It seems every day now you hear someone in your circle talk about starting their own podcast. And hey — that’s great! After all, our podcast subscription lists should be filled with interesting shows from hosts with different perspectives and passions. But, one thing you don’t often hear is how hard podcasting is — er, scratch that — how hard it is to keep podcasting.
Finding an idea for a podcast is the easy part, but it’s the continuing to feed the podcast content monster that’s the really hard part. It’s easy to let the hungry monster take over and derail your podcast only a few episodes in. To keep you on track, we’re bringing you 8 steps to avoiding podcaster burnout.
Step 1: Pick a passion
For the love of all things audio, please don’t pick a podcast topic that you’re not passionate about. Creating a show based on a premise that you’re not completely on fire for is a recipe for burnout. It has to mean something.
Sure, it can be a good marketing move to craft a show that’s completely unique, but don’t give up on making something you’d love to listen to just for the sake of setting yourself apart. Listeners will be naturally more connected to content that you, the creator, care about.
Step 2: Write it down
Whether you haven’t yet started recording or you are dozens of episodes in, this is one step every podcaster can take to maintain the passion for their show — write it down. Cut a piece of paper into the size of a credit card. Take a minute to think about why you want to make your podcast. What fuels your fire to get your story out there? Then, write it down.
Put that card in your wallet and pull it out every time you feel like it’s getting too hard. Remember the mission. When it’s midnight and you’re still editing your podcast for a morning release, whip out that card and hope your original passion keeps you motivated (that and coffee… lots of coffee).
Step 3: Make the right plan
Deciding how you’re going to deliver your podcast is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a creator. Before you answer questions like, “How long should my podcast be?”, “What format should I work in?” (see our post about formats to consider) or “How often should I deliver new episodes?” you need to sit down and decide how much time you have to commit to your podcast project.
Ideally, your podcast is filled with killer content and is delivered on a regular fixed schedule to your listeners. But, in reality — there’s only so much time in a day. So, you need to decide what gives.
I make a podcast passion project as an indie producer. I am trained in radio documentary, so choice number one would be to make a weekly, narrative-style podcast — but with two businesses and a toddler, it’s just not possible. So, I’ve settled on a podcast with a scripted beginning, some narrative back and forth and then an interview on an every-second-week (fortnightly, if you’re fancy) release schedule.
Decide what works for you — and be realistic.
Step 4: Have content ready
With any kind of content creation what sets the uber successful apart from the crowd is their stamina for continually creating good work. If you’re creating a weekly podcast for example, you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t have episodes waiting in the wings.
If you’re just starting out, launch with some audio ducks in a row. Plan ahead and have episodes ready so you’re not burning the midnight oil the night before every episode release day, or you’ll constantly be trying to play catch up. And “catch up” is the number one ingredient in the recipe for “burn out”.
Step 5: Batch record, schedule ahead, take a break
This step may not work for all podcasts, but if you have the ability — batch record. For solo or chat-style podcasts, there’s no point in setting up your equipment or booking a studio every single time you want to record an episode. Do yourself a favour and batch record as much as possible. Come armed to a recording session with enough content for 3-4 episodes and edit them in batches too.
If batch recording doesn’t work for you, scheduling content to auto publish just might. This step makes it easy to work ahead and have episodes ready and scheduled to post on the right day. Imagine the feeling of knowing your podcast is running itself for 1-2 months? Then you can let yourself take a break to beat the burnout.
Step 6: Don’t get caught up with numbers
You know one thing that really burns me out? When I get obsessed about analytics. Obviously, I want my podcast to grow and capture more listeners (and I’m doing the marketing work to make that happen), but sometimes it’s easy to go down the downloads vortex. If you’re checking every hour on the hour to see if your downloads have gone up, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
What you should be more obsessed about is creating good content — like really listenable, smart and unique content… especially at the beginning. This isn’t Instagram — people don’t decide whether to follow your podcast based on how many followers you have. They are deciding to follow or not based on how good your show is. Spend your time making it great, market the hell out of it and check your analytics when it’s actually helpful.
Step 7: Prepare for bumps
Bumps are inevitable. An interview you needed for episode release day cancels last minute. You lose a piece of audio you were counting on. You have a family emergency. Plan ahead for the bumps in the podcast path that will add last minute pressure.
The best way to avoid the bumps is to work ahead and schedule in content — but still consider what happens if your best laid plans get jumbled. Keep some evergreen audio in your back pocket to use in a last-minute bind. Decide ahead of time how you will handle situations that might pull you away from your project for a large chunk of time. Prepare for what could come up and you won’t be left holding the short end of the burnout stick.
Step 8: Repurpose content
This step applies to creators who have more than one poker in the content fire. If you’re a complete superhero working on a podcast, a blog, a YouTube channel and/or social media content all at the same time, make life easier for yourself and repurpose the audio content you’re creating for your podcast. You could:
- Setup a camera and record your interview for video platforms
- Transcribe your interview and post it as a Q&A on your website
- Turn your script into a blog post
- Create an audiogram and use audio clips to create social media content
- Post quotes from your guests or your script on Twitter
Do yourself a favour by doing the same amount of gathering and use it for as many different platforms as possible.
What do you do to help quell creative burnout? Have any approaches we missed? Let us know how you plan your show so it’s nimble enough to outrun the podcast content monster.