How to fix podcast mistakes

Follow these 7 steps to fix your podcast when you make big or little mistakes—even if you already published the episode!

We all make mistakes

We're all human and we make mistakes for a variety of reasons:

  • Misunderstanding
  • False information
  • Inappropriateness
  • Technical malfunction
  • Brain farts

Sometimes, our mistakes may be so minor that they can go without correction. Not all mistakes are bad! Some may even be best to leave in for personality or authenticity.

But other times, a mistake can cost dearly:

  • Your listeners may be unable to get your content
  • You may be spreading false information
  • Your reputation could be damaged

Before you do anything

Whenever we make a mistake, it's crucial to make it right as quickly as possible. Sometimes, this may require drastic measures.

Consider the impact of your mistake and take appropriate action to correct it. These steps will help you.

If you finished editing your podcast episode but haven't made it public yet, only steps 2–5 are necessary.

1. You may need to temporarily unpublish

Depending on your mistake, you may want to completely unpublish your podcast episode to prevent anyone else from downloading bad content.

In WordPress, you do this by editing your post and changing its status from “Published” to “Draft” or “Private.”

But keep in mind that any existing web links will break. You don't want your post to be unpublished for long, but if it will take a while to fix, then you might not want the bad content to continue spreading to the public.

2. Re-edit your master files

Go back to your master, editable files. Hopefully you saved an uncompressed copy. If you edit the MP3 or video file you published, then you'll end up recompressing already compressed audio or video, which will reduce the quality.

Find your mistake and fix it. Fixing the mistake in your media could done in one of several ways:

  • Remove the mistake completely. Sometimes, the mistake can be removed without damaging the context.
  • Replace the mistake with what it was supposed to be. Sometimes this can be done seamlessly where it will seem like you never made a mistake.
  • Prepend a “notice” of your mistake and state the correction. This is best when you can't easily correct your mistake within the episode.

3. Change or keep the file name, depending on needs

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to save your replacement media file with the same file name, or something different.

  • Same file name if you are replacing a minor mistake. Your download stats from your original file and the replacement file will combine.
  • Different file name if you are replacing a major mistake and want to force redownloads (see step 6). Saving with “-fixed” in the file name will cause download stats to be separate from your original file's stats.

4. Re-upload to your host

If you already uploaded your podcast to your host, you can usually simply re-upload and replace the file that was already there.

If you use LibSyn or Blubrry to host your media, you can simply re-upload your recent file and they will seamlessly replace it if the file is still “active” (media files remain active for four weeks). But if you're dealing with an older episode, you may have to pay an extra fee to replace the archived file.

Get your first month of Blubrry or LibSyn hosting free with promo code “noodle”!

5. Refresh posts, links, and feeds

Whether you're still in draft or you've already published the episode, refresh any links to your media.

  • Make sure that the media URL is the same (should be if you steps 3 and 4 work on your system). If it isn't the same, then update the links with the new media URL.
  • If the episode is already attached to a post in WordPress with PowerPress, the checkmark “Modify existing podcast episode.” Update the URL if necessary. Then click the Verify button (you may need to watch for the auto-detected numbers to change). Some media formats may require that you manually update the length and file size information, but PowerPress will auto-detect for MP3.
  • You may need to refresh your website cache, if you use a caching system.
  • If you use FeedBurner, go to the Troubleshootize tab and click Resync.

6. Repost if you want all subscribers to redownload the correction

Sometimes, your accidental “bad content” could be so bad that you need all of your subscribers to redownload the episode. This is rare, but here are a two examples:

  • The “bad content” was corrupted in some way (inaudible, out-of-sync, missing crucial video or audio, etc.)
  • The “bad content” was accidentally an old episode.

Reserve this major step for major problems. Remember that forcing your subscribers to redownload an episode is an inconvenience and confusion-causer, even if it's automatic.

Simply updating your links won't force the redownload. Follow these steps:

  1. Create a new blog postDo not use any tools to duplicate your old post. Creating a new post creates a new unique ID (GUID in the RSS feed) that is how iTunes and other podcast apps will recognize this as something “new” to download.
  2. Copy all of your information from your old post to the new one. This may mean a lot of field-by-field copying and pasting.
  3. Completely delete your old post. Don't just send it to the trash, delete it from there, too!
  4. Update your new post's permalink. With the original post now completely gone, you should be able to re-use the original permalink (for example, “tap095-how-to-use-chains-in-audacity”). Make sure a “2” doesn't get added, or else setup a redirect from your old post to the new one.
  5. Add something to your post title to indicate it's a correction. I suggest “[FIXED]” or “[REPOST].” For example, “TAP095: How to use Chains in Audacity [FIXED].” Make sure this doesn't show up in the post's permalink.
  6. Publish the new post. Because WordPress gave this new post a new unique ID (the GUID), all podcast clients will treat this post as a completely new episode and download it.

Following this method, your subscribers who already downloaded the original episode will get the new one and clearly see that it's fixed. Current or new subscribers who haven't download the original episode yet will only get this fixed episode.

After a couple weeks, you can come back and remove “[FIXED]” from the post title, because the fix may not need to be acknowledged after a while.

7. Release a correction or mention it next time

Some listeners or subscribers may never download your fixed episode. If the correction is important enough, you may need to mention it in your next episode, or remind listeners to redownload the fixed episode if they haven't already.

In extreme circumstances, you may want to release a completely separate, correctional episode. I did this for my clean-comedy podcast when my error was big enough that I needed everyone to know I had messed up and was correcting it.

In these extreme circumstances, you may want to reach out in more than one way. In may case, I reached out with a miniature audio episode and the above video. (Each of these are separate posts in WordPress, so audio-only platforms will ignore the video, and other platforms will get both.)

Podcast awards

The 8th annual Podcast Awards are coming up! Get ready to nominate your favorite podcasts and get your audience to nominate you! Your podcast could even be a sponsor to give you even more promotion.

Beyond the To Do List joins Network!

I'm thrilled to announce that Erik Fisher's fantastic new podcast about personal productivity has joined Network!

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To celebrate the upcoming 100th episode (currently scheduled for October 15), send me your podcasting tips!

  • Send written or recorded tips.
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  • Mention your name and website.
  • Make each tip able to stand on its own, even if you have to send multiple recordings.

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Ask your questions or share your feedback

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

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.
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Abigail Ava
Abigail Ava
7 years ago

Sometimes we get an error when we try to delete a File or a folder for no reason , but of course there is a reason.We have many damage file or blocked files.Do not worry if we want to remove the error files or too long path files from our system,here I suggest a smooth way.So use “Long path tool” software and keep yourself.

7 years ago

Thanks for providing valuable resources for the podcasting community. Are the steps in this post still correct (since this was a few years ago)? I use Powerpress for my podcast and Blubrry to host the audio files. I’m considering replacing the audio for one episode (because I want to make some EQ changes to the Skype recording.) Do you know if this can be done seamlessly? Based on your post, I think I can just upload a file with the same name as the original (using the “Link to media hosted on” button from the Edit Post page in Powerpress.) I wonder if I’ll have to remove the original first (to prevent file name conflict.) In any case, I’m not concerned about forcing anyone to re-download, I just want anyone who downloads it in the future to get the updated version. Does this workflow make sense?

Ian Mc D
6 years ago

What if the mistake is in your RSS metadata rather than your audio? My last episode has the correct audio and title, but I’d accidentally left some placeholder metadata for the episode description. It got into the RSS, and thence into iTunes and Stitcher – and there seems to be no way to force them to refresh.

Not even asking iTunes to re-fetch my feed works.

What do I need to do?

Richard Gunther
3 years ago

Daniel, this has saved me more times than I can count now (which might suggest I need an easier publishing workflow). One question about the post name: Every once in a while, if I find an old [FIXED] suffix on a title on our blog, I’ll go and get rid of that—usually many months after it published. Is there a general rule of thumb for when it’s OK to do that? I’d guess that you’d really only need to wait a few weeks to ensure that you’re getting the episode out to even the most neglectful podcast subscriber.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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