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The Anatomy of a Failed Podcast: Reasons Why So Many Podcasts Don't Make It

July 12, 2024 Deciphr AI
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Podcasting is undoubtedly THE next best thing in the modern age. With minimal equipment, anyone can create a show and share their voice and ideas with the world. But despite the promise of podcasting riches and glory, the harsh reality is that most podcasts fail.

If you're thinking about starting a podcast or already have one that's struggling to gain traction, don't despair. In this article, we'll explore the top reasons why most podcasts fail and how you can avoid common pitfalls to make your show a success.

Why Most Podcasts Fail

Before we get into avoiding the potholes and the pitfalls, let's look at why most podcasts fizzle out:

Lack of Planning and Organization

You might have a brilliant idea for a podcast, but if you don't plan and organize it properly, it's likely to fall flat.

Starting a podcast is more than just hitting the record button and talking into a microphone.

You need to think about your niche, target audience, format, and branding.

When you fail to plan and organize, your podcast might lack a cohesive structure, sound aimless, or feel unprofessional. To avoid this pitfall, take some time to think about what you want your show to achieve, who your target audience is, and what format and tone you want to use. 

Poor Audio Quality and Production Value

No one wants to listen to something that's hard on the ears, and if your podcast sounds amateurish, it's unlikely to attract many listeners. Investing in quality equipment and sound editing software goes a long way in making your show sound professional.

When it comes to production value, the devil is in the details. Does your podcast have a consistent intro and outro? Are your volume levels constant throughout?

These might seem like small details, but they make all the difference in keeping your listeners engaged.

Inconsistent Content and Scheduling

When you're starting a podcast, it's tempting to think that you can record whenever you have time. But inconsistent content and scheduling are a death knell for a podcast. Your listeners want to know when to expect new episodes, and if you can't deliver on that promise, they're likely to lose interest.

By establishing a regular schedule and sticking to it, you'll build trust with your listeners and create a routine they can count on. Additionally, creating consistent content that's engaging and relevant to your target audience is crucial to keep them coming back for more.

Failure to Find and Engage with an Audience

You might have the best podcast in the world, but if you're not finding and engaging with an audience, it's likely to fall on deaf ears.

Promoting your show on social media, collaborating with other podcasters, and actively seeking out feedback from your listeners are all essential steps to building a community and growing your audience.

Giving Up Too Soon

Perhaps the most significant reason why most podcasts fail is because the hosts give up too soon. Podcasting is a long game, and it takes time to build an audience and gain traction. If you're not in it for the long haul, success is a long shot.

When you're feeling discouraged, remember that podcasting is an ever-evolving medium, and there's always room for experimentation and improvement. Keep at it, and you just might surprise yourself.

How to Avoid Common Podcasting Pitfalls

Now that we've looked at the reasons why most podcasts fail, let's explore how you can avoid these common pitfalls:

Pre-Plan and Set Goals for Your Podcast

This includes thinking about your niche, target audience, format, and branding.

A good way to start is to research other podcasts in your niche and see what they're doing well and what you can do differently.

Once you've established your goals and vision for your podcast, create a content calendar to plan out your episodes. This helps you stay organized and ensure that you have a regular schedule to share with your listeners.

Invest in Quality Equipment and Sound Editing Software

As we mentioned earlier, poor audio quality is a common reason why podcasts fail. Here are some practical tips for making your podcast sound great:

✅ Use a good-quality microphone and headphones.

✅ Record in a quiet space with minimal background noise.

✅ Edit your audio using sound editing software to clean up any imperfections.

✅ Add music and sound effects to enhance your podcast.

Establish a Regular Schedule and Stick to It

Whether you decide to release episodes weekly or bi-weekly, be consistent and reliable.

When establishing your schedule, think about what works for you and your team. If you're a solo podcaster, you might find it challenging to produce weekly episodes, and that's okay.

What's important is that you're consistent and that you communicate your schedule to your listeners.

Create Engaging and Relatable Content

Think about what your target audience wants to hear and what will keep them coming back for more. This might include topics related to your niche, interviews with experts, or deep dives into current events.

Use storytelling techniques to keep your listeners interested, and vary the format of your episodes to keep things fresh. For example, you might alternate between interviews and solo episodes or include listener questions and feedback.

Actively Seek Out Feedback

Engaging with your listeners and actively seeking out feedback help you create a loyal fan base that will help promote your podcast. Here’s what you can do:

✅Promote your podcast on social media and interact with listeners there.

✅Respond to listener questions and feedback in your episodes.

✅Create a community around your podcast using forums, social media groups, or Discord channels.

✅Collaborate with other podcasters and cross-promote each other's shows.

Examples of Successful Podcasts and What They Do Differently

Serial - This true crime podcast created a compelling narrative that kept listeners engaged throughout its run. By using a storytelling approach, "Serial" became one of the most popular podcasts of all time.

My Favorite Murder - This true crime/comedy podcast has built a strong community around its hosts' engaging personalities and sense of humor. With a community that's invested in their success, "My Favorite Murder" has become one of the hottest podcasts on the internet.

The Daily - This news podcast from The New York Times has become a must-listen for people who want to stay up-to-date on current events. The show's format of in-depth reporting and interviews with experts has helped it stand out in a crowded field.

So, what do these successful podcasts have in common? They all have a clear vision and a unique approach to their content.

They also engage with their listeners and build a strong community around their brand. Hmm, definitely some things you need to think about for your own show!


It’s been said a million times: starting a podcast is a lot of work, but it is a rewarding and fun way to share your passions and connect with people around the world. By avoiding common pitfalls and following the tips we've outlined, you can set yourself up for success.

Remember to pre-plan and set goals for your podcast, invest in quality equipment and sound editing software, establish a regular schedule and stick to it, create engaging and relevant content, and engage with your listeners.

If you've been thinking about starting a podcast, now's the time to take the plunge! Who knows, you might just become the next big success in podcasting!