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So, Your Podcast Got a Negative Review, Now What?

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity” as the saying goes, but when it comes to your podcast, there is definitely such a thing as a bad review! And no matter how long you’ve had your show, a negative podcast review always stings a little. And that’s because of all your podcast means to you. 

You’ve put in countless hours of work to make your podcast a success. You’ve thoughtfully crafted your content, you’ve hustled to secure those great guests, you’ve spent hours editing, and you’ve been marketing your show in all sorts of creative ways.

And people are listening! A community is forming around your show! That’s amazing! But then one day, you casually scroll to the ratings and review section on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, and you see it….a single star and a bad review…

So, what do you do about those not-so-great reviews?

Don’t worry! We’re here with some strategies to help you deal with negative feedback from listeners. 

Today we’re going to walk you through just how to deal with those negative comments and reviews in a way that is helpful, constructive, and which, most importantly, will help prevent them from getting you down or stopping you doing what you love.

Related read: How To Get Your Podcast into the New and Noteworthy

1. Don’t Take It Personally

Okay, I get this is easier said than done! It’s hard to not take bad reviews and ratings on your podcast personally. I mean, this is your podcast that someone took the time to review negatively! And besides the fact that these negative ratings affect you personally, you’re likely also concerned about how these poor ratings may be affecting your podcast. It is true that podcasts can be judged by the ratings they receive on platforms such as Apple Podcasts, and some potential listeners may hesitate to hit play based on comments left in the comment section. It’s hard not to take that personally!

But, if you want to keep the podcast joy alive, that’s exactly what you need to do!

So how exactly do you put this strategy into practice? How do you not take negative reviews personally? By remembering that a negative review about your show is not a reflection of you as a person. It does not say anything about your talent, expertise, or knowledge. It does not detract  from all the hard work you’ve put into your show, and so you should not allow it to detract from your podcasting passion.

Whether or not there is any merit in the review is not relevant at this stage – all that is important now is that you don’t let bad reviews stop you from doing what you love.

2. Evaluate  

The first strategy for dealing with negative reviews helps put you in the right frame of mind to process the review. Now it’s time for Strategy 2 – Evaluation.

Before jumping straight to Panic Stations, just take a moment to evaluate the comment.

We call this “looking for validity” and it simply refers to taking a moment to evaluate the negative comment before you feel any emotions or take any actions.

NOTE: Now is a good a time as any to state that the strategies we’re sharing today are to help you deal with the occasional bad rating and review. If you find that you’re getting multiple bad reviews, and they’re all saying similar things, it’s likely a sign that it’s your show that needs some evaluating…

Now, bad to the strategies…

Before you take the review to heart, and drastically overhaul everything you’re doing, look for validity, and then decide whether or not it’s worth your time and your emotion. Consider aspects like is it an anonymous comment? Many times this can indicate that it is not one of your loyal listeners leaving the review. Are they regularly listeners of your podcast? If they just listened to one episode, perhaps they didn’t have the context they needed to enjoy your content.

Bonus Tip: this is just one of the reasons a podcast trailer is important!

You should also evaluate whether or not this commenter falls into your listener demographic. Your show might just not be for them. Or perhaps they just disagree with the stance you take on your niche topic. Comments that fall into any of these categories are not ones you need to spend time agonizing over because they simply represent someone who is misaligned with your show’s content.

3. Beware, Trolls Ahead!

And sometimes, no matter how great your show is, and how hard you try to make it the best it can be, you can’t protect it from the trolls that lurk under cyber bridges. 

In the magical world of cyberspace, a troll is someone who leaves negative or “provocative” reviews or comments. And their purpose is simply to cause a bit of havoc, get an emotional rise out of the “victim” or other people interacting with the content. Sometimes, however, their motive is more sinister. They deliberately want to discredit you, ruin a campaign you’re running, or tank a launch. Most of the time, when it comes to your podcast, the purpose is just to get cause a little emotional distress. 

Typically, you can spot a troll by the quality of the review. The ones I tend to see most often when I’m using Apple Podcasts to find new listens are heavily-ladened with emojis, and usually say something along the lines of “This is stupid.” Although I have seen many more ‘juvenile’ responses. Again, while super annoying, these types of reviews should not be taken seriously. 

4. Be Objective

Strategy Number 4: Be Objective. When you’re reading through your reviews, you need to remember to stay objective. There is simply no way you can please everyone. And the more content you put out into the world, the more opportunities you create for people to have an opinion on that content. And the fact of the matter is that not all of these opinions are going to be positive. And so you need to remain objective when you come across negative reviews and ratings, and try, as much as possible, to keep your emotions out of the equation. 

One tactic to help you stay objective is to change your perception of negative reviews. Rather than taking these personally, and allowing them to dictate your mood or worse, make you doubt your podcasting ability, see negative comments simply as tools to help you improve your podcast. This view can then help you see negative reviews as something that is ultimately positive, as they help you achieve your end goal – making your podcast the best that it can be. 

5. Set Limits

Another way to help you handle negative reviews is simply to set limits for when you read through your comments. This can be the number of reviews you set to read together, or it could be the amount of time you spend reading through your reviews and ratings. 

Also, don’t make checking your comments a daily activity. Rather set aside a few minutes once a week, or even once every two weeks, depending on the amount of comments you typically receive. This will help mentally prepare yourself for the activity, be in a headspace open to hearing from your listeners, but, importantly, it will put a  limit on the amount of reviews you read in one sitting. Short limits will help you remain objective, and keep you in the right frame of mind for processing the comments.

6. Bring Balance With The Positives

There is no better way to combat negativity than with some positivity! So, if you do come across some less-than-great reviews, remember to also read and absorb all those great things your loyal listeners are saying about your show. 

By taking all reviews into account, the good will balance out the not so good. And unless you’re doing something really wrong, there should be way more positive feedback than negative critiques. However, we tend to focus on the negative 5% rather than the great 95%. So make sure you’re reading all those great comments too, to help keep the your mind on all the positives, instead of fretting over the few negatives. 

Related read: How to Rack Up Podcast Reviews

7. Engage With Your Critics

Another constructive way to deal with all the critics is to start engaging with them. And I don’t mean retaliating! (Which I know is very often our first instinct!) If you find those less-than-complimentary comments about your show, and after evaluating them you find that they appear to be genuine critiques or criticisms, you can try engaging with the commenter. 

Reach out and try establish a neutral ground where open communication can take place. You could even consider taking this to an email exchange, as you’d be able to go more in-depth there.

Aim to find out the main causes for their critiques, ask for their input, and then weigh it up and decide whether or not you should consider onboarding their pointers. Remember, if you remember not to take the negative reviews personally, and if you’re able to remain objective, these criticisms are simply ways you can improve your show. You can then engage with your critics in a way that is practical and unaffected by your emotions. And who knows, they may just help make your show that much greater! And your biggest critics could turn into your biggest fans! 

8. It’s Not You, It’s Them

If, after working through some of the above strategies, you come to the conclusion that the leaver of the comment is just being unkind, then it’s time to apply Strategy 8 for dealing with negative reviews: remembering that it’s not you, its them! 

For some reason or another, the Internet can bring out the worst in people. And sitting behind the safety of their keyboards, they just say some really nasty things. Maybe they’ve criticised how you speak, the sound of your voice, or they’ve attacked the type of content you’ve created, the stories you’ve worked so hard on, or they simply attack what you believe. And this says way more about them than it does about you!

For these types of comments, your self-belief needs to kick in. Do not let these negative reviews steal your thunder! Remember, especially in cases like this, it’s not you, it’s them!

9. Keep Giving Your Best

And the last strategy for dealing with negative reviews? No matter what, keep giving your best! Onboard any criticisms that may have merit and can help you improve your show, but don’t allow low-star ratings and negative reviews to diminish the joy podcasting brings you!

Remember, even the most popular shows get their share of bad reviews, and no podcast host is perfect!

So keep giving your best! Keep creating that content you’re so passionate about. And keep aiming for high quality audio and sound. Do this, and the great reviews and stellar ratings will far outweigh any negatives.

The Key Takeaways…

Receiving negative reviews for your podcast is never going to be a pleasant experience. Let’s be honest. There is no strategy that can completely eliminate the sting of a bad review.

But…

There are ways to help you deal with these scenarios that don’t leave you completely disheartened and wanting to throw in the towel!

The key takeaways here are to not take these comments and ratings personally. Learn to process these critiques objectively, and you can then begin to see any negative reviews you may receive simply as ways you can improve your show. And as the goal is always to push your podcast to be the best that it can be, these comments are then just stepping stones to you achieving your podcasting goals. And at the end of the day, that’s a big positive! 

Related read: Do We Still Need Podcast Reviews?

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Jennay Horn

Jennay Horn

Jennay is the Content Director at We Edit Podcasts

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