What is the ideal length of a podcast episode?
There are “only” the listeners who give you feedback. But you don’t have that at the beginning of your podcast career. That’s why I would like to give you the following tip: Make shorter episodes! But what are “shorter episodes”? Anything between 12 and 30 minutes. Why?
Before I discuss with you the reasons for my recommendation, I want to show you some research.
What does the worldwide data say about the average length of podcast episodes?
There’s a highly exciting 2018, where someone looked at nearly 10 million podcast episodes and came up with an average length of 43 minutes and 42 seconds.
However, there were some glaring outliers there with podcast episodes ranging from nearly 11 hours long to ones that lasted just one second. He factored out these outliers and came up with an average podcast length of 38 minutes and 42 seconds.
The category also plays a role, of course. While gaming podcasts tend to be long (well over an hour) , marketing podcasts have a comparatively short runtime (under 30 minutes).
A year later (late 2019), the same guy wanted to know how the podcast landscape and duration has changed. It came out that the average runtime of podcast episodes has shortened by two minutes. Of course, again, it depends on categories.
What if your people don’t know about podcasting yet?
If your target audience is not yet tech-savvy or podcast-savvy, it’s easier for them to give a short episode a chance than if they have to clear an hour and a half off their calendar first. But it also always depends on the target audience and the goal with your podcast.
If you have a stressed target group, then longer episodes can already promote the “coming down”. But then make sure that the podcast newbies don’t have to sit at the computer and listen to their first episode.
Podcasting shouldn’t be “where you listen to audio on your computer”, so you should also make it as fun and easy as possible for your target audience to get started.
Here are a few examples:
Show the way to subscription:
Many potential podcast listeners aren’t aware of how to subscribe to the show. Even if the barriers are super low, it’s not easy for every person. For example, you could image the path to Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the like to show how people can subscribe to your podcast.
Have a podcast landing page:
On a podcast landing page, you can showcase the benefits and uses of podcasts. Especially if the target group is not soooo technically fit, you can show them the various benefits of podcasts on the page and thus attract listeners. How something like this could look like, you can see here.
Quality always comes before quantity
A short episode doesn’t need that much preparation in terms of quantity. It’s more about the quality of the content and also the personality, which can’t come up short. But as always, in the end, it’s not about living up to an ideal, it’s about doing your thing.
Every now and then I have the opportunity to accompany people who already have a podcast. As part of this work, I naturally look at the performance of the podcast, including dropout rates, etc.
I’m always struck by how low the dropout rate is for episodes where the podcasters say, “This episode is definitely super relevant to my listeners.”
Your listeners already have a routine
If your potential listeners already have a podcast routine, then it’s easier for them to get a shorter episode into the listening habit. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to do short episodes forever. It’s just a matter of playing it safe at the beginning of your podcast career first.
Don’t assume your own listening habits
You love long podcasts because you have your working hours under control and have built a successful online business? Great, but is that exactly how it is with your target audience? Do they have the time to listen to your voice for hours at a stretch?
Maybe, but maybe not. No question: It’s our goal to keep people with us for a long time. But if potential listeners rarely get to the end of our episodes, that doesn’t help us.
There is no right and no wrong! There is only a more or less suitable for your current goals and target audience. In the beginning, I would go out with shorter episodes so that you create the best possible market entry with your podcast.
After that, you’ll get the first reactions from your listeners and then you can target what they want and you’ll be more secure in the saddle as a podcaster.
From there, you can more easily make a decision on what kind of podcast length you want to have in the future!