14 of the Biggest Podcast Mistakes You Can Make in 2023

Learn from these 14 common podcast mistakes if you want to make your show a hit with target listeners & boost your chances of success in the process.

18 days ago   •   10 min read

By Yvonne Ivanescu

The truth is that many podcasters make the same mistakes. It’s a pattern we see over and over again, and one that often leads to a promising show not reaching its full potential.

Podcasting is no small task, by all means. And it’s important to recognise that producing one takes a lot of planning, experience, and skill. You need to be prepared to put in many hours of practice. Because those that do are the ones that reap the rewards.

This being said, one of the many good things about the podcasting community is that we can all learn from each other. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do in this article. We’ve picked out 14 of the biggest podcast mistakes out there, and highlighted how you can avoid them when it comes to your own show.

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14 Podcast Mistakes to Avoid in 2023

Let's get straight into it...

1. Not Understanding Your Target Audience

The concept of a target audience might sound like marketing jargon, but it's an essential part of podcasting. Your target audience is the specific group of people you want your podcast to reach, and who will find your content most relevant, engaging, and valuable.

Now, understanding your target audience goes beyond simple demographics. Age, gender, location, and occupation are essential factors to consider. But it's equally (if not more) crucial to understand the psychographics of your audience - so their interests, attitudes, behaviours, and pain points. Knowing and understanding these insights will allow you to tailor your content more precisely and establish a deeper connection with your listeners.

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Trying to appeal to everyone can dilute your message. And it can also make your podcast less appealing to those who might genuinely appreciate it. Aim to narrow your target audience down to a specific group of people.

2. Failing to Have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Another podcast mistake is failing to have a unique selling proposition, or in abbreviated terms, a USP. Having a USP will set you apart from the crowd, and it’ll be your distinct angle or feature that makes your show uniquely valuable to your listeners. Once you know your audience and their needs, you can design a USP that resonates with them.

Conducting some competitor analysis can be beneficial here. Look at other podcasts in your niche and find out what they’re offering. And essentially, what they’re missing. These gaps are opportunities to provide something fresh and compelling. What can you offer your target audience that they can't find elsewhere?

Take some time to answer the following questions: 

  1. Why should your audience choose your podcast over another? 
  2. What unique perspectives, information, or experiences can you offer? 
  3. Why is your podcast different?

3. Not Planning Your Episodes

One of the most common podcast mistakes is not planning your episodes. And this can quickly result in a common podcasting problem known as “podfade”. Podfade often happens when the podcaster feels overwhelmed or rushed to publish content. The stress of this turns into disinterest, which eventually causes them to stop producing episodes.

Making sure you plan episodes ahead means you avoid this issue entirely. We’d recommend having a content buffer of at least 4-5 episodes that are ready to publish. This will remove the panic of last-minute content creation and allow for more creative freedom.

4. Not Keeping to a Consistent Publishing Schedule

Maintaining a consistent publishing schedule is key to building a strong relationship with listeners. For example, if you tell your audience new episodes will be released every Thursday, they’ll be expecting you to do so. Keeping to this promise will help you build trust, and they’ll know they can rely on you.

Plus, podcast listeners often incorporate their favourite shows into their daily routines. So again, deviating from your established schedule can lead to confusion, disappointment, or even a loss of listenership.

Before you announce your release schedule to listeners, make sure it’s feasible for you. If creating and publishing a new episode every Thursday is unrealistic, that’s fine. Just don’t promise it. Have a think about what you can consistently manage, and go from there.

5. Prioritising Sound Quality Over Content Value

Getting caught up in the quest for the perfect sound quality is easily done. But whilst professional-sounding audio is important, it should never take precedence over the actual content of your podcast. Some hosts will invest heavily in top-notch recording equipment, but then fail to devote as much attention to what they’re actually saying or doing in episodes. This imbalance can lead to a beautifully-produced podcast that lacks substance.

To put it simply, a high-quality microphone won't save poorly researched content, a disjointed narrative, or a lack of audience engagement. Listeners come for the sound, sure, but they stay for the content. Your primary focus should always be delivering valuable, interesting, and engaging content to your listeners.

6. Not Cross-Promoting With Other Podcasters in Your Niche

There are a lot of podcasts out there. And they’re all striving for high download figures and engagement rates. With this in mind, it's easy to see other shows in your niche as competitors. But podcasting isn't a zero-sum game, and a listener's allegiance to another show doesn’t diminish their interest in yours. In fact, listeners often subscribe to multiple shows at once, especially within the genres they're interested in.

So, rather than viewing other shows as competition, view them as potential collaborators instead. It can be more beneficial to do so. Reaching out to fellow podcasters can pave the way for guest appearances, cross-promotion, and shared learning. Building relationships with other podcasters can enrich your content and broaden your reach.

Doing so also creates a community within your niche. By replacing competition with collaboration, you can create a supportive network that enhances your podcast and contributes to the overall growth of your audience.

For more information on cross-promotion, check out the article below:

The Step-by-Step Guide to Cross-Promoting Your Podcast

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Cross-promotion and collaboration doesn’t need to be difficult, either. If you’re itching to connect with like-minded podcasters, or searching for potential guests, MatchMaker.fm can help. With over 70,000 podcast hosts and guests eager to collaborate, the platform simplifies finding the right guest for your podcast.

7. Inappropriate & Irrelevant Podcast Guests

We’ve all listened to those podcast episodes where the guest either knows nothing about the featured subject, or they’re just not a good fit for the host’s audience. Enter our next sin-able podcast mistake. Ill-fitting guests.

If you interview experts on your show, be very selective about who you have on. In today’s podcasting market, interview-based shows live or die on the quality of their guests. The guests you choose to feature in your episodes are implicitly reflective of the quality of your show. Aim for guests who are experts in their field, and are the right fit for your audience. In other words, who would your audience genuinely be interested in hearing from? And what value will they get from it?

Of course, the bigger the guest is, the harder they are to book. But you should maintain strict standards here. Only interview guests that truly reflect the quality and integrity of your podcast. You’ll have to spend more time pitching and you’ll probably receive quite a few rejections. But booking great quests is a numbers game. A 5-10% success rate is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out with your podcast.

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To book the best possible guests for your show, you need to know how to write a good pitch. Find out how to do so here.

Book Your Next Podcast Guest the Easy Way

With more than 70,000 members, MatchMaker.fm is the largest online community connecting podcasters & guests.

Join MatchMaker today

It's free to join!

8. Not Mastering Your Editing Skills

Editing is an integral part of podcast production. Yet it's an area where many podcasters fall short.

To give you an example, the raw recording of a podcast episode is rarely perfect. And when you play it back, there might be awkward silences, verbal stumbles, background noises, off-topic tangents, or something else entirely cheapening your audio. Not taking the time to edit these out will disrupt the episode's flow and make it less enjoyable for the listener.

But the function of editing extends beyond just cutting out mistakes. It's also an opportunity to enhance your episodes by adding in various elements like an intro, an outro, sound effects, promotional messages, and more. You can also adjust the pacing to ensure your episode doesn't drag or rush, and you can add emphasis to important points. 

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When editing, try to listen to your episode from a listener's perspective. Doing so will allow you to catch and correct issues that could detract from their overall listening experience.

9. Not Tracking (& Adapting To) Your Listening Data

Not bothering to track your analytics is one of the biggest podcast mistakes you can make. Why? Because they’re a goldmine of helpful and actionable data that can help you make your show a success.

Keeping on top of your listening data tells you how your podcast is performing. It also tells you which of your episodes are proving most popular, helping you to understand your audience's content preferences and listening behaviours. With this data, you can double down on the things that work and fine-tune any future content to suit. Without it, you’re essentially blind to what your audience wants, needs, and values the most.

10. When the Host Doesn’t Interact With Their Listeners

Another one of our top podcast mistakes is when hosts overlook the importance of audience engagement. Podcasting isn't just about broadcasting your thoughts, it's about creating a conversation and building a community. If you fail to engage with your audience, you risk creating a one-sided dialogue that can lead to disinterest.

Boosting engagement encourages your audience to interact with your content. This can be achieved by inviting listeners to submit questions or topics, acknowledging their contributions, or utilising social media platforms for additional interaction. 

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Remember that engaged listeners are more likely to share your podcast, leave reviews, and become loyal subscribers. So it’s beneficial for you, as the host, to build that relationship.

11. Cramming Episodes With Ads & Sales Pitches

Securing podcast sponsorships is the most established way to generate a financial return from the hours you spend creating, producing, and editing your show. That being said, saturating episodes with sales pitches is a mistake, as it’ll only result in disconnect, annoyance, disrupted episodes, and listener drop off.

This podcast mistake is easily avoidable, though. And you typically don’t need to worry about it if you stick to industry norms. Don’t over-do it, basically. Listeners more often than not expect to hear ads on popular podcasts. And it does actually give your show a level of credibility if sponsors are working with you.

That being said, listeners might get annoyed if you let your ads run on for too long (anything over 5 minutes). So keep them as short, entertaining, and fluid as you possibly can. 30 to 60 seconds is the norm. Try to avoid breaking up your content with more than 2 mid-roll ads as well - any more than that can be frustrating for the listener.

Lastly, make sure you’re always advertising products or services that are relevant to your audience. Completely missing the mark and serving unrelatable ads won’t get you very far. You wouldn’t advertise a beauty product on an MMA podcast, would you?

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To find out more about securing the right sponsors for your podcast, check out this article.

12. Forgetting to Promote Episodes on Social Media

Another podcasting mistake is underestimating the importance of marketing and promotion.

Creating a professional sounding, well-produced podcast episode is only half the battle. The other half is making sure people actually know about it. Simply hitting 'publish' won't magically attract a flock of listeners. Instead, you must invest time and effort into promoting your content to reach a wider audience.

How you promote your episodes on social media is up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do so. That being said, we typically find that repurposing episodes into promotional images, audiograms, and video content (short and long form) works the best.

13. Disregarding Your Podcast SEO

A podcast with a good SEO presence will perform much better than one without. And by that, we mean having an attractive and informative website that you can drive traffic to. It’s here that you can create a resource hub for all your episode show notes, transcriptions, social links, and anything else you deem relevant. If people can discover your previous episodes when searching relevant terms on Google, it gives them a much longer shelf-life and can significantly boost audience growth over time.

Not taking the time to build your show’s SEO presence is a big mistake. And it’s one you’ll probably regret further down the line if you don’t work on it from the beginning.

An in-depth explanation of podcast SEO is beyond the scope of this article. But if you’d like to learn more about it, check out the article below:

Podcast SEO: Tips to Optimise Your Episodes for Google Search

14. Thinking You Have to Do Everything Yourself

Our final mistake is not leveraging the tools and resources available to make your podcasting journey smoother and more manageable. You don't have to be a jack-of-all-trades juggling content creation, editing, promotion, and monetisation alone. There are accessible, free online tools that can help you.

There’s no denying that producing a podcast takes a lot of work. And that’s why it’s always smart to invest in your show and do it well. For many who are serious about growing their show, this might look like outsourcing certain production tasks to a producer or various freelancers. It can be anything from sound design, to visual assets, to scriptwriting. It’s completely up to you to figure out what you need help with.

Summary

Acknowledging and learning how to avoid these common podcast mistakes is the first major step towards launching a successful podcast. From the very first episode, every decision you make shapes the growth and evolution of your podcast.

That being said, the path to success isn't about avoiding mistakes altogether - it's about learning, improving, and getting right back up when you fall. With these tips in your arsenal, you're not only well-equipped to navigate common pitfalls, but also to create a podcast that captivates, inspires, and truly resonates with your audience.

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