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The Top 10 Reasons Why Podcasts Fail

We’re hitting you with some hard truths today! But, you can rest assured that we’re doing it all for a good cause! Because we want to help make sure your podcast does not fail! You may start off with the best of intentions, and have bucket loads of podcasting passion, but if you’re not careful, simple mistakes may eventually bring about your podcast’s demise! But not if we can help it! Brace yourselves as we’re going to lay down some cold, hard truths by sharing the top 10 most common reasons why podcasts fail. By knowing what to look out for, you’ll be well able to sidestep the traps that so many podcasts fall into, and you’ll be able to steer your podcast way clear of failure.

And remember, while these truths may be hard to hear – we’re not pulling any punches today! – our end goal is to help you make your show the best that it can be.

That being said, let’s dive right into the top reason why podcasts fail…

1. You’re Lazy

Ouch, okay, so maybe this sounds a little harsh! But as I told you in the beginning, today I’m going to tell you the cold, hard truth. And the truth is that there is very little chance of your podcast succeeding if you are lazy. Laziness kills more dreams and ambitions than missed opportunities or failures ever could! And I’m not talking about procrastination here. Most of us are afflicted by procrastination to varying degrees, but procrastination, by definition, still means you get the job done. Yes, there’s probably a whole bunch of late nights and a mad rush at the end (and while we’re being honest, this is something that should also be addressed at some point!) but the job still gets done. What I’m talking about here is pure laziness. The kind where you have big dreams, and you make big plans, but for whatever reason, you don’t actually do the work that needs to be done to get there. And a successful podcast requires a lot of hard work! So a lazy podcaster will be what will doom a podcast to failure…if it ever gets off the ground in the first place…

Bonus Tip: If you are prone to procrastination, or you realize you may be just a little lazy, the good news is that there is still hope for your podcast! But you need to change some of your habits. Get a calendar, start a bullet journal (heck, do both!) set your alarm clock half an hour earlier – do whatever you need to do stop procrastinating and start checking off your goals!

2. Your Niche is Not Your, Well, Niche

If you don’t nail your niche, your podcast is going to fail. Finding your niche is vital to your show’s success! Perhaps, after doing a few episodes, you realize you’ve picked something you like, but don’t have the necessary authority in that area. Maybe the topic you picked doesn’t have the scope it needs to bring you long-term podcasting success. Whatever the reason, not sitting comfortably within your niche is a top reason why podcasts fail. You may be able to get away with it for a little bit, but pretty soon, your audience will pick up that you’re out of your depth, or that you’re pulling at straws to fill an episode with content. If, after two or three more episodes they’re still not getting quality content from you, you can be sure they won’t stick around for much longer, and you’ll notice your subscriber numbers dwindling. Our advice? Spend time exploring your options before locking down your niche. Do research. Ask for input. But above all, make sure your final subject choice is something you are super passionate about, one that has great potential for many, many episodes, and, perhaps most importantly, one that will allow you to establish yourself as an authority on the topic. 

Related read: 8 Strategies to Build Authority in Your Podcast Niche

Bonus Tip: Okay, so you’ve just realized your niche is not the one for you. What do you do? Panic? NO! You pivot! If your new podcast niche is one in the same vein as your current podcast, you can simple transition to the new niche. If it is on opposite sides of the spectrum, then simply plan your farewell episode for the current podcast, and start your new one. But however you transition, the key is to communicate your plans with your listeners. If they know what’s going on, they will be likely to follow you on your new venture.

3. You’re Not Committed

Inconsistency will be the downfall of your podcast. No ifs or buts about it! As with anything in life, you need to consistently put in the work to make it better. Whether that’s taking care of your body, your mental health, or your relationships, they all require dedicated commitment to the task.  And so it stands to reason that if you are not committed to pursuing your podcast’s success, your show is likely to fail. It’s not enough to be committed to the idea of your podcast. You need to be totally committed to doing all the necessary work required to make your show all that it can be and more. (Remember point No. 1? There’s no laziness in podcasting!) Your podcast can’t be something that you dabble in every now and then, when you feel like or when you have “the time”. If you want it to succeed, not only do you need to be committed to consistently putting out high-quality content according to some sort of schedule, but you also need to be committed to consistently promoting your show, engaging with your audience, and creating unique and exciting content. The bottom line is that if you want your show to succeed, you need to be committed to making it succeed.  

4. You Sacrificed Quality for Quantity

Maybe as you were doing your research for starting your podcast, you saw how often it is stated that a key to podcasting success is regularly putting out episodes. And this is totally true! You do need to consistently put out new content if you want your show to pick up a committed following. That being said, however, simply putting out weekly episodes is not enough! These episodes need to be of high-quality if you have any hope of achieving your podcasting goals. Quantity can never outweigh quality! Remember, there are a lot of podcasts out there! Like, a LOT! (like 1,000,000!) And with this sort of selection available, listeners are always going to choose those shows that deliver the most quality. And so while a weekly podcasting schedule is commendable, if you are not able to deliver high-quality content in each and every episode, the likelihood of your podcast succeeding dwindles with every sub-par podcast episode you publish.

Bonus Tip: It’s not necessarily important how often you publish a new episode. It can be weekly, but it can also be once every two weeks, or even once a month! What is important is that you stick to your schedule! If your audience knows that you publish your episodes consistently according to a schedule, they will show up every time you drop a new episode.  

5. You Haven’t Honed Your Skills

You can’t expect to be a master podcast host from day one. No one is an expert when they just start out. (Maybe Chuck Norris? But I’d be willing to bet even he had to do some sort of practice?) (But I wouldn’t actually bet against Chuck Norris, obviously, that would just be crazy!) I digress. You become an expert through continually honing your skills. You practice your craft, you take courses, you attend conferences or seminars, and then you put all that you learn into practice. However, if you just settle for the level of skill you have now, and choose not to elevate those skills and keep pushing yourself to learn more and grow your skill set, sooner or later, your podcast is going to plateau, and from there, it’s a slippery slope downhill – physically and metaphorically. Bottom line, if you don’t put in the time to hone your skills and push yourself to be the best you can be, while your podcast might not outright fail, it certainly won’t be the best that it can be. 

6. You’re Believing Podcasting Myths

No matter how many new shows are joining the industry on the daily, don’t for a minute think this means that podcasting is easy! It certainly ain’t! But this is just one of the common podcasting misconceptions you may be believing that will hinder your podcast’s overall success. Another popular misconception is that podcasts don’t need all that much editing, as listeners love it when podcast conversations “sound natural”. But this is only half true. Yes, podcast listeners love the natural banter and chemistry that oozes out of a great podcast interview, but we don’t so much care for awkward silences, interruptions, or tangent s

conversations that go way off topic! So consider the “I don’t need to really edit my podcast” myth officially busted! (Adam and Jamie would be so proud!) 

Could your show be suffering because you’re believing some podcasting half truths and whole lies? Check out this post where we bust 7 Podcast Editing Myths wide open!

7. Your Content is not Exciting

Whether it’s because you’ve lost the drive to create exciting content, or because you’re trying so hard to replicate what someone else is doing on their show that you lose the magic of your own show, boring content is one of the quickest ways to sink a podcast. Successful podcasts are all about strong audio content. There are no pictures, or images to distract your audience from the fact that the content is below par. And with each new hit podcast that launches, listeners are getting more and more discerning when it comes to great content. So if yours is boring, and you don’t do anything to breathe some excitement and originality into your show, you’ve bought yourself and your podcast a one-way ticket to Doomsville. But thankfully, it’s not too late to ask for a refund! There are plenty of ways to give your content a boost! Brainstorming sessions are a real winner, but you could also look at taking creative writing courses, reading diversely on your topic, or even asking your audience for input.

Related read: 6 Ways to Come Up with New Podcast Episode Ideas

8. You Don’t Make Time Available

A successful podcast requires time! And a lot of it! From writing and crafting the content for each episode, to the actual recording, and then the editing and marketing aspects, a successful podcast is the result of a substantial time investment. And if you’re not blocking out the time to create a great show, the odds are pretty high that you will not have a great show. If you want your podcast to experience any level of success, you need to intentionally invest your time into all the aspects that make a show successful. You obviously need to put time into creating stellar episodes, but you also need to put time into building your podcast community, as they are really who your show is for. And a relationship with your audience can’t develop if you’re not spending time with them, either responding to emails or comments, or via your social media platforms. Put the time into your show, and you’re bound to reap the rewards!

Related read: 7 Tips to Make More Time for Your Podcast

9. You Do No Marketing or Promotion

There are now more options available than ever before! You can use email marketing, you could place ads on other podcasts that cater to your audience or that are aligned to your niche, but you should also explore all the possibilities social media marketing offers. From Facebook to YouTube, Pinterest to TikTok, there are so many creative ways to promote your podcast that there really is no excuse not to! And in all honesty, if you want your show to be successful, you are going to have to promote your podcast if you want to grow your audience. You can try your hand at cracking Apple’s allusive algorithm for landing in the New and Noteworthy section, but consistently putting out great content on your social media platforms is a sure way of getting more people to subscribe to your podcast. Whatever strategies you employ, the fact remains that without some form of promotion, your podcast is not going to get noticed.

Related read: How to Promote Your Podcast if Marketing is Not Your Strength

10. The Overall Result is Poor

Whether it’s the editing, the overall voice quality, or the writing, if the end product is a way-below-average podcast episode, I’m afraid the writing on the wall may be saying that your show is missing the mark. But that doesn’t mean your dream of hosting your own podcast has to come to an end! Far from it! All you need is a new game plan! If it’s the editing side of the podcast that’s letting you down, how about partnering with a company that specializes in podcast editing? You’ll get stellar sounding podcast episodes and you’ll be free from all the stress editing brings you! If your content is solid but your episodes are just falling flat, perhaps what you need is a co-host? A co-host could help inject that much-needed chemistry and personality to your show and could be just the thing to help correct your show’s current trajectory. Do a little podcast “soul searching” to try hone in on the areas you can improve, and then take the necessary steps to improve those aspects of your show. 

Related read: The 8 Benefits of Having a Podcast Co-Host

Closing Thoughts

And there you have it. An honest look at 10 of the most common reasons why podcasts fail. And while there was very little sugar-coating going on, sometimes you need someone in your corner who tells you like it is because they want to help you get to where you want to be. The key here is honesty. Take a step back and take an honest look at your show and pinpoint the areas where you may be missing the mark. Ask those you trust, like your family or those in your circle, or perhaps even fellow podcasters you’ve connected with along the way for their input. While it’s hard to openly invite critique and criticism, if you’re serious about getting your podcast to be the best that it can be, getting this honest feedback is a step in the right direction to achieving your podcasting goals. 

*The viewpoints and opinions shared in this article are my own and are not necessarily or entirely that of We Edit Podcasts. 

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Jennay Horn

Jennay Horn

Jennay is the Content Director at We Edit Podcasts

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