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A primer on being featured on Apple Podcasts

Miriam Johnson

. 5 min read

A primer on being featured on Apple Podcasts

There’s nothing like delivering the news to a client that their show is being featured on Apple Podcasts. Without fail, it’s met with things like starry-eyed emojis, mic drop GIFs, and flaming fireballs. In other words, it makes people happy.

The enthusiasm was clear with Ahead of Its Timea show that we produce with Setapp. The show is in its first season and consequently had an audience of zero before the trailer launched. Not only was it promoted on Apple Podcasts in the US, but it also landed on Apple Podcasts’ main pages around the world: Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ukraine.

Emoji fingers snapped, hands clapped, bananas danced on my screen. This is how we got there and how you can too.

Ahead of Its Time as featured on Apple Podcasts
Trailer, Ahead of Its Time

It’s a big deal to be featured on Apple Podcasts

Just as you can’t pay to have your story in The New Yorker, you can’t pay to have your show featured on Apple Podcasts — one of the world’s most popular podcast apps, along with Spotify and YouTube.

You need to pitch your show. You can (and should) send in an application for any country or region where you think there might be a relevant audience. Each of those markets is curated by a human being. Getting selected means you made something a human curator thought was worthy of putting in front of a huge audience: a show with exceptional editorial quality, relevance, and eye-catching artwork, among other things.

An Apple Podcasts Feature boosts a show’s visibility

Sure… we can put all this together and send it in. But is it worth it? I looked at a few shows on our roster that were recently featured on Apple Podcasts. Some things stood out:

  • All shows gained followers on Apple Podcasts during the feature window.
  • All shows saw a higher-than-usual increase in downloads during the feature window.
  • Depending on the show, those increases may have been a little (a few hundred more downloads than expected) or a lot (rapidly gaining thousands of followers).

The checklist of things you need to pitch your show:

  1. A brief pitch — why is this show the right fit for Apple Podcasts listeners?
  2. Show description.
  3. Series-level artwork.
  4. Custom “Hero” artwork, designed specifically for Apple.
  5. Custom “Show Page Tall” artwork, designed specifically for Apple.
  6. A marketing plan that includes how you are weaving Apple into it.
  7. An image of the host(s) that meets Apple’s guidelines.
  8. An episode of the show (could be embargoed, doesn’t have to be fully locked).

The Pitch

A good pitch often covers things like: How is this story unique? What makes it relevant? Why should this particular person or organization care?

Those questions were top of mind when we (Showrunner David SwansonProducer Tori Weldon, and, I) wrote this:

At first glance, Ahead of Its Time appears to be a tech podcast, but at its core, this is a show about people. It explores the history of tech — like electric vehicles, the iPhone, facial recognition software and virtual reality — through the first-person lens of its inventors. It’s about the dreamers who saw a future that others couldn’t and their struggle to bring that imagined future into existence.

Setapp is a Ukraine-based company and a product of MacPaw, the makers of CleanMyMac X.

It’s brief, indicates how this is different from other shows in the tech category, and highlights that one of the episodes is about the iPhone, something Apple cares about. We also let them know that Setapp, our production partner for this show, has a vested interest in Apple, too.

Artwork Matters

I recently had a conversation about artwork with Liz Hames, a fellow Audience Development Specialist at Pacific Content. I love how she framed podcast cover art as something that we have an almost unconscious, rapid emotional reaction to — something that speaks to our animal brain.

“People have a visceral reaction to the design, and it usually takes them less than a second to describe whether they like your artwork or don’t. So make that second count!”

From Liz’s perspective, when we look at artwork, our animal brain either fires things like, “Oooh! Candy! I must sample this.” Or, “Ewww… bad. Stay away.”

A tour of Apple Podcasts around the world confirms how much they value artwork that speaks to the animal brain. Stuff that instantly says: Click on me, I’m entertainingYou will learn new things. Here are a few recent favourites:

Apple Podcasts in the UK:

Glittering a Turd Podcast

Apple Podcasts in India:

Mumbai Crime Podcast

Apple Podcasts in the US:

Ahead of Its Time Podcast

When it comes to Glittering a Turd, my animal brain is like a crow going after tinfoil. Shiny objects! Sparkly things!

Notice how the custom artwork for Apple’s “Feature” spot (the “Hero” artwork) is different from the show’s square series-level artwork? Apple strongly encourages that variety and interest. You’ll also never see logos or branding on “Hero” art, they’re not allowed.

Final Thoughts

Everywhere I looked, from Apple Podcasts in Sweden, to Ireland, and India, I saw shows being featured that reminded me why people listen to podcasts in the first place: for entertainment and to learn new things. Are you making a show that is entertaining and informative? If so, send in your pitch.

And lastly… check out Apple’s advice: Four ways to optimize your request for Apple Podcasts promotion.

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