How to Grow Your Podcast

Downloads Don’t Pay Bills – How to Strategically Grow Your Podcast

Welcome, welcome to Episode 495. And I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit losing my noodle because we’re just a few weeks away, I guess several weeks away, we’re about five weeks away, because that’s how math works, from hitting Episode 500. We will go live with Episode 500 in October, the second week of October. And yeah, it’s kind of crazy. And in November, we’ll celebrate the seventh birthday of the show. So a lot of fun stuff coming ahead. Building up to Episode 500, we’re going to be talking a ton about podcasts and podcasting because A, this is what Uncommonly More does.

We do podcast production for our clients, almost all of our full service marketing clients are podcasters, so we spend a lot of time talking about podcasting, and I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve learned some things.

And so a lot of what we’re going to be talking to as we gear up to 500 are some of the lessons I have learned, and I’ll be honest, a little bit some of the frustrations and rants that I have going in my brain about how some of the people who sit where I sit, who teach or provide marketing services, sometimes talk about podcasting, the things they put emphasis on that I disagree with, and I’ll be highlighting some questions that I get from our clients who are podcasters all the time. So we’re going to start that off with this episode, which is going to get potentially real ranty. I’m preemptively nervous. Stay with me.

Downloads do not pay your bills. The electric company will not accept downloads. The bank will not accept your mortgage payment in downloads. Your office rent can’t be paid in downloads. Your team cannot get paid in downloads. And so I want you to worry less about them.

I want to talk today about why more isn’t always better and what you need to be doing to grow your podcast before you look at more. And then I want to talk about strategic content and strategic growth, because those are how we actually achieve more downloads that do pay the bills because they generate customers. And I think that this is something that is so overlooked. So often we just think about more. I want to hit my first 100 downloads, my first 500 downloads, my first 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 200,000, 500,000. We just keep moving the marker, which is good, that’s important, we should. We should set and achieve goals, and then set new ones and achieve them, and set new ones and achieve them, and so on and so forth. But also I want you to look at the purpose of your show. I want to look at why you run a show.

Full transparency, as always, I run this show as a way to nurture leads for our agency. I run this show as a way to generate interest and educate potential buyers.

That’s why Uncommonly More is the sponsor of this show and there’s not other monetization methods. So with that goal in mind, let’s look at the numbers. If this show generated two new clients a month, great. It would pay for itself. A, because we work on a retainer model, and so we add to a larger total, but also because we’re not selling a $97 product or a $27 product with this podcast. We’re selling higher end retainer services. And so I don’t need a million people to download every episode. I don’t even need a hundred thousand people to download every episode. If we can get about a thousand downloads for every episode, then this podcast will generate the leads we need to support our business.

Realistically, this has been doing this since it started getting a hundred episodes, since this was getting 10 downloads every episode.

This podcast has generated leads and clients for my business and for the services that I’ve had over the spectrum of the last several years.

So I want you to do some of that math for yourself. How many clients do you want to be bringing in a month? Unless that answer is thousands, you don’t actually need a hundred thousand downloads every episode. So let’s stop beating ourselves up for not being there. Let’s spend some time, and I’m going to slap back to the Marketing 101 Series we ran in August, let’s look at what’s actually happening. You’ve been running your podcast for a while now. Is it generating leads for your business? Is it driving traffic to your offers, your sales page, to your contact form, whatever the thing is that you’re selling, to your email list? Whatever the thing is.

And if the answer to that is I don’t know, then I want you to look at what you’re asking your leads when you talk to them. Because a question I have in every single sales call is how’d you find out about us? And often I know, because we’ve had some other interaction already on social, or they’ve emailed and mentioned the podcast, but if I don’t know when we get on that sales call, what made you book this now? How did you find us? And those two questions will often get me, “I listened to your podcast,” and sometimes a specific episode, which is really helpful, or a clear answer at where the other thing was. Oftentimes it’s, “I found your podcast,” or, “So-and-so told me about your podcast. And I listened to a bunch of episodes, and I knew I had to talk to you. I knew I had to sit down with you.” I’m like cool, the podcast works. So I want you to be thinking about what are the answers to that question for you.

If you don’t have a podcast yet, what are those answers right now? And if you do have a podcast, which I’m expecting that you might, is the podcast your answer?

And if it’s not, then we need to start looking at strategic content because more downloads, getting more listeners, is not going to change the fact that your podcast is not growing your profitability, is not growing your revenue, is not growing your business. More downloads won’t solve a conversion problem. Getting more leads in anything won’t solve a conversion problem. We see this a lot with Facebook Ads too. People will say, “Oh my Facebook Ads aren’t working. We’re not getting enough sales. Let me put more money into it.” No. Look at why it’s not getting enough sales. Is the targeting or content wrong? Is the sales page off? Maybe it’s simply that the link is broken. Because that has been a thing I have found in someone’s ads before.

So I want you to look at what’s happening now and then fix the conversion problem before we start having the downloads problem, because again, downloads for the sake of downloads will not help your business, so I don’t want you to look at that as the primary metric for success, I want you to look at conversions.

So let’s talk strategic content.

If your podcast right now is getting some downloads, any downloads, but not generating any business and growing, it’s time to take a step back and look at why. And your strategic content is why. So often I see people start podcasts, and they’re like, “I’m just going to talk about things. And I’m just going to talk about what interests me,” and they’re running with it, and then they get 20 or 50 episodes in, and they’ve been doing it for maybe a year, and they’re like, “This isn’t actually generating any business. I thought this was going to generate business.” And I go, “Great. So what have you been talking about? And what are you trying to sell with the podcast?”

And they look at me like this is somehow the first time they’ve put the two things together, which is my favorite. Like a light bulb has gone off and they’re like, “Oh, well I talk about this, but I sell these three things.” And I go, “Cool. So if we look at your episodes, we actually look at your calendar, what was the call to action to each of these episodes?”

And oftentimes not only is the content not really related to the thing they’re selling, but there’s not actually a call to action to do anything that would support the growth of their business.

Maybe it’s a leave a review, or join me on Instagram or Facebook, or join my free Facebook group, but there’s nothing to get them to commit to something with you. So get on your email list, sign up for a challenge or an opt-in that you’re featuring right then, join a program, book a discovery call, whatever the thing is.

So what I want you to look at as you’re looking at your content is I want you to look at it more strategically. As you look at your next 10 episodes, I want there to be a column on your spreadsheet or a note in your planner, wherever you keep them, that is call to action. And it is the why for that episode. It is the purpose for that podcast. For example, on my spreadsheet this podcast had next to it podcast strategy calls, because guess what, guys, this kind of conversation is exactly what we have in a podcast strategy call. This is when we pull out what you’ve done so far, we look at the numbers, and we look at what was the call to action. What did they do? What didn’t they do? And What were we selling? And we look for the disconnect, and then we use that data to plan forward.

Great, so we want to sell X, Y, and Z over the next 10 episodes, 20 episodes, or 30 episodes, or whatever it is. And that means these episodes have this call to action, these episodes have this call to action, these episodes have these call to action. And these are the conversations that we’re going to have because these are the questions that come up around this call to action.

So we’re reverse engineering from the purchase point to the education point, instead of thinking about our purchases and our education, or our value as separate things.

They’re all one journey. They’re all one road. And ideally they’re a loop. I inform, I educate, you buy, I inform, I educate, you buy again. And I inform, I educate, you buy again, until these cycled out of the work that we do and/or into a retainer for whatever work you do with them.

I think for a lot of us, there is a shelf life. Maybe you’re a coach, or maybe you work on a project basis as a consultant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be still looking at that as a loop, because then your loop just shifts to continue to educate and upsell, continue to educate and support referrals, whatever the thing is, but it’s still a loop, but it’s all connected. And so when I look at … Great, so in this episode I really want to show the value of this call to action. Here’s what they need to know before they can say yes to that purchase. And so I put together the content based on that.

Going back to our example, the pitch, the call to action for this episode is our podcast strategy calls. Cool. What do I need to inform them about before that? Well, I need to inform them about why strategy matters. I want to speak to one of the reasons a lot of people book strategy calls with me, is I want to grow my downloads, I want more listeners. Maybe you’re in that case too.

And talk around what that means.

Talk about why that may or may not be valuable and how we can make those decisions.

So that now you can come into a call with me really clear on how you want to use that hour, how you want to use that time. I hope this makes sense, but that’s what I want you to be looking at strategic content. So now let’s say you’re looking at the data and the data is saying yes, your podcast is converting into clients. Cool. So how do we look at strategic growth? Because strategic growth is where we do see an increase in downloads that do pay our bills because they convert. And so then we start looking at what are we selling in the next three months? It’s September 2020 right now. What am I going to be selling in January? Okay, well I know in January I want to roll out a physical product, a planner. I totally just thought of that. It was like a vision, guys. I’m very excited. I’m in no way launching a planner in January, but I want you to do it.

So let’s say you’re going to launch a planner in January, and that’s a low priced item. Also, there is a cost to producing that, and so your profit margins are a little different. And so you really want to be selling these at volume in a way maybe you haven’t sold volume-wise before. So you want to see some podcast growth ahead of that in January. Then we want to be building our audience in the next three to four months full of people who would buy that planner in January. Also, I’d probably sell the planner in December, but whatever.

We want to be looking at who is the customer for that offer.

Now, in the grand scheme of our business, it should be similar to the clients who would purchase our other things, especially considering this is going to be a low price, small margin kind of product, but that’s not the discussion we’re having today. For that, go talk to my good friend, Tara Newman, over at The Bold Leadership Revolution. What I want to talk about today is just the podcast, just the selling of this part of that to help it grow.

So I want to be strategically growing my podcast with that. So I’m going to be doing things that are going to put me in front of that customer, not that are just going to wildly and blindly grow my audience, but who are going to grow my audience with the people who I can sell to come December and January with that planner. And so I am looking at a really specific demographic. And so there’s a couple of ways to grow the podcast. The most effective and the most reliably on target is going to be paid advertising. That could be Pinterest, that could be Facebook, that could be Instagram, that could be LinkedIn, that could be Twitter, that could be Google. There’s lots of versions of paid advertising, but that’s going to be our most effective way to grow our listenership with the right people who are going to purchase.

A step down from that that I really love is starting to utilize my content on other platforms.

So if you’re seeing growth with what you’re doing right now, driving traffic to your podcast with the platforms you’re using right now, it’s a great time to look at who you want listening and what other platforms they’re on. So maybe you are somebody who’s going to be selling a planner. Maybe the planner is a wedding planner. I don’t know why I just thought of that, but I did. It’s a wedding planner for January. Will they even be having weddings in January? I don’t know. Anyways, it’s wedding planner, you’re going to sell it in January.

So maybe you’re seeing great results on Instagram, but now let’s start looking at Pinterest. Maybe that’s where we do the paid advertising. I mean could we get any more appropriate for a wedding than Pinterest? We cannot. And so look at what your expansion of your marketing tools for your show might be helpful. Look at where you can be resharing and repurposing more frequently your past content that you know works.

So what are your top 50 episodes, or your top 10 episodes, depending on how many you have? If you have 50, 10 is probably better. If you have 500, 50 is probably better.

Nonetheless, looking at what those numbers are is going to give you some clarity over where we can repurpose, where we’re already getting traction, and where we can repurpose the most effectively.

And in some cases, it’s just a matter of just sharing it more often. And so maybe you start bringing in Twitter and you automate regular shares through a tool, we use eclincher, to be sharing episodes more frequently. Maybe you are doing that same kind of thing on LinkedIn. Maybe you are repurposing episodes into LinkedIn articles. Let’s say it’s not a wedding planner so much as it’s a content planner, and you’re planning marketing content through this planner. Great, we can do that too. Let’s look at LinkedIn. Let’s be repurposing our best episodes into LinkedIn articles so that we have another way to grow our audience, get traction with our content, and drive people back to the podcast and the things we’re talking about selling them.

Do you see how now, now we’re using the data we have to close more frequently while increasing our listenership with people who are going to convert. We can do that because we’ve already gotten people, we’re already getting traction, and getting people to convert. And so we have data, just like what we covered in the Marketing 101 Series last month. That’s what I want you to be looking at as you look for more downloads.

Don’t go right to how do I just get more listeners, look at why you want more listeners, who you want listening, and then look at how we find more of them, because more for the sake of more is not going to be beneficial for your business. It’s just not.

There’s a lot of belief that we’ve never really made it until we’ve gotten our first hate mail or we’ve gotten our first bit of, “This is stupid,” written on a Facebook comment on an ad. And I don’t believe that. I don’t think that’s true.

With any amount of visibility, there’s going to be some people who are just trolls and have literally nothing better to do with their lives. I got this a lot when I had pink hair about how people would take me more seriously if I had red hair. I’ll be honest, you take me precisely the same amount of seriously now. But I also get it sometimes with language. That’s for another episode.

What I want you to look at is when you’re really clear on who you’re targeting, you’ll find you get a little less of that because you’re not blasting out to the masses and hoping your content runs into the right people.

You’re going and sniper-like finding your right people and getting them the information, instead of just fire hosing information at the internet and hoping that somebody who is going to be helped by it runs into it. That’s the difference in how I want you to be thinking about downloads and the growth of your podcast.

Now, if you want to talk more about the growth of your podcast, if you want to review how effective your podcast has been for you so far, and look at how to do more of that, the podcast strategy calls are a great way to do that. I love, love, love, love, love getting to sit down and talk podcasting with podcasters. So head over to and you can find more about the strategy and support calls, which is a 90-minute call with 30 days of Voxer access to me, or of course our standalone Podcast Production Hours, which is just a single session, we’re in, we’re out, you get what you need. I highly suggest coming to that call with a list of questions ready to go, because it’s the way we make the most of that time. All of that information is over at And I will see you next week.

Scroll to Top