3 Common Podcast Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

UPDATED: March 15, 2023
PUBLISHED: March 11, 2023
man and woman recording a podcast

Hi, my name’s Joel, and I’m a former podcaster. Over the course of my podcast career, I made many rookie mistakes and experienced myriad beginner misunderstandings and false starts. It was through my own trial and error, stubbornness and not knowing when to throw in the towel that I eventually found success with my old podcast, ReLaunch.

But convincing you to launch a podcast is not my job, nor do I want it to be. Chances are you’re already hungry, excited and ready to share your voice, rock your show and grow your business. No, my job as your podcast coach is twofold:

  1. To share with you the proven strategies to take you and your show where you’d like it to be.
  2. To help you stay focused, in your lane and on track.

Let’s get started.

One of the first things I share with a client during our initial session is not to listen to me. They usually respond with a chuckle or muffled nervous laughter. Is my way the one and only way to do things? Of course not. It’s simply the result of my experience and what I’ve seen work multiple times for solopreneurs and businesses. As with all things, what you do with the information is up to you.

Now onto the podcast mistakes to avoid.

Podcast mistake No. 1: not knowing who your ideal listener is

In the age of smartphones, it has never been easier for listeners and future clients to access your content and expertise. Here’s the thing, though: To distinguish your show from the others, you have to be clear on who you are talking to.

It’s not enough to say, “My show is for everyone” and hope for the best. That’s like an author saying, “I didn’t write my book for anyone, I wrote it for everyone.”

People who listen to podcasts are not looking for general information. They’ve already done that.

They’re looking for solutions to their questions, challenges and current issues. It is your job to know who you are talking to so you can understand and speak to what they are going through and looking for.

Avoid this podcasting mistake by starting with the basics. Men or women? Single, married or divorced? 25 or 85? Is their biggest challenge in life relational, professional, spiritual or emotional? What keeps them awake at night? What are their hopes and dreams? How can you help them achieve those?

ReLaunch was made for an overworked, college-educated, 45-year-old divorced mother with two kids who wants to start a home-based business that will give her freedom with her time, location and finances.

Is it a little scary to narrow down your audience that much? You bet! But it’s worth it. Specifically knowing who your ideal listener is will help you stay away from generalities so you can make solid business-related decisions for your show’s direction, content and length.

It’s OK if you don’t have the answers to all of these questions. Just use yourself or a younger, less experienced version of yourself as the test pilot. Believe me, your target listener will grow and evolve as you do.

Mistake No. 2: quietly launching your podcast

Don’t do it.

When people make the case for a “quiet launch,” they usually present the following arguments:

  1. They haven’t convinced themselves they can pull it off.
  2. They aren’t excited about podcasting.
  3. They aren’t excited about the topic or subject matter.

No matter how many bulletproof ideas and strategies we go through, if you haven’t convinced yourself that you can do this (argument No. 1), what I say or do doesn’t amount to anything more than a hill of beans.

If you fall into No. 2 and you’re not excited about podcasting, that’s cool. It’s not for everyone. Just admit it to yourself and find something else to pursue.

If No. 3 seems to be the case, then we can work with that. When people are trying to come up with a theme or topic for their show, they can often confuse knowledge with personal excitement. For example, a renowned physics professor might know a wealth of information, but doesn’t find it interesting. They shouldn’t try to fake it.

Listeners can tell if you’re just going through the motions of academic know-how rather than actually passionate about your topic. The closer your show is to your heart, the better it will serve your audience.

So what is the antidote for a quiet launch? Avoid this mistake by making an event out of your podcast launch.

Set a specific launch date, form a solid team six weeks ahead of launch, remove the guesswork by creating a specific launch plan and follow up with your team and supporters throughout the launch period.

ReLaunch was not my first show. I had to go through a lot of failure to get there. For a long time, I couldn’t understand what was going wrong with my failed podcasts. I was following the advice of the movers and shakers in the industry, but I couldn’t seem to gain the traction I needed. As it turns out, I had fallen for podcast mistake No. 3.

Mistake No. 3: thinking your a-list guests will carry your show

I remember how excited I would get when a niche celebrity interview would go live. But we only saw a small blip in traffic, and then back to normal. Sometimes I was even silently angry with my guests when they didn’t share the show with their audience on social media.

Nothing changed until I changed my perspective and took complete responsibility for my show’s growth.

The guest doesn’t drive the show, I do, I realized.

I was no longer concerned with impressing the guest. I was more interested and involved in creating a show that my listeners would find informative and packed with value.

If your podcast plans involve an interview-based show, go into the interview with a positive mindset and quiet confidence—but don’t get too wrapped up in it. Just deliver the best interview you can. What you’ll find is that your guests will share not because you asked, but because it was a lively and stimulating conversation that added value to them.

Consider it a gift when guests share your content—because it is.

Now go out, avoid these mistakes and build a successful podcast. After all, if I can do it, you can too! 

This article was published in July 2016 and has been updated. Photo by BAZA Production/Shutterstock

Joel Boggess is a podcast and book launch expert. He’s the guy people call when they need a tested and proven plan to hit No. 1 with their book or podcast. As a radio veteran and best-selling author, Joel know the strategies and the tactics that will help you and your message be seen, heard, and recognized.

His podcast, ReLaunch:

Named by Podcasters’ Paradise - “Most Inspirational” two years in a row, 2014 & 2015
Mentioned in Huffington Post as being one of the top five shows to tune into for inspiration
Mentioned in Inc as one of the top 20 business podcasts of 2015.

He is a podcast news and tech contributor for HuffPost and Success.com. His latest book, Finding your Voice, hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon for success, happiness, and in the self-esteem categories. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Joel earned his undergraduate degree at Texas Tech University, an MBA from Amberton University, and a master’s in counseling.

Joel and his wife Pei live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and have a Golden Retriever therapy dog, and a Golden rescue, Bubba and Happy.