by Matthew Breen, host of The Explorers Podcast
Podcasters always dream of getting a magic bump. The idea that the New York Times or Wall Street Journal or some other bigtime publication will post an article about the top podcasts in your category – and lo and behold – there’s your show. The masses will follow, vaulting you and your podcast from obscurity to semi-obscurity. But those sort of things very rarely happen. And the idea that my nerdy history show – The Explorers Podcast – would get any sort of magic bump was far-fetched. There was no way it could happen to me – or so I thought.
When I woke up on the morning of Wednesday, August 9, 2023, I was not expecting my day to be much different than any other. That was until I looked at my phone. It was then that I discovered that I had received the magic bump. Or shall we say the Elon Bump.
That morning, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted out the following to his 150+ million followers:
The result of the Elon Bump was amazing. My show shot up the podcasts charts (Eat my dust, PBS!). Downloads doubled. Website traffic soared. People came out of the woodwork to talk to me.
All of that is wonderful, but once the deer-in-the-headlights feeling fades you need to ask yourself ‘what’s next’? You’ve got the magic bump you’ve always dreamed about – but how do you capitalize on the moment?
For myself, there were obvious steps. I tweeted back a ‘thanks’ to Elon – including a link to my website and some info about the podcast, and invited him to be a guest on my show. I said we could talk about the future of exploration. I thought that was a bit cheeky.
I then uploaded a new trailer to address the flood of new listeners checking out the podcast. I want to note that my editor and myself are all that makes up the Explorers Podcast team. I research, write, record, publish and market the show. However, I do work with a podcast network – Airwave – which handles my show’s hosting, advertising and industry promotion. And thus I turned to them for guidance on next steps.
I sent the folks at Airwave a message about what had occured – and they jumped on things. They wanted to take advantage of the publicity. Our goal was to elevate the long term success of the show. We didn’t want to see a rise in downloads – only to have things return to pre-Elon levels in a few weeks. By the way, my life is now divided into pre-Elon and post-Elon phases.
The first step was to have Airwave re-tweet Elon’s post, and then promote what happened on their own social channels.
Next, the PR team at Airwave got to work, getting the Explorers Podcast spotlighted in the history podcast sections of Apple, Spotify and Amazon – as well as the travel section of the latter. Podcast industry news outlet Podnews featured the story in their widely viewed electronic newsletter. The PR folks even got a clip of the Explorers Podcast featured on the Starbucks app.
The network also reached out to Musk’s publicist inviting the SpaceX founder onto the show (alas, no luck on that one).
All of these items happened in the immediate aftermath of the Elon Tweet. Next we had to think about how to continue the momentum during the coming weeks and months. Here’s what we did (and are continuing to do).
First, keep up the production of the podcast. The last thing I wanted to do was get lazy and not put out episodes as anticipated.
Second, I made sure to stay on top of media and industry opportunities that hit my mailbox. I booked a couple of appearances on other podcasts, spoke to some journalists, and engaged with industry professionals about the show – laying the ground for future opportunities.
Third, Airwave Media heavily promoted the show on other podcasts within the network. This promotion continues as they take advantage of all the publicity.
At the same time, they are working outside the network for opportunities to expand our audience. This includes interviews, and ad swaps with other non-Airwave podcasts.
Fourth, I’m trying to expand my own vision of what is and what is not viable regarding my show. In the past, I’ve rarely done interviews. A big reason for this was the simple belief that no popular author would want to be on the podcast. Yet just two weeks after the Elon Tweet, I reached out to a New York Times bestselling author and invited him onto the podcast. He didn’t hesitate to accept.
I’m currently putting together a list of podcasts and podcasters that I’d love to have on the show – or appear on their shows.
Each time I can accomplish something new (bring on a bestselling author, be a guest on another podcast, do an interview) it continues to raise the profile of the Explorers Podcast. And by doing so, it gives the show a greater chance to maintain the growth that was spurred by the Elon Tweet.
It has been nearly two months since Elon Musk decided to tweet out his appreciation for the Explorers Podcast. I am grateful for what he did. That tweet doubled my show’s traffic and improved my finances at the same time. The Elon Bump is very real.
But you know what? A bump will cause you to go up, but at the same time, you’re going to eventually come back down. The question is – how far? For me and my show, I wanted my bump to be more of a step – a permanent leveling up of the popularity of the podcast.
In these past weeks, I learned there are so many things you can do when an opportunity such as an Elon Bump presents itself. But it’s hard work. You need to answer each email and message. You need to assess each opportunity and pick what works best for you and the show. You need to keep producing great content. But there are things that, frankly, are out of my scope of expertise. I’m grateful to have people who were able to make phone calls and send emails to the right people within the industry. That was invaluable.
In the end, there isn’t really one thing to do to take advantage of a magic bump. It’s everything you can think of – and more.
I would recommend anyone who gets a magic bump to enjoy the moment – but don’t let it pass. Jump on things and keep producing a great show – because that’s what has gotten Elon (or whoever) to listen and share in the first place.