How to Get Feedback on Your Podcast (and What to Avoid)

Every podcaster wants to know how to get feedback on their podcast. And I don’t mean the high-pitched screeching sound when a mic picks up the speaker’s output in the same system. 

When you know how others perceive and understand your podcast, positively or negatively, you know how to make more out of your podcast. Reviews can be a reality check, but they aren’t always easy to get. This article will explore when, where, and how to solicit honest, constructive responses to your podcast. We’ll also talk about how not to ask and what to do with podcast feedback when you get it.

When to Ask for Feedback on Your Podcast

In the early stages of any creative project, you need encouragement and cheerleading. Once you’ve published a few episodes, you probably have questions. By then, you may have made mistakes and learned new ways to recover from them. A good point to start asking for feedback is after you’ve published at least five episodes. When you’re comfortable with your workflow, you need someone to point out the deficits you’re missing so you can improve them.

If you ask someone for feedback before they’ve listened, that colors their first impressions of your podcast. This isn’t good or bad, simply awareness. It may be better to wait until someone you know tells you they have listened to your podcast. Let them tell you about their experience with it, and then ask for more specific feedback.

As the cuckoo-clockmaker said, timing is everything.

Where to Find Responders to Your Podcast

Obviously, you wouldn’t buttonhole strangers at the grocery store and ask them what they think of your podcast, particularly if their clothing doesn’t have lapels with buttonholes. People who have heard your podcast and/or know a bit about podcasting are the right respondents. Notice I’m saying “respondents.” They’re not finding praise or fault; they’re responding to your work.

So, where do you approach them?

Ask Your Audience to Respond to Your Content.

How is this different from asking your audience to write a review? In this case, you make it personal and specific. Email people who you know have listened. Explain that you don’t know how this podcast sounds to others, and their honest response would help you improve your skills and the show.  

Running a survey is a great way to ask for specific feedback. To encourage participation, make it fun. For your audience, a voice feedback survey is as simple as leaving a message on voice mail.

Specific questions take the pressure off and guide the audience toward not what you want to hear, but what you need to know.

Ask in Podcasting Communities.

Podcast communities are the right place to find people who know a lot about podcasting. Every podcaster wants feedback, no matter how seasoned. Since some podcasters don’t ask politely or constructively, some podcasting communities or networks have a specific avenue for podcast feedback requests. This way, your episode or sample gets undivided, unbiased attention from an expert. Pay attention to others in the community, find out the avenue to solicit feedback, and use it.

Be aware that the respondents might not be your ideal listener, so their responses are unlikely to be about your podcast’s topics. The good news is they’ll focus on craft or how you make the show.

Ask on Your Podcast’s Social Media or Website.

There’s no shame in asking a simple question about an element of your show on your social media account or your podcast’s website. If something doesn’t feel right, asking your followers about it can make them breathe a sigh of relief. They might not have known how to say that the reverb bothered them or that they wished the show notes were more consistent. Admitting vulnerability shows your audience that you care about quality and are willing to fix the issue.

And if trolls respond pejoratively, block them. You don’t need their opinion anyway.

How to Ask for Feedback

Ask yourself what you really want to know about your podcast. What areas of the podcast process are challenging, and what do you take for granted? Once you know this, you know what kind of questions to ask.

The more specific and less personal you are about your questions, the less pressure you put on the respondent to avoid hurting your feelings.

For example, you can ask if any part of the episode was distracting or confusing. If all else fails, try this boiled-down version of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process:

What was most memorable or meaningful for you?

What was confusing, or where did you need more information?

Do you have questions about the work?

This gives you a way to take action and move forward.

How NOT to Get Feedback on Your Podcast

Whenever there are best practices, there are common pitfalls to watch out for, too.

Avoid value statements or emotional responses, such as, “Did you like it?” or “Was it good?” It blurs the line between responding to the piece of audio that they heard, and their feelings about you, the individual.

An unpleasant thing that happens in podcasting communities is called “post and ghost.” This is when people join a podcast community and immediately drop a link, saying, “This is my show; listen to it and give me a five-star review,” and disappear. If you don’t care enough to get to know people in a podcasting community, why should anyone who sees this care about your podcast?

Instead, read others’ posts and get a sense of the community and what it’s like. Take time to figure out if these are the people that you want to respond to your work. Then, ask for specific feedback. This helps you cultivate your podcast better than a rubber-stamp review.

Don’t ask other people on their social media accounts. That’s like walking up to someone at a cocktail party when they’re talking with their friends and bursting into the conversation.

When you respect the respondent’s time, expertise, and opinion, you’re more likely to improve as a podcaster.

How to Respond to Feedback

Thank the respondent for their input, whether positive or negative. If the information is something you can use to improve the show, then they deserve your thanks for taking the time to listen and answer honestly.

Don’t explain, excuse, or pass judgment. The person is telling you what they observed, that’s all. Don’t challenge their response, or they won’t be honest with you in the future. 

If their response is unrealistic, thank them anyway and store that information for later. It could be relevant. My mom listened to my first podcast and said, “They’re talking so fast, I can hardly understand a word they’re saying.” I took a closer look at her listening app and saw she’d accidentally cranked the playback speed up to 2x.

If the response is rude, ignorant, or unsubstantiated, let it slide. Mean-spirited responses say more about the person than it does about your show. For example, “I can’t understand a word you’re saying with that accent” shows how ignorant the person is. 

Besides, negative feedback can be a hilarious promotion tactic.

These bar mats/coasters are useful and hilariously make the most of a 2-star review.

Feedback: It’s Not Always A Hideous Screeching Sound

The only realistic way to improve your show is to start by getting feedback on your podcast. Asking specific questions reduces pressure on the respondent and you. Be prepared to hear things that aren’t praise. Take the feedback at face value, and use it to make your podcast better.

Our Indiepod Community is a great place to learn from other podcasters, share ideas, and discover how they solve problems. If you’ve gotten feedback on your podcast that you don’t know what to do with, stop by and share it. You may find a solution that you didn’t know existed.

Originally posted on October 2, 2023 @ 12:26 am

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