3 min read

Growing an email list for podcasts

Growing an email list for podcasts
Photo by Justin Morgan / Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but, I’m hooked on side projects.

Like this newsletter, tucked alongside a shelf full of other projects I’ve started over the last 20 years creating content for the commercial web.

As the holiday’s wind down, I’m reflecting on my body of work over the last year and seeing what I can do streamline my creation efforts. Both personally and professionally with my work at Castos.

I’d love to know from you, how do you reflect on the work you do? Hit reply and let me know. If it’s okay with you, I’ll publish your response in the next newsletter.

Why are newsletters important for creators?

How many times will social media platforms pull the rug out from under us?

I don’t need to sell you on the importance of RSS feeds for podcasting, or the connections we build with a dedicated listening audience. A newsletter, deepens that connection. When it comes to a database of subscribers, unless we’re doing subscription content, it’s the only list we’ve got.

I encourage everyone to start a newsletter along side their podcast. Even if you’re not trying to monetize your content, the serious creator should build multiple connections to their audience.

The next time a social platform has a mass exodus, flips the algorithm, or flat-out changes the rules — you’ll be prepared.

Lessons growing The Podcast Setup

Leading with a newsletter, and not a podcast, has been an interesting experiment. Having a repeatable process, and a static format to the content, has proved useful for a side project.

Let’s start with the wins:

Using Ghost has been helpful. If you know my other work, I’m a die-hard WordPress users. I mean, that’s what my other two podcasts and YouTube channels are all about. Having a limited, but focused platform to publish on has worked out well. Very useful if you’re a beginner, but I do believe with proper elbow grease, you’ll go further with WordPress.

Unique, lightweight content. Short-form content. I can’t tell if it’s my super power or just a crutch I’m leaning on these days. It’s worked for The WP Minute, and it’s working here, too. I’ve heard from others that “The Podcast Setup is the content they wanted” so I’ll take it as a win.

A process to follow. This is more for the busy content creator, but having a consistent format to follow for each newsletter is a God send. Combine that with user submitted content, and it makes publishing on Fridays a breeze.

Time for the negatives:

Growth is slow. Having said that, I probably wouldn’t be satisfied if I had 10,000 subscribers either :) Like most things, especially side projects, it’s a marketing and awareness issue. The more I can promote, and get the word out, the more growth I’ll see. But that’s the hard part, right?

No sponsor…yet. I’m pretty good at selling sponsorship on my other projects. But, it’s a bit chicken or the egg right now. I don’t have the time to promote and manage the newsletter, which leads to slower growth and less opportunity to sell a sponsor. Pro tip: the sponsorship money isn’t for profit, I’d reinvest that right back into hiring someone to manage + write for the newsletter.

Personal frustrations in the hidden gem. I’m forever hearing podcasters say they want to grow their podcast. This newsletter is free promotion for podcasters. It’s part interview + part geeky podcast tech stuff.

It’s a wine & cheese pairing, imo.

If I’m presented with free promo, I’m all over it. That hasn’t been the case for a lot of the outreach I’ve done. I’ve found it difficult to get a majority of my cold outreach podcasters to fill out the interview form.

I’ve also been underwhelmed with some responses to the interview portion of the newsletter. It’s your time in the spotlight, sell yourself and why people should subscribe!

Needs more women podcasters. That’s it. That’s the message. I want more women podcasters represented here. If you know someone that could benefit from free promotion, send them to thepodcastsetup.com!

What I hope you take away from this…

I’m hoping a little behind the scenes encourages you to think about starting a newsletter for your podcast, or side project. This stuff takes time, that I know.

I’m always looking for an inbox collab, if that’s you, hit reply and let me know. I’d love to know about what you do differently in your podcast’s newsletter.

Enjoy the New Year! Happy to answer any questions about podcasting, marketing, newsletters, WordPress, or tech - just hit reply and ask.