As much as podcasting is a fun and rewarding endeavor, we have to be honest with ourselves when it comes to burnout. There’s a lot that goes into podcasting – oftentimes much more than we anticipate when first starting out. Regardless of how much we love podcasting, it’s important to make sure that we check in with ourselves and make sure we’re not on the way to a burnout.
From setting realistic goals, to admitting when you need help, there are many ways to check in with yourself throughout your podcasting journey. In this article, we’ll teach you some best practices for making sure you stay on track – no burnout required.
Make Tangible Goals
We tend to set unrealistic podcasting goals for ourselves – and end up disheartened when we can’t achieve these goals. Setting reachable benchmarks is the best way to ensure that you feel successful and confident in your podcasting journey. Rather than telling yourself you need to have tens of thousands of listeners by the end of the year, set monthly goals for audience growth. Expanding your audience incrementally over a longer period will enable you to track your progress and reassess your growth strategy throughout the year. You will be much less daunted by an achievable monthly goal than an unrealistic standard of growth.
The same goes for production itself. If you want to produce a certain number of episodes, make sure that you maintain expectations of your own workflow and productivity levels. For example, if you know that July will be a busy work month for you, then make a plan to adapt your podcast production schedule. This will also help you to determine which segments of your workflow can be improved – a process you should constantly be doing throughout the year.
Revisit Your Workflow
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work required for each episode, you are not alone. Workflow challenges are one of the main causes of podcaster burnout, and many of these challenges can be avoided with a few simple changes. Even if you have a concrete, streamlined workflow, there is always room for improvement. Start keeping a detailed record of your team workflow and use a flowchart or checklist to document how long each task takes, who is responsible for what, and where the team experiences bottlenecks. This will also help you to determine which tasks can be automated or scheduled, and where you can potentially bring on people to help.
The team workflow will (and should) continue to shift and adapt throughout the lifetime of the podcast. Every few months, you and your team should go through your current processes and determine what are best practices, and what can be improved. For example, if one team member is putting in 10 hours of work into the podcast each week, while another is putting in 15, check in and find ways to make the workflow distribution more equal. Or, if you find yourself bogged down with the editing and mixing process, consider a different editing software for your podcast production. If you struggle with scheduling, start blocking out one hour per week for social media, or two hours per week for editing moving forward. Figuring out what’s working – and what’s not working – in your podcast production workflow is key to maintaining a production schedule. This will also help you to spend more time planning for the long term and growth, rather than on the weekly tasks of production.
Change your format
Not everyone has the time and resources to produce a full hour long, narrative storytelling podcast every week. If you’ve found that each episode takes up a large amount of your energy and time, perhaps you simply need to switch formats. If you currently spend hours editing in found footage, soundscapes, and multiple interviews in each episode, try simplifying your format by taking out some of the elements that take a longer time to edit. If your episodes have multiple segments, perhaps you can omit one of the segments that take longer to produce.
Experimenting with less time consuming formats will decrease your workload so you can take a break from a rigorous and sometimes monotonous production schedule. It will also give you a chance to focus your energy on the content of the podcast, rather than the editing process.
Grow Your Team / Get Help
You may revisit your workflow and see that there’s simply too much work to be done. It’s okay to admit if you are overwhelmed by the workload that comes with making a podcast. From recording and editing, sourcing guests, running social media, and even interacting with the community, podcasting comes with many added responsibilities. People often forget that the big podcasts with hundreds of thousands of listeners, a robust social media presence and impeccable audio quality have large teams to manage all of these facets of the project. If you find yourself becoming stressed and overworked, it might be time to bring on some extra help.
A podcast is like a business, and even the most disciplined, successful business owners need help once in a while. If you are a small or one-person team, there’s no shame in hiring people to take on some of the workload. If social media isn’t your strong suit, consider bringing on someone to manage your online community. If the editing process is taking much longer than you anticipated, hire an editor to take on this part of the job. You can even bring on a producer or strategist to help you stay on track. Decrease your chances of becoming overwhelmed and burning out by asking for help where it is needed. You’ll thank yourself later.
Produce Your Podcast in Seasons
Making your podcast in seasons is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a break from the rigorous production process. Sticking to a schedule every week for years, without a break, can be grueling even for the most enthusiastic and dedicated podcasters. By producing in seasons, you will have much needed time off from the weekly duties of a podcaster – but that doesn’t mean you’re completely off the radar during the off-season. Use your downtime effectively – this is a perfect time to release bonus content, keep your social media up to date, ramp up your outreach, and of course find ways to improve your workflow from the last season. You’ll be able to start each new season refreshed and renewed.
Last but not least: Take Breaks
If you don’t intend to publish your podcast in seasons, it’s still important to give yourself much needed time off. Even if you adore your profession and your work, you’ll need to take breaks periodically. Schedule breaks into your production schedule to refresh and reset – you deserve some time off.
One of the main causes of burnout, especially for creatives, is the seeming lack of time off and boundaries between work and life. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll close your laptop, stop looking at your analytics, and log off social media once in a while.
We all need a vacation every once in a while, and breaks give us a chance to look back on how far we’ve come in our podcasting journey, and how we can best move forward.