Phase 2 – Planning Your Episodes
Planning Your Episodes
So far, you have established what type of content you want to put out and who it will be targeting. It is now time to narrow down to the individual episodes. Here are the most common questions that podcast beginners have about podcast episodes.
Step 5: How Long Should A Podcast Episode Be?
There is no direct answer to this question solely because podcast length varies based on content and preferences. The fundamental question you have to ask yourself is; how long do I need to get the message out clearly?” People have varying preferences on short episodes (under 15 minutes) and long episodes (over 1 hour) for different reasons. When establishing the optimal length of episodes, most people will reference the average commute time (around 20 minutes) and/or meal prep duration (approximately 45 minutes). Having that these are the most opportune times people catch up on their favorite podcasts, it therefore follows that the optimal episode length is between 20 to 45 minutes. However, these figures are not absolutes.
If you can comprehensively cover everything you need to talk about in 10 minutes, why pad it out to 30? The same applies with if you have 1 hour of valuable, relevant content, why shrink it down to 15? There are no strict guidelines as regards to length of your episodes. However, in a case where you do a high quality interview that runs for, say 2 hours, you can split that into two episodes. Additionally, over time, your audience will give you feedback on whether your episodes are too short of too long and you can act on that feedback. However, be cautious not to change things because of a few isolated comments – remember that the minority are the loudest. In all, the length of your episodes will be determined by your content and the preferences of your audience.
Step 6: How Often Should You Publish New Episodes?
Naturally, people plan lives around what time of the day it is and what day of the week it is. To weigh how many times your audience can listen to your podcast in a given period, you need to tap into this routine. Additionally, your content will also play a role in this decision. In all, there is a strong case for publishing an episode every week if possible. The aim is to leave an impact on your listeners so they can expect your show in a specific day of the week at a specific time of the said day. At this point you will know you are doing something right.
With that said, there is no point of publishing average episodes just for the sake of hitting your weekly goal. You will end up in a slippery slope to the bottom losing your authority, credibility and audience along the way. Let your content dictate how often you should publish. If in a particular month, one episode is enough to conclusively cover an idea, leave it at that, don’t stretch it out to four episodes. In the same sense if your content is packed enough to cover four episodes, go for it. Don’t condense all the information into one episode risking information overload to your audience. Lastly, as you gain traction, your audience will give you feedback and you can build on that.
You can also go the route of television series – seasonal publishing. With seasonal publishing, each season will have a theme. You will proceed to create 6 to 12 episodes based on that theme of topic then take a break. The break can take a month or two after which you will launch another season with another theme or topic and the cycle continues. This scheduling can open up new ideas. If appropriate, you can turn your seasons into an eBook or a course. However, you have to be weary of the risk of losing momentum and/or your audience during the breaks. You can avert this by cleverly preparing the audience and stipulating when you’ll resume.
Step 7: Creating Appealing Episode Titles
From the onset, you should never, under any circumstance, name your episodes as Episode 1, Episode 2 etc. People will lose interest even before they know who you are and what you have to say. The audience needs to have a clue as to what to expect with your podcast and with each episode. As with choosing a name for your podcast, it is important to make sure that your episode titles are catchy, searchable and descriptive.
A quick look at any podcast directory and you will realise that titles such as “10 Tips For” and “How to” are very common and very popular. Why? Because they work. Additionally, with iTunes allowing users to search by episode names, you will show up both for your podcast name and the keywords in your episode title. However, you must also make sure that the content corresponds with the title.
Step 8: Which Podcast Format Should you Adopt?
You are the director of your show. You have a few different options of the formats you can adopt for your show. It also means that you can experiment and switch from one format to the next until you have your fit – a single format or a mix. Let’s explore the available options.
This format is also known as a monologue. As the name suggests you do all the recording by yourself. The upside is that you build a reputation as an authority on your topic. Additionally, you have all the decision making power with regards to content, sponsorship and monetisation. The result is that you reap 100% of your efforts. On the flip side, this format is a bit intimidating for a beginner particularly having to overcome the feeling like you are talking to yourself. However, once you start getting feedback and it settles that you are actually talking to a listener, it becomes a lot easier.
Co- Hosted Show
In this format, you present the show alongside a friend, colleague or fellow expert. For beginners, this is a great way to overcome the mic fright or the feeling of talking to yourself. Essentially, you have a conversation on a select topic presenting views along your conversation. With the right co-host, you can create a pleasant listening experience where you can radiate positive chemistry and even cheeky jokes. The biggest downside is having a recording and admin schedule that is suitable for both of you. Additionally, there is the risk that your co-host might lose interest in future or become unavailable. One other challenge is how you will split any future income but that can be easily ironed out by having the right paperwork as you set out.
This involves using the expertise or entertainment value of others. Having that you are not limited as to who you can interview, you can have a chat with people you’ve always looked up to. Additionally, these guests will come along with their audiences and if they like your content, they will end up subscribing. When properly executed, this can be the best way to grow your audience. The downside is that interviewing is a skill you will learn through practice. As such, start off slow. Also, you need to constantly approach and schedule interviews and hope that the guest show up in person or through a call.
Other Common Formats
Documentary. A narrator navigates through a collection of evidence and opinions to paint a picture of a particular situation.
Roundtable. One common host engages a changing number of guests over a specific topic.
Docu-Drama. A blend of documentary and drama providing information and knowledge in an entertaining way.