Launching a podcast is a complex process requiring time to properly plan and strategize how to start your show on the right foot. Here’s a guide of exactly what you need to get your podcast launched the right way so you can start growing your audience from day one.
Checklist Of What You Need To Launch A Podcast
Launching anything involves hard work, some strategy, and a lot of planning. So it’s little surprise that launching a podcast, with its many moving parts, takes time to properly lay out. Here’s where our checklist comes in. Below we explain the six key pieces you should have in place before officially launching your first episode.
- Submit your podcast’s RSS feed to every major podcast directory
- Have at least 3 episodes finalized and uploaded to your podcast hosting provider
- Update your podcast’s website
- Create a pre-launch teaser to generate buzz
- Plan a launch strategy across social media and email
- Prepare to continue to publish new content
Submit your podcast’s RSS feed to every major podcast directory
Timing is important here as every listening platform takes a few days to approve your show. So if you want to launch on a Thursday, submit your podcast RSS feed across each directory on Monday morning. That will give them enough time to review then send the approval email and link.
Have at least 3 episodes finalized
So how many episodes to launch with? While there is no 100% definitively right answer here we generally recommend starting with three.
The goal here is to give your audience a good, representative sample of your content so they know what to expect from the show. Work to strike a balance between publishing enough content to give your audience a taste of what’s to come, but don’t overwhelm them with an enormous amount of episodes up front.
Publishing 10 episodes on the first day, for example, would likely mean that 5+ of them would never be played. Best to save those extra episodes for your regular publishing schedule.
Update your podcast’s website
Acting as a “home base” for your show, setting up a dedicated podcast website is crucial to the success of your launch. The biggest benefit is this will become a central place where your audience can listen to new episodes, find show notes and transcriptions, and learn more about your brand.
A podcast website is important because it also helps make your show more discoverable. By using SEO strategies, potential listeners will see your podcast episodes in their results as they search for terms related to the show, in turn growing your audience.
Castos creates customizable podcast webpages for you automatically. Every episode is available in one place and you can update the look and feel to match your show’s branding.
Create a pre-launch teaser to generate buzz
Creating buzz before the official launch can go a long way so this step shouldn’t be skipped. For a more manual approach, lean on your network and ask them to post about the show across their social channels or to leave initial reviews for your episodes. Building this core bit of momentum can be the social proof others need to give your show a chance when you officially roll it out.
Another approach we love is using a pre-launch contest where entrants are encouraged to share your content via social media or sign up for your newsletter in return for the chance to win a prize. This strategy will help build your launch email list and get potential listeners excited about the show.
When deciding on the right prize, make sure it attracts primarily the people who will engage with your podcast. While giving away an iPad will draw in a lot of people and help distribute your content further, they’re unlikely the people who will further your podcast long term.
Plan out a launch strategy
Before you launch, it’s important to have a strategy in place to promote your podcast. Simply uploading to your host isn’t enough. You need a multi-channel approach to generate buzz and drive people to your website or your show’s listing on their favorite podcast directory. Furthermore, you should tailor your promotions to fit each platform (e.g., colorful images work best on Instagram, but it’s better to go with a text-based promotion within your newsletter.) Consider these main avenues to launch with a splash.
Develop a social media plan
No two podcasts are the same so your specific social media strategy should meet your audience where they already are. Unless you have a massive brand with unlimited resources, get strategic about choosing which social media channels will best generate the most awareness for your show. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of best practices for podcast social media promotion to refine your approach. Then check out our guides below were we dig deeper into how to promote a podcast across Facebook and Instagram:
- How To Promote A Podcast On Facebook
- How To Build A Podcast Community Using Facebook Groups
- How To Promote A Podcast On Instagram
Develop an email marketing plan
Your email subscribers will likely become your most engaged listeners as they’ve specifically decided to receive personal communications from you. Building a podcast email list during the pre-launch phase is an effective strategy to easily share your big launch with a group of vetted users. Here are some key times to email your subscribers:
- When a new episode is available.
- When you want to tease them about an upcoming episode.
- When you’re hosting a special promotion, giveaway, sale, or event.
- Any time something special or unique happens with your podcast.
Post launch, we recommend continuing to build this list so you can perpetually promote your podcast via email throughout the lifetime of the show. While social media provides more real time engagement with your audience, high-quality newsletters will drive more ROI than most Facebook posts.
Collect ratings and reviews
Call it mob mentality, or jumping on the bandwagon, but people are more inclined to download or buy a product if other people give it glowing recommendations. The sooner you get ratings and reviews, the faster your listenership will grow.
The best way to get the ball rolling is by asking everyone you know personally to check out your podcast and leave a review, or, at least, a rating. You should do this from the very beginning of your show. The best places to ask for subscribers, ratings, and reviews are:
- Email newsletters
- At the end of your show notes
- Bio pages on your social media accounts
- On the podcast episode itself
The rate in which you receive ratings and reviews is a factor for getting into the New & Noteworthy section. In fact, it’s smart to organize your family, friends, and any fans you already have to rate and review your first episodes as soon as they are released.
That said, don’t spam everyone via email or Facebook by begging for reviews. You have a great show and this act of desperation will cheapen that. Instead, encourage your tribe to subscribe and leave a review as a show of support. You should already be active and present in your target audience’s online communities, so don’t be afraid to ask for this little bump.
Engage influencers in your niche
Engaging top influencers in your podcast’s niche is critical for brand awareness. But if you want to reach hundreds of potential listeners, you have to leverage other people’s existing audiences.
According to a study by BuzzSumo, “Having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8% more social shares. Having three influential people sharing your content doubled the number of social shares. And having five influential people sharing your content almost quadrupled the total number of social shares for an article.”
Find influential people in your niche whose audiences overlap your own and engage with them online. Ask questions, comment on their posts, and share their content. Once you think they recognize your name, reach out and ask to collaborate on promotions. Offer to help them just as much as they would help you.
Optimize your calls to action
If all you’re doing to promote your podcast is adding a download link after your text that reads something boring like, “New podcast episode is live! Check it out here,” you’re probably not seeing high download numbers. That isn’t enticing enough. Potential listeners are not seeing the benefits of listening to your podcast thanks to your lame call to action.
The solution: make your call to action something that cannot be ignored by your target audience. In under 160 characters, you should be able to explain exactly what your podcast is about, and why listeners from your target audience need to hear it. Here’s an example:
“Check out today’s episode: 10 Hiking Backpacks Worth Spending Money On (+10 That Aren’t Worth It). Hear why a quality backpack is a hiker’s best friend: [insert shortened website link]”
After you record your episode and work on your show notes, grab some key highlights and use them to sum up the episode as a whole. What’s different today than the last show? If I was in an elevator with someone from my target audience, what would I want to say to them before they got off at the next floor?
Notice how we used your website link in the example post instead of the direct link to download the episode. You always want to direct listeners and potential audience members to your website where they can find your awesome show notes, download past episodes, and sign up for your newsletter.
Cross promote your content with your guests
Naturally, you’ll want to promote every episode you publish. But if you do it alone, you’ll miss out on an important marketing opportunity: your guests.
Your guests have their own online followings. In some cases, those audiences might be substantially larger than yours. You’ll want to take steps to promote to those people as well.
This is actually quite easy: You simply supply your guests with whatever marketing materials they need to promote your show. This might include images, videos, audio clips, audiograms, quotes, post copy, blog content, or anything else you think will help them promote the episode. Give them a special shortened link so you can track the effectiveness of their promotions. Part of your launch plan, therefore, should involve creating these assets for each episode.
As your show grows in popularity and guests ask to be on your show, you can eventually make cross promotion a requirement of being on an episode. Most guests are happy to contribute this way, especially if you make it easy for them.
Be ready to consistently publish new episodes post launch
After your podcast ‘launch’ is officially over, it’s time to set up systems and processes to continue publishing new episodes and developments for your show. This checklist item shouldn’t be overlooked given the time you’ve committed to finally getting your show off the ground. Make sure it’s not all for nothing by ensuring you can consistently produce new podcast content ahead of your launch. We recommend building out a content calendar and seeing if batch recording episodes is right for you.
Remember, the less content you publish after launching, the less opportunities there are for listeners to engage with you. Regularly producing new content is one of the biggest struggles for new podcasters so have a clear plan ironed out. After launching with a bang, this will ensure you can enjoy riding that momentum for months to come.
So there you have it, our six item checklist to launch your podcast in style. Following this launch guide will ensure that your show hits the ground running, starts growing a listenership, and gains the extra notoriety you’ve been looking for.