yourself. But there are definitely some ways that are better than others for promoting your podcast and to getting more ears on your show.

One of the top ways that podcasters promote their podcast is through social media.

But before you click away, I’m not here to tell you NOT to promote on social media. But I am here to encourage you to think about HOW you promote on social media.

You see, so often, I see podcasters try and promote their podcast using ‘subscribe-for-subscribe’ or ‘review-for-review’ strategies. And whilst these strategies may work in the short-term, they don’t do anything to build a solid podcast audience going forward.

Avoiding the “Sub-for-Sub” Trap to Get More Podcast Listeners

Now, let me address something that every podcaster should be aware of: the “sub-for-sub” or “listen-for-listen” strategies to get more podcast listeners.

These tactics involve exchanging downloads or subscriptions with other podcasters, often in Facebook groups. It makes my skin crawl when I see these great long threads of people all adding their podcast links into a comment box in the hope that someone will write them a review. And while it may seem like a quick way to boost your numbers, trust me when I say it is not the path to long-term success.

Firstly, downloads obtained through these strategies may not convert into active listeners or subscribers. Think about it; someone says that they’ll download your latest episode if you download theirs. Or they’ll subscribe to your podcast if you subscribe to theirs. What guarantee have you got that this person will download your podcast episode? Or subscribe/stay subscribed to your show?

You could be downloading and subscribing to other podcasts and getting nothing in return.

After all, they were never genuinely interested in your content.

Also, you can download an episode and only listen to a few seconds of it. This, if anything, is worse than no download, because this gives you a low engagement rate, something that tells Apple Podcasts that your podcast is no good and shouldn’t be recommended.

Secondly, these tactics focus on quantity over quality. Building a loyal audience requires creating valuable and original content that resonates with your target listeners. If someone is just subscribing to your channel, but never listening to your episodes; what’s the point? They’re doing nothing to grow an engaged community.

Crafting a Genuine Promotional Strategy to Get More Podcast Listeners

Instead of relying on “sub-for-sub” schemes or other transactional strategies, it’s time to focus on building a genuine and engaged audience.

Start by identifying where your target audience hangs out online.

Is it Instagram, Twitter, or perhaps a specific forum or online community? And no, you don’t have to show up somewhere you don’t enjoy, nor do you need to be everywhere if you don’t want to be.

Once you have a clear understanding of their online presence, you can tailor your promotional efforts to reach them effectively.

Social media platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter, can be powerful tools for reaching out to your target audience. Engage with them through posts, thoughtful comments, and even direct messages.

Building a community around your podcast is crucial for nurturing long-term listenership. Consider organizing Q&A sessions, giveaways, or collaborations with other podcasters to make your content more engaging and interactive.

Embrace Unconventional Marketing to Get More Podcast Listeners

While traditional marketing methods have their place, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something new.

Consider allocating a small portion of your marketing efforts to experimental strategies, aiming to captivate your audience in different ways. And remember, the majority of people find new shows to listen to through word-of-mouth recommendations. So tell people about your show! Give them the chance to learn about it and promote it to others.

Other ways to experiment with your podcast marketing could mean creating short video snippets or designing eye-catching graphics to share on your social media platforms. Promotion techniques change quickly online, so keeping an underlying brand identity is key.


In short, authenticity is key.

In a world where quick fixes and shortcuts are all too tempting, staying true to your podcast’s genuine growth is more important than ever. Remember, podcasting is a long game and the podcasters who see success (whatever that means to you) have been creating content for a heck of a lot longer than you probably realise.

Building a loyal audience takes time and effort and it won’t happen overnight. But it’s well worth it.

By focusing on creating valuable and original content, promoting it to the right audience, and nurturing an engaged community, you’ll establish a solid foundation for your podcast’s success.

So, my fellow podcasters, let’s wave goodbye to the illusion of quick wins and embrace the power of batching our episodes. Take the time to prepare for the busy months ahead, and ensure you have an uninterrupted podcast schedule.

Remember, building an authentic relationship with your audience will always trump the fleeting gratification of transactional strategies.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

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Verity Sangan

Hey there! I'm Verity, Registered Nurse turned Podcast Host, Launch Strategist, and Coach.
I love all things podcasting and am passionate about getting more women find their voice through podcasts.
Host: The Lazy Girl's Guide to Podcasting & The Confident CEO Podcast