How To Get iTunes to Promote Your Podcast For You

I’ve used these strategies to launch podcasts, and help friends launch podcasts, that have received thousands (even tens of thousands) of downloads per day in the first eight weeks of launch.

Whether or not we want to admit it, none of us wants to launch a new podcast to the sound of crickets.

And that’s ok. It’s ok to want your message to be heard by lots of people. The good news is that iTunes also wants your message to be heard by lots of people. Not because they care about your show, but because it brings more people into the iTunes fold. But we can still use that to our advantage.

iTunes has devoted their most prime real estate to a section called “New & Noteworthy”. Getting your podcast into New & Noteworthy and on the front page of iTunes is like having your blog post featured in Hacker News or the like. It can sends hundreds or thousands of new listeners your way.

I was talking to a friend last week whose show went from a few hundred downloads total to more than 10k per day after hitting the homepage of iTunes. And I saw similar results when I launched The Gently Mad last December.

The problem is that there is no exact formula to follow. All we know is iTunes picks shows for New & Noteworthy based on a combination of downloads and ratings/reviews. But how do you get downloads and ratings/reviews if you have no existing audience? I’m glad you asked.

STEP #1. CHOOSE ALL THE CATEGORIES AVAILABLE TO YOU

When you first created the RSS feed for your show (either on your own or through Libsyn or Soundcloud, etc.), you chose which categories your show should belong to.

Most people only choose one. (And some hosts, like Soundcloud, only let you choose one, which is why I don’t like Soundcloud, but that’s a different article). iTunes let’s you choose up to three main categories and three subcategories. You are (at least) tripling your chances of being seen by selecting as many categories as you can.

The key here is to pick relevant categories. But don’t pick just one. For example, my new podcast is about podcasting, so my first category/sub-category selection was Technology > Podcasting. But the show is also relevant to the Business > Careers community and the Arts > Design community. I come from a background in business and design, so my show indirectly talks about those things as well. But, mostly, I know people in those categories would be interested in my show.

Already, my show is showing up in three times as many places and each of these places has their own New & Noteworthy section.

When I launched The Gently Mad last year, at one point I was at the top of New & Noteworthy in seven different sections of iTunes.

That’s huge exposure.

STEP #2. HAVE MULTIPLE EPISODES IN YOUR RSS FEED BEFORE YOU SUBMIT THE SHOW TO ITUNES

Most people launch a new podcast with one episode. Which makes sense at first. But here’s the not-so-secret secret: How ever many episodes are in your RSS feed when you submit it to iTunes, automatically get downloaded when someone subscribes to your show.

So, if you submit with three episodes already in the feed, when someone subscribes, they automatically download those three.

Do you see where this is going? If you get 10 people to subscribe to your show in the first week, you just got 30 downloads instead of 10.

Depending on the length and style of your show, three-five is a good number to launch with.

STEP #3. PERSONALLY ASK FOR RATINGS AND REVIEWS

The last piece of this puzzle is super critical, but one of the hardest for people. I get it. You don’t like to bother your friends with things like that. But that’s where the “personal” ask comes in.

Don’t just blast your Facebook newsfeed with a request. Sit down and write a personal message to everyone you know and email it to them.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is. But it’s worth it. With TGM, I spent six hours one day sending personal emails and Facebook messages asking for a quick rating and review. And because it was personal, I got them.

If you’re like me, seeing a generic request in your Facebook news feed or getting a mass email barely registers. But when I get a personal email from a friend, asking me to take two minutes and do something that would help them out, I’m much more likely to do it.


It goes without saying that all the strategies in the world will get you nowhere if your show isn’t worth listening to. Quality is our No. 1 priority as podcasters. But if you’ve got great content, these strategies can help it get noticed.

The great news is it doesn’t take a ton of reviews and downloads to get into New & Noteworthy. And once you’re there, more downloads and reviews will start to pour in and the effect becomes exponential.

If you’re interested in learning a ton more about launching and growing irresistible podcasts, I’ve created the Ultimate Podcast Bundle, which includes my podcasting course and awesome courses and books from others such as Jason Zook, Paul Jarvis and Justin Jackson. There’s also a ton of discounts and a complete home studio giveaway. Basically, $2,000 worth of stuff. And the price starts at $1. Check it out.

I hope you enjoyed these steps and will apply them to your own podcast.