Depending on your format, niche, and overall delivery of information, you might be delivering podcasts that range from 30 minutes all the way to an hour and over. Maybe you’re just starting your podcast for the first time and are wondering: can a podcast be too short? What is the best podcast length?
No, it can’t be too short. There is no definitive time which a podcast has to reach. Shorter podcasts leave you less time to deliver information, engage and entertain, but can work well if you have a lot of useful tips to share. There are also other factors impacting how long your podcast should be.
Worrying about your podcast length shouldn’t be a determining factor as to whether you publish it or not. If you have created a podcast that contains all the information you planned to include, there is no reason why it wouldn’t perform well.
Your show needs to maintain a fragile balance to keep listeners entertained and engaged from the start to finish. You need to consider:
- How information-saturated is your podcast,
- Are you a good storyteller that can capture the attention,
- Can you deliver the main points of your narrative in an entertaining way,
- Objective factors like the length of best shows you would like to compete with.
For example, if you are talking about a big historical event, you can probably spend hours discussing causes, effects, main actors, small personal stories, and details. On the other hand, when your podcast is more practical, and you want to give business tips, you should probably have 5-10 tips per episode, instead of 50 (like many blog posts currently lists).
There are some factors that you should consider before making a decision on your podcast length.
Does Your Podcast Cover What it Needs to?
Your primary concern should always be the value in which you offer. This value can come in multiple forms:
- Provide Actionable Insights
- Emotional Response
Value isn’t universal. A listener may be inspired from listening to your podcast and start their own youtube channel or implement your tips in their business. Whereas another might just enjoy listening to you as a person. However, it is good to have an idea of how your show is going to provide value.
It’s important to understand that you cannot force value on someone. Instead, you can offer it and allow listeners to take it as they see fit and in what way best speaks to them.
If your podcast covers everything you aimed to cover and has provided quality information, then you shouldn’t’ worry about the length.
However, there is a way to plan value. You can achieve this by planning your content around your ideal listener, a podcasting persona. I’m not going to discuss it right now, as I’ve covered the concept and implementation of persona extensively in THIS article (also, if you are a subscriber to my exclusive resources and mailing list, you have access to the podcasting persona template – sneak peek below).
What Length Best Fits My Podcast Topic/Niche?
A very subjective question, but important nonetheless. The topic that you talk about will often influence your format style and as a result, your podcast length.
Podcasts length by category
- The longest podcasting genres are video games, music, games & hobbies, tv & film, hobbies, comedy – they average more than 50 minutes per episode.
- The shortest podcasting genres are language courses, K-12, training, education, kids & family, business – they average less than 20 minutes per episode.
Podcasts length by type
Solo podcasts are often shorter, and it is not uncommon to see them averaging 10 minutes per episode.
Podcasts that have more than one host usually run more mileage. That’s because the format allows for back and forth discussions that create natural content.
You will want to finish your podcast when it feels natural for you to end it. This is usually when you’ve covered every key point you intended to make and round it off with a conclusion/outro. It’s important to do this when it feels natural.
If you stretch your content, I promise you, your audience will know immediately. Nobody likes listening to filler, especially when it’s obvious it’s just that. You stop offering value and begin looking for avenues to increase watch time. This can lose you a lot of viewers if you aren’t careful.
The 10-20 minute mark is more acceptable (from a listener standpoint) for a podcast with a solo host. This format is void from peer discussion, meaning it will naturally be shorter. There are obviously exceptions to this. The best advice I can give for this particular question is this: focus on evaluating your format, what you are talking about, and the quality of the podcast, not what other people are doing.
Other podcasts audiences might not be your audience, thus, the “norm” for them is not representative of your viewership. Comparing your podcast length to that of one with 100,000 listeners will do you more harm than good.
Establish your audience first. That way, you will be able to judge and understand what they like in relation to your podcast.
Here are stats on how on average, podcast episodes look regardless of the genre.
If you are worried about your podcast length before you’ve released your first episode, try to understand who you will be targetting. If you publish a 10-minute episode and continue to do so for the remainder of your podcasts, you are going to attract an audience that appreciates this content length.
Optimal Intro/Outro Length Based on Podcast Episode Duration
Ge mindful of your audience, and if your podcast is below 15 minutes, do not have a long intro/outro.
I occasionally listen to short podcasts. If I know I have a journey that is relatively short or I have a break for 15 minutes, I’ll load up a short podcast to consume before I have to return to what I was doing. Nothing is worse than a 15-minute podcast only actually being 10 minutes of content.
When your show averages 15 minutes, have around 30-sec intro (possibly followed by another 20-30 second sponsor message), and finish it with ideally a shorter than 30-sec outro.
The quickest way you can lose listeners is to have a long, loud and unappealing intro track. This relates to all podcasts. Imagine how important this is to podcasts that already have a limited window.
Remember that you can always weave website plugs or social plugs into your content. You don’t have to limit the positioning strictly to the intro/outro. Create something catchy that enables you to lead straight into the content.
Minimizing downtime for shorter podcasts is crucial to keeping your audience engaged through to the end.
How Often Do You Publish An Episode And What Your Listeners Expect?
Your publishing schedule will be a determining factor when answering this question. However, this more so applies to podcasts that already have or are in the middle of building an audience.
Why is this important?
If you upload once a month (or if you publish in seasons), the general perception is that you have had the time to create an episode of high quality. If you upload daily, then the perception previously mentioned is more forgiven.
This is evident in different areas of life. For example, you haven’t seen your friend for over a year, so you sit down and talk for hours about what you’ve both missed.
Let’s say you upload daily episodes. Your already established audience is likely to understand the workflow you are under, and 10-15 minute episodes seem the right length of time. Similarly, if you are just starting a podcast, building up an audience that understands this will be crucial.
Uploading once a week or even once a month will then pose different perceived episode length. Posting a 10-minute episode once a month will likely be unacceptable to your audience. The value gain to loyalty ratio would be incredibly low… unless you have the best podcast on earth.
There is no “one rule fits all”. That’s what makes podcasting so great in the first place. You are able to define how you want to upload, when and for how long.
Here are guidelines on expected podcast length, put together using listeners feedback:
|Publishing frequency||Expected length|
|3 times a week||10-20mins|
|Once a week||15-30mins|
|Twice a month||20-30+ mins|
|Once a month||30+ mins|
|Less than once a month||1hr +|
Following an outline can keep you on the right track but it’s important to understand it is just that: an outline.
This is by no means a “you must follow this if you want success”. Podcasting success relies heavily on your output frequency and knowledge of your niche. It also relies on how well you know yourself and your ability to produce high-quality content consistently.
Before cross-referencing your own capabilities to the table above, first, ask yourself “what am I capable of?”. If you mount up the tasks you have and find that, from a realistic standpoint, you can only podcast once a week, use that starting point to determine how long you should make it.
As long as you do what you are capable of, the length of your podcast shouldn’t make much of a difference.
How are podcast shows perceived based on podcast length?
The final point to consider is perception: How will listeners perceive you and your podcast depending upon its length?
In other words, how the length impacts your podcasting brand. Focusing on establishing a brand is crucial to the long term success. I’ve already discussed this in depth HERE so I won’t repeat those points now.
Whilst this certainly isn’t applicable to every podcast, it does come back to your niche and what topic you are talking about. If you are a podcast all about storytelling and are delivering podcasts around the 10-minute mark, this could impact the perception around your podcast.
It’s important to always keep the perceived value in the back of your mind. If you are marketing your podcast as “Weekly stories filled with suspense and wonder” yet your podcasts are 10 minutes short stories, your audience may not be okay with that.
In these cases, it’s best to focus on your marketing and not so much on your podcast length. Changing the title to read “short stories…” instead will not only define your niche further but also make it obvious to potential readers that this will be a shorter podcast.
Doing so clearly outlines the intentions before the listener spends the time loading the podcast. You can also go a step further and flesh out your podcast description to include the average length of your podcast and what you will be coving.
Instead of a varied listener base, this particular podcast would then be attracting an audience that solely loves short stories. At which point, the podcast length is irrelevant to them… it’s what they signed up for.
Podcast length should never be a determining factor as to whether you upload your podcast or not. If your podcast is shorter than you would like it to be, it may be best to re-evaluate your content.
Are you able to expand on what you have previously said in a natural way? Have you learned more information that you can add? Could you branch off from your original content and provide more value?
You should continually ask yourself these types of questions. Look at your podcast from a listener perspective and come to a conclusion: Will my podcast length be a deciding factor? Podcasting with a friend could mitigate the podcast length worry.
What is your favorite length of an episode? Do you feel it is important for your listeners?
Thanks for that analysis. This is helpful and I will consider it when launching my podcast!