540 episodes | 520K+ downloads

Supporting image for How to Grow Your Podcast – Jeff Dolan
How to Grow Your Podcast – Jeff Dolan
Social Agent

Podcasting can be a powerful marketing channel, but how do you grow an audience? What type of podcast format would work for your business? How to you grow your listenership? In this week’s episode, Jeff Dolan, the CEO of Wavve, shares his experience and answers your podcasting questions! 

Rich: My guest today is the CEO of Wavve, an online platform that helps podcasters and other audio creators keep marketing simple. He’s a podcaster and award-winning filmmaker who loves to encourage creators of all stripes. He also writes the email newsletters for Wavve, which I’ve been a subscriber to and fan of for years, so I pestered him until he agreed to come on my podcast. 

Today we’re going to be diving into how to grow your podcast with Jeff Dolan. Jeff, welcome to the show.  

Jeff: Rich, great to be on.  

Rich: So first, tell me a little bit about Wavve. What do you guys do exactly?  

Jeff: Yeah, so Wavve helps mostly podcasters, but also audiobook authors, radio hosts, anybody that’s creating audio, to easily promote their podcast or their audio on social media. And so I think a lot of folks are trying to get more listeners. And we want to make that as easy as possible.  

Rich: Excellent. Because that’s exactly what I want and what almost every other podcaster in the world wants. Before we get into how to grow our podcast audience, why do you feel that podcasts should be part of a business’s marketing and content creation plan? Or should it?  

Jeff: Yeah, I think it’s a powerful, longer-term branding play for businesses. Because I think the marketing difficulty and the discoverability of podcasts makes it long term. This is not something that you’re going to just create a podcast and overnight all these people are going to be flocking to your business. But it’s a very strong positioning tool that you can use as a business to create the kind of cultural artifacts or conversations that you want to have in your market. And I think if you do it right, you can really build a brand over time that attracts the kind of customers and clients that you want to work with. 

Rich: I totally agree. It is hard. It’s interesting. On one hand, if you watch TV shows, it seems like everybody has a podcast on TV these days. But at the same time, and we live in a podcast friendly world, so you and I probably know tons of podcasters. And yet there’s a lot of people where that’s just not how they get their content. So it is a little bit more of a niche audience than you might find through blogging or some of these other channels, which I think is why some people might be hesitant. But I love your approach that it is a longer-term play. And since this episode will be somewhere near 490, obviously I’m in it for the long term. 

Jeff: Wow, congrats!  

Rich: Thanks. I just don’t know when to quit. So what are some of the ways that you’ve seen businesses be able to leverage a podcast to help grow their business, not just to become podcasters? 

Jeff: Yeah. And that’s a great question because a lot of businesses come at it a little bit from I would just say an uneducated perspective. A lot of folks come at it like either this is not for business, it’s a waste of time because I can’t tie a direct ROI to it. Or they come at it like it’s just a hobby, it’s a popular thing. They don’t really understand the strategy behind it.  

And so if you’re coming at it like a business branding play, then the question should be like, how do I become part of the conversation that our clients are having. So how do you insert yourself as a business into that conversation and position yourself as a guide to get this, the solution that people want, or the solution to it or the answer to the questions that people are asking in your market. 

And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to create the conversations where the answers start leading back to your company. And so over time, the more podcast episodes you put out in the market, it should be a virtuous cycle that kind of leads people back to, okay, this company is really doing something in our market. You’re providing quote unquote “value”. Which means you’re answering the questions that people have and you’re helping them in some way.  

And so there’s tangential ways to do it, right? So if you’re a big brand that might just sell, I don’t know, whatever it is, if you’re just selling soap, you might have a podcast about body image or beauty or any of these like kind of tangential things that your customers share with you, right? And so they grow an affinity for the podcast. They grow an affinity for what you’re talking about, and that represents your brand. And they’re like, why don’t I just get my soap from this company because I trust them now and I have a relationship with them because of this podcast I’m listening to. 

And I think the same goes for TV shows or any kind of music. We grow to like a certain artist, they start promoting, even YouTubers now. The Paul Brothers, they’ve done a great job at this, right?  I think it’s Jake Paul. I’m probably going to mix up which one, but one of them has a drink brand. So if you’re a gamer and you’re a YouTuber and you like listening to his podcast, you’re going to buy his drink, right? Because you have a trust there. And so it’s not like he’s creating a podcast that says, “buy my drink”, even though he says that his podcast is more of a cultural podcast. But he’s selling something and using that platform now. His model might not be your model as a business. You might just be an accounting company, or I don’t have his audience to start off with, right? 

And so I think the thought behind it is, okay, but your customers are trying to solve problems and they’re going to the internet to ask questions. They’re going to Google, they’re trying to search, they’re trying to find. How can you position yourself to have conversations around those issues to where they put it together that, okay, I can go to you to find out this information. 

Rich: Absolutely. It’s definitely a way in which we can establish some credibility and authority, even if it’s not the most discoverable platform out there, at least today.  

You mentioned we want a bigger audience, you said that earlier. Everybody wants a bigger stage, a bigger audience. I am no exception. How do we reach a wider audience with our podcast? Assuming that’s the right question to ask. Maybe it’s not, maybe it’s about just getting a small audience that’s exactly who you need. But do you think one’s more important than the other? And if we’re trying to get a bigger audience, what are some of the first steps we should consider?  

Jeff: Yeah. So I think this is where a lot of folks try to be the Joe Rogan’s or the Oprah’s right off the bat. And they’re like, if I can just attract the most people and be the most appealing to the most people, then we’ll get all these people to listen and then I can focus in on my customers. And that’s really not the right way to think about it, in my opinion. I think the more niche you go, the more you will have a relevant conversation and be able to bring value. And I think that’s the most difficult part when you’re starting at a podcast or any kind of creative endeavor is to focus, right?  

If you’re creating a business and you say, “I’m going to sell soap”. Okay, you’re going to compete with the biggest brands in the world, right? But if you’re like, “I’m going to create soap for people that run Tough Mudder races and I’m only going to sell to them when they’re done with the race. And this soap is amazing because it just takes all the mud off you in two seconds and makes you smell great for the rest of the day.” Okay, now we’re really super niche, right? And you know exactly where you’re going to market, that you know exactly who you’re going to speak to. You know exactly what the solution is. And now your tangential podcast might be around Tough Mudders. 

Rich: Suddenly you have a short list of people you can interview, a short list of topics you can speak on. 

Jeff: A hundred percent absolutely. Yeah.  

Rich: And the short list of sponsors you can go after 

Jeff: A hundred percent. Yep. The sponsors are already built into the races. You already know exactly who the top Tough Mudders are. You know exactly what you’re going to serve. And hey, by the way, we sell this soap and it’s just for you. It’s made just for you after the race. And so you have a really nice, packaged reason to exist and how to help people and what to talk about. Whereas, if you just said, “Hey we sell to everybody.” Okay, boring, right?  

Rich: Yeah. But we don’t, and you’re going up against the biggest companies in the world at that point too. 

Jeff: Right. And they’re marketing to everyone, too. And so it’s very difficult to win that and gain any affinity or any brand recognition. And so you’re just going to struggle for years trying to be the next big thing. And I think what the marketing side does, is if you consistently do your marketing right and you’re consistently out in the marketplace, the right audience that you niche down to find will find you. 

If you know you’re only going after a Tough Mudder racer and you know what brands are arketing to them, wow, at some point you consistently putting out your podcast is going to attract them. Because one of those racers is going to say, “Hey, I was on this podcast, you should listen to it.” At some point, the arrows are going to point back to you. Whereas if you’re just a big, general brand trying to just be something to everybody, there’s nobody that’s really going to be pointing back to you. It’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to be here or there.  

And one of the key principles of marketing is the time horizon that this stuff happens in. You want people talking about you in a compressed amount of time to get any sort of momentum going. They can find out, if one or two people find out about you once every month, it’s going to take a long time to get any sort of conversation happening where people are referring you and sharing your stuff or whatever. 

But if you’re out there all the time and you’ve got some of the people that are influencing already in the field talking about you and you’re having that conversation with them, that speeds up the amount of people that are talking about you in a compressed amount of time. 

Rich: So let’s assume that person listening right now has chosen his or her niche and they’ve created a podcast, whether it’s about soap or whether it’s about accounting or whatever it’s about. They’re doing what we suggest, and they’ve niche down. How then do we get in front of other people? And I know that Wavve obviously does a lot with social media. So what are some of the tactics that you’ve seen on social media that can help attract that wider audience?  

Jeff: Yeah, so it’s really about creating on-ramps into your content. And so at Wavve, one of the things that we do is we turn your audio into video. So the ability to catch somebody’s eye in the social feed as they’re scrolling is really key, and video has a major part of that. But there’s a lot of podcasters that don’t want to be face on video and they don’t want to constantly have the pressure of I got to get on video all the time and dance around and it’s just crazy. 

But I can take a really nice headshot or a really nice business picture and put that with a clip of my audio. And as long as I’m titling that and put some… Wavve helps you create some animation, some captions, something that just catches your eye when you’re scrolling, so that I take a moment to say, “Actually this topic is interesting to me. I’m going to just pause here and listen to this for a second.” 

Now you’re taking what just was embedded in a half hour podcast at minute 17. Now you have that 30 second clip available on social media where that’s interesting enough where I’m going to now say, “Actually, I want to hear the rest of that. Let me go, where’s the link?” And I click the link to the podcast and listen to the whole thing. Now you’ve engaged somebody.  

That was just one on-ramp though, right? Maybe the person’s not going to click on that time. Maybe that topic was good enough. You delivered the value in the 30 seconds. I learned something. I keep scrolling. Okay. But now you compound that over every day, every week, every month. Now the 10th time I do that, the 20th time I do that, I’m like, I’m just going to listen to the podcast because I’m listening to so many of these clips and I’m resonating with them so much, I just got to listen to this guy, right? And now they turn into a subscriber.  

I just read a tweet the other day where this lady was saying that she was embarrassed because she finally subscribed to a podcast that she’d been lurking on their content on social media for a year. And they finally “converted her”, quote unquote, into an actual subscriber to listen regularly to the podcast. It’s a little bit of a tough sell, right? Because you’re basically putting all this content, doing all this work to get out on social media, to build these on-ramps, these little trailers, these little clips that they can then, say, yes I’m interested in that singular, little topic or idea to then click through to your podcast to become a subscriber.  

That could take months. That could take years. And so that’s why if you’re constantly out there and you’re constantly building your audience, that momentum is going to help build that. And that’s where that patience comes in. That’s where the long term comes in. And it’s also where I think another piece that a lot of folks miss in the marketing of it. Typically, if you’re running a business, one of the first goals is to build an audience. But then at some point you have to monetize the audience, and you can do that in a number of ways. 

And what I mean by that is, what value are you going to provide beyond the content that you’re creating? So if you’re helping them change their lives in some way, if you’re giving them a product that can make their lives better, happier, healthier, wealthier, at some point you’re going to introduce something, or you’re going to become a platform for other brands to bring value. So one or the other, you’re going to create enough value in the platform where you’re going to be able to monetize it in a way that makes what you do easier, fun, more fun, better, right?  

Because I think we can get in this grind of I know the principles of marketing a podcast and I know it’s going to be a long-term game, and I’m going to grind through and I’m going to do this. But at some point you have to see that momentum and monetize it for you to take it the next step to go to the next level, right?  

Rich: And I think that looks differently for different people. Some people are after the sponsorship dollars. And some people are for lead gen. I mean for me, there’s a lot of benefits I get out of having this podcast, including being able to talk to super smart people like you. But it’s also, obviously I get to talk about my company a little bit. I get to talk about our annual conference when we have one. So there’s other ways in which I monetize this podcast, even though nobody’s paying me to show up. And there’s no sponsorship dollars because we don’t happen to take sponsors on this show. So yeah, so when people hear ‘monetization’ they may be thinking like, oh, I have to sell an eBook or something. That’s not what you’re saying, although that’s a perfectly acceptable way of monetizing your podcast and the investment you’re making in it. 

Jeff: Right. A hundred percent. Yeah. It could be different for everybody. Exactly. And you could not sell for a whole season of your podcast. And then in episode 300, you mention, “Hey, I’ve got a conference.” Or, “Hey, I’m releasing a book”, or, “Hey, I have a new course that I’m coming out with.” Or, “Hey, buy my soap”, or whatever it is, right? And so I think that’s where you have to just figure out what are you promoting? What are you selling?  

And some people, they really don’t like that idea at all. They cringe at that. Now, hopefully this is more of a marketing type of conversation where we can talk freely about that. But some people, they bristle at that. They say, oh, you’re trying to sell me something, right? And I think the way to approach that is to say, no, I’m trying to make more podcasts, right? I’m trying to do more of what I want to do and talk about the things I want to talk about. And to do that I need your help and I need you to help me continue.  

And I always say that in a film world, you’re trying to earn enough money to make your next film. If you’re a musician, you’re trying to make enough money to make your next album. And so it’s help me to help you. And so this is how you can do that. And you’re inviting the listeners to be a part of what is happening. And sometimes there’s really creative ways to do that. 

Rich: And this also could go off on a completely different tangent. But I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and I’ve learned that there are some people that no matter how much you give away for free, the second you ask them for anything, they’re like, “Oh, I knew this was coming.” Yeah, we all knew it was coming. And the bottom line is, if you can’t afford $19 for my eBook, then you’re probably not a good customer for me. I’m not forcing it on you.  

There’s a hundred episodes before this that you can listen to for free, and a hundred more coming. But if you want the eBook, you can buy it. There’s always going to be that person who feels that we should be doing everything for free and never have a hook. And those people are usually not good business people. So just live and let live.  

Jeff: They’re just not even thinking about any of the content they consume, in reality, right? Like the blockbuster movies that come out every summer or every year. You think they do that just for free? Just so everyone can just watch a great movie? No. They’re making billions of dollars off that.  

So you can look at it like, oh, the new, whatever fantasy or superhero movie, they’re just trying to make money off me. Yes. Yeah. Exactly. It’s a trade, but they make really good movies or maybe really poor movies, however you want to look at.  

Rich: But I’ll watch them either way because, you know, comics. No I think that’s a very good point. And I think we just need to put out the content that makes sense for us. And you’re always going to have some people who are cranky about the ask. I think the issue is, there’s always got to be the ask if we’re doing this for business, right? And if we want to do that next podcast, even if it’s a TV show podcast, right? I think it’s just about how do you make that ask based on who you are and who your audience is. There’s always going to be a percentage of people who are offended by the ask. But the bottom line is, you have to do this. It’s not a charity, it’s part of your business.  

Which brings up a kind of contentious topic for some podcasters, the idea of sponsorships. And I’m just wondering, where you come in on, are all sponsorships bad or are they all good, or does it really depend on what you’re looking to accomplish? 

Jeff: Yeah, this is a tough topic. So getting back to what you just said around kind of authenticity. And I have to constantly do this with Wavve because I probably get 10 to 20 emails a day on, “Hey, can we sponsor?”, “Can we write a blog on your blog?” “Can we do this? Can we do that?” “Can we partner together?” Whatever it is. And it always goes through the filter of is this going to benefit our customers, our listeners. Is this a good value? Is this interesting? Because if it’s not, why are you going to accept their money or partner with them in any way. It’s going to come across very shortsighted to your listeners. And so you have to be very careful.  

So getting back to the example I used in the racing. If you all of a sudden had Twinkies as your sponsor, nothing against Twinkies, but if you’re trying to be in shape and healthy and you have some really sugary food as your sponsor, it doesn’t make sense, right? It just doesn’t. It’s not communicating what your message is. If you’re a soap company, having a food sponsor is weird, right? It’s like it’s a disconnect for sure. Like, why would I have a food sponsor on my soap for racers that are trying to be healthy? It just doesn’t make sense.  

And so I think having your brand values established, understanding your customer, what they would be interested in, and always running it through that filter of will this make sense for my customer? And then coming up with creative ways to partner. It doesn’t always have to be a direct sponsorship. You can do different things.  

I had a friend that actually created his own type of marathon racing. And he was trying to figure out how to get sponsors for his podcast on racing and marathons. And there’s plenty of sponsors that would sponsor that and love to do it. He just had to get the courage enough to ask. And so there’s brands out there that they want to get in front of your listeners, but you’re not giving them the opportunity because you’re not doing the work it takes to put together here are my listeners, here’s how many people are listening, here’s who I’m getting in front of, et cetera, et cetera. 

And a lot of the excuses are valid, right? I don’t have enough downloads. I only have five downloads a week, or whatever. I have 20 downloads or 20 listens, or I only have 5,000 listens total in the history of my podcast. So how can I get sponsors? And I think the breakthrough is when you put together the fact that the companies and brands that want to sponsor you will give you that platform. They don’t have the content. You’re the creator that can, that knows how to create the content and create the conversations that they want to then sponsor. 

So the key question is, if I do this podcast season interviewing all the top racers, all the top marathon runners in the world, will you sponsor it? And they go, oh my goodness, you’re going to get that name and that name. We’ll introduce you. Please do that.  

Rich: Yeah, that’s a good point. Because sometimes having the right sponsor adds a level of authority that you might not be able to get on your own. And I don’t know what the big brands in Tough Mudder are, but the bottom line is whatever they are, that they were going to sponsor you because they didn’t want to create content.  

And I did something similar. I ran a short one hundred episodes of a podcast called Fast Forward Maine, and it was sponsored by a local bank that was looking for business content. They basically paid all of my expenses, and I got to meet a whole bunch of local business people that I might not have gotten to otherwise. So there’s different models for podcasting, whatever your business is. And that didn’t preclude me from talking about flyte new media or The Agents of Change podcasts for that matter either. 

I want to come back to some of the promotional tactics or ways of getting in front of other people. And I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on how much of an impact, if any, SEO plays in podcasting? And what you can do either in show notes or in the podcast itself, in the meta descriptions, to increase your chances of being discovered through search? 

Jeff: Yeah, so this is a big topic. It’s a dynamic topic that’s changing right now, mainly with AI coming in strong. There’s a lot of questions in the industry right now. I still think it works really well. Even TikTok is starting to become an SEO destination, where the younger generations are not going to Google, which is really interesting. 

So if you’re already on a social video platform and you want to know about the latest on something or a topic on something, and you trust the format of somebody just telling it to you in a short, little clip. They’re searching there, right? So they’re actually going to a search in TikTok and say, “How do I market my podcast?” Or, “How do I do SEO to promote my thing”, right? And so I think it’s table stakes if you’re creating content to put the metadata or SEO text information that describes your content with your content on whatever platform it’s on. So make sure your title is not…  

Rich: “Rich’s third podcast.”  

Jeff: Yeah, exactly. Some generic title that has nothing to do with what you’re talking about. But really key in on, if I read that, would I want to click on it? Is there curiosity? Is there conflict? Is there a question? Is there something there that makes me lean in and say, I want to find out about that? Really take time on your headlines. Really take time on the titles of your podcast.  

A lot of podcasters fail on the SEO right out of the gate because they put their first half of the title as like, “episode 32 of season 10”, or whatever. Or it’s the name of the entire podcast, which is really long, and then it’s like a number, and then it’s some explanation. And what they don’t realize is more than 50% of the people are trying to listen on mobile and the name of it blocks the entire rest of the title. So I don’t even know what it’s about just by looking at it. I don’t know who you’re interviewing. I don’t know what it’s talking about, so I have to click another click to click in and read the description. And then I can’t even get it in that first little few lines, I’ve got to click into the ‘more’ and read the whole thing to even figure out what is this podcast about and do I want to listen to it? 

That’s way too much work. Nobody’s going to do that. So you lose people right out of the gate by not paying attention to SEO and describing. And this is actually a skill. And I’ve learned this too, working with the Open AI and ChatGPT. You have to actually describe the metadata about your content. And this is hard to think about, but if I was talking about search engine optimization, and let’s just say I was saying “here are three ways to optimize your podcast search titles”, and then in the podcast you’re going to talk about, here are the three ways, and you’re going to go through them. You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that, and you’re going to do this. You have to describe in the title something that is going to make them want to actually listen to that.  

And so you might not say, “The Three Tips to Optimize Your Podcast Titles”. You might say something like, “Do You Know How to Get More Listeners? We found out the top three killer reasons that you didn’t know”, or something. Your copy has to take a different route that is speaking to what the people actually want. They might not even know they need SEO, and so when they read that, they’re like, “I don’t need SEO. Why is that important to me? I don’t care.” But if you go another level deep you’ll notice, oh, now you’re talking to people that know about SEO and know it’s important. And then you’re only going to capture those people.  

So it’s the awareness spectrum. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, Don Miller in Story Brand has a really good talk on this where he’s talking about your level of awareness. When you’re deep in the weeds on a topic, you think you’re going high level by going a couple ticks more general, when really that’s still way in the weeds. So we’re marketers, and you just threw out SEO like everyone in the world knows what that is. They don’t.  

Rich: True. Hopefully if they’ve been listening to a few episodes of this podcast, they do. 

Jeff: True. Yes. Yeah, true. But I think what that says though is how difficult it is when you’re speaking as an expert or as somebody that’s knowledgeable on a podcast about a topic. You just think oh, I just describe the topic, and everybody will just know what that is and they’ll just click and listen. Maybe not. Maybe you’re too much of an expert and you need to get somebody that has no idea what you’re talking about to describe it, and then that is the kind of thing that can on-ramp new people into it.  

Or you might have a different approach where you’re like, I want to go even more deep. I want to talk to programmers that are going to use AI to figure out how to generate my show notes for me, and I’m going to go super niche. And I only want people to listen that are developers that are into that kind of thing. And so you could go the opposite way because you want a more niche listener base. But those are the questions you’ve got to be asking, I think, on the SEO front. 

Now the SEO, I think, is still important. I think what’s happening though is as more and more people start to use AI, the AI itself is going to start giving answers and it’s going to become, at least my theory is, that unless the AI is either forced or starts doing it based on customer demand to tell what their sources are, the likelihood that you’re going to get an answer summed up really nice from an AI chatbot or search engine and you’re going to actually click through to the websites that make up that answer is going to be lower. 

So even though you’re optimizing it, what you’re optimizing it now for is the AI to know that your content is what they should read back to the user. So we’re in this really weird transition in history where we got this new technology that’s the virtual if Google became a person and you’re just talking to them, now they’re not introducing you to the website that you wrote the content or the podcast that recorded. They’re just taking that data and reusing it and regurgitating it back in a summary form to the end search person.  

So I think it’s becoming more important for you as the content creator to really brand yourself and stand out in the marketplace, and that yes, it’s table stakes. You need to do SEO. You need to write good titles, good descriptions, transcribe your podcast, transcribe your video, make sure all that stuff is searchable. Create that regular content on social media. Do the same thing with all that content, but it’s going to really come down to, are you an expert in your field? Do you know, really know, what you’re talking about? Do you have that factor of I want to refer this person to my friend because I really trust what they’re talking about? Or, wow, this is a really entertaining, a really interesting conversation.  

You really got to get ahead of all that AI shift that’s coming, and really get into becoming the trusted source for whatever you’re talking about. Because at some point it’s just going to get really hard to break out, at least on the search side.  

Rich: What I’m hearing from you is that the gatekeepers are challenging when it comes to search, because basically with AI it’s almost recycling your words to present it to somebody else. It’s like you don’t get a chance to talk to the decision maker. You talk to their underling and they’re going to talk to the decision maker. You just hope that the message got through.  

One last thing I want to ask you about before I let you go today is subscriptions. And it seems like a no-brainer that we should get somebody to subscribe. But I’m just curious to know, how important do you think that aspect of building an audience and growing in audiences when it comes to podcasting? Or is that something that we just shouldn’t spend our time worrying about? 

Jeff: Yeah, I think it’s a great, new development – or maybe not necessarily new – but for podcasting to be able to say, “Hey, subscribe to my podcast and pay for it.” I think that’s a great feather in our cap as podcasters to be able to have that as an option. 

I know when the internet started, everything was just free, and everybody just gave everything away. But at some point, we all understood that it would move to a paid model at some point because we couldn’t just give everything away for free forever. And there was a lot of freemium models that came out and said, yeah, maybe we can sustain this. But ultimately, to get back to our conversation earlier, that might be one of the ways that you monetize to keep going. And you just tell your listeners, when you get to a certain base of listeners, you say, “Hey, I’d love to keep doing this for free, but I’m going to do another half an hour of my show just for paid folks. Now we’re going to talk about this, we’re going to talk about this, and we’re going to talk about this. So if you’re interested in staying on and going deeper on those three topics, subscribe and we’ll see you on the other side.” There’s nothing wrong with that.  

Rich: I even thought about the paid subscription. You just opened up a whole other can of worms there, Jeff, as I was wrapping up. I was even just thinking about just the free subscribe feature, like telling people go ahead and subscribe to the podcast. I hadn’t even considered the paid one. So that’s a whole other thing.  

Jeff: I’m sorry. Ask your question again. 

Rich: Listen, I appreciate your answer because I hadn’t even thought about the idea of asking for money for my podcast. But if anybody wants to pay me, I have a Patreon. No, I don’t really actually.  

What you described actually does sound like the YouTubers I know who have Patreon accounts where it’s, “if you want to see the behind the scenes or if you want to do this, my Patreon contributors get extra access” or whatever may be. 

But for those people who aren’t going to do it and they just want to get people to subscribe to the podcast using the free tools that are out there, is that something that they should worry about? Or is that something that every episode should have a call to action to subscribe? 

Jeff: Yeah. That’s a really controversial thing right now. Because obviously there’s a million channels on YouTube, on podcasts, where you’re a new listener, you turn it on and the first 30 seconds or the first minute is like, “Hey, support us by subscribing and doing…” I don’t even know you yet, I’m not doing that. And then skip. Oh okay, now we’re into the show.  

And so I think you have to be tasteful about it. Especially being empathetic to the fact that a lot of listeners might be, this might be the first time they’re listening, right? And don’t assume that everybody has listened to every other episode of yours. I think that’s a fallacy that a lot of folks have, content creators have, where it’s oh, you remember back in episode whatever that we talked about. No, they don’t. They didn’t listen. They weren’t there. They don’t know your story. 

For folks that I’ve listened to for a long period of time where I know their story, it can get repetitive, right? But the really good communicators, you’ll notice, they tell the same stories and their story over and over again. And it can get a little annoying. But man, it works because every new person that gets in gets to get caught up on your story. They feel like they’re a part of it again. They feel like they know your origin story, your hero story. They know the highs, the lows. They can tell it to someone else. Now even if it’s the first episode they listen to now, they’re part of the story. They can tell it now. All your historic listeners have to just be patient through that again. 

But that’s a lot more powerful than just telling them to subscribe every time, because you’re inviting them into your story and you’re building that brand. And that naturally is going to make them want to promote your show and help encourage subscriptions. And then at the end, if you want to say, “Hey, subscribe. This will help me do whatever.” And you might have different reasons for that. You might need a number to show sponsors that you’re growing or you might need it for other reasons.  

But there’s so many platforms right now that people can listen to on that. You almost need to be specific, if that makes sense. Because if you had, I don’t know, a hundred subscribers across 50 different platforms, is that really going to help you? But if you had 5,000 subscribers on just one platform, that might help you a little bit, but you need to be specific. “I want you to go to YouTube and I want you to subscribe”, or “I want you to go to Spotify. That would help me.” “If you go to just a Spotify and help me if you’re listening on Apple, don’t worry about Apple. I want you to…” whatever it is. You have to be specific about it. And you might have a Patreon, and you want them to go there, or you might have…  

So I think it depends. It’s different for everybody and it depends on what your goals are. But I do think that it’s harder today to really track subscriptions because there’s just too many different apps and platforms that people can listen on. 

Rich: Absolutely. And that’s a whole other discussion we can have another time about the black box of metrics when it comes to podcasting. But we’ll save that for another time. Jeff, this has been great. If people want to learn more about you or they want to learn more about Wavve, where can we send them? 

Jeff: Yeah, so personally you can follow me as Jeff Dolan – D O L A N – on all socials. And then with Wavve it’s just wavve.co with two v’s. There’s a weekly blog and podcast there that I put out on podcast marketing.  

Rich: Excellent. And we will have all those links in the show notes. Jeff, thanks so much for your time today. 

Jeff: Awesome. Thanks, Rich. 

 Show Notes:  

Jeff Dolan and his team at Wavve helps his clients turn their audio and video content into social media posts that drive more reach for their brands. Head on over to the website for advice in the form of the weekly blog and podcast 

As President of flyte new media and founder of the Agents of Change, Rich Brooks brings over 25 years of expertise to the table. A web design and digital marketing agency based in Portland, Maine, flyte helps small businesses grow online. His passion for helping these small businesses led him to write The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing, a comprehensive guide on digital marketing strategies.