People get bored really easy nowadays. According to Music Oomph, 12% of people listen to less than half of a podcast. When you’ve got an exciting idea for an episode, it can be difficult not to overload it. If your episodes are too long, listeners might not have time to listen all the way through (especially if they’re on a short train journey). Figure out the perfect length for your shows and how long your podcasts should be.
Do People Actually Listen to Long Podcasts?
Some people do. It’s been found that 84% of podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads are more than 51 minutes long. In comparison, only 10% of podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads are under 30 minutes long. This shows that it’s not necessarily shorter podcasts that are most listened to. If you feel your podcast would suit being longer then don’t be afraid to make it longer.
Typically, how long your podcasts should be depends on a few things like who your audience is, what you’re talking about, and when you publish. So ask yourself a few questions to better understand the type of content you’re producing.
Who’s Listening to Your Podcast?
The first thing to do is to figure out who your target audience is. If you’re making a podcast for children it’s better to make it shorter for a child’s shorter attention span. If you’re making it for someone who does a certain job then it’s good to bare in mind when they’d be listening and how long they’d have to listen. It’s also a good idea to look at other podcasts similar to yours and see how long they are to gain some inspiration.
What Do You Usually Talk About?
Focussing on the subject matter of your podcast is a good idea when deciding its length. If your podcast is serious and you need to add in a lot of information then it’s more likely that your podcast should be longer. If your podcast tells a short story then it can be shorter. Never cut your content short if you have a lot of it but similarly don’t leave every thought and piece of content in it unedited to fill up time.
When Do You Publish (Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night)?
Thinking about the time of day that you publish is also important when determining podcast length. Understanding when your target audience is most likely to be listening and then adapting your podcast's length to suit is vitally important. Is your audience listening in the morning on their way to work? Are they listening whilst riding their bike at the weekend? Are they listening at home in the bath when they’re relaxed? Each of these situations will change how long your audience is listening for. If you want them to listen to all of your podcast then it’s important to adapt your podcast's length with them in mind.
The Memory Palace: 4 Minute Episodes
Making shorter podcasts doesn’t necessarily mean that new listeners are bound to listen so making your podcasts shorter to appeal to new audiences isn’t always a wise one. That being said some podcasts suit being shorter. For example, The Memory Palace which is a storytelling podcast where podcasts can be as short as 4 minutes but usually no longer than half an hour.
It’s the same with Seven Minute Opinions, which is a podcast featuring different opinions in seven minutes or less. It is best to not cut your podcast short if it means you’re not making your points or you’re edging around the topic. It’s often better to go into depth and cover all bases than the only touch on topics before moving on.
Length Should Be Relative to Your Content
As The Memory Palace just goes to show, there really is no set length for a podcast. Really, the length of your podcast should reflect the content, rather than the content reflecting the length. It’s best to concentrate on creating content for your podcast and seeing how much you have than trying to stretch or condense it to a certain length.
Take a look at these 3 podcasts that usually publish long episodes:
- Lie, Cheat, and Steal is a podcast about famous con artists, liars and fraudsters. Some episodes are as long as 70 minutes meaning it goes into a lot of detail.
- Last Podcast on the Left is a horror podcast featuring both mythical horror stories and real-life true crime stories told in a comedic fashion. Episodes can be as long as 2 hours so it’s safe to say no stone is left unturned.
- Longest Podcast in the World is a special one-off podcast that was made to raise awareness of the burgeoning podcasting scene around the world. It was a 36 hour non-stop podcast that attracted thousands of listeners and supporters.
Now ask yourself: ‘Would these work as 10-minute episodes?’ If not, why? Usually, it comes down to the content. If there are lots of things to say, then it makes sense to have them as very long episodes.
Be Honest, Does Podcast Length Really Matter?
Personally, I think so. I love getting lost in long episodes, but I also enjoy a quick romp on a short new podcast I’ve never listened to before!
Ultimately, there are thousands of podcasts, each varying in length. The majority have a pre-planned structure which they adhere to with every episode, making the podcast a specific length. You might take the same approach as time goes on to streamline your shows, but it’s an idea to play around with and see what length works for you and gets the most engagement.
If you already have an idea to make the podcast a specific length to fit a gimmick then planning is key. Really though, there’s no set length your episodes should be. Just remember to mix it up a bit if things aren’t working and (most importantly) have fun!