As podcasts are becoming more popular, many people have decided to join the creative community. Before anyone can join, however, there is one question that comes to mind: “How long should my podcast be?” The short answer to that question is: “It depends.”
When I say, “it depends,” I mean that there is no perfect length that will influence the popularity and success of your podcast. The length of successful podcasts is as varied as the audience who listens to them.
I’m going to help you break this answer down by asking relevant questions that will hopefully help you with your decision.
Table of Contents
What kind of content are you creating?
Content is the thing that should, first and foremost, dictate the length of your podcast. Some topics fit a shorter format, while others a long one.
Talking about, for example, daily news and updates on a particular topic, may not require more than 10 – 15 min. It is assumed that the audience already has a background knowledge on the subject, so you do not need to waste time on that.
On the other hand, if you’re talking about Greek mythology, there is no way you can explain all of the gods’ complicated backstory and connections in 15 minutes or less (looking specifically at you, Zeus).
Think about what you are going to discuss and look into other podcasts that already exist in your niche. Doing this will give you enough of a guideline about how long your episodes could last.
And if you think you can talk for less or for longer than the other people in that niche? Don’t fear, everyone is unique and what you have to say is subjective.
Should I avoid longer episodes?
There is an understandable fear of longer episodes, but, not to sound like a broken record, it depends again.
Let’s say you have enough quality content for a 60 min episode, but you don’t want to overbear your listeners with content, so you decide to cut it down. How do you choose what to cut out?
You waste your time choosing what is less important at the cost of quality. And I say you don’t need to choose. Don’t cut anything that you deem essential to have a shorter episode.
And vice versa; if you have enough content for a 30 min episode, you shouldn’t drag it out by repeating or adding unnecessary information to reach 60 mins.
Stick to your point and talk, however much you need, no more, no less. One of my favorite podcasts, “Off-topic,” which, as you might guess, doesn’t have one specific topic but is formatted as a talk between a group of friends, tends to go as long as 2 hours and more.
If you provide interesting quality content, without adding fluff or stretching the topic too thin, you will find people willing to listen to you talk however long.
When does your audience listen to podcasts?
You should keep the habits of your listeners in mind. Do they listen to podcasts on their way to work? The average commute time is around 30 minutes, so you may want to stick around that mark.
Do they listen right before going to bed? Then they have more free time, and you might opt for a longer episode.
Sometimes our listeners are looking for something quick and entertaining in the middle of a busy day, and sometimes they might have more time to fill.
What you should keep in mind is that there is a pause button. Even if your episodes are longer and your audience doesn’t have enough time at one point, they can just pause and continue listening when they are free again.
How long can/should you keep talking?
People are scared that if they create longer content, the audience will get bored quickly. And that might be the case, if you are droning on about a topic with a lack of enthusiasm, like most of my history teachers tended to do (and even then I forced myself to listen because I liked history).
If you are talking about a topic with eagerness and joy, the attention will remain on you, and your audience won’t get bored.
Consider your energy levels, how long you can go on eloquently without flagging, losing focus, and your listeners’ attention.
Should you stick to the same length for all of the episodes?
The same rules apply to each episode: “Talk as much as you need and only as much as you need.” If that means that some of your episodes are longer than others, then so be it.
Listeners, however, tend to get used to a schedule. They might separate a specific time of day just to listen to your podcast. So episode lengths which vary too much may not be a good idea.
Try to stick to an average length for most episodes, and if you sometimes pass or can’t meet your goal, your audience will most likely understand. If you go on for too long, you can even consider dividing the episode into two.
Is there an ideal episode length?
I’d say there is. It is not what is the ideal length for listeners, but you. Everything rests upon the content that you create, which topic you choose. It rests upon how long you can give it your all.
Use other podcasts as a sort of a reference, or a picture in a coloring book. However, as we all know, sometimes it’s more fun to color outside the lines, so do not restrict yourself with the length of other popular podcasts. Use them as guides, not as rules.
As long as you talk about what you care about and create exciting content on a quality level, you can find an audience willing to listen even if you ramble for two hours. Just take it from me, as I am a member of the audience ready to do that.
You are the creator with no restrictions, on a schedule like on the radio, for example, so go wild, but not too wild. Just enough.