Promoting with Your Podcast: Telling the World a Story, One Podcast at a Time

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

The whole point behind promotion — be it for books, film, or other forms of entertainment — is to win prospective target audiences (or build on existing ones) with something new or to give a different take on a familiar commodity. For a fraction of the cost of print advertisements and broadcast-media commercials, podcasting opens markets for your creative work — and can even start to get your name into an international market.

If you’re an established presence in the writing market, or any entertainment field, the fans you have nurtured, with time, will not only eagerly support your podcast, but also introduce your MP3s to reader groups, friends, and enthusiasts of the subjects you’re writing about.

Podcasting can introduce your writings or your music to audiences worldwide. For artists in more visual arts such as film, dance, painting, or sculpture, podcasting — audio or video — can serve as a journal leading up to the premiere of your work or a behind-the-scenes look at how works go from idea to fruition.

It’s an instant connection with your audience, and a great way to build an audience by getting them to know you on however intimate a level works best for you and your work. Planning a strategy for this kind of promotion only helps your agenda:

  • When podcasting even in a visual media, briefly describe the action for the audience. In Masterpiece Studio’s podcast, both hosts and guests add into their interview details about scenes and moments that accompany audio clips from productions being discussed. It is never taken for granted that people have seen the episode or special event this companion podcast is showcasing. (Many times, the host will give a quick spoiler warning.) In only a few words and a few seconds, Masterpiece Studio sets the scene for what’s happening and why it is talking about it for the sake of listeners who are currently watching the latest PBS offering.

If you’re documenting your visual art, it will take only a moment to describe what you’re doing. For the painter: “I am using green with just a hint of black so we can make the eyes appear more unearthly, unnatural.” For a dancer, “In reconstructing the Australian Aboriginal dance, you must remain grounded and deep in your squats, more so than what is normally seen in modern dance.” Commentary like this, especially in a voiceover with video, does not need to go into every minute detail; but a few words are needed to create or complete a picture.

  • For writers and musicians: Edit, edit, edit. Awkward pauses, stammers, and stumbled words are obstacles for a writer introducing his work to the podosphere: They’ve gotta go! The approach is no different from that of an independent musician who podcasts a rehearsal session or a recording: You don’t want off-key instruments and vocalists missing the high notes. Your podcasts need to sound sharp and clean.

Musicians, no matter if it takes 5 takes or 50 takes, should have their instruments in tune, lyrics clearly pronounced, and all notes sung on key. Writers should enunciate, speak clearly, and (most importantly) enjoy the manuscript. Each piece, whether music or printed word, should be a performance that serves as your audition to a worldwide audience. (While that may sound a bit nerve-racking, don’t think of it as walking out on stage so much as building something fine to send into the world.) Just have fun, and your audience will enjoy the ride with you.

  • Open or close your podcasts with a brief, off-script commentary. Before beginning your latest installment or after your latest chapter concludes, a brief word from the author is a nice (and in many cases, welcoming) option for a podcast’s audience. This commentary gives the author a unique opportunity to connect with readers, sharing ideas about what inspired a scene, to promote an upcoming book-signing, or to give an update about what’s happening in the next book’s production.

This approach adds to the intimate experience of podcasting a novel, and podcast storytellers like Mur Lafferty, Philippa Ballantine, and Chris Lester use this to invite listeners into their real world after sharing the world they imagined. Let your audience members know who you are, and they’ll show their appreciation through their support of your current and future works.

Podcasting continues to prove itself as a viable means of promotion for artists of any media unable to fund their own coast-to-coast tour. It may make conventional creators shake their heads at the idea of giving their works away for free, but the numbers and individual successes of authors taking this chance is the proof in this publicity. Now, before ink even hits the page, authors are building fan bases and getting their names out into the public.