Do you ever look back to when you were starting out podcasting and kick yourself over things you wish you had done differently? Stuff that you later figured out were making it hard for your podcast take off? Setting up a podcast is a learning process, but there are some slip-ups that you REALLY do not want to make!
Working at Spreaker, I’ve observed 5 mistakes in particular that inevitably damage a podcast’s potential to thrive. But once you’ve identified them, they’re actually pretty simple to avoid!
So if you are about to schedule your next episode, make sure you stay savvy and keep well away from these errors. Let your podcast soar, not sink!
1. Refusing to recognize your target audience
While keeping a broad appeal is good, not targeting a specific bracket is like shooting yourself in the foot. It’s like refusing to recognize that you’re speaking to actual listeners, not just to thin air.
Start with the very basics: who is your model listener? Are they a man or a woman? Are they a 23-year-old student who is getting serious about politics, or a 55-year-old launching a new career? What do they get up to at the weekends?
It may feel weird at first to draw up an identikit of your ideal target audience member, but keeping this picture in mind will help you avoid going off on unrelated directions, and even really help you in matters such as deciding your episode’s duration or getting your podcast exposure on relevant platforms.
2. Not having a pre-launch marketing plan
This is no time to be modest. At the very beginning, you have got to be your very own cheerleader – cos if you don’t cheer, who will? Your launch is a great moment to capitalize on excitement – that energy is hard to regain at a later date, if you miss that opportunity.
A pre-launch marketing plan demonstrates confidence that you can pull this off and passion in your topic and the podcasting format. That’s the kind of attitude that intrigues listeners, even before being presented with the actual content.
Give yourself a checklist for getting listeners on board with the hype from day 1:
- Create a launch team of 20+ people that commit to downloading and sharing your podcast with all their networks too.
- Build a database of influencers who can give a first boost to your audience
- Have your social media pages building momentum, follow people in your target audience to encourage them to follow back
- Search for the hottest trend related to your topic on Twitter
- Set a launch date and a clear plan of the next episodes
3. Not bothering to submit to iTunes
Maybe you just haven’t got round to it yet. Maybe you are trying an alternative podcatcher service. But there’s no denying that the first place where listeners seek out podcasts is iTunes so no submitting yours amounts to podcast suicide.
Aside from the fact that many devices have iTunes pre-installed on them, making it the first point of call especially for podcast newbies, if you manage to get a high rate of downloads, subscriptions, rates and reviews podcast once it goes live, there is also the opportunity to be featured in the New and Noteworthy section in your first weeks, which will be a great boost for even more listeners taking notice.
Business podcaster Tyler Basu, whose podcast ranked at the top of iTunes’ USA New and Noteworthy charts when it launched, suggests that one clever way to better your chances is to be very strategic in how categorize your podcast. Consider also putting your podcast in several categories as well as subcategories that won’t be as broad and competitive.
4. Messing up your RSS feed
The magic touch of podcasting lies in the seamless way information syncs up, like a smooth dive into a pool. This is thanks to your RSS feed. Messing that up, well, it’s tantamount to a belly-flop: jarring and kinda cringe-worthy.
Always make sure to submit the same RSS feed on all the distributive platforms that you use, for every episode you publish. You should avoid at all costs spreading around different RSS according to the different platform that you use because you’ll never have one single link where people can access and download your podcast – therefore cutting you off from gathering clear, comprehensive statistics from across the board.
A singular RSS feed is easier to follow in case something goes wrong. An easy trick to keep on top of this is subscribing to your own podcast so you can quickly double-check your RSS feed is working once you publish new episodes.
5. Uploading your podcast directly onto your website
It’s nice to keep everything in one place, but that’s no reason for uploading your podcast files onto the same server as your website. First of all, hosting your podcast on your site will be a strain on your bandwidth and therefore make your website really slow. Secondly, the audio quality will not be so good.
Podcast hosting services are the answer, particularly when the podcast player can be fully embedded into your official website and customized to fit in with your branding. Host platforms such as Soundcloud, Libsyn, Spreaker and Podbean all offer embedded players, so it’s worth exploring the various different features – you’ll find that some are mobile-friendly, too, as well as being able to track plays, downloads, and likes.
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