How to Successfully Take a Break From and Come Back To Your Podcast

Do Your Best To Avoid Taking a Break

There was a time when I was very happy using the apple podcasts app. Then they pushed an update that broke the app. You couldn't even start it. Meanwhile, I was a copier technician who needed podcasts to listen to in the car. I didn't stop listening. I switched to overcast, and I never went back.

Keep in mind that when you take a break, your audience may stop listening to you but they are not going to stop listening.

Keeping a subscriber takes effort. You have to provide value. Getting a new subscriber/follower takes more effort.

Taking a Break Is Up To You

As is the case with most things in podcasting, it is up to you to decide if you need a break. We all have different lives with different priorities and different situations. There is no “Here is when it's OK to take a break.” Well, let me take that back. When creating a podcast is affecting your health, or the health of your family, I don't think anyone is going to argue that you should keep podcasting even though you're in the midst of chemo treatments.

What About Those Sponsors?

Oh yeah….. those sponsors who had you signed a contract that said they would be featured in the next 12 episodes from this date to that date. Depending on what you agreed to in your contract, you want to make sure you're not going to break your contract with your sponsor.

What About Seasons?

Seasons (I believe) we put in place for shows like Serial. If you've never listened to this show, it's very good. One of the seasons it's good is it has a staff of probably 18-20 people. They take MONTHS off between seasons. It was launched by a very popular show called, “This American Life” and was even parodied on Saturday Night Live.

These types of shows need seasons, but if you look into some of these shows they are working, harder during their “off-time” than when they are publishing. It's during their off time that they are flying their team all over the world, doing countless interviews, and gathering content. They can't edit the show until they know the full story, and they won't know the full story until they've finished gathering all the content. Think of this like professional athletes. While they may take a week or two off, the rest of the “off-season” they are often in the gym, studying films, and focusing on mastering their craft.

The Best Way to Take a Break From Your Podcast

In my opinion, this is the best way to take a break from your podcast (if you must): plan it.

Keep Your Integrity By Announcing When You Will Come Back

This is easier said than done, but by now you should have an idea of how long it will take to create good content. A best practice in podcasting is to have a few episodes (two is good and four is better – depending on how often you publish) ready to publish. This way when “life happens” you aren't trying to record your next episode while you put out one of life's little fires.

If the Goal of Your Break is to Relax – Be Sure to Add It To Your Schedule

If you need some time off, after producing podcasts for a while, it may take some time to truly turn your brain off. Rope off that time on your calendar and UNPLUG.

Why Do You Need a Break?

You need to identify why you are taking a break. With some shows, this is obvious. However, if the reason is “I need a break. I'm tired.” Before you go on break take some time to identify what is weighing you down and come up with strategies that you will put in place when you come back.

Leave Them Wanting More

When you go on break, the last episode you do will get the majority of downloads so go out on a high note.

Hopefully, this is something that will inspire people to download more of your past episode. You want it to be a good representation of your show.

Let them know when you're leaving, and more importantly when you will be back.

You Don't Owe Your Audience an Explanation

Sometimes you may be thinking, “But what will I tell my audience?” All you need to tell them is, “From this date to this date, the show will be taking a break. If you're new to the show please visit our website and subscribe/follow where you can get access to all of your older episodes.” I'll be back on this date.

Make a Trailer And Build the Buzz of Anticipation

More Things To Think About

Is It Really Less Work To Take a Break?

If when you come back you have to relaunch your podcast, if the goal was less work, is pausing and relaunching your podcast actually less work than continually putting out episodes?

Filler Material Can Backfire

If you just start republishing old episodes, those who had heard it may not click play. Apple has a feature that if you've subscribed to a show, and your audience does not listen (at all) to any of the last five episodes – it will stop automatically downloading them.

Best of Shows

If you want to make a “best of” start pulling snippets now. Just realize your loyal audience has already heard them.

Where to Announce You're Taking a Break

Do you announce this at the beginning of the episode or the end? If you put it at the beginning everyone should hear it, but it may send them looking for your replacement. If you put it at the end people may hear it.  Maybe a quick blurb in the middle is the best place. I'm not sure it matters a ton, so follow your gut.

Don't Just Disappear

This is sometimes referred to as “podfading.” This means you just quit recording your show, and you don't tell anyone. Have you ever taken you car into the shop and they say it should be ready by noon and now it's 2 PM and you haven't heard from the shop? Your brain typically swings negative into the worst case scenario. Keep people in the loop – even if it's bad news.

The Biggest Mistake I See People Make When They Come Back From Their Podcast Break

I love that you care about your audience. It is great that you have missed them and feel bad you backed away from them. With this in mind, many podcasters start off with a long, detailed apology for missing some time. While I understand the want and need to do this, DON'T. Why? Because you are forgetting about the time shiftiness of podcasting. When someone finds your show months from now and downloads your back episodes this apology won't make any sense as they missed your hiatus.

One strategy is to make a trailer with a brief explanation. Something like, “After taking three weeks to move to a new state and start a new job the (name of the show is back) and here is what you can expect (interesting clips that make people want to hear more) and then have this file expire after the new season is launched.

So How Do You Come Back if You Just Disappeared From Your Podcast?

First, check your ego. Did the world stop when your podcast did?

Second, find something that is going to make them glad you are back. When you're long-lost family member shows up with chocolate pie, it might be easier to forgive them for making them worry about you. Bring some content that will make them laugh, cry, think, groan, educate, or entertain.

Press Record – Bring the Content – Leave the Apology. You can pick up right where you left off.

Pick Up Where You Left Off

My family celebrates Christmas early and then my brother goes to Florida to be with his inlaws for Christmas. Consequently, I spend Christmas by myself. When my ex-wife heard this she invited me to Christmas dinner at her mother's house. We had a civil divorce. It gave me a chance to catch up with my no ex-step children. I walked in, and said, “Shall we all pause for a moment of awkwardness” (we did) and I said, “Ok, now with that over, how is everyone doing?” and we picked up right where we left off.

Mentioned In This Podcast

Eric Nuzum interview

Make Noise: A Creator's Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling Book



I need your answer by 10/22/21. The question is “How do you feel about hearing a guest's FULL story?” Be sure to mention the name of your show, the website, and a little bit about your show.

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00:00  Introduction
00:27  Welcome
01:14  Taking Breaks From Your Podcast: Don't
03:34  It's Your Choice
04:10  Things You Should Consider
05:07  Using Seasons
06:34  Off Seasons May Not Be Off
07:39  How I Don't Miss Episodes
08:31  Consistency in VALUE over Schedule
09:57  I Really Need To Take a Break
10:34  The Best Way to Take a Break: PLAN IT
11:23  Figure Out When You're Coming Back
12:28  Keep Your Listener Informed
13:56  SPONSOR: Novel Marketing Podcast
15:11  Unplug If That Is the Goal
16:21  Identify Why You Need a Break
17:13  Make Your Last Episode a GREAT Episode
18:03  No Explanation Needed
20:52  Losing Listeners Is Not More Important
21:21  Relaunching Your Podcast
22:00  Is Taking a Break More Work?
22:35  Have Episodes Recorded and Ready
23:15  Quick Summary So Far
23:55  Other Things to Consider
24:50  Best of Shows
25:33  Where to Announce Your Hiatus?
26:24  Avoid Podfading
27:55  The Biggest Mistake
30:35  Resurrecting a Podfaded Show
33:54 promo code sopfree
34:31  Question of the Month
35:44  One Tip to Making Podcasting Easier
37:12  If You Need a Break From Life
38:56  Bloopers

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.

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