By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Before you start throwing money toward an advertising campaign, consider all the things you can do to spread the word about your podcast that don’t require a financial investment. In fact, you probably should be doing these things even if you plan on tossing out some cash for effect.

Optimizing your site for search engines

You can employ some SEO practices to your entire website so that it receives the maximum exposure and visibility to search engines.

For more information on optimizing your site, check out SEO For Dummies by Peter Kent (published by Wiley) and Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies by Bruce Clay (Wiley) Additionally, Cre8asite Forums is an invaluable discussion board to keep up on the latest techniques on keeping your website search engine friendly.

Submitting promos to other podcasts

Podcasting has been called by some to be a great hall of mirrors, as it seems that many podcasts spend at least some portion of their time talking about … other podcasts!

This feeling of community adds to the distinctiveness that is podcasting, and something that is, for the most part, accepted by the general podcasting audience. The podcasting landscape isn’t shrinking anytime soon, and it’s so fractured that many listeners are looking for their favorite podcasters to help steer them toward other podcasts they may find interesting.

Not all podcasters do this. In fact, most corporate podcasts must see other podcasts as competition and are as likely to talk about another podcast as a traditional broadcaster is to talk about another station across town. Even some of the independent podcasters make a point not to talk about other podcasts, simply because they don’t want to add to the hall of mirrors effect.

One of the more widespread ways podcasters talk about other podcasters is with promos. A promo is a short (or long) audio clip that describes your show. Other podcasters then insert this clip into their shows — play it on the air so to speak — thereby presenting your message to their subscribed and downloading audiences.

Promos are a great way to let other folks know your podcast exists. Spend some time listening to other podcasts and see whether they’re playing promos. When you find one that does, see what the average time for the promotion turns out to be and what type of content is being presented. Is it all serious business, or is more lighthearted humor involved? Query other podcasts and offer up your promo. In exchange, offer to make a promo for your host podcast. Some podcasters are good at making promos and even offer to make promos for free for other podcasters.

One final note on sending out promos: Ask. Unless the show specifically says, “Submit your promos to us at … ,” be a good podcasting citizen and send the podcaster a note asking whether she’d like to run your promo. Requests that start off with “I listen to your show every week because you …” are likely to get a better response than those starting (and ending) with “Please run my promo.” Consider taking a reverse approach, as well. If you listen to a podcast and want to run her promo on your show, ask if she has a promo and offer to play it. Most podcasters are more than happy to contribute.

Recording your promo

Recording your own promo isn’t difficult, and the ones that come from the voice of the podcaster have a unique feel. You’ve done the hard work by figuring out what makes your podcast special; now you need to sit down and record your promo. Here are a few tips:

  • Write your script. Or don’t. Some folks are happy flying off the cuff. But in the interest of time, put some thoughts down on paper and running through them out loud to see how long it takes. Most promos are under a minute long, unless you have lots of great stuff to say.
  • Add effects and music from your podcast. If you use the same music in your show each week or have some special sound effects that brand the show as yours, include them in your promo. Effects are a great way to tie in your promotion to your show, assuring new listeners that they have subscribed to the right place.
  • Don’t forget your website URL! Too many podcasters provide the link to their podcast feed. Pretty well a useless exercise. Instead, repeat the URL of your website, where it should be painfully simple to subscribe to the RSS feed for your podcast.
  • Include a link to the promo on your website. Recording one and sending it out to a few podcasts is great, but what about all the other folks you inspire to make their own podcast? Chances are good that if you put a link to your promo file on your website, others will grab that file and include your promo in their shows.
  • Speak clearly and enunciate! You may know the name of your show very well. Like your own name, you’ve said it “millions” of times. This means you might say it so quickly, it may not come out as clearly as it should. When you introduce your show to someone who has never heard the show name before, you need to slow down a bit.

When you send other podcasters your promo, save some email bandwidth and send the link that’s on your website, rather than the file itself.

Giving interviews

Don’t forget that podcasting is the fastest growing medium we’ve seen … ever! If your podcast covers a brand-new area of the world or addresses an underserved market, folks are out there who want to talk with you about it.

Contact the publications, radio shows, websites, and other outlets that cover the industry your podcast falls under. Send them your press release, along with a personalized note telling them about your show and stating that you’re happy to do an interview.

Interviews can be done in person, but most today are conducted over the phone or online phone services like Skype. A handful are conducted via email. Preparing for an interview can make the difference between a poor interview that never sees publication or airtime and a well-delivered interview that keeps the audience — as well as the interviewer — engaged and entertained.

Here are a few tips to make your interview go swimmingly:

  • Eliminate the BS factor. If you have only a passing interest in the subject for which you’re trying to pass yourself off as an expert, you’ll quickly be discovered, thrashed repeatedly, and left out for the buzzards. The people who are interviewing you likely are already experts in their fields, so don’t try to come off as something you aren’t. Be open and honest about your experience and focus on why you’re doing the podcast. Even if you’re considered a subject matter expert, remember that your listener may not be.
  • Mention your website again and again. is your chance to sell yourself and your podcast. If your interviewer is good, he’ll give you ample opportunity to mention your website and podcast. If not, it’s up to you. Look for chances to drop the name and URL if necessary.
  • Stay positive. If the interviewer knows anything about podcasting, he’ll likely ask questions on the future of podcasting, the death of radio, amateur versus professional, and all sorts of other controversial topics. Unless your podcast is about podcasting, rise above the din. This conversation doesn’t serve you or the listening/reading/viewing audience well. Point out how your podcast addresses the issue and resist the temptation to get into an argument.

Generating buzz

The more folks you can get talking about your show, the better off you are. Sometimes, you need to take the message to the masses. Find a discussion group or an online forum germane to your podcast’s area of interest and start posting.

When you post, don’t start out with “Hey, I’m new to the group and have this great podcast!” Instead, listen in to the conversation, comment on a few threads, and get folks used to your voice before you hit them with the come-listen-to-my-podcast pitch. In fact, the best way to pitch your podcast is to never utter those words at all. Instead, offer up things like “Last week on my podcast, I covered the very thing you were talking about, Jill.” It shows you’re paying attention to the conversation and not just looking to spam a newsgroup or mailing list with your podcast URL.

A very fine line exists between tasteful self-promotion and outright spamming. Generating buzz isn’t the same as advertising. Advertising has its place, but most forums don’t welcome it. If you can’t decide whether your post contains too much advertising or not, it probably does. Discretion is the better part of valor, in this instance.