I Listened to over 1,000 podcast episodes and here is what I found the best ones do.

Whether you have a podcast or just listen and subscribe to them, you may have heard 3 podcasts in your entire life or thousands like I have. Either way, you want to know what the most successful podcasts who grow their audiences and make money are doing, here is the list. Running a successful podcast network with over 300 podcasts and 21,000 podcast episodes has allowed me to listen to all types of podcasts from all types of people in over 10 categories.[p]

The questions about the most successful podcasts I had are these:

  1. "What types of podcasts are the most successful?" meaning what genres?
  2. How long should each podcast episode be before people stop dropping off?
  3. It is better to have one podcast host or multiple on the same podcast episode.
  4. Is it better to have just talk or play music to break up the content? What do the podcast subscribers prefer, because after all it is about them anyway.
  5. Is it great to have guests or better without?
Here is what I found. You can also listen to my podcast episode about this subject here: https://anchor.fm/bruce-chamoff/episodes/I-Listened-to-over-1-000-podcast-episodes-and-here-is-what-I-found-the-best-ones-do-eqtp0o

About 50% have podcast guests.

Podcast guests are all the rage. There are so many websites popping up that match podcasts to small business owners and entrepreneurs to have them on their podcast as a podcast guest. This is not a new concept but it has now started growing like crazy. I found that the audience and subscribers sometimes get sick of one person's voice all the time. Most podcasts have 2 or more hosts and that is fine. Will the audience get sick of the same podcast hosts all the time? Maybe you want to break them up a little or mix it up. A podcast guest is a very good way to accomplish this and keep your audience and listeners well-engaged. [p] This has led me to build the podcast guest exchange on the New York City Podcast Network. This new guest exchange has allowed our podcasters to select guests by browsing their profiles and what types of podcasts they would be interested in. We do a great job matching our podcast guests already.

Most of the podcasters do have a podcast introduction.

I have mixed feelings about this one. Most of my own podcast episodes have no introduction just because of own experience listening. I actually find introductions annoying, but some podcasters find them to be a professional part of their podcasts. Why do I think they are annoying? If you hear the same podcast introduction over and over and over again between episodes, it becomes the same old content which people do get tired of.[p] My solution is to play the introduction every other podcast episode or every two or three podcast episodes. This way, you still have your podcast branding, but your audience does not have to get tired of the same content from episode to episode.

The average podcast episode lasts between 45 to 60 minutes.

The question we need to ask is about audience retention. Do our subscribers and podcast audience members want to listen for that long? Can we keep them engaged for that long? I have found that not everyone listens to a podcast in the car or on the train going to work and with the COVID19 pandemic, it is even less likely that they will take their podcasts on trains and aircraft since most people are working at home and stating close to home because of fears of catching Coronavirus. YES, we need to take this into consideration.[p] My own podcast episodes are longer than 20 minutes and most are about 10 minutes on average. Since most of my podcast episodes are just me and do not include a podcast guest or co-host (sometimes I have my partner Meg Hope on my episodes), I think that my audience member can be tired of my voice after 10 minutes. Thankfully, I consider myself a very dynamic and animated speaker LOL. The Podcast Pontifications podcast with Evo Terra are all under 10 minutes on average and most are also just him as well. Everyone's podcasts are different and each podcaster makes up the rules, but when you think of it, it terms of audience retention, we have to think of our audience members, because at the end of the day, THEY are the ones who make up the rules.

Only about 90% of the podcast episodes are all talk. No music or commercials. 

Unless the podcast itself is dedicated to playing music and highlighting the newest songwriters, I have found that playing music is not preferred by the podcast audience, but that all depends if your podcast has one or more hosts. I think listening to music is great and I am a musician myself. I want people to hear my music. If you are a single host and your podcast is over 20 minutes, it is probably not a bad idea to play at least one song on your episodes. If you have a podcast guest or another host, then playing music in the background is probably best. Since most of my episodes are just me and are around 10 to 15 minutes on average, I think playing a song or two is not bad, but I still need to check with my audience. Speaking of your audience, if you will be playing music, find out the best genres of music your audience prefers since the wrong genre can drive them away. That also includes their basic demographics including their age group, gender and sometimes geographics all play a part in audience retention. I mean, for example, would you play Stairway To Heaven from Led Zeppelin for a 25 to 34 year old group? Probably not, but you WOULD for a group over 50 years old.

90% of the podcasts are weekly. 10% put out about 3 to 4 episodes per week.

I notice that most podcasts have one episode per week. Maybe the podcasters have full time jobs and they can only do it on the weekends. The most successful podcasts have an average of 3 episodes per week. My podcast has this average as well. One episode per week could cause you to lose audience members fast since they may subscribe to other podcasts within the same week and forget about yours. I recommend at least 3 per week, if not more.

75% have really good sound quality.

This goes without saying. Your voice needs to project and t needs to be well-EQed (equalized). Make sure there is little hissing in the background and use noise reduction to remove the noise. Too many podcasts I listen to have too much hissing like it was recorded on a cassette tape. Make sure the podcasters and hosts voices are not monotone. Everyone hates that. Also, make sure your voice has the right treble and no microphone pops. More about that in another blog post. I think that is it. Keep subscribing to this blog and my podcast to become a more successful podcaster. Bruce Chamoff