If you’ve been posting new episodes of your podcast week after week but your show still isn’t getting the traction you’d hoped for, then it might be time to rethink your growth strategy.
It might sound counterintuitive, but you may want to shift your focus away from thinking about what else you can do to help yourself succeed. Instead, try asking yourself this: “How can I use my podcast to build meaningful connections with other podcasters?”
That’s right — your growth depends on daring to expand your mission outside of yourself. Only then will you be equipped to discover the secret superpower of podcaster collaboration. You’re likely to find that you’ll get much further in life by channeling the majority of your energy into initiatives that empower yourself AND other people. That’s because collaboration creates a pool of knowledge, access, experience, and goodwill.
If you’re a creator, becoming part of a network of podcasters will give you the perfect place to grow, share and innovative in ways that will fuel your collective success.
Below, you’ll find five strategies to grow your show through podcaster collaboration —
ELEVATING YOUR VISIBILITY & REACH
As of January 2023, there are over 5 Million podcasts in existence, so the challenge of cutting through the noise and reaching your target audience is REAL. By applying the rules of podcaster collaboration, you can extend your visibility and reach in a meaningful way just by having strength in numbers. That means you can skip hiring an expensive PR firm, opt out of spending money on ads and promotions, and STILL get positive results.
Put together a list of podcasters with a similar number of followers and target audience. Then reach out and ask the podcasters on your list if they would be interested in exchanging shout-outs — plugging your podcast on an upcoming episode of their show, and you will do the same for them. It’s a great way to grow your audience for free AND build relationships with other podcasters.
Podcaster collaboration builds a culture of trust and generosity as you work toward a common goal. You can build connections with podcasters by offering to be guests on one another’s show (you will have them as a guest on your show and they will have you as a guest on their show). This is a cost-free, mutually beneficial exchange that gives everyone value.
If you’re looking for a place to discover and connect with other podcasters who are interested in swapping guest spots, you could look into joining a women’s podcast network that offers this service, like Ossa Collective. All Ossa podcasters get free access to an in-house platform at Ossa called PodSwap, where members can sign up to discover other podcasters on the network who are interested in swapping guest bookings and shout-outs to grow their show.
One of the best aspects of the superpower of podcaster collaboration is the way the ripple of goodwill tends to continue. As you nurture meaningful connections with other podcasters and work toward a shared cause (podcast growth), the podcasters in your network will be able to connect you with additional opportunities or guest spots they hear of that are well-suited for someone in your niche.
However — and this is important — podcaster collaboration can only be a superpower if you’re committed to giving even more than you’re getting. This means training your brain to consistently identify potential opportunities to champion other podcasters — even when you haven’t explicitly been prompted to do so.
For example, let’s say that you’re asked to be an expert on a virtual panel or you book a guest spot on a podcast. When you send a follow up email to thank them for the opportunity, include an offer to connect them with 1-2 other podcasters or professionals in your network who you think could also be great guests or panelists.
Personal referrals are the most trusted form of endorsement, so it is likely that your word-of-mouth recommendation will go a long way. Be generous with the opportunities that are given to you. Cultivating a trusted network of fellow podcasters is an amazing way to book podcast guests spots and get included in other opportunities to expand your reach.
INCREASING YOUR EARNING POTENTIAL
At first glance, collaborating with other podcasters might sound like it would be far more likely to DECREASE your earning power — but that’s actually not the case. “Sharing the wealth” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re divvying up a set amount of money that would have otherwise gone straight into your pocket. Podcaster collaboration can also give you the superpower to close deals and bring in money that you wouldn’t have been able to get on your own.
Podcast network Ossa has a strategy for helping early-stage and micro-influencer podcasts to book ad campaigns. Here’s an example (and all numbers in this example are based on current industry standard CPM rates.) An advertiser has a total budget of $1,500. That means they have enough money to book 5 60-second ad spots on a podcast that reaches 10,000 listeners. Alternatively, the $1,500 ad budget could be distributed amongst a collective of smaller podcasters, and they can book 5 60-second ad spots with 5 smaller podcasters who reach 2,000 listeners each.
The latter method has value because it empowers smaller podcasters through collaboration, making ad booking accessible for smaller podcasters that still haven’t reached the number of downloads needed to book an ad campaign on their own.
This is also an effective way to make an early-stage podcaster with a highly-engaged audience more visible to advertisers. If the smaller podcaster is able to turn around an excellent return on investment (ROI) with a high number of conversions (sales generated by their ad), then the brand will be likely to want to work with them again.
If your show’s reach still isn’t big enough to qualify for solo ad campaigns, you can become eligible for collective ad campaigns by applying for a free Ossa membership. Otherwise, you can always try this same strategy on your own. Pull together your own small group of podcasters who have a similar target audience as your show. If you bring together a group of, say, yourself + 4 other podcasters, and each one of you has an average rate of 2,000 downloads per episode, then combined, you’ll hit the minimum of 10,000 total downloads that many brands look for.
Yes, you’ll have to divvy up the earnings amongst your group, but it’s money in your pocket that you probably wouldn’t have been able to get without your collaborators. Plus — if your podcast delivers a high ROI for the brand, then you’ll be on their radar for future campaigns as your podcast audience continues to grow.
GATHERING KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION
There is NO shortage of information out there for podcasters, but the challenge is finding the content that is actually worth your time. Even if you try to keep up with podcast-related news and opportunities, how frequently do you actually feel like you managed to see ALL of the most important information from all of your email subscriptions, Google Alerts, Facebook group feeds, LinkedIn messages, Instagram Stories, etc.?
With a limited number of hours in the day, you just can’t see every exciting opportunity for podcast growth and networking on your own. And this is where your podcaster collaboration superpower comes in!
Podcast networks like Ossa Collective offer a hub where podcasters can share their knowledge and experience to help other podcasters navigate the constantly-evolving world of podcasting. When it comes to catching all of the most important information for podcasters who are trying to grow their show, podcast networks like Ossa are proof that 1,000 heads are FAR better than one!
Ossa’s community message boards enable network members to compile their resources and crowdsource recommendations and information. Members can share information about the most exciting contests, incubators, conferences, and funding opportunities in the world of podcasting — the ones you DON’T want to miss!
ACCESSING TOOLS & RESOURCES
There are lots of great tools and resources for podcasters — but having access all of them can get very expensive. Once again, podcaster collaboration becomes your secret weapon to gaining access to more of the platforms and assets you’d like to use without spending an arm and a leg.
If you’ve ever recorded in a professional studio, then you know how much of a difference it can make with your sound quality. But if you’re on a budget, the cost of studio time can be a dealbreaker.
Do some research to see if you can find any local groups for podcasters in your area. If not, consider starting your own! Now we returning to the principle of power in numbers. Your local podcaster group may have the power to negotiate a discounted rate for your members at a local recording studio.
If not, there are many additional ways that collaborating with your local podcasters can add value. Podcasters in your group may be able to offer access to tangible local resources that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. For example, someone in your group may also know of a local recording studio with great rates — or, even better, they may have a recording studio of their own that they would be willing to let you use. If nothing else, the friendships and connections you form by reaching out are guaranteed to enrich your podcasting experience as a whole.
You don’t necessarily have to connect with other podcasters in your town or city to use the principles of podcaster collaboration to create a collective benefit. Joining forces — even virtually — with other podcasters can also be an asset when it comes to getting access to pricey software and subscription services that benefit your podcast. Some higher-end graphics, audio and video editing platforms [which will not be named in this article for legal reasons…] can be shared, although some can only be accessed by one user at a time. Do some research and see if there are platforms you’d love to use that you might be able to split with other podcasters.
THE SUPERPOWER OF PODCASTER COLLABORATION
Finally, there is one additional question you should ask yourself if you’re still doing a cost-benefit analysis of whether or not podcaster collaboration is right for you. Ultimately, what is the value you want to get out of having a podcast?
Think of a few of the most successful podcasters you admire. It’s a safe bet that every single one of those podcasters was able to build a large audience because they were genuinely invested in using their podcast to connect with and empower other humans. Great podcasters care about more than the income and notoriety that having a successful podcast can generate; they are driven by a larger purpose that positions people at the core of everything they do.
If you’re passionate about podcasting, then one of the best ways to grow your show and create a brand with staying power is to focus on the ways you can use your podcast to create a unique and highly-engaged community that adds value to every single person it touches. And remember — the best kind of podcast community includes your listeners and your fellow creators. Podcaster collaboration is a key piece of what any meaningful podcasting experience is all about.