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Don’t crash and burn.


Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

There’s been a lot of talk lately about burnout, and it’s no wonder. We live in an “always on” world, tethered to our phones with the added pressure coming from social media to live perfectly optimized lives while operating at peak performance. Burnout is hitting the hard-working podcast community in particular, as the demands to win over audiences, woo big sponsors, and continuously pump out the best content ever keeps growing.

The physical and mental exhaustion brought on by excessive long-term stress wreaks havoc on motivation, confidence, and interest. So what happens when your passion project starts to become more than just stressful? What can you do to keep the fire that got you started on this path burning bright? Burnout creeps in silently and slowly so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and distinguish them from plain ‘ol stress. Because once it hits, a bubble bath is not going to help.

Nothing will make podcasting “easy”, but you can take steps to make things easier on yourself and keep burnout from derailing all your hard work.

Take Control

Feeling lack of control over your work, or operating under intense pressure? These feelings may come from an external source, or they may be internal pressures creators impose on themselves (we see you, control freaks). Setting realistic expectations from the get-go is best practice. The abundance of subject matter, research, scheduling guest interviews, writing scripts, your resources, and your lifestyle should all be taken into consideration when creating a feasible schedule.

Record episodes in advance, leaving plenty of buffer room because inevitably, life gets in the way. When all else fails, batch your episodes to allow yourself dedicated time to reset. And, please, don’t quit your job just yet. Ironically, creatives with day jobs and/or who add structure to their day find greater freedom to create.

Constantly playing catch-up? If things do get out of control, how do you get back on track?

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion, or a task becomes more complex the more time you give yourself to complete it. Assigning the right amount of time to a specific project will help you better utilize that time, so if it typically takes an hour to write your episode intro, actually give yourself an hour. This is especially helpful if you happen to have a day job. Use the limited time you have to your advantage.

Inspiration Ahead

Getting caught up in monotonous work, feeling like week in and week out is Groundhog’s Day can zap creativity. If creativity doesn’t come as naturally to you, or you’re just not feeling inspired lately, there are many ways to stay curious and keep those creative juices flowing.

Leverage boredom to exercise the creative muscle. Use that muscle often and your creative abilities will get stronger. Set aside regular time for creative thinking — brainstorm new ways to promote your show, create a guest wishlist, or just free write — but make an effort to unplug while doing so. Hide your phone, disable notifications, whatever you need to do to minimize distractions and just be for a bit. Dedicating yourself entirely to this process will allow for greater focus, and the clarity you need to get the work done.

Now that you have a creative thinking ritual in place, switch it up. Change your surroundings and collaborate. If you’re working alone like most podcasters often are, get out of your own head by looking to other industries for inspiration or turn to your community to bounce off ideas (more on that in a minute).

Even when you put out your best work and still feel like you’re shouting into an echo chamber, flip your mindset and look inward. Your audience is a never-ending source of inspiration. They sing your praises, they have great ideas, and they aren’t afraid to tell you what they want. Foster an environment that lets your audience have a voice, and you will grow a strong, fiercely loyal fan base.

Support System

Having a solid support system in place is a strong defense against burnout. Lucky for you, the podcast community is nothing short of amazing. From virtual to IRL, there are a growing number of options for creators looking for advice straight from those who are going through it or a little camaraderie to let off some steam.

Facebook groups have been around for years, and range from general to niche. With almost 17,000 members, the Podcast Movement Community is well-monitored to keep the conversations focused and prevent self-promotion. LinkedIn also offers some groups with a more business-minded skew.

Reddit makes it easy to filter out the most helpful posts thanks to upvoting, where users vote to keep the best content front-and-center. A lot of thoughtful discussions go on in the r/podcasts and r/podcasting subreddits making it a quick go-to for advice.

Slack fans can use the collaboration app to follow podcast related news and articles. The #podcasts groups boast over 600 users. Alternatively, podcasters can check out Discord’s Pod Squad and Podcast Problems groups.

If face-to-face time is needed, podcast events like Podfest and Werk It bring together podcasters from all over the country to network and share ideas. If you find those overwhelming, Meetup can be a great source for smaller gatherings (or maybe start one of your own!).

Even if you’re working alone, know that you’re not alone. If you need more resources, BitRate just released a seven-part series on avoiding burnout jam-packed with wisdom from fellow podcasters, writers, and producers. Listen here.

Whether it’s a deep connection to the subject matter, it’s your life’s work, or it’s the audience that you know and love, you’re in this game for the right reasons. Let’s keep you in it to win it.

Want one less thing to stress over? Get peace of mind with team cabana’s expertise and smart tools for smarter podcast monetization. Get in touch with us anytime. | @letscabanadotcom | team cabana