Should you do a short-season podcast? Is the effort worth it, and how many episodes should you make? Tom Hazzard answers these questions for us in this episode as he delves into short-season formats and podcasting. Tom looks at the pros and cons of seasonal formats and how to make these formats work for you. Tune in for more lessons on building your listener base and loyalty as you feed your brand.
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Short-Season Podcast: Is It Worth Your Time And Effort?
I want to share with you some thoughts on seasons of your podcast, in particular, a question that was posed to us, “Are single short season shows worth it? Should you even consider putting out your shows as a season? Especially as a new podcaster is it worth launching a podcast where you’re just going to put out a single short season and it’s all you’re intending to do?”
I have some pretty strong feelings about that. When you think of a season, it might bring to mind that you would drop a season all at once. That’s what a lot of us experience with shows on Netflix, HBO plus and all these different TV apps. Do you all feel as bombarded by all these different apps as I do? It’s like, “I need to sign up for another one.” Outlander just started and you got to get Starz if you want to see that.
Most of us podcasters, especially just starting out, don’t have the visibility and brand awareness of an app like your Amazon Fire TV or whatever different streaming service you might use or in general, in the awareness of potential listeners and viewers. When HBO puts out something new, it gets a lot of attention. When Netflix puts something out, pretty much everybody sees it. When we’re an independent podcaster and we’re coming out with a new show, dropping a dozen episodes as a single season for the first time may not be what’s going to serve you the best.
When an independent podcaster putting out content wants to build an audience. If you want to grow that audience over time. If all you’ve got is one set of content as a limited set of episodes and you drop it all at once, it’ll get some visibility putting it on all the apps. It’s going to get a certain amount of organic play but it’s a one-and-done scenario unless you’re promoting it on social media, raising awareness for it which you should be. It has got limited staying power. It’s only going to get so much traction.
We tend to experience with independent podcasters that aside from whatever amount you launch with and there are different launch strategies, launching with 3 episodes on day 1, 6, 10, 12 or as many as 25 episodes, we’ve seen people do all at once can work very well. When it’s followed up by episodes that continue to publish on a regular cadence or regular basis whether that’s once 1, 2, 3 a week, there’s no upper limit as to what you can do and we even experienced people doing every other week.
Although in our experience, we find at minimum publishing a weekly show is going to get you the most consistent additional new viewers finding your show and giving it a try. When people go to look for a podcast and they search on subjects and all these different options come up, when they click in one to try it, they’re going to look, “When did they publish the most recent episode?” That’s the first thing they’re going to look at. If you dropped this limited series a month ago and there’s no more, people think about that, “Am I going to invest my time in this show if this is all I get or if these 10 or 12 episodes are all that I’m going to get?”
I don’t know about you but when I even go look at a new Netflix series or maybe I’m going to even binge an older one if there’s only one season, I’m a lot less likely to invest my time in it but if there are 5 or 7 seasons, “There’s a lot of content there for a while. I could dig into this for some time. That’s great.” The same type of thing happens with podcasts so, “Is a single event season worth it?”
If you’re a new podcaster and it’s the very first podcast you’re putting out and you’re going to put out a limited series as a season, as a one-time drop or even if you put it out one a week for twelve weeks, that might be a better strategy initially for you. If you’re going to stop after those twelve weeks, it’s going to have diminishing returns. You’re not going to get as much out of it because you’re not building the ongoing loyalty that inevitably happens when you continue to publish on a regular basis with no anticipation of an end date in sight.
Season Functionality Of The Podcast Ecosystem
We all realized none of us are going to podcast forever but for the foreseeable future, that’s something podcasts listeners think about as they decide whether they’re going to invest their time in your show or not. Let’s talk about seasons in general or using the season functionality of the podcast ecosystem to your advantage as an existing podcaster. That’s a little different approach and considering the value of a season.
Let’s say, you have a large listenership and you’ve been podcasting for a couple of years. You’ve got at least 100 episodes you’ve published and continue to do weekly episodes. Generally, if you’re doing a weekly episode, you’re going to do roughly 50 a year, two years in, you’re going to have 100 episodes. You may have a lot of content there and you may have a need or a desire to publish a finite set of content in a certain niche area.
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Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have a podcast that’s in the domestic pet space like dogs, cats, fish or birds. You’ve been doing this for a while and you’ve got some good listenership but you know you’ve got a lot of dog fans within your audience and they might appreciate having a set of episodes that are focused on them.
There’s a good reason that you could create almost a spinoff and they could be episodes that have already been published, concentrating them in one bingeable volume of 8, 10, 12 episodes, that’s all about the dog owners or the dog lovers. Putting that out and giving those kinds of listeners or doing them the courtesy of putting out this content that’s focused on them and it’s efficient for them to listen. They don’t have to hunt and go through all the episodes. You give them to them right there.At a minimum, publishing a weekly show will get you the most consistent additional new viewers finding your show and giving it a try. Click To Tweet
The same thing can happen in other subject matters in business subjects, entrepreneurship or sports. You could have a general sports podcast and maybe you’re going to have some concentrated episodes on March Madness for basketball or something. You can see where this can go, where you’ve got lots of opportunities to use the season functionality to either within your podcast listing create a way to easily navigate through a set of episodes that’s taking a deeper dive in one facet of what you talk about.
The way I would tend to do this as put out another whole show identity, another RSS feed for that limited content because that gives you a marketing advantage in all the listening apps. This is going to be a little self-serving about our platform on Podetize because we’re one of the only ones that does this but we give our podcasts hosting subscribers, multiple RSS feeds, a minimum of five for one monthly subscription.
It doesn’t cost you any more to put out another show identity. You just have to create a variation on your cover art and description, take a subset of episodes and publish that as a new show. If your descriptions are in alignment between the original show that everybody is subscribed to and the new one going out there when people search in their podcast app for topics or subjects that are going to bring up your main show, it also is going to bring up this spinoff show or this additional RSS feed in the search results.
We do have some customers of Podetize using multiple RSS feeds. Some of them might have an event they put on and they recorded a whole bunch of content at that event. It’s a bootcamp series of content that was recorded at that event. There are many ways you can use this and it’s like a season when you think about it but you can end up dominating the search results of certain topics and pushing other shows off the search results. If you’re going to get half a dozen shows to show up on your screen, when you search a certain topic, if 2 or 3 of those shows are yours, that’s 2 or 3 competitors that aren’t competing for the attention of whoever searched.
I’m very much in favor of doing things like this. It makes more sense if you put out multiple show listings but the season functionality, which I also should be fair and mention to all your listeners that not every listening app is optimized for the season designations that have been created by Apple. In the podcast industry, Apple tends to take the lead and create new functionalities. There are some Apple listening apps and Apple clone apps that tend to adopt that right away but some of the others are slow at adopting it. Some of the listening apps have not done it.
You cannot always expect that same type of season designation that you can set in your podcast host because I believe pretty much all the best podcast hosting platforms have the capability to designate episodes for particular seasons of a show within the one RSS feed but not all the listening apps will display it that way. You have to realize there may be some inconsistency from one listening app to another as to how your content is organized and displayed.Podcast listeners tend to appreciate people who will show up for them. Click To Tweet
As a recap. If the context of putting out a short season of content is you have a show that has a catalog of episodes that’s already out there. Putting out designated seasons of content can be a good way to highlight or make it easy for your listeners to navigate through certain subject matter and recurring themes or topics that come up in your show. Also, give them a different level of experience and satisfaction to listen and binge through all that content, it can make a lot of sense.
If you’re doing it as a one-time show, you’re putting it out there, unless you’re very well-known, famous or your guests are all nationally known celebrities, a single short season of shows probably is not in your best interest or the way to put out that content. I would take a different approach doing that, put out the show, publish one at a time, have some consistency over a period of time of how many episodes you have, maybe one a week. You’ll get more mileage out of it than dropping it all at once and saying, “Hey world, here it is.”
The “build it and they will come” approach may not work very well in this situation. It is something that’s a little unique about podcast listeners. They tend to appreciate people that are going to show up for them. Keep in mind as a podcaster, it’s not like radio where you have to show up every Wednesday at 9:00 AM or at a particular time because you have a slot. It’s not like that at all.
Binge record half a dozen episodes, schedule them out but in the eyes or the ears of the listener, you’re showing up for them on a regular weekly basis. You’re releasing your episodes on the same day of the week every week. Usually about the same time of day, that experience and behavior for them. It’s pretty powerful, even though you’re not having to do this every week, they believe you’re showing up for them every week, Wednesday morning, on their phone as an alert, “There’s a new episode of my favorite podcast. I get to listen to that now.” They get to expect it.
You don’t build that same trust and loyalty by dropping a season all at once and only doing it once. You haven’t earned that right or you haven’t earned it with the listener showing up for them week after week. There are very few exceptions to new podcasts that we launched where you’re going to launch with half a dozen episodes or more. This applies to any quantity, when we launch a new show and it’s new on all the apps on that particular day, we backdate all those six or more episodes so it looks like they’ve been publishing one a week for the previous six weeks, even though no one ever saw it before. It just appeared on Apple and they’re just finding it.Your podcast is not cast in stone. Click To Tweet
When they find it on day one, they may think, “Where did this come from? I didn’t know about it. I’ve already missed six episodes.” They have a fear of missing out and going to go listen through all of them but it’s just day one. It sets the expectation with the listener that you’re going to be showing up for them week after week going forward.
That is the real value for us as podcasters, not only the value we’re providing the listener and serving them but the value we get back from the listener. People invest more in a show that they believe has been consistent and it’s going to keep being consistent and constant in showing up. It’s very hard to do that when you drop a season or you want to do a short subject and drop it.
That is an exception if I am Oprah Winfrey and I’m not but if you have somebody like that or a nationally known celebrity, you are going to drop a series with 10 or 8 episodes out there. People are going to get it. It’s going to get attention and people are going to listen. It provides them some value even if it’s short-term value. It probably gets a lot of play but if she put out a weekly show, it would probably be off the charts and a lot more popular than Joe Rogan ever was.
Now, that’s an extreme example and maybe not a useful one because of that but you get the point. Why is someone going to invest their time in your show? The fact that you’re going to show up for them week after week is a big one and that doesn’t always happen with the season approach. For what it’s worth, that’s my opinion on single short seasons. “Are they worth it?” I would say in most cases, no but undoubtedly there are some exceptions out there that would make sense. I hope you got some value out of this episode and find that useful. We will be back next time for another great episode. Thank you so much for reading.