One of the common dilemmas podcasters ask is “How long should a podcast episode last?”. The common response to this tends to be “As long as it needs to be,” and while that is true, it’s not always that helpful for making a clear decision on your podcast!
It’s crucial to consider all of the factors that influence episode length. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the three factors so that you can make an informed decision for your podcast.
1. Format Matters
The format of your podcast plays a big role in answering “How long should a podcast episode last”. Different formats cater to different listener preferences and expectations. And for some formats, planning the length is easier than for others. For example:
Interview-based podcasts tend to require a more flexible approach to episode length. It depends on how in-depth you want to go with your guests. And how your guests respond to your questions.
If the conversation is engaging and the guest is sharing super valuable insights the conversation might last longer. However, it’s essential to keep the chat focused and avoid excessive tangents that could lead to listeners tuning out.
Solo podcasts typically have a more direct and focused approach. Here, the length should be based on the content’s depth. Are you making ‘quick tips’ type episodes? Or more in-depth deep dives into a topic.
It’s generally easier to plan for how long a solo episode should last as you’re not relying on a guest’s response. Solo episodes can also be scripted, or at least outlined, giving you a pretty clear idea of the length before you begin.
Co-hosted podcasts are sort of a hybrid of interview and solo. You and your co-host will have more control over the overall length, but some time needs to be allowed for the natural evolution of the conversation.
However, it’s crucial to maintain a good balance between natural conversation and focusing on what the ideal listener wants to hear. Co-hosted podcasts can easily sway from the topic towards too much general chat.
2. Release Schedule
The release schedule of your podcast also influences the episode’s length. Generally, more frequent releases call for shorter episodes, while less frequent schedules allow for longer content.
For podcasts with frequent releases, such as multiple episodes per week or daily episodes, shorter episodes are more typical. Listeners will likely expect more easily digestible content so they can keep up with your releases.
For podcasts that publish weekly or fortnightly, longer episodes are more acceptable. Audiences are typically willing to invest more time in these episodes as they have a longer gap between releases, giving them more time to fit it in.
3. Ideal Listener Expectations
And finally, as with any decision you make for your podcast, it’s vital to keep your ideal listener in mind.
What is your audience expecting? How much time does your ideal listener typically have to listen to podcasts? How much time do you need to provide whatever solution you’re offering?
Ask yourself these questions and consider how much time you need to give your ideal listener what they’re after, without taking up more of their time than is needed.
Now we’ve gone over the main factors that you’ll need to consider for your podcast, let’s talk numbers. Below are a few examples of common types of podcast and a rough idea of how long an episode might last.
Daily Tech News or Morning Positivity Podcast
A daily news or motivational podcast would typically be on the shorter end of the scale. To cover the news of the day or give your listener some morning motivation, you’d probably only need around 5 to 10 minutes. And longer episodes would be difficult to keep up with from the podcaster’s perspective unless your podcast was a full-time job.
Weekly Interview Podcast
Weekly interview shows typically range from 30 to 60 minutes. This allows for a deep dive into the guest’s story and expertise without overwhelming the listener.
Fortnightly History or Documentary Podcast
With a less frequent release schedule and deep topics, these podcasts can extend beyond an hour, giving ample time to explore historical events or in-depth narratives.
When determining the ideal length for your podcast episodes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s crucial to consider the format, frequency, and listener expectations to strike the right balance.
Remember that audience feedback and analytics can also provide valuable insights into whether your chosen episode length is working for your listeners.
Ultimately, the most successful podcast episodes are those that provide value, captivate your ideal listener, and leave them eager for more, without taking up more of their time than necessary.