Podcasting takes a lot of work. Even more, if you want to be successful. I saw a lot of struggling shows, as well as ones that managed to fix their beginner mistakes, to finally become hit shows.
The 10 beginner mistakes podcasters need to avoid are:
- Your Focus Is on the Best Equipment
- You’re Starting Your Podcast Without A Niche
- Obsessing Over Statistics
- You’re Waiting for Your Audience to Find You
- Starting Your Podcast Without Pre-Recorded Episodes
- Talking down to Your Audience
- Your Editing Is Choppy and Unprofessional
- Delaying Launch day
- Not Worrying About the Equipment Long-term
- Your Podcast with Money on Your Mind
I would personally consider these critical beginner mistakes. Any one of these could have an adverse effect on your podcast or even stop you from committing to launching it all together.
1. Your Focus Is on the Best Equipment
If you haven’t got the $1,000 podcast mic how can you surely start a podcast? You’re surely doomed to fail without it… right?
Well, whilst it may shock you, that’s not completely correct.
Your microphone quality will indeed affect the overall final quality of the episode. It’s also true that you can’t upload your podcast episode without an internet connection. Does this mean you can only podcast once you have the best connection on the planet?
Many people suffer from this problem, myself included. It is a common effect that plagues perfectionists. How can you commit to something that isn’t perfect?
Podcasting gear plays a crucial role in the creation process, but it isn’t the defining factor as to whether your podcast takes off or not. Think of the equipment as merely a tool. It serves the purpose of getting your podcast out there. The true idea and inspiring content come from you and your ability to communicate that idea.
If you have to work with a slightly below-average microphone (in terms of quality), then that will have to suffice for the time being. A little bit of grain on the microphone output will not dissuade your audience from listening if your content is good.
Podcasting is a hobby for most. You are not expected to be flush with money and can purchase the most expensive equipment. But a common beginner mistake is also starting with your smartphone or laptop micrhopone.
Make do with what you have and look to continually improve upon that when you can.
If this is something that worries you a lot, then you can use those recommendations:
|Around $100||Under $300||Under $600||Under $1,000|
|Microphone||Samson Q2U||AT2020 USB Plus||Rode Procaster||Shure SM7B|
|Mic stand||(included with mic)||(included with mic)||Rode PSA1||Rode PSA1+|
|Shock mount||–||–||Rode PSM1||(built-in)|
|Filter||(included with mic)||Pop filter||Rode WS2 pop filter||(included with mic)|
|Headphones||AKG Pro Audio K72||Sennheiser HD280 PRO||Sennheiser HD280 PRO||Sony MDR-7506|
|Audio interface||–||–||Focusrite 2i2||Focusrite 2i2|
|XLR cables||(included with mic)||(included with mic)||(included with mic)||Mogami Gold|
2. You’re Starting Your Podcast Without A Niche
A niche is crucial for a podcast. It defines what you are going to be talking about as well as the audience who will be listening.
It’s substantially harder to build a following if each episode is on a completely unrelated topic (unless you are an influencer). Starting a podcast with the mindset “I’ll just talk about whatever comes to mind” rarely works.
Why? Because if no one knows who you are, they aren’t going to be interested in your life. Unfortunately, that’s the truth.
I do not mean to discourage you if that was your goal. Moreso, I intended to open your eyes to the difficulty you would face.
Selecting a niche allows you to hone in on a topic you are passionate about, a skill you are a master at, or an industry in which you are an expert. You will get more enjoyment out of the podcast, and your audience will be more engaged because of this.
Failing to find your niche will put your podcast in a limbo zone. You don’t really know its goal, and your audience doesn’t know what value they are meant to be receiving.
There are other aspects of picking a good niche. Some niches are easier to monetize. Just look at the graph from the Study of Podcasters survey.
I cover this topic more in-depth here:
3. Obsessing over Statistics Will Lead You down a Dark Hole
This was a beginner mistake that I also made. You invest countless hours into creating an episode, sleepless nights editing it perfectly, and boom, you make it live. You check back the following day. Why is no one listening to it?
Over the next few hours, you check back into your analytics dashboard to check how it’s doing. To your dismay, there still isn’t any traffic. Sound familiar?
This is exactly what I did a few years back.
Checking your analytics every now and then is normal. In fact, it’s healthy. You want to keep up to date and understand how your content is performing. However, once you pass the line of checking it too much, it can be hard to come back.
Obsessing over your analytics is one of the biggest beginner mistakes you can make. It is unlikely that your new podcast will see a significant spike in traffic for a long time.
In short – if you’re expecting instant gratification, you will be disappointed.
If you are the type of person who needs instant gratification for their effort, then podcasting may not be for you. If not low, you will see a blank view count for a while. It’s the nature of the media platform.
People need time to find you to understand whether they like your content and whether they should come back.
In fact, the Study of Podcasts has found, that most podcasters need more than 24 months to achieve financial success.
This period is dangerous for many because you can create 7+ episodes and still not see growth. For some, they understand that it’s a waiting game. Others become discouraged and employ the “what’s the point” mindset.
Once this mindset kicks in, you’re ready to give up. Don’t let your analytics consume you.
4. You’re Waiting for Your Audience to Find You
Being a passive marketer is the equivalent of waiting for an employer to call you and offer you a job interview when you haven’t applied for it.
Sure, people can find you on their own accord. However, it is much easier to go to them. Actively marketing your new podcast allows you to put it in front of people’s faces rather than waiting for them to walk into it by accident. By walk, I mean search it via a search engine.
The easiest way to market your podcast is to turn to social media. Create relevant social profiles under your podcast’s name if you haven’t already. If you’ve got a logo, even better! Set your logo as your profile image, and you’re good to go.
You will want to start posting using relatable hashtags. If possible (depending on the niche), engage and join different Facebook Groups. Alternatively, you can join Twitter discussions. Submit your podcast to /r/podcasts and engage in discussions there.
Active marketing will take time. It requires you to do just what it says – be active. This means turning up every day, posting something interesting, and engaging with your audience.
Some podcasters get absorbed into the social media scene. Remember, you’re there to market your podcast. Make sure that some of your posts contain a call to action (CTA) that directs the user to the podcast/podcast location.
Here are the best marketing channels for your podcast:
Marketing is your friend and possibly your greatest asset.
5. Starting Your Podcast Without Pre-Recorded Episodes
Batch recording, as it’s better known, involves pre-recording a number of episodes before you launch the first. This serves two primary purposes:
- You have consistent content to launch with
- You develop your style and can edit/re-record these episodes if you improve
Launching with consistent content is always a good idea. It allows you to work on new episodes without worrying about whether you’ll get them out on time.
It also, as mentioned, allows you to develop your style before you become known to the world.
If you were releasing these after one another, it would disorientate the listener because the basic format has changed. Your delivery, tone of voice, and structure are different.
Pre-recording allows you to settle on a style that you like and perform best. Following this, you can ensure you remain consistent with your episodes, both in structure and time.
Be sure to experiment with your style.
6. Talking down to Your Audience
My biggest pet peeve when listening to podcasts is when the host talks down to the listeners. This usually happens when the niche is an industry topic that the host clearly knows a lot about.
Instead of educating the listeners, the podcast focuses on boosting the host’s ego whilst they tell you how much they know.
I have run into a few where it was obvious this was done unintentionally. The host would choose to use vocabulary that sounded patronizing or dismissive of the audience’s abilities.
While this is not a common mistake, or more so, I have not experienced it a lot myself. I would say to be humble. Especially if you are talking about a topic of skill in which you are proficient.
Listeners tune in to learn information. They are not there to be mocked.
7. Your Editing Is Choppy and Unprofessional
You are not expected to be an editing pro when you start podcasting. Editing is a difficult skill to master in its own right. It’s not uncommon for new podcasters to have little to no experience editing.
There are two extremes when it comes to editing:
- The editing is sloppy. Cuts are in places they shouldn’t be, and sometimes words are completely cut off
- The content is overedited and is void of all personality
We all make beginner mistakes. It’s unavoidable. However, it’s important to acknowledge what mistakes are made and ask yourself – Does this really need editing out?
If you fumble on a sentence, you may opt to re-record it. Why? Because your audience won’t understand the point, you are making otherwise. Plus, it also looks unprofessional to leave it in.
What if you fumble on one word, but you make a joke about it after and continue? Do you need to edit that out too?
Podcasting is seen as a 1 to 1 form of media. Sure your episodes are accessible by thousands, but the connection is almost conversational. If you can show personality, you are more likely to retain listeners.
Consider the amount you edit and evaluate whether it is indispensable.
8. Delaying Launch Day
In my opinion, the biggest mistake you can make is to delay when you launch your podcast. This is the biggest beginner mistake I have made!
Many of us have innate fears before starting a podcast. What if no one likes my content? What if it’s not as good as I think? These fears then validate why we aren’t launching the podcast.
You may have had thoughts like, “I’ll wait till I have 5 episodes pre-recorded” then, once 5 comes, you change the number to 7. For some, you may have drastic negative thoughts like, “well, no one would like me anyway, so what’s the point?”.
If you have, then don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
That’s the part of the brain that’s designed to protect you against failure.
There is always the possibility that your podcast could be the next greatest thing. The only one stopping that from happening is you.
Delaying your launch also creates the opportunity for someone else to start and steal what could’ve been your audience.
Release your podcast whether you think it’s perfect or not.
9. Not Worrying About the Equipment Long-Term
I know I just said not to worry about the equipment when you start.
However, we are looking at two different stages with the podcast. Previously I referred to the lack of high-end equipment holding you back. Here, I am referring to you refusing to acknowledge where there could be an improvement.
Regardless of the platform or media type, content creators must always strive to increase their quality and value. If they fail to do so, someone else will receive the benefits instead.
Once your podcast is live and you have a healthy number of episodes out, you should evaluate your equipment. Where could you improve? If you could change one thing, what would have the most impact?
This is a genuine mistake that a lot of content creators make. Once you become comfortable creating episodes, there is the chance you can become ‘too’ comfortable.
Being comfortable leads to becoming stagnant.
You may be consistent, but nothing is improving. If you look at the top-performing podcasts, were they always that high quality? Of course not.
They focused on their style, structure, and content first. Once that was of high quality, they turned their attention to their equipment and improved that.
‘A man is only as good as his tools is a famous quote from Emmert Wolf. If you do not have the tools to create something amazing, it will be challenging to do so.
10. Launching Your Podcast with Money on Your Mind
You shouldn’t start a podcast or chase an idea with only money at the front of your mind. If you do so, you are doomed to fail before you have even begun.
If you expect to put the effort in and be instantly rewarded, you will be sorely disappointed. The problem with focusing on money is that your judgment is clouded as to whether something is working or not.
If you do not see results within the first month, you will think that your efforts have been wasted. Inevitably, you will stop podcasting altogether.
The most critical problem with this mistake is that your podcast will be absent of true value. I mean, you aren’t likely to give the creation process your all if you are merely looking for monetary gain.
There is so much amazing content in the world because those who are creating it are passionate about it. Money or not, they just love doing what they do.
You will post less and less because it will seem like a chore. You will lose interest as the podcast isn’t earning you money, and so on.
If you are not passionate about your topic or the idea of creating a podcast, it is probably not right for you.
But being committed and focused will eventually allow you to make money from your podcast.
Every learning process needs a trial and error phase. When anybody starts podcasting, there is a huge chance they will make the classic beginner mistakes, as most of us what results fast and without too much effort.
Unfortunately, that route leads to failure. If you want to be successful, go through the list in this article, and think about how you can avoid those podcasting beginner mistakes.
I’m sure you can eliminate a few without the next couple of days, thus significantly increasing your chance of having a successful podcast.