How a fitness podcast went viral

Fitness blogger Aisha Zaza has figured out a winning podcast launch strategy. Her podcast, The Mindset Mile, has a compelling promise: "we'll help you build better habits by making small mindset shifts and walking or running a mile a day for 30 days." That simple premise has helped propel her show to the top of Apple and Spotify's podcast charts.

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Aisha's podcast was the 10th most popular podcast on Spotify for Health & Fitness. On Apple Podcasts, it hit #6 in the Fitness category.

How to get to the top of the Apple Podcasts and Spotify charts

I reached out to Aisha to ask how her podcast was able to attract so many listeners when it launched.

Justin: You've had a ton of growth in the last month on Spotify and Apple Podcasts; any idea what caused it?

Aisha: I created the first 30 episodes of the podcast around a challenge to walk or run one mile a day while listening to the corresponding daily episode. Each episode was 10 minutes (or less) and discussed health, fitness, relationships, goal setting, mindset, and overall well-being. I announced it on January 4th (right after New Year's).

Justin: What do you think people found compelling about the concept?

Aisha: I think having an overall objective/goal helps people stick with it, beyond just listening to another podcast. Tons of people have written me on Instagram or emailed that they have teams that are doing the challenge together or fitness studio owners who ran it as an additional challenge for their clients. So it’s been spreading by word of mouth like fire.

That word of mouth caused the algorithms on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to suggest it to people in multiple categories.

How does a podcast go viral?

Aisha announced the podcast on January 4th to her 13,000 Instagram followers. The podcast initially grew primarily on Apple Podcasts.

"When it launched, the podcast was primarily getting traffic from IG, and started doing well on Apple Podcasts. It charted in a few categories: Fitness, Top New Podcast, and Education."

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In June, Aisha noticed an uptick in email subscribers.

And then, starting in July, the podcast started to gain traction on Spotify, and the number of listeners exploded.

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Aisha comments: "I honestly have no idea how traffic on Spotify picked up. I think it was from people sharing on social and then the Spotify algorithm started to recognize it and started recommending it."

What responses should you be looking for?

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Ultimately, as a podcaster, you want to create a show that resonates with an audience. What does resonance look like? Two things:

  1. People are organically reaching out (via social media, reviews, etc) to tell you that they love the show.

  2. People are sharing the podcast with others.

When people feel compelled to email you, comment, or DM because of the podcast, you know you're onto something. The same is true for when they send your podcast to a friend, coworker, or family member. These actions take effort! If your show is generating these kinds of responses, it's a good sign.

When you record your podcast, let people know 1-2 ways they can reach out to you: "If this is resonating with you, please leave a comment on Instagram," or "Please reach out to me on Twitter."

What you can learn from Aisha's podcast launch

  1. Make your podcast's concept the combination of two things: Aisha combined the idea of a fitness podcast with the idea of daily challenge. On their own, they're not incredibly unique but when she merged them together it became a unique concept for a show.

  2. Go beyond providing audio entertainment: yes, a podcast is a way to engage listeners. But the brilliance of Aisha's show is that it actually gets people out walking and running. Her podcast became the impetus for daily, physical activity. It went beyond "let me give you something to listen to." That's compelling.

  3. Use the best channels for your audience: fitness is big on Instagram, so it made sense for Aisha to focus her promotion there. Go where your audience hangs out most often!

  4. Be patient. Even with a great concept, it took months of organic growth (and word-of-mouth sharing) before Aisha's podcast got picked up by the Spotify algorithm. If you're getting positive responses about your show, and people are sharing it with their friends, keep going!

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Published on October 17th, 2021