How Often Should You Release New Podcast Episodes?
Congratulations! You’ve launched your podcast. It feels great — you finally sent into the world the project you’d been working on for weeks, months, possibly even years. And now, best of all, you get to keep going.
How often, though? Should you release new podcast episodes once a week? Biweekly? Every DAY?
If you’re asking this question, it’s likely rooted in a desire for growth: i.e., how often should you release new episodes in order to grow your numbers?
To find the “right” (for you) answer, though, you’ll need to reframe your thinking. Rather than obsess over stats, think instead about what those numbers represent. When you think of each number as an individual person who’s chosen to listen to your podcast for a certain reason, you can more easily make decisions that will affect those people. Simply put: the frequency with which you release episodes should correlate directly to the relationship you’re attempting to create over time with your listeners.
The urge to forge a closer relationship does not necessarily mean you should release episodes more frequently. Rather, when you think about your podcast release schedule vis a vis your relationship with your audience, you should think about two things: first, the value of each individual episode, and second, the regularity with which you can release episodes. For your audience to feel connected to you and keep returning to your show, you need to master two variables. First, you need to prove that the episodes you’ve created are memorable. Second, you need to deliver on the tacit promise you’ve made to your audience that you will release new episodes when your audience expects them.
As showrunner, it’s your job to meet expectations when it comes to the cadence of your messaging — and to exceed expectations when it comes to crafting a memorable show.
Variable 1: Creating Memorable Episodes
If each episode you create has immense value — if each one is extremely memorable — then you have the option to release them less frequently. When you create a truly memorable episode, you make an emotional connection with your listeners that can withstand a week (or two, or three) of silence.
Think about the season finales of popular TV shows. For these final episodes, which premier at the end of a season and before a long hiatus, showrunners pull out all the stops. They strive to create an episode that’s a cut above its predecessors — one so valuable, so entertaining, so mind-boggling that viewers will remember it for months. With these episodes, showrunners seek to elicit an emotional response from their viewers, which in turn allows them to maintain their place in the viewers’ minds, even upon disrupting the normal cadence of the show.
The same logic applies to your podcast. If you can make each episode as memorable as a season finale, you can choose to release less frequently.
For example, Dan Carlin runs an incredibly memorable podcast called Hardcore History. Each episode is hours long, incredibly detailed, and completely captivating. Dan has been called “the king of long-form podcasting and ‘one of the greatest storytellers in the world.’” Every episode is a carefully curated, comprehensive experience for his listeners, who are hardcore fans of the show. Each one is truly memorable.
Dan doesn’t need to release multiple episodes on a frequent basis to gain an emotional connection with his listeners. Each standalone episode is so valuable that it does so for him.
But not all shows are Hardcore History — and nor should they be. The Daily by the New York Times is a beloved, 30-minute news podcast that comes out — you guessed it — daily. A news show needs a more regular cadence in order to be relevant. Its episodes can be shorter, its storytelling less dramatic. The show builds an emotional connection with the audience in a different way — by being trustworthy, consistent, and insightful.
When considering how often to release episodes, go back to your premise. What are you promising listeners? What do they want from you? Can you create epic standalone episodes, or do you instead want to become part of your audience’s regular routine? Answering these questions will help you identify how to become a memorable part of your audience’s life.
Variable 2: Consistency of Messaging
The specific time you release your episodes matters for one reason: so your audience can easily fit you into their lives. Your listeners need to understand when to expect your show, so they can modify their behavior to slot your show into their schedule. The time and frequency with which you release your episodes will likely influence how they do that.
That gives you a few options. You can try to own a “micro daypart” — i.e., you can overtly try to own part of a given weekday. Moz does this with its video show Whiteboard Fridays, a weekly foray into the world of SEO (complete with a whiteboard visual aid). You could do something similar, with a show that comes out on the same day and at the same time each week, so listeners know what to expect and are more likely to make listening to your show part of their weekly routine.
Or, rather than own a specific part of a specific day, you can choose to own an emotional use case during your listeners’ daily lives. Think about the famous Clayton Christiansen idea of “jobs to be done,” which posits that consumers don’t buy products — they hire them to fulfill greater jobs that need completing. For example, someone who’s hungry doesn’t just buy a burger — they hire the burger to satiate them.
You can apply that same idea to your show. Consider the perspective of your listeners: what are they hiring your show to do? Are they hiring it to kill time? Are they hiring it for entertainment? Are they hiring it to learn something new? Are they hiring it because it’s comforting and familiar?
In answering this: once again, return to your premise. If you can understand your listeners’ psyches, you can better understand how to fit your episodes into their lives. Whether you become part of their weekly routine or the show they turn to when they’re in a certain emotional state, your understanding of why and when your audience listens to your show will help you deepen your connection with them.
Don’t Fear Experimentation
There’s no one right answer that will tell you definitively how often you should release new episodes of your podcast. Instead — like most things — you’ll need to understand the people you want to serve in order to figure out the best plan for you and your show.
As a showrunner, you can probably tell deep down whether your episodes have value. Once you’ve created something worth listening to, you can use your taste and imagination to regularly produce a show that you know will serve your audience — even if they might not have known to ask for it.
Perhaps the best part of this medium, which naturally breeds a personal relationship between the showrunner and the audience? You can always change course. You can read and react to what your listeners like, and if you think of a better way to serve them, you can tweak your premise, your format, your talent, and yes — even your publication schedule. The podcast medium allows you to test and retest and experiment, because with this vehicle you’ve formed a direct connection with your listeners, which allows you to explain the choices and changes you’ll make. And at the end of it all, that connection — that relationship — is what makes your show memorable. That’s what showrunning is all about.
A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.
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