What are the biggest mistakes that podcasters make?

I’ve also got a list of Top 10 Mistakes Podcast Listeners Make and Top 10 Mistakes that Podcast Guests Make.

#1 — No Value Proposition

Starting anything new is tough. Starting something new publicly is even tougher.

Over the years, I have talked to so many people with dreams of starting a podcasts. They have an idea and they have the equipment. What they lack is courage. They dream of this perfect podcast. They want to wait until they are “ready” before they start it. They wait and they wait. There is always an excuse. There is always a reason not to start. Perfectionism can be stifling. Your podcast will never be perfect. You will never be the perfect podcast host. Your voice will sound funny, your enunciation will be poor, and you will make factual mistakes.

That is podcasting. You probably will not be 100% happy with the first episode. Realistically, you will probably never be 100% happy with any episode. That is okay. What is important is that you start. You will get a little bit better with every episode. With every episode you publish, you will gain experience. You really can only learn to podcast by doing it. Those courses will not help you. You just need to do it.

#2 — No Value Proposition

Why should people listen to your podcast? This is the most important question you can ask yourself when doing a podcast. You need to keep asking and answering this question as long as you are making the show.

The answer needs to be more than I am funny. There are lots of funny people out there. There are lots of funny podcast hosts out there. Why should people listen to you? You need to be specific. This can be really tough. You’ll need practice before you can really start answering in a coherent way. Start practicing by looking at other shows. Make a list of your favorite shows. Go through each one and ask, why should people listen to this podcast. These answers are not definitive. There are no correct or incorrect answers. But as you practice, you’ll probably start noticing that some answers are better than others. Ask this question about every show you listen to.

Do this enough and you’ll see a pattern. Shows with a good answer have an audience. Shows with no answer don’t. Your podcast also needs to answer this question if you want an audience.

#3 — Spending Too Much Money on Gear

You don’t need an expensive setup for podcasting. There is no microphone, preamp, or compressor that will turn you into Art Bell or Joe Rogan. Most likely that condenser microphone will actually make you sound worse. I recommend simple cheap dynamic microphones. Specifically, I recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100. This little mic works great and plugs right into your computer through USB. They are only about $75. Get that and a nice microphone stand and you are all set.

I’ve got lots of gear. Mics, stands, preamps, compressors, limiters, mixers, and cords. Lots of cords. Even with all this gear, I still use the ATR2100. Why? Set up. It took way too much time setting up my equipment. So much time that it hurt my recording. I would put off recording because that set up would take so long. Using a simple USB mic like the ATR2100, I just grab the mic with its stand and go. I’m all set up for recording in under 5 minutes.

Buying new equipment is fun but it also addictive. Be careful that your gear is not getting in the way of making your show. Don’t spend too much money on gear and never ever buy equipment on credit. Keep it simple.

#4 — Unrealistic Expectations

The fastest path to unhappiness starts with unrealistic expectations. You are not going to make money podcasting. You are not going to have many downloads. You need to be okay doing your show without the promise of money and fame.

#5 — Violating Copyright Laws

Do not use music or movie clips in your podcast without the explicit written permission of the copyright holder. There is no rule that says that you can use it if it is less than 30 seconds long. That is bullshit. If you violate someone’s copyright, they can take down your show and sue you. Can you afford to be sued? Probably not. Fair use will not protect you.

#6 — Bad Hosting

Don’t host your files on your own server. Even just a few listeners downloading files at the same time can slow your server to a crawl. Often when you release an new episode, your listeners will be requesting the file at the same time. Pay for a podcast hosting service.

Every time I turn around there is a new podcast hosting service. They come and go. Right now, several very popular ones are on the verge of bankruptcy. Some make it hard to leave them. Others have very disturbing terms of use. I don’t really want to name names but just be careful.

I will tell you who I use. I choose to use Libsyn. I’ve used them since 2005. I have had no complaints. With Libsyn you still own your content and they are fast. They also are the biggest podcast hosting company in the world. They host some of the biggest podcasters.

#7 — Poor Audio

Always listen to your show before publishing it. Pay attention to how it sounds. Does it sound terrible? Don’t release terrible audio.

#8 — Obsessing About Stats

Your stats are going to suck. Checking them every hour on the hour will only frustrate you. Resist the urge.

#9 — Giant Files

Unless you are a radio drama or a music show there is no reason to use a high bitrate when encoding your mp3 file. Even then I would not recommend anything above 128kbps. For a talk show, I recommend 96kbps. I also recommend using mono for talk instead of stereo. Small files are easier to download than big files. Downloading large files takes time and kills batteries. You want you show to be as easy as possible to download.

#10 — Know Your Niche

Everyone want to think their show is unique. It is not. Most likely there are several other podcasts covering the same subject. You should be on the lookout for similar shows. You can learn a bunch from them. Similar shows can be a great source of inspiration. Reach out to people doing similar shows. Say hello and introduce yourself. There might be ways that your shows can work together.