Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of starting a podcast, but you haven’t yet because you’re afraid you won’t have time to keep up with it (or worse, that you’ll spend all that time creating it only to have no one listen). Or maybe you have a podcast that’s still getting less than 1000 downloads per episode even though you know the content you share inside every episode is highly valuable, and you’ve consistently released an episode (or more!) every week without missing a beat. If this is you keep reading, because you’re about to learn how to solve these problems — and fix the mistakes causing them — so you can finally become the host of a Top 100 podcast that gets your listeners reaching out asking how to buy.
Here’s the deal: most entrepreneurs understand that podcasting is a deeply powerful way to expand your thought leadership while generating traffic and income to your business. But most people (unknowingly) go about creating a podcast the wrong way. (This is also why most podcasts fail by Episode 6.)
The burning question is, why?
The #1 Reason Most Podcasts Fail
When it comes to ranking your podcast, most people just want to know the steps to follow. But here’s the thing: even if I laid these steps out for you, the majority of people reading this still wouldn’t see results. That’s because there's a deeper issue that many podcasters completely overlook — and if you want to create a podcast that can reach the Top 100, you have to fix what causes this problem in the first place.
Mistake #1: Thinking Consistency is the Key to Podcast Growth
From dieting to relationships to personal growth and more, we’re conditioned to believe that consistency is the secret to getting results. But most podcasters who fall into the trap of believing that consistency alone will drive their podcast's growth, struggle to grow their podcast. That’s because podcasting success isn’t about consistency as much as it is about differentiation. Until you learn how to effectively communicate what sets your podcast apart from other competitors in your niche and give your listeners a legitimate reason to tune in, it’s going to be difficult to get anyone to click “play” — no matter how great your content is. Differentiation requires you to find your unique voice, own it, and clearly communicate what makes your podcast worth listening to so you can attract, keep, and convert listeners long-term. (more on how to do that below).
Mistake #2: Not Creating Enough Demand for Your Show
Another major mistake too many podcasters make is failing to understand their listener psychology — which keeps them from creating enough (or any) demand for their show. It’s one thing to have great content, but it’s another thing entirely for others to understand how great your content is. Whether it’s an existing listener deciding if they want to listen to your latest episode or a new listener deciding whether they want to listen to your podcast at all, the success of your show depends on how well you communicate to a listener what's in it for them to listen. To maximize your podcast's success, you need to intimately understand the psychology of your listeners, so that you can attract new listeners, get them choosing your show over your competition, and keep them listening to the end of your episodes. By implementing key strategies to increase demand and curiosity around your show, you can create an addictive listener experience that effectively grows your listener base, drives engagement, and keeps them coming back for more — which will impact your overall download numbers (which is the key to ranking consistently in the top podcast charts).
Mistake #3: No Comprehensive Growth Strategy
Without a comprehensive growth strategy, your podcast will sooner or later reach a painful plateau where you struggle to gain visibility, attract new listeners, and rank in podcast directories. (Maybe you’re nodding your head because you’re there right now). Most podcasters try to build awareness through social media content, email marketing, YouTube, SEO, guesting, and more — but these things aren’t working together as one cohesive podcasting growth system. By developing a targeted roadmap for show growth that encompasses various aspects of podcasting, such as content creation, marketing, audience engagement, and collaboration opportunities, you can set your podcast up for long-term success.
Now that we've explored the three subtle-but-common mistakes that lead to podcast failure, let's dive into the strategies to overcome them so you can achieve lasting podcast success.
3 Ingredients to Creating a Bingeworthy Top 100 Podcast:
How do you make sure you create a podcast that stands out, gets found by more listeners, and gives listeners a bingeworthy experience that keeps them coming back for more? Three words: differentiation, discoverability, demand. Every Top 100 podcast you know and love has these three invisible elements in place.
- Differentiation helps your podcast get discovered
- Discoverability helps create demand for your show
- Demand for you and your content keeps listeners coming back for more
Let’s take a deeper look at each.
DIFFERENTIATION: Your Bingeworthy Content System
It's one thing to create a podcast. It's another thing entirely to create a podcast that attracts, keeps, and converts listeners steadily over time. Bingeworthy content is critical to your podcast's ability to generate leads and traffic to your business and offers, and without it, you'll be missing out on thousands of eyes (should I say ears?) on your show. It's the number one mechanism that's responsible for getting your show in front of new potential listeners and communicating to those listeners why they should listen to your show, helping you grow your listener base consistently long-term.
BUT — despite what you might’ve heard, your show’s success doesn’t just depend on having bingeworthy episode content. There are five Content Gatekeepers that your potential listeners have to make it through first before they decide to hit play.
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If you want to create a show that stands out from your competition, the real secret is to understand your ideal listener’s psychology and align all of your Content Gatekeepers to attract that specific listener. What are the problems keeping your ideal listener up at night? How specifically do you help them solve these problems? What limiting beliefs are getting in the way of them getting the results they want? What motivates them and why do they buy? When you understand who your ideal listener is on a deeper level, you can strategically gear your show cover art, name, description, episode titles, and show notes to attract more of ideal listeners, because it’s these Content Gatekeepers are what makes your potential listener decide whether it’s worth hitting play on your episodes, or not. When you have these in place, you’ll instantly be able to create subconscious demand for the content inside your episodes, compelling more listeners to download and hit play. But without these dialed in, chances are you’ll fail to get listeners to see the value in listening to your show (which also means they’ll choose other podcasts to listen to over yours).
DISCOVERABILITY: Strategic Launch & Relaunch System
Most people make the major mistake of hitting publish expecting their show to take off, but then are shocked to find they’re lucky to get anywhere from 30 – 50 total downloads their first full week as a podcaster. They may wind up with around 2000 downloads their first full year (if they stay in the game that long). For all the time, work, and effort that goes into creating a podcast, this is a problem.
How do you make sure your podcast gets discovered? Simple: combine a Bingeworthy Content System with a Strategic Podcast Launch & Relaunch plan, and you’ll have a foolproof way to get your podcast noticed (and break any future growth plateaus).
Let’s imagine for a sec that you’re scrolling through your favorite podcast category on Apple Podcasts. If you’re on your phone, you’ll likely see the top 50-100 shows in that category. If you’re on a computer, you’ll see the top 200. But what about the other thousands of shows that exist in that category — how do you find them? The short answer: you don’t.
Most podcasters hope that by putting a few keywords into their episode titles and show notes, new listeners might discover their show. Sure, a little SEO can help, but the key to increasing discoverability and getting in front of your ideal listener is to get in the podcast charts — every week. (NOTE: it’s normal not to rank every week while you’re growing your show. But if you want to get discovered, ranking weekly is the ultimate goal).
While there are 8 critical elements that make up a Strategic Podcast Launch & Relaunch Plan, getting in the podcast charts boils down to understanding how downloads impact podcast rankings. When you intentionally drive traffic to your show in a condensed period of time, it will increase your downloads. This in turn can help you rank. (Sites like Chartable and Podkite can help you track this). When you do rank, take note of how many downloads your show had that week. This number becomes your new benchmark to shoot for each week to rank consistently. The bottom line? Ranking your show on the charts boils down to simple math. And you don’t have to have a big audience to rank, either. But without a Strategic Podcast Launch & Relaunch Plan, ranking consistently will be much more difficult.
DEMAND: Your Long-Term Audience Growth Formula
Getting new listeners addicted to your show and landing in the charts is fun and exciting. But you don’t want to just rank once — you want to get in the charts and stay there. Sustaining your podcast's growth over the long term requires mastery — that's where the Long-Term Audience Growth Formula comes into play. By implementing a strategic and sustainable plan that encompasses content creation, marketing, audience engagement, and collaboration opportunities, you'll unlock the power to consistently attract new listeners, deepen connections, and solidify your position as a thought leader in your niche. This isn't just about one-time success; it's about building a lasting legacy with your podcast.
When it comes to driving traffic to your show, there are more than 20 ways to get the job done. But the secret sauce lies in finding the perfect combination of strategies that match your unique podcast goals. There are six foundational strategies every podcaster should have in their arsenal. And as your podcast grows and evolves, you can layer in more advanced strategies that align with your podcast and/or business goals.
Combine These 3 Pillars for Lasting Podcast Growth:
Each of these 3 pillars is important on its own, but it’s the synergy between them that creates the real magic of a successful podcast. By combining a Bingeworthy Content System with a Strategic Podcast Launch & Replaunch Plan and Long-Term Audience Growth Formula, you can differentiate yourself from competitors, position yourself as an authority in your field, get your podcast discovered by new listeners, and convert more listeners into leads and clients. When implemented consistently over time, this 3-part proven strategy will help you generate consistent revenue from your show, attract more ideal listeners, and become a recognized podcast host in your niche.
The three pillars combined create a powerful trifecta that can help you go from unheard expert to in-demand thought leader as a podcast host, throughout your niche, and across the entrepreneurial landscape as a whole.
PS: If you want to dive deeper with me and learn how to apply this framework to your specific podcast (regardless of if you’ve started your podcast or you’re looking to start a podcast for the first time), you’re invited to join me for our next live workshop on the Insider Secrets to a Top 100 podcast, where I’ll reveal the exact proven formula we’ve deployed to helped over four dozen clients launch top-ranked podcasts that gets listeners reaching out asking how to buy. It's completely free and there is no pitch, but you do have to register to attend. Grab your seat
If you want a Top 100 podcast, these are the non-negotiable ingredients you need:
- Bingeworthy Content System
- Strategic Podcast Launch & Relaunch Plan
- Long-Term Audience Growth Formula
Without these three mechanisms in place, it will take longer (and be much harder) to grow and scale a successful show. But when you incorporate these three elements into your podcast, you’ll be able to create, launch, and leverage a Top 100 podcast that differentiates you from the competition, positions you as the in-demand thought leader in your niche, and helps you create an addictive listener experience that keeps them coming back and gets your listeners reaching out asking how to work with you.
As Founder of The EffortLESS Life® and creator of PodLaunch™, Courtney Elmer is a sought-after consultant, host, and speaker who is known for helping entrepreneurs embrace antifragility and use their voice to build their legacy and create meaningful change in the world.
Drawing on over 7+ years of psychology and marketing experience coupled with her personal experience as a cancer survivor, Courtney teaches online business leaders how to go from unheard experts to in-demand thought leaders through podcasting and grow through what they go through to create the greater income, influence, and impact they deserve.
Courtney hosts the globally-ranked AntiFragile Entrepreneurship™ podcast, which recently surpassed How I Built This and Harvard Business Review on the list of 11 Top Business Podcasts for Professionals by Small Biz Trends. She’s a popular speaker on the topics of podcast marketing and entrepreneurial antifragility at notable industry conferences such as PodFest Global, The Grow My Podcast Summit, The Podcasting Summit, and more. Her skills and knowledge are frequently sought by leaders and teams from Forbes, Fast Company, PopSugar, and others.
Follow her podcast at antifragileentrepreneurship.co and on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer