Quit Blaming the Algorithm: It's not the algorithm, it's your lack of engaging content

It’s time to stop blaming the algorithm. You’re bleeding downloads because your content sucks, not because the algorithm hasn’t picked up on your show yet. If your podcast is losing downloads, can’t retain listeners, and nothing seems to be working, worry not fellow podcaster – all hope is not lost. 

Why your podcast is bleeding downloads

One of the most common phrases I hear from creators in this space is, “Just waiting on the algorithm to pick up on my podcast.” The harsh truth is, it’s time to stop waiting. We can’t predict how and when the algorithm will pick up on a show, so until that happens, buckle down, create good content, and stay consistent. There are no guarantees in the world of podcasting, but one thing remains constant: consistency is key to growth. 

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve emphasized the importance of consistency, and it certainly won’t be the last. Click here to learn why we speak on this topic so often. 

Perhaps you’ve checked on your downloads recently and realized the numbers just aren’t what they should be. Rather than blaming the algorithm, there’s likely an issue with your podcast that can be diagnosed. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why podcasts tend to fail:

1) As mentioned above, podcasts that fail almost always lack consistency. The hosts don’t post on a regular basis and their content changes often enough so the audience can’t rely on their show for regular episodes.

2) They have poor content, audio, and production quality. One of the best ways to circumvent this issue is to place yourself in your listener’s shoes and ask yourself these questions: What do my listeners hear when listening? Is there a lot of background noise being picked up by the mics? Does the content flow from one topic to the next with ease?

3) The podcast art isn’t eye catching, or misrepresents the podcast brand. The podcast cover image is one of the first meeting points between a potential listener and the show, so it’s important to make a good first visual impression. Here’s some additional information to help you level up your podcast image.

4) Another reason why podcasts fail is because creators choose to either ignore or disregard audience feedback. I’m not saying you have to listen to every single critical remark from listeners, but the comments with genuine feedback are worth reading. On that note, engaging with your audience on social media can be a great way to bring more potential listeners to your podcast. 

5) Lastly, many podcast hosts run into burnout at some point or another in their audio career, which can lead to inconsistent posting and lacking in quality content.

SIDE NOTE: If your podcast is dipping in downloads, it could be due to one of those five reasons – unless you were one of the many podcasts affected by Apple’s recent update that eliminated stagnant listeners from counting as downloads, effectively reducing downloads for podcasts across the board. With these recent changes, Apple no longer automatically counts downloads from users who haven’t listened to a podcast in a while. 

How to create engaging content

In the world of podcasting, content is king. It’s simple – if your content sucks, no one will listen to your show. Since the industry is already overcrowded and there are many podcasts filed under the same topic (looking at you True Crime), it’s important that not only does your show stand out, but your content is of the highest quality; strive for better than your competitors.

Creating quality content starts with a solid recording setup i.e., recording equipment, a quiet space, and best audio practices. Remember, good content is useless if it doesn’t actually sound good to listen to. If you want to learn more about creating the ideal setup, click here for more information

When it comes to writing or planning episodes, choosing compelling topics lies at the heart of creating engaging content, regardless of your podcast style. This is where knowing your current and target audience comes into play. Podcasters should select subjects that are not only relevant and timely but also inherently intriguing to their listeners. The goal is to pique curiosity so the listener stays engaged, then dive deep into the topic at hand. Additionally, don’t be afraid to be yourself while on the air. Authenticity plays a major role in this process. Sharing genuine stories, opinions, and experiences, allows creators to really lean into their unique voice and identity that resonates authentically with the audience. 

If you’re like me, coming up with topic ideas can be difficult, especially if you’ve been in the game for a while and have covered almost everything within your genre. But, there’s always more that can be done. When you hit that creative low, it’s probably a good idea to switch up your approach. 

TIP: To be completely honest, coming up with new topics and writing engaging content can be exhausting. Try keeping a list in a convenient place, like on your phone, where you can jot down ideas as they come to you. Inspiration hits at any time and you’ll be glad you wrote down those ideas the next time you need to craft an episode. 

A fool-proof way to come up with topic ideas is to look for inspiration on the podcast charts through Chartable. Take a peek at what other podcasters are talking about and see what’s trending in your region. This doesn’t mean to explicitly copy what other hosts are saying, but can be a springboard for related ideas. Here are some other tried and true content generation ideas worth giving a shot:

  • Browse hashtags on social media.
  • Ask your listeners what they want to hear you cover by doing a poll on social media and asking them to leave a comment or a review with a suggestion. 
  • Stay up to date with your genre. Read as many articles and books about your podcast genre as possible. There’s usually always news and advancements to talk about.
  • Conduct guest interviews.

No matter how you come up with content ideas, do your due diligence and be a responsible podcast host. By that I mean, be well-researched and ensure your arguments can stand on their own. After all, building your credibility within your genre is a great way to bolster your unique voice and authenticity – something that naturally attracts an audience. Happy podcasting! 

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