Denzel Walkes

Denzel's an independent writer and podcaster from San Diego, CA. In his free time, he dabbles in graphic design, project management, and information technology.

Denzel's learning how to run businesses. This site is a testament to the journey.

Top 4 Podcasting Mistakes Beginners Need to Avoid

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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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Top 8 Podcasting Tips for Beginners

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When I was kid, my mom would drop my sister and me off at school and every time the same thing was on the radio: The Jeff and Jer Showgram. It was a fun and engaging morning talk show. I loved it. I loved it some much that being a radio personality became something that I wanted to do.

Fast forward a couple of decades, talk radio shows have been supplanted by podcasts. And with this transition came with a lowering of the barrier to entry. Anyone can now host their own version of a talk radio show about any topic for any audience. It’s super rad.

I’m happy to say that I’m one of those people with their own podcast. Though it’s not a massive achievement, 8-year-old me would be ecstatic about it. Getting started can be process, though. I didn’t know how difficult it could be and what things I should have considered before getting on the mic.

Hopefully these 8 tips below will help you get started in a better position than I did.


Top 8 Podcasting Tips for Beginners

1. Be prepared to work!

Hosting a podcast is a huge commitment. Episodes need to be planned, recorded, edited, and posted. All of those things take time, and if your podcast is like mine, it releases weekly. That’s a few hours of work a week on your podcast.

Being consistent is one of the most important things you can do for your podcast. Especially if you want to have any form of success with it. The most successful podcasts are all released consistently.

 

2. Be excited about your topic!

There’s nothing better than using your creative outlet to share something that you’re incredibly passionate about. Make your podcast exactly that. Identify the topics that you can talk endlessly about (because you will) and move from there.

Think about it… Do you really want to be stuck talking about something you couldn’t care less for? Think about having to do that week in and week out. Your interest will eventually wane and it’ll be aparent in the podcast.

The last thing anyone wants to listen to is people faking the funk. Listeners know if you have a sincere interest in what you’re talking about or if you’re just going through the motions. So for their sake, pick something you like.

Selecting a niche is one of the best ways to identify the audience your podcast is for. Your passion will show in the product and will attract people to you. If you’re worried that there are too many podcasts that are covering your topic, maybe reevaluate why you’re doing a podcast.

If you still want to proceed, then scope out what the competition is doing. Read their reviews to find out what people really enjoy and incorporate those things into your show. Don’t be afraid to borrow a few ideas.

 

3. Find a name for your podcast!

Naming your podcast is incredibly important, but it won’t bar you from success in any way. Your name is a great way to give an indication of what your show is about in a single phrase. The more simplistic and memorable it is, the better.

Don’t be afraid to pick a random name though. Just know that will affect how people will find your show in search engines, especially in iTunes. Chapo Trap House is a great example of an exceedingly successful podcast that has a random name. It doesn’t give any indication of what the show is about, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from talking about it or finding it.

Conversely, a title like “The Smoke Show: A BBQ Podcast” gives the listener a pretty clear idea of what the show is about. It will also boost the SEO of the show when people look for “BBQ podcasts” in a search engine like Google.

 

4. Get podcast art!

Cover art is the visual representation of your show. It needs to grab a person’s attention as soon as they lay eyes on it in whichever podcasting app they use. The art is also a great way to further express what your brand is about.

For all the projects I’ve worked on, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to a professional designer to create the logos.

I recommend finding a professional graphic designer to tackle the image design. You can find one pretty easily through Fiverr or 99Designs.

 

5. Outline your shows!

When you first get started an outline is going to save you loads of time. You and your co-host or guests will know exact how long to spend on each segment and where the show is supposed to go without it being done on the fly. With that being said, your outline doesn’t need to be strictly adhered to, it’s just to help guide your show along. I’ve added an example outline for “The Smoke Show: A BBQ Podcast”:

 

Intro music (30 Seconds)

Show introduction (30 Seconds): “Welcome to The Smoke Show!! This is a podcast for and by people who love BBQ.” Give Twitter, Instagram, and website information.

Introduction (3-5 Minutes): I will introduce myself and tell people where to find me through social media. I will also share my history with barbecuing and smoking.

Guest intro (3-5 Minutes): Have guest introduce themselves and give their social media information. Also give culinary history as it relates to BBQ.

Segment one (7-10 Minutes): Beginner techniques for BBQ! My guest and I will go over the top 5 mistakes beginners make at the grill.

Guest interview (25-30 Minutes): I interview the guest.

Segment two (7-10 Minutes): Questions from the audience

Show close out (2-3 Minutes): Thank the guest for coming on. Ask them to promote anything they’d like to. Have them give their social media information again. I’ll give my social media information again. Thank the listener and close.

Outro music (30 Seconds)

 

As you can see, the outline is very simple. This is incredibly helpful for when you’re first starting. It gives you general guidelines for the show and you fill in the blanks with your thoughts!

 

6. Find the right equipment!

This is easily the most difficult part of this post. People argue about equipment so much that it’s hard to filter out what’s necessary and what isn’t. I have another post outlining my thoughts on equipment, so I’ll keep this short and to the point.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune on podcasting gear. The things you’ll need are a microphone, a computer, and editing software at the minimum. If you are by yourself, those three things will serve you well. If you aren’t you’ll want to double up on microphones or find a way to record your Skype/Discord/Google Hangout calls.

There are so many variables involved that I’m going to just assume you’re working by yourself and tailor my recommendations for that. Editing

Software: Audacity. It’s a simple, FREE audio editing software that is a staple among people who record things at home. It’s easy to use and, again, it’s free. There are also plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to use the software, so learning it won’t be an issue. An alternative to Audacity for Mac users is Garage band.

Microphone: Your first mic can be cheap, but not too cheap. The Blue Snowball is a pretty great mic. At the time of this post it is $49.00 USD on Amazon. It’s a USB mic, which means you can plug it directly into your computer to record directly into Audacity. It’s USB powered, too. This will probably be your best option to start.

 

7. Record a few practice episodes!

Okay, so this is probably the most underrated step of this entire post. Recording practice episodes is the best way to get a handle on how you want the show to flow. This also gives you the opportunity to send it out to the podcast to a trusted few people to collect feedback on how you’re doing.

Recording a few practice episodes gives you the ability to practice editing and mastering your episodes.

There’s no right answer on how many to record before officially releasing your show. If it takes you 20 episodes for you to feel like you’ve got your groove, then that’s perfectly fine.

When I started my first podcast, Real Nerd Hours, we recorded 6 practice episodes and thought we had it in the bag. We were sorely mistaken. In fact, we didn’t have a good episode of our podcast until episode 12 or 13. We should have recorded far more.

There’s no downside to recording a few practice episodes. Everyone should do this.

 

8. Find a podcast hosting platform!

This is probably the simplest step in the process. Hosting will cost your around $15-$20 USD a month. We use SoundCloud for our hosting and it’s pretty straight forward. As far as I can tell, LibSyn is the standard hosting platform. Personally, I wish we had gone with LibSyn because it has a few features that SoundCloud doesn’t, but it wasn’t important enough for us to switch once we found out.


I hope this post helps on your podcasting journey! Remember to enjoy yourself. Feel free to check out some of my other posts for more tips and tricks for podcasting!


Enjoy what you’ve seen so far? Join our email list at the bottom of the page to ensure that you never miss a post or podcast.

Lastly, we will never share your information with anyone!!