Podcast Episodes: How long should they be?

String and Podcast Episodes

Podcast Episodes

I’ve had a few people ask me recently about podcasts. And in particular, how long should your podcast episodes be? This is like asking about the length of string. It depends. And, here’s four guidelines to shape your thinking.

1 The Usual

Ideas Architect Podcast

Previously I shared my seven favourite podcasts. Typically these are interview style podcast episodes that go for between 30 minutes and an hour. Some stick closely to a set time of 30 minutes or 45 minutes and others vary in length. For instance, the Ideas Architect Podcast is similar to others podcasts where some episodes are 30 minutes and my longest has been 70 minutes.

Tip: If you want to base your podcast episodes on what is typical then these figures are a reasonable guide.

2 Your Podcast Style

These usual times for usual podcasts reflects the typical podcast style of an interview.

99% Invisible PodcastOne of the reasons that my podcast episodes have varied in length is because I’ve mixed up my format. The interviews are usually 40 to 60 minutes in length. Mixed into this are some solo presentations – me talking to myself! This includes some Book Rapper episodes that are 30 minutes long. Plus, I also did a welcome episode that was only 10 minutes long.

As point of contrast, 99% Invisible is a different style of show. It’s a mix of commentary and interview and tightly edited with sound effects. It’s a beautiful show that’s usually 15-20 minutes in length.

Tip: Choose the format of your show first and then decide on the right time frame for your podcast episodes second.

3 Your Brand

Another consideration is your brand and what you stand for.

For instance, Book Rapper is a book summary service based on rewriting books so you can absorb the information in 30 minutes. Thus, the recordings and subsequent podcasts are 30 minutes long.

James Schramko takes this a step further. He runs Super Fast Business. He offers a podcast/video that’s only 2-3 minutes long. This fits a typical video length on YouTube – different medium, different timeframe. Effectively, he creates a video and strips the audio out so it has the functionality of a podcast.

Tip: What does your brand stand for? And, how does this shape the style and length of your podcast episodes?

4 Content Time Layers

A final thought that I suggest to most people around creating content is to provide it for a range of time requirements.

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For instance, to read a typical business book takes most people between 4 and 10 hours. Book Rapper was created to enable you to digest the key ideas in 30 minutes. Clearly we leave some things out and we do access a different audience who wants a faster result. Based on requests to do it even quicker than 30 minutes, I created a 5 minute version in the form of Twit Rapper.

Tip: Consider what you’re going to cover in your podcast episodes in the context of all of your content marketing efforts. Do you have something quick… 2-5 minutes? Something longer… 10-20 minutes? 30 minutes and more…?

A final thought… Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your podcast. And determine the length of your podcast episodes based on what best serves this purpose.


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