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What Creators Can Learn From Chart-Topping Podcasts

To grow as a podcaster, you’ll need a unique blend of determination, strategy and creative innovation.

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If you’re a podcaster seeking to grow your audience and following, you’ve likely spent dozens (if not hundreds) of hours listening to the chart-topping shows to better understand how you, too, can achieve that rank. Even if the tools or strategies that might have worked for someone else who runs a chart-topping podcast may not generate the same results for you, this doesn’t mean you can’t find value in their information, tips or tricks.

To grow as a podcaster, you’ll need a unique blend of determination, strategy, creative innovation and a deep understanding of your target audience to create podcast content that is authentic and engaging. In paying attention to how the highest-ranking podcasts have achieved success, you’ll see these traits shared by each podcast that lands itself at the top of the charts.

Create podcast content around a well-defined idea.

Every piece of content created is made with the intention of conveying a message. As creators, that underlying message is the “why” of our content — our reason for making it. Whether that is to bring the value of a niche topic to others, explore interesting topics or simply entertain listeners, smaller podcasters must first define this “why.”

For instance, if you are a mechanic and have a podcast on the anatomy of cars, a topic you could discuss is, “What kind of tires do I need to buy, and why?” That in itself is a podcast episode. Discuss why tires play an important role in road safety and the things listeners need to look out for. Find what your audience finds valuable, what they care about in their daily lives and give them insight as to how to solve their problems through your podcast’s content.

Chart-topping podcasts achieve their rank by clearly establishing why they are producing content, providing information and doing so consistently to build credibility and trust with their listeners. The more value listeners see in your content, and the clearer you are on your purpose, the more they’ll trust you and the easier it will be for your podcast to rank higher in the charts.

Understand who your content is meant for.

For any podcast to become a chart-topping success, the creator(s) running it needs to have a clear understanding of their target audience. Content might be king, but the audience is its queen, and that’s what makes podcasting such a unique realm for content creators.

Podcasting gives us the ability to generate consumable content around virtually any topic we want. The only caveat here is that the more specific of a topic our content focuses on, the smaller of an audience we are likely to receive. As a result, we must dedicate ourselves to adding value to our audiences, which is accomplished through understanding who our audience is.

For example, if you are a smaller podcaster creating content on a niche sub-topic of marketing, your audience will likely consist of professional marketers, social media managers and other content creators. If your content is focused on a broader topic, such as weekly sports highlights, then the demographics of your audience will be much broader and harder to pinpoint. The more relevant your content is to your audience, the more likely your podcast is to climb the charts.

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Commit to publishing content on a regular basis.

Take a moment to scour through the episode list of the top 10 podcasts. You’ll see their content is published on some kind of consistent schedule, be it daily, weekly or monthly. One reason top-ranking podcasts grow in popularity is that the people running them understand their listeners want regularly scheduled content. Your audience knows every Monday — or whichever day you release weekly — an episode from you is waiting for them. The podcast becomes a reliable friend or source for your audience every week.

As hosts of our own show, we have to treat our role in the same way that a radio or television show host treats theirs. Audiences tune in to these shows en masse so frequently because they have come to trust the host’s schedule. Disrupting that schedule can break trust with our audience, leading to drops in engagement, download rates and listener numbers. These metrics are vital to the continued growth and success of your podcast. The more solid of a routine you can establish when publishing your content, the higher those metrics will be, giving your podcast a better chance at climbing up the charts.

Lead with authenticity and structure your content around it.

Creators looking to grow their podcast into a top-ranking show need to understand how they can showcase their most authentic, genuine selves through their content.

Each experience with a podcast is as subjective as it is intimate. It’s like sitting down to dinner at a restaurant with a date; others around you might be having similar conversations, there might be louder conversations with larger audiences, but none of them are yours. Similarly, your date can be with someone new who you’ve never met or someone familiar who you know is a reliable source of fun, knowledge or entertainment.

In this analogy, the conversations are the podcasts, and your date is the host of one. The more authentic your date is, the more intimate, engaging and meaningful your conversation will be. The same is true of us as podcasts hosts. The more authentic we and our content are to our listeners, the deeper a relationship we can establish with them.

The best podcasters understand this. They exemplify it in their content by being genuine and true to their audience. It builds trust and engagement with their listeners, making them more likely to rate the podcast highly and share it with others, creating even more listeners. The things smaller podcasters can learn from chart-topping podcasts are the same qualities that can help propel their own show up through the ranks.

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