Podcasts are growing in popularity, with some studies showing that around two-thirds of Americans tune in from time to time. That's exciting, but all the new listeners in the world aren't worth much if you can't get them to stick around. With so many people shopping around for podcasts, it’s more important than ever to find great methods to attract new listeners and maintain old ones. Audience engagement is a delicate balance.

You want your listeners to feel engaged and have their values represented, but you don’t want to be overbearing, annoying, or condescending. Fortunately, you can attract and keep an audience without begging, pleading, or pandering.

Reach out

The most effective way to engage listeners isn’t by pestering people to subscribe or to tell their friends about your show. Instead, it’s about creating interesting new ways to present your material. What better way to garner new ideas than to reach out to the other minds around you? To start, try inviting experts, or people with interesting angles on your topic, to appear on your show. If you can select people who are passionate, informed, and well-spoken, you’ll hook your listeners. If you aren’t sure who would be a good candidate for your show, do your research. You’d be surprised how many people share the same interests as you, and who may be willing to talk to you about it.

New voices on your show don’t necessarily have to be experts, either. When you ask audience members to submit their own stories, you can experience multiple benefits at the same time. Audiences love being represented on shows they care about, and your other listeners will have the benefit of new stories and new voices. Putting listeners on your show lets people know that you’re interested in your audience, not just the sound of your own voice.

Create shareable content

If your podcasts are on the longer side, it can be helpful to create more shareable content. Along with your regular content, try offering listeners short clips that they can easily pass along to friends or listen to if they want to rehash a favorite moment. It can help create a rapport with listeners when you acknowledge shared jokes or take their opinions into consideration by releasing “Top 10 jokes/interviews/episodes” and so on.

People always appreciate highlight reels, and it can attract a wider listener base when you offer a range of different show lengths. Just make sure you don’t start relying on these rehashes in place of your regular content!