A podcast failure doesn't mean you should quit podcasting. Here are 9 steps to help you recover and keep moving forward!
1. Stop complaining
Complaining about what you call a failure is only wasting time. Your complaining won't improve anything, it won't fix the problem, and it won't inspire others. Complaining gives your mistakes more power over you.
When you stop complaining, you can start doing.
2. Define your “failure”
What actually happened that you are calling a “failure”? Try to define and even measure it. Shift away from using the “failure” label and into a descriptive and measurable goal you didn't reach. You should be describing a fact, not an interpreted consequence.
This, alone, may help correct your perspective because you might realize what you called a “failure” was only one small missed goal.
- “My podcast launch failed” might really be, “I didn't get into ‘New and Noteworthy.'”
- “I failed at monetizing” might really be, “I couldn't get the 5 sponsors I contacted.”
- “My cohost is a failure at podcasting” might really be, “My cohost didn't do what I expected.”
- “I'm failing at consistency” might really be, “I haven't been publishing episodes on the same days every week.”
As you get more descriptive and measurable in how you define your “failure,” you'll probably realize it was merely one goal you didn't achieve—and maybe only not yet.
3. Take responsibility
Most likely, you're the leader in your podcast. Regardless of how you describe the failure, you need to take responsibility for it.
Don't blame Apple, your cohosts, your audience, the technology, the niche, the competition, or anyone or anything else. Doing so is like handing over your success and control to someone or something else.
This is probably hard to accept: you are responsible for what went wrong. Maybe you didn't work hard enough. Maybe you didn't make pursue excellence. Maybe you didn't do the right things. Maybe you didn't communicate properly. Maybe you didn't have the right expectations.
Yes, mistakes or bad things can happen that are outside your own control. But letting these things wreck your podcast is your responsibility.
This really isn't about what happened, but about how you contributed to it and how you handle it.
4. Understand what went wrong
When you have your “failure” defined and you're taking responsibility, you can seek to understand how things led to what you call a failure.
For example, if your cohost has been a horrible companion for your podcast, look at what kind of expectations you set for them as well as held yourself. Look at how you communicated. You might realize your cohost never knew what you expected of them, or maybe you never reinforced it.
Most importantly, when you know what broke, you'll know what you need to fix.
You may have even already had a plan, but maybe you didn't follow it—either because you chose not to, or you were unable to.
5. Make a new plan
Recovering from any level of failure requires a strategy. You have to know what you'll stop doing, what you'll change, or what you'll start doing. This means making a new plan (because, obviously, your old plan either didn't work or wasn't followed.)
You must clearly communicate this plan to everyone else involved.
Ensure your new plan doesn't have the same problems as your old plan so you won't be making the same mistakes.
6. Remove, repair, or replace the broken parts
This far into the process of recovering from a failed podcast, you probably recognize what's not working for your podcast. It could hardware, software, workflow, perspective, people, content, and more.
With each problem area, you can do one of three things:
- Remove it—This may give you more time, money, or other resources to invest elsewhere in your podcast.
- Repair it—This allows you to keep things you want, but make them perform better.
- Replace it—You might not be able to repair something, and removing it would leave a horrible void. In such cases, you could replace it with something better.
7. Rebrand or relaunch
When you're ready to move forward with your show you have three choices:
- Rebrand when it's a fresh take on the same topic for the same audience. This is a great time to adjust your visual and audio branding, too.
- Relaunch with a new podcast when it's a new show for a similar or different audience.
Listen to “Should You Rebrand a Podcast, or Launch a New Show?” (episode 268) for more help on this decision.
8. Build anticipation in your audience
Whether you feel you need to rebrand your existing show or launch a new one, let your existing audience know what's coming. Instead of apologizing for change, get them excited about the new direction! Make sure you also include simple instructions for what they need to do to get the new show.
If you're rebranding, ask them to stay subscribed so they'll receive the new episodes, but to expect the title and cover art to change (if true).
If you're relaunching, ask them to visit the new podcast's website where they can learn more and subscribe.
9. “Keep moving forward”
In the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons, a boy's invention fails on its first try. But that small failure is celebrated with the line, “Keep moving forward.”
I think a failure is truly a failure only if we let it beat us and we quit there.
Make the necessary adjustments in your podcasting and keep podcasting forward!
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