How to Deal With Bad Podcast Reviews

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"We got a bad review, what are we going to do? Oh no" ~ Half Man Half Biscuit

We recently talked about the common fear that nobody might listen to your podcast. This time around, we're looking at a situation where someone has listened, but has then felt compelled to give you a bad review.

Dealing With Bad Reviews – Turning a Negative Into a Positive

I embarked on a writing challenge at the start of the year.  My plan is to write a new 100-word story every day. Initially, I was going to keep them to myself and maybe publish them some day. But, I decided that it was best if I shared them on Facebook.

Why?  Because I wanted feedback. I wanted people to judge my writing. I want to hear the positive and the negative, because – ultimately – that will make me a better writer.

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Hang Up Your Hangups: How to Deal With Bad Podcast Reviews

This is Chapter 6 of our Podcaster Hangups series where we break down the frequently heard question “How do I deal with bad podcast reviews?”. Find the series intro here!

And it’s the same for your podcast. Getting podcast reviews can help grow your podcast. After all, other potential listeners are often interested in what others say and think before deciding to hit play and give your show a shot.

But the very existence of reviews is something that holds back many would-be podcasters.  They are scared of the prospect of negative reviews.

Why Do People Give Bad Reviews?

In my experience, people leave bad reviews for two reasons. They either want to offer a critique, or they want to be cruel.

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Those that critique your show are doing you a favour – they are pointing out areas for improvement. See past the slight and learn the lessons.

But we also have to accept that from time to time, the bad reviews will just be cruel and spiteful with no logical reason given.

How to React to Bad Podcast Reviews

So what do you do when you get a bad review? First of all crying or being depressed is not an option.

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1. Respond

While you often can’t respond directly to a negative review, you can indirectly respond by approaching the subject of a negative review in a future episode.

This shows that you’re listening to your audience. If the bad review has no merit or appears personal in nature, you can report an individual review to the platform it was published on, and request its removal. On Apple Podcasts, for example, the reasons for doing so will fall under one of the following categories.

  • This review contains offensive content
  • This review is not a review or is off-topic
  • I disagree with this review
  • My concern isn’t listed here

I would only recommend that options 1 & 2 from the above are valid reasons for going down this route.

If the review is published on your website, you can, of course, respond more directly to the person that left the comment. Keep it civil.

I wouldn't use the comments to get into a war of words. But having a dialogue to better understand their issue could help you make improvements to your show.

2. Ignore

In cases where the review is either difficult to comprehend or is of a personal nature, the best approach is to ignore them. Move on. Nothing to see here. Don’t waste your time trying to draw deeper meaning where none exists.

Brush yourself down and get on with the job of creating another great show.

3. Learn

Identify the negative reviews that you can learn from. Be honest. Read the review with an open mind. Does their review have merit?

Pull out the lessons you can learn and start applying them to your show. Remember – bad reviews can genuinely help make your show better.

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The Reality

This is a classic `good news – bad news` situation. First the bad news – it’s highly likely that you’ll receive some negative reviews. It’s just the nature of the world we live in.  Podcasts, just like music and films, are hugely personal in nature. Some people will just not like your show.

But here’s the good news – produce a great show, and your positive reviews will far outweigh the negative ones.

Tips to get More Reviews

Actually getting reviews, be they good or bad, can be tricky. In most cases, reviews don’t happen automatically. You have to ask for them.

1. Ask for Them in Your Show

At the end of your show, let your audience know how important reviews are to you. Make it clear that you’re asking for an honest review and constructive feedback.

2. Ask for Them in Your Show Notes

Replicate the message in your show notes and include a direct link to your show within places like Apple Podcasts and Podchaser. Make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review.

3. Ask in Emails

If you have a regular (weekly, monthly etc) e-mail that you send out to your audience, make sure you have a standard section that reminds your audience of how important reviews are to you.

4. Read Reviews on Your Podcast

Reading out a review of your show, on your show can help. It demonstrates how important they are to you and it can be used to encourage others to do the same.

5. Run a Competition

You can encourage reviews by running a competition. For example, everyone that submits a review will automatically be entered into a prize draw for a book or digital prize. It’s low cost and can produce great results.

Final Thoughts on Bad Podcast Reviews

Don’t make drastic decisions based on a single negative review. But, if a pattern emerges and many people are saying the same thing, it’s probably a good indicator of a change you really should make.

Ensure that you have balance, though. Celebrate the good reviews and keep a personal bank of the reviews that have meant the most to you. Dip into those when you have a bad review and remind yourself of just how well you’re doing.

Next Steps

And with that, we bring down the curtain on our Hang Up Your Hang Ups series. Have you been following along? Just to recap, here are the other common issues and questions we've tackled:

Still looking for some help with your confidence, or your content in general? Be sure to check out The Podcast Host Academy. In there you'll find all of our courses, downloadable resources, and podcast templates. On top of that, you'll get access to our weekly live Q&A sessions too, so you'll always get the support, advice, and guidance that you need!