7 classic mistakes that can kill your podcast

Podcasts are an excellent platform for increasing brand exposure. Did you know that over 21 million people in the UK listen to podcasts regularly?  The content ranges from fashion to niche discussions on the telecoms industry. So, whatever you want to talk about, you will find that there are people keen to listen and learn … if you get it right.


Unfortunately, many new podcasters make the same classic mistakes that end up killing their podcast before it gets going. With an estimated three to five million podcasts worldwide, people have masses of choice. Get the basics wrong and you will instantly turn listeners off.


With that in mind, here are 7classic mistakes which you need to be aware of as they can kill your podcast.


  1. Not Understanding Your Audience

Creating a good podcast is primarily about preparation. Before considering content, hosts or any technical requirements, you need to understand your audience. Who are you creating content for? What do they want to know? How will they find you?


You need to develop a full understanding of your audience demographics, interests, what niche they fall into, what shows they already listen to, and why they are interested in listening to podcasts. Once you have developed that understanding, you can begin to think about what you will add to that conversation.


One way of finding out is by running a pilot (or two) past a test audience to gain feedback. This way, you can trial different hosts, topics and formats in front of a small, dedicated audience who will be happy to provide helpful feedback. Once you have experimented with your formula, you can dive confidently into full episodes.


  1. Inconsistency

Audience building is a long-term strategy. Successful and popular podcasts have over a thousand episodes, but many podcasts run just six or seven episodes because people don’t see the audience growing quickly enough and they give up.


You need to be consistent about when you release your content: choose a day, choose a time, and stick with it. You need a consistent format, and a regular host. If your podcast includes video, the look and feel need to be consistent; consider the background you use for the video, the mic, angles etc.


The audience also needs to know the content you explore, what they will get from listening to your podcast, and that the conversation will develop over time. Consistency will mean that they will keep coming back.


  1. Low Quality Content & Production

Quality is important and can be split into two aspects: quality of content and quality of production.


Quality content is engaging, educational, interesting, possibly humorous, and, above all, entertaining. People can overlook low production values, but only if your content is captivating. This can save production costs (especially when you are getting started) but it does mean you need to spend more time preparing and perfecting content.


Quality production is important when tapping into an audience with a low attention span. Given two equal options, people will go for the one with the higher production values. It’s simply more engaging and easier to listen to. If your competitors are producing high-quality podcasts, you will need to do so too. Do some analysis of your competitors to find out what level of production you need to invest in to win over your audience.


Consistently high-quality content and production will lead more people to consistently choose your podcast, growing your audience with each episode.


  1. Expecting Listeners to Magically Appear

Consistently creating captivating content only goes so far. People need to find your podcast if they are going to listen and recommend it to others.


One way of boosting your chances of being found is to launch your first five or so episodes in one go. This demonstrates to the Spotify and Apple Music algorithms that you are a serious producer and could get you in the coveted “featured podcasts” spot on their homepage.


Next, ensure that your podcasts are searchable. This means SEO work. Research your keywords, keep on top of trends and search interests, and make your content topical where possible. Then make the content itself easy to find on search engines by writing episode synopses, generating a transcript, as well as adding markup and timestamps to your podcast and video.


Once you’ve covered the basics, consider running some short adverts to get your podcast in front of as many potential listeners as possible.


Also remember that an increasing number of podcasts are now shooting video alongside their audio content. Not only does this make the content more engaging but it gives you more content to publish on other platforms, like YouTube. In addition, some people prefer short segments or clips. Shorter format audio-visual content also works better on social media and can even work as adverts. Different formats will also help to build your audience.


  1. Failing To Prepare For The Worst

Regardless of how much you prepare, the worst can still happen. Guests can cancel, your recording studio may not be available, your host might be sick – there are many things that can go wrong.


Many podcasts have died off because they weren’t able to recover quickly from an unexpected ‘disaster’. Either the challenge felt insurmountable, or they took too long and lost too many listeners.


Whatever planning and preparation you do, always create a backup plan. You could have a prerecorded episode or two to help fill the gaps or a backup host or guest who can cover. You also need a host who is good under pressure and can work on the fly should a guest cancel, or you need to change topics at the last minute.


Good preparation means planning for the best and worst-case scenarios so you can create good quality content regardless of what happens.


  1. Getting The Cheapest Equipment

If you’re new to podcasts, it makes sense that you will want to keep costs down at the start. Many people make the mistake of buying the cheapest equipment in order to test the medium before committing to a large investment.


But cheap equipment impacts quality and poor-quality podcasts aren’t competitive. Ultimately, your podcast probably won’t do well, and you will have wasted your modest investment along with time and other resources.


By investing in the best equipment that you can afford (high-quality video equipment, good quality microphones, a nicely branded backdrop) you’ll make your podcast memorable for the right reasons. This means that you’re more likely to grow an audience and get a return on your investment. Alternatively, you can hire a professional studio to minimise upfront costs while getting access to the best-in-class podcasting equipment.


  1. Thinking DIY Is Always Cheaper

Another way people try to cut costs is to try to do everything themselves. While this is possible, there are a lot of production elements to get right, from planning, project management and research to entertaining hosting to technical skills involving cameras, audio, lighting, editing, distribution, collaboration, guests, marketing, SEO, and so on.


Learning everything yourself takes a lot of time and there’s still a good chance you’ll miss something, meaning the audience is left wanting and you don’t make the most out of your hard work.


There is also the risk of becoming a perfectionist who has to keep redoing things because it’s not as good as it should be. The result is that it takes too long to get content out and you end up spending more time and money. Consider that a professional podcast editor will take around four hours to edit one hour of content. For amateurs, it will take a lot longer and won’t be as polished.


Money saved by doing everything yourself could end up costing a lot more in the long run and leave you with lacklustre content. Investing in hiring the right people or a professional studio will mean consistent and high-quality content that captures and keeps your audience coming back for more.


And Finally…

You may have published some interesting well-edited podcasts but find that your audience is still pretty small.  Don’t fret! Be patient and keep going. By consistently making appealing and well-targeted content the number of listeners will build and you’ll reap the benefits.



Michael Olatunji is co-founder of Outset Studio, a full-service podcast and video production studio in London.

Web: www.outsetstudio.com

Share this...
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *