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How to Grow a Podcast from Zero to 400k Downloads Each Month

by Sean Ogle | Last Updated: October 17, 2013

Note from Sean: I’m on the tail end of of my golf road trip, so starting next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming.  But today I have something exciting for you.

John Lee Dumas is the founder of Entrepreneur on Fire and has grown his podcast from zero to over 400k downloads a month in less than a year.  He’s found a formula for success that few people have reached with podcasting and today he shares exactly how to do it.

Earlier this week he actually released a podcast with me over on the site, so be sure to check that out as well.

But for now, take it away John!

When I first came up with the idea to start a daily podcast interviewing today’s most inspiring and successful entrepreneurs, I didn’t know what to expect.

Like most when they first take their entrepreneurial leap, I was scared, and I was more or less prepared to launch a podcast that no one was going to listen to.

While I didn’t see a significant number of downloads in the first couple of days after launching EntrepreneurOnFire, I am now seeing massive downloads every day. To give you an idea of this number, EntrepreneurOnFire had 419,721 unique downloads in August alone.

I’m often asked by others, “How did you get to where you are now?”

Well, I came up with the idea to start EntrepreneurOnFire after running out of podcasts to listen to.

At the time, I was driving a lot for my job as a commercial real estate broker, and there were several daily activities I did that seemed like ideal times to be soaking up entertaining and educational content. In addition to my drive time, activities like working out and taking my dog for walks were ideal listening times for me.

I loved business podcasts, especially those that interviewed entrepreneurs. I was always so interested in the entrepreneur’s story – how they came up with their idea, and the steps they took to turn that idea into a scalable business.

It got me feeling really fired up, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, this passion that was building inside of me for this specific type of content would be exactly what would push me over the edge and into my own entrepreneurial venture.

So back to the day when I ran out of podcasts to listen to during one of my drives…

At that moment, I realized that no one was coming out with a daily podcast that interviewed Entrepreneurs. I knew I wasn’t the only one who found myself in a car, working out, or walking my dog on a daily basis. If I want this type of consistency, others out there must want it, too.

This idea for more consistent content, paired with my loved for hearing about entrepreneurs who had a passion for something, and who found a way to turn that passion into their work, resulted in the creation of EntrepreneurOnFire.

So this sort of answers the question, “How did you get to where you are now?” … but let’s really dive in:

If you have a passion for something, or if you’ve discovered a niche that you want to fill, or if you simply want to add podcasting as another medium to get your message out, here are the very first steps I took – and that you can take, too – in order to make it all happen.

Step 1: Establish Your Topic

What’s your niche?

Ask yourself very specific questions about what niche you are trying to fill. If you think you’ve found your niche, then niche again. Niche until you simply can’t niche any more… niche until it HURTS.

It is so important that you target a very specific market with people who are looking for a product, a service or a solution to a problem or need they currently have. If you’re trying to talk to everyone, or even to multiple types of people, then you’ll end up talking to no one. Get specific!

Who is your avatar?

Create an avatar for yourself so you know exactly who you’re talking to. What do they look like, what are their habits, where do they hang out, what do they like and not like?

Being able to name your niche and identify your avatar will help you in establishing why you’re different from the other businesses (or podcasts) in your industry.

Step 2: What type of podcast do you want to create?

There are several questions to ask yourself when deciding what type of podcast you want to create. Here are a few that will help you narrow it down:

Answering these questions will help you narrow down your task list moving forward. For example, if you’re going to self-host your show and do an interview format, then you need to start figuring out who you’re going to interview.

Step 3: Create your mission statement

It’s important to be very clear about what it is you’re offering your audience. By creating a mission statement you’ll not only help yourself stay focused (this is a great piece of information to constantly refer back to as you continue to grow), but you’ll also be creating the backbone of your communications.

What is your podcast about and why should your audience want to listen to it (how is it going to help your audience)? Why is it different from other podcasts already out there? What are you trying to accomplish from starting your podcast?

Step 4: Establish your goals

Setting up goals for yourself that you can refer back to at any stage in your business is integral to actually being able to achieve those goals. There will be a lot of crazy things happening at once sometimes, and there will be a lot of distractions along the way.

Keeping yourself focused on your goals is integral to achieving success. You can do this by continuing to ask yourself when a new project or opportunity presents itself: “How does this fit into my goals for the business?

If it isn’t helping you get one step closer to achieving the goals you’ve set, then you should put it on the backburner and revisit at a later time.

Step 5: Start building your platform

Your platform is the foundation from which all of your communications will spring. It’s important to have at least a few things in place prior to launching your podcast, but don’t feel as though everything has to be perfect for you to start.

Here are a few key things you should lead with in order to build a strong platform:

  1. Set up your Website so that once your podcast goes live you’ll have a place to direct your audience to for other goodies like show notes pages, tools, resources, videos and more.
  2. Make sure you create an opt-in for your homepage that allows people to sign up for your email list. Having a giveaway to offer those who signup for your list is a great way to get targeted prospects who are interested in the products you may be offering in the future.

Building an email list is an important element to being able to communicate with your audience in an effective way.

  1. Social Media is also a very important platform to have a presence on. This will allow you additional marketing channels and is yet another way you can advertise your podcast and each of your episodes. Social media is also a great way to engage with your audience so they can start to get to know, like and trust you as someone who is going to continue to provide them with value.

Step 6: Create, Grow, Monetize

Once you’ve figured out what your podcast looks like, who it’s for, what your purpose and goals are and where you’ll drive your audience for more information, the fun begins!

Create

When you first launch, regardless of whether your show will be bi-weekly, weekly or daily, you should start off by publishing 3-5 episodes on the first day. You should also be sure to have a “bank” with several episodes ready and waiting so that you don’t find yourself up against a wall.

You want to create as much consistency as possible so that your audience begins to learn they can depend on you and your content.

Grow

Maximize your time in the iTunes News & Noteworthy section. You only have 8 weeks to take advantage of this prime real estate in iTunes. Being in this section will allow your podcast to be found organically, and therefore, you’ll be reaching potential audience members who would have otherwise never heard of or found about your podcast.

Another way to gain momentum for growth is, if you’re doing an interview show, to ask your guests to share their episode when it goes live. This will also open the door to a new audience that you may have never been able to reach otherwise.

If you’re not doing an interview show, then ask your audience for support. Ratings and reviews in iTunes are very important for rankings, and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your fans and followers for this support.

Finally, check out resources like HARO to find opportunities to get your name out there. This might be through being on other podcasts as an interviewee, writing guest posts for blogs or other online resources, or even PR opportunities.

Monetize

I started EntrepreneurOnFire not expecting to make a dime for a really long time – monetizing was not at the core of my strategy with the podcast by any means. I was focused on providing value first, which is what I would recommend to anyone who is starting a business.

That said, there are multiple ways to monetize as you grow your audience:

If there is a specific product or service that you believe could be of interest to your audience, go to their website and look for an Affiliate tab and sign up for the program they offer.

This takes time since sponsors really look for opportunities to be on shows with a lot of downloads and a big audience. I wouldn’t focus on this if you’re just starting out, as it could take away from the attention you should be putting into creating a great podcast that people want to listen to.

If you have a specific skill or knowledge set that you know your audience wants to learn more about, then you can offer coaching packages. For example, if your podcast focuses on leadership principles, you could offer coaching packages to help people become better leaders.

Once you’ve identified a problem or pain point that your audience has and that you can solve, you can start creating products and/or services that can help them. This is another monetization option that may take some time since you’ll want to allow your audience to become familiar with you, and come to know, like and trust you. Once you’ve gained authority and credibility, your audience will believe that what you’re providing will be of benefit to them.

So, if you’re looking for tips and techniques on how to get started with your own podcast, and better yet, how to grow your podcast from zero to a whole lot of downloads in a short period of time, then follow these steps to success!

What stage of your podcasting journey are you in, and what are the next steps you’ll take to achieve your goals?

Other resources to help you on your podcasting journey:

Podcast Launch: A Step-by-Step Podcasting Guide Including 15 Video Tutorials

If you’re interested in joining a community of podcasters who are looking to create, grow and monetize their podcast, then join us in Podcasters’ Paradise. Enjoy video tutorials that will walk you through every step of your podcasting journey, a live Forum filled with other podcasters who you can connect with, and monthly Webinars from podcasting experts.

John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a podcast that interviews today’s most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week. His book, “Podcast Launch” the #1 ranked book in Amazon on podcasting. EntrepreneurOnFire generates over 400,000 unique downloads a month with past guests such as Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Guy Kawasaki.  Recaps of the 300+ episodes and MUCH more can be found at EOFire.com. Prepared to IGNITE!

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Build a Lifestyle Business Giving You Freedom You've Always Wanted

Our 6-part course gives you a strategy to start right now. Put control of your life back in your hands. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

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