Today we look at the topic of podfading. We are going to examine what it is, what are the top causes, and how to avoid – and ask if you should? We get help from Jim Collison, Ryan Parker, and Rev. Kenn Blanchard.

Your Audience Will Binge Listen When They Find You

Steve Stewart produces the Moneyplan SOS podast (learn to pay attention not interest), and he had a listener who found his show and downloaded a ton of episodes and listened to them all as he went on a long trip in the car. Today we talk about making great content that connects with people, and obviously Steve is doing a great job.

What is Podfading?

Podfading is when your show just stops producing content. There is no “final show” it just stops. The term was invented by Scott Fletcher of the now podfaded show Podcheck Review. According to the Urban Dictionary “A podcast that after a while becomes less and less frequently updated and then blinks out altogether.”

The Top Six Reason People Podfade

According the the Book Tricks of the Podcasting Masters from Rob Walch and Murr Laferty (A great book from 2006) they list the top five reasons people podfade.

Podcast ProblemsLack of time

Lack of interest

Lack of material

Lack of listeners

Lack of funds

I add to this:

Lack of FUN.

Lack of Time

If you TURN OFF YOUR TV, you will have time to podcast. But realize there is a 4 to 1 ration. This means that for every one minute of finished podcast it will take you four minutes to produce it. You need to know this up front so you don't say I'm going to do a 30 minute podcast 5 days a week. That's 150 minutes of total episode, so multiply that by 4 and you get 600 minutes of time to create those episodes (10 HOURS). Do you have an extra 10 hours PER WEEK (40 hours per month) to produce a show that will more than likely generate zero income for the first few months?

Lack of Interest

I once started a “Customer Service Show” where I spotlighted my experience as an award winning customer service representative. It turned out that I just reported on the bad customer service I received everywhere I went. I sounded like a grump old man. After a few shows, I just lost interest. I wasn't really that passionate about that topic. I thought I should podcast about what I know. You should podcast about what you are passionate about.

If you are not interested in your topic, maybe bring in a co-host or mix up the format.

Lack of Materials

My wife and I did a “Dates from Hell Show” where we told stories of horrible dates we had experienced. We thought our audience would chime in with their stories. The bad news is we didn't have an audience, and nobody chimed in. I have a tutorial at the School of Podcasting that shows how to use the Website to have all sort of content come to you. Lack of material can change a podcast from Fun to “Feeling like work.” That always leads to podfading.

Lack of Listeners

Never use the word “Only” when describing your download numbers. Last week I had 18 people in a classroom. If I “Only” had 70 downloads, that would be 3.5 classrooms of people. Currently according to Rob Walch the VP of Podcast relations at the median download of a typical podcast is around 170 (as of May 2014). So 50% of podcasters have over 170, and the other 50% don't. With the right content, you can find yourself in the hundreds of downloads, and eventually the thousands of downloads. It takes time. It takes good content. It also takes you GOING to where your target audience is and networking with them.

Lack of Funds

Once you have purchased your equipment, the ongoing price of a podcast is around $30 a month (less if your shows are shorter). I've spoken about finding money to podcast in the past. If you want it, you can find it. Some of the things you can do is podcast in mono (it cuts your file size in half – which lowers your media hosting bill). Also if you “take a break” then you can lower your storage space on your media host to the lowest level (just to keep your account active) and then raise it back up when you return.

Lack of Fun

When you have no time, interest, or money for your podcast it becomes work. When you have to struggle to find content – GOOD content – it becomes a burden.

Consistently GOOD Content

While I'm not saying its OK to podcast “whenever you want,” I would recommend keeping a schedule if you want to be seen as reliable. With this in mind 2 of the top 5 podcasts produce shows on varied lengths on various schedules. What they DO deliver on is great content when they do. These podcasts are the Joe Rogan experience and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

Life Changing Events Lead To Podfading

Babies are wonderful bundles of joy, but they take over your life. Their schedule dictates YOUR schedule. When you move to a new location, or get a new job, or grow a spouse, etc. All of these can lead you to shifting your life's priorities. I'm here to say, “It's OK.” Ryan Parker of the Food Craftsmen Podcast stated, “Nobody is going to punch you in the face.”

Would You Punch Fonzie For Jumping the Shark?

Fonzie Jumps the SharkUnless you're the Simpson's television show, most shows eventually stop production. Growing up I loved Happy Days, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, M*A*S*H, Family Ties, and more. They all eventually stopped. Do I hate the actors? No. I would love to shake Henry Winkler's hand. I think he is a phenomenal human being. Consequently, if you're no longer enjoying producing your podcast maybe you should shut it down. Let your audience know you're taking a break. If after the break is over, you still don't want to produce it – record one more episode and explain that you're done. Nobody will punch you in the face.

How to Avoid Permanently Podfading?

The first question to ask is should you avoid podfading. Ryan Park mentions that we well thought out podcast that has 15 episodes could be planned and produced with that in mind. You could say, “This is episode 1 of 15” and let the audience know that this is intentional. There is no rule that says you have to go on forever.

One of the key steps to avoid podfading is to put some thought into it when you start. A properly planned podcast may help you avoid the starting – stopping – starting syndrome.

Obsessing on Stats and Your Competition Will Not Create Good Content

One of the things that STOP US from making great content is obsessing over stats. If we aren't looking at our download numbers, we are looking at our “Competition” and seeing how many sponsors they have. This (often) makes us envious and frustrated. Ken Blanchard speaks how he was one of the first Gun Shows on the Internet. Others have moved in over time and they have the magic touch and are getting sponsors. This leads many of use to think, “Hey what about me?” I know I think we all fall into this trap from time to time.

Get A Large Amount of Episodes Recorded Before You Launch

We all know that “Life happens” so if you have a life changing event, its nice to have a stockpile of podcast episodes to feed to your audience. If you don't you can always repurpose older shows that many not be so easy to find on your website, or are available in your feed anymore.

Go in With Your Eyes Wide Open – Have Realistic Expectations

If we just do the opposite of the above

Set aside time

Pick a topic we are uber-interested in

Something we have a great stream of material

We understand that growing an audience takes time. We shouldn't focus on “growing our audience fast” but instead, “What content would touch our audience the deepest?”

We need to know that any hobby or small business costs money to maintain. $30 to reach a global audience is the best value on the internet.

Lack of funds

How to Properly Podfade

If you know you are taking a hiatus (permanent or otherwise) it is always wise to keep you audience in the loop. Let them know when to expect you back.

In the event you decide to call it quits, thank them for listening, and let them know where to find you. If you might come back, you may want to create a email list to alert people where they can sign up for future updates. Ryan Parker took a three month hiatus. He still created blog posts, and sent out email blasts, and in the end didn't see much of a dip in numbers. He was still communicating with his audience. He was just communicating in a different matter.

Remember to lower your media hosting package to save money.

You Can Always Come Back

Rock bands like KISS, the Eagles, Cher, and others have done a “Last tour ever” tour. This is usually followed by the “We're out of money already” tour about four years later. There is no rule that says you can't come back. Just don't be surprised if you've lost some of your audience (possibly).

Looking To Start a Podcast?

If you'd like to avoid the headaches of podcasting, joining the School of Podcasting. Quit doing Google searches that result in bad advice from outdated websites, avoid the headaches, and avoid paying too much for podcast equipment and advice today. JOIN TODAY

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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.
6 comments on “Podfading – What Is it? What Causes It? How to Avoid it (or should you?)
  1. Great content (and nice show notes, too!).

    I wish I’d listened to this episode before last night. I would’ve used your Amazon affiliate.

  2. Pingback: On the road again - Mobile Podcasting Safety Tips and Lots More - PHD020 - Podcast Help Desk

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