Making mistakes is part of what makes us human. And while I’m sure no one enjoys making a faux pas, when we use them as lessons to help us learn and grow, they do serve a purpose. And so while we often need to learn from our own mistakes, there are a few areas in life where it’s much easier and just as effective to learn from somebody else’s mistakes. Podcasting (thankfully!) happens to be one of those industries where we can glean so much from those who walked the road before us and they can point out the pitfalls for us to avoid along the way. And while there are never short cuts to achieving our dreams, but there are some trustworthy guides we can lean on along our journey to podcasting success. With so many great resources at our disposal, we would be foolish to neglect using them, particularly if they can fast track us to achieving our goals. And to help get you started on that fast track to success, we’re tackling the most common mistakes podcasters make and we’re giving you all the strategies and tools you need to avoid making these errors with your own show. Buckle up and let’s dive right in!
1. Set Realistic Expectations
One of the first mistakes podcasters make early on is that they set their initial expectations too high. This can lead to massive disappointment and can cause you to lose some of your steam. Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t set big dreams and aspirations for your show, but you do need to pace your expectations. Remember, podcasting is really rewarding, but it also requires consistent hard work, and even that does not guarantee that you’ll find yourself in the New and Noteworthy section in your first few weeks of publishing your episodes, or that your show ends up in the #1 spot in the different podcast directories. But don’t let this get you down or deflate your passion! Rather set achievable, short-term goals and do your best to reach each milestone, and then celebrate each goal you tick off along the way. Then you’ll constantly feel motivated rather than losing your drive when your lofty expectations are not met.
2. Know Your Niche
Another mistake podcasters make is not having enough knowledge about their niche. This is a big blunder! You need to have a thorough understanding of your subject matter in order to put your spin on the niche and create your own unique voice. If you only have a sub-par knowledge of your niche, your audience will quickly pick up that you don’t speak with authority on your subject and will quickly tune out. It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, and there are probably quite a number of shows covering a similar topic as yours. If you don’t have a thorough knowledge of your niche, it will be easy for your show to get lost in the crowd. But if you know your subject inside and out, you’ll be able to put your own spin on it and you’ll make your podcast unique. No one can tell the story the way that you do; you are unique, and so really pull from the unique qualities that you have to offer your audience.
Related read: 8 Strategies To Build Authority In Your Podcast Niche
3. Narrow Down Your Topic
Following closely after the above, the next mistake podcasters make is having too broad a topic. Your first step (after deciding to actually start a podcast) should be to survey your potential audience and understand what it is that they want. You can then match your content to their needs, and then your listeners will keep coming back for more of your valuable content. But if your topic is too broad, or if you are not clear on your topic yourself, your podcast will no longer be what they are looking for as they no longer get what they are after from your show. That is why finding your niche is so important to the ultimate success of your show. To avoid making this mistake, make sure you really put research into honing your niche and narrowing down your topic. You will then be able to attract and keep listeners who will become your loyal audience.
Related read: How To Find Your Podcast Topic: 8 Unique Topic Ideas
4. Master Your Medium
Podcasting as a medium has a very low barrier to entry, meaning it is really easy for anyone to start a podcast. But just because it’s easy to get a podcast up and running does not mean it’s easy to produce a high-quality, highly valuable show. This is another mistake podcasters tend to make – not mastering their medium. To avoid this mistake, you will need to put time and effort into mastering all the aspects that come together to make a great show. One way to do this is to break your show up into all the parts that make it a whole, from content planning and script-writing to recording and editing. You could then look at courses or other ways you could master these areas. But another way to master your medium is simply to listen to as many great shows as you can and learn all you can from them. The idea is not to copy these other podcasts but to use their level to set the bar for your show, and as well as to get your ear accustomed to what a great-sounding show really sounds like. If you do that, it will be much easier to ensure that your episodes are always hitting their mark, as you will almost instinctively know when you’re in your stride or when you’re not quite making the cut. You could also find the leading shows in your niche and give them a listen to see how they do what they do. Remember, you’re not trying to copy another show, but you want to learn the ways you can improve your show.
Related read: Podcast Courses to Take During Lockdown
5. Deliver High-Quality Sound
Another huge mistake many podcasters make is not putting enough emphasis on the sound quality of their episodes, as one of the most common reasons listeners stop listening to a particular podcast is due to poor sound quality. So as much as podcasting is about what you say, it’s also about how you say it. Podcasting is all about the audio after all, so it makes sense that you should focus a good portion of your time and effort on capturing crystal clear audio. With so many great shows out there, you really cannot afford to have a show whose audio is of inferior quality. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to prevent your show from falling victim to this common error. Investing in a good quality microphone is one way to ensure that you always get a good recording, as well as a pair of decent headphones to help you monitor your audio. You should also make sure that you record from a place that is conducive to capturing high quality, clear sound. A professional studio is first prize, but you can also make a great recording studio right in your home! (For some great tips for creating a home recording studio, check out this post!) You should make it your rule to never release an episode that is not of the highest audio quality. It really is the quickest way to lose listeners. Do a little research, make use of all the resources you have at your disposal, and keep that audio sounding great!
Related read: Top Tools for the New Podcaster
6. Broaden Your Marketing Horizons
The longterm success of your show depends on developing and growing a loyal audience base, but in order to do that, you need to get your show noticed. Another mistake is thinking that using a podcast hosting site is enough to get your podcast out to the world. This is simply not going to cut it. You need to look at multiple platforms and channels across which to share your amazing show! Start by listing your podcast on at least the top 3 directories out there such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. If your show is only listed on one directory, you’re essentially alienating a whole host of potential listeners. By listing your show on a variety of directories, you’re covering all your bases in terms of the types of devices listeners use to consume their podcasts. And with so many podcast directories out there, it’s not hard to find one that will work for you. Each directory has its own unique features so you will need to do a little research to find the ones that will best work for you and your audience and will help you cover your bases when it comes to widening your podcast distribution.
Related read: 21 Best Podcast Directories
7. Always Be Consistent
The final mistake we want to help you avoid is a lack of consistency. One of the most important pieces of advice for every new podcaster is to remember that consistency is key. Remember, as a podcaster, you’re ultimately asking your listeners to take some of their valuable time out of their already busy schedule and spend that time with you and your show. In order to do that, your audience will need to trust that the time spent on your show will be well worth it, and you can only prove that by being consistent. This consistency goes far deeper than simply putting episodes out regularly. In order for your listeners to develop the required level of trust in you and in order for your show to achieve success, you need to be consistent in the type of content you put out, the quality of the content, and even consistency in the length of your episodes. In order to deliver this consistency, and so to avoid making this mistake, you should first decide what your publishing schedule will look like. Obviously, it would be great if you could put out an episode every week, but if your packed schedule will only rationally allow for a high-quality episode every two weeks, then aim to stick to that. It is better to deliver quality content less frequently than to try to put out an inferior episode every week. Consistently creating high-quality episodes full of amazing content should always be your top priority.
And there you have it, our play-by-play for avoiding those pesky podcasting mistakes. We all know the value of learning from our mistakes and picking ourselves up when we fall, but there are plenty of other times in our lives when we will be able to do that, it just doesn’t have to be in these areas of your show. Evaluate yourself and your podcast to see where you might be making these common errors, put these strategies into motion, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Learn from the greats that have gone before you and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your podcasting goals. And then those who follow after you will be able to walk in the footsteps you leave behind.