Hello and welcome to another episode of Podcraft. This is the show all about podcasting, from podcast equipment to recording skills and everything in between.
If you've been following along then you'll know that in our last episode we changed things up a bit from normal.
We plan to talk answer a lot more of the listener questions that are being sent in, as opposed to covering a topic/theme or teaching you something long term over a number of episodes.
- Apple Podcasts
- My Podcast Reviews
- The Drum Up podcast
- The Podcast Host – How do you get more iTunes reviews?
- The Podcast Host – iTunes Rankings: How does it work?
- The Podcast Host – The Numbers Game
As many of you may know, we run another podcast as well as this called The Numbers Game.
Within that podcast, “we talk about the numbers everyone else pretends to ignore”. We're telling a story of what goes on at The Podcast Host, how we're growing our business and the numbers that we care about.
We also run a number of experiments as part of the podcast, as well as giving our listeners some homework to help them grow their podcasts too.
And that's where this week's question comes from.
Owen Phillipson, who does The Drum Up podcast on cycling, left us some feedback on Twitter.
We were having a discussion on The Numbers Game about the New and Noteworthy section on Apple Podcast and were having a laugh about getting onto it, which sparked his question:
Were you laughing because it's actually not hard to get in to New and Noteworthy? Why were you laughing about it?
This ties in with a couple of articles covered on the website recently – like an article on iTunes rankings and the fact that people do get obsessed with them. For the article we got a lot of good data from Rob Walch at Libsyn who are very open about their stats.
Part of the article was about New and Noteworthy because, especially when you're a new podcaster, you think that you might be able to get into it. It's seen as a sort of holy grail, where if you get featured then you'll get loads of downloads, be able to give up your day job and all will be well.
They calculate the New and Noteworthy rankings with an algorithm. It's based on subscribers, ratings and reviews.
A common misconception (partly down to the name) is that you have to be inside your first eight weeks of being on the iTunes store, but in face this isn't correct. Instead of “New and Noteworthy” it should be called “New OR Noteworthy”.
Between their own work and the clients they have worked with over the years, both Colin and Matthew have had quite a lot of shows in the New and Noteworthy section.
And, over the time that they have been within the section, neither have seen a great amount of growth in numbers.
So, to answer Owen's question simply: It's not hard to get into New and Noteworthy.
The thing that is hard, though, is to stay at the top level of it. Get into that bar at the very top that's maybe five or six long, that's the hard part.
The story Colin always mentions is that, around a year ago, we had two shows that we released at the same time for two different clients – both in niches with a similar size of audience, so they're pretty comparable.
Both of them got into New and Noteworthy within the first week, and we saw very little change in downloads from that point. They were getting around a hundred or so downloads in the first week and managed to creep up to 200 within a few weeks.
If people were using New and Noteworthy to find shows, then having that podcast on the front page of the entire iTunes store for close to a week should boost your traffic massively, shouldn't it?
But the reality is it had no impact whatsoever. And, as soon as they came off New and Noteworthy, not much changed in terms of the number of downloads either.
It's worth mentioning, also, that according to Rob at Libsyn, the front page of New and Noteworthy, is all hand curated. You can get all the ratings, reviews and subscribers in the world, but in order to get on the front page you have to be hand picked by those at Apple. It's the same with the comedy pages – that's all hand curated too.
So, if you take into account that most people are listening on their phone on the podcast app, getting into the New and Noteworthy subcategories takes three or four clicks to get there – so it casts doubt on how much traffic is realistically coming through that door.
In reality, most people are searching directly or by topic.
Matthew did, however, write an article about how to get more iTunes reviews that is also quite relevant to Owen's comment.
The fact of that matter is that getting reviews feels good. It's good for the ego and gives you motivation to keep going forward. In short, it's great to hear that people are listening.
So, in his article, Matthew gave some tips on how you might go about getting more ratings all based on your audience. There's nothing worse than seeing people saying “Could you five star me and I'll five star you” and they've clearly never seen each other's show. And you can spot all these fake reviews from a mile off.
So rather than complaining, Matthew decided to write an article about helping people gain some more honest reviews for their show.
Matthew admitted that he never really tried hard to get reviews in the last year, despite putting a 10 -15 minute episode out every third week, as well as a 50 minute long season finale.
It was only at the very end of the finale that he came on, thanked the listeners for listening and was honest and said “Look, we'd really appreciate if you gave the show a wee review on iTunes” – purely for the personal pleasure. It's for the ego boost.
Matthew was shocked to find that, after 18 podcasts, that one request actually sparked a number of reviews. The best way to get reviews, we've found, is to just be honest and transparent.
At this point, we should mention that Daniel J Lewis' mypodcastreviews.com is a great website to see and share all your iTunes reviews from across the world.
So, in summary: iTunes reviews are good – try and get them. But…ask your audience for them. Don't obsess over them or swap with people. Just see it as a wee bonus for you, rather than this thing that you have to do because you think you're going to get featured somewhere.
And perhaps spread it out over a period of time – people will notice it more and perhaps be more likely to take action.
That's it for this episode of Podcraft. We hope you enjoyed the show, and we hope you tune in again next week!
Once again, let us know your questions and we’ll answer as many of them as we can. Here’s a reminder of where you can find us: