Burnout: it happens to the best podcasters. But feeling exhausted, uninspired, or just plain “meh” about publishing doesn’t have to kill your podcast. Try these ideas to help you stay energized and enthused while putting out great content and
1) Take A Break (But Do It Right)
Most seasoned podcasters agree that consistent publishing is the key to success, traffic growth, and audience retention. But after a year or two of putting out new episodes on a dependable schedule, your audience should be well-established enough to allow you the occasional break. But how to do it without confusing or disappointing your loyal listeners?
- Alert your listeners. While skipping an episode or two isn’t the end of the world and can offer you much-needed rest and time to recharge your creative juices, it’s important not to leave your listeners wondering what happened to you. “If you’re taking a break, I suggest announcing it in the last episode before your missed episode,” says Angelo Mandato, CIO of Blubrry. “Then, on your missed show date, release a short episode that just says you’ll be back on the date you’ll return. The key is communicating with your audience, and a two-minute episode that does that is better than leaving them hanging.”
- Try something new. For example, over the Christmas holiday, Sarah Powers and Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour recorded short, daily episodes of each host reading holiday-themed essays they’d written for their blogs in the past. Since one or the other of them was reading each essay (not both at the same time) the shows were much easier to schedule and produce. “Each of us could just sit down and record quickly when we had a few minutes, rather than having to try to match up our hectic holiday schedules,” says Francis. “As a result we were actually able to publish more often over the holiday, while maximizing relaxation and time with our families. The mini-episodes also fit well with the needs of our audience of busy moms over their kids’ Christmas breaks. Plus, it was unique, and showed a different side of each of us. Our audience loved it and the episodes have done very well.”
- Find other ways to stay in touch. Even if you aren’t publishing full-length episodes, you can stay in front of your audience via social media, blog posts, short live videos or email blasts. Choose a platform you enjoy and one you’ll be able to update without too much effort. Then, when you announce your break, tell your listeners that you’ll still be somewhat active on that platform, and remind them to check in regularly. The side benefit of this approach is that you may significantly grow your social media follows due to faithful listeners who will be eager to hear from you while you’re on a break from podcasting.
2. Go All In.
Doing too many things at once can lead to major burnout, especially if the results are only so-so. After all, what’s more energizing: putting out a so-so episode, or a great episode that’s genuinely useful and generates a ton of feedback? If you’re having a hard time keeping up with everything well enough to regularly put out quality content, it would be better to focus on one podcast at a time or publish weekly instead of several times a week. Remember that you can always increase the number of shows you produce or how often you publish later when you’re in a good rhythm and consistently feeling great about what you’re producing.
3. Invest Time In What You Love
Podcasting isn’t just about sitting down at a microphone and recording. From writing show notes to interacting with your audience to managing technical details, many aspects go into producing a successful podcast – and chances are, one or two of them stand out as particularly enjoyable for you. So if sound quality is important to you, feel free to nerd out over recording techniques and make your audio the best out there. If planning show content is your forte, put as much effort as you can into developing your ideas and format. If you love researching and writing, create the most killer show notes in the podcasting world. Or if you get a boost every time you hear from a listener, nurture those relationships by putting time into engaging via email or social media.
Unless you’re superhuman or have a whole team producing every episode, you probably can’t do a top-notch job at every podcast-related task, but doing just one or two things really well is a great way to make your show stand out while also giving you personal satisfaction.
4. Change Things Up
Boredom can also cause burnout, and in those cases you might find that trying something new is more helpful than taking a break. Changing up your show’s format and experimenting with new kinds of content can help get your show out of a rut. For example, if your show is usually you and a co-host, maybe you could try adding solo episodes or interview-based shows to the mix. You could also play with length, introduce new segments, or change up the order that you generally tackle. You don’t want to completely change your show overnight, but slowly adding in new elements or tackling topics you might not usually address will give your audience the sense that your podcast is vibrant and exciting – without confusing them or turning them off.
5. Get Help
If you’re consistently burned out, it might just be that you’re doing too much. At some point, it might be time to focus on what you do well and enjoy, and hire people to help you with the rest. No budget? Consider a barter! For example, if you’re a content genius while a podcasting buddy is a production whiz, find ways to team up so you can each do what you do best. You’ll each have a better-produced show and less reason for burnout: talk about a win-win.
Podcasters, what are your best tips for avoiding or dealing with podcasting burnout?