There's a lot of misinformation about what it takes to get a podcast into iTunes' New & Noteworthy. A common tip is to launch your podcast with at least three episodes. I do, also, advise that, but you need to understand why and what this really does for you.
iTunes New & Noteworthy doesn't consider the number of episodes
Too many podcasters obsess over the “New & Noteworthy” area of the iTunes podcast directory. Yes, it's great to be in there and you may pick up a following from there. But your goal should really be to produce great content that helps and entertains, regardless of what notoriety you may receive.
A common tip to get into “New & Noteworthy” is to launch with at least three episodes. This is simply not true. This may seem overly profound, but the way to get into “New & Noteworthy” is for your podcast to be either new or noteworthy. The number of episodes you have a launch does nothing to make you “more new” or “more noteworthy.”
Keep an eye on the top “New & Noteworthy” sections in iTunes (each category has its own, and the section is actually much larger than the front page shows). You'll see that many of the featured podcasts actually launch with only one episode. I've had one of my podcasts featured in “New & Noteworthy” when it had only one episode! (I've also seen other podcasts and a couple of my own re-featured in “New & Noteworthy” because Apple felt that even though they were not new, they were noteworthy at that time.)
If you really want to get into the front page of “New & Noteworthy,” you need to build up excitement about your podcast. Get people to view your podcast in iTunes and subscribe, plus ask people to rate and review your show in iTunes. Check out My Podcast Reviews for tools to help you get more podcast reviews.
8 reasons launching with multiple episodes does help your podcast
When you launch with more than one episode, it tells your audience several things that can contribute to a seeming higher value of your show.
- Launching with a few episodes showcases more of your content.
- Launching with a few episodes gives you more search-engine optimization (SEO) with additional episode titles and descriptions.
- Launching with a few episodes demonstrates a stronger commitment to consistent content.
- Launching with a few episodes gives potential subscribers a better taste of what they can expect and why they should subscribe.
- Launching with a few episodes helps your new audience to get more “hooked” on your show.
- Launching with a few episodes gives your audience more content to which they can respond.
- Launching with a few episodes creates more chances to share relevant content in different places and “blitz” the interest in your show.
- Launching with a few episodes gives you a stronger momentum for gaining trust and respect, building authority, and growing your podcast.
The benefits to launching your podcast with a few episodes are far more human than mathematical.
How to effectively launch your podcast with a few episodes
1. Skip “episode 0”
I'm not a fan of “episode 0.” It often seems too forced and unnecessary. Make your first episode strong with great content, not a bunch of “navel-gazing.” Consider what kind of content would be timeless, since your first episode is often among your most-downloaded.
If you can't control yourself from giving an introduction, find a way to make it valuable. For example, you could make 10 tips related to the niche, and with each tip, you have a small story that relates to introducing the podcast. Or, you could make your first episode be some foundational thinking to the rest of the content.
2. Back-date the episodes
Regardless of when you record your episodes, open your website to the public, or submit your podcast feed to iTunes, you should back-date your launching episodes.
For example, if you have a weekly podcast that publishes on every Monday, then back-date each of your previous episodes to the previous Mondays.
Most publishing systems (including WordPress and LibSyn) will let you change the publication date of your posts. This won't involve any time-travel, and archive.org's “Wayback Machine” or Google's search cache won't show your episodes in an early snapshot.
3. Make great episode titles
Since these first few episodes will be the first impressions people have of your podcast, make sure they each have great episode titles. If your title repeats the name of your podcast in the beginning (“My Awesome Podcast – Episode 1 – 10 tips to be awesome”), then your iTunes listing won't have enough space to display your actual episode titles. Thus, your potential subscriber won't quickly see what kind of information you share.
These episode titles are also searchable and will contribute to your podcast SEO in iTunes and website search engines (such as Google and Bing). If you want to be found for “Why the Lego Movie is awesome,” you could make that the title and topic of one of your launching episodes. This is better than trying to stuff a specific term into your general show description.
How have you benefited from launching your podcast with a few episodes? What do you think of new podcasts you see with a few episodes?
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Good advice on launching with multiple shows. The traffic boost you get from New and Noteworthy will be more more effective for you the more you options you give people to listen to.
Daniel, thank you for this article. I’m hoping to launch soon and I really believe it’s important to make that first great impression…this article give me greater insight into how to do that. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Neil! What will your podcast be about?
Thriving in the second half of life.
Ooh, I need that. Well into my second half (which of course is debatable)
Hi Daniel, great article. Do you have any advice on how I can relaunch my podcast? I started out this year (2016) going into my second season and posted two episodes 🙁 I haven’t did anything with this podcast since March. I want to relaunch in Jan. How should I go about doing this? Would I treat this as a new podcast and relaunch with three to five episodes?
I think he covers this a bit in TAP268.
What’s the point of back-dating the episodes? And how exactly do you do it – what dates should you choose?
You would back-date to ensure the episodes display in the correct order. Plus, it lays a foundation for the planned consistency.
You change that publication date in whatever you’re using to create the RSS feed: WordPress, Libsyn, or whatever.
Thanks for the great content you continue to provide. Have you revisited your thoughts on Episode 0’s recently? I continue to see many podcasts utilize them, and I enjoy them from time to time, especially if I know the podcast is coming before launch. It builds my excitement level.
Have you listened to this episode? Should you launch your podcast with “Episode 0”? Does iTunes “New & Noteworthy” REALLY matter?
I have, thank you! It’s been a few years and I was just curious if your opinion had changed. I did an episode zero for my first podcast, but I set it to expire after some time.
My opinion is still the same. But if your episode 0’s purpose is to have something in your feed so you can launch, and then you remove the episode later, I’m more okay with that.