How To Tell If Your Podcast Is Growing?

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(By Dave Jackson) You look at your stats and it seems your podcast is not growing. It may be worse and your numbers are going down. In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, “ARGH!”

Look at the Right Numbers
The first thing you have to do is make sure you are looking at the right numbers. Many podcasters look at monthly stats. It’s fun to look at monthly stats because they are bigger. However, if you dig into them, you will find they are not a great measurement of overall growth. Here is why.

In October 2019 I had 26,067 downloads for the month. I released four episodes. Does this mean I had 6,517 downloads per episode? No. The downloads were as follows:
2,558
2,377
2,353
2,313

This comes to a total of 9,601 downloads from episodes released in October. That means 16,466 downloads in the month of October were from episodes NOT released in October (better known as your older episodes). That means that 63% of my downloads in October were from files NOT released in October.

With this in mind, I use monthly stats to gauge how well my back episodes are doing.

How to Track Your Growth
To track if your show is actually growing, use episode stats (and pick a specific period of time). For me, I will often look at either a week or thirty days.

I do a show called School of Podcasting; it is NEVER going to have 10,000 downloads an episode. It is a NICHE podcast.

In February, I released an episode called “Building Community: The No-BS Approach to 1000+ Members,” and after being published for seven days it had 2,076 downloads.

If I compare that to an episode I did in September called “Help! My Podcast is Stuck and Not Growing.” it had 2,136 downloads after seven days. While that doesn’t seem like much growth, that is a difference of sixty downloads. That is a 2.8% growth in seven months.

In May of 2010, I did an episode titled, “Proof Content is King.” I had 627 downloads after seven days. That means my podcast has grown 30% since May of 2010.

What if My Numbers are Down?
There are a few questions you want to ask yourself.

1. Is my content seasonal? Is this a podcast about weddings? Then I would expect a boost come spring (when people are getting married). If it is about a sport, it’s probably more popular when the sport is being played (the same would go with a television show). Seasonal shows can have periods with less downloads.

2. Are you listed in all the directories? A new stat that just came out stated that 63% of Europe is on an Android phone, yet so many podcasters only mention Apple. New podcasters upload an episode and think their show will just automagically end up in Apple, Google, and Spotify. This is not true. You need to submit your podcast (once) for approval. To see where to list your show, see www.schoolofpodcasting.com/directories.

3. What do you spend more time doing, looking at your stats or spending time where your audience is? Looking at your stats will not make them grow.

4. Is it easy to subscribe to your show? Do you have links on your website (with directions on how to use them) on your website? As much as people OBSESS over ratings and reviews, the name of the game is subscribers and downloads. You want, no, you NEED people to subscribe.

5. Is it easy to share your show on your website? Yes, most apps make it easy, but do you have a tool on your website to make it easy to share?

6. Have you been consistent in your publishing schedule? While not necessary, when you publish on a regular, predictable schedule, you become part of your audience’s routine.

I’ve Done All of the Above, and the Numbers are Down
This is a hard time where you need to put your big pants on and an extra layer of skin and admit that your baby might be ugly. You need to get someone NOT named Mom to give you some honest feedback. This would be a good time to put together a free Google Form (foms.google.com) and make a simple survey. You can ask four questions:

1. What part of the show do you enjoy the most?

2. What do you wish I would do less of?

3. What would you like to hear in the future?

4. Additional Comments:

Mention it at the beginning of the show, and mention it in multiple episodes for a month. Embrace the feedback and make changes. The single most effective way to make your numbers go down is to quit.

Podcasting is a marathon not a sprint. When you deliver value that inspires people to talk about your show to their friends, it will grow.

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcast consultant who has been podcasting since 2005. He is the founder of the School of Podcasting where he helps you start your podcast and grow your influence.

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