Podcasting in seasons makes sense for a lot of businesses and content creators because it makes things more manageable. It lifts the constant pressure to release new episodes every week. And it gives you time to reflect and plan upcoming content.
Colin Gray, founder of The Podcast Host, is a big advocate for podcasting in seasons. When we recently spoke with him, he explained why:
Usually when people start podcasting, they have lots of enthusiasm. But that tends to change after a few months. There will inevitably be points when you wake up and think ‘I don’t want to record a podcast this week’. The relentless tedium of having to do anything every week will eventually get to you. Nobody can do it for an entire year and not get sick of it at some point.
In life and business there are always natural peaks and troughs. Sometimes you’ll be extremely busy. Other times will be quieter. So producing your podcast in seasons makes it easier to juggle with other responsibilities. And it also benefits listeners too.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about podcasting in seasons, so you can decide whether it makes sense for your show.
What is a Podcast Season?
A podcast season is essentially the same as a season of a television programme. It’s a way of separating your content into smaller self-contained blocks.
Each season might focus on a different topic like Colin Gray’s Pod Craft. Or you might keep the focus of your show the same and break it up into batches.
In some cases you might be able to cover a topic perfectly in a single season. For example, many true crime podcasts are only one season long. If the content is evergreen, you can keep promoting it after you’ve released the final episode. That way it can keep growing even if it’s not being updated.
Which Types of Podcasts Work Well in Seasons?
Some podcasts are better suited to being released in seasons than others:
Educational Podcasts ✅
Podcasting in seasons works extremely well for podcasts intended to educate and inform listeners. Most podcasts produced by businesses fall under this category. The most reliable way to build a loyal audience is to help people, and that essentially means teaching.
So for example let’s imagine a marketing agency is planning to release a podcast all about SEO for small businesses. To plan out their first season here’s the proces they’d follow:
- Step 1 - Hold a brainstorming session to come up with a list of topics that clients commonly ask about or have trouble with. This might include things like ‘The basics of SEO’, ‘How to optimise site speed’, ‘How to conduct keyword research’ or ‘Helpful SEO tools’.
- Step 2 - Choose one topic from the list and make that the focus of the first season. In this case, the most appropriate topic to start with would be ‘The basics of SEO’.
- Step 3 - Break the larger topic down into a series of smaller, more narrowly-defined subtopics. Each subtopic can be covered in a separate episode. In this case the episode titles might be things like ‘How search engines work’ ‘Keyword research’ and ‘Backlinks’.
- Step 4 - Plan out each episode by listing key points to be covered. This will provide a map of the content which can be used as a script when the time comes to record the episodes.
The process above can be followed for all educational formats - whether you’re interviewing guests or hosting solo. Following the steps allows you to quickly draw up a plan for an entire season. If done correctly, all you’ll need to do is set aside time to get the episodes recorded.
Entertainment Podcasts ✅
If your show is meant to entertain rather than educate, a seasonal format can still work well. You just need to find a common thread that ties all the episodes in a season together.
For example, the first season of the BBC comedy podcast May Contain Nuts was all about conspiracy theories. In each episode the four hosts tackled a different theory, from the Moon Landing to Chemtrails.
Again, write down a list of possible themes, choose one, break it down into relevant subtopics, then plan out the season from there. Whatever your entertainment podcast is about, there is usually a way to cover it in seasons in a way that makes sense for both you and your listeners.
News / Current Affairs Podcasts ❌
If you’re planning to produce a news or current affairs podcast, then recording in seasons probably isn’t the best option. It’s very difficult to plan these types of shows in advance as they rely on being up to speed with all the latest goings on in society and culture.
As a result, news and current affairs podcasts tend to perform best when released on a regular daily or weekly schedule.
How Many Episodes Make a Season?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to podcast season length. You might choose to release a season with only 4 episodes. Or you might release more than 20.
Basically, you should make your season as long as it needs to be to cover a topic completely. There’s no point dragging a season out just to hit an arbitrary number of episodes. Think about all the different component parts of your main subject and make sure on each of them at some point during the season.
Pros of Podcasting in Seasons
Here’s how this approach can benefit you and your listeners:
As outlined at the beginning of this article, releasing your podcast makes life easier for a few different reasons.
With a clear plan laid out from the outset, you won’t have to spend any time wondering what you’ll cover next. You can simply grab your bullet point outline and hit record. Having a clear purpose and sense of direction makes it easier to consistent with publishing.
Improving Your Show
Taking a well-deserved break at the end of a season is not only beneficial for your own sanity, it also gives you an opportunity to reflect on how things went. In the interim period, collect feedback from some of your most engaged listeners.
What did they like most about the season? What didn’t work so well? Do they have any suggestions for the next season? Having answers to these questions, and time to actually implement the changes will ensure your show continues to evolve and improve over time.
Helps Listeners Learn
If you’re producing an educational podcast, releasing your podcast in seasons can make it easier for listeners to learn. Breaking big topics down in a logical, sequential way makes the information easier to follow and process.
As listeners progress through the season you can introduce more advanced concepts, knowing that your audience already has the relevant background knowledge to understand them. Alternatively, more experienced listeners can easily cherry-pick the episodes most relevant to them.
Cons of Podcasting in Seasons
Some things to be mindful of when creating a seasonal podcast:
Accommodating Guest Experts
An opportunity to interview a great guest may arise when you’re in the middle of a season. But if the topic you’re covering is unrelated to the guest’s area of expertise, it’ll be difficult to work that episode into the season in a way that makes sense to listeners.
If this situation does arise, we advise doing the interview anyway (great opportunities don’t crop up everyday!). Once you’ve recorded the interview and banked the audio, you have two options for releasing it. You might want to release it as a bonus episode during the break after the season is over. Or you might choose to base your next season on the guests area of expertise.
One of the main things that puts many podcasters off recording in seasons is the fear they’ll lose listeners when they take a break. If you just abruptly stop publishing episodes without any warning then yes, you’ll lose listeners.
But that can be easily avoided by communicating. All you need to do is let your audience know that you’ll be taking a break in the last episode of the season. And if you let them know exactly when you’ll be back, the vast majority will return.
Podcast on Your Terms
Podcasting in seasons is ideal for businesses and content creators who are trying to juggle podcasting with other things. It keeps the focus of your show well-defined. It gives you the opportunity to take time off and recharge. And perhaps most importantly, it gives you a chance to reflect and improve your show before coming back for your next season.
So if you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast but you’re worried about the extra workload, seasons might be the perfect solution!
For our full, comprehensive guide on how to start a podcast, click here.