It’s a podcast dilemma. On the one hand you want to keep consistently publishing your podcast and building your audience. On the other hand, you need to take some time out from your podcast, for a variety of reasons. When you take a break from your podcast, it is typically known as a ‘podcast hiatus’. A hiatus is a planned break in continuity of an activity. So… what’s best to do?
Well as ever… it depends!
It depends upon the unique circumstances of your podcast and your podcast audience. It also depends upon the timing and duration of your podcast break. And it also depends on the reasons you are taking a break. Obviously, you will want to plan and prepare for taking a break from your podcast as much as you can, which is the subject of another post, another day. But what if something happens and you just stop? What then?
What about the audience and your beloved stats?
Whatever the reason for a podcast hiatus, it is likely that you are concerned about what will happen to your audience and your ‘stats’. Will everything that you have worked so hard for, just fade away into dust? To be honest, you might find it’s not as bad as what you are worrying about.
It’s not just about new podcast episodes
Also remember that there are 2 aspects to this. First aspect is when you publish an episode. Second aspect is when you market & promote an episode, and connect with your audience. Just because you don’t have a new episode to publish, it doesn’t mean that you have nothing to promote. It doesn’t mean you stop connecting with your audience.
So it may be that you could still produce a couple of quick blog posts, and some relevant social media posts. They would take much less time than a new episode, BUT you are still doing something to remind people about your podcast, give them some useful, relevant, helpful content, and keep engaging with them.
If you have a growing audience, then you can always re-publish a previous, popular episode. This brings it into the forefront for new listeners, especially if you have a large back-catalogue. That is what I used to do for a client of mine if we had a couple of gaps in our new episodes. It worked well, and kept the new audience happy.
Another approach is to prepare a ‘top 10’ list of episodes, write about it in a blog post and publish and promote that – with each episode listed so it’s easy for the interested reader to click through and listen. Again it gives you something to share and promote through social media.
You may have a newsletter for your podcast, once again perhaps you could continue with that, sharing relevant content and ideas, and keep sending that out at the same frequency as before.
It is still doing it’s job of regular promotion of the podcast but without the extra work of some new episodes. As I said before, it all depends on what you are currently doing, and how possible it would be to tweak and make some shorter, different format content, and use that on social media instead of ‘just’ a new episode.
But what if you don’t do anything at all… you just stop?
Let me share my personal podcast hiatus experience so far.
Stitchery Stories is my weekly embroidery & textile art podcast
I launched it quietly last summer, starting with an audience base of zero, because although I have been working online for the last 8 years, textile art is my hobby not my business. The podcast was launched as a strategic decision on my part, as my professional showcase for my podcast production, coaching & training services. I wanted to have a podcast, decided that I didn’t want to do a podcast about podcasting, and so chose something I enjoyed. As it happened that was a wise choice because there are very few podcasts around the subject of textile art and embroidery, and even fewer focused on UK textile art and embroidery. You can check it out at https://stitcherystories.com
It is an interview based show, released weekly, and each episode is between 30 and 40 minutes duration. I have tended to have a nice full pipeline of guests organised and scheduled, with several episodes ‘ready to go’. This really helps to overcome those peaks and troughs of activity that we find difficult to manage when something happens. Working like this helps to protect our consistency.
I am also a single mum with a 13 year old son so I like to spend school holidays doing ‘stuff’ with him as well as juggling client work. Typically I have missed a week of my podcast in the school holidays. When I have taken a break from my podcast, I have sent out the usual weekly newsletter saying no episode this week ‘cos its’ the holidays and I’ll be back next week. However, with the 6 week summer holidays looming I was planning on taking a longer break, and getting re-started in September when it’s ‘back to school’.
I did not plan to take a break from my podcast in mid-May!
I had several guest interviews scheduled for May & June. However, several wanted to re-schedule for a variety of reasons and I was suddenly left with some holes in my schedule anyway. That coincided with the late May half-term holidays so I just decided to take a break and not stress about it. I had plenty of client work to get through so I was very pushed for time anyway.
And then with one thing and another and no interviews ready, a couple more weeks slipped by. You know how it is – it happens so quickly. So my plan had fallen apart. That is when something very unexpected happened.
I started getting messages from my listeners wondering if I was OK. Was I well. Indeed, did I need a hug. They were missing my podcast episodes and were worried about me!
Then I felt guilty! I realised I had just stopped. Done nothing on my podcast for 3 weeks. No posts on Instagram. No newsletter. Nothing.
I sent out my newsletter, explained what had happened and that I was therefore planning to re-start in September. That prompted a few more emails and comments, from across the globe. All very supportive, some lovely thoughtful comments. I actually felt rather overwhelmed that my listeners felt so attached to me and my podcast.
Here is a very typical one which highlights that personal connection so beautifully.
I’ve only recently started listening to the Stitchery Stories podcasts, and I’ve been working my way through some of the past podcasts. Thanks so much, they’re fab. I too missed your updates and new episodes arriving on my iPod. I don’t know you but you’ve become a familiar voice, and I just hoped all was well. Enjoy the summer break. You’ll be missed, but luckily I’ve still got past podcasts to enjoy!
How lovely was that?
I have a couple of earlier episodes that I published before I started sharing on Instagram, so I have plans to make some posts on Instagram to highlight those early episodes. And I am still popping into my Instagram channel to see whats going on, and enjoying the textile art being shared on there.
But what about the stats?
So whilst there has been nothing new published for almost 2 months now, the downloads continue to happen. There have been over 3500 since my last episode. Downloads are also spread across plenty of episodes, so listeners are finding plenty of ‘old’ episodes to listen to.
My followers on Instagram continue to grow, and a variety of ‘old’ posts are still being found and liked, which again drives listeners.
And when I checked, I was still in the UK top200 for Visual Arts podcasts on iTunes, number 158 I think it was, so discovery is still happening within iTunes too. That did surprise me I have to admit.
I also share the Libsyn embed code with each guest so they can feature ‘their’ episode on their website or blog. Doing this helps the podcast listens and downloads to continue. People who find it on a guest’s website often go looking for further episodes.
Preparing to start again after a podcast hiatus
After we take a podcast break, there are plenty of things we can do to start re-promoting our podcast before the new episode is published. That will also be another post as this is already longer than I had thought it would be. So all-in-all it’s not looking too bad so far. I expect things to tail off as the summer continues, but so be it. I am however, very much looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, and my next shiny new episode of Stitchery Stories will be published on 5th September.
Back to school. Back to podcasting.
Podcasting in Series
Of course, you might just want to plan your podcast in blocks of series. Then you know at the start of each series, how many episodes will be in the series, and therefore your listeners will know too. Plenty of podcasters do that, and seem to suffer no ill effects from doing so.
You might be interested in reading a related post: https://podcastprogress.com/do-you-have-to-podcast-forever/
We all have plenty of things that can cause us stress and worry.
I don’t think our podcasts should be one of those. If you need to take a break, planned or unplanned, then that is what you must do. Don’t stress about it.
Would you like to structure your podcast production and promotion so that any breaks have a minimal impact? Why not get in touch to see how I can help you. There are many things that we can do.
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