The web is full of great information on what you should be doing when starting a podcast. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts and web sites dedicated to helping you get up and running – this one included. It doesn’t take much more than a google search or asking on twitter to find what you need to know!
But this isn’t another one of those feel-good, tell me what I need posts. Rather, I want to mention a few of the things that you should avoid doing when you’re starting out. Understanding what you should not do is just as important as understanding what you should be doing – sometimes more important. These are the things that will drive you to drink, if you’re not careful. These are the things that you should avoid doing, at all costs.
#4: Stop Waiting To Start
This is the first great mistake that people make when starting a podcast. They wait. They wait some more. They push things back, and they delay yet again.
It’s easy to get sucked in to the idea that you’re not ready. It’s easy to fall victim to procrastination, and to make yourself look busy without making any actual progress.
Unforunately, it’s in our nature to procrastinate. Even the most amazing podcasters, like John Lee Dumas, have fallen victim to the delays. In his interview with the Launching Creative podcast [starting at 31:25], John talked about how he was delaying and delaying until his mentor finally said that he would be dropped as a client if he didn’t release the first episode that day. In the end, John realized that the delays he put on himself were only setting him back, not helping him.
“Get out there. Launch. Fail. Make mistakes. Improve.” – John Lee Dumas
There is nothing that will demotivate you faster than not getting your podcast published and live for the world to hear. The sense of accomplishment and having produced something is a tremendously motivating thing. You’ll find that once you start the work – once you start recording and publishing episodes – you’ll want to do more.
Getting started and getting your first episode published is by far the most important thing you can do for your podcasting career or hobby.
#3: Don’t Obsess Over Your Stats (Listeners And Subscribers)
Unless you’re already internet famous, you’re not going to launch to a massive audience. You won’t have thousands of downloads, instantly. Chances are, you’re not even going to have hundreds of downloads until you’re at least a few episodes in to the podcast.
Stop. Watching. Your. Reports.
Here’s the deal, and the reason this is so important: podcasts are an inconsistent stream of traffic per episode. You might see a number that you like after the first week of your first episode. You might even see a bump after the second week. But once you release that second or third episode, the numbers won’t be as high. And the next episode? Even lower. THIS IS NORMAL!
The average shelf life of a podcast episode is 6 weeks. 6 weeks. This means your first episode will continue to accrue traffic for around 6 weeks. You’ll stil get traffic hitting it after that, but it won’t be as steady. During that 6 weeks of life for your first episode, your other episodes won’t have as much traffic. You’ll see a natural dip in the numbers because those episodes haven’t been around as long and won’t instantly catch up or shoot past your first one.
It takes time for the numbers to settle in and level out. Only after the shelf life of your first episode will you be able to see that your audience is growing. And it’s the slow, steady growth of a continuing podcast, week after week, that you want to see.
#2: Don’t Wait For Listeners To Find You
“If you build it, they will come”
the Field Of Dreams Fallacy has cursed a generation of movie lovers in to thinking that they will have instant fans and stardom. The idea is that if you just build it and ship it, people will find it and love you. This couldn’t be further from the truth. But you know what? That’s ok.
You’re not doing this for instant celebrity status, and the drug-rush of watching your stats fly off the meter. And believe me – this is a habbit forming drug. I suffer from this as much as anyone else I know. It’s the curse of the always-on, data-filled digital lives that we live. We want to see every time someone hits our site, listens to our podcast, or tells us something on twitter, facebook, and every other site in the world.
Get 10 episodes published, first – not just “done”, but actually published. Talk about the episodes on twitter, facebook, pinterest and everywhere else. Blog about the episodes – every episode gets a blog post, in fact. Find places with people that would benefit from your podcast and tell those people about it. Do this for 10 episodes and then start looking at your stats. You’ll see growth, instead of flat or falling numbers.
Once you see growth, you know you’ve started to show up on people’s radar. Listeners will start to find you. But that doesn’t mean your done. The reason people are starting to find you now is because you did the leg work of putting yourself in front of them. Don’t stop doing the leg work. Keep it up. Your audience will grow.
#1: Don’t Stop!
This, above all other things, is the biggest mistake that new podcasters make.
The average podcast only makes it to episode 6 or 7 before it stops. There are a lot of reasons for this, but in my experience and in talking with others, it usually comes down to time committment and what looks like a lack of growth in audience. It just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, and your day job is getting stressful again while the spouse and/or kids are starting to wonder where you’re at in the evenings…
It’s easy to get overhwelmed. And it’s easy to think that you need to have a regular and set schedule in order to be a podcaster. After all, most of the podcasting industry tells you this. Don’t believe it for a minute. This is your podcast; this is your story; your life; your work. You and only you are in charge of how often you release an episode.
Just because you missed a week (or 7), or you only have time to release one episode every month, doesn’t mean you should give up. Schedule the time for your podcast, like you would do with anything else in your life. Set time aside, but only time that you are comfortable with. Don’t push yourself to do more just because some podcasting “professional” says you have to. You don’t need to stop podcasting just because you can’t get this episode done and released “on time”.
Most Importantly: Have Fun!
Podcasting is the new media revolution for this decade. Much like blogging was in the previous decade, there will be alot of growth and change in the industry. Join the growing community and let your voice be heard. Build intimate connections with your audience and allow them to know you, on your terms. This is an exciting new media opportunity on many fronts, and it should be something you enjoy! It may be hard work – well, it will be hard work at times – but nothing worth doing is easy.
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