PodSchool Podcast | How to avoid podfade



Stressed out man

How to make sure your show survives

Never heard of podfade?  That’s probably because all anyone wants to talk about is starting a podcast.

Problem is, starting is the easy part.  Keeping a show alive is another story.

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Podfade is the inevitable consequence of jumping into a podcast you’re not prepared for and it happens when a show stops releasing episodes.  This is usually because the creator loses interest, realises the idea doesn’t have legs or can’t keep up with the workload.

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I was recently reading an interview in Amplifi Media with the CEO of Blubrry, Todd Cochrane.  He was saying of the 540,000 podcasts out today only 25% of them realeased a new episode in 2017.

That means approximately 75% of all podcasts are currently NOT in production.

Of course within that number are shows that were only supposed to exist for a season.  But a huge portion of that number is people that got about seven episodes in and went “This is too hard!”

What are the different types of podcast?


If you’ve started podcasting already I’m sure you can understand how that can happen because podcasting is A LOT of work. Often way more than people realise.

So if you’re yet to release your podcast or you’ve just left the starting blocks I wanted to take you through some of the ways you can avoid getting a few episodes in and thinking “I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Make sure you know what you’re in for

As the saying goes “knowledge is power.”

I try to be as transparent as possible on this blog and the PodSchool Podcast about how much work is required to do your own podcast.

It’s amazing, if you have an idea, you can buy some equipment and get your show in front of an audience.  But there’s nothing more soul destroying than going live, telling everyone you know and then realising it’s completely unsustainable.

The more you know about how long it REALLY takes to get a show into people’s ears every week, the better prepared you’ll be and the more likely you’ll make your show a success.

So how do you do this?


People think if they record an episode it has to go live but it doesn’t.

You could be recording episodes for years before you feel comfortable enough to press publish.

Not only will this help you improve your presenting skills but it will also get you in the swing of things so you have a realistic understanding of how long the show will take to plan, present, produce and promote.

If you do a dry run over a number of weeks or months you’ll get a sense of whether this is possible or whether you’ll be pulling your hair out by week two.

The steps to release a podcast episode


The content you create during your practice period doesn’t need to go to waste either.  If it’s strong enough you can use those recorded episodes to get ahead of your schedule.  Or if they need work at least you’ve rehearsed the content so you know what works and what doesn’t.

Starting the process before you release episodes means you’ll be better prepared and more able to make a smart decision about whether this is right for you.

And that’s your first step to stopping yourself from becoming a podfade statistic.

Work out if you’ve got enough content to last the distance

Coming up with content is a huge part of the podcasting process and often the thing that has podcasters pulling their hair out.  So, the more you can do to set yourself up for success in this department, the better.

Before you start I suggest sitting down with a piece of paper and a pen and jotting down as many ideas as possible.

I often set myself a goal of 52 because that’s a year’s worth of content.  Obviously, that’s a big number to get to but if you start the process and find it pretty easy to get to 10 or 20 ideas that’s a good indication you’ve got something there.

If you’ve written two ideas and you’re struggling to come up with a third maybe this isn’t the kind of show you should do week in, week out.

Batch record episodes

This is the process of banking up as many episodes as you can so you’re not trying to get everything done week to week.

Why you should batch record your podcast


This is only possible with content that doesn’t date so you can’t do this if you’re talking about news or current events but if you can get ahead of yourself this will help you avoid the content stress and burnout a lot of podcasters face.

Choose a topic you’re passionate about

There’s a lot of time-consuming and laborious stuff that needs to be done around your podcast and this stuff is only possible when you love your show.

It’s also essential if you want to build an audience because if you’re not passionate about your show there’s no way they will be.

Podcasting takes a huge amount of energy so it’s important you love the content.  Otherwise, it’ll feel like a job you’re not getting paid for.

And you probably won’t be which brings me to my next point…

Don’t expect to make money

Yes, you could be one of the select few who monetises your show quickly but chances are it’ll only happen after you’ve been creating content for a really long time.  If it happens at all.

You have to go into this with the passion for the idea first and the money second.

To make this a long-term prospect it has to be something you can commit happily to even if you’re doing it for free. If this isn’t your mindset you’ll be disappointed and nothing leads to podfade quicker than disappointment.

How to make money from your podcast


Be strategic when planning your show

Not every idea is suited to releasing episodes every week forever so think about what best suits you and your content.

Your show might work best in seasons where you release 10 episodes and then take a break to plan the next 10 e.g. StartUp.

Or your idea might work best as a single season e.g. S Town.

If you’re releasing your show in seasons you can take the break in between to plan and record so when you go live next time the entire season is recorded, scheduled and you can get on with your life.

Just make sure you’re thinking about it before you get started because often people jump in the deep end and realise “Oh my God! I have to keep releasing episodes forever?!?!”

That can breed a lot of stress and anxiety so be smart about it and you’ll increase your chances of success.

Be clear with your audience

Whatever you do make sure your audience knows what to expect.  If you start out promising a weekly show and then disappear without any explanation they’ll be pissed off and your reviews will probably reflect that.

But if they know this is a single season, or that they’ll be getting 12 episodes and then you’ll be taking a break to create more, they won’t be disappointed.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Need some help getting started or setting up your home studio?  Download my free podcasting guide.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. Today I'm talking about something a little nasty and that is the concept of podfade. If you've never heard of podfade it's basically just a wanky way of saying you've gotten over your podcast and you can't be buggered doing anymore episodes. This happens more than you'd assume considering everybody seems to be obsessed and in love with podcasts. But you would be amazed at how many podcasts there are out there and how few of those actually still upload episodes. I was reading an article on Amplify Media this week with the CEO of Blubrry, Todd Cochrane. Blubrry is a podcast host that a lot of people use to upload their show and they are waste deep in all the analytics. Todd was saying there are currently about 540,000 podcasts with about 2000 dropping every week. Last year, in 2017, of those 540,000 odd podcasts only 25 percent of them released a new episode. Which means 75 percent of all podcasts aren't really in production. Now of course within that number are some shows that just existed for a season so they were never designed to keep on releasing new episodes. But a lot of that number is people that got about seven episodes in and went "Bugger this!" If you've started the process of podcasting I'm sure you can understand how that happens.

If you are yet to start or maybe if you're just in the beginning I wanted to talk to you about some of the ways you can avoid getting a few episodes in and thinking "I've made a terrible mistake." One of the most important things is to know what you are in for. I try my very darnedest on this show to make sure I am super realistic and transparent about the work that is required to do your own podcast. I think that podcasting is fantastic and if you have got a great idea and you want to get it out there it's amazing that you can just buy a bit of equipment, talk into a microphone and have an audience but it is so important to know what you are getting into. There is really nothing worse if this is something you want to do than going public, telling everyone you know, getting excited and then realising "Oh my goodness I have to go back on my word because I didn't realise what I was getting into." So understanding the amount of time it's going to take and the input that it's going to require before you press publish on your first episode is my biggest piece of advice.

The way to do that is by practising. Often people think "If I record an episode I have to publish it" but you don't. You could keep on recording audio for years before you feel comfortable enough to go live. And the reason I suggest this is because it's really good to do a dummy run of more than one episode to see what the process is week in week out. You need to get an understanding of how much time it takes before you jump into the deep end. Once you realise "Okay this show is going to take six, seven or eight hours out of my week" you can start to factor in whether you've realistically got time for it.

You'll be surprised how long podcasting takes. I've had some shows I work on that take 10 - 20 hours a week to edit, organise, record, promote etc. It's not just a case of sitting down in front of a microphone talking and then publishing that. There's a lot that goes into it. So starting that process and practising before you go live can really help you make a smart decision about podcasting before you go live.

One of the most difficult things about podcasting is content. This was the great blogging dilemma of yesteryear when every man and his dog was jumping in and starting their own blog. Exactly the same thing happened - people started blogs and realized "Oh! You've actually got to populate this with content?" Content is a huge huge part of the podcasting process and it can be the thing that has podcasters pulling their hair out. The way to get around this is to sit down and put pen to paper and see if you can nut out a lot of ideas. I often suggest seeing if you can jot down 52 ideas which is a full year of shows. This is obviously only possible with an evergreen show rather than one that's topical (because you can't plan ahead with that). But if you set yourself a goal of 52 ideas and you get to 10 or 20 pretty easily you've probably got an idea that has legs. If you've only got a couple of ideas down and you are searching around in your brain for more and coming up with nothing that's probably a good indication it doesn't have legs to be a show that goes week in week out forever. It.

The next thing to think about is batch recording. This is banking up as many episodes ahead of time so you're not working week in week out. This is of course only possible with evergreen content that doesn't date so you can't do this if you're talking about the news of the day but if you can get ahead of yourself and the content is evergreen you won't be stressing if life gets in the way, or you have to take a break. You also won't be pulling your hair out every week. Batch recording can be the difference between you enjoying the process and feeling like you're on top of it and feeling like you're pulling your hair out and you want to throw it in. So to avoid that feeling try and be as ahead of yourself as possible.

Also, make sure the content is something you are passionate about. You have to WANT to do the show otherwise it'll feel like a chore. There are so many things around the show that are laborious and time-consuming but that stuff becomes do-able if you love what you're doing. You have to be passionate about your content, not only for your own sanity but also for your audience. They will never enjoy or buy into a show where it doesn't feel like the person who's hosting it is really invested. Your passion is the thing that will help to build a loyal following because your passion will be infectious. And people like hearing people talk about something they're passionate about.

Podcasting takes a huge amount of energy and it's so important you are passionate about the content otherwise it'll feel like working a job you're not getting paid for. And you probably won't be for a while if at all. Yes, you could be one of the select few where you are monetising from day one but chances are that's not going to be how it works. You have to go into this with the content first and the money second. It has to be the kind of project where you'd do it for free because chances are you're going to be and if all you're doing it for is money you'll be bitterly disappointed.

So how can you avoid or plan to combat podfade? Burn out often happens because you've overcommitted. That's usually because you start a show and think it has to go every week forever. That kind of weekly commitment is huge. That's why you should batch record to try and get as far ahead of yourself as possible but if you think you might not make it every single week then plan for that. There are other ways to release a show...

Some podcasts exist purely in seasons, so they come out and do a show for six, 10 or 12 episodes then come back a year or a few months later and do another season. You'll notice Gimlet's show Start-Up does that. They started with their own startup story and then they started to do seasons on other businesses. So that can give you a bit of time to wrap a bow on that season and then plan the second season.

Think strategically about what you want to do and then plan out those episodes. You can even record them and get them all done before they go live so you're not scrambling each week. Also if you do seasons there doesn't have to be more than one. There can just be one story or one season and that's it. You just need to think about the content and what works best for that.

Just think about it before you get started because often people jump into the deep end and then realise "Oh my goodness! I have to keep releasing episodes forever!" and that can breed a lot of stress and anxiety. Be smart about it. Be strategic. Look at the content you've got and think about the best way to present it both for the content and your sanity. There's no reason you can't do one show and then start a totally new show creating small projects rather than one forever project.

Just make sure whatever you do you're clear with your audience. Don't come on and say that this is going to be a show that goes forever and then six episodes in disappear. Make sure your audience know what to expect and when they can see you back in their feed or if your show is just going to be a small package they can enjoy and then move on. A show like S Town is a great example of this. It still rates really well because it's a fantastic podcast but it exists in one season only. I'm sure people would love for it to come back but the story is done and there's something to be said for leaving something as it is. If you've got an idea that would wrap up perfectly in one season then it's best to do things that way.

I hope that's helped you think a little bit more about pod fade or pod burn out and how you can potentially avoid it. It is a big commitment so the more you can do to be as educated and aware of what you're jumping into beforehand the better off you'll be. If you want to check out any other episodes of this podcast you can scroll through the feed in this app or head to PodSchoolPodcast.com. I've also got a contact page there as well where you can ask me a question and I'm more than happy to answer it on the show. If you're finding these tips useful please leave a review and a five-star rating in iTunes or your favourite podcast app. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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