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Should you swear on your podcast?

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There are benefits to keeping it clean…

If you’re a fan of blue language, there’s nothing wrong with dropping a few f-bombs on your podcast. You just need to make sure your audience is up to speed so they don’t walk into something they weren’t expecting.

Swearing isn’t for everyone so you need to ask the question…is this adding anything to my show?

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An argument for why you should bleep your swear words

If you’re aiming your show towards adults and you want it to be edgy and a little bit rude, that’s totally fine. There are plenty of shows out there littered with swear words that are hugely successful.

On the podcasts I’ve worked on I usually stick to the “s-word is ok, f-word (or anything worse than the f-word) gets bleeped” rule.

And here’s why…

It doesn’t add anything to your show

It’s not like the audience doesn’t know what’s going on under those bleeps so do they really need to hear it?

The disadvantage of turning people off who don’t like swear words far outweighs the benefit of having them there for the few people who want to hear them come out of your mouth.

So, think about whether they’re really necessary or whether covering them with a little bleep SFX means you can still be free in your performance without having to worry about turning anyone off.

Of course, you might not care if people get turned off and that’s why it’s important to do the work of creating your ideal listener before you get started.

If you know this show is for people who won’t be offended by a little f-bomb here or there then go for it.

You just want to make sure the people listening to your show know it’s coming or aren’t surprised by it if they decide to give your show a try.

Why you should design an ideal listener for your podcast

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You don’t know where your audience is listening to your podcast

For most people listening to a podcast is a private experience, but for some, they might like to get their podcast listening done at home or in the car.

If your show is more adult and your audience knows that then they obviously won’t risk listening to it in front of their kids.

But if your podcast is usually clean and their kids are around, you’ll soon feel the wrath of an angry parent if they need to explain what the word f*%& means.

How to choose the right rating for your podcast

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It stays on the internet forever

You might be ok swearing your head off on your podcast now, but what if a future boss finds your old show and thinks “Geez, what a potty mouth!”

Stuff on the internet lives forever so think about what ‘future you’ will think about this and whether it’s better to keep it clean.

Do you need a website for your podcast?

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The main thing is…don’t surprise your audience

When you’re starting out this is harder because you obviously don’t have an audience yet so everything you do is a surprise.

If you’ve decided you want your content to be adult then your audience will eventually get trained to realise that’s what they’re going to get. But you should also be pretty clear about that when you’re promoting or describing your podcast.

Where you need to be careful is if you have content that doesn’t usually have swear words in it and there’s a rogue episode where you drop them in.

These episodes will need a warning at the start because you want to give people a chance to prepare themselves, turn off if that style of content isn’t for them, or decide not to listen while the kids are in the car.

Of course, you can always label your show as explicit but I’d probably leave this for really adult content so you don’t turn people away who think it’s going to be excessively bad when you’ve just got a few blue words in there.

Whatever you do, make sure you’ve got your audience top of mind and make decisions based on what’s right for them rather than what you want to do in the moment.

You might love swearing but is it really adding anything to your show?

That’s a question only you can decide

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

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6 Comments
  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hey Rach,

    This might sound like a silly question but would “Shit” and “Vagina” be considered as explicit words?

    1. rcorbett says:

      It really depends on your audience, Elizabeth. In most of the pods I’ve produced we’ve bleeped from the f word up so I think you’ll be fine….unless your podcast is for a younger audience and all of a sudden “shit” comes out of nowhere so just use our judgement and think about it from your audience’s point of view. And I wouldn’t worry about bleeping vagina (this is the most risque comment thread I”ve had on my site so far! Love it!) Rach

  2. Elizabeth says:

    So would we just label “explicit” in the shownotes? I really should have thought of this before allowing my guests to swear but its only a bleep here and a bleep there the conversations are note crude so I kind of don’t want to rule potential listeners out if that makes sense. So I would rather just put it in the show notes for episodes that do have cuss words.. if in show notes is fine what should I write exactly?

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Elizabeth, If you’ve got unbleeped swear words it’s often better to record a little message to include before your ep starts saying something like “Just a quick note, there are a lot of rude words in this episode so you might want to listen when the kids aren’t around” or whatever your version of that is i.e. in your own words. If you’re bleeping the swear words out you don’t need to issue a warning because you’re already removing any content that might be offensive. Rach

  3. Kyle says:

    Hey Rachel great post, very informative. Was wondering if I bleep out sweat words if my podcast could get the clean designation or if I intend on having the bleeps if it would fall under explicit.

    1. rcorbett says:

      Hey Kyle. Really glad you found it helpful! If you bleep out the swear words on your podcast you definitely don’t have to label the show ‘Explicit.’ That label is for shows where the swear words aren’t beeped or there the subject matter is really full on i.e. it could definitely upset or offend some people. ‘Clean’ is the opposite end of the spectrum so I’d only use that label if it was friendly enough to have kids listening, and if you’ve got bleeped swear words, that’s probably not the case. ‘No Rating’ is probably the option you’d choose because it sounds like you’re right in the middle. Hope that helps! Rach

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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