Podcast Production

How to Start a Podcast Without an Audience

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Celebrities have it easy, don’t they? They tell the world they’re starting a podcast and get thousands of listens on their first episode. 

But you – like most people – probably don’t have a stadium full of devoted fans who hang on to your every word. Your podcast won’t have any day-one listeners. You have to build it all from scratch. 

Don’t worry, you aren’t alone! Many podcasts start this way. It’s totally possible to start a podcast without an audience. 

Starting a podcast without an audience is pretty similar to starting any podcast, but with a few little twists. In this guide, we’ll explain the special considerations you should make if you don’t have any audience at all. 

(For basic advice on creating a show, like naming, recording, editing, and marketing, make sure to check out our full guide on starting a podcast.)

Create an Interesting Concept

In order to start a podcast without an audience, it’s important to understand what your podcast is about. You need a crystal clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish with your content. If you don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve, your audience won’t either. 

Furthermore, we strongly recommend creating a podcast concept that is unique. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd by offering something different than other podcasts in the same category. This is a great way to attract those early listeners.

Being different could mean showcasing your unique expertise or it might mean inviting hard-to-get guests. You might address an ordinary topic but with an interesting format. 

For example, Hardcore History produces episodes that are three hours or more, which is far outside the average podcast length. Witness History presents popular events “told by the people who were there.” You just have to find the angle that works for you.

Keep Your Expenses to a Minimum

As a new podcaster, your resources will be limited. If you spend too much cash too quickly, you will run out of funds before your audience grows. Your job, therefore, is to stay as lean as possible. That means…

  • Buy only the equipment you need. 
  • Don’t pay pricey booking fees to guests. 
  • Don’t record in a pay-by-the-hour studio. Do it at home. 
  • Opt for organic marketing campaigns (as opposed to paid ads). 
  • Learn how to record and edit yourself. 

When you start a podcast without an audience, it often helps to start with a podcast budget to keep yourself on track. 

You Don’t Need Guests, But They Help

If you don’t have an audience, you probably also lack a network of people who are willing to join your show as guests. That’s fine. You can make it work without guests, as long as you’re willing to monologue for a while (or riff with your co-host). Don’t avoid starting!

That said, look out for guests as soon as you can. Guests are great content generators. They provide most of the meat of your episodes on their own. They can also expose your show to their audiences, which is an organic and powerful way to grow. 

Make Your Show Available Everywhere

When you’re building an audience from scratch, it’s important to make your show available everywhere in order to capture as many listeners as possible. Distribute your show to all of a major podcast listening apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube Podcasts (formerly Google Podcasts). 

Put your show on every smaller platform as well since it’s free. Check out our list of all the podcasting listening apps and directories. Then republish every episode as a YouTube video.

Don’t Worry About Monetization Right Now

It’s tempting to think about all the money you’ll make one day as a podcaster. There are tons of ways to monetize a show, such as, sponsorships, merchandise, courses, and more. But as a brand new podcaster without an existing audience, you aren’t ready for that yet.

Monetizing your content has the unfortunate effect of reducing the size of your audience. That’s just a fact of podcasting. Even if your monetization is reasonable and tasteful, some people will abandon your show as soon as you push them to buy something.

In the beginning, you can’t afford the loss of even a single listener. You need as many followers as possible recommending your show to their friends in order to grow. So while you may have the means and opportunity to make a few dollars from your podcast, leave that until later.

Purchase Reasonable Equipment

Well it’s possible to podcast with the built-in microphone and camera that come with your laptop, we definitely don’t recommend it. Audiences want to hear crystal clear audio in their podcast content (and high resolution video in their video podcast content).

This means you will need a few pieces of specialty gear, such as a microphone, mic stand, and pop filter. You’ll also need recording software and editing software.

You also need a suitable recording space, but this is something you can create in your home or office. You don’t need to purchase expensive studio time.

Check out our article on podcasting equipment for any budget. In that guide, we help you pick out the right equipment for different sized budgets. You can get suitable gear even if you only have $20 or $50 to spend. 

Over time, as your show grows, you can reinvest your revenue into better equipment. but in the beginning, when you don’t have an audience or any income, keep it simple.

Get a Complete Transcription of Every Episode

As a new show, your website definitely needs the SEO juice that comes from written content. More web traffic means more listeners, so get a complete transcription of every episode and post it on the episode’s page of your website. 

Transcripts will put written content on your site that Google and other search engines use to send traffic. It also gives something for other websites to link to. This is a very simple and cheap way to bring new people to your website.

start a podcast without an audience: use a podcast transcript

Every episode you publish on the Castos platform can be automatically transcribed into a complete, word-for-word account of your episode, for free.

We’ve teamed up with the industry-leading text-to-voice technology provider to offer an entirely seamless transcription experience that is available to all of our Castos hosting customers.

Learn more about automatic transcripts

Don’t Bother with a Launch Event

Building hype for a new podcast (or a new anything) is a huge challenge. You have to find a way to get people to care about your content, but without a name that everyone knows, this is nearly impossible. That means a big launch is probably out of the question. 

So don’t bother. Don’t have a launch event or party. Don’t make a big deal about publishing your first episode. Drop about three episodes at one time so new listeners have a few things to listen to and then promote them as you would normally.

Yes, this method is quiet and undramatic, but it’s better than spending a bunch of time and money planning a launch event that no one attends. 

Keep Plugging Along, Even When You’re Discouraged

As a new podcaster trying to start a podcast without an audience, it’s easy to grow discouraged when no one listens to your show. You’ll struggle with self-doubt and low motivation. You’ll start to turn your attention toward other projects and commitments. 

However, it takes a while to build an audience. You might publish 10 or 20 episodes before anyone listens. Try not to look at your download and listen numbers for a while. Podcast analytics are important, but only if you have some. Just keep producing and promoting episodes. 

It helps to come up with a podcasting workflow that minimizes your time and effort as much as possible. You will be much more likely to create if the burden is low.

Start Posting on Social Media Right Away

If you want to start a podcast without an audience, you don’t have the luxury of waiting around until people find you. You have to be aggressive about putting your content out in the world and then communicating  with the people who engage with it.

Social media is the best tool for this. Build your social media profiles long before you publish your first episode. Start posting about your upcoming content before you publish anything. Then, post numerous times about each episode.

Learn more about social media marketing for podcasts in our full guide. 

Be Yourself and Have Fun

There’s no reason podcasting should make you miserable. If you aren’t having fun, change something to make the experience more pleasurable. In many cases, this means being true to yourself by exhibiting your natural personality, rather than trying to be something you’re not. 

You Can Start a Podcast Without an Audience

Like many creators, you have what it takes to start a podcast without an audience. It’s not as easy as publishing for an existing community, but with consistency and time, you should be able to grow your own audience. Use the advice in this article plus the process in our how to start a podcast guide to start creating today!

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Dennis is a content marketer and web developer with years of experience helping startups and small businesses build their online platforms. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter.

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