When you’re a podcaster, your main goal is to get the right people to listen to you — consistently. Your content is key in making this happen, but the duration of your podcast plays an important role in whether your listeners will stick around or not.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how long podcasts should last, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind when determining the best length for your show.
Consider Your Following
Always think about your fans. Put yourself in their shoes as best as you can, and visualize what they need from you. Do they need lengthy discussions and interviews, or just brief messages?
Chances are, they don’t need to feel overwhelmed by your content. Are your listeners busy parents who only have time to listen on their way to work, carpool, or the grocery store? Keep your podcast length at a duration that will fit those time frames.
Are your listeners university students who don’t have much time outside of studying? Young professionals who carve out “me time” regularly? There’s no right answer, but keeping these considerations in mind will help you choose an appropriate length for your audience.
Consider Your Frequency
How often do you publish new episodes? This should be a heavy factor when considering how long your episodes should be. If you publish every day, an hour is probably going to be overkill since it will be hard to produce that much content that can effectively keep listeners engaged. Plus, your fans might get overwhelmed with lengthy, frequent episodes. If they miss a day or two, they may not feel like catching up.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you publish an episode only once a month, an hour isn’t going to tire out your fans.
If you plan to publish once or twice a week, your episodes should probably be between 15 to 60 minutes. Publishing a new episode every day? 10 minutes or less is a good guideline.
Consider What People Do When Listening to Podcasts
Many people pop in their headphones to listen to a podcast while doing something mindless: folding laundry, taking a walk, doing the dishes, commuting. What is your listener doing? When are they listening? An average commute time in the US is 26.6 minutes. If you know your listeners are listening in during their commute, keep your podcast to between 20 and 30 minutes. If your listeners do their housework while they listen, 15 to 60 minutes will keep them entertained.
Make a Plan
Try and be consistent. If you’re going to produce 30-minute shows twice a week, keep that format so your listeners can know what to expect and be comfortable with what you offer. Of course, occasionally throwing in a shorter or longer episode is fine from time to time. But when you can, be consistent so your listeners get used to you and what to expect. A podcast editorial calendar can be a useful tool to help you plan and schedule upcoming episodes.
Make It as Long as It Should be
While the above tips are good guidelines, the bottom line is: Make your podcast episode as long as it should be. Don’t add extra fluff just to fill your time. Likewise, don’t cut it short, if doing so will remove critical elements. Know your audience, give them content they want, and be respectful of their time — and you’ll have them coming back again and again!