Sitting across from Andy Frisella, Dave Ramsey, or Guy Raz with the red recording light flashing is something that any podcast guest dreams of. Perhaps you’re reading this with a few smaller interviews under your belt and are ready to shoot for the stars. Or perhaps you were lucky enough to get invited onto a fairly big show and now you’ve caught the “big-show fever”!
In this blog, I’m going to show you a few things that you can do to increase your chances of getting onto bigger podcasts, more often.
But be warned: I’m also going to attempt to break some biases, define some labels, and set some expectations.
Let’s start by defining the following:
What makes a podcast big or small?
First, we need to dissect what defines podcast size, how to gauge it, and what can (or should) be considered “big” and “small”.
A few main metrics that most consider notable:
- Number of subscribers
- Number of lifetime downloads
- Average number of monthly downloads
- Average number of downloads per episodes
By the way, the term “downloads” encompasses the total times an episode has been listened to – either via streaming it directly, downloading it for offline listening later, etc.
Determining which of these metrics matters the most, greatly depends on the context and one’s intentions. For example, if you want to gauge how well your show has done in general, you might want to look at the number of subscribers or lifetime downloads. If you want to see how well your show has been doing recently, you may want to look at the number of monthly downloads in the last 3-6 months.
What about if you’re a podcast guest thinking about how many people will hear your interview on the show? Well, that may be obvious – although it’s not as obvious to most people as you might think – the answer is the average number of downloads per episode. Why? Because it tells you how many people will likely listen to that single episode that you were interviewed on.
So where can you find these numbers?
Here comes the (subjective) bad news… Unlike streaming music and video, for instance, most podcast platforms don’t divulge the streams/listens for each episode. In fact, they don’t even show any statistics that might indicate the size of a show.
There are some platforms that are an exception though, but they’re much smaller than the big players and can only show you the statistics of users on their platform alone. And, even then, the stats are limited. (I talk more about these further down below.)
Essentially, it’s impossible to tell the downloads per episode for certain without seeing the podcast’s personal audience statistics dashboard, which only a podcast host/admin has access to. And you can’t exactly go asking each podcast to share this information with you either. No podcast likes divulging this info to the public (with the exception of the top 1% of podcasts who rightfully brag about their numbers on their website or when trying to get you to pay to be a sponsored guest).
How does Podcast Connection do it?
Many people try to gauge show size using social media size and/or the number of ratings. Although these can be rough indicators, they don’t work without context and some more data. Our clients are spoiled – they always know the size of a show (among other important details) before they get to accept an opportunity.
How do we do it?
We have a complex algorithm that uses data we’ve personally gathered in confidence with a number of podcasts, as well as some publically available stats, to come up with an accurate estimation. We call it our Tier System.
Our Tier System allows us to charge our clients on a sliding scale rather than a set fee per interview. This allows guests to accept smaller opportunities at a lower cost. Click here to find out more.
P.S. if you’d like to better gauge downloads per episode for yourself, I’ll be releasing another article soon which will go into more detail on how you can do this.
Defining labels: how big is “Big”?
Now that we’ve defined which metric distinguishes a “big” podcast from a “small” one (specifically for us as the guests), let’s put the size into perspective with some statistics.
The top percent of podcasts in the world
According to recent statistics, if a podcast’s new episode gets 30,000 downloads or more within 30 days of its release, it’s in the top 1% of podcasts in the world. To be in the top 10%, you’d need about 2,900 downloads per episode in the first 30 days.
See the full statistics in the graph below:
(Hover your cursor over the graph to see exact numbers)
Let’s put a label on it
According to another report by Lysbyn, the average podcast episode gets around 141 downloads in the first 30 days. That’s fairly close to the number we have for the Top 50% of podcasts. So, I’ve labeled that class as “Average”, anything smaller as “Small”, and the rest… well, here’s my full table below:
|Podcast Class||Episode Downloads (First 30 Days)||Size Label|
|Top 2%||17,000||Very Big|
|Less than top 50%||<123||Small|
Please note that these labels are purely for the purpose of context for this article and should only be considered as such.
So how big is “Big”?
To answer the above question – now that we’ve used credible stats to give us some context and have labeled the various classes according to their downloads per episode, we can define “Big” (for the purpose and context of this article) as ±6,600 downloads per episode in the first 30 days, a.k.a. the Top 5% of podcasts in the world.
Setting your expectations: odds of landing a “Big” podcast
As a podcast agency, we’ve booked a total of ±500 podcast interviews for our clients in the last two years.
The pie chart below shows the various labels (as defined in the table above) along with the number of shows (as a percentage) that we’ve booked on each class of podcast.
(Tap the chart to see numbers)
As you can see, Big shows and above are by far in the minority, Average and Small shows are the second least booked, and Medium and Considerable shows are the most booked. Let me explain why:
Why are the Bigger shows so far in the minority? It’s certainly not due to a lack of trying to book them. It’s because, not only are there far fewer of them in general, but the bigger shows are much pickier with their guests too (see more about this below). Personally, I’m quite chuffed that as much as ±10% of this chart is filled with podcasts in the top 5% and up. We’ve essentially doubled the odds.
Why are Medium and Considerable shows in the majority? One would think that it would be the Small and Average shows that are in the majority, right? Well, even though there are definitely way more Small and Average shows out there, we do try our best to focus on the bigger shows as much as we can. The goal is always to get the biggest shows possible but our efforts pay off mostly with the Medium and Considerable size shows.
The problem with Big shows
The problem with many Big, Very Big, and Huge shows, is either one of the following or a combination:
- They don’t accept guest applications – Rather, they invite the guests they want
- They receive hundreds of guest suggestions a week and are in a position to cherry pick only the best candidates
- They charge their guests a fee to appear on the show – usually anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 per guest
There are, of course, exceptions. Hence, why we’ve managed to book a few of them for our clients.
However, and here’s the kicker…
Unless you’re GaryVee, Tim Ferris, and the like, you cannot expect to be constantly accepted onto Big, Very Big or Huge shows – no matter how good you, your VA, or your podcast agent is.
Okay, so what can you do to be a guest on bigger podcasts, more often?
Now that I’ve set your expectations a little bit and explained the odds to you, hopefully you understand that getting on Big shows constantly is quite a big ask for most people.
However, even though there are no guarantees, there are definitely some things you can do in order to increase your chances of being a guest on bigger podcasts more often.
First, get educated on what makes a show big or small. You may be aiming for shows that look big on paper, but in reality, they only get a few hundred downloads per episode. Or the opposite: rejecting shows because they look small on paper but their downloads per episode are actually quite considerable.
If you’ve absorbed all the information in this blog so far, then you’re off to a good start with regards to being educated on this. But if you’d like to better gauge downloads per episode for yourself, I’ll be releasing another article soon which will go into more detail on how you can do this.
Build your social following
Most podcasts don’t charge anything to have you on as a guest. But they do promote you to their audience and they prefer guests who will return the favor.
The bigger your social following, the more inclined they’ll be to choose you as a guest over others.
Make more posts about your podcast interviews
When vetting potential guests, podcast hosts often look deeper to see if you’re going to share the episode, and how much engagement the post might get. If they can see that you’ve been on a few shows but never shared it with your following, they might steer away.
Additionally, podcast interviews make for excellent and engaging content. Click here to learn more about how to leverage podcast interviews as a content-generating machine.
Keep doing “you”
Keep building your business, product, or brand. Achievements speak for themselves and are usually the best (but not easiest) way to get guest slots on bigger shows.
Previous Podcast Experience & Presentation
Podcast hosts are wary of newbies. If you haven’t been on a podcast before, you will probably need to do a few small shows first. Once they get published and podcast hosts can check them out, you should start getting more guest application success rates.
Podcasts like to see your previous interviews mainly to gauge your presentation:
- How good is your sound quality – are you using a good mic? Are you getting minimal room noise?
- Video quality – do you have a decent webcam? Is your room well-lit?
- Speaking ability – how well do you articulate? How naturally and thoroughly do you answer questions?
P.S. if you want to know more about how to improve your presentation, check out this blog.
Do the small shows
Even after you’ve done a few bigger shows, we’ve found that people who have the most success with podcast guesting are the ones that keep doing the smaller shows along with the big ones.
There’s a reason why even someone like Nathan Latka (retired at age 29 with over $100,000 in monthly passive income, best-selling author, and host of a successful podcast with over 10 million downloads) sees the value of being interviewed on smaller shows.
True, many small shows don’t make it far. Some quit or fizzle out, others just stay small for some reason. But some do make it big. Let’s say you do ten small shows and, in a few years’ time, only one of those ten keep working at it and makes it to the top 5%, you’ll be glad you went on the show when it was still up-and-coming. Additionally, you’ll have a Big or even Huge show under your belt for a fraction of the price (depending on your agency’s pricing), even when considering the cost of all 10 interviews combined.
This is where a shotgun approach works in your favor. Once a podcast gets to the top, they’ll probably stop accepting guest applications from the public or start charging a massive guest appearance fee, and then it’s either too late or it will cost you dearly.
Do the small shows. If you don’t have the time, get someone on your team who does.
Don’t cancel or reschedule
In order to keep their downloads up, a podcast needs to show up consistently for their audience. That means releasing a certain number of episodes every week/month. Many of them also have day jobs which leave them with limited time slots for doing interviews.
Podcasts really, really, REALLY don’t like it when a guest cancels or reschedules an interview. Even a few days’ notice isn’t enough time to get a replacement interview.
If you reschedule once and you’re lucky enough to get another interview date, make sure you don’t reschedule a second time. If you do, you’ve probably burned that bridge. Also, remember that podcast hosts talk to one another. You don’t want to get a bad rep among podcasters.
Hire an experienced team
I’m all for doing things yourself, but hiring a team who already knows the ropes makes a big difference and can put you miles ahead of the rest.
They can drastically increase your chances of getting accepted onto bigger shows, faster. However, just remember that no podcast agency or directory can guarantee constant Big shows accepting you as a guest. Results from applying to podcasts can often be quite unpredictable. It’s ultimately up to the podcasts to choose who they want or not. All that an experienced team does is simply increase your chances by utilizing their various resources and expertise.
The most important metric when gauging show size is Downloads Per Episode. A “Big” show gets ±6.6k.
There are a number of things you can do in order to increase your chances to get onto bigger podcasts more often. However, short of becoming the next Tim Ferris, or spending thousands of dollars every month on sponsored guest spots, nothing and no one (at least in my experience) can guarantee a constant influx of only Big shows. The name of the game is: “increase your chances”.
Don’t avoid smaller shows altogether – they have hidden benefits and if you’ve achieved a fair measure of success, most podcasts who accept your guest application will be in the Average-to-Considerable range.
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