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How To Grow Your Podcast In 2021

by | New Podcasters, Podcast, Podcasters

Question: Do you have a plan to grow your podcast in 2021?

I know you’re investing into your podcast. Whether it’s time or money or energy, you’re putting an ambitious effort into the content you’re creating. So now it’s time to look at some key areas where your podcast is doing well, where it’s not meeting your expectations, and what you can do to get to the next level with your podcast by setting podcast goals for 2021.

Before I jump into the content today I want to take a second to share a super sweet listener review from mhoustoncpa who said “I love these podcast tips! Emily is my go-to for all podcast info. I love this podcast with her tips and tricks. She talks about things I never thought of, which makes me a much better podcaster.” Thank you SO MUCH for this review, it’s always my goal to make sure I’m sharing tips with you that can help you look at podcasting from different perspectives to find new ways to grow!

I’d love to hear from more of you, what’s helping? What do you want to hear more of? Head over to Apple Podcasts and leave me a review and I might just read it out on an upcoming episode of Ultimate Podcast Marketing!

This week we also heard from Megan Otto who asked about both the time and monetary investment for podcasting, and I answer her question at the end of the episode!

What does success look like to you?

It’s important for you to define what “next level” means. Is it generating revenue that you can measure? Is it growing your community? Is it bringing in new leads? Everyone is going to have a different goal because we’re all on totally different journeys.

I’m going to take you through an activity to figure this out! YEAH! It’s action party time!

I want you to get out a pen and paper, and follow the prompts I’m going to share here to reflect on your podcast performance in 2020. If you want to follow along, I’ve included this as a blog and I’ll link to that in the show notes.


At the top of your page, write out a list of wins for the year! What went really really well that you want to continue? What made a difference in your content, your business, your confidence? List anything here that you consider a step up from last year. And if launching your podcast happened in 2020, definitely write that down here!

Now, draw some vertical lines to make 3 columns on your page. Column 1 will be “Could be better,” column 2 will be “challenges” and column 3 will be “Next step.”

Could be better

Write down things you wish had gone better. Was consistency hard for you this year? Or maybe it was figuring out how to engage your audience? Maybe you want more downloads for each episode? Maybe you want better quality audio? Anything like that belongs here.


Write down challenges, what do you think is holding you back from fixing the things you wish had gone better? And here I’m going to offer that some of these challenges could be straight up mental blocks, especially on the tech side. When things are unknown we tend to avoid them at all costs and they just keep getting bigger and bigger in our heads. If the challenge is on the revenue side, it may come down to developing better tracking systems to really nail down where your leads are coming from. Anything blocking you from achieving your goals belongs here.

Next steps

Write down one step towards a solution for each challenge you’ve listed. If it’s tech, is there a tutorial on my site that can help you? If it’s reach, is there a potential guest you could interview? If it’s leads, are you actually putting proper calls to action in the content of your podcast, asking people to book a discovery call, or recording separate promos? Keep it to one step for now.


Now take a look at the list in column 1 and choose a few items that are affecting your success. Are you spending too much time researching your topics? Not enough time figuring out which questions make sense in your interviews? And be really picky here, choose items that you really want to see a major shift in for 2021. Things that will have a positive impact on your business or career if they were addressed with a plan.

I’m going to go through a few of the most common things my clients identify as areas they want to improve for 2021 now, and if you hear some of your own challenges here, note down some of the solutions for the next part of this activity.

Revenue & Leads

This is a tough metric to track without having proper tracking in place, but it is possible. There are a few variables here though.

If you’re promoting a high ticket service like copywriting packages, you might find it tougher to assign the sale to your podcast directly, because the podcast is acting more as a funnel and touchpoint to draw people into your circle. To track this, you’re really just going to have to ask people if they heard about you from your podcast, and how they decided to hire you.

If you’re promoting specific offers, let’s say a low ticket offer like a mini-course, you can set up tracking with Google Analytics to see what the referral source was. Or, you can give your podcast listeners a promo code to use at checkout if you want a way easier method of tracking!

Getting further into the analytics is going to be essential if you really want to get a clear picture of how your podcast is contributing to your revenue, and if you’re really serious about making this a goal for your podcast for 2021, you’re going to have to set up a tracking system that can clearly identify whether or not leads are coming from your podcast.

Community & Reach

If number of downloads is high on your priority list, this is the section to pay attention to. First, I’ll say that on average, you can probably expect around 40-50 downloads per episode if you’re new to the game. Be careful with benchmarking against other podcasters though, because you don’t know what their goals are! Your numbers should really be specific to your own situation and what you’re trying to accomplish.

I’ll also throw in here that it’s important to identify why higher download numbers are important to you. Me personally, I feel like at the core of it, I just want to prove to myself that I can reach thousands of people – but if thousands of people aren’t working with me, am I creating content that’s actually going to be helpful to the people I am working with, or that I would like to work with? So what’s the drive behind achieving higher downloads for you?

Once you’ve clearly identified the why, it’s easier to identify a number to aspire to, and then to set a plan to achieve it.

Let’s say I want a minimum of 70 downloads per episode in the first week. First, I’m going to want to look at all of my existing marketing channels and figure out how many people I can reach, and then dig a bit deeper – how many people are opening my emails? How many are engaging with my social media content?

Next, I need to identify where my ideal listeners are hanging out. Either online or in real life – where are they asking questions that I can answer with my podcast?

My pal Michael Wood over at Helium Marketing once gave me some super helpful advice – go to Quora and look for questions your podcast can answer, either with existing episodes or future episodes. Then, post an answer to the question with a link back to the episode that will expand on that answer. When more people go looking for the answer, your response will remain there for future inquiries.

This is the part that takes a bit more work grunt work and honestly it’s something I’m constantly shoving to the bottom of my to-do list. But the reality is, if I’m sticking to Instagram and my existing email list, I’m probably not doing enough to accomplish those numbers.

In episode 30 of Ultimate Podcast Marketing, Kirsten Jordan, host of the Perfectly Imperfect Social Podcast has even more suggestions for growing your community and podcast reach via social media.

Now, what’s the plan for 2021?

At this point you’ve got a clear idea of what it is you want to improve on, so I want you to set a 3 month goal, a 6 month goal and a 12 month goal for your podcast, then outline tasks or steps to accomplish the goals.


Your goals should support your overall business goals, and if you want some help to develop topics and choose guests that will help you with the content side, go back to episode 34 which outlines how to use your podcast as a content map.

Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based). For example, if you’re currently getting 25 downloads per episode, set your next target at 35, then 50, then 70 and so on.

  • 3 month goal: 35 downloads per episode within the first week of release
  • 6 month goal: 50 downloads per episode within the first week of release
  • 12 month goal: 70 downloads consistently within the first week of release


Your tasks support the goals. If you want more downloads, you need to engage in activities that will result in higher downloads, like responding to questions on Quora, sharing episodes with people individually, sending an email when each new episode drops, posting about new episodes, linking to other episodes that are relevant etc.

Here are some examples:

  • Respond to at least 5 Quora questions a week for the next month linking back to my podcast
  • Send an email every week to let people know that there’s a new episode out
  • Post in stories twice weekly to let people know there’s a new episode out

The good news is, if you have a podcast production team, a lot of these steps are already taken care of for you, so you can focus more on strategy and developing the content that your audience wants.

What’s next?

If you’re thinking about how to set your podcast up for success in the new year but have no clue where to start, you can book a one on one with me to talk through strategy. We’ll take a look at your overall business goals and develop a podcast strategy that is time effective for you, and that will have a huge impact on what you want to improve the most for 2021. Book a call with me here!


  • 01:15 – Listener review
  • 02:06 – What does success look like to you?
  • 02:43 – The blog post to follow along with – link
  • 02:54 – Reflecting, what worked well, what didn’t?
  • 14:25 – Making the plan for 2021
  • 16:58 – Working with me on your podcast goals
  • 17:30 – Listener question from Megan Otto – The Brand Whisperer

Links mentioned in this episode:

How To Grow Your Podcast in 2021

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Podcast Rocket with Emily Milling

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