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Maximising Your Exposure with Series Podcasting, Plus the Optimal Feed Structure

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Maximising Your Exposure with Series Podcasting, Plus the Optimal Feed Structure

There’s little doubt that season based podcasting is a hot topic.

The fun thing is, season based podcasting is nothing new – from content by pioneers in the field like Colin Gray (Podcraft) to the juggernaut that is Serial, season based podcasting has long been a way for producers to create content without the commitment to an ongoing, regularly scheduled show.

But right now, it seems that many “independent” podcasters, a term I use to represent those of us who podcast for fun, as a marketing channel for our business or those of us who podcast without any network affiliations, are beginning to consider seasonal options for our daily, weekly or monthly shows.

And it’s easy to understand why.

Running a seasonal podcast comes with many benefits for both the host of a podcast and of course, for the listener.

As a podcast host, you can benefit from:

  • Flexibility & creativity within the parameters of a single season.
  • The opportunity to iterate your show seasonally without fear of “frustrating” your die hard fans.
  • More focussed content per season – “deep dive”.
  • Batch processing and recording to keep podcasting fun & “lighter touch” whilst still being productive.
  • Niche sponsor targeting.
  • The chance to create extra podcasts in your niche, without taking on a “full time job” in doing so.

For listeners, season based podcasting affords the chance to dive into a new show without the fear of commitment – understanding that a show has a finite number of episodes and that their “usual” listening habits will remain intact.

In fact, this is one of the more compelling reasons for creating a seasonally based podcast in my opinion.

Following a survey of my own listeners, I found out that the reason they don’t subscribe to more new shows is the fear of “committing” to a new podcast.

And, the number one reason that they stop listening to a show is because they “get behind and can never catch up” with ongoing shows.

Season based podcasting isn’t all sweetness and light, though.

As with any alternative option, there are drawbacks too, including the risk of losing listeners during your “season breaks” and the classic procrastination of seasonal productions by producers thanks to “real-life kicking in” or being “busy”.

As liberating as a seasonal podcast can be, if you aren’t careful it can also prove to be a challenge to maintain momentum.

Without the self-imposed and listener-challenged deadlines of a daily, weekly or monthly release schedule it can become very easy to “put off” that next season, because no one is expecting it.

In my opinion, seasonal podcasting should be as regularly and publicly accountable as any other podcasting schedule – if not more so given the consideration that listeners may discover other shows whilst you’re on that off-season.

Maximising your exposure with seasonal podcasting

Once you have decided that seasonal podcasting is for you, I believe the trick to continued success is in maximising your exposure during the listener discovery phase that occurs between your seasons.

Just like podcasting overall, there aren’t any hard and fast rules for maximising the exposure, but one of the phases that I went through when redeveloping Excellence Expected into a seasonal format was how I could be present to my listeners and to potential new audience members, without forcing myself into a degenerative cycle of maintenance.

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Considering your podcast feed structure

Whilst developing the new season-based format for Excellence Expected, I had a very specific set of goals:

  1. As mentioned above, be present for existing listeners and make it as simple as possible for them to get hold of each new season easily.
  2. Be as discoverable as possible within iTunes and the other podcast search engines to attract new listeners to the show.
  3. Somehow showcase that Excellence Expected is a seasonal show and that each season stands alone in terms of being evergreen content that can be consumed either in isolation, or as part of a wider piece of study by the listener.

There are a multitude of considerations that need to be worked through and planning to be implemented in order to achieve those goals, including elements such as branding and the visual representations of the show via podcast cover artwork – each season has to be very obviously part of a wider lineup of content aimed at the target audience.

Yet, whilst there is a lot of work to do in order to pitch your show like this, it is how you structure your podcast RSS feeds that is the most important factor in achieving the goals set out above.

How I decided to structure my RSS feeds for seasonal podcasting in order to maximise exposure

series-podcasting-rss-feed-structure

I developed this version of a seasonal podcast feed structure based on the goals set out above. I may tweak this in the future but right now it’s what I’m going to be testing.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Under the assumption that my regular listeners are subscribed to my “normal” podcast RSS feed in iTunes et al, I publish each season to that feed so that they get the new content quickly and easily with no extra work.
  2. When a new season is available, the previous season’s content is removed from my main feed mentioned above and a new feed (effectively a new podcast show) is created with that audio content.
  3. The new season’s content is published to the “normal” feed as usual with a new piece of podcast cover art.
  4. The previous season’s content that has been moved to a new show feed is then submitted to iTunes, Stitcher et al as a brand new show / feed along with the podcast cover art I used whilst that season’s content was populating my “normal” RSS feed.

Why take this approach?

I didn’t want to create an endless list of content in my one feed, because my goals personally are to provide solutions to early stage entrepreneurs’ problems in actionable, step-by-step pieces of content that are subject focussed.

Using the method above, let’s re-examine the goals I set out:

  1. As mentioned above, be present for existing listeners and make it as simple as possible for them to get hold of each new season easily. Check. All current subscribers receive my new audio seasons immediately.
  2. Be as discoverable as possible within iTunes and the other podcast search engines to attract new listeners to the show. Check. Anytime people search for my name or the show, they won’t simply receive one show, they will be presented with a range of content from me – all with a consistent visual feel.
  3. Somehow showcase that Excellence Expected is a seasonal show and that each season stands alone in terms of being evergreen content that can be consumed either in isolation or as part or a wider piece of study by the listener. Check. In each of my iTunes categories I will have multiple shows, each with evergreen content that can be completely and singularly marketed forever. This will allow me to build a library of continually marketed content, rather than simply marketing the “current” content.

Conclusion

I have found season based podcasting to be a really powerful way of freshening up my content and I believe that by testing and continually improving upon the set up above, you too can create an ever expanding library of content that will give you marketing opportunities you may never have spotted with a linear, singular show.

Got questions? Use the comments and I’ll answer each and every one!

Looking for creative content ideas for your first series based podcast?

Here are 5 actionable ideas that will help you get started this week.

Don’t forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel.

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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