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The Indie Podcaster with Kieran MacRae

Understand the 4 Levels of Listener to Grow Your Show

Published 16 days ago • 4 min read

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Read time: 2 mins

Hey Reader! It's gig time again at podcast HQ. This time, I'm lucky enough to be going to see Taylor Swift! Yes, I have friendship bracelets. And yes, I'm dressing up. I'll be going as Travis Kelsey (admittedly without the muscles...)


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Understand the 4 Levels of Listener to Grow Your Show

Not all listeners are equal.

There are, in fact, four different levels of listener quality in your audience, and you need to interact with and listen to each one differently.

Here’s the rundown:

  1. Listens once and leaves
  2. Listens to a few episodes
  3. Listens to the whole back catalog
  4. Listens to every episode multiple times and new episodes on release day.

Your job is to focus all your energy on that level 4 listener. The more you delight them, the bigger your podcast will grow. But let’s break it down.

Level 1. One-and-done-rs

This is your shallow listener. They’ll come across a single episode, listen to it, and then never come back.

They are testing the water, and every new listener starts here. They’ve come along to test out your show to see if they like it. To them, we say, " If you don’t like it, no sweat; it’s not for you. Thanks for stopping by.”

And if they did like it, they’ll likely graduate to level 2.

Level 2. The “Best Of” Listeners

I was an Iron Maiden fan as a teenager, I bought their greatest hits CD and was entranced.

Over the next few years, I started collecting and listening to the back catalog of albums they’d released. But no single CD got as much play time as their greatest hits.

As your podcast grows, you can end up with hundreds of hours of content. Some people will love your podcast but will only ever listen to the hits—the popular episodes they see mentioned on social media or the big names that catch the eye. This is amazing. If a listener never goes beyond this, I’m happy. It means you're making a good show.

But some listeners want more.

Level 3. The Deep Divers

These listeners have listened to every single episode of your show. They tell their friends and spread the word for you.

They turn your podcast into a growth machine and start sending you new fans. These fans are where growth starts to happen. When someone tells you, “You should check out this podcast. I just finished binging every episode.” You know it’s a great show.

Level 4. The True Fans

Level 3 grows your show, level 4 turns it into a business.

Your true fans have binged every episode, are excited to listen to the newest episodes on release day. But they also support you financially. They buy your t-shirt, show up to your events, give donations, join your Patreon, sign up as your clients, tell all their friends, and make your dreams come true. This means you’re making an incredible show.

Focus on Level 4

Kevin Kelly, writer, author, and editor, once wrote a blog post saying that if you have 1000 true fans, you have a career. Because 1000 true fans behaving the way the person above does will allow you to make enough money to be a full-time podcaster.

That’s why I believe the secret to success is to focus solely on those Level 4 listeners and tailor everything you do to their taste. Talk to them, nurture those relationships, and pick every episode topic with the thought, “Will my true fans love this?”

If you do that, something magic happens…

The other 3 levels take care of themselves.

If you spend time trying to please the level 1 and 2 listeners, you get stuck changing tactics and moving around in circles. In contrast, you can let the lower levels of listeners come and go without having to worry about them.

You can normally start to recognize these people because they appear repeatedly under your social media posts. They are the likers, commenters, and the first to appear in your merch orders.

Start conversations with these people, and you can learn exactly what your audience wants from you. A DM saying, “Hey! It's always a pleasure seeing you like my post. Have you been enjoying the podcast? :)” will go a long way.


Community Wins

Harmonious World is celebrating their 4-year podversary
Comedy Appeteasers crossed 25,000 downloads
Doubles Only crossed 250,000 downloads

Good job, everyone! If you have a win you want to share, hit reply!


How I Can Help You

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