So you’re looking to avoid burnout as a podcaster? Well, as luck would have it, you’re in the right place. I’ll let you in on a secret: to set yourself up for success is to acknowledge that we all have seasons.
Just as in nature, it’s not always going to be summer. You’ve probably heard that podcasts can have seasons too. Incorporating seasons into your show may be one way to allow you to take a break, reset, and come back to your podcast energized.
You may be thinking, “What happens to my show when I pack up and head out for spring break?” It may feel strange to leave your podcast unattended for weeks or months at a time, but what if I told you there is a way for you to get some much-needed R&R while ensuring that you come back to a happy and engaged audience? Today, I’m going to show you how to do exactly that.
A step-by-step guide to avoiding burnout
Seasons ultimately allow you more bandwidth to plan out, scale, and execute your content schedule. But having a podcast can be very much like being a parent. If you go on vacation, it’s not like you can leave your kid with just about anyone. You want a caregiver. The tips and tricks we’ll be sharing today will be your metaphorical super nanny, essentially holding down the podcast fort until you return.
Starting nice and easy, locate the settings panel on your podcast’s hosting platform and switch it from episodic to episodic with seasons. If you’re struggling to locate this setting within your host, don’t be afraid to check out their FAQ page or reach out directly to customer service. Changing this setting means that directories like Apple Podcasts will show your episode differently with the season number highlighted at the top. When new listeners see that you have seasons, they will naturally change their expectations to expect a break in your content at some point.
With your podcast settings up to date, you may be starting to mentally check out in anticipation of those two months of pure uninterrupted bliss...but first, you need to communicate your departure to your audience. Assure them that you’re not just about to leave them high and dry. Get them amped for what is to come, and hold yourself accountable by setting a return date. Like in any good relationship, open communication is key.
Okay, time to cue that content schedule! Like our favorite white tee and jeans, tried and true content is a no-brainer. Rerunning your most popular podcast episodes from the archives can serve as a good introduction for your most recent listeners, putting your best foot forward. And, depending on the episode’s subject matter, it might be well worth rerunning a few of them given the subject’s relevancy in today’s climate, potentially adding to the conversation and positioning your podcast as an authoritative voice in the space. The idea is that it should take very little effort for you to grab a handful of old favorite episodes and queue them up in your hosting platform to release while you’re off sightseeing (or whatever it is you’re planning to do in your off time).
Personally, this next tip is my favorite. Consider making a list of all your fellow podcast crushes and pitching them the opportunity to come on your show to act as host for the day and share their thoughts on a topic that aligns with your own content. Having guest takeovers not only brings a fresh perspective and voice to the platform, enhancing the material being published, but it also strengthens your network and allows your podcast to reach the ears of untapped audiences. You can even give your guest host a temporary login to your hosting platform and have them upload the audio file and show notes themselves. Too much? The point is that you can create a deal that allows you to be as hands-off as you want.
Remember the main reasoning behind implementing podcast seasons in the first place? Vacation baby! No, but seriously, we don’t want the labor of our love to be the reason why we’re burnt out at the end of the day. So, whether you’re cafe hopping, staycationing, or catching up with your nearest and dearest, tend to yourself in the ways that you feel called to the most. More often than not, we don’t give ourselves the gift of simply being. Trust me, you’ll notice what a difference this will make. Your big beautiful brain needs a rest, and your business will only thank you for it.
Okay, so we’ve heard the pros. Granted, we know seasons won’t be for everyone. What if your podcast’s theme is news-oriented? Then it’s heavily dependent on last-minute planning. Your audience demographic is tuning in because you’re delivering on time sensitive-matters. The inflexibility that a seasonally-structured format will present may work against you in terms of establishing yourself as a reliable and timely news source.
Even if you’re not required to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new and old, hot or not, sometimes you’ll just want to be spontaneous, or tackle a certain subject matter that has nothing to do with your show’s current dialogue. Where seasons may offer you the flexibility outside of the studio, in front of the mic it can potentially feel like there’s less space to explore.
Now, this one’s more of a heads up than a con, but knowing whether you’re going to drop a season en masse, or an episode per week can be the difference between giving your audience too much of a good thing, and really building a relationship with your listeners. Regulated content releases set behavior both for the algorithm and consumers alike. People are creatures of habit, and becoming a part of one’s weekly schedule rather reduces the risk of listener fatigue. You want to leave them just enough that they’ll be coming back for more.
Use this break not only as a breather, but as the perfect opportunity to continue engaging the listener by sending out a quick questionnaire via email, or by posting a shout-out on your socials requesting feedback. Think about where you want to take your podcast and how your listeners can help you with this. What topics do they want to be covered? What guests would they like to hear from? What could be improved upon? By asking your audience to contribute to the content they'll be tuning into, they’re actively and organically building up the hype surrounding the release of your next season.
Let’s go over this one more time, especially for the people in the back! Depending on the type of content, topics, and desired schedule, working with your industry counterparts, breathing new life into some of those archived episodes, and asking your audience to chime in with feedback, might just mean that you’ll make it home in time for dinner.
Podcast seasons allow evolution because it makes space for reflection and time to scale in such a way that audience feedback can be intentionally implemented. It’s efficient, hence effective content consumption, and prime networking territory, plus, who doesn’t love making a living off of search engine optimization!? And last but not least, can I get an amen for mental and physical health.
To really sum things up, the secret to avoiding podcast burnout is, yes, partially in the planning, the spreadsheets, and research, but mostly, it lies in your ability to call the shots and knowing when to put a system in place that will respect both your work and personal space without compromising the two.
Rachel Campbell is a writer, designer, and founder of @seedtosunstudio. She currently resides in Paris.