Overcoming Podcast Challenges in 2020

This is the first installment of our end of the year collaborative blog series featuring you, the heart and soul of podcasting, independent podcasters.

The more we can connect and share our knowledge about podcasting, the more the medium shines and thrives from the wisdom of those that are in the trenches, doing this podcasting thing. Bonus, we know that we are not alone and we get better!


Above any other year, 2020 has been one that showed us that we can do hard things!

We’ve all had to figure out how to do almost everything in ways that we never expected and didn’t even think we could. Let’s take a moment to recognize that we are doing our best and we will continue to persevere 🙏🏽

This post centers these hard things from the lens of a podcaster. We asked the podcasting community:

What’s the hardest podcasting related thing you’ve had to overcome over the last year?

And boy, did we get some amazing responses!

In reading all of your words, themes began to appear and we’ve arranged them according to those themes below, for easy browsing.

Although there were many of you that struggled with workflow, marketing, money making and guest management, the real story dealt with collective and individual circumstances, frame of mind, mental state and shifts in perspective.

We hope that reading all of these voices provides an opportunity to see that we are not alone. We are striving and doing this podcasting thing and it continues to somehow, bring us joy and fulfillment.

Your voice makes a difference.

Check out these candid responses from your fellow podcasters.

If you’re inspired, reach out to one or more of the podcasters that you most related to in this post ❤️

LIFE AND CIRCUMSTANCES

Jeanne from Healing Outside the Box@coachjetsky

I went through a podfade back in April when the Covid- 19 was on everyone's mind all of the time. I just didn't have the energy to put into writing and recording a podcast because I find the need to be funny if I can. And that's because my podcast is about nutrition, which some people feel can be boring. My sense of humor can be silly or goofy, which is not something we naturally feel when we're in the middle of a pandemic.

Carrie from Speaking with Ryan & Carrie Sharpe@TheSharpes

The most difficult thing to overcome this year was that our episode plan for the year became mostly irrelevant after the pandemic began. We learned to stay true to the overall plan by asking ourselves how we could make our planned topics more relevant for the circumstances. Adapting was not always easy for us, but we've managed to do it and grow our audience at the same time.

Carlie from Value Added Talk@CarlieTMF

Remote recording with the hosts and keeping up momentum and motivation during a difficult year. We had just invested in equipment designed for the Value Added Talk team to record all in the same room, but then lockdown happened and we quickly had to change plans and adapt to everyone recording from home. The team had to get used to that 'remote' recording dynamic and find their groove, which happily they did.

Jess from She Podcasts@shepodcasts

Pivoting ALL of our plans and what we made room for in our schedule and budget this year.

Joel from Crushing Life

Not quitting after you miss a few days in a row

Stephanie from Geopats Podcasting, Geopats Language@stephfuccio

Trying to find my place in podcasting outside of my own projects. Turning a passion into an income is not easy but I have a lot to share to help others, so I am trying.

Kathy from Women Who Sarcast@womenwhosarcast

Not being able to record episodes with people in the same room. Everything has gone virtual and with that some of the "energy in the room" has dissipated as well. It's worked out as far as recording virtually, however some times the audio is compromised and there's only so much control one has over the internet.

William from Bill Watches Movies

I ain't gonna lie, the 'rona finally got me down about July or August, and I just had to take a break for a month or two. I came back with a new episode on Thanksgiving Day, and I'm back in the saddle and I'm feeling much better, to quote Monty Python. I may have lost some subscribers, but I'm okay with that as well.

Nick from Profoundly Pointless@nickvinzant

Burnout.

Everything just seemed to get harder.

The endless meetings, depressing news and inability to “turn off” just wore myself and our team down.

Jason from The Sample Chapter Podcast@ChapterSample

Easily it would be this past October and my plans to do a bonus episode each week of the month. I’d been building a collection of prerecorded episodes and several guest authors had requested certain dates in mid-to-late month to coincide with a new book release and Halloween. No problem, I thought. I just need to edit the recordings and I’ll double up for a special month. Enter my Mom’s sudden health problems. It wasn’t COVID, but it was serious nonetheless and we actually lost her twice. Thankfully, she got better and by early November she was home again. Throughout all that I was editing on the go and even recording my pre and post show segments in a Barnes & Noble or even my car! Still it worked out and I managed to have a great month highlighted by a guest spot with actor, Lou Diamond Phillips who’d authored his first novel!

Pam from Cafe Con Pam@cobiux

Keep publishing. With all the chaos sometimes it felt out of place or I wasn't in a space to show up, I kept reminding myself the words and knowledge shared in my show could help someone so I'd bring myself up to publish consistently.

Chris from The Image File Photo Podcast@chriskoehn

Just getting started! I had plans for launching my podcast earlier this year, but the pandemic threw a lot of difficulty everyone's way and I was delayed until Aug 31. I'm glad I decided to follow through, now I just have to keep going.

Bob from The Business Side of Music

We lost our amazing recording studio in March due to the pandemic. As we always strive for the best audio quality, we had to learn to adapt by converting my dining room at our house into a professional recording studio. As we were in the middle of the process of turning our show into a 3 camera shoot webcast when Covid hit, it only compounded issues (we had just finished shooting our first webcast episode a few weeks earlier), we had to go out and purchase new cameras as we could no longer use the ones in the studio, along with a switcher and applicable cabling. The learning curve has been a bit of a challenge, but we should be fully operational as a webcast in addition to being a podcast by the first of the year.

The other thing has been to get guests comfortable enough with the idea of coming to our house to do an "in-studio" interview. Fortunately 75% of our shows are still being recorded in studio, with the remainder being done over Skype (and the majority of those are due to the guest being out of town). Very few guests have flatly refused to be in person. We do take safety precautions, and keep everything as clean and sanitized as possible.

FIGHTING PERFECTIONISM

Neal from PodKnows – @podknowsprod

When I began years ago, I had a notion of needing to edit everything to a seamless level, including every breath, every umm, every single thing that wasn't a word. Learning to understand what the individual podcaster wants on their own show, and being open to dialling back on that and letting the audio 'breathe' a bit has been a huge benefit and also facilitated helping more people.

Vinny from The Unlatched Mind@vinnyvallarine

Getting started. I'm an overthinking and got caught up with trying to think through everything and have an exact plan for everything that could go wrong. I've learned that, for almost any new venture, once you have about 75% of the things figured up, JUST START!

MINDSET AND IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

Punam from edu-Me@edume19

The hardest thing I've had to overcome this year in podcasting has been to get out of my own way and allow myself to be confident in my skills, learn what I don't know, and be willing to put myself out there. I've always inherently known I had a skill set, but not necessarily confident enough to share and speak about them. Finding a supportive group in podcasting and be vulnerable has elevated my desire to push myself harder and learn more from all the pod starts.

Jeff from The Jeff Dwoskin Show@JeffDwoskinShow

The biggest fear I had to over come was the fear of not hearing an immediate response. As a stand-up comic I’m used to immediate reaction to what I’m saying and a podcast is pure monologue. For recording I actually purchased a mic stand like I used on stage and when I talk I get myself into the mindset of being on stage when I record.

Tangia from That’s What She Did@TWSDpodcast

Figuring out how to monetize. As an independent podcaster it feels intimidating to go after sponsorships like big podcasts do. But, to be successful you have to remember that unless you ask it’s always a no. At worst the sponsor you go after is going to say no. More than likely, you won’t hear from them at all. Not hearing isn’t exactly a no. It’s more of a maybe (or at least I’d like to think so), and a no, really just means “not right now.”

Even though I have a ton of pitch and fund raising experience, I still have to give myself a little talk and remind myself who the hell I am so I can do what I know I can do. But, in 2020 that has felt more difficult than ever.

Emily from The Story Behind and Hate To Weight – @EmilyPeckProkop

Feeling like my podcast was done but couldn't bring myself to create that closure because it felt so final and it had grown so much.

Yvette from Positively Joy@positivelyjoypodcast

Battling with pridefulness. Watching the download count is evil! Seriously, I know why I launched my faith-based podcast, "Positively Joy," and becoming famous wasn't part of the goal.

Brée from Fabulous F**kery@baronessbree

That I needed to take a break.

Covid made me realize that I was always doing because I was running from healing.

Rachel from Adventures in Mobile Homes with Rachel Hernandez@mobilehomegurl

Not to focus only on stats and downloads. It's not all about numbers. What really matters is that I produce great content that serves my audience. No matter how many people listen…big or small.

Andrew from Cask&Crow@caskcrow

I feel like, just taking the plunge is the hardest thing. Being caught in that space of wanting to be creative, but not exactly sure how you’ll be perceived. That’s the toughest part. Once you get started, the platform enables you to become even more creative.

Chris from First Encounter@1stencounterpod

Figuring out how to prioritize projects. My time management has never been the best, so making sure I start editing the podcast early in the week and work on it consistently each day has been a struggle.

Clark from Sleep Tight Stories@sleeptightstory

There are so many, getting clean voice recordings is an ongoing "thing". But the biggest thing we have had to overcome is our reluctance to talk about our achievements, our work, with those around us. To overcome this we have started being open about our data, shared our journey with local media interviews and new pieces, reached out to peers, and became more engaged with social media.

Jennifer from Think Fit. Be Fit.@jennimpact

The hardest thing I've overcome is also linked to general self-improvement and empowerment. I realized that my audience responded best when I spoke with confidence and explored curiosity. I realized that the conversations were better when I was tuned in to the guest and was actively listening. I worked on these like skills and used coaches. Now I can see that the investments are paying off and I feel more grounded in the mission of the podcast and sharing my passion.

The Barefoot Backpacker from Travel Tales From Beyond The Brochure@rtwbarefoot

Honestly, with me it's actually sitting down to write it (I read from a script). I really enjoy doing my podcast, but sometimes I need to overcome a lot of … fear, I guess, to start the process for each episode – the fear it'll be awful, that no-one will listen, that previous listeners will be put off … especially given my somewhat 'erratic' broadcast schedule.

THE CHALLENGE OF GUESTS

Patrick from Stop doing nothing high achiever show@patrickallmond

Finding passionate guests

Dr. Elissia from The Research Her@ElissiaPhd

Outreach to get guests on the show. I would love to outsource this step.

Mike from This Podcast Is… Uncalled For@skidawgkc22

Scheduling interviews. It’s tough enough without there being a global pandemic taking place.

Dr. Vibe from The Dr. Vibe Show™ – @drvibeshow

Hosting and producing a podcast by myself. Since more people are at home I have been able to get more people on the show. But, it has been challenging to keep it going.

Joel from Were You Still Talking? – @joelaalbrecht

Finding guests. 

Because my show is small I’m very shy about asking people to be on the show. This is very difficult because it’s an interview show. 

The pandemic has actually helped with this as I learned to use zoom and can ask people from around the world to be on. I also found podcastguest.com which is helped a lot.

John from DadPodUK@dadbloguk

Firstly, I have to say my podcast is relatively new but in the few months it has been going I have overcome a few challenges. Top of the list would be tracking down really good quality guests. The focus of my podcast is fatherhood and lots of people make them already. I wanted to speak to dads from non traditional backgrounds such as dads who had been in prison, stepdads, stay at home dads and so on. I was surprised how long it took for really good guests to come forward and agree to being interviewed, but the wait has always been worth it.

Lena from The Shipping Podcast@shippingpodcast

I have always traveled to see my interviewee in person, which have been part of my “secret sauce”, my guest “forgets” that there is a recording.

Once I figured out how to record via the video tool Zoom, I now had to change the way to encourage my guests to speak freely with me. 

Nowadays, everyone has come to the realisation that being on video platforms is the “new normal”.

MARKETING HELP

Jassim from SJ.nutshells@SJ_Nutshells

Promoting the podcast. I didn’t know how and where to start.

 

Ted from Phil and Ted's Sexy Boomer Show@boomersexy

Building awareness that podcasts for the 50+ age audience is viable with smart speakers.

Brian from Our Different Take

How to grow the podcast. So many different ways to do it and everyone has their own idea. I finally decided to work on quality and the rest will come.

Billi and Lyndsey from Wine Chats with Bildo & Lindalin@winechatspod

How to grow an audience beyond family and friends and gaining discoverability in a saturated market.

Lindsay from Mind Money Balance@mindmoneybalance

How much you have to promote! I'm such an avid podcast listener and often discovering new ones, that I didn't take a step back to consider that many people aren't looking for new ones. Getting comfortable talking about my podcast has been tough and rewarding.

Isabella from Truth By Bella@truthbybella

The hardest podcasting related thing I've had to overcome over the last year is learning how use the social media platforms to effectively promote my episodes

Michelle from Stories of Impact@storiesofimpac

Social media algorithms when doing a season about Citizenship in a Networked Age around the election. 

Posts blocked and ads unable to be purchased despite not having a political stance.

Victoria from Unseen: The Trafficked Truth Podcast@unseentttpod

Marketing self through social media. My podcast touches on a very silenced specific crime of sex trafficking and even sexual exploitation . Although there are many true crime addicts, like myself, theres something in me that doesn’t want to further exploit but raising awareness is needed and truly the only way. I started with one listener matters to get it out to many more! So in a sense that is hard to do as we naturally want people to listened in who want to know but it takes work for those other 95%

Monica from Women of Color Talk Biz (WOCTalk.biz)@woctalkbiz

Trying to focus on great content while also doing the marketing and operational production. 

Why? 

Because all the moving parts are a challenge to juggle as a one-woman operation. I’ve been focusing more on content and learning w/my interviewees. Monetization is on the fringe of this, yet another component.

Joy from The Joy Sutton Show@joysuttonshow

Marketing – It doesn’t matter if you have the best podcast in the world if no one knows about it. 

Early on, I spent a lot of my time producing a quality show. While I did social media posts and landed some media interviews, I soon realized it’s going to take a lot more effort. 

If you simply think you will build it and they will come, you may be in for a rude awakening unless you already have a huge following.

PRODUCTION HURDLES

Dr. Richelle from Mahogany Moms Podcast@providentialcounseling

It’s been getting the podcast up and out there. I had done the interviews some time ago but the logistics of the intro, outro, and editing was challenging.

Charlie from Riding Shotgun With Charlie@ridingshotgunwithcharlie

Putting the time in to edit. My show is in video. I use 3 cameras and sync them together.

Ashley from Curiosity Daily@smashleyhamer

Going from a mostly editorial role on my show to learning the ins and outs of audio editing, ad insertion, distribution, etc while my cohost went on paternity leave for three months. I came out of that a MUCH stronger podcaster than I was before!

Nat from Crime Time Nerds: A Sister Podcast@crimetimenerds

I think for us it's been audio quality and editing. We never had any prior experience with it and that lack of knowledge definitely set us back early on.

Definitely learned to make sure you have the right equipment early on and to learn as much as possible about audio editing.

David from Humanity's Values@lifeweavings

Consistency in content creation and delivery. The number of ideas aren't a problem, but the responsibility and dedication to sitting down for each episode, doing the design work and putting together the social media connections can be daunting when looked at initially. Irony being, once done, it feels amazing every time.

Rick from The Outdoor Biz Podcast@outdoorbizpod

Avoid launching a second show. Seriously, I have so much fun on my show because I get to talk with all my friends and colleagues in the Outdoor and Adventure Industries and I love the process and sharing their stories that I want to do another show! But I just don't have the time to pull it off. I do have the idea simmering on the back burner though.

Chetana from Gritty Serendipity

The hardest podcasting thing is, overcoming the "known unknows" versus "unknown unknows" of podcasting before launching my podcast. Why because being a one-women army starting the podcasting, I am tasked to do everything especially reaching out for guests and processing their response to scheduling to recordings to marketing, etc.

Christine from Flourish in the Foreign@flourishforeign

The hardest podcasting thing I’ve had to overcome is learning how to edit. 

I launched “Flourish in the Foreign” in May 2020 and had absolutely NO audio experience except being an avid “This American Life” listener. 

Learning not only the tech side but also learning my storytelling style at the same time was overwhelming and intimidating, but I’m glad I pushed through because I think it’s something that can only be learned through experience.

We hope that after taking the journey of reading your fellow podcaster’s words you feel a bit less like you’re the only one going through it.

In addition to the power of podcasting being that you can share your voice with the world, you also are part of an amazing community full of resilient souls.

Stay tuned for more from independent podcaster voices through the rest of this collaborative series!

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