Young and Profiting podcast host Hala Taha has grown to 142,000+ followers on LinkedIn and 300,000+ monthly downloads since the inception of her podcast, where she extracts insights on how to work and live smarter from entrepreneurs, lifestyle gurus, and other big thinkers. Hala spoke to us about how she got there, and how you can get there, too.
Get right in the inbox of your potential fanbase
In our chat, Hala made two things very clear: she puts no constraints around her networking skills, and none of her successes happened by accident. From the very beginning, she made aggressive moves to build an audience.
“I started targeting my competitors,” she says. For example, she would direct message anybody who liked or commented on a post by popular entrepreneurial podcaster Gary Vaynerchuk. “I said, ‘Hey, what's up? My name's Hala. I noticed that you liked Gary Vaynerchuk. If you like his stuff, you're going to like my stuff, too. Let's connect.’”
This is especially important in the world of social media, where most algorithms rely on person-to-person interaction.
So not only did Hala acquire 10,000 of Vaynerchuk’s followers, but all the DM engagement led LinkedIn’s algorithm to put her content in front of more and more people, who it assumed were her friends. And in fact, many of them became just that. “I just started building this community, and then people started sharing my stuff and supporting me,” she says.
Be the ‘networking glue’ that holds everything together
While listenership is crucial to podcast growth, staying connected with other podcasters in your niche can also help with audience crossover, especially if you’re sharing tips on the same topic.
“One of the secrets to networking is to be the glue that holds everybody together,” Hala says. In building her podcast following, she identified and reached out to every podcaster doing shows like hers. “I said, ‘Hey, I like what you're doing. You're building a little bit of a following. Join my WhatsApp group and let's do a monthly mastermind. I'll tell you my secrets, you introduce me to that person—let's do swaps. Let's go on each other's shows,’ she recalls. “And then I became the glue, and all the podcasters on LinkedIn knew who I was.”
A “mastermind” involves bringing together as many like-minded creators as possible in a Zoom call or other virtual session. The group then agrees to help get the word out about each other’s podcasts. Eventually, this network of podcasters and creative talent can blossom into dealmaking, even among creators operating at different scales, as Hala found via her relationship with popular podcaster Jordan Harbinger.
“It’s called an impression swap,” Hala explains. “This is something you can actually do with a podcaster who's bigger than you. So for example, Jordan’s podcast is four times bigger than mine. We do commercial trades, where I have to do four commercials for him, and he does one for me. That way, we can trade without being the same size podcast.”
50% promotion, 50% production
Outside of peer-to-peer networking, Hala also takes advantage of the newest social share features on LinkedIn, including live streaming and video sharing.
“Social media and having another means to connect with your audience is so important,” Hala says. “I tell people that you have to focus on 50% promotion and 50% production.”
One way to strike that balance is to get more efficient at production. Hala’s team cuts production time by quickly transcribing each podcast in Descript. “We have an interview, we pop it into Descript and we get a whole transcript of the episode,” she says. “Then, my team goes in and edits out certain sections of the podcast, and it gets edited so nicely that a lot of the time my audio engineers don't even have to go in and fix it any further. I get a cleaner way to edit our podcast.”
(Note: We just launched some awesome new social video features that make promoting your podcast easier, too, including adding custom waveforms, progress bars and custom speakers. Get details here.)
Start with passionate conversation
Hala still credits great conversation as the “glue” keeping her fanbase interested, especially as her podcast, Young and Profiting, continues to evolve.
“You really need to be passionate, because it's a long game, and you need to love what you're doing,” says Hala. “You need to have benefits other than just the audience and monetization. The guests that you're interviewing, what you're personally learning—whether that's using it as a lead generation tool, or whether you’re using it to launch your personal brand. If you're passionate about your topic, people will feel that passion.”