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The ideal length of a podcast episode - Here is what to consider

If you are just starting your own podcast, it is natural to wonder about the ideal length for your podcast episodes. In this article, we’ll explain why it is crucial to consider your target audience, the format of your podcast, and the content itself when deciding the length of your podcast episodes.

There are countless podcasts, and they can differ widely in terms of average episode length. For example, the Yale International Society of Tropical Foresters podcast has one episode that is over 11 hours long. In contrast, Neil Patel and Eric Siu released a short episode of no more than seven minutes each day for their podcast Marketing School. Each podcast is very popular with its respective audience.

In 2018, Pacific Content's Dan Misener analyzed a total of 10 million podcast episodes and found they had an average length of 43 minutes, 42 seconds. Then, after excluding outliers, the average episode length was 38 minutes, 42 seconds.

A year later, Dan Misener analyzed whether podcast lengths had changed. He found that the average length of podcast episodes had gone down by two minutes.

Engage listeners: Here's why your audience is so important

People are different and have different preferences when it comes to podcast episode length. Your listeners should always be the focus of your podcast, along with your content. To find out what length is best for your episodes, it makes sense to get to know your listeners.

Ask yourself who your ideal listener is in the first place. Knowing who your desired listener is can help you to create a successful podcast. You need to know who you are actually talking to during your episodes. This is important not just for determining the length of your episodes but also for planning the whole podcast in general.

For example, if you find out what your listeners' everyday lives look like and how much free time they have, this will help you decide the best episode length for your podcast. For example, if you know that your ideal listener is an entrepreneur, you can wager that short episodes are better for your podcast since entrepreneurs are usually short on time.

One easy way to get to know your listeners is to take some polls. There are number of ways to do this. Where do you interact with your listeners? Wherever it is, take a moment to reach out to them and find out what they prefer in terms of episode length. For example, story polls on Instagram are a great way to do this: you can get a sense of the mood very quickly and get feedback just from your listeners.

If you are in direct conversation with your customers, you can also ask them directly. If you already interact with your target group, take advantage of the opportunity. Listeners will tell you how much time they have for listening to podcast episodes.

Here's what your podcast format has to do with your episode length

Depending on the format and content, the ideal length of a podcast episode can vary. For example, if you have a purely informative podcast where you focus specifically on imparting knowledge, then your episodes shouldn't be too long.

You should keep people’s limited attention spans in mind. Some listeners might just tune out after a while because they can't concentrate for very long at once. Either loosen your content up with short breaks or plan shorter episodes from the start.

You want to keep your bounce rate as low as possible, and you also want your listeners to get real value from your podcast.

Interviews, on the other hand, can be longer. For one thing, it can take time to get into a topic, and you also want to give the guest enough opportunity to speak. By inviting new guests for each episode, your podcast will seem more interesting and your listeners will be less likely to lose attention.

If the interview is too long, you can also publish it in two parts. This way, you will have made two episodes at once, and after the first part, your listeners will want to know what happens next.

Why the content itself matters in deciding podcast episode length

Besides your target audience and format, there's also a third factor to consider: the content itself of your podcast should play a major role in determining the length of each episode.

Not all episodes have to be the same length. If in one episode, you're dealing with a topic that doesn't have as much to offer as other topics, you shouldn't try to artificially drag out the episode’s length. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to cram too much into a short episode if it would really be better to split it up into several episodes. Either way, your content will suffer, as will your audience and your podcast as a whole.

Preparing for your podcast can also be crucial. When preparing for recording, your script will give you a good indication of the length of your episode. You'll know if it's too much content. Then, if necessary, you can divide it into multiple parts.

Today, many people say that they don't have time. But we all have 24 hours in a day— we just divide our time differently and prioritize different things. This is why you shouldn't take up too much of your listeners' time: always offer real value and get to the point. Keep your listeners happy, inform them, and don't forget the suspense.

Conclusion: It always depends

There is no set rule for how long a podcast episode should be. The content itself is much more important, as is making sure to always give your listeners value.

The most important factor for success is your listeners. Include them in your considerations and ask them how much time they invest in listening to podcast episodes. Talking to your listeners is always the best advice for having a successful podcast.

Extra tip: When creating your content, think about how you can promote each episode. Audiograms can be very helpful for promoting your podcast on your blog or on social media. Audiograms are a great way to draw attention to your podcast online, and web tools like Audiocado make it easy to create them.

With engaging, high-quality audio, your audiograms will stand out even more, and more people will be curious about your episodes and about your podcast in general!

Tobias Manroth Author image
Tobias Manroth
CMO at Audiocado

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