A lot of work goes into creating a podcast. Probably more than you realize.
It all begins in the planning stage.
If you don’t spend enough effort in the podcast planning phase, you’re going to have a difficult time when you get to promoting and growing your show.
In this article, I cover the 6 common mistakes I see people make when it comes to starting and planning their podcast.
Mistake 01: People don’t understand the amount of work it takes to consistently produce a podcast
I’ve seen some crazy stats when it comes to podcast failure rates:
- Less than 20% of the podcasts that have launched this year will make it to next year.
- According to many in the business, most podcasts that fade die out as early as their 7th episode… research indicates that the podfading rate is as high as 50% among new podcasts.
- 90% of podcasts don’t publish more than 3 episodes.
Meredith Metsker sums it up well with this post:
Podcasting is a ton of work!
For example, one of our clients has been producing their interview-based show for over 5 years.
A short list of their work includes:
- Identify the guest
- Research the guest and write questions
- Interview the guest
- Create and review rough transcriptions
- Provide production notes for the editor
- Create final transcriptions and show notes
- Post to the media host and the website
- Communicate with the guest
- Promote via newsletter and social media
This is for every episode. And that’s just an interview-based show.
Another client of ours is producing a narrative-style show featuring a variety of interviews and music in a single episode.
I recently broke down the work on a single episode and this is what it looks like:
Final episode length: 51m:26s
Sourced from 11 interviews from 9 different people totaling 11.5 hours of audio.
People involved in producing the episode included:
- 2 production assistants
- 2 writers
- 2 producers
- 2 audio editors
- 1 sound designer and original music composer
- 1 host
- 9 guests
Tasks included things like:
- Researching the topic of the episode, identifying guests, scheduling guests, preparing for interviews, and conducting interviews.
- Reviewing all audio collected, choosing the best parts to use, crafting a narrative that makes sense from all of the audio, and scripting all narration for the host.
- Pulling all audio to be used, editing all audio to be used, recording all host narration (tracking), reviewing said tracking and choosing the best takes, and assembling a rough version for review.
- Reviewing the rough cuts, making notes, more editing, more tracking, etc.
- Reviewing the new version, determining best places for music and sound design, choosing sound design, adding sound design, writing original music to be used, adding original music, finalizing audio.
- Final reviews, notes, tweaks, and edits.
Given, everyone works differently and there are many variables that affect the size and scope of a project.
But the fact remains the same: Great podcasts take more work than you realize.
Before you start a podcast, plan accordingly.
Mistake 02: People focus on the medium instead of the goal.
As marketers and business owners, there are thousands of shiny objects that can grab our attention.
Podcasting can be one of those things.
One of the first questions I ask any new prospect is “What is your goal with starting a podcast?” or “What does success look like?” It’s very easy to have a goal that does not fit well with podcasting.
For example, let’s say your company needs to immediately increase awareness. A podcast probably isn’t your best medium. You might want to invest in ads or guesting on other people’s podcasts instead.
However, if you are looking to increase your authority over time or to grow and improve your network, podcasting might be an excellent choice.
Over the years I’ve been producing podcasts, I can say our best clients don’t come to us because they want a podcast. They come to us because they want the result of what a podcast can do for them.
Mistake 03: There is a misalignment between the type of show being planned and the goal
Similar to the previous mistake, you can also have misalignment on the type of show you are producing and what you are hoping to accomplish with it.
Once on a discovery call, the prospect told me their goal was to get 50,000 downloads per episode in the first 6 months. So I asked what their idea was and they said they wanted to interview other industry leaders and they assured me that they had unique things to share.
Tell me more…
I hate to break it to you but niche, industry-specific straightforward interview shows, don’t do 50K downloads per episode. Not to mention, “lots of downloads” isn’t a good goal to begin with (Track this instead).
For reference, at the time of writing this article, 1% of all podcasts are getting about 5,000 downloads in the first 7 days of being live. I hope you can see that thinking a generic expert interview show isn’t going to do 50K downloads per ep.
So what show types can you make?
At this point, I think we’re limited mostly to our creativity in terms of what is possible. That said, a few common styles stand out.
- The solo show: where one or more regular guests teach and/or discuss ideas.
- The interview show: straight forward interviews typically on specific themes or in specific niches.
- The narrative show: story-driven style shows with a host, aka narrator, multiple guests, music, sound effects, and more.
- The dynamic show: this type of show lives between the interview and the narrative. It might feature a few interviews combined into a single episode with less bells and whistles than a narrative show.
And how do you make sure the show type aligns with the goal?
Here are a few examples of shows that have worked:
Client 01 had a goal to spread awareness around an idea. They needed impressions and engagement.
For them we went with a narrative-style show with 5+ interviews per show and originally composed music.
We were able to average 10K+ downloads per episode soon after launch and had international listenership.
They considered the show a success because it supported their reach and we’re currently in production on season 02.
Client 02 had a goal to support their hiring team and sales. So we produced a highly niched interview show where my team interviewed their clients about using their unique software.
The show only averaged about 100 downloads per episode but they were able to use it as a sales resource and for training new team members. They considered it a success because it directly supported their internal efforts.
Client 03 had a goal of building authority in their industry. We produced an edu-style interview show with other experts in their industry about the topic our client worked in (marketing).
The show got around 400 downloads per episode but averaged over a 100% consumption rate. They considered this a success because the content was being listened to in full more than once.
You have many options for what kind of show to produce. Make sure you are intentional in the beginning so it supports your goals after launch.
Mistake 04: People fail to use their podcast as part of their marketing strategy
This one surprises me but I see a lot of marketers and marketing teams fail to leverage their podcast in their existing marketing strategy.
But wait! Isn’t this article about planning mistakes?
Yes. But many promotion mistakes start in the planning stage. You need to be thinking about the promotion of your podcast now.
One of our clients is launching a full strategy all at once: newsletters, blogs, podcast, and more. One question I had was should the podcast be informing the blog or should the blog be informing the podcast.
For example, if the podcast should be informing the blog, that means the podcast content is leading. When we take things we learn in the podcast and the interviews we capture and turn them into some of the blog content. In that way, it matters more about what content we’re recording and what order we’re releasing it.
If the blog is informing the podcast, then the podcast needs to follow the blog’s lead. This might mean if we publish a blog on raising your rates, we purposely interview experts on raising your rates and pull great quotes to use in the articles.
That’s just one simple example. Plenty more exist and I wrote a lot about it in our article on omnichannel marketing.
Mistake 05: The podcast is poorly branded (and ugly)
Podcasts are seen before they are heard.
This means your title, cover art, promotional assets, show notes, etc. better be top notch.
Fortunately, most marketers I know have designers on their team. It’s typically the DIYers who are prone to ugly cover art.
There are plenty of amazing artists and designers. Many are very affordable. Do yourself a favor and hire someone who knows what they are doing.
However, everyone has the potential to give their show a bad title.
I could easily write a whole article on naming your podcast. Here are a few tips when deciding on your podcast’s name:
- Clear beats clever. I’d rather have a title people can remember and understand than one that feels “cool.”
- Avoid ambiguity. Using words with different spellings or pronunciations and things like homonyms, acronyms, symbols, or numbers might be easy to say but aren’t easy to type. For example, think of the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz. Hertz or hurts? Hertz or Hz? Twenty Thousand, 20,000 or 20K? It gets confusing fast.
- Consider how it sounds. You’re likely going to be saying your podcast’s name a lot. Make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable saying over and over again for introductions and when recommending it. I can think of one show in particular that looks fine in writing but sounds like a “naughty” word when you say it outloud. Be careful! 😅
- Review the competition. Once you narrowed down your title options, check to make sure no one else is using the title or owns rights to it.
The visual and written components of your podcast will be with you for a long time and rebranding isn’t fun.
Take the time upfront to get the branding right.
Mistake 06: People lack professionalism or are ignorant when dealing with guests
Part of planning for many shows is researching, scheduling, and interviewing guests.
And like all things, lots can go wrong here.
The thing I notice the most with new podcasters is the lack of processes.
For example, it’s easy to find podcast guests but it’s difficult to find the perfect guests for your podcast. And when you do find guests for your show, you might be scaring away your podcast guests without even knowing it.
Most people give way too much information in the first interaction when inviting a guest on.
Try this two step process instead:
I’m currently in the middle of scheduling and running 25 interviews for one client’s podcast.
When you are inviting someone on your show for the first time, do not send everything they need to know in the first email.
Instead, first find out if the person is even interested in being on. If they are, then send the information they need to know to schedule and understand what they are getting into.
And like all relationships, teach others with integrity and respect. It feels silly to say it, but a lot of people don’t.
I recently had a prospect schedule a call with me. He explained how the hosts of the show he was working on would frequently reschedule with guests and sometimes would scrape full interviews without telling the guest.
Most of the time podcast hosts aren’t that brash but even ignorance in how to run these processes well can damage relationships.
Take time in the beginning to find the right guests and treat them well.
Podcasting is a ton of hard work and it’s difficult to know what you don’t know. If a podcast is a great move for your company, don’t rush the planning process.
Make sure you take your time and properly think through all of the major pieces to save yourself more work later.
And if you want a show but don’t want to figure out everything on your own, that’s exactly what my team does. We work with founders, marketers, and their teams to produce expert-level shows for their companies.
Learn more on our services page.
Thanks for reading! Reach out if you need anything or have any questions. 😎