Getting your first 100 subscribers

Your first 100 subscribers will be the toughest but the most crucial subscribers you ever acquire. They are the bedrock on which your podcast, and your business, will be built. The formula for attracting them is to remember the fundamentals and to determinedly stick to them.

Concentrate on the essence of your podcast

Ultimately, it is the work at the heart of the whole operation that will win over a subscriber. Even if every person on the planet was mandated to listen to the first five episodes of your podcast, if it doesn’t showcase your main selling point, they won’t become engaged subscribers.

Be confident in your unique voice and outlook, and revel in your subject matter or the dynamic of the interactions with your co-host. Make sure the inspiration that set your podcast in motion is in focus. The perfect audience for your take on life is out there. You don’t know who they are, and they might not know that they are the right audience for your type of show until they hear it. So make sure every time one of those people hears your podcast, your content is starting to make that connection.

For more on this, read our Content 101: How to create a pod people will pay for guide.

Make it easy for someone to become a subscriber

As soon as you start producing episodes of your podcast, get into a routine and maintain it. You stand the best chance of getting subscribers if you are providing a steady flow of regular episodes. If you are reliable then you will avoid missing potential subscribers wherever they might come from.

Some people will be hooked after the first 10 minutes they hear, but some may take three or four episodes. So make sure you are giving them enough quantity to get through the whole process. If they think they liked what they heard with the first one, have a second and a third waiting to consolidate that. If you get your first episode out there and then take a long time to follow up then everyone whose interest you grabbed will forget and move on, and you’ll have to start again.

At the same time, once somebody has listened a few episodes and is starting to get into the swing of adding it to their routine, make it easy for them to continue.

Be consistent with how you release your episodes. At least once a week, and at a regular time. If someone plans to listen to your latest episode on their commute on a Thursday but the episode doesn’t go out until Friday afternoon, they will have had to fill the commute with something else and it could be an opportunity lost.

It is impossible to pick up every single potential subscriber, but it is possible to give yourself the best chance to pick up a good proportion of them.

Advertise smartly

This doesn’t mean blowing a load of money on sponsored posts online, let alone the quaint, retro method of taking out a page in a newspaper. That sort of thing isn’t good value, especially at the start, and you are here to make money, not waste it.

  • Your own circles – the cheapest and most obvious way to advertise is obviously to just tell everyone. Presumably the people in your social circles already like you and share some of the same values or references. So let everybody know about your podcast and ask them to recommend it to anyone they think might like it. It’s a low-hanging fruit way to start.
  • Social media – smart use of social media can be the most effective way to get your podcast noticed. Despite us all being hostage to the mysterious algorithms of social media platforms, there is still a democratic element to them. To harness the power of social media you are looking to notify as many people as possible of the existence of your podcast, show them why they should care, and make it simple for them to act on that. Don’t simply spam feeds with posts shouting “I’VE GOT A PODCAST, COME AND LISTEN”. Be more considered.
    • Make use of SEO techniques by including key words and hashtags. Things that are relevant to your podcast that people will already be searching. This can be the overall genre as well as names or phrases discussed within.
    • Include a short message that explains what the podcast is about and teases some of the content. Include a clip of one of the most interesting or amusing exchanges to give a taste of the best bits – and include subtitles so nobody scrolls past because they can’t play audio right then.
    • Include a link so people can consolidate their interest by clicking directly to where they can listen and subscribe.
    • Don’t use clickbait. Posting a misleading clip or using popular but irrelevant hashtags might get people’s attention but it won’t retain it once they realise they have been tricked, so be true to the show.
  • Go to your audience – think about where the type of person who is going to enjoy your podcast will be, and what they look at. That could be physically or online. If there is somewhere that people interested in your type of content hang out or spend time online, then go there or post there and let them know.
  • Guesting – similarly, if you know of an audience that already exists for a podcast that focuses on related interests then consider making contact with the host of that show and suggest plugging each other’s podcasts or making guest appearances.

Don’t get ahead of yourself

Focus on building free subscribers, and never lose that focus. Although it is tempting to shift focus to converting everyone into a paying subscriber as soon as they sign up, the process will always be based on the success of your free content.

The engagement required to convert someone into a paying subscriber is built through your dedication to your free product, then supplemented by offering the option of more at the right time. So start as you mean to go on by putting everything into the shows that are available to everyone.