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Tips for Growing Your Podcast’s Reach with Kevin Chemidlin from Grow the Show

Learn Kevin Chemidlin's 6 top tips on how to grow your podcast reach! From listener retention to monetizing your show, boost your show today.
Last Updated:
January 15, 2024
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Riverside recently hosted a community ‘Ask Me Anything’ event with Kevin Chemidlin, the founder and host of Grow the Show. Since 2020, Kevin’s company has helped over 400 podcasters grow and monetize their shows. Before that, he was a full-time independent podcaster for 2 years. Plus, Kevin uses Riverside to help produce his successful podcast. 

We had creators in our community ask Kevin anything they’d like about growth tactics, monetization, listener engagement, and more. Here are some of our favorite questions and answers from our community AMA.

Building momentum for your show

New podcasters should start with a clear premise for their shows. Make sure to ask yourself, who the show is for,  what it will do for listeners, and how it will do that form them. It should be obvious to your target audience what they will gain from listening to your show, and having a defined mission behind your podcast is essential for providing that. 

Another tactic involves participating in online communities where their target audience hangs out. The rule of thumb here is “Don’t promote, participate.” Engage within these communities by answering questions, celebrating wins, and genuinely participating in discussions, rather than simply sharing links to new episodes. 

Lastly, try posting on social media every day for 3 months. Pick one social media platform and commit to this everyday schedule. Regular posts introduce your podcast’s “essence” to potential listeners and attract them to your main content, while also providing the opportunity to get immediate feedback on whether your content resonates with your audience. If your strength is video, try Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts. If your strength is in your written content, try X (formerly known as Twitter) or LinkedIn. 

Increasing audience engagement

To get listeners to engage with your content, there needs to be a potential reward for doing so. This can be a contest, a feature, bonus content, or anything else. It also needs to be extremely easy for listeners to engage. For example, if you want listeners to share their stories, include a link in the show notes that directs them right to the page to do so (platforms like PodPage and PodInBox include these features). 

“Even still, there’s a lot of friction between the moment they’re hearing you on your podcast…and the moment they can do what you asked them to do,” Kevin said. “Many will forget, or just find it to be too much work. This is why having a social presence, email list, or online community is my favorite way to direct listener engagement.”

Simple growth tactics to supercharge audience growth

“Aim to be featured on 4 other podcasts per month. That’s it,” Kevin told the Riverside community. 

Beyond that, closely follow your episode’s average completion rate. If it is below 80%, this indicates that your podcast is not keeping enough listeners until the end of the episode. Aim to have over 80% completion per episode. 

“That is actually the tactic that I have found to make audience growth way easier: learn how to achieve an 80%+ retention/completion rate. Because once you have that, for one the growth tactics you’re using now will work better, because your show doesn’t leak listeners all the time, and two: your listeners will start to help you grow your show, because 80% means it’s a good show, and they will tell others,” Kevin explained. 

Keeping your listeners’ retention

The first 30-90 seconds of each of your episodes should do nothing but sell the listener on what they will get out of listening to that episode, Kevin says. The key for your podcast intro is not to focus on what you’ll talk about, but instead focus on the benefit your audience will get from listening. 

After that, it is important to hold your listeners’ attention throughout. So keep the episode entertaining throughout, and avoid tangents or talking about topics that do not apply to the episode title. The best way to find out how you’re doing is by checking the retention graph available on your Apple Podcast dashboard. There, you’ll be able to see exactly where people are turning your episode off, and you can target your efforts to make improvements. 

Partnering with other podcasters

“Podcast collaborations are what I find to be the most effective way to grow a show,” Kevin said. 

By joining as a guest on another show that covers a similar topic area as yours, 100% of the people you reach while collaborating are confirmed podcast listeners who have sought out similar content. Kevin recommends using Rephonic to find podcasts to help identify shows that cover a similar topic and reach similar audiences.

Monetizing your content

All forms of podcast monetization involves getting your listeners to buy something, whether that is something you make or something someone else makes. Those can be broken down into two categories: 

  1. Products that you as the podcaster create, such as merchandise, live tickets to events, physical products, an ebook, a course, a coaching session or a service. 
  2. Products that someone else has made, which involves sponsorships and affiliate programs with other brands. 

“So the quicker you can come up with something that most of your listeners will likely want to buy, the quicker you will monetize,” Kevin said. 

The more effective route if you have yet to reach a substantial audience (meaning about 50K listeners per episode or higher) is by selling something that you make yourself. An example could be a food podcast that sells a curated spice kit to listeners of their favorite spices. Once you reach the 50K listener threshold, it can become significantly profitable to sell podcast sponsorships

“To any podcaster, of any size, to drag the moment of monetization from the future into the present, you must find the answer to this question: What thing will most of my listeners want to buy?” Kevin said. 

Analyzing podcast growth metrics

Here are the four metrics that Kevin tracks to monitor his show’s growth:

Retention rate:

“This in my opinion is the vital sign of any podcast,” Kevin said. A high retention rate means the show is ready for growth, while a low retention rate means it is not keeping to the promise it made to listeners who have pressed play. 

“Shows with low retention do not grow, they shrink. Or, in many cases, they look like they’ve plateaued, but really they’re just churning their audience, like a revolving door,” Kevin explained. 

30-day download performance:

“This tells me overall how an episode performed,” he said. 

7-day download performance:

“This tells me how good of a job I did promoting the episode the week it came out,” Kevin explained.

Monthly downloads/episodes released:

“Monthly downloads are cool, but I like to divide that number by the number of episodes I released that month,” Kevin said.

“Some months it’s 4 [episodes], some months it’s 5, so going by monthly downloads alone would mean that sometimes it looks like my show shrunk 20% in a month. It didn’t, I just published 20% fewer episodes,” Kevin said that this method also takes into account what Kevin calls the “binge factor.” 

“If MD/ER is higher than the 30-day downloads you’re currently averaging, then the difference is how many back catalog downloads you got.” 

Kevin also shared his advice on choosing podcast names, managing your workload, outsourcing, and his favorite methods for selling ad spots. You can read all of his advice, and hear insights and tips from over 12K fellow creators by joining the Conversations Creators by community group. 

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