AskPat 162 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey. What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 162 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. We have a great question from Brian for all of you podcasters out there or those of you looking to start a podcast.
But before that, let's get to today's awesome sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com. For those of you who don't know, FreshBooks is the easiest way to do all your accounting for your business. It's on the Cloud. You can use it on your mobile phone, your iPad app, or on your desktop, and it allows you to easily organize everything coming in and out of your business, especially if you have clients and you need to invoice them. FreshBooks makes it incredibly easy. I only wish I got started with FreshBooks sooner. If you'd like to go and get a free trial, check out GetFreshBooks.com and use the show name, “AskPat,” in the how did you hear about us section. Awesome.
Now, let's get to today's question from Brian.
Brian: Hi, Pat. My name is Brian. I am currently making a comic book for the first time. I want to begin making podcasts to help those who are struggling to do the same or those that are afraid of the struggles to take the first step. I know you like to test different variables to see what works best, so my question for you is, what is a good time length for a podcast to maintain listeners' attention? I know Ask Pat is usually 10 to 15 minutes long, while the SPI podcast is 45 to 60 minutes long. Thank you very much, Pat, and have a great day.
Pat Flynn: Brian, thank you so much for the question. In terms of the length of a podcast episode, this is actually a very common question, and I'm really glad you asked it. If you go into iTunes, you'll see shows of all different lengths, from two minutes to sometimes over two hours. Like you said, Brian, I have a couple shows that are completely different in terms of length. AskPat, this episode or this podcast you're listening to right now, is between six and sometimes 15 minutes, whereas the Smart Passive Income podcast is between 45 minutes and sometimes over an hour.
Interesting story with the Smart Passive Income podcast: When I started it in July, 2010, I had the intention of actually having it only be about 23 to 25 minutes, that specific. The reason for that was I was kind of borrowing from television. A half-hour show minus commercials. That's the sort of attention span that humans have, and we've heard that before. Humans have maybe about a 20- to 25-minute attention span for something like television. This is a little bit different, but I wanted to use those same metrics for my show just to keep it sort of consistent with entering it into people's daily lives. For example, if people were to take a listen during an hour, at the top of the hour, they'd be able to finish by the half-hour. That was my intention. But after the first few interviews, I realized that there was just so much more content within the people who I was interviewing that it would be a shame for me to cut it off at the 20- to 25-minute mark. So, a lot of the first interviews and interviews that I've done since then have gone up to sometimes over an hour, although they do average about 45 minutes, which at first I thought was going to be a lot, just way too much for people. But I haven't heard any complaints from anybody. Never have I heard any complaints from the 9.5 million people who have downloaded that show. That's a great sign.
So, you can have a lengthier show if you'd like, as long as it's content-filled, and that's, I feel, why it works for the Smart Passive Income podcast. It's completely full of content. At any time I feel the interview is sort of dying or we're at the end, I cut it off, no matter what that time is, and typically, it's again between the 45 minutes and one-hour mark. AskPat, however, because I'm taking voicemail questions from the audience and there's one specific question to one specific answer, it tends to be about the six- to 15-minute mark, depending on the type of question and the type of answer. That's a lot shorter, but I've also got a lot of compliments from this length.
Interestingly enough, there were a lot of people who said that they listen to Smart Passive Income, but they prefer AskPat because it's shorter and it's to the point and they can fit it easier into their daily lives. Yes, 45 minutes is quite long and some people have to break it up between commutes or walks or times at the gym, because that's the only time that they can listen and they don't spend that much time at those places or doing those things. All this to say, the perfect length for your podcast is as long as it needs to be so that you can provide all the value that you need to provide within those episodes, whether you're doing a solo show or you're doing an interview show or a question and answer type show like this one. It doesn't matter how long, as long as you do what you need to do in that episode, if that makes sense.
A lot of people ask similar questions in terms of, how long should my book be? It's the same answer. It's as long as it needs to be to meet the purpose of writing this book. It's hard, because if you say okay, you should meet the 25,000 goal mark—let's say you already provide all the information you need within those 10,000 words, you're going to fill up that book to try to get to 25,000 words with just fluff and stuff. That's not necessary. What if I also say you should be at 25,000, but you need 40,000 to 50,000 to write all the things you need to write in order to best provide that information and give the step-by-step information you need for your audience, who is going to read that book? Then you're going to be killing yourself trying to cut it down when you actually need more. I don't think you should specify a specific length for a book. Along the same lines, you shouldn't specify a specific time for your podcast episodes as well.
Now, that being said, you did say Smart Passive Income is right around the 45-minute to one-hour mark, and most of the shows fit within that category. For AskPat, it's between six and maybe 15 minutes, and it fits within that category. So, whatever show you do, it's important that you keep it consistent. That might sound sort of conflicting with what I just said, but no. You need to provide as much value as you can. For Smart Passive Income, for example, I need that 45 minutes in order to do that. For AskPat, I don't need that much time, so I keep it short, and part of the value of the show is keeping it short.
You'll have to do some thinking in terms of what your show is about, how long you might need, and what kind of show it is. Different kinds of shows are going to meet different length requirements. There is no wrong answer because a longer format episode might work for you or a shorter format episode might work for you. But choose one, and stick with it for your particular show. It might require some experimentation up front. Record some test episodes and see what you're comfortable recording, but also see what your audience is comfortable listening to. Perhaps, find some super users or super commenters, the people on your site who seem to just be raving fans. Give them an insider look at what your show is about, and ask for their feedback as well. They're going to feel more appreciated. They're going to become even bigger raving fans, and by the time your show comes out, based on your feedback and after you've fine-tuned it and got to that length of the episode that you like and that works for your audience, they're obviously going to be ambassadors for your new show. And you're going to get more ratings, downloads, subscribes, and that is how you can blow it up on iTunes, in a good way, of course, and find that right rhythm for you and your show.
So, Brian, I hope that answers your question. Thank you so much. For all of you out there, I really appreciate you taking time to listen to this. Brian, an AskPat T-shirt is going to be headed your way as a result of having your question featured here on the show. Thank you again so much. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just simply head on over to AskPat.com, and you can ask right there on that page using the SpeakPipe widget that's embedded right there in the center of the page for you.
You can also check out the AskPat podcast player, which you can sign up for if you're a podcaster yourself. Just head on over to SmartPodcastPlayer.com. It's sold out every time we've opened up a new beta group, which is awesome. So check it out as soon as you get a chance.
Of course, I'd like to thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks. Again, you can get your free trial for FreshBooks by simply going to GetFreshBooks.com and entering “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. I seriously wish I knew about Freshbooks when I was starting out. It could have saved me a lot of time and money and effort. I started with Excel spreadsheets and just downloading reports from all the shopping cart sites that I had. It wasn't until I got into FreshBooks that it made it so easy, especially during tax season. And like I said before, mobile friendly, cloud service. You'd be silly not to use it. Head on over to GetFreshBooks.com and enter AskPat in the “How did you hear about us?” section.
Thank you again so much for your time, and as always, I'd like to end with a quote. This quote is from Leo Burnett. He says, “What helps people, helps business.” Simple enough. Cheers. Take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
AskPat listeners get a 30-day free trial to their software when they enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.