How Community Can Grow A Podcast
Chris Krimitsos is a speaker, producer, consultant, and a leading expert on podcasting and on-demand audio. A Guinness World Records holder for the largest attendance for a virtual podcasting conference in one week, he’s author of the best-selling book Start Ugly and the founder of PodFest. Learn why every podcaster – and content creator – should focus on community building, about the “Network Effect”, and how community can actually grow your podcast.
The Story of PodFest
PodFest was born after a podcasting meetup that took place in 2013. The get-together was followed by two workshops, which then led to the first PodFest back in 2015.
The 2020 edition of PodFest was the biggest and, nowadays, the event is held through a series of smaller editions and events. The next edition will take place on May 26-29 2022.
Bringing the Longest-Running Continuous In-Person Podcasting Event Online
The pandemic forced the organisers of pretty much every in-person event to think about ways to still bring the event to their audience, even if that meant doing it online.
Chris shared that the PodFest team asked themselves ‘What tools do we have access to that we could use to mimic the in-person event experience online?’
They thought about how to intentionally connect people online. This led PodFest to become one of the online events, using the award-winning app Whova, to have one of the highest levels of engagements, as well as to become a Guinness Worlds Records holder as the largest attendance for a virtual podcasting conference in one week.
How Chris Engages the PodFest Community
Chris has identified Facebook groups, as well as Discord (especially for the younger demographic) and Telegram, as different ways podcasters, and other content creators, can use to build and foster an online community.
‘Community is where I get my “kick,”’ he says, and it’s not difficult to understand why. To this day, Chris has used – and still uses – 15-minute calls with new and long-time members of the community to chat and get to know them better.
This is an excellent way to connect and engage with members of the community.
When people see some of their suggestions being implemented into the community (the Facebook group in the case of PodFest), they really feel as if their voice has been heard.
Getting Help From “The Pillars of Your Community”
True, at the beginning you are going to be the main person in charge of engaging and providing value to members of your community. However, as your community grows (and you do things right), you should be able to identify the “Pillars of Your Community”.
These are members who don’t shy away from answering questions, leaving useful comments, asking meaningful questions, and doing other things that contribute to providing value to your audience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If you are providing value to your community, then you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. Years ago, Chris’ wife Katie was running a community for business women and was looking to get more clients. She was successful by simply asking.
She posted in her Facebook group, which had a few hundred members at the time, asking whether someone would be interested in a free 90-minute consulting call. 36 people expressed interest.
After having drawn the winner, Katie emailed the remaining 35 members asking them to hop on a quick call because, even though they hadn’t won the consulting call, she would have still liked to help them. 17 of those people booked the free call, and 9 ended up becoming consulting clients.
Fast Ways to Grow Your Podcast
When it comes to your show, there are a few different strategies Chris recommends independent podcasters look into.
The first one is exchanging ad spots, having a “commercial” that’s featured on someone else’s podcast.
Next are so-called Episode Drops. The idea here is to have a podcast host drop a mini episode of your podcast in their podcast RSS feed.
Lastly, paying for ads – on podcast players, Facebook or on platforms like Spotify – to get in front of your target listener.
The Easiest Way to Grow Your Audience
A lot of money has come into the podcasting industry but a good chunk of it will go to creators who really understand how to grow their audience.
When it comes to the growth of your podcast, this is what Chris suggests you do. Find 2-3 episodes that have double the number of downloads compared to other episodes and create a new podcast or network around those topics.
You could grow your shows in a sort of “closed loop”.
The “Network Effect”
The “Network Effect” is where podcasters get companies to pay for their network.
If you host a niche podcast you can still make money but you need to sell your own ad spots to companies that would like to be in front of your audience.
In case you have a small niche audience, you could find a network that is in the millions, join it and get paid through its “ecosystem”. While the network would get a cut, you would be able to monetize through the network itself.
Spotify, for instance, is getting a lot of ad revenue and its network is growing quicker than other platforms because it’s paying creators, similarly to what has been happening with YouTube over the years.
The One Thing Every Content Creator Should Focus On
Growing your audience and community is something each content creator should focus on.
The reason for that is actually rather simple: those are the people who support you.
Growing Your Podcast With This (Instead of Asking for “Ratings & Reviews)
If you’d like to grow your podcast further, an additional thing Chris recommends doing is recording a short segment to feature on your podcast episodes, something along the lines of ‘Thank you for listening! The greatest compliment you could give me is to take the phone of someone you know and think would enjoy the show and download it for them so that they can start listening.’
Live Stream Selling
Amazon is pioneering something called Live Stream Selling. The idea is to have people who are doing live streams and who are selling. It’s a sort of “sell to play” approach where whoever doesn’t stream and sell “gets a strike”. The next edition of PodFest, which will take place on May 26-29 2022, will feature the first track of Live Stream Selling.
PodFest (hybrid event)
Chris Krimitsos holds the Guinness World Records™ title for the largest attendance for a virtual podcasting conference in one week, and is a leading expert on podcasting and on-demand audio. His international conference, PodFest, is the longest-running continuous in-person podcasting event in the world and attracts thousands of attendees from over 50 countries each year. Running parallel with that event, Chris also successfully birthed VidFest, as part of his efforts to build the home for all creators.
With two decades and over 2,000 live events under his belt, Chris has worked with the world’s most influential voices in marketing, audio, and technology. Those experiences inspired his best-selling book, Start Ugly, which has quickly become the go-to guide for entrepreneurs and influencers who are beginning their creative journey.
He’s not just an educator though. His penchant for being an on-demand innovator is seen in Chris’ own Kid-Friendly Podcast Network having garnered over a million podcast downloads. As a podcast consultant and coach, he has helped ventures such as the Women’s Meditation Network grow to millions of monthly downloads.
As the go-to authority, Chris is the person to be contacted when the experts need to understand how the on-demand audio space will continue to evolve.
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