I was going to title this blog post, “Why your podcast sucks”, but changed it to be more kind. I occasionally see blog posts by people that state, “I'm doing a podcast but don't have any listeners. Can you listen to my podcast and see IF there is anything I'm doing wrong?” Well here are some of the top mistakes podcasters are making.
1. Then Name of Your Podcast
One show is titled, “Zelda Working Title Podcast.” Some times the show's name is an inside joke. If you have to explain your name – you have made a mistake. If you have to spell your name to people – you've made a mistake. Realize this is the FIRST thing people may see when they google your podcast, or search for you in iTunes or other podcast directories.
2. The name of the episodes.
If we stay with “Zelda Working Title Podcast” their last episode was called “Episode 6.” While I may google “Wii speak” I will not EVER google “episode 6.” The name of your SHOW may get people to stop and look, the name of your episodes will get them to CLICK. As episode 6 is about Animal Crossing for Wii then title it “Animal Crossing for Wii.”
3. Get to the point
When I downloaded episode 6 it is 90 minutes long. For me to hang on for 90 minutes you better have well organized segments, and some sort of table of contents at the beginning of the show so I know what I'm getting into. Everybody is busy and the one thing we need more of is time, and 90 minutes of time is a big investment. When I listened to the show I heard about 4(?) hosts all suffering from what I call “Morning Zoo Syndrome” where you can say something like “Stop sign” and get HUGE laughs. Lots of giggling, lots of trying to crack jokes on each other, and very little effort into the actual content of the show. In episode 5 you state in the description, “This is a crazy mess,” and yet you ask “Why don't I have any listeners?” You don't have any listeners because your podcast is a crazy mess.
I would never make an episode longer than 80 minutes as it won't fit on a CD (and yes some people do that to listen in the car).
4. Your Production is Annoying
You should LISTEN to your podcast before you publish it. At the Zelda Working Title Podcast there is a very annoying echo. This is probably due to recording over skype with multiple hosts (and someone has their recording settings to “Wav out mix” ) but none the less (ess ess ess) its very (ery ery ery) annoying.
If you have phenomenal content I MAY sit through crappy production. However, if your production is crap, and your material is crap, I will last about 3 minutes.
I am guilty of not listening to a podcast before publishing it (and it had about 4 minutes of silence at the end). We all get in a hurry, I know.
5. Your Branding Sucks
Almost every podcaster has album art for their podcast. Consequently, if you don't have album art you look very amateurish. You need album art for your podcast (which shows up in iTunes) and you need album art in the mp3 file to give it that polish. Will not having album art cost you listeners? OK, maybe not but it will blow the first impression.
When I went to their website I was not surprised that they were using blogger.
There are no buttons to subscribe in iTunes, or Zune.
There are no play buttons for listening online.
There is no header that ties in with the album art.
I know blogger is free, but you can get a wordpress bog for 5 bucks a month and not only get an RSS feed, but all the power of the great wordpress (free) plugins.This will enable you to automatically update your facebook and twitter feeds every time you post an episode.
Get a domain name. Seriously. They are 10 bucks a year. Go to www.godaddy.com and use the coupon code cooler7 and get it for 8 bucks.
Make it easy to get your content, and provide it in any form people want to consume it (RSS, Online, Email).
6. Failure To Promote The Conversation
Your listeners can be a great resource for feedback and future show topics. However, they need to be able to contact you. This means you have to have contact information that is easy to find on your website, and you should promote your website on your podcast (as they may have found your podcast on some file sharing site, and you need to tell them where the source of the file is). You can even get a toll free number for $2 a month and have the voice messages emailed to you.
7. Delivery Schedule
Your content should be consistent, and your publishing schedule should be consistent (especially when you first start out). This is one of my issues where I occasionally have a problem. Whatever your schedule you pick, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, whenever you feel like it. Try to stay consistent. People will rely on your show for information and entertainment. When you fail to deliver you may be seen as unreliable.
Content is king. If you want listeners, develop good content. Deliver it in an organized fashion that will move people to laugh, cry, think, try, or groan.
If you are trying to podcast for free, it can be done but you might get what you pay for (and is $10-$20 a month really too much? how much do you spend at starbucks each month?).
Deliver your podcast in any format people want to receive it, and make sure every version of your show points back to your website and has contact information.
Take the time to make a good first impression with your website, your album art etc.
You need to do more than put your podcast in iTunes to have a successful podcast. You need to relentlessly promote it, but if you have great content your listeners will tell their friends.
Make sure your production does not hinder the cnsumption of your show.