WANT TO START YOUR OWN PODCAST BUT NEED A LITTLE HELP?GRAB MY GUIDE
GET MY FREE PODCAST GUIDE

blog

What’s the best length for your podcast?

 

GET MY FREE PODCAST GUIDE

WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

it's free!
Your email address is safe with me!
by in Podcasting
How long should your podcast be?

If you haven’t listened to it already, check out my podcast recommendation from this weeks episode…WBEZ Chicago’s Making Oprah

Bigger isn’t always better….

“How long should my podcast be?” is a question that stumps almost every podcaster and it’s one they spend waaaaay too much time worrying about because the answer is simple.  The ideal length of your show is the ideal length for your content.

There should be no fluff, no additional crap, no rabbiting on for 20 minutes before you get into the good stuff. You need to be respectful of your listeners time and only include the best of the best.

If that means it’s a seven-minute podcast, that’s it. If that means it’s four and a half hours…that’s probably a little long but ultimately your content and your audience will dictate what’s best.

iTunes Stitcher Android RSS

There are no rules in podcasting

On radio you’re hemmed in by ad breaks that have to run at a certain time, playing a certain number of songs each hour but in a podcast it can be whatever length you want it to be.

Think about your audience

If you are doing a podcast for travelers sitting on lengthy 20-hour bus rides through South America maybe a longer podcast is going to be exactly what they’re going to want to pass the time.

If your podcast is designed for busy mums they might really appreciate a 10-minute show if that’s enough time to feature your content.

It’s always best if your audience can ingest your whole episode rather than having to pause and come back to it because less than 50 percent of listeners make it past 15 minutes so the chances they’ll come back are pretty slim.

Stats courtesy of James Cridland

Think about what’s achievable

Less is always going to be more, not only from the audience’s perspective but from your perspective. It’s important to think about what is achievable for you week in week out.

It’s a real commitment to do an hour of content not only for a listener but also for you. That’s a long time to fill and you can easily do it when you’re just starting out and you’re fresh with ideas but think about where you’re going to be seven months down the track or seven years.

You’ve got to put in the time every week to get this out into peoples ears and an hour is sometimes not achievable.

With my podcast You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere, I usually chat for an hour, sometimes longer, with the guests but we’re covering an entire career so it’s very hard to squeeze that into 20 minutes. But if you’re doing a show on your own, shorter can sometimes be much better.

Think about the expectation you’ve set for your listener

If you start with a long show and then chip away at that time as it becomes harder to achieve, it won’t be long until the listener emails start coming.

This happened to me with Paul and Rach. Originally we started out at an hour because we were fresh with ideas but then life gets in the way or you can only fit in half an hour to record and as soon as we started to shorten it, our listeners were straight in our inbox…”Where’s the rest of it?” “Why is it shorter?” “Why aren’t the episodes as long as they used to be?” So it’s much better if you are going to set an expectation with the listener to keep that expectation. And one of the ways to do that is to keep your episodes shorter and use bonus content to put into your podcast feed so it’s a little bit of an extra surprise for your audience.

Always try to give them something more rather than take something away.

It’s really important to understand who you’re doing your show for but also to think about what can you commit to in the long-term.

Remember podcasting is a marathon not a sprint and while you don’t want your listeners to abandon you, you also don’t want to be too tired to finish the race.

Need some help getting started?  Download my podcasting guide.

Got a burning question you’d like answered in the podcast? Send me an email.

Read full show rundown

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the show. I'm fresh from OzPod2017 which is a podcasting conference in Sydney Australia that I spoke at the other day. There were some fantastic guests, including Jen White who is one of the creators of the show Making Oprah that ran on WBEZ in Chicago. I've spent the last couple of days binge listening and I highly highly recommend.

[00:00:29] Over the course of the conference I touched on something in my presentation about starting your podcast off on the right foot and I noticed it coming up time and time again with each one of the speakers. They all said this was the question they got asked more than any other and that is "How long should a podcast be?" This is a question new podcasters spend way too much time worrying about because the answer is simple. Your show should be as long as the content suggests it should be. There should be no fluff, no additional crap, no rabbiting on for 20 minutes before you get into the good stuff. You need to be respectful of your listeners time and just cram the best of the best in. And if that means it's a seven minute podcast that's it. If that means it's four and a half hours...perhaps that's a little too long but it depends on what the A Grade material dictates.

[00:01:37] One of the great things about jumping into podcasting is that at this stage there are no rules and perhaps it will stay that way forever. On radio you're hemmed in by ad breaks that have to run at a certain time, the number of songs you need to get out each hour but in a podcast it can be exactly the length you want it to be. You should also keep your audience in mind when thinking about how long it should be. If you are doing a podcast for travellers who are going to be sitting on lengthy 20 hour bus rides through South America maybe a longer podcast is going to be exactly what they're going to want to pass the time. But if your podcast is designed for busy mums then there's nothing to say you can't make a 10 minute show if that's enough time to feature your content. They might be happy to have something they can ingest in a really short amount of time and then not have to pause and come back to it. James Cridland is a radio futurologist and he was talking at OzPod about the fact that less than 50 percent of listeners make it past 15 minutes (which is a bad thing for advertisers who are putting stuff in the middle and end of podcasts) but a lot of talk when he was mentioning those statistics was around how we get our listeners to stay longer. And the truth is the way you get them to stay longer is to have good content that's riveting the whole way through and maybe a better question is could our podcasts be shorter? Ideally you don't want your listeners to have to pause and come back to the content because people are subscribing to more and more shows. I certainly know in my feed I can't make it through all of the shows I'm subscribed to. I feel like it's a full time job. So when I pause something I tend, unless it's a show that I really really love, not to go back because I'm trying to get through as many shows as possible so it's good to keep that in mind when you're creating a show. You want your listeners to be able to gobble it all up and not have any leftovers they need to worry about coming back to. Less is always going to be more not only from the audience's perspective but from your perspective. It's important to think about what is genuinely achievable for you day in day out or week in week out. It's a real commitment to do an hour of content not only from listeners perspective but also from yours. That's a really long time to fill and you can easily fill it in the first couple of weeks when you're fresh with ideas and you've got so many things you want to get to. But think about where you're going to be seven months down the track or seven years down the track.

[00:04:30] Are you still going to be able to make it to an hour of content? You've got to put in the time every week to get this out into peoples ears and an hour is sometimes not achievable. With my podcast You've Gotta Start Somewhere, I usually chat for an hour sometimes longer with the guests but we're covering an entire career so it's very hard to squeeze that into 20 minutes. But if you're doing a show on your own then shorter can sometimes be much better. The other thing that's going to happen if you have a long show to start and then you start paring it back is that your listeners will crack it at you. This happened to me with our show Paul and Rach. Originally we started out at an hour because we were fresh with ideas. But then life gets in the way, you can only fit in half an hour record time, you don't have a great day one day so you're not going to include all of the bits and pieces. And as soon as we started to chip away at that time our listeners were straight on the email. "Where's the rest of it?" "Why is it shorter?" "Why aren't the episodes as long as they used to be?" So it's much better if you are going to set an expectation with the listener to keep that expectation. And one of the ways to do that is to keep your episodes shorter and use bonus content to put into your podcast feed so it's a little bit of an extra surprise for your audience.

[00:06:18] It is really important you understand who you are doing your show for and then you have to be a bit selfish and think about yourself because you are the person who's putting their time in to do this show. So what can you commit to in the long term. Do not create a rod for your own back.

[00:06:53] I hope that's helped you think a little bit about how long your podcast should be. Go forth, free from the shackles of thinking that there is a single way to do this. It is all up in the air and entirely down to you. So think about it strategically. Put some thought into it and as long as you are thinking about what's best for your audience and the show content you will be just fine.

[00:07:27] Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of PodSchool. As always I will put the show notes up at PodSchoolPodcast.com and if you'd like a little extra help you can check out my online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au.

[00:07:41] I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

GET MY FREE PODCAST GUIDE

WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

it's free!
Your email address is safe with me!