Podcast ideas are like web-based stories and narratives, in that they are shared with an audience in episodes, or parts. Technically, you do not have one podcast where you say everything about your idea and let go. A podcast needs to be systematically built so that it communicates what you want to share in episodes running on a schedule. This is done by sharing content in the form of seasons or a series, that are made of episodes. But how many episodes make a successful podcast run?
Free Episodes and Winning Podcasts
On a show like The American Life, for example, new episodes are free to listen to for 10 weeks on platforms like Apple Podcasts, Radio Public, Stitcher etc. There is also the three episode release formula, where you release the first three parts of your story together. This is to generate interest and curiosity in your podcast. The technique also familiarises your listeners with the content, and they will surely wait for more if they like it!
You can generally keep 5-6 episodes as backup, and release your show accordingly. The rest of your episodes will find a timely audience with proper engagement and marketing. So, generally it is a good idea to have around 5-6 episodes at the least in a podcast, in order to make it a successful one.
Colin Gray of podcasthost.com writes, “On an average, a podcast season usually has 5-6 episodes on the lower side. However, they can upto 20 episodes according to the concept of the podcast”.
Podcast Episodes – Other Perspectives
As of April 2021, there were 48 million podcasts on Apple Podcasts, according to podcastinsights.com. Ross Winn also argues that’s more than twice the number of podcasts launched three years back.
“There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to podcast season length. You might choose to release a season with only 4 episodes. Or you might release more than 20….”
As you can gauge, the number of podcasts online are increasing exponentially every year. There might be some techniques in circulation that can give you expected outcomes (like the three episode launch). But generally, the number of episodes you can have per season/series depends on your content too. Though a general standard seems to have taken shape for the number of podcast episodes that make a successful run, you can always experiment and find out yourself.
“…Basically, you should make your season as long as it needs to be to cover a topic completely. There’s no point dragging a season out just to hit an arbitrary number of episodes. Think about all the different component parts of your main subject and make sure on each of them at some point during the season”, according to podcast.co.
There are several websites offering advice on podcast creating and marketing. Research a lot and find your zone once you start making one. Keep your mind open, listener feedback might just have you giving more!