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Steve Pratt: What’s the (Podcast) Frequency, Kenneth?

Guest columnist Steve Pratt is co-owner and Partner of Pacific Content, which creates original podcasts for brands including Slack, Mozilla, and Dell. This article originally appeared on the Pacific Content blog.


When we first started making podcasts, the best practice for how often to publish a new episode seemed to be either weekly or daily. Knowing that daily would not make a lot of sense for the types of shows we produce, we assumed that we should strive for weekly publishing. Our logic was that if we weren’t publishing weekly, people would forget about our shows and couldn’t build us into their regular listening habits. In other words, we wanted people to be able to decide that they would listen to Slack Variety Pack on their way into work every Monday morning. We also assumed that publishing weekly would build audiences faster and that momentum would build with more episodes more frequently.

However, when we got into the reality of creating original podcasts with brands, we were forced to re-check our assumptions. For companies spending a considerable sum of money to make a fantastic podcast, doing a weekly show presented a few challenges. First of all, it can be expensive to make shows and publish a new episode every single week. Second, it’s a LOT of work to promote an episode effectively every single week, especially if marketing a podcast is not your full-time job.

What we found was that a weekly publish was not the most effective or efficient strategy for the vast majority of our podcasts. If you’re making a lot of episodes, but you can’t market those episodes really well, you’re leaving a lotof opportunity on the table. Even when we’re working with fantastic marketing teams, there is a lot to do for each episode. Trying to update websites, send out email newsletters, write and publish blog posts, and create social posts for every new episode, every single week is punishing. And because it was so much work, some of those deliverables would often start to slide. And when things slid, the episode wasn’t fully marketed.

So we re-checked our assumptions.

Why were we initially so sure we had to publish weekly? Likely because so many others published weekly. And why do so many other podcasters publish weekly (or daily)? It is likely because of their business model. If their shows are supported by ads, the more inventory you have, the more money you make.

We quickly realized that we should think differently because we have a different business model — the volume of inventory doesn’t matter as much to our clients or Pacific Content. We then re-examined what a best practice would look like for our clients and the reasons that they were podcasting. And here’s what we discovered…

Publishing an episode every two weeks is perfect for almost all of our clients.

Why? For the same budget and the same number of episodes, our clients’ podcasts are in market for twice as long. A six-episode season published every two weeks is in market for a full quarter. A twelve episode season published every two weeks is in market for half a year.

Equally important, two weeks between episodes allows for much more time to fully market every episode. Our clients’ marketing teams do an amazing job at that publishing frequency, which means that each episode is much more likely to reach its full potential.

Publishing every two weeks is a long-term, sustainable cadence, and that also means it’s a much better use of time and money for everyone involved.

So what did we learn? Check your assumptions about best practices and make sure that they work for you and your own unique needs and situation. Sustainability and effectiveness matter, so make sure that your publishing schedule allows you to do both.

 

Steve Pratt

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