A trial and error process is an expected part of any new project. Even with all of the correct information in place, the perfect team constructed and all of the necessary tools geared up to go, it is still possible and common that not everything runs as it seems. When it comes to podcasting, roadblocks and challenges are inevitable, but how you handle them is a process unique to you. Podcasts are not an isolated case and have a learning curve just as much as any other medium of art.
Despite the added ease of the internet, advanced technology, and shared insights from seasoned podcasters, a beginner can expect to run into themselves more times than once. However, this process does not have to be a struggled one and in fact, can be leveraged to the creator’s advantage.
Overcoming challenges often results in better clarity and better content, and with a full understanding of what can be expected, one may even be able to save themselves time and resources along the way. We’ve compiled a list of 10 common challenges podcasters face, in hopes of equipping and thus, supporting your podcast’s continued success.
Anyone who has ever set out on a new venture knows that getting started can be the most challenging step. It takes clarity and determination, yes, but also a willingness to show up and be proactive even when it feels like nothing is working, or you just simply don’t want to. A large majority of creatives never see success through their artistic expression for this reason. It’s one thing to have a good idea of what you’re producing and act as the overseer of the project, it’s an entirely different thing to actually take action, be seen, and risk the possibility of failing. If you can overcome this common challenge of getting stuck before you’ve even started, you are one step closer to being a podcast success.
Structuring a Podcast
While there is a certain formula to how most podcasts operate, much of how things go is open to your own interpretation and personal style. This is an aspect of podcasting which is both artistic and logical, in that you have the opportunity to create whatever you want yet you want to keep an awareness around what performs best and what your audience is most likely to enjoy.
Some things you may want to consider when structuring your podcast are:
- What is the opening of your podcast like? Do you have a tagline, opening statement, or introduction song?
- What is the duration of your podcast? Do you take a short, bite-sized approach to the audio format or are you more interested in long-form, conversational content?
- Where, if at all, are you imputing ads and sponsors? Are there certain requirements for what you look for in a sponsor and how are you going to sell for them?
- How are you closing each podcast episode? Do you leave your listeners with a thought-provoking question, play them a short outro song, read a quote?
If all of those considerations weren’t enough, there are also a plethora of studies done about high-performing content and what it looks and sounds like. Keeping an eye on where your content should be according to research, and finding your own balance within it is undoubtedly a challenge, but a necessary tightrope to become skilled at walking.
Complex Setup and Navigating Technology
Learning the ropes of the actual production process of a podcast can be a project in and of itself. Not only are you responsible for producing the content, but you’re in charge of ensuring it’s created efficiently and effectively too. Depending on the price point of your podcast, what this looks like in action may vary, however, each and every level comes with its own unique challenges.
You may be learning your way around your podcast hosting website for the first time, or deciding which recording and editing applications suit you best. On the other end, you may be shopping for high-end microphones and electronics and discussing strategies with your production team. In either scenario, or anywhere in between, there are many hats for you to wear, many possibilities for you to consider, and a seemingly endless stream of moving pieces to juggle.
It’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed, but this doesn’t have to be the downfall of your podcasting career. You can always delegate and outsource when needed, you can take a step back and objectively assess your circumstances, you can even reach out to fellow creators for advice and feedback. There are countless ways, both practically and mentally, to chunk down your own responsibility and work towards more efficiency, rather than burning yourself out.
Scheduling and Time Management
After you’ve built a solid foundation for your podcast, and you’re ready to begin broadcasting, you’ll find that the challenges of this project are only just beginning. Podcasts are an ongoing creation, and so they require ongoing tweaks and adjustments to run smoothly and successfully. One of the primary components of this is in regards to the approach you take in showing up consistently.
While many would believe that sitting down to record audio is not a time consuming or otherwise demanding task, the reality does not always paint the same picture. Coordinating schedules with any of your guests or co-hosts, finding the time to not only record but also to edit and finalize an episode, and any other miscellaneous things that may come up along the way, can all interfere with a deadline.
Creating and sticking to a schedule appears to be the most effective way around this. Once you’ve discussed and decided, with any relevant parties, what must be done and in what time frame, you can better make an agreement to prioritize your podcast in the necessary ways. However, this is not foolproof and does take a fair share of will power to hold solid too. Regularly assessing the value of your creation, and all of its results may aid you in your process.
Overcoming Negative Listener Feedback
The excitement of having a new podcast out, live for the world to see, can quickly run dry when met with negative feedback. Whether your podcast is simply another branch in your content tree and your audience’s expectations aren’t met, or podcasting is your first online venture and you’re proving yourself in the space, nobody is immune to criticism.
While there’s no one absolute way to work through this, keeping an eye on the long term goal is always helpful, in addition to letting yourself off the hook. No good things come without their fair share of challenges, and no person nor brand is exempt from missing the mark here and there. Such is the nature of life. So to expect yourself, or a product of yourself, to run completely smoothly 100% of the time is simply not fair.
There is nothing wrong with taking negative feedback and using it for good. Adjusting the way you’re doing things, given the reviews have validity, and taking criticism constructively are major facets of a successful project. However, you don’t have to let the internet bully you. Listen to your audience and be aware of which changes might benefit you, but don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know is right for your podcast.
Acquiring Subscribers & Marketing
Although you may be excited about your podcast, and understand the value of it intimately, the same cannot be said for everyone else. At least, not right away. Part of your responsibility as the leader of this audio project is to effectively communicate to others how special and important what you’re creating is. After all, if there’s no one listening, what’s the point of speaking in the first place?
It can be discouraging to begin broadcasting, and not be immediately inundated with subscribers, but that’s part of the process. If you’re starting from scratch, with no preexisting audience, you’re more likely than not going to have to go out of your way to market your podcast. If you are already blessed with a platform, you’re still going to have to work to keep your audience engaged and interested, as well as get your content in front of new eyes, and into new ears.
While the exact strategy you take to accomplish this is highly individual, and very much dependent on your specific podcast, the experience of growth is universal. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you’re in the very early beginnings of your growth, that is perfectly okay. At every level, you’re surrounded by the necessary tools and resources. And thanks to the internet, you have the opportunity to be implanted into a community of creators who know exactly what it feels like to be in your position. Chances are if you leverage what’s available to you for the good of your podcast, building an audience will not be a long-lived challenge.
Monetizing Your Podcast
Internet personality and marketing genius are not always synonymous, but in the present day, more often than not, both aspects are needed to survive and thrive online. In terms of podcasting, the verbal leader of the show must often be able to sell a product to their listeners through ads and sponsorships, as well as communicate with companies to arrange to sell said products. This can feel unnatural and demanding for an unpracticed personality. The list of brands buying ad space and wishing to sponsor creators like you is unbelievably long. So don’t be alarmed if you are unsure of how to market, or how to go about connecting with these companies. It’s cliche but true that practice makes perfect, and with a little bit of trial and error, you will soon find your groove.
Improving Podcast Performance
Regardless of how smoothly your podcast is going, after you’ve overcome all the challenges we’ve already touched on, there is always room for improvement. Whether that is relevant to your production, your content, your audience engagement or your marketing, there are always ways to make your creation better. The downfall of many great things comes with overconfidence, and the under-willingness to see faults that come along with it.
It doesn’t matter how impactful or inspiring your podcast is, if you aren’t able to improve where necessary or try new things, the lifespan of your success could be short-lived. And if you’re simply unsure of what can improve, all it may take to continue growing is constructive feedback from your listeners or from the community around you. A truly successful podcast, just as with any other medium, is one that employs introspection and continuously improves upon that which might be good, but not yet great.
Keeping An Eye On The Competition
Looking away from your own project to purvey the community seems like the last thing you are capable of when undertaking the balancing act of a project like podcasting. It’s time-consuming, draining, and ultimately, nobody wants to be compared to others. However, knowing what your peers are creating, what they’re selling, and how they’re engaging with their audience can really support you in cultivating your podcast presence.
It really is a challenge to size yourself up to those around you, but doing so can result in a better product and better outcomes for you and your team at large.
Watching The Trends & Shifts In The Industry
With something ever-growing like podcasting, which in the grand scheme of things is still a very young industry, its tides and waves are quite substantial. As a whole, this medium is not established and has yet to truly find its footing online though it is getting more stable with each day. So not only do you, as the podcaster, have to develop your own podcast and presence, but the industry at large does too.
An awareness about where the industry is going and which things are peaking, while not required, can be highly beneficial for you. It’s important to keep at least a general understanding of where the industry is at, to know how you can best position yourself within it. While knowing where you fit in, in an industry that doesn’t even truly know what it is yet, feels like a lot to juggle, especially as a new podcaster, it’s of high value to keep working on.
Podcasting expertise takes time to develop. It will likely not be overnight that the process of creating and broadcasting your podcast feels normal, well adjusted, and enjoyable. Yet, the many speedbumps along the way create an interesting journey and a more refined product in the long run. Plus, learning how to navigate the many challenges the industry presents can actually support you and your team in numerous ways. The road to success is nuanced, but many people have paved the way before you and you are paving the way for those who come after you. Enjoy the ride and you will challenge the hardships just as much as they challenge you.