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There comes a time in every podcaster’s life when we feel dissatisfied with the results we’re getting. Maybe you were hoping for more downloads, more sponsors, more fans on Twitter or Facebook, but it just isn’t happening.

I see these questions a lot. I’ve asked myself all these questions before.

  • People aren’t sharing my show with their friends. What am I doing wrong?
  • People aren’t leaving me iTunes reviews. Does no one care?
  • I ask people questions and they don’t respond. Why is everyone ignoring me?
  • I don’t feel the desire to keep doing my podcast. Should I push through or quit?
  • My podcast doesn’t seem to be growing. What should I do differently?

I can promise you that every successful person has felt the same exact way at some point in their life. Very few people start with a built-in audience. Everyone has to work hard and fight for every bit of attention they get.

We all look at other people who are achieving success doing similar things and wonder, “Why not me?” Some people get angry and bitter about it. Some people get depressed and quit and retreat to the safety of not trying.

So I want to ask you this; do you love podcasting enough to suck at it for awhile? Are you willing to look at what you suck at and work to make it better?

Being honest with yourself about what you suck at is the first step towards getting better.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Remember that no matter what level of success you reach, there are always going to be people more successful than you. Don’t let that discourage you.
  • Study successful people to see how they achieved their goals and how their methods could help you be more successful.
  • Great titles and show notes will help bring people to your site and get them to check out your podcast, but you can’t just expect people to come and find you. You need to go to them.
  • Make it easy for your audience to leave you iTunes reviews. Ask them for reviews at the end of every episode.
  • If you want people to listen to you and pay attention to your message, you have to be a good speaker.
  • Show up every week if you want people to pay attention to you. People notice consistency.
  • If you still really care about something but you aren’t getting results, it may just be that you haven’t done it long enough, you haven’t done it consistently enough, or you might still suck at it. Be honest with yourself about it.
  • If you’ve never had guests on your podcast, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask them to be a guest on your show.
  • Your first 50 fans are the most important. Pay close attention to what they say if they write you or talk with you on social media.

Show Notes

  • 3:10 If you aren’t happy with the results you’re getting, you need to pause for a moment and think about what kind of success you want. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big; shoot for the stars. Try to get a million downloads, or 50,000 per episode.

Remember that no matter what level of success you reach, there are always going to be people more successful than you. Don’t let that discourage you.

  • 3:51 There are always going to be shows with more listeners, making more money, talking about how they can’t believe they just got to #1 in some category in iTunes.
  • 4:23 It doesn’t matter. Those other people aren’t on your journey. You have your own struggle to deal with. You have your own obstacles to overcome. You have your own strengths, and your own weaknesses.

Tackle Your Problems One Thing at a Time

  • 4:37 Feeling sorry for yourself about your lack of success does absolutely nothing for you. You have to focus on taking steps to get better and improve your show. I’m all about that, actually. I used to spend a lot of time worrying that I would never be successful, and all that it got me was a lot of sleepless nights and a bunch of wasted time.
  • 4:59 At some point I realized the futility of worrying about success and being envious of others and I started focusing all my energy on improving myself and my craft. I still look at other successful people, but not with envy.

Study successful people to see how they achieved their goals and how their methods could help you be more successful.

Why Did You Start Doing a Podcast in the First Place?

  • 5:24 The answer to this question is probably a lot more important than you might think. If you don’t have a clear set of goals defined in the beginning, how are you going to measure success? Your goals could be anything you want:
    • Marketing for an online course
    • Making new friends
    • Interviewing the people you admire
    • Growing an audience for your standup comedy
    • Publishing something you can be proud of in 30 years
    • Putting aside time to chat with some of your best friends about things you love
    • Getting better at speaking so that you could someday give a talk at a conference and not suck at it
  • 6:49 There are so many different goals that we can have as podcasters, you just need to figure out what yours are and write them down. Keep the list somewhere you can look over it when you start feeling discouraged.

People Aren’t Sharing My Show with Their Friends

  • 7:09 Are you creating a podcast for a specific audience, or are you just doing it because you want to talk about whatever you feel like talking about? Have you defined your audience and what value you have to offer them?
  • 7:33 Ask yourself these questions before you record every episode:
    • Is this information going to help someone?
    • Is my show going to entertain or educate someone?
    • Are I paying attention to what my audience wants or needs?
    • What questions are they asking me?
    • What questions are they asking online?
    • Am I solving real problems that real people are having?

If You Want People to Listen, You Have to Do a Good Job of Describing Your Podcast’s Value

  • 7:54 You have to tell people why they should care about your show and why they should listen to you. Talk about the benefits and what they’ll get out of the show right away, otherwise they’ll tune out.

Does Your Audio Quality Suck?

  • 8:27 If you aren’t using a professional level microphone, now is the time to upgrade. Competition is fierce, and people expect quality. They have too many other choices and great audio isn’t that hard to get.
  • 9:08 If you’re still using a cheap USB mic, upgrade to a professional interface and an nice XLR mic like the Beta 87a or the Shure SM7B.
  • 9:35 If you already have great gear but your room is echoy, buy some sound absorption panels. If you’ve got a good room and a great mic, spend some time learning how to be better at post production.

Is it Time to Hire an Editor?

  • 9:53 I’ve said before that editing podcasts is time consuming. Hiring an editor costs money, but is editing your podcast and writing show notes really something you need to be doing? You could hand off editing to someone else and use the time you save to do more productive things that only you can do.

Are You Sharing Your Podcast in the Right Places?

  • 10:24 What are the right places? Anywhere online (or even offline) where your audience spends time.
  • 10:47 Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are great places to start, but you shouldn’t ignore other hangout spots online. A lot of people still spend a lot of time in forums and other online groups. There are probably conferences and meetups related to your niche that you could be going to. Start building relationships with the people there who share your passion.
  • 11:01 Something I need to do more often is promoting old episodes that are valuable. We all worry about oversharing our content; we think people will unsubscribe if they see something more than once. But you’ll get new followers all the time, and many of them aren’t familiar with your past work. Some of your current followers might have missed your previous posts. As long as you aren’t posting the same exact content everyday, you’ll be fine. Share highlights from your old shows more often.

Great titles and show notes will help bring people to your site and get them to check out your podcast, but you can’t just expect people to come and find you. You need to go to them.

  • 12:08 Create content that people will want to share. The only way to do this is to know your audience and what their pain points are, or what they’re interested in learning about. You have to know their struggles, and you have to be listening to them.

Tell Your Story

  • 13:12 People want stories. They want to hear how you went from point A to point B. They want you to tell them how they can grow and get better.
  • 13:37 You can help people grow by sharing how you’ve grown. Some people won’t be interested in hearing about how you’ve grown. That’s ok, those people aren’t your audience. You should still share what you’ve learned to help the people who do want to hear your story.

How Do I Get More iTunes Reviews?

  • 13:56 iTunes reviews are a great source of encouragement and a way to get feedback from your audience. If you aren’t getting any, here’s a few tips to help you get more.
  • 14:01 1. Ask your listeners for reviews at the end of every episode. People are busy. They probably enjoy your show but don’t spend much time thinking about how they could give back. Make sure to ask them at the end of your episodes after you’ve provided them with something valuable.
  • 14:17 2. Create an easy URL that redirects to your iTunes page. For example, if you visit thepodcastdude.com/itunes, it will redirect you to the iTunes website for my show. Setting up a redirect like that will give your audience an easy way to get to your page in iTunes so they can leave you a review.
  • 14:16 3. Put a link to your iTunes page on your website. Ask visitors to subscribe and leave you a review.

Make it easy for your audience to leave you iTunes reviews. Ask them for reviews at the end of every episode.

Do You Suck at Talking?

  • 14:57 I struggled for a long time with feeling like I wasn’t a good speaker, and podcasting has helped me immensly. Speaking clearly and confidently is a key part of being perceived as a leader and authority in any field.

If you want people to listen to you and pay attention to your message, you have to be a good speaker.

Is it Time for a New Co-host?

  • 17:54 A lot of people do podcasts with a co-host. For most people, it’s easier to have a conversation with someone than it is to prepare and record a whole episode by yourself.
  • 18:21 I was the original co-host of the seanwes podcast back in fall of 2013. When we started the podcast, Sean already have a clear definition of success in mind. He had a long term game plan. I did not have a long term plan or a definition of success in my mind. Sean was just a cool, smart guy that I met at a Dribbble meetup in Austin. Back then, I had a lot of things going. I was trying to do a lot of things (band, web design, podcast editing), and my focus was split between them.
  • 20:21 My mindset at the time was, “I want to learn and I want to talk about what I want to talk about and make jokes and have a good time.” Since Sean took podcasting and providing value to the audience more seriously, our audience could tell that I wasn’t as focused or commited. After getting some negative feedback about my contributions, Sean came to me and asked if I’d be willing to re-focus on delivering value to the audience.
  • 21:45 I didn’t take that too well. I thought, “Screw them. I want to talk about what I want to talk about.” That’s the exact opposite of the attitude I should have had. Sean told me that if I wanted to stay on as the co-host for the show, I’d need to make some changes, otherwise he’d start looking for another co-host. I told him I’d rather step down than to change for the audience (a mistake, in retrospect).
  • 22:30 At that point, I wasn’t invested in the show. I don’t know if Sean could tell or if the audience could tell, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. That was the problem.
  • 22:44 My point is that if your co-host is bored, if they aren’t “feeling it” anymore, if they just flat-out suck; it might be a good idea to talk to them about it and possibly find a new co-host.
  • 23:37 If both of you aren’t in the same boat, if you aren’t invested in your podcast, that can drag a show down. People can tell when someone isn’t passionate about what they’re doing. It shows, especially in voice. Unfortuntely, I can’t tell you the right way to fire you co-host or how to find a new one. If you suspect your co-host doesn’t have his or her head in the game, have a conversation with them about it.

Make the Best Show You Can Every Time

  • 24:38 Prepare for your episodes. Write outlines. Do research. Spend more time preparing for your episodes than you think you should. To stand out, you have to do something exceptional. I’m not saying that if you’re not better than everyone else then you should quit, but you need to constantly be pushing yourself to do better.
  • 25:07 What do you have to offer that no one else does? What stories can you share? What knowledge do you have? What are your opinions? You are a unique person, so put your personality into your shows. Share that with your audience.

Show Up Every Week

  • 25:28 You need to publish a show on a consistent basis. You should be aiming for weekly releases if you want to grow an audience.
  • 25:55 Chris Coyier (the guy who started CSSTricks.com, the Shoptalk Show Podcast, CodePen and the CodePen Radio podcast) grew an audience by showing up and writing all the time. By the time I discovered him, he already had hundreds of helpful blog posts about web design, over 50 screencasts, and dozens of podcast episodes. I instantly bookmarked his site because I could tell that he was commited to teaching what he learned. I’ve sent many people to his site and his podcasts over the years because of the massive body of work that he’s created.

Show up every week if you want people to pay attention to you. People notice consistency.

  • 27:29 You need to build up a body of work. If you’ve done 10 or 15 episodes, you haven’t done anything yet. Come back when you’ve done 50 episodes and we’ll talk about why your podcast isn’t getting any results. You have to build up a body of work, otherwise people won’t know if you’re going to keep showing up.

Write Show Notes That Don’t Suck

  • 28:00 Show notes aren’t just about creating something that people can skim; they also help new people find the show through search engines. This is especially effective if your show titles are things that your audience will actually search for on Google. Same with headlines.
  • 28:34 If you aren’t sure how to write detailed show notes yet, I strongly suggest checking out all the show notes for the shows on the seanwes network. Study them closely and try to replicate their format.
  • 30:33 I did an entire episode with Sean and Laci McCabe about how to write better show notes, you can find that at thepodcastdude.com/5.

Update Your Artwork and Branding

  • 30:59 If you just slapped something together when you started, it might be time for a redesign. I covered the importance of great artwork in episode 20, Podcast Artwork and Branding with Cory Miller, so go listen to that if you haven’t already. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint can make all the difference.

Be the Leader of a Tribe

  • 31:25 In Seth Godin’s book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, he talkes about how people have been joining tribes and groups since the beginning of time.
  • 32:03 We all want to connect with people who are interested in the same things and ideas that we are. People are searching for tribes, and you can create and grow your own; you just have to act like a leader.

I Ask People Questions and They Don’t Respond. What am I Doing Wrong?

  • 32:38 It’s ok if people don’t respond. They’re busy. The good news is that people love talking about their problems online. Go find the places where people are talking about their problems and start answering their questions and providing solutions. Over time, you’ll become the go-to person in their minds. They’ll ask you questions, they’ll send their friends to your show. It takes time and consistency, but you’ll get there.

I Don’t Feel the Desire to Keep Doing My Podcast. Should I Push Through or Quit?

  • 33:56 Is there something else you’d rather be doing? Maybe it’s time to do that instead. Maybe you want to do a different kind of show. You can either transition your show into that, or if it’s a completely different topic that your current audience isn’t going to be interested in, then just let them know that you’re starting a new show.

If you still really care about something but you aren’t getting results, it may just be that you haven’t done it long enough, you haven’t done it consistently enough, or you might still suck at it. Be honest with yourself about it.

  • 35:08 Sometimes we start doing something and we know pretty quickly that we want to do it for a long time. Some things we try and eventually learn that we aren’t interested in doing it long-term. You have to do something for awhile to know the difference.

Bring Other Podcasters On Your Show

  • 35:51 If you know of other podcasters in a similar niche or genre as you, invite them to come on your show. Your audience will appreciate another expert’s perspective and there’s a good chance that your guest will share the show with their audience as well.
  • 36:23 You’ll also be building relationships with other people who share your passion. In the long term, those relationships might even be more valuable than getting in front of their audience. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a co-hosting situation sometime in the future, or maybe they’ll send your company referals. Maybe they’ll send people to your site when they know you have the answers to a question in your show notes. Maybe they’ll become a life-long friend.

If you’ve never had guests on your podcast, don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask them to be a guest on your show.

  • 36:56 Tell them why you want them to come on the show and what topics you’d like to talk about. Give them a chance to shine and talk about what they love.

Growing an Audience Takes Time

  • 37:34 Growing an audience is hard and takes a lot of time and work. If you aren’t already known for something, if you don’t have a previous audience, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and effort to build an audience. You have to stick with it.
  • 38:01 It’s easy to get frustrated when you look at successful people doing what you wish you could be doing. You wonder why you aren’t seeing the same results. You feel like you’re never going to get there.
  • 38:26 There is no end to your journey, and that’s a good thing. You can’t be focused on your destination the whole time. You can’t be focused on the place you think you’re going to get to where everything will be perfect and there will be magic and unicorns. That place doesn’t exist.
  • 38:48 There are only steps that you have to take, and stops that you’re going to make along the way. You don’t need to know your destination to get started, you just need to start walking.

Always Appreciate of Your Audience and Respect Their Attention

  • 39:14 This is especially important when you’re just starting out.

Your first 50 fans are the most important. Pay close attention to what they say if they write you or talk with you on social media.

  • 39:40 These are the people who have taken a chance on you when you were the new game in town. You need to take that very seriously. Give them attention. Engage with them. Listen to what they have to say.

Q&A:

  • 46:58 Scott Hofford asked: How long should I be putting out content before considering my results?
  • 47:20 Sean McCabe says show up every day for two years if you want to see results. I’d add to that; how long is it going to take until you’re really good at it? I’m not just talking about making something passible or pretty good; how long until you really nail it and make something great?
  • 49:21 Show up everyday for two years is great advice. The key takeaway there is show up every day. It’s not something you do on the weekends or when you feel like it, it’s something you do every day. It’s something you think about every day.
  • 49:48 It might take longer than two years. If you’re starting from scratch, two years isn’t a long time. You can still create content that helps other beginners. That’s perfectly fine. The people with way more experience aren’t going to be your audience; they don’t need what you have to offer. You can help the people who are just getting started. You won’t see success overnight, but if you stick with it long enough and focus on improving and getting better every time, you’ll get there.