Podcast Blastoff Blog

How to Launch Your Podcast and Dominate iTunes New and Noteworthy

Nathan Fraser

Seems like every day, there's a flood of new podcasts launched on iTunes.

If you plan on launching yours anytime soon, you're gonna have a lot of competition to contend with. And the longer you wait to get started, the more competition there will be.

Having a solid launch plan in place is more important than ever. If you don't nail the launch, your podcast might never get the attention it deserves. So you wanna make sure you do it right.

By taking advantage of iTunes New and Noteworthy, combined with a solid launch plan, you can set your podcast up for long term success.

I shouldn't be sharing this, but here's the secret sauce formula that I use for launching my podcasts.

Let the countdown begin:

  • Record Four to Eight Episodes Before You Launch

It's best to launch with at least three episodes. We'll get into that later. But recording between four and eight episodes before your launch is something I recommend.

It helps you stay ahead of schedule. If you miss a week in recording, you still have a new episode to release for that week. This takes a lot of the stress of being a podcaster of your back.

Also, most podcasts never make it past episode seven. If you have eight recorded before you even launch, you’ll start out with a huge advantage over the competition.

  • Select an Episode to Give Away as a Lead Magnet

People love feeling like they have the inside scoop on something new. Many of them will be happy to give you their email address in exchange for a sneak preview of your new podcast.

Set up a squeeze page with an email opt-in form where people can sign up to get access to a preview episode, before you launch.

Pick one of your later episodes to give away for free to people who join your email list. I say a later episode because you want to make a good impression. Let them hear an episode that you recorded after you got more comfortable behind the microphone. Letting them hear your first episode probably won't impress them as much as your third or fourth episode will.

You can also have this be an "Episode Zero". That's an introduction episode. It explains who you are, what your podcast is about, and who your podcast is for.

Host the mp3 file on your website or on a service like google docs. When somebody signs up for your mailing list, send them the link to your preview episode. Now they’re on your mailing list, and you can let them know when you have your official launch.

  • Drive Traffic and Get Opt-Ins

Create some buzz to get people over to your squeeze page.

If you already have an email list, mail them and let them know about how they can get the new podcast episode. Do this a few times. Not everybody opens every email you send.

If you have social media, use it.

Blast your Facebook pages and groups. Same thing with your Twitter, Snap, or Instagram accounts. Don't be afraid to let people know. A shy salesman has skinny kids. A shy podcaster has a lackluster launch.

If you have the budget, and the know-how, run some Facebook ads to your squeeze page. Make sure your page is in compliance with Facebook expectations, or your account could get shut down.

If you have friends that can spread the word to their contacts, hit them up. If you know a good list broker, buy some solo ads. Whatever you can do to get people to your squeeze page, do it. This will help build your list and make your launch successful.

  • Launch With Three Episodes and Your Podcast To iTunes

People like to binge listen, so have at least three episodes at launch. This way they can get a good feel for what you have to offer. If they enjoy all three episodes, chances are, they'll subscribe to your show if you remind them.

If they only get one episode at launch, they might leave it feeling undecided. By the time episode two comes out, they may have already forgotten all about you.

Get hosting on a service like BlastPod. Host your files with someone that specializes in podcast hosting. That way, you can track your downloads, not worry about bandwidth issues, and create an RSS feed.

Once you have three episodes posted and your RSS feed created, submit your podcast to iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. These are the main places to get listed. Almost every other podcast source out there pulls their feeds from one of these three. The most important, being iTunes.

  • Email Your List to Let Them Know You've Launched

Once iTunes approves your podcast; it's game time.

I focus on iTunes because it has the most leverage. That's where most podcasts are. That's where most other podcast providers get their cues from. If you can make it onto iTunes' New and Noteworthy, you'll be good on Stitcher and Google Play.

Send links to your iTunes page to everyone you can. That includes the email list you've been building, your Facebook friends, groups, pages, and any other social media you can think of. Let the world know how to find you on iTunes.

If you can run some ads, do it. If not don't worry about. But get all the organic traffic to your iTunes link that you possibly can.

Tell everyone you send there to subscribe, rate and review the show. This is how iTunes measures a podcast's popularity. The more downloads, subscribes, and reviews a show gets in 24 hours, the higher it appears on the charts.

So, at the end of every episode, at the end of every email, and at the end of every Facebook post, remind people to subscribe, rate, and review.

  • Have a Bonus to Give Away

This is optional, but I've seen it work wonders.

If you have something to give away, like a t-shirt or a signed book, make a contest out of it. Let listeners know that you'll be giving away a prize to whoever wins the contest, and you'll be announcing the winner in episode ten. To enter, all they have to do is subscribe to your show, rate it on iTunes, and leave a review.

If you plan on doing this, make sure you announce it from the very first episode, up until episode nine. That way, you get plenty of response.

When it comes time to record episode ten, pick a winner. Announce the winner on the podcast, and have them get ahold of you and verify they left the winning comment. You can do this by emailing them something new to post, or by having them screen capture a new comment before they leave it.

This type of contest gets the best reviews from raving fans, and really juices up your iTunes ratings.

And there you have it. My secret launch plan for dominating iTunes' New and Noteworthy.

It's a little extra work, but it goes a long way. Use it when you launch your next podcast and prepare to dominate the charts. With this formula, you can do it.

Podcast Blastoff Blog

How to Create iTunes Cover Art for Your Podcast

Nathan Fraser

With all the podcast on iTunes, standing out can be difficult.

Often, the cover image of your podcast will be the deciding factor on whether or not someone gives it a listen. As they're scrolling through, your podcast cover art needs to grab their attention and pull them in.

How do you do this? By following the steps laid out below.

What Size Should My Cover Art Be?

Your iTunes podcast art needs to be at least 1,400 pixels wide by 1,400 tall. This is the smallest size iTunes will accept. The largest they will accept is 3,000 by 3,000. So keep your art somewhere in between those two numbers.

Your cover art must also be an exact square. This means that pixel height and width have to be the exact same.

Also, iTunes is picky about the quality of what they accept. Try to avoid artwork that is too "busy". You want it to be easily recognizable, even when the listener can only see a thumbnail. So keep it clean and simple.

What Kind of Fonts Should I Use?

Most people will be viewing your cover art from their mobile devices. That means if the title of your podcast not in an easy-to-read font, they might skip right past you. So make sure your podcast title is in a clear font that's easy to read.

Another thing to keep in mind is a number of fonts used on the cover. A good rule of thumb is to never use more than two fonts on one piece of art. This goes for web pages, restaurant menus, and it also applies to iTunes cover art.

One last thing to remember about fonts is you want them to reflect the "feel" of the show. If the show is serious and professional, use straight lined fonts. If the show is loose and fun, use a font that reflects that feel. Generally, straight lines are more masculine and serious, while curvy lines are more feminine and fun.

What Kind of Images Should I Use?

A big hang up that most podcasters run into is what type of imagery should be on their cover art. Should I use a picture of myself? An icon or logo? A photo of a nice sunset? The choices are limitless.

Here's what I say, If the podcast is about your personal brand, then use a picture of yourself on the cover. Make sure it's a current picture. And it's probably best to get something professionally done.

If your podcast is about a certain topic or community, use imagery that represents that topic or community. Make sure it's something that will grab their attention and they'll instantly recognize. Just beware of using copyrighted material. Fair use laws might be something you look into before hitting Publish.

What Colors Should I Use?

Color is also a big factor in giving your podcast some visual appeal. Different colors can evoke a wide range of feelings in your listener. As a graphic designer, color plays a key role in everything I create.

Color, like font style, should not be overdone. Be deliberate about what colors you use, and which you avoid. and keep this in mind, colors mean different things to different cultures. The meanings I give here are Western-centric.

Some Examples of iTunes Cover Art

Listed above are some of the top podcasts on iTunes. Pay attention to how they use colors, images, and fonts to convey what the podcast is about, before you even listen.

If you need help with getting your podcast cover put together, there are a lot of great resources out there.

You can start with Fivver. They have a lot of artists there who will work with you at a very affordable price. If your willing to spend a little money, 99 Designs is a great place to look, as well.

But if you have some basic art skills and access to photoshop or some other paint program, you can do it yourself. The tips in this guide will ensure your cover art is great and will get you featured on itunes.

Download your

iTunes Cover Art Infographic

It's free, and you don't even have to give me your email to get it.

Podcast Blastoff Blog

7 Simple Ways to Grow Your Podcast Audience

Nathan Fraser

Putting a podcast together is a lot of hard work.

It takes a lot of investment to get your podcast off the ground. Coming up with content, recording, editing, and then publishing. Not to mention buying all the equipment, paying for hosting, and trying to promote it. By the time we get to that last step, we're pretty much all out of energy.

It also doesn't help that most of us suck at self-promotion.

Not to worry, though. This list is gonna help you out. I'm about to reveal 7 ways that I've been able to successfully promote my own, and many of my client's podcasts. Some of these have worked so well that their shows turned into nationally syndicated radio shows.

So, without any further ado, here are the 7 simple ways to grow the size of your podcast audience.

  • 1. Be Consistent

If you want your listenership to consistently grow, you need to consistently deliver.

This means, drop an episode on the same day, every week. Keep your episodes about the same size in length. Cover the same subject matter.

If you're listener tunes in on their Monday commute, and you fail to deliver, they'll find something else to listen to. Then you have to work twice as hard to earn them back. Better not to lose them in the first place.

If they give you an hour out of their week, that's what they'll want you to fill. If you release a 20-minute episode followed by a 4-hour long episode, they might think twice the next time they hit that play button.

Same thing goes for subject matter. If one week is a comedy show, and the next is a show about investment, chances are, they won't tune in to find out what the 3rd show will be about. So be consistent.

  • 2. Share Where People Care

Sharing your podcast to your social media is a no-brainer. That's where your friends, fans, and family are. They care about what you're doing, and it makes sense to share it with them. But is that enough?

If you really wanna reach a wider audience, then, no, that's not enough.

So, where else should you share your podcast?

Well, where people who might care will be, of course.

One of the oldest lessons in business is, never try to sell steak at a vegan restaurant. It doesn't matter how prime the cut is. The people there just don't care. So if you're' gonna try to sell steak, go to where there's a hungry crowd of meat eaters.

Same goes for sharing your podcast.

Seek out forums, blogs and facebook groups dedicated to what your podcast is all about. Join those groups and start being a part of the conversation. Once you've become a part of the community, let people know you have a podcast that they might enjoy. Invite them to check it out.

If you've given enough in advance, this will come off as more value given, rather than shameless self-promotion.

If you're looking for some ways to share, without coming off as spammy, here are a few simple rules to help you do it.

  • 3. Mail Your List Every Week

Not every podcast has a mailing list, but they should.

Invite your listeners to sign up for your newsletter, and send them a reminder, every time a new episode drops.

If they're like me, they probably subscribe to a lot of different podcasts. New episodes can get lost in the mix. If I get 4 new podcasts added to my playlist in the morning, one of them is likely to get passed on.

Let's say I happen to miss an episode on the refresh. But then I get an email, reminding me of your latest episode; you just got pushed to the top of the list.

If you have an email list, inform them of every new episode, the day it drops.

  • 4. Invite the Right Guests onto Your Podcast

Podcasting is the new media.

When a celebrity wants to get some publicity, podcasts are becoming the most viable option. Mainstream media keeps losing viewers. But podcasts keep gaining new listeners. Even elected officials in the highest office of the land have been guests on podcasts.

Celebrities need the promotion a podcast can offer. And you have a podcast.

Use it.

Invite people who your listeners would want to hear from to be a guest your podcast. You might be surprised by who say's yes.

Having big names in your niche will definitely bring in new listeners. So don't let your fear of rejection keep you from inviting them on. To help you out, I put together an invitation template that I use to get big named guests on my own podcast.

Use it, and watch your network start to grow.

  • 5. Get Yourself Booked as a Guest on Other Podcasts

This is probably the best way to get new listeners. But it's also one of the hardest to pull off.

Every time I go on someone else's podcast, I see a huge spike in downloads of my own. So, even though it takes some work, it's well worth the energy.

Keep this in mind; like you, other podcasters need guests for their shows as well. The easiest way to reach out to them is through social media or email. But, just like when reaching out to a potential guest, your email or private message needs to be personalized. DO NOT copy and paste a generic message to other podcasters, asking them if you can come pitch yourself to their listeners. They will refuse you.

Instead, pick out some podcasts that you know you'd be a good fit for. You can find these by searching iTunes for the category of podcast that you do, yourself. Remember, podcasts with the most ratings and reviews also have the most engaged audiences. Pick five, and then move on to the next step.

Download and listen to at least 3 episodes of each podcast you picked out. This gives you a good idea of what their show is like, what you could add, as far as value goes, and if they even do interviews.

Once you're sure you'd be a good fit for their show, reach out to them. Tell them how much you like their podcast, and make mention of something only a true listener would know about. Then, introduce yourself, and ask them if they'd be down to have you on as a guest on their show.

Make your pitch in terms of why how it would benefit their listeners and you'll face a lot less resistance. "I'd love to teach your audience about..." or "since I'm already a listener, I'm betting your other listeners would love to hear us talk about..."

If this is too bold, you could always try a soft pitch.

Ask them to come on your show, and in exchange, you come on theirs. That way you can cross promote each other. This type of arrangement almost always works out great for both parties involved.

  • 6. Don't Forget Your CTA

At the end of every episode, include a Call To Action.

You just poured your heart into providing something of value. Your listener wept, they cheered, they laughed and they learned. It's not unfair for you to ask for a little something-something in return.

So ask.

Ask them to subscribe on iTunes. Ask them to rate and review the show. Ask them to join your newsletter. Ask them to share the show with someone they know who would enjoy it.

Never end an episode without asking your listener to do something that will help grow the size of your audience. But don't go overboard.

Don't ask them to do all the things I just mentioned. Pick one. You can change it up each week, or hammer home on the most important, but only ask for one thing as your call to action.

Then thank them for listening, and tell them you'll talk to them again, next week.

  • 7. Patience and Dedication

And lastly, we have patience and dedication.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was any great podcast. These things take time.

Most podcasters give up before they even have a chance to succeed. This is the biggest reason many of them fail; because they didn't give it time to take root.

If you show up and do the things listed above, your podcast will have steady growth. If you have patience and let your podcast take its course, you will hit a stride.

There's no saying what the one thing will be that works for you, but when it happens, you'll know it. One day, you'll check your downloads, and see a huge jump in downloads.

And when that happens, it starts to snowball. So be ready.