Apple featured my indie podcast on their front page. Here’s what happened next.

People often ask me about the front page of Apple Podcasts. And one of the most common questions is: “What’s the real impact of being featured by Apple?”

It’s an understandable question: getting featured by Apple is common goal among podcasters, but there isn’t a lot of information out there about how it all works, or how valuable this placement can be.

Usually on this blog, I write about the shows we produce at Pacific Content. And while many of our client’s shows have appeared on Apple’s front page, today I’m going to tell a personal story…

In addition to my work at Pacific Content, I make an indie podcast with my wife. It’s called Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like:

Travel back in time to remember the good, bad, and awkward parts of growing up. Recorded live on stage, adults share the weird and wonderful things they wrote as children and teens. Embarrassing, moving, and hilarious, these readings are powerful reminders of who we used to be.

This past December, we traveled to Australia to be part of the Woodford Folk Festival. We recorded several live events, which we turned into two podcast episodes.

We knew we had some great Australian stories and voices, so we pitched Apple’s editorial team on featuring our Woodford episodes in their Australian podcast storefront. (GRTTWaK had previously been featured in the US and Canadian storefronts, and chosen as an “iTunes Best Of” in 2014 and 2015, so we already had relationships with Apple’s editorial team.)

We pitched Apple based on the strength of the episodes, the name-recognition of the festival and some of our readers (including Australian pop star Kate Miller-Heidke), and the fact that it was our show’s Australian debut. Our pitch also included special widescreen promo artwork that met Apple’s guidelines:

Super-widescreen custom artwork for Apple’s “flowcase” placement

We released the first of our two Australian podcast episodes on Monday, February 25, 2019. The same day, Apple featured us on the front page of their Australian storefront with the tagline “Live from the Woodford Folk Festival.”

Obviously, this was amazing placement for both our show and the festival, and both organizations drove as much traffic as possible to Apple Podcasts through our social accounts and newsletter. Kate Miller-Heidke also tweeted about her appearance, which was terrific:

But did it help your downloads?

Prior to the Apple promotion, Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids didn’t have an especially large audience in Australia, which makes the country an interesting baseline for meauring promo efforts.

In the month leading up to the Apple promotion, Australia represented just 2.11% of the show’s total monthly downloads.

But in the month directly following the Apple promotion, Australia represented 13.77% of our total monthly downloads.

That’s a huge difference.

I asked our podcast hosting company, Megaphone, to send me an episode-by-episode breakdown of podcast downloads coming from Australia. Each stacked area represents a different episode:

It’s pretty obvious where the front page promo began.

Two details worth pointing out here:

  • After the Apple promotion, we were consistently getting more than double or triple our usual number of daily downloads.
  • The Apple promotion also seems to have had an impact on our back catalog episodes as well, which you can see in the large stacked areas after February 25, 2019

Not only did the Apple promo result in downloads, it also resulted in actual listening. In Apple Podcasts Connect, you can view a country-by-country breakdown of aggregate hours spent listening. Here’s Australian “hours listened” according to Apple, before and after the promo:

Understandably, the Apple promotion also had an impact on our chart position. Here’s our Australian chart performance in the “Personal Journals” category:

According to Chartable, we peaked at:

  • 3 on the Australian “Personal Journals” charts
  • 14 on the Australian “Society & Culture” charts
  • 35 on the Australian “All Podcasts” charts

Curators matter

Curators can help grow audiences in meaningful ways.

For your shows, think about where the most relevant curators are. It could be a podcast platform, but it could also be an email newsletter, a blog, a local newspaper, etc.

Then consider what those curators are looking for, and what their incentives are.

Think about hitting your audience where they live. Think about relevance.

And rather than focusing all your efforts on pitching curators, think about the editorial factors that are directly within your control. As Kristofor Lawson explained when he told me about the time his show, Moonshot, was featured on the front page of Pocket Casts:

Getting to that point of getting featured was all about making really high quality content, making sure we were focusing on the style and genre of the show, making sure that we were serving our audience in the best way that we could. The biggest thing is the content.

So, a few questions to ask yourself before pitching a curator:

  • Is my show or episode actually worth promoting? What makes it notable, timely, or special? To whom?
  • What’s the hook?
  • How can I demonstrate that I’m invested in making my show a success on this platform?
  • Visually, how will my show stand out from the rest? Can I create custom artwork doesn’t simply repurpose my existing show artwork?

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