Podcast guru Rob Walch has stated there are more dead podcasts than live ones. Other podcast commentators suggest a failure rate of around 50%.
“There are more dead podcasts from anchor and Apple podcasts than there are podcasts dead or alive from all other podcast hosts combined.” Rob Walch, podcast #197 The Feed
How can you improve your chances for success for your podcast? The purpose of this article is to identify the seven mistakes podcasters make. By avoiding these, you can avoid falling into a bin labeled “podfade.”
The errors include a missing show notes page, misdirection of promotion efforts, poor time management, wasted openings, lack of images, failure to connect to the audience, and no promotion at all.
1. You will not have a show notes page
Lewis Carroll wrote, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” Google gets 5.6 billion searches a minute. If someone is looking for your “underwater bowling” podcast, you must know where to send your potential listeners. The target is a show notes page.
A show notes page is not just for search results. If you email your list, send them to the show notes page. If you have a status update on LinkedIn, send them to the show notes page. When you are a guest on another podcast, verbally send them to your show notes page.
Why? The most obvious reason is when Google directs a searcher to your page, you get credit from Google for providing answers on this topic. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing study, but it can be summarized by saying that Google search will reward you if you fill the needs of the searcher better than others.
A show notes page allows you to tell your story visually as well as with text. Humans respond much better to images, please include a logo, a photo of the moderator and guest.
People use Google for specific search terms.
Why not increase the chances of being selected by having a wider range of terms that relate to your topic? The easiest way to do this is to include a transcript of the interview.
With our underwater bowling illustration, a transcript may include words like “freshwater underwater bowling” as contrasted with “saltwater underwater bowling.” You have no idea how a person is going to structure a search for your topic. The more variations you have, the chances increase of being selected by the Google algorithm.
Humans tend to skim a page and may watch a short video. A show notes page is a great place to put video testimonials.
Finally, if you pass muster and the searcher wants to listen, make it easy by having a player on your show notes page. This eliminates the effort a person may have to take by searching for the podcast.
2. You will direct podcast searchers to the wrong site
This is the difference between renting a house and owning a home. If you direct a listener to Apple Podcasts, Anchor, or Spotify, among others, you are giving them SEO benefits and taking away SEO from your site. As we mentioned above, if someone searches for a topic, they may be directed to your hosting service and not your show notes page.
An even greater error is a paid ad that sends people to your hosting service. Why give them the benefit of your efforts? Direct people to your show notes page, not to your host. Remember, Google is watching, give them a show.
If all the attention is directed to Apple, this means there is a smaller chance that Google will direct them to your show notes page. Your show notes page is your opportunity to showcase the episode, attract listeners, and, hopefully, collect emails where you can engage your audience.
3. You will worry too much about editing
Many podcasters want to have the same quality as National Public Radio (NPR). Budding podcasters have spent dozens of hours reading about microphones and comparing different kinds of editing software. Once the decision is made, then they can spend ten hours editing a half-hour podcast to eliminate any “ah” or “ems”. Who cares? These verbal stumbles are a part of a normal conversation.
Millions of dollars on equipment and decades of experienced audio producers mean that you will never approach the quality standards of NPR. Face it, you do not have the production capability of NPR and never will.
You can hire a freelancer to edit and normalize your podcast. Your precious time should be focused on the creative and difficult aspects of podcast promotion like developing relationships, becoming guests on other shows, and continuous training in podcast promotion.
Editing is a mundane task and if you spend time with it, you are merely avoiding the hard part – improving your ability to interview and coming up with creative ways to promote your podcast.
4. You will waste the opening
Sprinters spend years mastering the release from the blocks.
You have precious time at the start of the podcast. I call it “time to boom.”
Listeners don’t care about personal ramblings or apologies for pronunciation errors. They want a question they would ask presented to a subject matter expert and have an answer.
What tends to happen is a novice podcaster will go right to the topic. This discipline seems to fade with the number of episodes. The curse of success is when the moderator gets comfortable with the process and drags out the opening for several minutes with self-absorbed nonsense.
Blah, blah, blah, I met Rahul in the Colorado Rockies. No, I think it was skiing in Utah. . . no, I am mistaken. Met Marina hiking the Santa Monica Mountains after a fire . . . and quite a fire it was . . .. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Don’t go down these rabbit holes. It may be emotionally comfortable for you, but you will lose listeners.
Long “time to boom” means a listener has an option to do something else. To quote a line from a Clint Eastwood movie, “when it’s time to shoot, shoot.”
5. You will not promote the podcast
Everyone has listened to a podcast where someone is put in front of a microphone and somehow, the show goes viral. Everyone seems self-delusional when it comes to their show. Humans are champions of self-delusion. Of course, it will go viral without any effort.
Please note – virality is an aberration, not a norm. Out of the purported two million podcasts, if your show is getting more than 130 downloads after 30 days, you are doing better than half the shows. It is almost impossible to get to the top 1% of shows.
You must take it upon yourself to promote the podcast. Just to repeat a point above, don’t waste your time on tedious editing of the audio – hire a freelancer. Now, you have those six hours to promote the podcast.
6.You will not use images to promote the podcast
This is a trap many podcasters fell into during COVID. They would rely on Zoom interviews. The best interviews take place face to face.
In-person allows you to see subtle facial reactions to a question. Also, in-studio gives you an excellent opportunity to take a photo of the guest with the name of the podcast on the microphone. If you are daring, grab a camera and do in-studio video promotion for the interview.
We mentioned the importance of telling the story visually as well as verbally in the show notes section above. Well, the best photo you are going to have is a person in front of your microphone.
The big bonus: social media posts will do much better if you include a real photo of a human being instead of a stock photo. It will give greater chances for others to like and promote the social media update as well.
7. Not have a way to connect to your audience
You can use Twitter or LinkedIn to attract people to your show notes page. Don’t mistake this for a connection. This is an initial ploy; do not bet all your money on any platform. These environments can change hourly, and many companies have suffered dire financial times in response to changes in platforms like Facebook and Google.
The answer — connect on social media, then immediately take it offline to email. You own your email list and can use it creatively to deepen a relationship with your listeners.
When using email, constantly provide benefits and tips for your respective field of endeavor. Use email for a quiz or a survey to ask what questions they want to be answered.
Here are the big seven mistakes you will make: no show notes page, misdirection, too much editing, waste the opening, no images, no promotion, and failure to connect to the audience.
Podcasters tend to focus on the easy stuff and avoid the productive activities. It can be called majoring in the minors. For example:
Majors: mastering interview skills, developing relationships with influencers, pushing into new creative areas, analyzing competitor’s podcasts to learn gaps, personal follow up with a guest.
Minors: worrying about “ahs” and “ems” in an interview; giving an exhaustive list of every single job title the guest has ever had. Saying “I am excited about this interview.“
Apply these tips and the next time you see a microphone, go forth and podcast.
Becoming a guest on another podcast is a great way to promote your podcast. Print this out and start becoming a guest on other podcasts!