Since I first learned how to podcast, I’ve made my own share of mistakes (we were all newbies at one point). In celebration of my 150th episode, I share my top mistakes, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes, or fix them if you’re too late. Get ready, because this is a long episode!

I used bad stats in the beginning

When I first got into podcasting, PodPress was the main player in the WordPress plugin space. It provided its own stats, which I later learned were highly unreliable.

It took a long time before I started using Blubrry’s stats and seeing accurate information on my downloads. But I’m now missing vital stats from the beginning.

How I fixed it

When I finally moved to PowerPress, I immediately implemented the free Blubrry stats and decided to just forget the original number of downloads.

I tried to be perfect

When I started my clean-comedy podcast, I scripted every short episode and I tried to perform the script verbatim. Any mess up would mean rereading that portion of the script, and it would add extra time to editing later.

Perfection will kill many podcasters because they will never achieve it and success, unless they have a lot of money to invest.

How I fixed it

I decided to allow some imperfections, to focus more on my preparation, and to not edit unless I had a catastrophic problem.

I didn’t schedule my time

My first two years of my clean-comedy podcast resulted in only nine episodes. The biggest problem I had was procrastination and never making my podcast a regular, scheduled part of my life. Consequently (and combined with my strive for perfection), it took me way too long to produce any episodes.

How I fixed it

I started scheduling my podcast in late 2009 and announced that it would be live-streamed, too. With this combination, I made myself accountable to my audience. The handful of people who showed up were enough to keep me going consistently.

I didn’t make podcast-only feeds

Like many podcasters, I didn’t think I would be blogging when I started podcasting, so I only ever had one podcast feed—even for The Audacity to Podcast!

How I fixed it

I implemented the <itunes:new-feed-url> tag to point iTunes and its clones to my podcast-only feed, and then adjusted my website to publish both. For those still subscribed to my site feeds, they continue receiving episodes, but not the full podcast archive that my podcast feed has.

I didn’t fulfill early expectations

Despite my precise marketing when I launched The Audacity to Podcast, most early listeners thought the “audacity” in the title meant my podcast was only about Audacity (the free audio-editor). Even at the 8th annual Podcast Awards, Leo Laporte joked, “It would be an Audacity podcast to win the award.”

always planned for The Audacity to Podcast to be more about podcasting than Audacity, but to tie things back to Audacity when applicable, since no one else was talking much about Audacity’s specifics.

How I fixed it

When I found my niche and unique approach, “a ‘how to’ podcast about podcasting and using Audacity,” I pushed that forward. I also focused on producing such great content that people wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t talking about Audacity but that they would see more of the alternative meaning to the word.

I didn’t check my feeds after new episodes

As recent as the week before my 150th episode, I didn’t check a podcast feed to ensure it was working after publishing a new episode. As it turns out, I have a problem in the feed that prevented a special announcement video about the Podcast Awards from going out to thousands of subscribers when the voting started.

How I fixed it

I’m subscribed to my own podcasts, but I now have a quick link to my separate RSS feeds so I can double-check them whenever I publish new episodes.

I didn’t start my mailing list sooner

Although I don’t send email to my subscribers very often, I wish that I had started building that list sooner. Not only my primary lists for each podcast, but also my special list for the Podcast Awards. If I had set that up when I first started getting into the awards, I would have more leverage today with getting more people nominating and voting.

How I fixed it

I now have my primary and special email lists setup. I even spent some extra time to schedule all fifteen emails that would go out to my Podcast Awards subscribers during the voting period.

I also frequently recommend that people subscribe to my email list.

(I’ll have an episode soon about how podcasters can use email lists.)

I thought too highly of myself

Some of my early episodes of The Audacity to Podcast are quite embarrassing—not because of the content, but because of my attitude. In my first episode about stats (episode 8), I was clearly arrogant and communicated that I was the “only” one who knew and told the truth about the issue.

How I fixed it

I now try to remember to make my content what my listeners need to hear more than what I want to tell them. My podcasts are not all about me, but about the passions and information we share. So the decisions we make are for the sake of our listeners.

I wasn’t willing to invest money

What is it about podcasting that sets it apart from all other hobbies so that everyone wants to do it for free?

I had the skills to make cheap stuff sound better. But I also wasted a lot of time on these processes or searching for free ways to do things when a simple investment would have saved a lot more time.

How I fixed it

I bought the hardware and software I needed to improve my quality and speed up my workflow. It’s easier now that podcasting is part of my business. But even when it was a hobby, I treated it like any other hobby and saved to buy the new “toy” that I wanted.

I had weird episode numbering

In our Christian movie reviews podcast, we would make full discussions be our official episodes with their own sequential numbering. At the same time, we would have shorter episodes about movies we had just seen in the theater and we would number these “initial reactions” separately.

These two episode types with different number made URLs and episode counts confusing.

How I fixed it

We now have a simple, sequential episode number that applies to either full discussions or initial reactions. But we didn’t skip episode numbers in order to correct the problem. That would’ve required editing each episode whenever we referred to the shownotes or episode numbers.

I didn’t blog enough

Someone once said, “bad bloggers podcast and bad podcasters blog.” But the truth is that amazingly successful people blog and podcast together.

There’s a lot of short content I could have shared with a simple blog post and I would have put my expertise out there quickly. But because I either saved it for the podcast or never included it, that information is lacking.

How I fixed it

I’m now trying to blog or have guest writers each week, but it’s still a struggle to juggle with all my other tasks as an entrepreneur.

I split episodes into parts

Podcast episodes don’t really have a time limit like television and radio shows do. These previous decisions came from either laziness or another bad idea.

The result is that many subscribers will hear only one half of the content—either because of their podcast player or the way they decide to consume episodes.

How I fixed it

I won’t split episodes anymore. Even when a conversation is long, I either edit it down, or I plan for it to be separate shows (as in my legal series with Gordon Firemark).

I used podcast categories

When I first launched Noodle.mx Network in 2010, I brought together my two separate sites (the Ramen Noodle and Are You Just Watching?) in combination with my third podcast (The Audacity to Podcast) into the same WordPress site with different categories.

This can be fine when the separate shows are connected and should be on the same website (like my Once Upon a Time podcast and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland podcast). But when the shows have little or nothing to do with each other, combining everything on one website hurt my search-engine optimization (SEO) and my marketing to grow each unique audience.

As an aside, PowerPress’s “category podcasting” feature is often overused. PowerPress already provides a podcast-only feed (/feed/podcast/ instead of /categoryname/feed/) and putting all your podcast information into a category feed means your main feed won’t be podcast ready. Category podcasting is just an extra and unnecessary step if you only run a single podcast from your site. It’s main purpose is for running multiple podcasts from a single site.

How I fixed it

Since I’m comfortable with PHP and advanced WordPress work, I relaunched Noodle.mx Network as a WordPress Multisite. This means each site has its own domain, design, marketing, and SEO. It also means that everything is managed from a single WordPress installation, so my username and password work on all the sites, and I only have to update plugins once to update all the sites.

This also makes special cross-promotion easier with plugins like Diamond Multisite Widgets, which powers the automatic listing of all my podcasts in the network.

I didn’t think of SEO, or I thought too much

SEO can be confusing, but it’s really simple. Use the keywords you think people would search for and would expect to find your content.

As a “clean-comedy podcast,” I didn’t start using those keywords until around when I acquired the domain CleanComedyPodcast.com. I should have used that keywords more in the beginning instead of only my vague title “the Ramen Noodle.”

On the flip side, some of the early episodes of The Audacity to Podcast are clear that I was grasping for SEO with my episode titles.

How I fixed it

I’m now a lot more aware and smart about my search-engine optimization. I think first about a quality title that accurately describes my content while still sounding interesting. I make these titles reshareable.

But I’m also not obsessed with making every single post include my target keywords.

I didn’t buy my name

It’s cute to be “theRamenNoodle” and it makes people laugh. But my branding is now much bigger. “Noodle.mx” and “D.Joseph Design” may not always stay around, either. So I wish that I owned my personal platform with my own name, Daniel J. Lewis, from the beginning.

How I fixed it

I now always introduce myself by “Daniel J. Lewis” and I’m always happy to hear other podcasters call me that. I keep pleading with Twitter to release @DanielJLewis to me (it’s been dormant for four years!). I also settled on a .net for my personal blog, DanielJLewis.net. It’s better to have some form of my name than no identity.

In the meantime, I’m embracing the branding that I do have, but still eager to standardize on something more flexible.

I didn’t try to get media attention

Some podcasters have talked about being newsworthy—I know that I and the rest of my podcast network are newsworthy! But I’ve missed many opportunities to get the media’s attention with our newsworthy items.

How I fixed it

The next time something big comes up, I’ll get help to get the media’s attention!

What are your podcasting mistakes and what did you learn from them? Please comment on the show notes!

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

3 comments on “A podcaster’s biggest mistakes and how you can avoid them – TAP150

  1. Polarizing_Images says:

    Hey Daniel,

    Listening to this episode, I was struck by the comment/question about why podcasters don’t want to spend money on their “hobby”. I don’t know if this is a consolation or not, but it’s not just podcasting. As a photography educator and working pro, I talk a lot with enthusiasts (what I like to call the “hobbyist”) and I often get questions about “I want software that lets me do everything Photoshop does, as powerfully as it does, but I don’t want to pay $600 like the pros do.” Trust me, if such a thing existed, us working folk wouldn’t be shelling out that money, either .

    There are some hobbies where people expect to spend/invest but for the rest of them (like podcasting), until the enthusiasts know what’s required and how to record quality, etc., they will assume that there are cheap alternatives that will produce expensive-sounding results.

  2. Carlos Quintero says:

    I made a few of these mistakes too. It is amazing how fast time goes by. I started last year and have only put up 16 episodes and about 7 videos…don’t want to mention my blog post because they have also been low or lower. The other thing I did was to set up my own RSS feed on my site rather than listen to You and Ray Ortega and set up a WordPress Site…This is something that I will be resolving before December. The not checking the feed, I had not noticed that writing to typing out my own RSS feed I must have had a mistake which removed the cover art from iTunes…Again, mistakes that could have been avoided should I have followed the advice from the start. Thanks for all of your help and thanks for this great episode.

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