How to set and achieve SMART goals for your podcast


What goals do you have for your podcast? Are they specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based? Learn how to set and achieve your goals with your podcast!

The usual podcasting goals

Every goal in podcasting really comes down to two things: “I want to help myself” or “I want to help others.”

Practically, that breaks out into the following common desires for podcasters.

  1. “I want to have fun.” You're in podcasting for yourself. You enjoy the topic and want to connect with like-minded people.
  2. “I want to make money.” You're podcasting to grow a business, bring in extra income, or maybe just cover your expenses for this hobby.
  3. “I want to be famous.” You want a big following and to know you have respect and authority in your field. This could lead to book deals, speaking opportunities, interviews, and more.
  4. “I want to help people.”  You want to improve people or the things they know and do. You may be giving them hope or teaching them something new.
  5. “I want to entertain people.” You enjoy making people laugh or you want them to have some kind of fun by consuming your content.

There is nothing wrong with any of these desires. But it's time to be smarter about turning these desires into “SMART” goals.

How to set SMART goals

George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham wrote about SMART goals in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, “There's a S. M. A. R. T. way to write management goals and objectives.” Since then, “SMART” has come to stand for several different things. I like using it to mean specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Besides the acronym, employing this kind of thinking in goal-setting is truly smart!


Don't be vague about your goals. Figure out exactly what you want.

Instead of saying, “I want to grow my audience,” or even, “I want to double my audience,” figure out a specific number, such as saying, “I want to grow my audience to 10,000 people.” You could also say, “I want to make $1,000 per month from my podcast,” or “I want to be the #1 podcast in iTunes for this topic.”

Being specific is the foundation to knowing how to achieve your goals. If they aren't specific, you may not be chasing the right thing when trying to achieve your podcasting goals.


How will you measure your success in achieving your goals? If you want 10,000 people consuming your podcast, how are you going to count that?

For podcast stats, I recommend Blubrry or LibSyn. They are highly respected in the industry and have refined their algorithms to great accuracy.

If you want a large audience, ignore the myth of “monthly downloads.” The monthly downloads number is completely meaningless. The only time it's helpful is to showcase the potential impressions a sponsor could get if they sponsor every episode of your show. The number is meaningless because it can be easily influenced and doesn't tell you anything about the actual number of people you reach.

(Want to double your downloads per month? Release twice as many episodes! See? You can double that number, but not even increase your audience.)

If you have a monetary goal, then how will you know when you've reached it? Are you tracking your income for this specific endeavor?

Figure out how you'll measure your specific success and thus know when you achieve it.


This is the time to be honest. Is it really reasonable and realistic for you to reach your goal?

You may say, “I want to be the #1 podcast in all of iTunes.” But is that actually achievable with your niche content?

You may want to leave your job and make your income solely from your podcast, but is that practical if your podcast is for pre-teen kids?

This doesn't mean that you should only stick with easy goals. Go ahead and imagine the impossible! But your actual goals must be something that is actually attainable for you.

In my 200th-episode anniversary, I talked with John Lee Dumas about his massive success from podcasting. Could I have his same kind of success? Yes! But is it actually attainable with the field I am in and the way I have chosen to run my business? Probably not.


What goals make sense in combination with what you're doing? Do your goals and personality fit each other, your content, and your audience?

You will probably not be a respected business advisor if your content is only about video games.

Your goals need to either relate with what you're doing, or else you may need to change what you're doing in order to connect with your goals.


Give yourself a deadline for your goals. This will help you break it down into actionable steps over time.

Sure, you could probably make your income from your podcast, but is it your goal to do that immediately, six months from now, or three years from now?

It took me a year to make The Audacity to Podcast stable enough to launch my business. It took almost two years for the business income to replace my prior income. In 2014, I finally doubled my gross income, but my net income (take-home pay) was still lower than my previous employment (2014 was an expensive year because of developing and launching My Podcast Reviews).

You may not reach your deadline, but that may not be a failure if you were 75% there! That's a huge success compared to where you probably started. One of my goals in 2015 is to make $100,000 in gross income. If I end the year and make “only” $75,000, it's much more of a success than a failure!

How to achieve your goals

With your SMART goals set, it's time to create an actionable progression of steps to reach those goals. A goal without a plan is just a dream that will never be realized.

1. Break big goals into smaller goals

Audacious goals are great, but they can often seem so big that we don't work on them as urgently as we must.

For example, if you want to have 10,000 downloads per episode in one year, and you currently have 500, that means you need to grow your audience by almost 800 every month. That goal may still be too big, so break it down even smaller and you'll need to bring 27 new subscribers to your podcast per day.

Instead of a flat rate across every day, you may want to consider a momentum approach. Start with a small daily goal and increase it each day. For example, if you start on the first day with the goal of getting two subscribers, then you add four on the second day, six on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on, you'll surpass your goal. (Doubling each day is an even more exponential curve.)

How about my goal of $100,000 in a year? That means I need to generate about $8,333 of income every month. Breaking it down further means that I need to generate just under $400 on every business day.

2. Focus on your goals every day

I really think your goals won't be as achievable until your break them down into a daily goal. Then, you can figure out what it will take to find 27 new subscribers, to make $400, to write a certain number of words for your book, and so on.

This is what I often forget in my business. I now have a sticky note (as much as I hate paper) on my monitor that simply says, “$400 today.” This reminds me to work on those things that will get me to $400 on that day. True, I may not succeed on that one day, but the work on that day could help me earn $800 on the next day.

3. Schedule regular time to work toward your goals

Just reminding yourself of your goals every day won't help you achieve them. You must set aside dedicated time to make them a reality.

If you set aside even 15 minutes every day to work toward your goals, that's almost two hours per week and about 90 hours per year!

I recommend two tools to help you with this scheduling: a calendar and a timer. The calendar is to schedule your work during a specific time of the day. Don't miss those appointments! The timer is to help you focus. Set it for the amount of time you have to work toward your goals and focus on nothing but that work until the timer runs out. If you feel like doing anything other than what you should be doing, your timer reminds you that you can put it on hold for just a little longer. The is also known as the Pomodoro technique.

4. Remove distractions

I really struggle with distractions. On the days when I feel like I accomplished nothing, I can see how I spent most of my time chasing one distraction after another instead of sticking with my plan for the day.

Distractions may be important (phone calls, answering email, and such) or they could be pointless (playing games, aimlessly browsing the web, bouncing from video to video on YouTube, and such). Remove the distraction, remove yourself from the distracting environment, or differ the distraction to a better time.

5. Get help and support

There are different schools of thought on whether you should be public with your goals. But the thing that is absolutely sure is that most goals can't be accomplished alone. You may need help, or you may just need the accountability and support to keep you going.

Whether this costs shouldn't matter. Take this help seriously as an investment in your success.

6. Review your progress and adjust

Take frequent opportunities to check in with your progress. If your goals are measurable and time-bound, then it should be easy to compare your current position with where you need to be. I recommend doing this weekly or monthly.

If you're making the progress you need to, try to figure out where you can adjust your plan. If you're surpassing your necessary progress, figure out what's contributing to that momentum and try to increase that.

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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9 years ago

Thanks for this info Daniel! As I jump back in the podcast game, this was a great reminder of how to remain focused and actually improve on yourself and your goals instead of setting it and forgetting it!

One thing that helps me is utilizing productivity applications. Wunderlist has been a godsend in this regard. I’ve always set my goals and put them in a Google doc, but they are easily forgotten. Now with Wunderlist, I set my daily and monthly goals and have them recur based on the time bound restriction I place on them. I’ll get a daily notification to check my daily goals, a monthly “review all goals” message, and I can even jot notes within individual goals to track my progress.

Also learned a great tip from Ton Venuto on goal setting: You write them in the present tense as if you’ve already completed them, making statements like “I’m happy now that I’ve lost 20 pounds in 4 months!” The combination of these techniques really helps me stay on track.

Also, making public declarations puts some good pressure on you, because you NEVER want ANYONE to deem you a failure. So you make sure to do your best to reach that goal. Even if you fall a bit short, progress is great!

Thanks for the help. I plan to leave a review on itunes. This podcast is a dope resource for podcasters to improve their product.


Jeff J.

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