You've done all the work to get your first episode released to the waiting world. Congratulations! Guess what? You're going to have to do it all again. Of course, you're not worried. You have good systems in place, and you've learned solid skills. True, you might be tired. The nagging question remains, however. How frequently should you release new podcast episodes?
Some producers schedule their episodes to release weekly, some every two weeks, some once a month. Others release several times a week, or daily. Just like everything else in podcasting, there is no single perfect solution for everyone. The “best” schedule is normally the most frequent one that you can stick to on a regular basis.
It’s better to have good episodes, less frequently, than average or sloppy episodes, frequently. A show that’s carefully crafted, without stress, will be better than a show that’s pulled together feverishly, within minutes of a deadline. Some people like to have pressure pushing them. Some people don’t.
How Long Does It Take For You To Make Good Work?
Be honest with yourself. Some people claim that it takes them an hour of editing time for every minute of finished listening. Some people have really good systems in place, and can edit their show quickly. With enough advance planning, you can do things in batches: record a season of episodes at once, then edit the episodes at once, then make and schedule website and social media posts for them all at once. Some folks need to create each episode from script through recording and editing to publication and PR individually.
If you work 40 hours a week, and you spend 20 hours a week working on each episode, a weekly release schedule probably isn't healthy for you. If your podcast is a five minute show with one voice, few sound cues, and one topic, releasing weekly or more often might be easy. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and use them to advantage.
Quantity vs. Quality
Some people feel that keeping your content as new as possible (in order to trigger Google’s Freshness Algorithm), is what’s important. Don’t let algorithms tell you how to work or live.
People get listening fatigue. If you’re releasing episodes frequently, you run the risk of being repetitive. Some people feel that quantity is the way to get attention. They think that more episodes means more downloads, and that this results in higher ranking on pod catcher charts. If you show sounds sloppy, or doesn’t deliver on its promises, you won’t keep listeners. The word of mouth that you generate won't be positive.
Some topics and shows are good to release frequently. Again, if your podcast is just you, and a few sound cues, and you have good systems in place, terrific.
Create a Website/Blog for Your Show
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When your topic changes frequently, it stays fresh. For example, Andrea Parrish told me about the workflow for her social-science discussion podcast, A Thousand Things To Talk About. Though it's on a hiatus right now, this podcast releases a new episode every weekday. Parrish scripts 5 episodes at a time. She records them in blocks of 10-15, saying, “we aim for recording 15 episodes twice a month, to create buffer room.”
Her producer and editor sends completed episode recordings to her in five-episode blocks. On Sunday, she uploads five episodes and sets up the website and social media posts, to make sure everything is scheduled to publish that week. “So while it is released every day in the week,” she said, “we try to produce it like a weekly podcast.” It's a durable system.
Another interesting example of a daily podcast is the audio drama Mercury: A Broadcast Of Hope, produced by Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. Each episode disappears from traditional pod catchers after one day. To hear their back catalog of episodes, you have to become a Patreon supporter. This audio drama about a group of optimists surviving a zombie apocalypse in a radio station is exciting. Not only that, but also the method of release means that listeners have to pay close attention, invest financially, or both. If you don't join them on Patreon, you have to have a good memory and listen daily.
If your topic is based on current events, you might have to get your work out there frequently. Bear in mind that most daily-news podcasts have huge teams of professionals working full time to get the show produced. Know your limitations. If you release less frequently, be prepared to take a deeper dive into the topic.
Both of these frequent-release podcasts we've talked about have short episodes. Most episodes of A Thousand Things To Talk About runs roughly a minute and forty five seconds to two minutes. She has occasional “Deep Dive” episodes, with longer discussions. Each episode of Mercury: A Broadcast of Hope runs between two and a half to six minutes.
Fore more on this, check out how long should my podcast episodes be?
Expecting listeners to download and digest a daily show that runs for much longer than a concentrated concept, is asking for a big chunk of time and energy. Daily shows can be repetitive. Any show can become repetitive. How much time do you need to think about your content and keep it fresh? How much time do you need to know what your listeners want? (Hint: try surveying them to find out. )
Seasons let you (and your listeners) have a break. Take a vacation! Let the listeners miss you! Give yourself time to think about new episodes, without constant feedback! Do some pre-season planning, re-do your website, dream up some exciting merchandise! When you come back, you can start a new marathon of making content and listening together.
Won’t listeners forget about the show? Prepare them for it. As you get ready for your season to end, announce that this will be the last episode for a while. Before you come back, tease your return on social media and in your email newsletter. Make it easy for fans to be your evangelist. Season finales and season launches (like birthdays and anniversaries) are easy milestones to promote.
For more on this, check out how season-based podcasting can transform your content.
Use Habits To Your Advantage
A lot of habits are structured around a weekly calendar: this is the day we wash our clothes, this is the day we go grocery shopping. Sunday and Thursday have been “must see TV” nights, and podcasts tend to pile up for the Monday morning commute. If you release your episode on the same weekday on a consistent basis, whether it’s once a month or once a week, you become a habit.
Is there a day of the week to release new podcast episodes that’s a good idea? Or a number of times per month? Not really, as long as it stays the same over time. Consistency is what’s important, not quantity.
Google’s Freshness Algorithm doesn’t necessarily mean that frequently posted new content is better than consistently useful, enjoyable content. Quality always triumphs over quantity. Listeners remember the podcasts that are consistently satisfying. They'll start thinking to themselves, “hey, it’s Tuesday, isn’t there a new Organic Life podcast episode coming out soon?”
Keep Your Audience Informed
Make promises that are realistic (i.e., “we release new podcast episodes on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month” or whatever fits your workflow). Then, make sure that you fulfill those promises. Consistency builds trust.
Marketing expert Seth Godin talks about attention and habits, saying, “make promises and keep them. Make an offer and then follow through…intentionally design your communications to create a habit of attention. Habits are hard to form and even harder to break, and when properly constructed, they can benefit both sides.”
What does it take to sustain a successful podcast over time? What does “success” really mean when it comes to podcasting? Like everything else in podcasting, “it depends.” If you join The Podcast Academy, you'll be part of a community of like-minded peers. You'll benefit from helpful videos, downloadable resources, live Q&A chat sessions, and much more!