Setting a duration and frequency
We’re nearly at the home stretch. After having considered our audience, our mission and our format, we can think about how to make our podcast a sustainable enterprise. Ultimately, your podcast needs to be as long as it needs to be for you to get your message across.
“Sculpture… is the simplest thing in the world. All you have to do is to take a big chunk of marble and a hammer and chisel, make up your mind what you are about to create and chip off all the marble you don’t want.” –Paris Gaulois
When you come to the edit, your job will be to remove all the bits of your podcast episode that don’t help make the point, tell the story, or make the listener laugh… depending on whether you want the listener to laugh, of course!
Naturally, you need to keep some light and shade in there, so that the listener has time to breathe, but you’re looking to make the best use of your listeners’ valuable time, because any time they’re not spent getting value from your podcast — again, whether that’s through information or entertainment — is time they could be spent getting it elsewhere.
Most experienced podcasters will tell you something to the effect that “an episode should be as long as it needs to be, and not a second longer”. That’s true, but if you’re starting out, it’s not always easy to know how to pick out the best bits, without disturbing the flow of the conversation. Those skills will come with practise.
As well as considering the listeners’ time, you also need to consider yours. If it takes you eighteen hours of editing to put together an episode, this probably won’t be a sustainable workload. If you feel like you’re editing too much, reconsider your format, and how you present. Could a little more preparation at the beginning help reduce the amount of editing time later? If you’re leaving lots of time between recording and editing, could making notes as you record — or just after — help job your memory?
If you’ve decided roughly how long your episodes are going to be — and remember, each episode needn’t be the same length — another component to consider is your schedule: how frequently will you post new episodes? Obviously this will impact your workload, so try and balance the time you can spend editing with the optimal frequency of your release. Lots of people like weekly shows, but that’s not always easy to sustain. Fortnightly (every 2 weeks, as opposed to biweekly which means twice a week) is the minimum recommendation, as any less frequent than that, it’ll be hard to gain traction and make your podcast a listener’s priority.
Remember that your podcast needs to fit into your listeners’ lives. Podcast listeners will come to expect your podcast at roughly the same time each week, or however frequently it arrives. Fans will remember if it’s a day you normally post new episodes, and will miss you if you’re not there. This is important to consider, but so to is your own workload. Try to make the best thing you can, but don’t burn yourself out… it’s only podcasting, after all!