How long should a podcast be?
If you are planning to launch a podcast of your own, then most certainly you have a lot of questions on your mind. The name of the podcast and the type of content you want to produce are a few among the many questions you must be pondering on. But another crucial aspect of starting a podcast that is as important as the others is the length of the podcast. Deciding on the perfect duration for your podcasts is something that completely depends on your style of delivering, the type of content you want to produce as well as on the type of audience that you have or are targeting.
A short form of a podcast of 15 to 20 minutes is a good idea if you want to deliver your message in brief and in an interesting way. On the other hand, an in-depth episode where you focus on the details and specific features of a subject might require you to stretch the length to at least 60 to 90 minutes.
To understand and simplify the discussion around the length of a podcast we will consider a podcast and a podcast episode as the same thing for the remainder of the article.
Coming to the topic, the most important factor that decides the duration is the content of the podcast. It all depends on how long you take in delivering the information to your audience. If a subject takes 15 to 20 mins to cover, then it’s probably a bad idea to stretch it out to more than what’s required. Making it longer than necessary will mostly impact your viewership in a negative way resulting in losing viewership and credibility even.
Making shorter podcasts also has the added benefit of allowing the creator to work on other episodes as well, meaning you can podcast more often and cover a wide range of topics as well.
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Although short-length podcasts are getting more popular, there is also a demand for longer forms as well. There are multiple podcasters who strive on long-form content of 2 to 3 hours of each episode. In short, it is safe to say that it is better to rely on the natural flow of things and create content that sounds natural as well as engaging to come up with the perfect duration for your podcast.
Advantages of short and long podcasts.
Your podcast could be successful whether it’s a short duration one or a longer one. After all, it’s the content that decides how good you are as a podcaster. No matter what the content is, short and long forms of podcasts both have distinct advantages as well as disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of both.
Advantages of shorter podcasts:
Viewers usually prefer short content as they can gain information without investing too much of their time on a longer version of the same content.
Shorter podcasts give you the freedom to work on more episodes and hence create and publish content more frequently.
Being more active will eventually result in you gaining more viewers over a period of time, which is essentially the sign of a successful podcaster.
Shorter podcasts are easier to consume and can be viewed while exercising, eating or working.
Advantages of longer podcasts:
If you have in-depth knowledge on a subject, longer podcasts will help you prove yourself as a subject matter expert which could open up other avenues in life as well.
Longer episodes give you the opportunity to discuss in more detail and explain complex topics efficiently.
This form of podcast is perfect for inviting guests or experts for a discussion on different topics.
If you prefer to, you can cover multiple topics in one episode, which has its own benefits like attracting listeners with varied interests.
A very important aspect of any content-related work is the frequency at which you publish. In the case of podcasts, the frequency also depends on the duration of the episodes. If you plan on creating one or two hour-long episodes, it is impossible for you to publish on a daily basis. Longer podcasts are suitable if you plan on releasing once in a week or even a couple of episodes in a month. But if you intend to create episodes of 10 minutes or 20 minutes, it gives you the privilege of publishing episodes more than twice a week or even daily if possible.
Since we can all agree that the duration is a key aspect of the type of podcast you want to create, let’s take a look at a few pointers that will help you determine how long they should be.
I cannot stress over the fact enough that content is the main aspect of your podcast and the best way to achieve the perfect length of your podcast is by focusing on the topic at hand.
Depending on the topic, the duration might stretch from 15 minutes to even a couple of hours. In certain cases when you are working on a new subject that requires to be explained in detail, you will undoubtedly have to create a longer version of the podcast. On the contrary, topics that you have already made content on previously or the ones that do not require much explanation can be made in shorter episodes.
Focus on the quality of information that you are giving. Instead of making longer episodes, with the details watered down, it is far more effective to create information-rich short episodes. Edit and remove parts that are unnecessary in order to keep your episodes more focused on the relevant topics.
Make sure to not add too many personal stories or experiences. Although it’s not always a bad idea to do so, sometimes personal stories might not add much value to your episodes. It’s important to remember that the podcast is mainly for your audience and providing them with information that they are looking for is the main idea behind these podcasts. Do not get caught up recounting your experiences although it can be done to a certain extent.
Come up with a script before you start shooting for your episode and stick to it. It’s easy to get off-topic, especially with a guest, and although not all deviations are bad, its still safer to follow the outline you originally designed. This will help you focus on the key points of the subject without adding unnecessary information.
Analyse audience behaviour to understand and create the perfect podcast. YouTube or any platform for that matter, comes with user analytics tools which is an easy and simple way to understand when and how your audience consume your content. For instance, a lot of people listen to podcasts while driving or doing chores and this will be reflected by the time they spent on the episodes. Understanding this will help you determine the perfect duration for your topics
Interact with your audience for ideas. Interacting with your viewers is probably one of the most assured ways to understand what they want from you. A poll on any of the social media platforms is an easy way to start this. Another effective way is to have a live Q and A with your audience. Along with understanding them, it serves the added purpose of maintaining a relationship with them.
Apart from the above factors which will help you determine the perfect length for your podcast, there are other variables as well that you can tweak to give you a direction to work on. For instance, having a routine that you can conveniently follow is a great way to start. Having a schedule will help you be more consistent and productive as a result.
Another tip is to have a structure for every episode. You can also have a common structure to follow for most of the episodes as well. This will help your audience to adapt to your style of podcasting and help you build a base of loyal viewers.
COMMON TIME LENGTHS FOR PODCASTS :
Apart from all the speculation about how long an episode should be, to understand the best time duration for a podcast, we have to take a look at other podcasters and how long they tend to make their episodes. This will probably give you a far clearer idea than reading and researching the topic.
To have a better idea we have to keep in mind that podcasters create content on a wide range of topics. Episodes that focus more on the news or current trends tend to be short (15 30 minutes). This is quite effective as people prefer to get their daily dose of news in short rather than sit through an hour of a news episode.
Podcasts that focus on guests and interviews tend to be a bit longer. 30 minutes to an hour is the perfect length for this type of content as it gives enough time to cover the important topics of the episode and even avoid unnecessary information. This duration is also ideal if you want to keep creating content a couple of times a week.
Long forms of podcasts are suitable if you want to go in-depth into any subject. They are suitable for guests as well as for podcasts that have multiple hosts. But keep in mind that if you plan on doing these, you need to have enough information on what you are going to speak about. It helps to invite guests that are subject matter experts as well.
There is no data to prove the success of any podcast on the length of their episodes. There are multiple podcasters who continue to publish long episodes and still accumulate a large audience. The same can be said of shorter podcasts as well. SO do not be compelled to make short content if you have the capacity and the means to produce longer formats without compromising on the quality. Long podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience is a perfect example of a hugely successful podcast that delivers high-quality content with millions of viewers watching it all over the world.
To conclude, the best way to approach this topic is by understanding that content is the first thing you have to consider before deciding on the length of your episodes. If you can create high-quality work and it requires you 60 minutes to do so, then it’s likely that is the perfect duration for that particular topic and episode. Do not go out of your way to make an episode too short or too long as it will hamper the natural flow of the podcast resulting in low viewership and a bad experience for the viewers. So, the golden rule to stick by when deciding the duration is to stick to creating content that gives value to your viewers and as a result, you will naturally understand the length you need for your podcast.