How to Promote Your Podcast with Episode Swaps

by Sierra Karst | Mar 23, 2022 | Podcasting

Read Time: 7 min read

Summary: TL;DR: Podcast swapping is a valuable strategy for cross-promotion, building collaborative relationships, and increasing podcast impressions. By exchanging episodes with other podcasts, you can reach new audiences, gain exposure, and create more content with minimal effort. To pull off a successful swap, choose a podcast with a similar audience, pitch the collaboration effectively, select a compelling episode, establish fair trade terms, prepare your audience, schedule the swap strategically, and label the episode clearly. Through podcast swapping, you can grow your listener base, engage with peers in the industry, and provide fresh content to your audience.

Podcast swapping is different from other podcast collaboration styles, such as mid-episode endorsements, advertisement spots for other podcasts, guest hosting, and fictional crossover episodes. Other than your introduction and advertiser spots, the episode you publish is created entirely by the collaborating podcast to give your audience a sample of their content. Here’s why you should try podcast swapping.

How Can Podcast Swapping Benefit You?

Podcast swapping is a low-effort, high-reward podcast promotion strategy can help you get more podcast listeners by cross-promoting your content to a similar audience.

Build a Collaborative Relationship

YouTubers have benefited from collaborative relationships for years—it’s time podcasters join the bandwagon. Instead of seeing other podcasts as competition fighting for limited listener attention, see them as opportunities to reach a new target audience, gain inspiration, and be supported by peers in the same creative field.

Maybe you need to spice up your show, or your podcast publishing calendar is coming up on a break. Offer your collaborator a guest hosting spot or swap shows for the week! Brainstorm together and make episodes or series that complement one another and can be shared jointly on social media. No matter the arrangement, working with another podcaster will engage more of both fanbases in the long run.

Increase Podcast Impressions

Many now-famous podcasts were jump started by shoutouts from shows with larger audiences. Take Darknet Diaries, for example. Host and producer, Jack Rhysider, saw a big spike in downloads of his regular episodes after swapping episodes with Hackable? and Malicious Life—and he estimates the swaps with larger podcasts resulted in several thousand new subscribers, too.

Shows that benefited from past collaborations, like Twenty Thousand Hertz with Dallas Taylor, often look for up-and-coming podcasters to support with exposure and episode swaps as well. After his segment aired on 99% Invisible, Taylor’s podcast audience skyrocketed. Now, Taylor cross-promotes podcasts he likes every fifth or sixth episode.

Become a Trusted Recommendation

An established podcaster posting your episode on their feed is a great way to gain organic exposure and widen your audience. Someone’s favorite podcast host endorsing your show may be what convinces them to listen to your content for the first time. Word-of-mouth promotion can be even more convincing when a host shares their personal reviews of your show or mentions that they themselves are a fan of your work.

Once you’ve established a partnership through episode-swapping and attracted new listeners, you can continue to support another show online through social media. Post a recommendation of their podcast, like and share the other show’s posts, or encourage your followers to engage with the other show’s content.

Publish More Content with Less Work

Think your listeners would enjoy a deeper dive into the topics you cover? Or a different take altogether? Consider a podcast swap with shows that cover topics you’re interested in, but that you don’t want to discuss yourself. That’s what Taylor of Twenty Thousand Hertz did with the Brought to you by… podcast’s whoopee cushion episode.

When you package a swapped episode with your logo and introduction, people will inevitably associate the content with your brand. And if the episode is well-received, that’s a week of quality content for your audience with minimal production effort from you. In fact, if you find yourself suffering from podcast burnout, podcast swapping can give you a break while still maintaining a regular podcast posting schedule.

How to Pull Off a Podcast Episode Swap

What’s your priority? Remember your objective and stick to it while you pitch and negotiate the podcast swap. Follow these simple steps to set up your podcast-swapping collaboration!

Choose a Podcast with a Similar Audience

When trying to reach a new target audience, use your current audience as a blueprint for who enjoys your content the most.

Create a simplified buyer’s persona with key attributes like your audience’s demographics, listening habits, and topic interests (whether your show covers those topics or not). You can use Google, Twitter, and even directory features like the iTunes “related” tab to find shows your audience would appreciate.

Better yet—ask your audience for recommendations. Set up a poll on social media to learn about their favorite podcasts (outside of your own, of course). Then, compile the data so you can see the most common recommendations.

Make a Detailed Pitch for an Episode Swap

Keep in mind that the podcast you choose to swap with should benefit from your show, too. Both audiences should receive an episode that fits their interests and entices them to subscribe.

When you approach the other host(s) of your potential podcast swap, convince them that you’re the best collaborator for the job, with content that would intrigue their listener base. Write up a description of your show, your audience persona, your monthly listener and episode download stats, and any other impressive facts about your show. You can also share examples of past collaborations like guest host episodes or advertisements you’ve done for other podcasts to demonstrate your promotional prowess.

Then, craft an elevator pitch detailing your proposed collaboration agreement. Explain what you’re looking to gain from the deal—whether it be new followers, more downloads, or general exposure of your podcast. Provide parameters you’re firm about and ask what needs the other podcast has for a swap.

Select an Episode to Represent Your Show

The swapped episode should appeal to your target audience within the other podcast’s listenership. It can be helpful to choose a topic in or just beyond the collaborating podcast’s wheelhouse. You can ask the collaborating podcast for their best-performing episodes and topics to narrow down your choices.

The episode should be a good introduction to your show’s tone and your personality as a host. If you can keep the audience engaged through the swapped episode, you’re one step closer to converting a new subscriber.

Review your archives for an episode to swap. That way, if someone checks out your feed for more content, they’ll find new episodes with fresh topics at the top. Or select the first episode in a series to encourage the audience to keep listening for the story’s resolution.

Establish Reasonable Caps for a Fair Trade

Putting a limit on the number of episode downloads or setting a deadline to remove the episodes from both feeds can keep your podcast swap fair. These caps make sure both shows benefit similarly even if you have drastically different audience sizes or listener rates.

For example, you can agree to take down the swapped episodes at 10,000 downloads or two weeks after uploading. The details are up to you! You can also keep the swapped episodes permanently on your feed.

Just be sure to check with your advertisers if the collaborator’s content is a good home for their ad spots before you get into trade agreements.

Prepare Your Audience for the Episode Swap

Don’t shock your listeners with an unexpected episode or an unfamiliar voice at the top of your show. Instead, treat this swapped episode like a release party and ride the social media wave for more organic podcast advertising.

You’ll want to give your audience enough notice before dropping a swapped episode. Announce the swap on social media as far in advance as you’re able, making sure to tag the collaborating hosts and podcasts for extra traction.

You can even host a Q&A about the episode’s production, make a countdown to the drop, or use the opportunity to ask for recommendations of more podcasts to swap with.

Take some time in your podcast’s regular introduction and closing remarks to share the news of the podcast swap after you’ve announced it on social media. It’s a good idea to compliment the collaborating podcast or offer a teaser trailer in the preceding episode to get people excited for the new content.

When recording the introduction to your swapped episode, take a minute to explain why you think your listeners will enjoy this podcast in particular. And don’t forget a call-to-action, like checking out the collaborator’s feed and subscribing.

Schedule the Episode Swap

You have a couple scheduling options to consider when it comes to podcast swapping. You can release the swapped episode on your regular content publishing schedule, which can give you some wiggle room to take the week off or get ahead on your publishing schedule. Or you could maintain your regular publishing schedule and treat the swap as a bonus episode. This choice is more likely to delight listeners since they won’t miss out on their regular programming.

If you plan to cap the performance of the swapped episode and delete it eventually, posting the swap as a bonus episode will maintain a consistent archive of episodes for future listeners. Just make sure to check with your production team and advertisers about any changes you make to your schedule.

Label the Swapped Episode Well

Make sure your podcast listeners know that the episode is a swap by clearly advertising it in the episode title and description. That way, they’re not surprised to find content that’s different than what you usually often.

Discuss with the other podcast team how you both will be packaging swapped episodes: as your own or using the other show’s name and branding on your feed. You might even consider trying a mashup of your branding to catch more eyes. Just remember to credit the episode’s host, producers, and guests in your episode description—and don’t forget links to the podcast website and social media profiles.

Hurrdat Media offers podcasting services, including podcast production, hosting, and advertising. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how we can help your podcast!