How to Avoid Promotion Scams: 8 Red Flags To Look For

You’ve worked to create your podcast, and now you’re looking at the next big step: getting those listener numbers to climb. Then, all of a sudden, someone dms you on Instagram offering to become your podcast promoter. It’s tempting, right?

A little help to spread the word could do wonders for your podcast and the promoters making some big claims about your potential. But, not all that glitters in the podcast promotion world is gold. Some services are just smoke and mirrors that sell scams that can hurt your podcast more than help it.

Is Your Podcast Promoter a Scam?

Podcast promotion scams are the equivalent of fool’s gold. They promise you the moon—loads of listeners, heaps of reviews, and top rankings overnight. But in reality, these are empty promises. Building a real audience takes more than a few shortcuts; it’s about connecting, sharing, and engaging over time.

The fallout can be serious if you get tangled up with these scams. Your podcast’s reputation may take a hit, or even worse, you could find yourself on the wrong side of podcast platforms’ policies. They’re on the lookout for anything fishy, and if they catch a scent, they won’t hesitate to show you the door. Thankfully, you can dodge these pitfalls with some savvy and perspective. 

Red Flags and Warning Signs

So, what are the red flags that should have you treading carefully? Here are some warning signs that the promotion ‘help’ you’re considering might not be the knight in shining armor you’re hoping for.

  • Guaranteed Overnight Success: Building a community for your podcast takes time and consistency. If a service claims it can skyrocket your podcast to stardom overnight, be wary. Success in podcasting, as in most things, rarely comes at the push of a button.
  • Vague or No Clear Strategy: Legitimate promotion services will have a clear promotional strategy that they can explain to you. They’ll tell you how they intend to increase your listenership and what steps they’ll take to get you more engagement. If they can’t or won’t explain their methods, that’s a red flag.
  • Unverifiable Testimonials or References: Always check out the testimonials and references provided by a promotion service. Can you find these podcasts online? Do they have a real following? Scammers might fabricate testimonials or use bots to write them.
  • Pressure to Make a Quick Decision: High-pressure sales tactics are a classic warning sign. If you’re being rushed into deciding without the time to do your research or think it over, that’s not a good sign. Reputable services understand that you need time to consider your options and will respect your decision-making process.
  • Pricing That Doesn’t Add Up: If the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. On the flip side, if the service is charging an arm and a leg without a clear justification for the cost, that’s also a concern. Professional services should have competitive but realistic pricing.
  • Lack of Communications: Good promotion services will communicate with you regularly, providing updates and reports on their progress. If you’re left in the dark after handing over your money or the service is unresponsive to your questions, that’s a major red flag.
  • Promises of Specific Rankings: Be cautious of anyone promising you a specific ranking in podcast directories. The algorithms that determine these rankings are complex, and no one can honestly guarantee a top spot—especially not ethically.
  • Bot-Like Followers or Engagement: Engagement from real listeners is varied and organic. If the followers or engagement you’re seeing looks uniform, repetitive, or just off, you might be dealing with bots. This artificial inflation can damage your credibility and even violate terms of service on many platforms.

Doing Your Due Diligence

To avoid getting caught up in a podcast promoter’s scam, you must take the time to do your due diligence. This entails:

Thoroughly Researching the Company

Before you dive in, take a deep look into the company offering to promote your podcast. A legitimate promotion service will have a track record you can examine and a professional presence in the industry.

You should expect them to show up on the first page of Google when you search for their company name. They should also have engaging social media profiles and reviews attached to real social media profiles. Another great sign is if they have any partnerships with well-known brands or figures.

Asking for a Targeted Strategy

Understanding the proposed promotion strategy is crucial. Most promoters specialize in a specific type of promotion like social media promotion. A reputable service will be transparent about their methods and how they plan to achieve results. Before you spend any money, they should provide:

  • Tailored Approach: The company should offer a strategy that is customized for your podcast’s niche and audience, not a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Clear Methodology: They should be able to clearly articulate the steps they will take to promote your podcast and the rationale behind these steps.
  • Metrics for Success: A reliable service will define what success looks like with clear, measurable outcomes.

Verifying Testimonials

Genuine testimonials from satisfied customers can be a strong indicator of a company’s performance. However, they can also be fabricated, so it’s important to confirm their authenticity. Whenever possible, always reach out to the podcasters who wrote testimonials for the podcast promoter. This ensures they actually wrote the testimonial for one and you can also get more insights into what it was like working with them.

Listening to Your Gut

After you’ve sifted through the data and analytics, it’s essential to pause and reflect on what your gut tells you. How do you feel about the company’s promises? Are they ambitious or unrealistic? It’s a fine line between the two and you expect them to set ambitious goals. But, once they cross the line into unrealistic, the likelihood it’s a scam goes way up.


Even though we focused on the promotion scams out there, you can still find genuine promotion partners for your podcast. Some promoters understand the value of building a connection with your audience—a process that cannot be rushed. By aligning yourself with an ethical, transparent podcast promoter, you ensure that your podcast’s journey to success is built on solid ground. So, when you’re ready to bring on a podcast promoter, you’ll be ready to avoid the red flags and find a genuine promoter.

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