There will come a time in any podcaster’s journey when they will need to take a podcast break. There are a number of reasons why taking a break from your podcast might be necessary. You may be adventuring off-grid on a long-overdue vacation or you may have personal or family concerns that require more of your time. Alternatively, if your show runs in seasons, you may need to go on a hiatus in order to prep for the next installment. But sometimes, you just need to press pause on the podcast in order to help your show feel rejuvenated and exciting once again. And it’s totally okay to need to step away from the mic for a bit, whatever the reason, but if you don’t want to lose your listeners or have your show’s momentum come to a grinding halt, you need to have a plan in place before hitting the pause button. We all know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” and the same principle applies to our ears with regards to your podcast. If you do stop regularly putting out episodes, and if you don’t have a plan in place, very quickly, your audience will find another show to fill their time.
So today, to make sure that doesn’t happen to you and your show, we’re sharing some strategies that will help you take a podcast break the right way. Then you’ll be able to relax or strategize or do whatever it is you’ll be using your time for, but you’ll keep the momentum of your podcast alive and well while you are not regularly putting our content.
So let’s dive right into strategy #1…
1. Put in the Preparation
It should come as no surprise that if you want to keep your show’s momentum while you’re not actively creating and sharing episodes, there is going to be a fair bit of preparation involved. You will need to do a little strategizing as to how you will still keep a healthy buzz around your show when you’re not behind the mic. The strategies that follow will give you some great pointers as to what you can do, but it important that you set aside the time to put these strategies into action. Start planning for your podcast break well in advance, and whatever strategies you put in place will certainly yield much greater results!
Pro Tip: One way you can start preparing for your break is to create a list of content to pull from. As you’re creating your regular episodes, keep a record of the ones that would work well as “re-runs” or “specials.” Maybe you had a great guest on an episode that your audience loved! You could consider making an extended version of that episode with bloopers, behind-the-scenes snippets, or even some of your pre-recording conversation. Alternatively, you could make bonus episodes with these, or even those parts you had to cut for the original interviews. You would then already have a whole lot of content you could share as special episodes during the time when you’re taking your break.
2. Prepare Your Audience
As it is in any relationship in life, communication is key, and it is no different with regards to the relationship between podcast host and their audience. If you don’t want to lose your loyal listeners and the momentum you’ve built around your show when you take a podcast break, then you need to prepare your audience. If they know to expect the break, and also know when they can expect to have you back, they will be more likely to stick with you until that time. However, if you just vanish with no explanation, it is highly likely that they will find another show to fill their time and meet their needs. Preparing your audience for your podcast break is possibly the most important strategy when it comes to maintaining your show’s momentum.
A great way to prepare your current audience for your upcoming break is to create a special episode focusing specifically on the break. Use the episode to give any necessary details about your break, (depending, of course, on what you want to share) but, in particular, give the dates of your return! This helps give your audience a level of expectation that will help them stick with you while you are away, by giving them something to look forward to, i.e. the date of your spectacular return! Making it clear in the title of this “farewell for now” episode that you are taking a break will also help any newcomers to your show who find you while you are “off air”. In this episode, you could even encourage listeners, both new and old, to go back and enjoy the episodes in your archives, and you could even point them in the direction of some they might particularly enjoy.
3. Be Consistent
Whatever strategy or combination of strategies you choose to use while you’re taking your podcast break, one of the most important things you should do is to be consistent, and stay true to your word. If you shared with your listeners, either via your “going away” episode or via your social media channels or your email newsletter that you were going to share bonus episodes during your time away, make sure you do that. If you said you were going to engage via social media or live chats, be sure to make the time for that. And, most importantly, if you said you were going to be back with a new episode on a particular date, you need to follow through and show up on that date!
Remember, one of the most beautiful things about podcasting is the relationship that develops between the podcast host and their loyal listeners, but this relationship is built on trust. Due to this special relationship, your audience will most likely be very accepting of you needing to take a break from the show, but you then need to honor that relationship by delivering what you promised, and showing up when you said you would.
4. Switch Up Your Format
Another way to keep the momentum rolling, but still giving you the necessary time off is to change up your format. Your podcast break may simply mean that you will put out shorter episodes for a scheduled amount of time. You might record, or pre-record, some quick episodes that don’t require too much time and effort to edit together, which you can then publish during your break. These little “tasters” help keep your audience engaged with your show and your content, and will help keep them satisfied until such a time that you’re back and running on all cylinders once again. These shorter episodes are actually a great outlet for all those content ideas you have that you love, but that can’t be developed into a full-length episode. And so while this is not a technical break, the time spent on the podcast will be significantly less, meaning you have more time available for whatever the purpose of your break is.
But shorter episodes are not the only way keep the momentum going during your podcast break, you could also consider another type of format shakeup…
5. Swop Episodes With Another Podcast
Another way you can take a break but still deliver content to your audience is by show swopping. If you have built relationships with other podcasters who have similar audiences to yours, you could consider “swopping” a few episodes to keep your show active while you are on your break. You could ask these other hosts to share some of their episodes with you, which you could then add to your publishing schedule for the time when you will be away. This is a great way to switch up your format and still passively serve your audience. If your audiences align, it’s a win-win scenario for all, as not only will your audience gain access to some super valuable content, but the other hosts are likely to gain some new listeners for their own show. And, of course, you can always return the favor when they are preparing to take their own podcast break!
6. Keep Building Your Community
Depending on the type of podcast break you’re taking, or your reason for your break, you can use this time to grow your audience and keep the momentum going. Just because you’re not publishing new episodes does not mean that your podcast community can’t be strengthened during your time away from the mic. There are stacks of different methods, other than your actual podcast, that give you the platform as well as the opportunity to engage with your listeners and strength the community around your show. During your break, you could focus on sharing more written content, such as starting a blog, to help boost your SEO, or by sending out extra newsletters to your mailing list. These can all be written ahead of time and scheduled to publish while you are away. So even if you’re spending a week of solitude in the mountains of Tibet, your audience is still seeing and benefitting from tons of content from you. If you ensure that you are consistenly putting different types of content in front of your audience, the momentum around your show will keep building, and you’ll have a happy, excited community of listeners ready and waiting for the return of your podcast.
Related read: How To Build a Strong Podcast Community
7. Line Up Collabs
Taking a break from your podcast can be a perfect time for you to say “YES!” to all those guest host invites and collaboration requests you don’t have the time for when you’re focusing on your own show. Appearing as a guest or honorary co-host on another show is a great way to continue to serve your audience, even when you’re not sharing your own episodes. By appearing on other hosts’ podcasts, you are still making your voice and valuable content available to your loyal listeners, but you’re also able to reach a whole new audience, who will be waiting in anticipation for you when you return to your own show. This all serves to grow your audience, keep the buzz around your show alive, and, of course, keep your podcasting momentum going. And if you take a scheduled podcast break each year, or after each season of your show, you can really plan ahead and schedule these types of activities for during your downtime. It also makes it easier for you to say yes when podcast guest invites make their way to your inbox, as you are well aware of the time and dates you have available.
Related read: Best Practices For Finding A Podcast Guest
8. Release Trailers or Sneak Peeks
As you’re coming towards the end of your break, another great strategy to help keep your audience’s attention and to help build the hype around your show is to release a trailer of your upcoming season, or to share some sneak peeks of what your listeners can expect as you prepare to share new content with them. You could share these sneak peeks via your social media channels, but you should also consider creating trailers or mini-episodes for your podcast itself. These will help get your community of loyal listeners excited for all that’s in store, but they will also be a great way to introduce new listeners (who you gained from applying the above strategies!) to you and your show. Be sure to make these trailers fun, but also be sure to share actual value as to what listeners can expect from your podcast when you start up again. Then, most importantly, be sure to live up to those expectations!
Related read: Why Your Podcast Needs a Trailer
Taking a podcast break every now and then can be a vital strategy in ensuring you and your podcast enjoy success and longevity in the industry. Podcast breaks can also be a great time to invigorate your love for the medium, breathe new life into your creativity, or allow you to explore other aspects of the industry that you don’t get to try when you’re running full steam ahead with your regular episodes. But if you’re not careful, and don’t have some nifty strategies up your sleeve, taking a podcast break could see your stats flat line as all that momentum you worked so hard to build comes to a screeching halt. If you don’t want to lose that buzz or that hard-won listener loyalty, you need to have a solid plan in place before you press pause. By putting these strategies into action, you will be able to continue to grow your audience and keep the momentum around your podcast going, while you take the time to refresh your ideas, reinvigorate your energy, and boost your creativity during your well-deserved break.
Related read: Top 8 Ways to Create Buzz Around Your Podcast