“How to Create a Bingeable Podcast through Your Personal Passion” with Ashley Flowers of the Crime Junkie Podcast

“How to Create a Bingeable Podcast through Your Personal Passion” with Ashley Flowers of the Crime Junkie Podcast


As part of my series of interviews about “5 things you need to know to create a very successful podcast”, I had the pleasure of interviewing podcast host, Ashley Flowers.

Ashley Flowers is the founder of audiochuck, a podcasting company whose first show, Crime Junkie, launched in December 2017 and has since remained at the top of the charts with over 31 million monthly downloads. In October 2019, audiochuck launched Full Body Chills, a scripted podcast of short, spooky stories — which went to #5 overall on the Apple podcast charts and #1 in fiction. Red Ball launched in November 2019 and premiered at #1 on Apple overall and #1 in true crime. audiochuck’s latest project, CounterClock, released in January 2020 and hit 1M downloads within its first week and premiered at #1 overall on Apple.

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Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?

I was born and raised in the midwest and have been true-crime obsessed since I was young. I grew up with aspirations of becoming a detective and solving cold cases, and have been a volunteer with my local Crime Stoppers for years. I ultimately went to college at Arizona State University to study biomedical research.

After college, I got a job doing genetics research at the University of Notre Dame but then eventually moved into medical then software sales. I was driving all over the country for my medical sales job and had a lot of time to listen to podcasts — which is where my passion started — and I got the idea to start my own podcast. I decided to marry my two passions and launched Crime Junkie in December 2017 and the rest is history.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

One of the most interesting things that I have gotten to do as a part of podcasting was getting to meet The Lumineers at their show here in Indianapolis. A while back the lead singer, Wesley, had posted a picture of our logo on his Instagram and told everyone what a big fan he was. Brit and I fell out of our chairs and I reached out to him just to say thanks and let him know how much it meant to us. They were going to be playing in Indianapolis like 1–2 months later and Wesley said “if you have time we’d love to meet you!” — IF I HAVE TIME?! It was the highlight of my year and the entire band were just the nicest people ever. The whole time Brit and I couldn’t wrap our heads around the idea that this band who we love so much and we listen to also listen to our voices every week.

Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was not understanding the value of a weekly show. When I started the business, my ultimate goal was to create something like Red Ball but knew that working with police would take a long time. My original plan was to create Crime Junkie in order to build an audience base that would be ready and waiting when Red Ball came out. If you would have asked me in early 2018, I would have told you that once Red Ball was up and running I was going to stop making Crime Junkie. Boy was that backwards! Crime Junkie is what keeps the business running and Red Ball and my other limited series are more passion projects. It’s taught me a lot about the value of a loyal fan base and the frequency at which people need to hear a show if you’re going to build a sustainable business around it.

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

I’ve been podcasting for a little under 2.5 years and we have launched four shows.

What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?

With Crime Junkie, it is most important to me that people remember these are real people we are talking about. Real families, real tragedies and within each case there is a takeaway. Whether that’s an action item, a way for people to get involved, a way for them to insight bigger change or even just a lesson about self-awareness or protection. True Crime should be more than entertainment and that’s important to us in every project we have done.

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Ashley Flowers!

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Podcaster Influencer, Ashley Flowers of the Crime Junkie Podcast shares the best ways to:

1) Book Great Guests. Forget guests, be a great host!

2) Increase Listeners. Do cross promotion and handouts. In the early days before I had dedicated ad spend dollars, I grew our show by cross promoting with other shows of similar size and in the same genre. Still, cross promotion is one of the best ways to promote a show. You are advertising to people who already listen to podcasts and who clearly like the topic your show talks about.

I also used to make little cards with our logo, a tagline and how people could listen and I would take them EVERYWHERE. I’d tape them to bathroom stalls, leave them in bars and Starbucks. In the early days of starting out, promotion is a numbers game. Get your logo in front of as many people as possible!

3) Produce in a Professional Way. Audio quality is so important.There are so many companies that will mix & master audio for very reasonable prices so if you can’t do it yourself contract it out. Know what you can and can’t do well and fill in the gaps with professionals.

4) Encourage Engagement. Have an active presence online. We chatted with fans, did video AMAs, giveaways, anything we could to get people mentioning us in their stories or feeds. This goes back to getting your logo in front of as many people as possible!

5) Monetize. We monetize through our fan club, ad-sales on the show, merchandise sales, and touring. Early on in 2018, it was the fan club that kept us going. Ad dollars take a long time to come in and if I had to wait on ad-sales money I’m not sure our podcast would have lasted.

If you’re a brand new show, it can take six months to a year before you see real money coming in from ads. Have a plan for funding in the meantime — whether that’s a fan club, live shows, merch, anything. Just have a plan!

In your opinion what makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?

Check out the full interview in Tracy Hazzard’s Authority Magazine article about Ashley Flowers!

Picture of Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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