If you avoid the most common mistakes early on, your podcast will be more successful and less likely to suffer from the dreaded ‘podfade’.
Podcast consistency doesn't have to be hard. Use these 7 tips
Understand what is consistency for podcasts, why it's so important, and how to achieve consistency for your podcast (to prevent eventual podfade!)
When Jacob realizes he’s missing new episodes from several of his favorite podcasts, he begins to wonder if the podcast frequency has changed or if they’ve canceled their shows altogether. He checks their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages to check for any announcements.
Turns out, one of the hosts is on a long vacation with his family. Another host has taken a hiatus to reimagine the entire show from scratch. A third podcast host has shut down the show entirely because they didn’t find many listeners. Out of his human tendency for self-blame, Jacob thinks, “If only I appreciated these creators more while their shows were still alive!”
What all these hosts are going through is called “Podfade.” It’s a term to describe the gradual - or sometimes sudden - ramp down in the production of podcast episodes.
You solve podfade by being consistent. When podcasts can release episodes on the same day and to the same cadence, they help form a habit for their listeners.
But hey, consistency is not a magical switch. Consistency is just a principle. Putting it into practice is a whole other ballgame!
We have dedicated this whole article to explain:
- What does consistency mean for podcasts?
- Why is consistency so important for podcasts?
- How to be consistent in podcast production?
- Infuse passion into your podcast
- Don’t make promises to your listeners that you can’t keep
- Keep things simple and take the pain out of podcasting
- Embrace imperfect episodes
- Start recording episodes in batches
- Actively engage in “relationship maintenance” with your audience
- Stop being a “lone wolf” podcaster
What is consistency in podcasts?
Consistency in podcasts means releasing high-quality episodes with great content on a fixed schedule over the long term.
Different people choose to focus on different parts of this definition. For example, some might say consistency in quality is more important. Someone else might say releasing episodes on a fixed schedule to induce habit formation is the definition of consistency.
But what are we talking about when we say, “you have to be consistent with your podcast to overcome podfade”?
Consistency can be seen in 3 different parts:
- Maintaining a consistent release schedule
- Consistently providing high-quality episodes
- Consistency by achieving longevity of your show
Maintaining a consistent release schedule
Maintain consistency by releasing episodes at a regular frequency, i.e., on the same day and time every week.
For example, a weekly podcast shouldn’t just release one episode every week. It should pick a single time on a fixed day of the week to release the episode. If their first episode dropped on Monday at 10 am PST, all subsequent episodes should come out every Monday at 10 am PST.
This helps listeners reliably integrate the podcast into their lives.
Consistently providing high-quality episodes
Consistent quality comes from multiple factors:
- always having highly relevant guests
- showing up with enthusiasm
- recording high-quality audio
- enhancing each episode with consistent editing skills to ensure high production values
- producing consistently high-quality show notes and transcripts is also a part of being consistent
- always maintaining a consistent show length since audiences generally want your episodes to fit into a certain part of their day, e.g., their daily commute
Consistency by achieving longevity of your show
Putting out content over the long term (read: years) indicates that your show is a reliable source of value because you’ve stayed with the topic/industry for a long time. The more time you spend with the show, the higher is its value.
Consistency is not about “robot-like sameness”
Your listeners like variations of your topic and guest choice for each episode, but nobody likes sudden, major shifts. Therefore, you must balance predictability and variability to keep your audience excited about the show.
If it’s a discussion show and your audience likes it, don’t suddenly shift to a narrative format or a panel discussion. Instead, first, communicate with your audience how and when your show’s format will change.
Why consistency is so important in podcasting
Listeners are creatures of habit
Game of Thrones commanded its audience’s attention immediately after the release of each weekly episode in its final season. People changed their schedules, took breaks from work, and organized watch parties to make sure they could watch each episode in peace.
It is the same in Rick & Morty fan circles. The Super Bowl also makes people obey its schedule every year.
Likewise, if listeners know they will get a quality podcast at the same time of the day, every time, they will start to rely on this. This is how they form a habit.
You don’t want to have a ‘leaky bucket,’ i.e., adding new listeners while losing regular listeners. You want those who find you to stay and grow your overall listener base over time.
When you don’t release episodes consistently, you make them deviate from their habits and give them an option to find other interesting shows.
Brand awareness, trust, and authority take time
You want listeners to be receptive when sharing your affiliate links or promoting your products.
For people to take action on your requests, you first need to build trust with them, and that takes time. Trust building is always gradual in any relationship.
Becoming part of someone’s daily routine is the fastest way to build familiarity and trust, which leads to your audience seeing you as an authority in your field.
Over time, you build your reputation as a content creator, and people will start actively recommending your episodes within their networks. Your episodes help them have conversations around topics that are important to them. It indicates a high level of trust, which you want to achieve.
You don’t get instant results
If you have defined your podcasting goals and objectives clearly, that’s great. You'll have to find another medium for your instant results if you expect to achieve them after only producing 6-10 episodes!
The reality of podcasting is this: it isn’t meant for quick success.
Releasing 6-10 episodes will not materially change your website traffic or balance sheet. However, releasing an episode every week for six months will undoubtedly create an impact. If you release high-quality episodes consistently for 1-2 years, the positive effects will compound, and the needle will start to move on your goals.
Consistency can turn new listeners into permanent fans
Listeners appreciate and reward consistency once they find a show they love. “Power listeners” - those that consume podcasts as a core habit in their lives - may even start listening to a new podcast because it is a consistent show.
Engagement becomes a benefit of an unspoken contract between your show and your most engaged listeners. As long as you release high-quality episodes at a fixed frequency, you will get engagement from these highly-engaged fans. If you stop being consistent, you break this contract, and your show’s growth slows down.
Consistency makes podcast production easier and faster
Building a habit for listeners is impossible without building a routine for the podcaster. As the host becomes more accustomed to production, their processes become familiar, automatic, and faster after a while.
After repeating these processes each week, you learn to increase efficiency even in episodes that are difficult to produce.
A podcast that constantly releases new episodes for six months will undoubtedly have more stable, faster, and more mature processes than a six-episode podcast that’s only six episodes old.
Consistency is the antidote to podfade
As you try to be consistent in your podcast production, you learn to manage problems that are the reason for podfade.
For example, you will pre-record episodes to maintain publishing consistency when you know you will need to take a break. So next time when you have to take a break at short notice, you will start managing your schedule so you can pre-record episodes.
You learn to maintain consistency without affecting the consistency and quality of your show over time. Consistency is the antidote to podfade.
How to make your podcast consistent
1. Infuse passion into your podcast
If you don’t know why you are taking up a specific topic, all your episodes will sound mechanical. The key takeaway from your episodes will not be apparent to your listeners. Only a handful of them will take a genuine interest in the show, opening the door to a gradual decline in the listenership.
How can we prevent this decline?
Be very clear about your WHY.
If you know why you are taking up something or interviewing a guest, you will be more enthusiastic about producing your episodes.
Remembering your core motivation for doing your podcast and the benefit each episode offers to your audience will ensure you don’t get bored or tired during its production. You will also be much less likely to lose interest over the long term.
Your listeners will pick up on your enthusiasm for the topic. It’ll be contagious, making your show more engaging and keeping listeners engaged for longer.
2. Don’t make promises to your listeners that you can’t keep
Building an engaged fanbase for your podcast needs a relationship with your audience. But if this relationship is based on promises you can’t keep, it will soon crumble.
For example, if you know you will be busy with work on a Friday evening, you won’t promise to meet your friend at the same time, only to be a no-show later!
Likewise, you don’t want to declare a release frequency to your podcast listeners if you can’t maintain that cadence. Choose a release cadence that you can comfortably manage. If you think you might struggle to release weekly, then choose fortnightly.
Ann Handley shares her newsletter only twice a month. Wall Street Journal (WSJ) calls her a Bestselling Author and a Partner at MarketingProfs. It’s a frequency she can maintain without compromising on quality.
3. Keep things simple and take the pain out of podcasting
If producing a podcast episode feels cumbersome, work on simplifying your process. Choose a format that requires less time and effort to produce.
Live conversations take time to schedule and record. Complex episode formats require lots of editing and task switching. Consider new formats such as asynchronous/remote podcasting that have been designed to make recording easier.
4. Embrace imperfect episodes
Consumers regularly buy and champion “unperfect” products. These imperfections acquire their unique meaning. They make your product look more authentic.
The weaknesses in your less-than-perfect podcast episodes can become a reason why people love those episodes. People don’t seek perfection when listening to podcasts, and they certainly don’t actively campaign to stop others from listening to imperfect episodes.
Perfection in podcasting is highly subjective. Even the most expert podcasters don’t worry about perfecting everything. They ensure a small set of features are very good - such as sound quality, the relatability of their guest, etc., and leave the rest to the audience's interpretation.
They know that perfection is the enemy of good. Perfecting everything (especially during editing) is overly time-consuming and increases the risk of podfade.
If you think that producing anything less than 100% perfect episodes is a crime, you are listening to the wrong advice.
5. Start recording episodes in batches
If you adopt the one-by-one approach, you will always be racing to finish the current episode so you can release it on time.
Recall that it’s the release frequency that counts. Your recording frequency is in your control and can be much more flexible.
Record a batch of 3-6 episodes at a time, so you always have a few episodes in reserve. If life gets in the way of recording one week, you will have some episodes ready to release. You can catch up without a break affecting your release schedule.
6. Actively engage in “relationship maintenance” with your audience
Inform your listeners of any significant changes to your podcast. It will give you the freedom to change the frequency, the format, or anything else.
If you don’t let them know in advance or don’t explain your reasons behind your decision, it could disrupt their schedule. Listeners don’t like such major surprises because often podcasts become a part of their habits.
Instead, build some mystery and tease them about upcoming guests.
7. Stop being a “lone wolf” podcaster
Podcasting is not a small industry. There are thousands of hosts starting a podcast every week. Where there are people, there are networking groups for people to support each other.
Going at it alone is a recipe for burnout as a podcast host. We always recommend all professionals join a community like SalesCast on Slack or the Buzzsprout community on Facebook to keep you inspired and maintain your enthusiasm.
Podcast consistency is within your reach
Being consistent as a podcaster has several advantages and will ensure you make measurable progress toward your goals. You can achieve consistency without compromising on the quality of your show, and it can even make your work easier. By following the tips in this article, your podcast is sure to enjoy the level of success it deserves.