Starting a Podcast. Growing Your Audience. Without Google, Social Media or Paid Traffic. 15 Experts Show How


Starting a podcast is easy, if you have the right tools and know-how.

Tools can be easily found online, one click away from Google. To get valid know-how though, you’d have to go out your way and ask the experts.

Guess what? We have 15 pros reveal their secrets to podcasting without depending on Google, social media or paid traffic.

Here are some of the most exciting things you’ll learn inside:

  • Why you need to go ‘SUPER NICHE’ and how to podcast with PASSION (John gives the insights)

  • First thing you need to do before you LAUNCH your podcast (Zac reveals the answer)

  • How to OPTIMIZE your podcast in iTunes & Stitcher (Jason shares the secret)

  • The ‘4 days a week podcast’ METHOD and reason behind it (Jacques holds the formula)

  • The LAW OF RECIPROCITY and how to use it to build your loyal fans & raving buyers circle (Jared uncovers the details)

  • How to build AUTHORITY in your industry, for fame and profit via “infotainment” (Justin shares the strategy)

  • Plus other pro growth hacking tips you’ll love!

Enjoy and share it with others whom you think will appreciate the insights.

John Lee DumasJohn Lee Dumas // Twitter

~ EntrepreneurOnFire: Awarded Best in iTunes

If I were starting a brand new Podcast again, I would go SUPER niche.

I would sit down and come up with a personal passion, and then I would research that passion to find the biggest pain points others who shared that passion had.

Then I would dedicate the Podcast to providing the solution to these pain points, struggles, obstacles and challenges.

Making sure the title and tagline clearly explained exactly what passion I was serving as well as the pain I was solving would be a priority.

This would ensure that I would rank well in iTunes for my keywords, as well as be appealing to my avatars who were browsing Podcasts!

Ana MelikianAna Melikian // Twitter

~ PhD, BCC, ACC Director of Education for the Book Yourself Solid® School of Coach Training

When I was research to do my own podcasting launch, I soon realize the power of iTunes exposure if my podcast was feature in their News & Noteworthy lists.

The iTunes logarithm is a mystery, but we know that number of downloads, subscription and Rates&Reviews impact a lot our position in the itunes charts (even after the 8 weeks of initial launch).

So, at the beginning I pay for some traffic via Facebook ads, but the 2 main strategies that lead my podcast to hit #1 in New & Noteworthy within Business, Management & Marketing, Health, Self-Help, Education, Training were:

1- Using the 3 mandatory self-promotion strategies of the Book Yourself Solid® system (more about this in a moment)

2- Belong and be active within the podcast community via amazing Facebook groups like the Podcasters Paradise of John Lee Dumas

Book Yourself Solid® Mandatory Self-Promotion Strategies:

These are 3 strategies that within the Book Yourself Solid® system we believe are essential to get us booked solid and also can helps in promoting such as things as a book or podcast launch.

These 3 strategies are:

– Networking:

That is, to have a relevant Network of 90 contacts with who we keep regular touch with. these are people that we already know and they also know us.

We focus on develop deeper relationship with them by sharing in a regular basis how we feel, what we know and who we know.

– Direct outreach:

To develop new relationships with people who don’t knows us yet, but if they were part of our network of 90 could help our business a lot.

We outreach to them to build a relationship based on Valuable, Individualized, Target and Legitimate communication approach.

– Referrals: where I already had given a lot, so was fine to ask a lot too.

Because I had these 3 strategies in place for a while, when was time to launch my podcast:

– I reach out to my network and ask for subscription, rates, reviews and for them to spread the word  for me.

– Outreach to guest to interview in my podcast that increase the visibility and recognition of the show.

– I asked to everyone who could think of to rate and review my podcast in iTunes (I try to make their life as easier as possible by providing detail instruction on how to do it)

All these was helpful and I saw the results.

Also essential for my podcast success was having a good sound and process what I totally grateful to Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcasting A to Z program.

Here are some resource links.

For general instructions on how to Subscribe, Rate & Review using iPhone (click here) and Computer (Mac or PC) – click here.

Zac JohnsonZac Johnson // Twitter

~ Entrepreneur. Branding expert. Nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space

If I was going to launch a new podcast (in addition to Rise of the Entrepreneur) and wasn’t able to use search, social or paid traffic… I would make sure I had a blog and mailing in place before launching the podcast.

This is import because it’s absolutely crucial to have a following for your podcast once it goes live.

When you first launch your podcast, you have the opportunity to rank on the main page of iTunes podcasts in the “New and Noteworthy” section, which can bring massive volume to your podcast during it’s first few weeks.

Unfortunately I missed out on this opportunity, but through the use of the following methods I’ve been able to continually grow the audience size of my podcast week after week.

In addition to having your own blog and mailing list, you will also want to interview experts within your niche.

By doing this, the hope is that the individuals who are interviewed on your show will then share the podcast with their audience as well (through social and maybe on their site.)

You can also increase your audience by doing a blog post for each episode and potentially ranking for their name in Google as well.

Speaking of blog posts and content… you can also do roundup style posts of your previous episodes and guests on other sites you might own. You can see how I did two of these here.

Lastly, I would also make sure that I myself would be appearing on other podcasts and getting interviewed.

This way I could build my audience by reaching new audiences that I already know are actively listening to podcasts.

Follow these tips in addition to using search, social and paid methods to grow your audience and make your podcast stand out from the crowd.

Bob KnorppBob Knorpp // Twitter

~ Host of the BeanCast Marketing Podcast. Consultant to brands and startups. Gamer at heart.

Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to this question.

iTunes promotion is completely at the whim of iTunes podcast editors, so if you are already well-known and they recognize that you have submitted a new show it’s likely you will be featured for a time.

For most new podcasters you instantly become lost in the sea of new and existing shows as soon as you submit.

Other podcasting networks are similarly biased and not algorithmically ranked, so no help there either. But there are a few rules of thumb that can help you succeed.

First, get everyone you know to subscribe.

The surest way to rank in a podcasting directory of choice is to have lots of new subscribers every week. 

Second, be topically unique.

If you cover a nuance of a topic differently than anyone else, you have more chance of standing out and earning promotional placement.

Third, don’t be too niche if you objective is lots of listeners.

The more niche your topic is, the smaller your potential audience becomes.

Fourth, solicit constantly for reviews.

Positive reviews in the directory gain new listeners and earn promotional placements from directory editors.

Chris ChristensenChris Christensen // Twitter

~ Host of the award winning  and This Week in Travel podcasts/blog, creator

If your content is good and your podcast is well named and your podcast is categorized correctly, it will get found in iTunes… eventually.

But it will work better to get the word out using all those other things.

Also guest appearances on other podcasts will expose you to other audiences of people who already know what a podcast is. 

Grant SpanierGrant Spanier // Twitter 

~ Writer x Director x Designer. I co-host the 10,000 hours podcast

I would work through the networks of shows that are in the same realm, or complementary as my show (10,000 HOURS).

That is to say, I would invite those people to be on our show and hopefully would get invited to be on their show.

It’s not unlike the idea of two musicians collaborating and “featuring” each other on songs.

You expose each other’s audience to each other, respectively.

If you choose the right collaborators (or guests/shows) it benefits both parties.

This method has a fairly high success rate in introducing people to your brand & converting them into ongoing fans/followers/listeners.

Jacques van HeerdenJacques van Heerden // Twitter

~ Host of The Jacquesvh Podcast and the co-founder of We Edit Podcasts

The most important thing for anything podcast is not to depend on one traffic source to garner listeners.

If I had to a podcast from scratch with no readers, I would do a 4 days a week podcast.

3 Days within the week speaking to guests or solo sessions and on the weekends do a Q&A episode to help listeners out with problems they may have.

I will also make sure to launch on iTunes with at least 6 or 7 episodes and have my follow up episodes ready to go on set days.

I will announce my episode schedules within my show and stick to them consistently.

I will also make sure my show is listed on Stitcher and other podcasting platforms you might choose. It’s tough to go with iTunes only, but once your show starts climbing the ranks for the first 8 weeks, you will be golden.

There are over 1 Billion podcast subscribers on iTunes. Just go for it.

It is tough to go with iTunes only if you can’t send an email to your list or tweet about it, or share it on Facebook to tell people about it 🙂

Jared EaselyJared Easely // Twitter

~ Author | Podcaster | Co-Founder of the Academy of @PodcasterAwards | Co-Founder of the @PodcastMovement

Michael Hyatt wrote a great book called “Platform.” The subtitle of the book is “Get Noticed in a Noisy World.”

His book added fuel to an already growing fire online. The Internet is full of well-intentioned blogs. Insane amounts of video content are uploaded every week to YouTube.

Podcasting is a little bit of an oasis in the midst of what feels like content pandemonium online. Podcasting is significantly less crowded.

The opportunity to get noticed as a podcaster is considerable. It is viewed as a smaller haystack compared to blogging and video content creation.

The numbers of podcasts versus blogs and video uploads would agree.

While podcasting increases the possibility of getting noticed, it does not guarantee it. The rules still apply for providing great value to your audience.

So how does someone create an audience in order to give them great value?

I had this unique challenge when I launched my podcast.

I struggled so much with this problem that I almost quit. I am glad that I did not.

The shortest route is the long way around.”Seth Godin

I stumbled upon some valuable strategies over the next year and a half of struggling.

The strategies are very powerful and effective when they are applied with authenticity and generosity.

You have my permission to stop reading this excerpt right now if you disagree with this fundamental truth. The best way to get noticed and start growing your audience is to begin with being the noticer.

Every podcaster wants to share a message with listeners.

How do you get listeners?

Start by listening.

Start by sharing.

Start by lavishly giving sincere and authentic appreciation to your ideal listener for the value that he is providing.


The act of noticing others first is imperative. Everyone wants to be noticed online. Everyone wants to be appreciated.

Give your target listener (the person that you want to listen to your podcast) what he wants. Notice him. It must be sincere. It must be authentic.

Rapport is created when you are the noticer. Trust is created.


Rapport has an exciting way of generating reciprocity.

If you develop the habit of generously noticing your target listeners in a sincere and authentic way, they will appreciate you. They will like you.

If you do this long enough, they will want to return that generosity on some level.

Please stick with me because this is key.

Create a list of five people who fit the description of your target listener, or someone who you would like to speak to through your podcast.

The next step is to notice those five people every week.

Put it in your calendar. Does he or she have a blog? If so, read it and comment on the blog post.

Share the post on Twitter and tag his name in the tweet. If that person does not have a blog, then comment on her social media posts.

If that person does not have social media, then write her a genuine note of appreciation. Everyone loves a thank you note (especially if it is handwritten and mailed).

Imagine what would happen if this strategy was applied for five people every week for several weeks. I encourage you to test this and see for yourself what will happen.

It is very likely that the five people on your list will like you and appreciate you, at a bare minimum. They are also likely to have a greater interest in what you are doing.

They will probably listen to your latest podcast episode because they are interested in what you are up to. They are also likely to talk about you to their friends and family.

Build the army

It is easy to be completely missed or ignored if you have a podcast with no audience. However, it is impossible to be ignored when your podcast has an army. The best way to build your army is to start by noticing your ideal listeners.

The simple act of noticing with sincerity and authenticity on a consistent basis will create rapport. Rapport, over a period of time, will generate reciprocity.

Reciprocity that is compounded is impossible to ignore (aka the army).

Box People

Lou Mongello affectionately calls his audience the Box People. They are the raving fans of his show. They have nominated him for a Podcast award for eight years in a row.

They like and comment on his social media posts in masses.

They show up to his webinars in droves. Hundreds attend his events. They gladly spend their money on Lou’s products and services.

Lou will be the first to admit that the Box People are the reason for his success. How can you create your own Box People?

Jason D. BayJason D. Bay // Twitter

~ #Millennial #Entrepreneur & Marketer | Founder of GenY Success | Host of The GenY Success Show

A feature in the New & Noteworthy section of iTunes is key to getting your podcast the exposure it needs.

You have 8 weeks after you launch your podcast to get as many reviews and downloads as possible to get it featured!

Here’s what I would do if I had to start over again.

1. Create a how to post or video. 

The first step is to create a video or blog post that shows people how to leave a review. Here’s a sample video here.

2. Create shortened links.

Instead of giving people your full iTunes link to check out your podcast, use a WordPress plugin called PrettyLink to create a shortened link: Then create one for your review post/video: These are the links you’ll use for step #3.

3. Friends and family plan.

Send those links to as many friends and family as you can so that you can get your initial 25 reviews or so.

Once you have those, more people will listen to your show. Text, email, IM…whatever you have to do to get reviews and downloads.

4. Get niche influencers on as guests.

I would spend quite a bit of time finding out who’s in my niche that has already gathered my audience for me.

Then I would get them on my podcast so that they can share the interview with their audience. This is a great growth hack.

5. Optimize your podcast in iTunes & Stitcher. 

People use the search boxes in these platforms to search for new podcasts and podcast episodes with their favorite people.

Make sure that your niche is in the title of your podcast, along with the names of credible people you’ve had on the show.

Jason D. Bay - Itunes

Joe Saul-SehyJoe Saul-Sehy // Twitter

~ Host of Stacking Benjamins, a light-weight, magazine style financial podcast modeled after Car Talk and late night television talk shows.

It’s important to start strong….rehearse your show enough that you’re going to give listeners something of value.

What is it that excites you? What makes you want to talk about a topic enough that you’re willing to tell the world about your love.

Worry about having something to say….but don’t worry about being perfect.

Great podcasts will come with experience, but you can’t fake enthusiasm and desire

Release several episodes immediately so that you have a shot at iTunes New and Noteworthy.

I would NOT ask for reviews at the top of your show (new listeners are turned off by this….you haven’t given them any value yet!), but I would ask at the end of EVERY show.

Create a great podcast, put out one per day for a week or two, and then settle into your long-term rhythm. That’ll help drive you up the rankings with iTunes and (hopefully) Stitcher.

People become really obsessed with finding NEW listeners. I took a different approach with Stacking Benjamins

I set out to become a black hole and strove to never lose a CURRENT listener.

Studies have shown that it’s far easier for a business to keep a current customer than it is to cultivate a new one.

Why not make a show that people will love first, create tons of supporting value on your website and then ask for referrals at the end of your show?  

Justin CookeJustin Cooke // Twitter

~ Partner at Empire Flippers where he help others buy and sell websites and online businesses. I also host the Empire Podcast, a top-rated business podcast on iTunes.

If you’ve got the chops, running a podcast can be one of the best ways to build and earn authority in your industry.

Unlike a blog post, you simply don’t have the time to research and look up every little thing you’re talking about. You have to be involved in your industry on a day-to-day basis if you’re going to be talking about it on a podcast.

This is something listeners notice.

If you’re speaking clearly and passionately about important (and even controversial) topics in you’re industry, you’ll be winning over fans.

Fans matter, because prospective customers that know, like, and trust you are much more likely to do business with you than your competition and can significantly improve the lifetime value (LTV) for your customers across the board.

I’m actually in the process of starting a new podcast from scratch with another partner in my industry, so I’ve spent some time thinking about how to get that podcast off the ground.

Here are a few of my best tips:

1. Have intelligent, engaging guests from in or around your industry that come with a baked-in audience themselves.

It’s not enough for them to be knowledgeable – podcasts are “infotainment” and your guest has to be entertaining enough to keep the audience’s attention.

If you ask interesting, thoughtful questions, your guest is much more likely to share your content as it’s a good reflection on them. (And might include interesting/new content they’d like to share with their audience) Bonus points if your guest has a podcast themselves – you’re likely to get some benefit of cross-pollination there.

2. Reach up the value chain.

Top tier guests are much more likely to come on your show for an hour than to sit down for a couple of days to write your guest post. You’ll never know who you could get if you don’t ask!

3. Reach out to other podcasters to see if they’re looking for guests.

Anyone who’s had a podcast out for a while (and is honest enough to admit it) is ALWAYS looking for more content ideas. Having you on saves them the hassle of finding a new guest and puts you in front of a new audience. Take a stab and be contrarian – make the show interesting! Just not at the expense of your host, of course.

4. Find another podcast and make them your “nemesis”.

All in good fun, of course. Reach out to them and see if you can battle it out to get bigger guests, more shares, more downloads, etc. You could even have a segment on your show where you discuss the competition. This “drafting” technique can be used to propel both of your new shows forward more than you might be able to on your own.

Have questions? Shoot me a tweet: @empireflippers

Nick LoperNick Loper // Twitter

~ Marketer, skier, author, business nerd, podcaster

I LOVE podcasting. It’s been the single biggest growth driver for me the last 2 years.

Starting over, I’d take a slightly different approach. Knowing that the raw number of downloads is part of the iTunes ranking algorithm, I’d produce a shorter show with more frequency.

So instead of one 30-50 minute show each week, I could have five 6-10 minute shows. 

The content could even be the exact same. If you’re doing an interview based show, just break up the audio into different segments that make sense. 

The other thing I would focus on is appearing on OTHER podcasts.

Consider it the audio version of guest blogging.

Now I say that with a caveat because most of the time I hate getting guest pitches, but if you do your homework, know the host and their audience and message, and think you have something valuable to share, definitely reach out. 

Some of the cold pitches I’ve received have turned out to be some of my best episodes. And others I’ve had to scrap entirely.

Before you do ANY of this kind of outreach, make sure you’ve got your talking points nailed and provide massive value to the listeners.

I’d probably start with smaller shows first to get some “practice” before going after the bigger ones.

Renee GroskreutzRenee Groskreutz // Twitter

~ Wild about WordPress blogs. Educator, speaker, podcaster, builder, handholder.

Podcasting is by far my favorite medium for sharing what I’ve learned about blogging. However, when I launched my show I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

One Sunday afternoon, when I exhausted friends and family of hearing me talk blogging, I grabbed my laptop, opened up Garage Band and just started recording on a whim.

I did not have a special microphone. I did not worry about background noises, an intro or anything. I just started recording.

I’ve improved a lot since then (I hope – you tell me.Once I realized that I wanted to do this as part of my platform, I sat down and created a plan of action. So I’ve learned a few things since then.

If you are thinking about starting a podcast, here is a list of a few things that you should consider.

1. Have a plan.

The only difference between podcasting and blogging is the medium. In my blogging course, I always teach to have a set of categories and blog post titles before you launch.

The same is true with podcasting. To be successful with podcasting you need to provide your audience with a steady stream of content on a reliable schedule and planning is the best way to do that.

2. Sound quality matters.

Put away the dogs, the kids and buy a decent mic. That first day when I recorded you could hear my dogs in the background and if you listened closely you could actually hear me.

The internal mic provided on a laptop is not good enough, not even close. Now I use a Blue Yeti and I love it.

Isolate yourself in a quiet room, sit close to your mic and speak up.

3. Have a backlog.

When I recorded that first episode, I released it out of excitement. Podcasting can quickly become a chore if you are not prepared to release podcasts on a consistent basis.

You should decide on a frequency in advance of launching your podcast and then I recommend that you have a backlog of 5 times that number before you launch.

4. Don’t hold back.

Podcasting is an extremely intimate medium and that allows you the opportunity to truly connect with people in a way that words on a screen may never do.

This is why you should allow your personality to shine through and let people get to know, like and trust you.

Remember, you can’t please everyone, so why bother trying?

If you spend all of your time behind the mic sounding stiff and buttoned up, listeners may not relate to you and be less likely to share your podcast.

5. Make an offer.

Make an offer in the podcast that you don’t make anywhere else.

When I launched my podcast, I told people that if they emailed me their phone number, we could jump on the phone and talk about blogging.

At that time, that offer wasn’t available on any other digital presence.

When you provide people with that kind of offer and then follow through, they are far more likely to spread the word.

6. Reach out.

Don’t launch your podcast in a vacuum and hope that people will just find it. Tell the world about your podcast. Consider the following:

  • Announce it to your mailing lists.
  • Email your friends and family. Ask them to listen and to review.
  • Announce it on your blog.
  • Join Podcasting Groups.
  • Go to forums and connect with people.
  • Join a group in your Niche on Reddit.
  • Email other podcasters and introduce yourself.

The best way to grow a podcast is to not stop podcasting.

Just like growing any online presence, it takes time, dedication and a touch of luck, or as Smart Passive Income podcaster Pat Flynn would say: some serendipity.

Shawn ManaherShawn Manaher // Twitter

~ Internet Entrepreneur, business podcaster

This is a great question because it forces you to focus on factors that some of us might not be paying attention to. Without the help of Google, social media and paid traffic, the key is to create and maintain an excellent podcast that provides great value.

And isn’t that what we all should be doing anyway?

Here’s what I would do:

1. Create an Irresistible Podcast

Through reverse engineering of existing, highly rated podcasts, I would be able to determine why some podcasts perform well. Then, I would integrate those whys into my own podcast. I would also make sure that the finished product provides excellent value and quality.

2. Create Vibrant Podcast Artwork/Logos

A great visual design attracts more people.

3. Create Enticing Episode Titles

Titles should be succinct, but they should also tell the story of that particular episode in miniature.

4. Take Advantage of the Platform’s Ratings and Reviews System

Being active on these platforms can help podcasters garner attention and grow an audience.

5. Proper Categorization

If my business podcast is listed in the “Comedy” category, for example, I’m probably not going to connect with the people I want to reach with my podcast. Make sure your audience can find you easily!

6. Proper Metadata Use

My podcast feed – as well as each individual episode – would contain the proper metadata to ensure that potential listeners would be able to find me by searching for crucial keywords.

Additionally, I would make sure each episode is tagged properly so that listeners are aware of the themes and topics discussed.

While it’s easy to focus on using Google, social media and paid traffic to boost your podcast audience, the work you do within your podcast and the platforms where it’s available can provide you a huge advantage.

Jaime JayJaime Jay // Twitter

~ Podcast Professor

If I were unable to user Google, social media or paid traffic and I wanted to build a large and loyal tribe for my new podcast I would be sharing my show with everyone I met.

There are three things I would do to ensure my show’s success:

1. Create a launch team.

2. Make the show fun and entertaining.

3. Promote fans to support the show by leaving ratings and reviews in iTunes.

In order to create any hype or buzz about a new show, without having the luxury of social media, you will want to get the word out to as many people as possible.

By enlisting a group of friends/advocates to help you is a great way to have a larger reach right away.

People love being part of something and if you can get a group of friends together that want to have fun, they will share this fun with everyone.

This is why testimonials are so popular nowadays. People want to make sure something is good or recommended before they try it.

Another way to grow the audience is to create fun and entertaining segments on the show.

It would be a good idea to take questions centered on the topic of the show, reference the person that asked the question and then provide an answer directly to the person that asked.

This is a great way to make that listener feel important and this will endear them to the show.

I think this would greatly enhance the participation on the show and, while it would take a while to build the audience this way, it would build a loyal tribe first.

By involving your loyal tribe or fan base in the show, it would help to create advocates of your show.

There’s nothing better than to have people who love your show sharing it with others for free.

Probably one of the most important parts of having a successful show are people leaving comments, ratings and reviews on your show in iTunes.

If you are able to get on New and Noteworthy for with your new show, you will gain a lot more exposure than if you are unsuccessful in doing so.

I was helping another friend launch their show and the first week they were getting 60 – 80 views a day.

They reached New and Noteworthy and received nearly 300 downloads the first day.  

It would be super hard to get this done without social media, paid traffic or Google, but it would be possible.

Not only could you build a loyal and large fan base, but you can have a lot of fun doing so by creating a solid launch team, making the show fun and entertaining by creating cool segments and asking your listeners to leave ratings and reviews on iTunes.


If you have the knowledge to share your passion with the world and make raving fans out of it, podcasting will be a fun and rewardable thrill for anyone who is ready for it.

Plus, you can do all this, without depending on Google, SEO, social media or paid traffic.

If you have any quick tips, comments or questions about podcasting, leave them below.




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5 thoughts on “Starting a Podcast. Growing Your Audience. Without Google, Social Media or Paid Traffic. 15 Experts Show How

  1. This is a great example of getting creative… honored to be among such amazing podcasters… I learned a lot too! Love it! I second Zac’s comment that podcasting is definitely on the rise…

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