Work smarter, not harder: this phrase you’ve undoubtedly heard many times could be the podcaster’s mantra. Podcasting means juggling many different balls at any given time—coming up with topics, maintaining a schedule, booking guests, recording, editing, and podcast marketing. So, finding ways to accomplish multiple tasks at once means fewer balls in the air and none on the ground.
One way to boost efficiency is by joining forces with other podcast creators. Use the podcast community to your advantage. Cross-promotion is a powerful multitasking tool. There’s a huge network of creators with their own unique audiences that can help each other expand their reach.
By banding together on certain parts of the journey, you can grow your podcast audience while developing productive—and fun!—partnerships for as long as you both want. Learn all the ways you can form cross-promotional collaborations with creators that will not only build hype for your show but check other items off your to-do list.
How can cross-promotion grow your podcast listeners?
Podcast cross-promotion is when you arrange an exchange with another creator to advertise each other’s shows. This can vary in scope, from a simple shoutout in an episode or on social media to being a guest on each other's podcast or even co-hosting episodes together.
By cross-promoting, you’re getting the word out about your show to new audiences of podcast fans who are likely interested in the concept of your show. Avery Friedman, Creator Relations Manager at Spotify, says, “A great thing about cross-promoting is that it guarantees you're getting your show in front of a new audience that is already familiar with the podcast format.”
You can create a ripple effect by complementing one nod with another. For example, if you let your listeners know about a new podcast they should listen to in an episode, follow that up with a corresponding social media post tagging that creator. Then, that creator can do the same for you, creating a cycle of support and an influx of new listeners.
Build relationships with other podcasts creators
Friedman says, “cross-promotion is an effective tool for both acquiring more listeners and deepening your community of fellow creators.”
Before you reach out to creators with cross-promotion requests, start building a foundation of camaraderie for an organic and genuine relationship. Be a fan and supporter first before you get down to business. Find creators who you admire, who inspire you, and who influence you. If you already know some creators, those would be good contacts to start with while you’re building your podcast community.
Seek out podcasts that have similar audiences, concepts, themes, values, and styles as yours. This doesn’t necessarily mean shows that are very close to what you’re doing, but ones that could be interesting to you and your audience on some level.
Listen to, rate, and follow their shows, engage with them on social media or in online communities, respond to their Q&As and Polls, and even subscribe to their podcast if you’re so inclined. Feel out those connections and how you could potentially work together. Even if you don’t end up collaborating, building your network and community will benefit your show. You could earn a listener or be on another creator’s radar for a future opportunity.
Make your pitch
Once you’ve established a friendly connection with a creator you’d like to collaborate with, it’s time to work on your pitch. Reach out to them with a thoughtful offer about cross-promotion opportunities. Friedman recommends coming to the conversation prepared to communicate why you think a creator would make a good collaborator, why their show is a good fit for your audience, and why your show is a good fit for theirs.
“When reaching out to creators to partner with, showing them you've done your homework about their show goes a long way,” says Friedman. If you’ve already been paying attention to their show and interacting with them, this should be easy. Mention particular episodes that resonated with you and why, or what about them and their background speaks to you, or what your audiences may have in common.
Friedman also says don’t be shy about showing your value. “Know your worth. Don't be afraid to sell yourself. This starts with using analytics to get to know your audience, your reach, and what resonates with listeners.” Data can be a very powerful tool to reveal not just the number of listeners and followers you have but how engaged they are with your podcast. If you don’t have a huge audience yet, remember that quality is at least as important as quantity, if not more.
Within your pitch, include links to some of your best episodes, mention notable guests you’ve had on, and any metrics that show high performance or popular content. If you have any listeners with large followings or impressive credentials, consider mentioning them as well.
Leverage the best cross-promotion methods
When developing your collaborations, think about all the different cross-promotion strategies and what would help meet your particular needs and goals. From low maintenance to more elaborate partnerships, there are a variety of options for cross-promo.
You can gauge potential partners’ interest first before suggesting any specific ways you can collaborate or recommend some options in your initial pitch. Consider the following approaches to cross-promoting and what would make the most sense to pursue.
Starting with a low-lift tactic, social media is a fun and casual platform you can use to show your love for other podcasts and creators. Post an audio clip of a segment from an episode you love, tag a creator in a post telling your followers why they should check them out, or share their content to your own channel. You can even make a weekly or a monthly series, spotlighting a different podcast each time. Hopefully, they will return the favor, or you can agree on a social media collab in advance.
Friedman says a promo swap is “when you call out another podcast in your episode(s) in exchange for that podcast doing the same for you. Typically, they run for at least 30 seconds in a mid-roll spot.”
Dallas Taylor, host of “Twenty Thousand Hertz,” has experienced the power of a promo swap. One of his early episodes that had a few hundred listens catapulted to millions after “99% Invisible” host Roman Mars featured it on his podcast. Now, Taylor pays it forward by following the same practice on his show, sampling other podcasts on every fifth or sixth episode he releases.
An ad swap is similar to a promo swap but in the form of a recorded or host-read ad for another podcast that you can run at any point during an episode. These can be short previews, a script prepared by the creator that you read aloud, or the podcast trailer that you play. Taylor opts to place creator ads like these at the end of episodes, which he says can be a tricky spot to fill for podcast advertisers.
You can make this a convenient request by pre-recording an ad for your podcast so other creators can easily share it on their show.
A feed drop is arguably the pinnacle of cross-promotions, or as Taylor calls it, “the king of all swaps.”
“A feed drop is when you insert another creator’s audio into one of your own episodes, and vice versa. They typically live as a separate episode in your feed for an agreed-upon amount of time. You can also tack them on to the end of an episode,” says Friedman.
These can be parts of another creator’s episode or an entire episode, especially if they run on the shorter side. You can also designate an entire spot in your episode feed to another creator’s episode. In that case, it’s best to record an intro that sets up the episode feature and gives some context as to why you think your audience should listen.
If you want to go a step above episode shoutouts and features, you can swap guest spots with other creators. Maybe you’ve found a creator you really vibe with, or maybe this is the next step in your collaboration. When you identify a podcast you’d like to be a guest on or a creator you’d like to interview on your podcast, be sure to include proposed topics, discussion points, or other ideas for the episode in your pitch.
As we increasingly progress through the levels of podcast cross-promotion, co-hosting is one of the ultimate collaborations. Instead of just interviewing a creator on your podcast or going on theirs to be interviewed, this is when you actually co-host an episode or series of episodes together. Perhaps you break up episodes into segments that you each host, or you could go live on Spotify Live together and take questions from the audience. Coming up with creative formats for co-hosting is all part of the collaborative fun.
Nurture an ongoing partnership
Once you’ve done one collaboration, consider how you can keep it going. Having strong, long-term partnerships is a good signal to other creators and listeners and can help attract new opportunities. Once you’ve made solid connections, you can introduce them to other creators to help them cross promote and expand the community you’re involved in.
One way to do this is to check in with your collaborators after a project to get each other’s feedback. “Keep an open dialogue about how the collaboration went, if both parties felt it was mutually beneficial, and what could be tweaked to improve a future collaboration,” says Friedman.
By collaborating with other creators, you can not only gain listeners, but score guests, fill up your editorial calendar, and get free promotion in return.