How my podcast reached one million downloadsNov 11, 2021
I have been consistently podcasting since 2015. I currently host four shows, and the process of recording and editing content has become part of my daily routine. I look forward to creating content. I find it enjoyable and often relaxing. I'm also grateful for the feedback I receive from listeners. I experience great satisfaction in knowing that what I'm producing helps improve the qualify of life of others, even in a small way.
At present, my shows have been downloaded over 6.5 million times, and that number seems to be growing exponentially. On any given day, my shows are downloaded more times than they used to be downloaded in an entire month.
When one of my shows reached one million downloads, many people who follow what I'm doing online were shocked. What seemed initially to be a hobby, had turned into a full-fledged platform that was connecting with thousands of people every day. Since reaching that milestone, I have been asked by other podcasters to share some of the insights I have gained through this experience. Most want to know how I did it, or what I would recommend to them as they try to grow their shows.
I have given this a lot of thought, and there are many finer points I could share about the subject if we really wanted to dig deep, but when I step back and look at what I have been learning, I think there are nine primary reasons I was able to exceed one million downloads.
1. It's a daily show
My most popular show is called "The Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible." Each day I read one chapter of the Bible, then I share a short prayer related to whatever topics were addressed in the passage. Most episodes are about seven minutes long, and I release a new episode every single day. That certainly contributes to my download numbers. My most consistent listeners are listening seven times per week, as opposed to once per week if it was a weekly show.
2. It's a popular topic
The Bible is the most popular, most read, most printed, most quoted book of all time. Its content has been popular for thousands of years. Many people consider its teaching to be transformative and life changing. This certainly contributes to the downloads I've been receiving.
3. It's easy to listen to
I don't enjoy when podcasts have an inconsistent sound to them. If I'm trying to listen to a show for relaxation, I don't want to be surprised by random moments of loud music or laughter. I kept that in mind when producing my show. I correctly assumed that many listeners would listen to the show when they first woke in the morning or when they were preparing for sleep at night. So I speak and use a volume level that keeps that in mind. I also incorporate soothing background music, and I don't feature ads that would deviate from that sound. People know that if they put the show on before bed, they aren't going to be jarred awake right after they drift off to sleep.
4. It's helpful and it solves a problem
Many people express a desire to read the Bible all the way through, but because it's a large book, it can be easy to give up trying. Breaking it up into daily readings that can be listened to helps solve that problem. I'm giving listeners an easy way to internalize the content they've been curious about, and I'm offering them a very portable option that can be consumed while driving or getting ready in the morning.
5. I'm consistent
My audience knows that each morning, a new episode will be available. I don't skip days, and I haven't since starting the show. My show is a reliable and predictable part of their daily routine. I have essentially trained my audience to expect a new show each morning. I think they'd be shocked if it wasn't there waiting for them when they woke up.
6. I encourage my listeners to share the show
At the end of each episode, I record a brief outro. Sometimes the outro references a resource on my website, but in the early days of the show, I would frequently ask my audience to share the show with someone else. I'm convinced they did. I recently heard that "word of mouth" is the primary way a podcast tends to grow, and I agree with that assessment. Asking my audience for a favor to help spread word of the show really seemed to pay off.
7. I gave my show an easily discoverable name
Here's a test. Pick whichever podcast player you want and do a search for "Audio Bible." That's a phrase I think many faith-based podcast listeners would likely search for. I'm convinced that if you actually do that search, my show will show up in your feed. In fact, even though I call the show "The Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible," it's actual name is really just "Audio Bible." That's 100% intentional because I wanted it to be easily discoverable. Unless you're a celebrity, I think it's a mistake to give your show an obscure title. Your title should make it very easy for someone to find your show and know what it's all about.
8. I think my cover art is attractive
When I'm searching on Amazon for a book, I can almost always tell which books have been self-published and which books are traditionally published just by looking at the cover. There are some excellent covers and poorly designed covers in both spaces, but in general, traditionally published books have better covers. Thankfully, there are tools like Canva that can help people like you and me create attractive and professional looking designs for our podcast's cover art.
Give your show a good look. It can only help. Ask others for feedback as well before you settle on your design. It will make a difference when someone is searching for a new show to listen to. I think shows with better cover art are more likely to be chosen.
9. I'm persistent
When I committed to record every chapter of the Bible, I knew it was going to take me about three years to complete that task. Interestingly, that's exactly how long it also took to reach my first million downloads. I didn't expect to reach that milestone the first week I started my show. Nor did I expect to reach that number in my first year. But three years of persistence paid off, and now my show is downloaded several million times a year. Based on its current track record, I can foresee a day when it may be downloaded more than a million times each month. At its current rate of growth, that day may be very soon.
So if you've been podcasting for a while, or if you're about to launch a show, I hope some of these suggestions will help you in your journey. Podcasts are a rewarding and helpful medium for communicating a message. I'm so glad I got involved in creating my shows several years ago, and I hope you enjoy great success with your show as well.
Share your knowledge and insight, and experience the joy of making someone else's life a little better.
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