10 mistakes that could kill your podcast

Business tips

Michael Olatunji, co-founder of podcast and video production studio Outset Studio, identifies 10 mistakes that can kill your podcast…

Over 21 million people in the UK listen to podcasts on a regular basis. They range from celebrity gossip to niche discussions on the mining industry.

Creating a podcast is also a fantastic way of promoting your business or starting a career. But it is important to avoid being one of the millions of podcasts that die before they get going. 

Whatever your interests or industry you want to talk about, you will find people keen to listen and learn. But you need to avoid these classic mistakes that 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.

2. Inconsistency

You need to be consistent about when you release your content: choose a day, choose a time, and stick to it. You need a consistent format and quality, 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 aspect, the microphone, angles, and so on.

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 is about reassuring the audience that your podcast is worth their time and commitment, so they keep coming back for more.

3. 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.

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

4. Expecting Listeners to Magically Appear

Getting found takes work. 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.

Ensuring your podcasts are searchable means SEO work. Research your keywords, keep on top of trends and search interests, and make your content topical where possible.

5. Not Controlling Guests

In normal conversation, people often talk over each other. But when it comes to a podcast, overtalk is confusing and messy. Many people also talk faster when under the stress of a recorded show or they might get flustered, tripping over their words, repeating themselves, or failing to make a clear point.

A pre-show meeting can really help iron out these issues. Agree on the questions in advance with your guests so they can prepare and feel comfortable. To avoid overtalk, it is a good idea to have a prepared hand signal to indicate a question or comment from the host. After that, it’s up to the host to control the pace and flow of the conversation.

6. Failing To Prepare For The Worst

Regardless of how much you prepare, the worst can still happen. 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.

7. Missing Out On Different Formats

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.

Then there is the content length. Not everyone will engage with a full podcast episode – some people prefer short segments or clips. Shorter format audio-visual content also works better on social media and can even work as adverts.

8. Getting The Cheapest Equipment

If you’re new to podcasts, it makes sense that you will want to keep costs down at the start. Understandably, 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.

9. Thinking DIY Is Always Cheaper

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.

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.

10. Expecting Immediate Results

Even when you’ve published some nicely edited episodes that your audience will love, recorded on high-quality equipment, and you’ve done all the SEO you can, your audience may still be small. But don’t give up. Even if you do everything right, your audience won’t magically appear.

Too many podcasts do everything right and still fail because they expect immediate results. When podcast episodes don’t go viral after five episodes, many assume it’s not working and lose interest. Give it time. Consistency is the key. Keep making consistently entertaining, high-quality, well-edited content that your audience is interested in, and they will show up eventually.

Michael Olatunji is co-founder of Outset Studio, a full-service podcast and video production studio in London. Outset specialises in pod- and vlog- casts, live streams and live shopping.




Chris Price
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