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All CollectionsPlan and Outline Your Episodes
Step 1: Determine Your Podcast's Format And Length
Step 1: Determine Your Podcast's Format And Length

Episode Planning Guide

Amy Domestico avatar
Written by Amy Domestico
Updated over a week ago

Focus on providing a great listening experience from the first to last second of your show. Because BlogTalkRadio is more flexible than a traditional radio or TV show, you can make your show any length you like - you’ll notice that some shows are 25 minutes while others are 2+ hours! That being said, consistency is the key to successful live radio shows and podcasts. Over time, your listeners need to know what to expect. Aim for the three Cs - compelling, consistent content.

The length of your show should be consistent so listeners know how much time to budget in their schedule (don’t worry about the exact number of minutes - think about the difference between 20-30 minute shows vs. 50-60 minute shows). This will also make it easier for you to outline and plan your editorial calendar. That being said, it is ok for a beginner to start with 15 minute shows and then progress to longer shows as they become comfortable with the format.

Here are a list of things to consider when choosing the length of your show:

  • How much time do you have to plan your show? Podcasting expert Dave Jackson estimates it takes about 4 minutes to prepare for each minute of a show (especially when hosts are first starting out). It’s better to have 20 minutes of well-planned, delightful content than 60 minutes of ums, ahs, or unplanned filler material.

  • When will your ideal listener consume the content? If you imagine your ideal listener downloading the show and listening in the evening while they cook dinner, 45-60 minutes could make sense. If you’re focused on a live experience with a listener engaging during a commute, then it might be best to have a 20-30 minute show.

The length you choose for your show might also be related to it’s frequency. You’ve probably seen blogs where the author writes 15 posts the first week, 7 the second and then one post every other week or month. Don’t be that person whose last show is from 2011.

Podcaster pioneer Adam Carolla helped set the standards for podcasters. This is how one of his listeners, Mark Selz, praises his long running show:

“You can count on Carolla being consistent in posting new shows daily so you never have to re-hash old material.  Great guests with adult commentary that does not beat around the bush.  To make a podcast work, you have to be consistent and fresh. Carolla does that…”

Under-promise and over-deliver. Instead of starting with a schedule that’s too ambitious, choose a simple weekly or bi-weekly format and then over-deliver as you hone your craft. It’s the quality, not the quantity that counts.  At some point after you’ve caught your stride, you may find that your topical and guest selections are expanding, and that your listeners are demanding more, that is when we recommend to consider increasing your show frequency.

The frequency of your show should also be influenced by your topic. If you’re talking about new movies, your show might be influenced by theater releases. Set your show frequency to the needs of your audience and your topic so that you set up expectations with your listeners.

Another idea is to do a weekly or bi-weekly show with mini-updates through the week. These mini-updates could be as short as you’d like.  An example of this might be a show focused on Bible study. You could present a short verse each weekday but go into a deeper discussion of a specific verse during a longer weekend version of your show.  Another example is a show geared toward job-seekers. If your listeners are job seekers, they are likely to be on a time crunch, so a daily show with tips, with specific information and perspectives they can act on now might be a viable schedule.

When should I broadcast live or publish my new episodes?

Think about the availability of your desired audience. If you were creating a show about the latest movies, films generally open in theaters on Fridays. This means that a Wednesday or Thursday time slot would be a great time to preview them. Another feasible option would be to schedule your show on a Thursday night when people are making weekend plans. No matter what schedule or format you choose, make sure you’re creating a consistent experience for your listeners.  

Case study

Let’s go back to Ellen’s “The Sports Mom Podcast”. She might release her podcast on Friday afternoons so her audience could download her show and listen at their leisure over the weekend.

Action items

  1. Pull out your mission statement and listener personas. Imagine when your listener will consume your content.

  2. Choose the length and frequency of your show based on the needs of your listener and your schedule.

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