5 Variables That Make or Break Podcast Downloads

Show Notes: 

(0:22): #1: Podcast Cover Art

(01:15): #2: Podcast Episode Title

(02:27): #3: Episode Description and Show Notes

(04:03): #4: Advantages of Having Guests in Your Podcast Episode

(06:29): #5: Podcast Distribution



I’ve been podcasting since 2016, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. And I’ve had the chance to test out some of the stuff on my own podcasts, and some shows that I work on with clients. So I’m going to share with you five quick variables that are in your control that don’t cost really any money, just time and energy, maybe that will dramatically improve your chances of getting your episode downloaded.Β 


Number one, hands down is going to be your podcast cover art. So this is something that you can periodically change over time, it is the only visual representation that you have of your podcast, because there’s nothing else aside from the title and maybe your name is going to actually be showing when people are scrolling, or when they search you up. So making sure that you’re using big bright colors, you have a face that people can connect to the text that you’re using inside your podcast, cover art is very legible and readable. Remember, this kind of shows the professionalism of your show. So maybe don’t use a selfie image that you took on your phone, maybe you have a professional headshot somewhere. Or maybe you can get somebody to go out and take some pictures on your new iPhone, whatever you got to do to get the highest quality images possible for your cover art, it really helps because first impressions do make a difference here.

The next thing you’re going to want to pay a disproportionate amount of attention to is the title of your podcast episodes. You want to treat this the same way that YouTubers treat the titles of their videos, every couple of days, every couple of weeks. They’re testing the titles, they’re tweaking it, they’re seeing if people are actually clicking through. One of the things that I see podcasters not doing enough of is just picking one title the first time we think of it, and then leaving and not even revisiting six months or a year down the line after you have more data to see, hey, have people been clicking on this? You know, that’s something maybe in the first seven days, you might not have enough data as a new podcaster to be like, is this title working? Is it not. But as enough time passes by, it’s worth it to go back and tweak your titles to be something more clickable if needed.

But even more importantly, before you dive into recording, I would recommend generating a bunch of title ideas. Before you even press record. That way you have some clarity. You have a compass as to what to talk about where to go? Are you veering off track? Are you on topic, having a title decided ahead of time gives you direction when it comes to the actual recording?

Number three, does having Show Notes actually make a difference? Do people care? Do people click through to people actually read what’s in there, I have been on both sides of the coin here I’ve had shows has both versions. And I will say that does help your download rate significantly.

If we look at it from a user experience standpoint. So the title is the one piece of real estate that we have access to unlike in YouTube videos where you’ve also got the thumbnail that people are maybe judging the show off of it’s more so just the title and the podcast cover art. So if that doesn’t do a great job at delivering, Hey, what is the episode going to be about what is the show about who is in here, then people are going to bounce from there. But if you have more information in the description shownotes that maybe give a couple of lines on


Hey, this is what the episode is going to be about. Here are some timestamps, here’s some important links. Here’s how to connect with me, here’s how to connect with the guests or Instagrams or websites. All that stuff is so important because let’s say somebody does listen, what if they want to take the next step, you want to give them something that’s easily clickable in the description. And then if somebody hasn’t even listened yet, you want to give them something to preview, and you want to give your episode a fair chance and five, somebody, Hey, is this something that is going to be of interest to you, if you don’t have any shownotes at all, you’re never going to find out, but having some form of show notes. Even if it’s just a couple of bullet points, it at least gives the listener a chance to scan and decide, hey, this is for me, or I’m gonna move on.Β Β 

This next one is worth mentioning, I thought hard about if I should put this one in here. But there is some truth to it. So I want to share it with you. And it is to go after guests that are either going to give you one of two things, a high quality piece of content with through a high quality conversation or two, they are going to give you access to an audience that already has people that you want to get access to. So an example in the fitness world as I had the CrossFit Games champion of 2015 or 2016 on and when he came on the show, it was a big deal for me, his audience when he shared it with them.

They contain a bunch of people in the CrossFit world in the weightlifting world. And as a result when they saw he was on my show, and they listened. They found a bunch of other episodes that were also in that world and so I picked up some new audience members through that and this process was repeated over and over Are with different athletes or coaches and people that came on the show.

But you can get really sucked into a rabbit hole and go after only people for their vanity metrics, that is definitely not the thing you want to rely on. Mainly, you don’t just want to expect other people who have bigger followings than you to share your episode, because a lot of people aren’t even going to do that. And that’s where that other value added comes into play, which is a high quality conversation, which creates a high quality piece of content if that goal alone is achieved. And met then having that guests on in the long run because of search results. And as that guests grows as new people come into their world, like Ben Greenfield is a great example. I had him on my show for 30 45 minutes years ago, and before he had already exploded that point, he was really famous. But now he’s just another level of famous. And it’s really cool to be getting people landing on my site on my blog post on my podcast episodes that are still searching for Ben Greenfield business and fitness and advice coming from him in that world that they may not have found maybe on his site or in some other interviews. So that’s a great pathway of pulling new listeners into your world by using guests.

But having a very healthy balance of people that you genuinely are just interested to, you’re not thinking about their social following or anything like that. You just want to give them a space to share their story and have a great conversation.Β Β 

The last one is going to be distribution. This is controversial because a lot of people like just focus on the podcast episode do a really great episode and nothing else really matters. But early on when you’ve done that one episode. And assuming you’ve gotten into good flow of doing regular episodes, whether it’s weekly, twice a week, at some interval, you’re looking for something else to do you’re waiting or Hey, what are the downloads? Well, in that case distribution is helpful. It’s helpful to have an Instagram platform where it let’s say your listeners are already there. Audience members are already there, that’s a great place for you to share, hey, this new episode is out. Or hey, this is a great two lines from this episode, here’s a tweetable format that you can quickly scan.

And that gives you a preview of the show, are you gonna like it or you’re gonna not like it? I’m not going to focus so much on the actual medium here because that’s not what’s important. The medium is dictated by where your listeners and ideal audience is, if that’s on Instagram rate, like email lists are also great.

Okay, having an email list, let’s say in the fitness world, people have downloaded your workout sample or something like that. If you’ve got 200 people on that list, and you send them episodes related to fitness and wellness, if you’re doing I think the stats say about 36% is the average open rate. If you’ve got a dedicated list that is actually opening your emails, maybe it’s 25 to 36% of people open it. That’s a lot of people, especially when we consider maybe sometimes organic reach and stuff like that on Instagram, how many people are actually seeing the post that you put out? I don’t know is it 5%? Is it 10% You can look into that but email is worth looking into. Because the people that are on that list are probably very super highly qualified into being a listener or at least you can structure your list and and your freebie to attract people who are going to be there are dozens of other variables that affect your downloads. But these were just a few that you can get started on almost immediately.Β 


So if you test it out, drop me a comment or drop me a note at [email protected]. I would love to hear from you. And before you leave if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like and subscribe. That’s always super helpful.


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