One of the greatest things about being a podcaster, as opposed to a traditional radio show host, is that you have complete editorial control over your show. That’s why podcasting has attracted so many radio exiles, as well as first-timers who have no background in radio. There are no rules; you can do whatever you want.
Well, sorta. You still have to provide what listeners want. Otherwise, you’re just shouting into the void.
Is your show primarily a monologue? A one-on-one interview show? Is there a live audience? Is it ad-libbed or scripted? Completely freeform?
Whatever you choose, commit and be consistent. That doesn’t mean every single show has to follow the same predetermined structure. (After all, who’s going to fire you?) But listeners prefer consistency. They generally want to know what they’re getting into when clicking on the next episode.
It’s your show, so you can change things up if it’s not working or you don’t enjoy it. But a consistent format is part of the overall voice of your show.
Podcast Frequency & Length
This is a subject of much debate and pseudo-expertise. Many people purport to have figured out some magical number for how often you should publish a new episode and how long it should be. In truth, just like everything else, what’s right for you depends on various factors.
If you’re producing a show related to politics, let’s say, a monthly publishing schedule will make you old news almost immediately. Conversely, if you’re producing original creative fiction, it’s probably unfeasible to keep up with a continuous weekly publishing schedule.
Basically, you don’t want to publish so frequently that you can’t keep up, or so infrequently that you lose momentum and your listeners tune out. Be honest with yourself about how much time you will be able and willing to commit, and then commit.
It’s better to increase your frequency than to decrease. So if you start monthly and pick up a lot of steam, you can switch to a weekly schedule. But going the other direction communicates a lack of interest and waining energy.
One way to maintain momentum while building in some sanity breaks is to segment your show by season. You could publish every week during the season, but take breaks in between seasons. Just make sure this is clear to your listeners, so they don’t wonder where you went.
For what it’s worth, it’s frequently cited as common wisdom that Tuesday is the best day of the week to publish a new podcast episode. Likely, this is based on the fact that the music industry used to release music on Tuesdays, which itself was a decision related to the fact that they were shipping physical units (waiting until Tuesday ensured there was enough time for the records/CDs to arrive at all the record stores). Digital distribution eventually led the music industry to switch to Friday as the standard release date in 2015, though some people still cling to the notion that Tuesday is the best day to release content.
It’s important to remember that what’s good for you isn’t always what’s good for an industry at large, and vice versa. So don’t be afraid to do what you want. Unless your content is related to something timely, the whole point of podcasts is that they’re automatically delivered to the listener whenever they want to listen. You could make an argument that publishing later in the week will feed fresh content to your listeners who have already listened to their other shows’ latest episodes. Whatever you choose, it’s not set in stone. You can always try shifting your release days and seeing if there’s a change in your download stats.
But hey, if you’re looking for someone to tell you what day to publish: go with Tuesday.
As with frequency, target length has to do with your content. Someone can spout all they want about their download stats and how long it takes before listeners stop listening, but why are we to assume their show (or their audience) is comparable to yours? Maybe people stopped listening because their show was boring.
Watch your ego here, though, and be honest with yourself about how long each episode needs to be. Are you finding yourself blathering on for no reason? Maybe it’s time to tighten it up. Are you featuring long-format interviews? Unless you have a dedicated following, or are interviewing somebody famous, you’re going to have a hard time getting listeners past the 30-minute mark.
A producer/editor (like us!) is perfect for helping you with this. They aren’t emotionally attached to anything that’s been recorded, and are trained to hear what’s engaging and what should be cut out. Chances are, your podcast could probably be a lot shorter than you think it should be.
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