Last updated on November 13th, 2019
If you want your podcast to grow quickly (and honestly, who doesn’t?), you need to grab as much exposure as possible. Landing your show in iTunes’ New and Noteworthy category is a powerful way to put your show in front of countless listeners.
The New and Noteworthy category is a game-changer for new shows. It can single handedly propel you into popularity, help you build a big audience, and even attract advertisers. In this article we’ll explain what this category is and how to get in it.
What is the New and Noteworthy Category?
The New and Noteworthy category is a curated list of podcasts that Apple promotes on the iTunes homepage. It’s a front-and-center spot on their platform that gets seen by millions of podcast listeners every day. iTunes uses this spot to promote (in their words) “compelling, new, or unusual content.”
Users also have the option to expand the homepage category by clicking “See All.” This takes them to a new page devoted entirely to New and Noteworthy podcasts.
As you can imagine, getting featured in this category can create massive exposure. It’s a popular place for new users to explore content when they’re looking for shows to enjoy. Podcasts who show up in this list can go from dozens of downloads per day to hundreds per day. It’s a highly coveted spot by any podcaster who wants serious growth.
Criteria for the New and Noteworthy Category
There’s no simple answer here. Frankly, we don’t know for sure. Just like Google has never released how their search engine works, iTunes has never released its formula for curating podcasts for the New and Noteworthy category.
That said, it’s mostly based on an algorithm. The algorithm weighs several variables, like your subscribers, ratings, reviews, and downloads. If the algorithm likes your metrics, you’ll get bumped into the New and Noteworthy category.
There’s a human element, as well. iTunes can manually place podcasts into the New and Noteworthy category based on their internal criteria. They sometimes do this for celebrities, politicians, or popular content creators they know will perform well.
Do you have to be a new podcast to get into the New and Noteworthy category? That was true at one point, but not any more. If you browse the category, you’ll see some podcasts that are months and even years old. A better name for the category would be “New and/or Noteworthy.”
However, we know age is a factor. iTunes will award you some additional “momentum” when you first launch, which is why having a big launch is so important. (We’ll come back to this in a minute.) But there’s no reason to start over by launching a new show just because you aren’t new anymore.
7 Steps to Get Into the New and Noteworthy Category
So how do you get on such a prestigious spot? No one has a perfect answer, but these steps will give you the best chance.
1. Build an Audience Before Submitting to Apple Podcasts
If you have the time and resources, it helps to build an audience before you launch your podcast on Apple Podcasts. A pre-existing audience is a powerful resource to tap for immediate subscribers, downloads, ratings, and reviews.
How do you build an audience?
- Create social media pages and start publishing content. Follow similar accounts and interact with their followers.
- Publish episodes to your own podcast website to create a listener base before launching on Apple Podcasts. Be sure to include show notes for SEO value and collect listeners’ email addresses so you can notify them when you submit to Apple Podcasts.
- Purchase paid social media ads to build followers and collect their email addresses.
- Appear on other podcasts to promote your upcoming show. Make sure the host gives out a link to your podcast website.
- Build an email list by giving away a free resource (PDF guide, eBook, video series, etc.). Drive traffic to this page to encourage sign ups.
- If you have any friends with their own audiences, ask them to give you a plug.
2. Use Quality Cover Art for Your Show
If you make it to the New and Noteworthy category, your podcast will be seen by thousands – or even millions – of people. But iTunes won’t give you that kind of exposure if your podcast cover art sucks. Create a cover image that’s attractive, compelling, and descriptive.
Use a 3000 pixel by 3000 pixel image so it scales well at any size. Make it 72 dpi and use RGB colors. Save your art as a JPEG or PNG (but JPEG is best). Read our full guide on cover art for all the technical specifications and design recommendations.
3. Produce High Quality Episodes
This should go without saying, but your audio quality needs to be perfect. If your show doesn’t sound good, you won’t build your metrics (subscribers, downloads, reviews, and ratings) quickly.
Use professional podcast recording software and recording gear. Make sure each episode is well edited so there’s no background noise or unpleasant sounds. If you aren’t comfortable using editing software, hire an editor so your audio is top notch.
4. Launch with Multiple Episodes (at Least 3)
One episode isn’t enough for new listeners to decide that they like your show. They usually need at least three episodes to convert into true fans. Plus more available episodes means more downloads in a shorter period of time. (Remember, downloads are one of the metrics iTunes considers for the New and Noteworthy category.) So publish three or four episodes to your podcast host before submitting your show to Apple Podcasts.
But don’t get carried away! iTunes looks at downloads over time as well. Let’s say you launch with ten episodes and each get five downloads for 50 total downloads. When you publish your next episode a week later and it only gets five downloads, iTunes will think, “Oh, they’re popularity is declining. Let’s take them off New and Noteworthy.”
5. Line Up Early Reviewers
The number of subscriptions, reviews, and ratings you receive is important, but so is the velocity of that feedback. iTunes is more likely to add you to the New and Noteworthy category if you receive feedback signals quickly.
Alert your fans a few days before you’re ready to publish your podcast to iTunes. Organize them to subscribe, rate, and review as soon as you publish so iTunes sees those feedback signals come in quickly.
If you don’t have an existing audience to reach out to, contact your friends and family, even if they aren’t truly interested in your show or don’t listen to podcasts. Every little bit helps when you’re trying to grow a podcast from the beginning!
But don’t buy fake reviews! These are often easy to spot by iTunes. It’s a violation of the terms of service to fake reviews. iTunes could ban your account and your podcast if they catch you. Plus fake reviews damage your reputation and the trust between you and your listeners.
6. Publish Consistently and Often
iTunes doesn’t want to recommend podcasts who eventually podfade. They like shows that continuously release new episodes.
Once you publish your podcast to iTunes, it’s important to maintain a consistent publishing schedule. Strive to release a new episode at least once each week. Use a podcast editorial calendar to keep yourself organized.
If this is your first podcast, we recommend producing a few episodes and keeping them on standby in case there’s ever a week you can’t publish. Think of these episodes like insurance To help you get into the New and Noteworthy category and stay there once you make it.
7. Ask Your Listeners for Reviews and to Subscribe
It’s always good to prompt your listeners to subscribe, rate, and review your show, but this practice is especially important in your first handful of episodes. You need as many of these people to comply as possible so iTunes recognizes your show.
There’s no need to deceive here. People love being a part of something. Explain to your followers that you’re trying to extend your show’s reach and you would greatly appreciate their help. Then lay out each step (subscribe, rate, and review) they should follow to help.
Landing your podcast on the News and Noteworthy category is a powerful way to grow your show, build a healthy listenership, and eventually monetize your podcast. It has the potential to turn your brand new show into a popular hit. Placement in the category is never guaranteed, but following the steps we outlined above will give you the best shot.
What’s your experience? How did you land in the New and Noteworthy category? Leave your recommendations in the comments.