March 7, 2023

Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

The secret to slow, constant growth is partnerships: working with other podcasts. Finding the right podcast partner should be the very first step in your podcast marketing strategy.
March 7, 2023

Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

The secret to slow, constant growth is partnerships: working with other podcasts. Finding the right podcast partner should be the very first step in your podcast marketing strategy.
March 7, 2023
Lauren Passell
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If you want to grow your podcast, there are quick ways to do it. You can buy an ad or pitch yourself to be featured on one of the podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Those are great ways to grow! 

However, they usually end up in audience spikes — that is, your audience numbers will shoot way up, but shrink just as quickly. That means you got in front of some of the wrong people. I’m not anti-spike; spikes are great! But if you are in podcasting for the long game, you need slow, constant growth. The secret to slow, constant growth is partnerships: working with other podcasts. 

Finding the right podcast partner (podcast friend, if you will) should be the very first step in your podcast marketing strategy. Even if you don’t have a podcast but would like to have one someday, you can start partnership building now. 

Why podcast friends? 

Having podcast friends that share audience overlap with you means you have access to an audience to tap into that is not yet yours, but could be. Once you find your friends you’ll be able to work with them on all kinds of collaborations that aren’t only fun and will spark your creativity as a podcaster, but will get your show in the ears of people who should be listening to your show if they aren’t already. Your podcast friends have an audience of podcast listeners. It is much easier to convert people who are already listening to podcasts to people who are listening to your podcast than to convert someone to listen to your podcast who has never listened to a podcast before. Not to get too violent, but it’s like spear fishing in a bathtub full of fish as opposed to casting your line into the sea. And setting up a podcast friendship campaign is like putting your podcast on a playdate.

How to set up your podcast friendship campaign

Open up a spreadsheet and make the following columns:

  • Podcast friend (or podcast name, with link)
  • Podcast description
  • Name of contact
  • Contact information
  • Playdate (or partnership idea)

How to find podcast friends

There are a lot of ways to search for podcasts that are similar to yours, and in this step, we’re going to use a whole bunch of them. 

Step 1: Search Apple Podcasts

Search your show on Apple Podcasts and scroll down to the very bottom. If your show isn’t big enough you will just see a lot of generic shows there that might not be a good match. In that case, find a comparable (“comp”) podcast that is similar to yours and study the audience for that one.

Now you’ll see a carousel that says “you might also like.” There you will see shows that according to Apple Podcasts data, are similar to yours. Your potential listeners are probably listening to those shows, so those are great shows to work with. Click into those and explore. Has the show published an episode recently? What kind of show is it? Is it an interview show, could you be a guest? Does the show have many ratings and reviews? Listen to a bit of the episode. Do you like what you hear? Would you recommend this show to your audience? If it all checks out, add them to your Podcast Friendship list. 

A note about last episode published: If the show hasn’t published an episode in a year or more, you could probably take it off your list. If it’s been a few months, I’d still reach out. If it’s a perfect match, reach out anyway and say, “I see you haven’t published anything in awhile. Are you planning any future episodes?” If they do not have plans to add their own content to their feed, you could ask them to put an episode of your show onto their feed. Maybe they’ll say yes!
A note about Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews: Despite what you may have heard, getting tons of Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews will not help you out in the algorithm. You’ll get bumped up in the algorithm by having a lot of listeners. However, having Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews is good social proof, so you should always ask for them. A great show could have only a few ratings and reviews, and a bad show could have thousands. But sometimes seeing how many ratings and reviews (or what kind of reviews) will give you a sense of whether or not you want to work with the show.

Step 2: Search Rephonic

Now go to Rephonic's 3D audience graph and put your show’s name in (or your comp show’s name.) An entire galaxy of shows will explode onto the screen. Check it out, it’s mind blowing! This is your audience galaxy or neighborhood. These are the shows, according to Apple Podcasts data, that share audience overlap with yours. The closer the show is to yours in the graph, the better the match. Investigate these shows like you did when you were researching in Apple Podcasts, and if the show checks out, add the name to your Podcast Friendship list. 

Rephonic's 3D audience graph for the show Crime Junkie

In addition to Rephonic, you can search websites like Listen Notes (which is like a Wikipedia for podcasts) and GoodPods (which is like a Facebook for podcasts). These sites all have ways to search shows and will give you lists of shows that are similar. Check out those shows and keep on adding to your list. 

Step 3: Search Player FM

Now think of the type of show you have. Pretend it’s a curling podcast. Google “best curling podcast Player FM.” This will take you to the Player FM search, which will offer a list of shows that probably have to do with curling. Some of them will be good matches, some of them won’t. What I like about Player FM is that it says right up front when the last episode was published. So if it says the last episode was published three years ago, you know not to waste time researching it. But for the ones you do check out and look good, add them to your list.

Step 4: See what you’ve got — and do it again

Now take a look at your list. Did you notice one show that came up over and over? Do a deep dive on that show, go down that rabbit hole. And again and again. Until you have 50–75 shows, ideally. I have done podcast friendship campaigns reaching out to as many as 200 shows, as few as 20. But 50–75 is a healthy amount to get you started. 

Keep building your list

Once you have a good list of shows that are similar to yours, fill out the rest of your chart. You might have to do some digging to find their contact info. It might be on their website or on their social media pages. You can search for their RSS feed (that’s available if you search for them on Listen Notes) and do a search for the “@” symbol. That will help you locate an email address associated with the show. This won’t always be the best email address (it might have a fake one or an incredibly generic one, you’ll be able to tell) but it might be a good place to start. 

In the Playdate column, think about what you want to do with your new podcast friend. If they have guests, maybe you could do a guest swap or pitch yourself to be on the show. If you two talk about similar subjects, maybe you could set up a conversation between the two of you and put the episode in both feeds. There are no rules.

Finally, reach out

The final step is to write your pitch letter. Pitches should be 100–300 words, ideally. Remember to keep these letters personal — write them as if you’re writing to a friend. You just need to get their interest to open the door to you. Explain who you are, why you think you should be working together, and a few ideas of what a partnership could look like. 

They might respond with an idea or request a quick call. If they do that, take the call! They might have an idea of their own, or maybe you can think of something new. It might be something unexpected. I once emailed a podcast to set up my podcast on a playdate and ended up getting my client on their panel at SXSW! See what they have going on and how you can work together. 

These podcast friendships are key to slow, constant growth. You’ll get in front of the perfect people, the people who will come back to you every time, be your biggest advocates, and tell all their friends about you.

Setting these friendships up on a regular basis is important. Doing just one won’t make a difference. Bake this thinking into your regular planning. I think once you identify your podcast friends and set your show up on some playdates, you’ll have even more fun podcasting and see some real growth. Have fun and get creative, and get ready to welcome some new listeners!

Lauren Passell
Lauren Passell is the founder of Tink Media, a podcast growth and discovery company, and the editor of Podcast the Newsletter.
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Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

Two podcast microphones connected by a white wire

If you want to grow your podcast, there are quick ways to do it. You can buy an ad or pitch yourself to be featured on one of the podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Those are great ways to grow! 

However, they usually end up in audience spikes — that is, your audience numbers will shoot way up, but shrink just as quickly. That means you got in front of some of the wrong people. I’m not anti-spike; spikes are great! But if you are in podcasting for the long game, you need slow, constant growth. The secret to slow, constant growth is partnerships: working with other podcasts. 

Finding the right podcast partner (podcast friend, if you will) should be the very first step in your podcast marketing strategy. Even if you don’t have a podcast but would like to have one someday, you can start partnership building now. 

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

Why podcast friends? 

Having podcast friends that share audience overlap with you means you have access to an audience to tap into that is not yet yours, but could be. Once you find your friends you’ll be able to work with them on all kinds of collaborations that aren’t only fun and will spark your creativity as a podcaster, but will get your show in the ears of people who should be listening to your show if they aren’t already. Your podcast friends have an audience of podcast listeners. It is much easier to convert people who are already listening to podcasts to people who are listening to your podcast than to convert someone to listen to your podcast who has never listened to a podcast before. Not to get too violent, but it’s like spear fishing in a bathtub full of fish as opposed to casting your line into the sea. And setting up a podcast friendship campaign is like putting your podcast on a playdate.

How to set up your podcast friendship campaign

Open up a spreadsheet and make the following columns:

  • Podcast friend (or podcast name, with link)
  • Podcast description
  • Name of contact
  • Contact information
  • Playdate (or partnership idea)

How to find podcast friends

There are a lot of ways to search for podcasts that are similar to yours, and in this step, we’re going to use a whole bunch of them. 

Step 1: Search Apple Podcasts

Search your show on Apple Podcasts and scroll down to the very bottom. If your show isn’t big enough you will just see a lot of generic shows there that might not be a good match. In that case, find a comparable (“comp”) podcast that is similar to yours and study the audience for that one.

Now you’ll see a carousel that says “you might also like.” There you will see shows that according to Apple Podcasts data, are similar to yours. Your potential listeners are probably listening to those shows, so those are great shows to work with. Click into those and explore. Has the show published an episode recently? What kind of show is it? Is it an interview show, could you be a guest? Does the show have many ratings and reviews? Listen to a bit of the episode. Do you like what you hear? Would you recommend this show to your audience? If it all checks out, add them to your Podcast Friendship list. 

A note about last episode published: If the show hasn’t published an episode in a year or more, you could probably take it off your list. If it’s been a few months, I’d still reach out. If it’s a perfect match, reach out anyway and say, “I see you haven’t published anything in awhile. Are you planning any future episodes?” If they do not have plans to add their own content to their feed, you could ask them to put an episode of your show onto their feed. Maybe they’ll say yes!
A note about Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews: Despite what you may have heard, getting tons of Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews will not help you out in the algorithm. You’ll get bumped up in the algorithm by having a lot of listeners. However, having Apple Podcasts ratings and reviews is good social proof, so you should always ask for them. A great show could have only a few ratings and reviews, and a bad show could have thousands. But sometimes seeing how many ratings and reviews (or what kind of reviews) will give you a sense of whether or not you want to work with the show.

Step 2: Search Rephonic

Now go to Rephonic's 3D audience graph and put your show’s name in (or your comp show’s name.) An entire galaxy of shows will explode onto the screen. Check it out, it’s mind blowing! This is your audience galaxy or neighborhood. These are the shows, according to Apple Podcasts data, that share audience overlap with yours. The closer the show is to yours in the graph, the better the match. Investigate these shows like you did when you were researching in Apple Podcasts, and if the show checks out, add the name to your Podcast Friendship list. 

Rephonic's 3D audience graph for the show Crime Junkie

In addition to Rephonic, you can search websites like Listen Notes (which is like a Wikipedia for podcasts) and GoodPods (which is like a Facebook for podcasts). These sites all have ways to search shows and will give you lists of shows that are similar. Check out those shows and keep on adding to your list. 

Step 3: Search Player FM

Now think of the type of show you have. Pretend it’s a curling podcast. Google “best curling podcast Player FM.” This will take you to the Player FM search, which will offer a list of shows that probably have to do with curling. Some of them will be good matches, some of them won’t. What I like about Player FM is that it says right up front when the last episode was published. So if it says the last episode was published three years ago, you know not to waste time researching it. But for the ones you do check out and look good, add them to your list.

Step 4: See what you’ve got — and do it again

Now take a look at your list. Did you notice one show that came up over and over? Do a deep dive on that show, go down that rabbit hole. And again and again. Until you have 50–75 shows, ideally. I have done podcast friendship campaigns reaching out to as many as 200 shows, as few as 20. But 50–75 is a healthy amount to get you started. 

Keep building your list

Once you have a good list of shows that are similar to yours, fill out the rest of your chart. You might have to do some digging to find their contact info. It might be on their website or on their social media pages. You can search for their RSS feed (that’s available if you search for them on Listen Notes) and do a search for the “@” symbol. That will help you locate an email address associated with the show. This won’t always be the best email address (it might have a fake one or an incredibly generic one, you’ll be able to tell) but it might be a good place to start. 

In the Playdate column, think about what you want to do with your new podcast friend. If they have guests, maybe you could do a guest swap or pitch yourself to be on the show. If you two talk about similar subjects, maybe you could set up a conversation between the two of you and put the episode in both feeds. There are no rules.

Finally, reach out

The final step is to write your pitch letter. Pitches should be 100–300 words, ideally. Remember to keep these letters personal — write them as if you’re writing to a friend. You just need to get their interest to open the door to you. Explain who you are, why you think you should be working together, and a few ideas of what a partnership could look like. 

They might respond with an idea or request a quick call. If they do that, take the call! They might have an idea of their own, or maybe you can think of something new. It might be something unexpected. I once emailed a podcast to set up my podcast on a playdate and ended up getting my client on their panel at SXSW! See what they have going on and how you can work together. 

These podcast friendships are key to slow, constant growth. You’ll get in front of the perfect people, the people who will come back to you every time, be your biggest advocates, and tell all their friends about you.

Setting these friendships up on a regular basis is important. Doing just one won’t make a difference. Bake this thinking into your regular planning. I think once you identify your podcast friends and set your show up on some playdates, you’ll have even more fun podcasting and see some real growth. Have fun and get creative, and get ready to welcome some new listeners!

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