Most of our prospective podcast production clients usually ask, “how often should I post my podcast?” Some shows post new episodes daily, some post a few times a week, some even post a cluster of new episodes all at once for binging. While it’s tempting to focus your podcast posting schedule around your recording availability, we urge our clients to think about the science behind schedules that help grow audiences.
In Edison Research’s new study, The Podcast Consumer 2019, they found that 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly (representing 90 million people). That’s an increase from 26% last year! What got our team excited, however, is that more than one in five Americans now listen to podcasts weekly. That’s 62 million people, and each of them typically subscribes to about seven podcasts.
There’s great news in these numbers if you’re a podcaster, and bad news if you work in traditional broadcasting—since that’s where many of these listeners seem to be coming from. That’s why you’ll see traditional broadcast organizations like iHeart, Entercom, and NPR getting even more aggressive about podcasting in the coming months.
Whether you’re spinning up a bootstrapped, independent podcast or you’ve got the backing of a big network behind you, we think you should be asking one of these questions:
- How can I earn my show a place among those seven shows on a typical listener’s weekly playlist?
- What can I do to encourage a listener to make room for an eighth show?
Your new show posting frequency really depends on your bandwidth to produce high-quality podcasts, consistently, based on the listening habits of your audience.
Deliver high-quality, thoughtful audio
Podcasting audiences have changed a lot in the past few years. Production values count a lot—even for hobbyists. You may have a really small niche, and you may not even care about making money from your show. However, your audience notices details like the quality of your microphone and whether your edits are noticeable. They’ll know if you’re just bantering aimlessly or if you’ve polished your presentation.
Unlike what we saw with the boom-and-bust of blogs, nobody’s rewarding podcast producers for flooding the zone with content. In fact, plenty of well-funded shows have crashed by attempting to push daily or even hourly episodes into subscribers’ feeds. For most new podcast producers, weekly’s the most frequent cadence we’d recommend to ensure a show that sounds good, holds interest, and keeps audiences engaged (especially on social media) between episodes.
Meet your audience’s demand for consistency
Audiences often tell researchers they want unpredictability during a show, but they demand consistency from release schedules. Whether you decide to post new episodes daily, weekly, or monthly, you must socialize your schedule and commit to it.
Many podcast listeners enjoy audio content while doing other things that already fit into predictable patterns, like commuting, exercising, or running errands. Even listeners who deliberately set aside time to spend with audiobooks and podcasts tend to mark off consistent blocks of time. If you’re not ready when they are, they’ll move on to another show that meets similar needs.
Our clients tend to be authors, professional service providers (like accountants and lawyers), and other folks who don’t come from traditional broadcasting backgrounds. And the most surprising thing we reveal during our onboarding is just how much lead time your favorite radio shows and professional podcasts give themselves to ensure they hit a predictable posting schedule.
It’s not surprising (to us) that the most successful shows do their recording and editing days or even weeks in advance. They’ve often got one or two episodes “in the can” at any given time as insurance against a sudden bout of host illness or a guest that fails to show up on time for a recording.
Leverage the timeliness of your content
If you’re covering breaking news or politics, you’re probably aiming for a very quick turnaround from recording to releasing your new episodes. Even the most successful topical shows run on a predictable schedule—record in the morning, edit in the midday, release in the afternoon. If you’re experienced at keeping things moving in a live setting, you might even broadcast in real time, then quickly slice up your recording for the podcast feed.
However, research indicates that listeners get different kinds of needs met from podcasts, and that many of them are looking more for context instead of just raw information. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the time you need to produce thoughtful takes on your topics, to research the most insightful questions to ask your guests, or to make some (often brutal) edits to your show for clarity and brevity.
You might have already guessed that we’re fans of weekly production cycles. From our team’s collective background in broadcasting and marketing, we can usually tell that most of our new clients are going to have the easiest time getting into the groove of weekly production. In addition, we think that asking your audience to squeeze one more half-hour show into their weekly routine is the safest bet. That doesn’t mean that weekly production is the best plan for every aspiring podcast producer. It just means that’s the format with which we’re seeing the most consistent success.
Because every show’s a little different, we invite prospective clients to hop on a complimentary discovery session call with our team. We’ll be happy to walk you through how we help design an effective posting schedule for our clients.