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Success often comes as the fruit of one’s preparation efforts. Any podcast specialist or podcast producer can tell you that how short or long a show goes can directly affect how consumers will react. Beyond just the genre or even the topic at hand, it is the episode length that can either draw people in or push them away. Whether you do the job alone or work for a podcast agency, learning how to decide on your podcast’s episode length is key knowledge that no one should ignore.

Look at the Topic Depths

Beyond the prospect of either enticing or scaring away listeners, there are many reasons why podcasters should pay attention to the length of their show. The first reason is that the chosen length can influence the depth of your content. Deciding on a short show will leave you with only sparse time to work with. In the end, you may have to cut out some bits and perhaps save them for the next episode, if it’s going to be used at all. On the other side of that coin, a lengthy show can obviously fit in a lot of material, but should the topic be shallower than expected, then it will become a struggle to fill up the time you’ve allotted.

Consider the Overall Show

The best shows are those that stay consistent from start to finish. Through this consistency, listeners will form solid expectations of the show and will come to view it as something reliable. This consistency can touch on numerous things and episode length is one prime example. This is not to say that every episode you put out must have exactly the same length. While the individual episode lengths can–and will—vary, it is important that they remain fairly similar without deviations that are too notable. For example, shows with one-hour episodes will do well to keep the lengths more or less the same all throughout. If not, your listeners may get confused why there is suddenly a much shorter or longer episode in your list.

Think of the Audience

Above all else, few decisions would matter if there is no consideration given to the audience. Who you are catering to will help decide on just how long your episodes will be. Are you creating a podcast for those who are more likely to enjoy a more conversation-heavy experience? Then you may want to put out shows that go on for more than an hour; perhaps even up to three, if possible. If your intended audience are on the go for the most part, then consider a shorter format, perhaps around half an hour or so. 

The Advantages of Shorter-Length Episodes

When we talk about podcasts that are on the short end of things, we refer to those called mini podcasts. Timed at just five to ten minutes, these are most common when it comes to bite-sized news content or even flash educational shows. To those considering this type of length, know what is heading your way in terms of advantages:

  • Perfect for those on the go, such as commuters or those who need something to occupy their time whilst they do errands.
  • Highly favored by those unwilling to exert anything but low investment, both in time and energy.
  • A podcast editor would find this easy to work on.

The Advantages of Mid-Length Episodes

Mid-length episodes are, at least according to Buzzsprout, the most common podcast lengths at 20 to 40 minutes. A wide variety of genres, from fiction and nonfiction, to educational and newscasting, tend to have their episodes within that range. For the advantages, consider the following:

  • Even more perfect for those on a commute—a half-hour episode can last the entire trip from start to finish.
  • It can fit in even more content than the mini podcasts, which will explore topics in greater depth.
  • Short enough to not scare those without much time and energy investment away, but long enough to hook in those who do.
  • Fairly easy for editors, producers, and those recorded for the episode to tackle.

The Advantages of Lengthy Episodes

Lengthy podcasts can last up to several hours; a prime example would be The Joe Rogen Experience, with episodes that last up to two plus hours. At a glance, it may come with more disadvantages, such as needing more effort to produce or edit, and requiring a big time and energy investment from listeners, there are still quite a few advantages that are unique to this type of length:

  • The topics can be explored in the greatest depth; with no stone left unturned, listeners will get their time’s worth of content with hours-long episodes.
  • Perfect for those who are incredibly interested or invested in certain topics or guest speakers.

At the end of the day, the length of your show is entirely up to you. Regardless of what gets decided on, know that anyone who is looking to get started on their first podcast can always turn to Podcast Engineers to guidance. Book your free discovery call today and embark on the journey that awaits you!

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