Once upon a time there were maybe three or four Christmas podcasts to listen to. I think it is fair to say that Christmas podcasting has just exploded the last couple of years.
I’m frankly surprised it took this long for it to catch on.
Running a Christmas community for as many years as I have has taught me that Christmas is so very diverse and people love to talk about whatever their Christmas love is.
Christmas Podcasts just extend that great, never-ending conversation. I think those who are podcasting Christmas are showing that now in huge ways.
Once-up-a-time I was told my website could never be successful because Christmas is too narrow and too seasonal a niche. Well look at Christmas online now – and look at how Christmas podcasting is changing that perception.
I wish I had time to listen to all the podcasts we showcase here on Christmas Podcasts. But, honestly, nobody has that kind of time. We are reaching a saturation point where listeners are going to have to discriminate to get to the Christmas they want. Isn’t it great that they have so many choices?
But how do you react to that as a podcaster? What are you doing to reach out to your audience to keep them listening? How do you position yourself and your podcast to capture new listeners?
Aren’t listeners what it is all about for your podcast? Just what makes for a “good” Christmas podcast?
That is a subjective question if all I’m talking about is Christmas content. Christmas content is your strength, your passion. Whatever your Christmas angle is that thrust you into podcasting why people listen to you.
But that’s not what I’m talking about when it comes to making a good Christmas podcast. That’s the stuff that makes a Christmas podcast great and unique – and that is what you do best as a podcaster. What I’m talking about are all the little tiny details that have to come before the Christmas stuff.
It is the boring and tedious stuff you need to think about before sitting in front of that microphone. I call it the listener experience. And you do need to worry about it.
Now, who am I to bring this up?
Well, I’m your customer.
You see, yes, I have a Christmas podcast and we just celebrated our 10th anniversary. But at the end of the day I’m just like everyone else out there. I want to hear stuff other than my own (don’t you?). I’m a Christmas fan.
But who do I choose and why would I choose them?
Sorry, but it’s like buying bread. Packaging matters. Taste matters. Price matters. Shelf placement matters. Availability matters. On-sale matters. Quick checkout matters.
Only it is podcasts that we’re talking about.
So headlines matter. Show notes matters. A website matters. Which social media channels matters. What it looks like on my phone and my computer matters. Even how files are named matters.
Helping run ChristmasPodcasts.com has taught me a lot in just a couple of months about how many Christmas Podcasts are just blowing it when it comes to the customer experience.
We will soon be publishing a regular ranking of Christmas podcast episodes (yes, we know how many folks are listening). We are also surveying listeners about their “customer experience” when they choose and listen to Christmas Podcasts.
Wouldn’t you like your podcast to do well with these things?
Here’s where you can work to improve the customer experience:
- Look at your feed. – Your feed is your product. It’s everything. It has your logo, your show summaries, and your critical links.
When we add a new podcast here to our site we use your feed to represent you. We use your feed for every episode. With many podcasts we have to go in and add information because the feed is missing it.
Little things like how you name your episode affect the look of your feed. A download titled “episode16.mp3” means nothing to someone who has downloaded your podcast.
Learn the art of tagging your podcast file with all the critical data of your podcast: the episode title, the name of the podcast, when it was produced and, yes, even your podcast logo.
When it is downloaded – and it usually is to a phone – you want them on their screen to see what they are listening to. How do you tag an mp3 file? Here’s a great piece of freeware that makes it quick and simple.
- Learn to write. – Text is the currency of the Internet. Even podcasts – or, I should say, especially podcasts – need to have strong text support in everything. You need the right kind of formatting of your show notes. You need to follow web publishing standards of length, keywords and SEO practices. Why?
Because text is how new people find you. They cannot index the great content of your audio file. You need stronger headlines, better summaries, and tagged articles, links and audio files. This is a ton of work.
But it is vital to “good customer service” and just being found on the Internet.
- Google your podcast regularly. – Like search engines or not, it is how the world finds you. You will be shocked to search your podcast and find it in places where you never submitted it. Apple, Google, Spotify and a few others are the big guns and everyone seems to submit to those places. So how do you get listed at these other places?
Honestly, most other aggregators out there just scrape them from Apple Podcasts. No problem, right? Wrong.
You need to go to those places and look at what they are doing with your feed. Apple takes your feed and strips out nearly everything except your logo and your notes. (I have problems with Apple because of that, but that’s another topic).
These other guys do weird stuff and you need to occasionally go there, look at your podcast on their interface and if there is something you don’t like – fix it. Keep the listener in mind.
You should also link back to everyone out there that features your podcast. You might not like their site, you might not ever use them yourself to listen to the podcasts you prefer and that doesn’t matter. It’s just good business.
Also, get good stat software to track where your podcasts are listened to. You might be surprised at what you find.
This is easiest to do if you have a website and your core files are served from it. Knowing where the listener is listening to you goes a long way in telling you not only how your podcast needs to be formatted but also just who your listener is.
- Get a good logo – Your logo needs to be with every episode, as noted above. Take a look at the logos on the directory page here at Christmas Podcasts. Which stand out to you and why?
I like this one from Yuletide TV – it’s simple, quick to identify and strongly brands that podcast:
Remember, this logo has to look good on every size of screen. That’s why Apple requires a logo sized 1400 x 1400 minimum.
We still don’t have that size logo for every podcast we feature. We cannot find them anywhere.
Because podcasters aren’t using those large size image files in their feeds or websites.
And it is hurting them and ticking off customers who can’t see who they are listening to.
- Make it so your podcast can be downloaded – this seems kind of obvious but many new podcasters don’t get this. They think that people listen to their podcasts via an app, like maybe they do themselves.
But listeners get their podcasts in the own time and in their own way. Many like to download podcast episodes so they can hear them on the go – in their car or out in the wild, etc.
They download, frankly, because they know they will be without an internet connection or a signal. Some just like to collect podcast episodes. It doesn’t matter why they do it, they just do it. Make it so they can download your podcast.
- Get a website. – Most podcasts don’t have websites. But the most popular podcasts do. Why? Because having your own dot com gives you a better everything – a better feed, a better identity and, frankly, a better podcast.
A podcast website does not need to be complicated. But it gives you permanency. It makes you more professional. Even your email address from your own domain looks better than Bobspodcast-at-gmail.com, know what I mean?
Apple, Google and Amazon are cluttered with dead podcasts. A website that you update and that you use to expand upon your offering proves to people you are alive.
It also makes your podcast move up in the rankings everywhere. We’ll share more about this critical element in other features later.
There are many ways to get your website set up. We will be glad to help you.
- Diversify your guests – Podcasts are great for getting new takes and opinions. There’s been a trend in the past year of podcasters interviewing podcasters on Christmas podcasts. There’s nothing wrong with this.
But you know what? After a while it looks weird – like you can’t find anyone else to talk to. If your podcast features other podcasters every other episode, what does that make your podcast – to the listeners?
There has been a long running debate about whether a “good” podcast even needs a guest.
I get that because on my podcasts I almost never have a guest or co-host. Wanna know why?
Because podcast guests are unpredictable.
Many are great but some like to hard sell or to control interviews to get their agenda out.
If you track how long listeners actually listen to your podcast you know it can vary based upon how listeners respond to the guest.
I don’t know a single podcaster who does not put a lot of work into their interviews.
It can be frustrating to a podcaster to have an episode go south just because the pod guest was a dud.
I get that. That’s one reason why I’m very selective about who comes on my podcast. It affects perceptions of the podcast.
At the same time, what does it say to the listening public who enjoy Christmas podcasts if they hear the same podcasters interviewing/collaborating with other podcasters all the time
They aren’t going to tell you it’s too much. They just won’t listen any more.
There are many outstanding resources out there that speak to these and other critical items of podcast excellence. We’ll share more of those resources in the months ahead.
But point #1 is the listener. And getting the basics down for them is step #1.
If those bases are covered then the focus can then really be on the Christmas content you’re best at producing.