What is the ideal podcast episode length in 2023? That’s a great question! And I’d love to give you a quick answer and send you on your merry way to create another amazing podcast episode.
But alas, it’s not that simple. Sure, I could break out my scientific calculator, run some numbers, carry a 1 here, solve for x there, and I could, hypothetically, come to a figure that I could present to you as the exact time a podcast episode should run for…
35 minutes, and 37 seconds…
But don’t quote me on that! There is a good chance I did, indeed, forget to carry the aforementioned 1, or did not take into account the fact that Mercury was in retrograde when I first started the equation, and so would then not have been able to extrapolate this figure with the necessary accuracy…
Moving on to something you can quote me on…
So while I can’t tell you exactly how long your podcast episodes, I can give you some sound strategies to help you determine how long your episodes should be!
To help save you time, we’ve put together a checklist of sorts of strategies to apply as you calculate the perfect length for your podcast episodes.
1. Consider Your Topic and Niche
This is the starting point for figuring out the ideal episode length for your podcast. Because the so-called “perfect episode length” varies from topic to topic – it can even vary from niche to niche within said topic.
Rather than seeking to hit a specific figure, we recommend concentrating on the focus of your episodes. Carefully analyze your topic and determine the message that you want to convey with each episode.
(This is just one of the reasons why we’re big fans of storyboarding a couple of podcast episodes before you even launch your show. Not only will it help you find your unique focus that much quicker, but this type of episode planning will also help you lock down your ideal episode length so that you can focus on consistency. More on that a little later.)
Plan out the segments you want to include in each episode, and plan how long you’ll spend on each episode. This will be the basis of your ideal podcast episode length.
2. Cut It Down
Our next strategy for finding your ideal podcast episode length is to get comfortable with some metaphorical scissors. Yes, you may have planned out certain points you wanted to cover in an episode. But take a few steps back and really evaluate your content. Is everything value-rich?
Remember, your episodes need to be value-dense from start to the final second. If a certain piece of content lessens the value, it needs to go!
While this strategy is most frequently applied to the editing process, you can also use it during the creation process. Fine-tune your script or outline from the beginning, and you’ll soon lock down that ideal podcast episode length for your show.
A podcast that rises in the ranks and establishes itself in its niche is one that consistently serves its audience valuable content. And one way to consistently offer valuable content is to make sure that you’re not watering down your episodes with fluff or subpar content.
Key Takeaway: Hour-long episodes are by no means the sign of a successful podcast.
3. Think About Your Audience
Our next strategy for zoning in on your perfect episode length is simply to think about your audience. But to do that, you have to think less about you.
Yes, that sounds harsh. But really, the best podcast hosts are the ones that can take themselves out of the limelight. The best hosts allow their guests to shine. The best hosts consistently deliver content that their audience is after.
Sure, the best hosts also deliver great jokes and banter, but at key moments. Not all the time.
And yes, you can share your insights, and you can tell your stories. However, only when they add to your audience’s experience of your episodes.
4. Know Your Audience
One of the best ways to determine how long your episodes should be is to really know your audience.
Gaining an insight into the way in which your listeners consume podcasts can be immensely helpful when it comes to determining how long your episodes should be.
It sounds complicated, but it’s not really. Why? Because of podcast stats! Your hosting site can provide you with tons of interesting data that can tell you a lot about your audience’s listening habits.
Is there a certain time of day when your listeners listen to your content? Is it in the morning? Perhaps during their commute to work? Or is it later in the evening? Perhaps when they’re making dinner?
Use this information to determine your ideal podcast episode length.
How? Well, for example, research shows that currently, the average commute length is 27.6 minutes. If the majority of your listeners tend to listen during their commute, perhaps that’s an indication that the ideal episode length for your podcast is 25 minutes.
5. Ask Your Audience
While interpreting your podcast stats is one way to help you figure out your ideal podcast episode length, we do have another strategy to share. You could simply ask your audience! Who better to know how long your episodes should be than the ones you’re creating content for in the first place?
How do you do this? There are many options. Reach out via social media to get their input. Send out an email to your mailing list asking for feedback. Or add a call-to-action to the end of your episodes and link to a survey in your show notes.
Surveys are a powerful tool to help you connect more with your audience. They’re also great for measuring your audience’s response to your podcast. This feedback can help you make your podcast exactly what your audience is looking for.
Related read: 10 Things You Can Learn From Surveying Your Podcast Audience
6. Aim For Consistency
Finally, our last strategy for finding that perfect episode length is considering your level of consistency.
Yes, once you decide that your episodes are going to hit between the 25-30 minute mark, then you need to ensure that you do, indeed, stick as much as possible to that time frame. The ideal is for your audience to build listening to your podcast into their routine. This is gold! But that can only happen if they can trust you to be consistent with your episode length. If you bounce all over the show – sometimes your episodes are 20 minutes, sometimes they’re an hour and 20 minutes, you’re going to lose listeners.
As humans, we like familiarity. We like when something is reliable and dependable. And when it comes to podcasts, we like to know how much time we need to allocate to a show. So keep it consistent.
But this concept of consistency also applies to you, as the podcast creator. You may want to have hour-long episodes. But can you commit to that consistently? If it’s a shaky “yes” then we urge you to consider your episode length.
Can you deliver 30-minute, high-quality episodes consistently? Then do that!
Consistently putting out high-quality shorter episodes will benefit the overall success of your podcast far more than if you were to barely push out a ‘kinda okay’ 60-minute episode whenever time allows!
And there you have it, our 6 strategies for helping podcast hosts determine the perfect length for their podcast episodes.
The key thing to remember is that the so-called “perfect episode length” really has little to do with the number on the final timestamp. It has way more to do with what works for you and your audience.
But there is one common denominator when it comes to setting your podcast up for success, whether you’re talking about episode length or your social media strategy. And that common denominator is value.
So, if we apply that to determining your ideal episode length, then your episodes should be as long as they are value-rich and meet the needs of your audience. And not a second more.