Mid-Level Podcasters’ Biggest Mistake: Complacency

Evo Terra
4 min readFeb 24, 2020
Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

If you’re stuck just below the threshold of commercial viability with your podcasting efforts, you may be better served looking inward than outward to push you over the brink that brings in a wave of new listeners.

On the podcast forums and such, I often see variants of this question: “What are the common mistakes newbie podcasters should avoid?” And while that’s a valid question, I’m much more interested in what happens when we shift the perspective and look at the most common mistake made by people who’ve been podcasting for a while who have yet to make their podcasting efforts a going concern.

I spoiled it in the title: the biggest mistake made by the not-quite-viable podcaster is complacency. I don’t mean becoming accepting of where you are with your podcasting efforts. I’m talking about the sort of smugness that comes with assuming you’ve attained the “supposed to be here” level. Whatever that means.

Hang around with enough podcasters who’ve been at it for a while and you’ll eventually hear many of them ask the same question: “I don’t know if my podcast is as big as it should be.” Or perhaps, in rare cases, “I don’t know if the quality of the content I’m putting out is as good as it should be.

If you’ve spent any time in therapy, you’ve been told to avoid the evil word “should” to increase your personal happiness. I’m a fan of that, but in this case, we need to un-banish that word and really examine where your podcasting efforts should be… if you’re willing to do the work necessary to get you there.

The best way to break the complacency trap is by understanding where you could be. You might have aspirations, but quite often they aren’t written down or codified in any way so that you or your podcast team can measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

When you’re not really sure what success looks like, you just keep going about the motions. You become complacent. Complacency breeds familiarity. Familiarity becomes habit. And habits develop into ruts. You do the same thing day after day, week after week, or month after month, without any growth or change.

Even if your show is getting hundreds or thousands of people listening to each episode, you can still grow and change. Even if your goal isn’t commercial viability, you can still grow and change. You’re reading this, so clearly you’re looking to move past complacency. This big idea is less about making your shows as big as they can be but more about how you feel about how your podcasting efforts are paying off for you right now.

Your first step on that journey is looking inward. What do you need? What are you looking for? What is an attainable goal you can make for yourself? And just as important, are you willing to make the necessary changes to do it? Because if podcasting is an afterthought for you or something you wish you could spend less time on, you’re not going to get over the complacency hump. Once you’ve identified where you want to go, you’re going to have to work harder. You have to dig in deeper, roll up your sleeves, and spend more time making great content.

Can you do that? Can you afford that? Is that really what you want? Are you willing to completely overhaul your show? Are you ready to look at the consumption numbers provided by Apple Podcasts and Spotify to see exactly how much (or little) of your content is being consumed by listeners? Are you willing to make drastic changes when you face evidence that what you are doing right now is not resonating with your audience?

I know that’s a heavy set of questions to dump on you on a Monday morning, podcaster. But at some point, if you really do want to move closer to viability, you’re going to have to face the reality those questions present. Because complacency is the biggest mistake that mid-level podcasters are making today.

But don’t just take my word for it. Raise this question with the other podcasters you interface with. Ask them if they’re complacent with where their show is today. Ask if they are happy or if there are things they want to do differently. Just by having this conversation with other podcasters, it’ll help you get over the hump and understand your own ideas around complacency and your podcasting efforts.

And while you’re having this conversation, be sure to tell them what sparked the idea. Maybe they’re not yet listening to Podcast Pontifications. Maybe they need the regular kick-start I try to provide here on the program. I don’t sell ads and I’m not even selling this type of advice, so please tell a friend about PodcastPontifications.com. evo@PodcastLaunch.pro reaches me, and I’m always happy to answer any questions from listeners. Fire away!

Thanks very much for reading, watching or listening. I’ll be back tomorrow for yet another Podcast Pontifications.

Since you got this far (and going against what I just said), how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!

This article started life as a podcast episode. The 266th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇

Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.



Evo Terra

Professional contrarian. On a mission to make fiction podcasting better. he/him. คุณ | https://theend.fyi | https://home.social/@evoterra