by J. Alexander Greenwood
The last time I appeared here, I talked about ways to be selected for podcast appearances to promote your writing. I hope it encouraged you to put yourself out there. In this post, we'll cover how to find and evaluate podcasts, so you don't waste your time on shows with poor quality or audiences that are a little too niche in size.
So, if you want to get booked on a podcast, I have good and bad news.
The good news is, according to PodcastHosting.org, there are two million (2,000,000!) podcasts out there with more than 48 million episodes available.
The bad news is there are two million (2,000,000!) podcasts out there of varying quality and audience size.
What does that mean if you're seeking a good fit for your topic with a decent-sized audience? How do you make that podcast love connection?
So, you're looking for good shows to pitch? Let me simplify it for you with what I am looking for when researching shows.
One of my favorite places to find guests is with MatchmakerFM. No, it's not the dating service, though it is if you're looking for that elusive love connection with a podcast.
It’s a service (available with a free “lite” option) that helps podcasts and guests find each other. I interviewed its founder, James Mulvaney, shortly after it started; it now has more than 28,000 members.
As a guest, you can create a profile (here’s mine) to showcase your expertise and introduce yourself to podcasts in your niche. I love that there’s no cold pitching — people on MatchmakerFM expect to hear from you. They also help eliminate the dreaded email chains because you manage your communications in-app.
Another important way to evaluate podcasts is to determine their audience size. As a small, niche podcast producer, I am the last person to tell you to avoid shows that don't have Joe Rogan mega numbers. My shows speak to a dedicated niche fiercely interested in the subject matter. I'd rather talk about my novels with two thousand listeners who actually read and buy books
There are plenty of great tools out there to get a handle on podcast audience size — Google around —or just look at the show's notes and reviews, which will give you a snapshot of quality and approximate size relative to the number of reviews and episodes.
I won’t go on a show that doesn’t have its sea legs. My first dozen shows were pretty rocky—everybody’s are. So, unless it’s an established podcasting/broadcasting pro starting a new show, I pass on podcasts without at least a couple of dozen episodes in the can--and definitely move on from shows that are inconsistently published. Listeners lose interest in shows that fall off the face of the Earth for weeks in between episodes.
Shows that don't often do interviews usually have a few things in common: hosts unskilled in conducting interviews, and little experience managing the technical side of interviewing via the internet or in-person are significant concerns. It's pretty frustrating to get on shows that don't have experience in the interview process, from booking to post-show promo.
The podcast pays attention to being heard clearly. Show me a great interviewer with a lousy mic or a lack of understanding of ambient noise, and I’ll show you a podcast that people don’t listen to.
Is the host at ease on their show? Do they know how to make an interview interesting, or are they just reading questions off a sheet of paper? I prefer to book and be booked on shows with hosts who can have an actual conversation. Why? People like listening to an interesting discussion, not a rote Q&A session. The other thing is to pay attention to how guests are treated. For example, (and oh boy, this happened to me) getting booked on a show where the co-hosts spend most of the interview time prattling at each other, leaving the guest to fend for his or herself. Infuriating!
I prefer shows with an independent website that specifies its focus, links to where to listen and subscribe, and a robust show notes section. Why? I want my appearance memorialized in a show notes page with links to my website (good for SEO!), books/products, and other info. Bonus if you can listen on the site, so people don't have to hunt the episode down. On my show notes pages, I provide all sorts of links, and you can listen to the show's latest episodes right there.
Don’t waste time pitching something the show won’t be interested in. Of course, there are always exceptions, but you’re going for the highest-quality targets to spread your message. So, asking the guys doing a local sports roundup podcast to interview you about your romance novel is probably futile, unless you wrote a Bull Durham or The Natural type of story.
Does the podcast promote its episodes on social media or via newsletter? Do they have a sizable social media following? If not, you may be “shouting into the void.” That can be okay if you need interview practice time, but remember, you are doing this to build awareness and find new fans — that’s tougher with shows that don’t actively promote.
Finding the right show out of millions takes time. Still, if you pay attention to how a podcast sounds, looks, and promotes itself, you'll find it a more productive experience and you may just make a podcast love connection that can blossom into many “dates” in the future. Now get out there!
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J. Alexander Greenwood is an award-winning writer, public relations consultant, podcaster, speaker, and former journalist and broadcasting executive. He is best known as the author of the John Pilate Mysteries and host/producer of the Mysterious Goings On podcast podcast and the PR After Hours podcast. Mysterious Goings On was named an Apple Podcasts "New & Noteworthy" show in 2016 and was a 2019 People's Choice Podcast Awards nominee. Alex has recorded hundreds of hours of podcasts and made numerous appearances on TV, radio, podcasts, webinars, and conferences. He is the author of the Amazon Top-Selling eBook, The Podcast Option.
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