Podcast mistakes and how to avoid them
If you avoid the most common mistakes early on, your podcast will be more successful and less likely to suffer from the dreaded ‘podfade’.
If you see that your podcast suffers from podfade, be mindful of podcasting mistakes and implement the solutions we talked about in this article.
Today’s tools make it cheap and quick to start a podcast. The barrier to entry for starting a podcast has been lowered.
However, creating a successful podcast that meets the creators’ expectations and business goals takes a significant amount of time and energy. Despite having all the necessary resources at their disposal, most podcasters start to give up well before they reach their goals.
A common cosmetic reason for giving up is that they don’t have the time to create great quality podcasts. But what’s really hurting them are a bunch of other mistakes that give the outward appearance of lacking time.
So, today we are helping you learn from the mistakes of other podcasters so you can grow quickly. Here is a quote from the legendary billionaire Warren Buffet to help you get started & inspired:
Here's what you will learn in this article:
Here is an accurate definition of podfade:
Podfade is more like a phase of podcasting and not a defined point in the journey of a podcast. If your podcast starts podfading and you don’t work hard to get back on track, it will soon lead to an end of the podcast.
A computer program analyst and a podcaster by the name of Scott Fletcher came up with the term “Podfade''. According to him, podfade happens when people first lose interest in their podcasts and then come up with reasons to back up their decision.
Solutions for podfade can be divided into two parts:
You may spend several months producing high-quality episodes without seeing any significant payoff - financial or otherwise. Eventually, other life priorities take over, you start losing interest, and end up compromising either on quantity or quality.
Ask Brian Reid, former Host of the gender issues podcast, “Sex Talk”. He recognized the ease of producing a podcast but he still quit the show after a while. He admits the main reason was: “There was no money in it and it did nothing to push my career forward. I've got a lot of other things in my life, paying work being one and my family is another.”
Make trust and authority building a part of your process to decide the podcast’s goals and KPIs so you won’t lose patience too quickly.
Accept that podcast success doesn’t come quickly. Even the veteran podcaster Jordan Harbinger still says “It’s never been easy and it’s not easily profitable.“ Jordan started his podcast in 2006 and later turned a hit Sirius XM show into speaking gigs at corporate giants like Google. He knows what he’s talking about.
Podcast monetization isn’t as simple as it sounds either. Making money from podcasts is possible, but you won’t make money immediately. It takes long-term patience and dedication to profit from your podcast.
We know that podcasts that follow a regular schedule end up forming a habit in their listeners. But if you take a break, skip episodes, or change your schedule, you may end up disrupting the habit. Thus, it is possible to lose listeners even without completely stopping podcast production.
Start by finding out what stops you from being consistent. Is the current frequency too much for you or can you reduce the time it takes to release each episode?
If you want to maintain the current frequency and cannot reduce production time, be ready to make some compromises with your episode length to maintain a fixed schedule. For example, if the episode length of your show is 30 minutes, don’t slack off on content planning because you are unable to find high-quality material to fit into your month’s episodes. Instead, consider splitting each episode/interview into 2 or more smaller parts with a shorter length of 15-20 minutes each.
You can also add different types of content besides your regular programming. For example, try using solo episodes if you can’t book enough guests to record high-quality interviews with you. This will not only help maintain a fixed episode frequency but also provide some much-needed variety to your listeners.
Often podcasters set goals that seem too huge to achieve in a reasonable time frame to motivate themselves or they don’t know what realistic goals are. When they can’t reach those goals, they lose their enthusiasm.
If it’s a business podcast, your business team may want to completely cancel the show if their unrealistic growth expectations are not met.
It’s crucial to set realistic goals when starting a brand new podcast. Consider these figures from Buzzspout’s global Platform Stats page.
This data shows realistic download numbers for a podcast. If you have anywhere between 30 to 90 downloads in the first 7 days, you have a fairly successful podcast on your hands.
You could also base your goals on industry research on long-term/average stats of other shows in your niche.
If listeners fail to connect with your show they will, at best, quietly abandon it and at worst, spread negative word-of-mouth publicity within their communities. This indicates a low podcast-to-market fit.
Any gains you make by releasing episodes on a fixed schedule will soon start dropping off. Overall stats of the show will start being inconsistent and unreliable.
When your reviews and ratings start trending negatively, you need to at least start talking to your listeners about how you can improve your show.
If you have an email list, you could do this with a short survey/questionnaire. Ask listeners to rank their favorite speakers/topics in an order of preference. Give them space to add an option not already included in the poll/survey and also to let them explain their suggestions.
Do this every month/quarter and you will have a super-charged podcast content and guest strategy.
If your range of topics is too specialized, the total addressable market (TAM) of your podcast will be very low. Your podcast may find an audience initially but will find it hard to add new listeners to its fanbase.
A topic range that’s too broad has the opposite effect. You risk your podcast not being relevant to any specific groups of people. You may also unintentionally set yourself up to compete against the biggest podcasts and brands in the world.
All of this will push your podcast to podfade.
Monitor the competition in your chosen space. Also, look at the followers the top influencers have in the niche and, if possible, analyze market reports about how much money is spent in that space.
Start by picking a smaller niche at first, but one that can expand into adjacent markets. If the niche shows growth potential that’s not too small and has relevant adjacent topics to start expanding into, that’s a good niche to start with.
For example, a voice tech podcast focused on smart speakers also lets you expand it to audio content production or any technology that uses voice or audio.
When you don’t promote your podcast, you are making it much more likely for the show to podfade. The difference between really successful, highly downloaded shows and shows that don’t even take off is that successful podcasters took their show to their audience and didn’t just wait for listeners to come to them.
It’s imperative that you invest the same amount of time promoting each episode as you do while creating it. Only then you will be able to build those numbers.
You could do episode swaps with other podcasters, create audio clips with subtitles and engage on social media, and turn episodes into guest blogs. Put your podcast name in your LinkedIn profile header and let it be the first thing your profile visitors see. Some podcasters even run ads on other podcasts where they might find their target audience.
A great example of show promotion is a D2C Marketing show called “Customers Who Click” hosted by Will Laurenson. For two days of the week, Will shares the highlights of the current week’s episode on his LinkedIn profile.
Often, individual podcasters are first-timers without any in-depth knowledge or intense curiosity about how to make a podcast successful. They often start a podcast “just for the fun of it”. Their goals are not specific enough and they don’t pay much attention to tracking those goals of the podcast.
Such podcasters always remain in the dark about what’s working or not working and why because they don’t have a clear direction. No direction means no improvement which ultimately breeds stagnancy and slowly pushes the podcast toward podfade.
Give your podcast a direction by setting its objectives and goals. Reverse-engineer your goals to find out what stats you need to track to reach your goals. If you are presenting your podcast metrics to a specific audience (such as sponsors or advertisers), curate your presentation to include what stats they find relevant. This will increase your chances of scoring that sponsorship or signing on the advertiser.
You can save time by outsourcing some of the work but you can’t outsource until you have made decent money from the podcast itself - it’s a catch-22 situation! You may be pushed toward podfade and quit before realizing the business benefits of your podcast.
As an individual with limited resources, you must always focus on optimizing your process to minimize the time investment.
Audit your current podcast production process and see what parts of it could be carried out more quickly.
Try using the DiSSS and CaFe frameworks to optimize your processes.
Asynchronous interviews also help you save a lot of time recording podcasts since you can focus on planning the next episode in parallel to the guest recording their answers to the current one. With Rumble Studio’s drag and drop audio editing tool, you can produce multiple realistic conversations within a single asynchronously recorded interview.
If you are not passionate about a topic, your creativity will soon hit a wall. Choosing episode topics and guests will start to become a joyless chore. Eventually, you will get bored working on your podcast. This opens the door for podfade to creep in.
Don’t choose a topic only because it’s popular or because everyone around you seems to be doing it. Your motivation should not be based on extrinsic factors, instead, it should be intrinsic to you. Spend some time on your research and find out a topic that makes you highly curious and that you’d love to explore. A good topic is one that you enjoy researching in depth without losing your focus or enthusiasm.
Podcasters often take inspiration from Joe Rogan and release long unedited clips of their interviews as final episodes. But it’s hard to keep listeners hooked for as long as Rogan does.
Creating actionable, fluff-free episodes requires a well-directed conversation among experts who have a strong sense of what the audience is listening to as they record the interview. When the host is not great at interviewing skills, the episode can start to sound like an awkward conversation instead.
Learn audio editing skills and invest in smart editing software for your interviews. Practice non-attachment with your content so you can look at it objectively and find inefficiencies in it. Also, learn how to become a better interviewer and analyze interviewing methods of top podcasters whom you admire.
If you think your podcast is only useful in audio form, you are leaving a large chunk of SEO value on the table. Without including SEO success metrics as part of the podcast’s ROI, the business team will have incomplete information and are more likely to cancel the podcast.
Google needs a lot of content to consider your website as an authority website. You can convert each episode into a blog or a blog-like description to publish alongside the audio episode on the website. This is one way to derive SEO benefits from your podcast and contribute toward the podcast’s ROI.
Another way is to publish clean transcripts of the raw podcast conversation. Using services like Rev.ai, it’s possible to easily transcribe and diarize hours of conversational audio at an affordable price.
Without a solid framework to extract your podcast’s full ROI, you don’t have much to showcase in front of your management. Ultimately, they will end the podcast if they don’t see precise benefits.
You can repurpose a single episode into a week’s worth of content, including blog posts, social media posts, audiogram videos, and even new podcast episodes.
The podcast interview becomes the source of new information - the ground truth - from which you create all your other content formats. This drives down the cost of your existing marketing activities, as it eliminates the need to perform time-consuming research and content creation.
The greater the ROI that you can demonstrate to your business team, the higher the chances that they will want to keep the podcast going.
When you don’t combine your community with your podcast, you miss out on the lead nurturing power of the two channels. It will indirectly contribute to raising the ROI of your podcast and help you impress stakeholders with targeted lead generation.
You could easily accelerate your lead generation by talking about your podcast in your community. Simply asking your listener to “check out” your community may not be enough. Give your listeners a purpose and/or a benefit to join and interact in your community.
Discuss the podcast episode in your community forums and keep it active in conversations among your audience. In the long run, even limited activity among its most dedicated listeners can help eliminate podfade.
People are not going to stick around forever in a company. They may also go on breaks due to medical/non-medical reasons. But if a podcast host does that, it can bring a successful podcast to a sudden halt.
The new host won’t know how the old host interacted with listeners or how they planned for new episodes. They might be slow to start which might disrupt the regular programming schedule. This could cause a successful podcast to lose its listeners thus pushing it toward podfade.
Document all your processes in a central folder and prepare a knowledge transfer system for your departure. Have knowledge transfer sessions to show the new host how you do things, what your listeners love, and what they don’t like.
A manager who isn’t included in the decision-making may feel that the podcast isn’t deriving enough value. They may shut it down or deny the budget for it.
Keep your podcast progress transparent to your business stakeholders and regularly share your progress with them. Having external accountability will also motivate you to work harder and thus prevent your podcast from podfading.
Talking too much about your company or its products is one of the most common mistakes made by businesses that podcast., It strips all the value from your podcast and turns it into a promotional ad. Doing this practically guarantees that listeners will start dropping off, which will eventually lead to podfade.
Provide value by focusing on education, entertainment, or another core value. Stick to topics your target audience will want to learn about so that you attract listeners from across your niche and beyond. You can certainly interview your clients, but you should rely on storytelling rather than directly talking about the benefits of your product/service. Focus more on general solutions and suggestions so that listeners who aren’t interested in your products still get massive value from your podcast.
Sometimes we might feel like we don’t have time to create the podcast, but in reality, we might be making a number of mistakes. Improvements to your podcast process can be internal i.e. process optimization or external i.e. audience-facing. Consistency, relatability, and engaging content/conversations help sustain a podcast, while a lack of these factors can cause podfade.
If you see that your podcast has started podfading, you can bring it back by being mindful of the above mistakes and implementing some of the solutions we talked about in this article.
If you avoid the most common mistakes early on, your podcast will be more successful and less likely to suffer from the dreaded ‘podfade’.
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