Discovery is about messing up. It requires a sense of adventure. And podcasting is a relatively new frontier.
So we’ll be the first to admit that there’s no shame in making mistakes sometimes. It’s bound to be a learning experience.
But lucky for you, the podcasting trail has already been blazed (somewhat). So with a little research and preparation, you can bypass the most common podcasting mistakes.
Be aware of these mistakes to avoid, and you’ll be much more likely to meet your podcasting goals!
A Theme That’s Too Broad — Makes it Impossible to Connect with Your Audience
Choosing a broad theme is one of the biggest podcast mistakes you can make.
We can see why it happens. Lots of aspiring podcasters dream of large audiences. And while ambition is great, you also need to be aware of some core podcasting principles.
One of a podcast’s key draws is intimacy. It’s personal because you’ve chosen the show yourself (unlike with radio). And whether it’s the literal bubble created by your headphones or the four walls of your kitchen — listening to a podcast gives you an increased sense of closeness.
The Popular Communication Journal says, “It is the medium of the earbud, the quiet voice nestled cozily, almost out of sight, and chosen just for you.”
Some say this one-way intimacy proves the pitfalls of podcasting as a means of civic engagement. But this illusion of closeness is important either way.
Listeners want to feel authentically connected to the hosts and the topic of a podcast. So it’s better to narrow it down. Of course, some variety is essential. But if it’s too broad, listeners may feel like they’ve lost that sense of personal choice.
So, the more niche you go, the better. Instead of making a podcast about “music,” pick something more specific. Like “The History of a Song: The Stories Behind the Classic Albums We Love.” That way you’re sure to attract the music history buffs you’re hoping to appeal to.
With a more specific theme, your ideal listener will be much more likely to find you. And soon, they’ll learn to depend on you for the content they like.
Inconsistent Episode Releases — Destroy Listener Loyalty
We all crave dependability. So, consistency is absolutely critical for any podcast.
Algorithms aside, a huge part of the reason that listeners come back is that they expect an episode to be waiting for them. Podcasts can sync up with our schedules and rhythms. So if your audience is repeatedly disappointed — then they’re likely to bail for good.
An easy way to prevent this is by batch recording and preparing your podcast episodes ahead of time. If you choose this workflow, then you’ll always have a backup.
It’s a win-win scenario. You’ll never be scrambling to make deadlines, and your listeners will be happy.
Poor Audio Quality — Creates a Negative Listener Experience
Another huge part of your audience’s experience is the audio quality of your show. And unfortunately, this is one of the trickiest parts of podcasting.
Low-quality sound can be caused by lots of things — cheap microphones, bad location, not enough editing. So there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Get a good microphone: You don’t need to break the bank to buy a perfectly good microphone. Do your research and make a small investment here.
- Create a home studio: If you can’t afford to rent a studio, you’re like most podcasters. But you can make a home studio. Choose a quiet room with lots of furniture to absorb sound (closets can be great), and get creative. Use blankets and pillows to further reduce reverb and echoes.
- Audio Leveling: How many of us have tuned in to a new podcast to have our eardrums assaulted because the intro or outro reel is way louder than the host’s voice? Or we’re constantly distracted because one host is way louder than the other? Make sure to balance all these audio levels if you have multiple audio tracks (say host and guest recorded remotely) or multiple segments to weave together.
- Audio Editing: Since off-the-cuff interviews and panels are always in vogue in the podcast world — lots of podcasters think that they can record and immediately post — forgoing the editing step entirely. But no one wants to hear you ramble or blow your nose in an especially “authentic moment.” Even if your show is meant to be super casual, don’t scrimp on editing.
Quality audio is essential, but so is the structure of your show.
No Call to Action in Your Intro & Outro — Leads to Less Engagement
This might feel a bit cheesy or desperate for new hosts, but it’s so essential. Listener’s are accustomed to it, so don’t feel weird about it.
You should always invite your listeners to engage with you at the beginning and end of your show.
Most importantly, remind them to subscribe and review your podcast on whatever platform they use. But also prompt them to follow you on social media and support you in any other way available. This is where you can plug things like a Patreon, other work outside the podcast, or anything you like.
Don’t be shy! You should be shameless about spreading the word — and you should be proud of your podcast.
Amateur Artwork & Weak Branding
This means you should be proud of every bit of your podcast. Including the artwork and general branding.
Lots of people have a low budget, so they attempt to make their own podcast artwork and design their own aesthetic.
Now, if you have a background in design, do it! If not, you should probably leave it to the professionals.
But you don’t have to break the bank. If you have a graphic designer friend, try asking them if they’d give you a discount. Or if you really can’t find a deal, start with the essential stuff. Get your logo design finalized and leave the rest of your branding kit for later.
Or if you’d like to create additional marketing materials yourself — be sure to ask your designer for the set of hex color codes and the lettering details of your podcast logo. Use free and intuitive design tools like Canva to help get you started.
And once you have the artwork and branding down, you can start to tackle your marketing strategy.
No Marketing Strategy — Listener’s Never Find Your Podcast
If you want to be a podcaster you don’t need to be a graphic designer or a marketing expert.
But you will need to learn a bit in this area. Even if you don’t have a team to help you out, it’s critical that you prioritize promotion and marketing.
The key to a successful podcast begins with your launch strategy. You should create some hype around your podcast before it even drops. Establish all social media accounts and a website. Announce your launch date (that way you’ll stick to it).
After launch, you should be sure to promote each individual episode. Because until your listeners learn to depend on your consistency, they’ll need a reminder to go and look for new episodes.
Your Podcast Isn’t Listed in Enough Podcast Directories
This is technically part of your overall marketing strategy — but it’s so important it deserves its own place on the list.
Lots of people confuse directories with distribution — but the latter is actually done by your podcast hosting site. Directories serve as a centralized place where people can discover content. So the more directories you’re listed on, the better.
It’s crucial that you get your podcast listed on the big three — Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Google Podcasts may not seem so important right now, but Google has big goals to grow their listenership — so don’t leave it out.
If you’re listed in these three places, you’re doing pretty good. But check out Buzzsprout’s comprehensive guide on podcast directories for submission tips and additional directories.
Not Knowing the Podcasting Landscape
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people start a podcast without properly doing their research.
You should be aware of general podcasting styles, trends, and approaches. Mostly so you can decide what you want for your own.
You should also be aware of what’s going on in your specific corner of podcasting. What’s happening in your niche?
If you decide to do a music history podcast, great! But if you fail to do your Googles you may realize that there’s another music history podcast exactly like yours — already exists. This doesn’t have to be a problem as long as you can figure out how to distinguish your podcast from theirs.
But more importantly, if you don’t know what’s going on in your niche, you’re missing out on a potentially delightful community — and possible collaborators.
Not Collaborating with Other Podcast Hosts — You Miss Out on Growing Your Audience
If you’re not aware of all the other great podcasts out there, then you also won’t be able to collaborate with their hosts.
You can collaborate with other podcasts in lots of ways. You can invite other hosts for interviews, you can do a crossover episode, you can even invite someone to do an entire guest episode.
Collaboration can be extremely beneficial. You’ll be able to grow your audience, make great connections, and of course, you’ll boost the quality of your content. Niche variety!
So remember that other podcasts in your niche are not the enemy! Practice Shine Theory, and you won’t regret it.
Unrealistic Expectations — Giving Up Too Soon (10)
Last but not least — we have to talk about morale.
Plenty of podcasts have come and gone because their hosts and team were expecting too much. We love ambition but much like perfectionism — too much can be debilitating.
So make sure to have realistic expectations from the get go. Especially when it comes to monetizing your podcast. If that’s your end goal — keep that in mind, but focus on growing your audience first.
And if your growth strategy isn’t working — get back to the drawing board. Pivot, or implement fresh ideas — but don’t give up too soon!
Be Patient, Do Your Research, and Remember These Mistakes to Avoid
Getting a podcast off the ground is tough. Recording, launching, marketing, distributing, and so much more can feel like a lot of steps. But it’s completely doable, and more importantly — it’s worth it!
So be patient, do your research, and remember these podcast mistakes to avoid.
- Don’t choose a theme that’s too broad.
- Be consistent.
- Prioritize top-notch audio.
- Always have a call for engagement in your intro and outro.
- Have great artwork and a branding kit.
- Create a marketing strategy.
- Make sure your podcast is listed in enough directories.
- Know the podcasting landscape (and what’s happening in your niche).
- Collaborate with other podcast hosts.
- Have realistic expectations.
We hope this list was helpful! But we’d love to hear your tips and insights about common podcast mistakes! Comment below and let us know how you handled challenges related to these mistakes to avoid.