Mainly because networks seem like the logical place to connect everything you are producing.
But there is also safety in numbers, not to mention marketing power.
One podcast is just one podcast.
However, a podcast that can lead you to many podcasts is much more advantageous to all involved.
This is the strategy of one-to-many.
Or in plainer terms, the strategy of being everywhere.
If you find one of my podcasts, there is a good chance that you will find all of my podcasts if they are connected.
Usually, the first goal of any networking strategy is to develop a channel for getting people to find each one of these podcasts, without having to reinvent your marketing each time.
Case in point, this year Gagglepod is producing four podcasts (with two more in the works) that include:
- KDOI — [Arts > Performing Arts]
- Podfader — [Technology > Podcasting]
- Merchants of Dirt — [Sports & Recreation > Outdoor]
- Get Lost Racing — [Sports & Recreation > Outdoor]
They are very much a mix of unique topics that Timothy “Kimo” Brien (my co-founder) and I started with, and don’t exactly fit together at first glance.
But the goal of a podcasting network is not necessarily to dominate one particular niche.
For you, it could be, but it doesn’t have to be.
A goal of a network can also be to cultivate connections and share audiences between podcasts.
Similar to how TV and Radio can be either singularly focused on one type of content (e.g. News, Movies, Animals), or host a variety of content too (e.g. ABC, TBS, AMC).
For our network, we wanted to focus on the goal of growing an assortment of podcasts that span multiple topics.
Eventually, we may want to refocus the network towards a single niche or spin off a grouping of our podcasts into their own network.
For now, we only wanted to take advantage of the hidden feature within Apple iTunes that few podcasters are aware of.
This is where the Apple Podcasts’ Provider Page becomes an essential tool in the prolific podcaster’s marketing arsenal.
Why is it essential?
Partly because you don’t need to be a big company or multi-million-dollar podcasting network to have a provider page created for you.
This does even the playing field a bit.
But it mostly has to do with the added benefit of connecting all of our podcasts to a new page.
A new page, mind you, that is unique to Apple’s podcasting platform iTunes — the largest podcasting directory in the world.
If that sounds like something you would like to have made available to you, then all you need to do is ask Apple Podcasts to create it for you.
Sounds too easy, right?
Well, like anything in podcasting, the difficulty is in the details!
Because it is a hidden feature, it does take some effort to get it created.
Here is some insight into how Gagglepod did it.
Step #1 — The Secret Price is Paid
Provider pages are created and customized at the sole discretion of the Apple Podcasts editorial team and do not accept requests for customizations (more on that later).
Fortunately, they do accept requests to create provider pages (on a case-by-case basis) from companies and networks.
You can read this one of two ways.
The first is that you’re probably not going to be approved if you are a solo podcaster with only a few episodes published.
You need to have some depth to your catalog before this will work for you.
Second, you need to be a legitimate outfit with more than one podcast title.
Apple is in the content curation and marketing business and can disapprove requests that do not have much content to feature.
Gagglepod started with four titles with one established title and three newer ones.
However, all four podcasts were active and had recent episodes posted.
Apple doesn’t do well when it comes to communicating why something gets approved, and why something does not.
But if you start out your provider page request with at least four active podcasts, you’ll most likely make it past the first hurdle.
Step #2 — The Secret Handshake is Made
First, you need to have a company and/or network name for this to work.
The reason is very functional.
The name of your company will become the name of your provider page.
So it should be a name you can live with for some time.
If you’re an independent podcaster or a very new podcasting network, it is very likely that all of your podcasts will still have your name listed as the original author.
For example, my podcasts all started out being produced by me — Kyle M. Bondo.
As a result, they all had my name as the author.
If I want to have Apple create a Provider Page for me, I need to either tell them that the name of my company is “Kyle M. Bondo”, or come up with a new centralized name to connect them all too.
An example of having one centralized brand for all podcasts is Gimlet Media.
All 17 of Gimlet Media’s current podcast portfolio use only Gimlet as the Author.
When you find a Gimlet Media podcast on Apple Podcasts, the author link will take you directly to their Gimlet Media provider page.
However, you can create hybrid authors if you want both the host and company in the author tag.
Wondery’s provider page is built using hybrid authors.
A quick glance at Wondery’s provider page shows that they have both podcasts with only Wondery as the Author and other podcasts where the host is listed in combination with Wondery as the author.
An example of this is the Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald podcast.
The Author of Juicy Scoop is listed on Wondery’s provider page as “Heather McDonald / Wondery”.
This is most likely how Wondery shows the difference between podcasts they produce themselves and podcasts that are part of their podcast network.
The final version of connecting provider pages to authors is Nerdist Industries.
Nerdist, much like Wondery, includes both Nerdist Industries as the author, and combination authors that list the hostname with Nerdist Industries.
An example of this is Bizarre States.
The Bizarre States podcast is hosted by Jessica Chobot and Andrew Bowser as one of the podcasts presented by the Nerdist Industries network.
The resulting author tag is then listed as “Jessica Chobot, Andrew Bowser, Nerdist Industries” on their individual podcast page.
However, it’s not an exact understanding of how a provider page works.
Why is it not exact?
Because unlike Gimlet and Wondery, the Nerdist Industries provider page includes podcast titles that do not include Nerdist Industries in their Author tags.
On the Nerdist Industries both Thrilling Adventure Hour by Acker & Blacker, and The Jackie and Laurie Show by Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin, do not include Nerdist Industries in their Author tags.
It could have something to do with how the Apple Podcast Connect account is used in conjunction with those podcasts, or there could be a way to connect them to your provider page without having your company name in the Author tag.
My recommendation is to keep it simple.
Better to have one Author to link all your podcast to via one Provider Page, then to have combination tags and introduce confusion.
I could ask Apple to create a Provider Page called “Kyle M. Bondo”.
This is, after all, what ALL of my podcast Author Tags currently say.
However, the Kyle M. Bondo Network is something I really don’t want to be.
I could also change all of my Author Tags to read “Kyle M. Bondo / Gagglepod”.
But in reviewing other provider and podcast pages on Apple Podcasts, the hybrid Author Tag looks messy.
In fact, if there are too many authors or the company name is too long, the entire content of the Author Tag cannot be seen.
This defeats the whole point of a unifying brand identity.
This is why we decided that our new network would be called Gagglepod.
My podcast pages, web pages, and the podcast audio itself all reveal that I, Kyle Bondo, am the host.
Gagglepod, on the other hand, is the new network that my podcasts now reside on.
This decision will require me to go through all my podcast author tags and change them to “Gagglepod”.
However, it’s a small price to pay to have one company name as both my provider page and author tag.
This small price will hopefully turn into a bigger payoff when all of my podcasts can now lead listeners to each other.
So long as you come to a decision about what your “podcast provider” name will be, this name should not include any extra information such as “Inc.,” “LLC,” and so on when you send it to Apple.
Step #3 — The Secret Signs are Given
Next, you need to list the podcasts you want to include on that provider page.
This is done by providing Apple Podcast Support the podcast URLs for each of your podcasts.
For me, this includes:
Merchants of Dirt: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/merchants-of-dirt-podcast/id1166451436
Get Lost Racing: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/get-lost-racing/id1216882947
You should verify each of these URLs by using your Apple Podcast Connect Account dashboard at https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
If you’re unsure of where to find these URLs, visit your podcast within the Apple Podcast Store (iTunes Store):
- For Apple users: Control-click the podcast title to copy the link.
- For Windows users: Right-click on the podcast title and select Copy Link from the menu.
Save these links for use when you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Step #4 – The Secret Oath is Signed
The process is simple once you’ve worked out all of Apple’s requirements.
You’re going to send an email to Apple that contains all the information they will use to build your provider page.
Here is an example of the email I sent Apple Podcast Support:
Greetings Apple Podcasts,
I would like to respectfully request to have an Apple Podcasts “Provider Page” created for our podcast network Gagglepod. Here are our Provider Page Details:
Company and/or Network Name: Gagglepod
Podcasts to Include:
Merchants of Dirt — https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/merchants-of-dirt-podcast/id1166451436
Get Lost Racing — https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/get-lost-racing/id1216882947
Podfader — https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podfader/id1349460471
KDOI — https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/kdoi/id1289510639
Thank you in advance! 🙂
Kyle M. Bondo
Double check each of these URLs to make certain you are not including any broken links.
When you have everything all together, send your email Apple Support at firstname.lastname@example.org
Step #5 – The Secret Ritual is Danced
If you are approved, your next email will be from Apple Podcast Support asking you to be patient or to fix something before they can proceed with your request.
Having control of all of your podcasts might make this next part easier for you to accomplish.
The reason being that the first thing that Apple will do is check all your AUTHOR tags to confirm that the name of your company is there.
This is both an integrity check to make sure you actually own those podcasts, and the way they will link each of your podcasts back to your provider page.
However, there are two kinds of AUTHOR tags to consider.
The first one is the tag associated with each episode of all the podcasts you want to be connected to your provider page.
All of them!
If even one of those podcast episodes is missing your company name, Apple will kick it back to you to correct.
Additionally, there is a CHANNEL tag within your RSS feed that has to be changed as well.
This is different from the AUTHOR tag in each episode because it refers to the entire podcast.
For example, I changed all my podcast AUTHOR Tags to read “Kyle M. Bondo / Gagglepod” and thought that was all I needed to do.
Apple’s Podcast Support team told me that was great.
However, my CHANNEL tag had not changed.
I was showing Apple this:
<channel> <itunes:author>Kyle M. Bondo</itunes:author>
That was a new one.
Where the heck do you set at?
Well, it turns out that in Libsyn, your CHANNEL tags are set up when you first create the account.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been hosting with Libsyn for over a year like me, you forget how and when that happened.
Now, the only way to edit your CHANNEL tag is to go to your DESTINATIONS, find your Libsyn Classic Feed, and click edit.
And there it is!
About halfway down the page is a box that reads “iTunes Contact Info”.
The information in this box that includes Owner Name and Owner Email is what Apple calls the CHANNEL AUTHOR.
By changing this information to also read “Kyle M. Bondo / Gagglepod”, I had successfully made the final change needed for my provider page request.
But wait, there’s more!
After doing any kind of RSS feed changes, you need to let Apple Podcasts (i.e. iTunes) know what some changes have taken place.
Before I went back to Apple Podcast Support, I completed one more task.
I logged into my Podcasts Connect account at podcastsconnect.apple.com.
Clicked on each of my podcasts, one-by-one, and selected Refresh Feed from the Additional Information menu.
When you select Refresh Feed, you’re basically asking Apple to flush the cached information they have about that particular podcast, grab the new RSS feed from your host, and rebuild your podcast information.
This doesn’t remove any audience data or disrupt any downloads.
All it does is informs Apple Podcasts that you’ve made a change to your RSS feed and need it to apply the changes.
Normally, Apple Podcasts via iTunes would apply this changes over time.
How much time?
Hard to say.
Could be a few hours, or a few days.
That’s why selecting Refresh Feed will help jump your RSS feed reboot to the top of their daily refresh list.
This process is not automatic, and when you select it you are informed that it will take up to 24-hours before you see a change.
But it gives you a timeframe for when that change will occur.
Once you’ve refreshed the feed to all your podcasts, including the ones you do not control, it’s time to let Apple know you are ready.
Step #6 – The Secret Pact is Made
If all your AUTHOR tags are now correct, and there are no other issues that need to be fixed, then Apple will forward your request to the “appropriate team”.
You can expect this entire process to take roughly a week to complete.
However, once we worked out all the author issues, Gagglepod received a response from Apple Podcast Support that our provider page will appear in Apple Podcasts within 24 hours.
They also told us that needed to continue to include Gagglepod in our “artist field” to help listeners find them.
How cool is that?!
And just like that, Gagglepod has a provider page!
Turns out that the provider page they give you is very vanilla.
The first look at Gagglepod’s provider page was nothing really special.
It actually reminded me of a file window that showed our four podcasts and not much else.
Having a provider page is exciting.
It’s even more exciting to see the Provider Page using my iTunes app.
Equally as cool!
But now what?
How do I finish our provider page to make it look like a Wondery or Nerdist?
Unfortunately, you don’t.
If you want to change your page title to a larger size or have it include your logo like Gimlet or Nerdist provider pages do, you can’t.
If you want to change your page’s background to include a cool graphic like you see on Wondery’s provider page, you can’t.
If you want your page links, categories, and navigation colors to match your networks color palette like the Nerdist Industries provider page does, it’s not going to happen.
Welcome to the limbo of New & Noteworthy.
When it comes to startup networks and fledgling provider page owners, your options are very limited.
So what CAN you do?
It should be no surprise that creating good content is your first order of business.
In order to have the same Provider Page customization as Wondery, Nerdist, and Gimlet (e.g. logos, custom backgrounds, colors), Gagglepod would need to have one or more of its podcast become a “featured placement” podcast.
In Apple speak, “featured placement” is their term for a podcast that has a huge audience, media interest, or been featured in their exclusive “New & Noteworthy” section on iTunes.
So until that happens, you will not be able to customize your provider page.
You can, however, keep adding new podcasts to your provider page.
Adding your company name to the Channel and Episode Author tags of any new podcast does not automatically add it to the provider page.
But it does give you the chance to ask Apple Podcast Support to add it without any of the same complications as your first set of podcast adds.
Step #7 — The Secret Passage is Revealed
We have a Page we can’t change! Now what?
Yes, your provider page is very plain.
And, yes, you’re podcasts may not be in high demand — yet.
But that doesn’t mean having a provider page is not of any value.
A provider page represents something very special.
First, I could now send anyone to that page AND my podcast.
This gave me an extra level of discoverability that I didn’t have before.
Second, it showed all my other podcasts along sides the other podcasts within my network.
Now, when you find one podcast, you have a much greater chance of finding all of them.
That makes the provider page a new tool in my marketing arsenal.
Furthermore, it will let everyone see all of your podcasts that are included in your network in one location — just like the big media companies!
Gagglepod was now EQUAL in Apple Podcasting stature as Gimlet, Wonderly, and Nerdist.
That, by far, was the biggest part of having a provider page.
It proved that you didn’t need mega-bucks and a New York City office to be a contender in the podcasting space.
The implications of this were both exciting and terrifying.
Terrifying in the sense that Gagglepod could potentially be judged at a higher level now.
Yet exciting in that as long as we keep striving to create interesting content that people enjoy, we could, in time, build Gagglepod into something great.
So, what is Gagglepod’s “now what”?
It’s to build upon the opportunity a provider page gives us and continue to add quality podcasts to it.
At some point, we’re going to create something that does go big, and when that happens, we may get a chance to finally customize our provider page into something interesting.
For information about a page that aggregates your podcasts, check out Apples FAQ: