This post is going to hit really close to home. I feel like I really missed a big opportunity with my first podcast, Real Nerd Hours. I was coming off of a super-hot appearance on another podcast and we had just launched our show. Normally, this is the time to strike. You have the content to publish, think you’re ready, and got a tremendous co-sign!
The show dropped and did incredibly well! I was surprised. Little did I know that every subsequent episode was going to drop in listenership until we reached a quarter of our first episode. And when that happened I was crushed!
Where did everyone go?? Did the show fail to launch? How do we get the numbers back up?
Questions on questions circled in my mind. I tried everything I could in those first few weeks to get those numbers back up. I was posting on forums, telling all my friends and family to listen, and even tweeting at strangers. Nothing was working.
I’m in the process of starting a new podcast, so I’m thinking a lot about what I could do better in the roll out of this new show. It’s taking a lot of introspection to figure out what I want to do and where my current show is failing. Not only do I want to improve my current show, but I want my future podcasts to be successful as well.
With that said, the right questions to ask now are “What could I have done better?” and “What mistakes am I making that are preventing an audience from being more engaged?”
In a post here, I’ve already covered what advice I would have followed in order to produce a better show called “Top 8 Podcasting Tips for Beginners.” Check it out!
Now, in this post, I’m going to outline some of the mistakes I made and that you should avoid. Let’s get into it!
Top 4 Podcasting Mistakes Beginners Need to Avoid
1. Not Practicing Enough
I don’t believe that practice makes perfect. That phrase is an anachronistic platitude that’s only said by people who don’t want to explain to children that no one is perfect. Again, no one is perfect. However, practice makes you better. What practicing does is helps prevent major mistakes and to smooth out processes. Even when a well-practiced person messes something up, that mistake isn’t as horrendous as it could be.
In my “Top 8 Podcasting Tips for Beginners” post, I said that recording a few practice episodes is a great idea. I stand by that. For my first podcast, we recorded only 6 practice episodes. That wasn’t enough by a long stretch. We still ran into long portions of dead air as we scrambled for words. We still used an abnormal amount of filler words such as “like” and “um”/”uh”. The episodes were filled to the brim with user questions because we didn’t bring in topics to discuss. We weren’t working hard enough to correct ourselves. That brings us to our next mistake.
2. Being too general
Our podcast, despite picking out topics that we were passionate about, had too many topics. Anime, movies, technology, design, music, dining, and so much more. Our episodes were all over the place and didn’t seem to have a point. We still have this issue to some degree, but we’re better at having an overall theme for the episodes.
Picking your niche and exploring it is an excellent way to make sure that your show stays on topic at all times. Each one of the things that we’ve talked about on the show can be their own podcast. The problem that presents is people who like our takes on movies don’t necessarily want to hear about in-depth design theory. The overlap of people who care about anime and dining is very narrow. I could go on, but I’m sure you understand where this is going
This issue goes beyond just getting in where you fit in, it’s wanting to fit in to too many spots, even if you do. To the listener, having a ton of topics seems incredibly random and disorganized. This isn’t to say you should create a podcast, say my favorite example, The Smoke Show: A BBQ Podcast, and solely focus on how to smoke brisket. However, what I am saying is that a podcast about BBQ shouldn’t regularly include complex talk about the intricacies of Bitcoin and the Blockchain, the top 3 Cronenberg films, and how Bloodborne was the greatest Dark Souls sequel not named Dark Souls.
If we would have recorded more episodes, sent them out for feedback, and reworked the episodes, this could have been avoided.
3. Not enough content
A podcast about so many things shouldn’t have a problem having topics to discuss, right? Wrong. Very wrong.
When we first started, it was an embarrassment of riches. There were so many things to talk about that we did a terrible job of singling out fun and engaging things to talk about. We ended up picking three news topics a piece that neither of us could come up with meaningful commentary on. On top of that, we came up with segments that didn’t work well for the show.
Another issue we had was we brought in a lot of different things during our practice episodes, but we mistook the amount of time each of those topics took. We didn’t account for all of the stumbling and dead air that is common for beginners. When editing was done, a segment we planned to take 25 minutes would end up being 15.
Once we recognized this issue, we did something far worse: relied on listener questions for entire episodes. Every one of the early episodes was just listener questions, bad segments, and nothing else. It was bad. Don’t do that unless you’re running a show that calls for that level of interaction.
4. Being too worried about the numbers
As you could imagine, these bad episodes lead to a drop in our audience. We lost three-fourths of our audience between episode one and episode 10. I became obsessed with getting that number back up. Ugh. Not my proudest moment.
I put a lot of undue pressure on myself to market the show. The result of trying to have the product more seen lead me to neglect the show in different ways. The content is what matters, not necessarily the marketing behind it. This led me to reevaluate why I was doing the show. I didn’t want to be the most successful show on the planet, I just wanted to have a good show. With that in mind, I stopped caring about the number of people who listen to the show. It doesn’t matter that much.
Those are the four big mistakes I made with my podcast. Hopefully this will help you avoid making the same ones!
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