How Much Time Does It Take To Run A Podcast?

By 18/07/2022No Comments

Speaking of time, time is the most precious commodity we have, it’s the only one that a limited resource for all of us and the only one we really can’t earn any more of!

So, how much time does it take to run a podcast? Let’s look at this in three steps:

  1. The Time You Have
  2. The Variables Involved
  3. The Four Different Approaches


Time: How Much Time Do You Have?

Podcasting can take as much time as you want or allow it to. The range of podcasting styles, formats and production quality is as wide as the number of podcasts there are out there in the world.

There are people who spend weeks producing just one 20 minute episode. Then there are others that knock out their own 20 minute episode in the 20 minutes they’ve spent talking plus another few minutes to hit Record, Stop and Upload.

The majority of people fall into four categories, depending on aims, aptitude, context and finances. There is no right answer to this, it just comes down to the right balance between the time spent and the resulting quality for each of us individually.



Time: The Variables Involved

Before we can answer how much time it takes to run a podcast, we need to consider all of the variables: which elements of the process determine how long it’s going to take?

1. Organisation

Organisation is the simple act of arranging everything that’s needed to complete your podcast. The most obvious example here is someone who runs an interview show. When you’re interviewing, a fair bit of time has to go into finding, researching, contacting, negotiating and scheduling interviews. Then you’ve got communications around the mic to use, the content to cover, and much more. Don’t underestimate the organisation that goes into doing an interview show, it’s not small.

Other elements of organisation might be coordinating with co-hosts, arranging meetup times or booking rooms to record in. You begin to see that these things depend a lot on your show format, and how you set up your episodes.

The good thing is that means you can choose your format based on how much time you have. If you’re strapped for time, don’t do interviews. For the shortest recording time possible, do solo and talk about something you know well. Then you can knock out a 15-minute episode at a moment’s notice, with little organisation and only a bit of planning.

2. Planning

The planning process is completely individual and there are as many approaches as there are podcasters. You’ll find your own way, but it does tend to fall on a pretty well-established spectrum.

On one end, you have people who think up a topic and just start chatting. This also works well for co-hosted shows, which are much more conversational and the hosts know the topic inside-out.

At the other end, you’ll find hosts who create a full script for their show, including narrations, interview segments, co-hosted elements, so every element of the episode is meticulously planned.

In between, you’ll find people who spend 20 to 30 minutes doing a little research, then either just go into a casual conversation with the guest or, if they prefer a bit more structure, they may do anything from spending 5 minutes jotting down top-level talking points to writing up a reasonably detailed bullet point plan for what they want to cover.

3. Equipment and IT

This is how much time you’ll spend before a session getting the mic out, making sure it’s charged (if it’s that kind of mic), plugging it in, getting everything working properly on Zoom and setting up your recording session. If you’re on a more complicated setup, it also involves testing your mixer, setting the levels and preparing the digital recorder, and  a million other things.

After the recording, it’ll take time to packing everything away, downloading files, fire up your editing software, and diving into production mode.

Setup time depends on your personal situation: do you have a permanently setup desk with your mic on a boom, constantly ready to go, or do you have to pack everything away after each session and get it out next time you’re ready to record?

4. Editing and Production

1. Removing Mistakes

Editing is where a lot, and I mean A LOT, of hours are wasted by amateur podcasters. There are two factors to this: confidence and perfectionism.

I know people who’ve done 80-odd takes of a 2-minute welcome video for their website because they wanted to make sure it was ‘perfect’. Have the confidence to make a mistake when you’re recording, and instead of repeating the section, just laugh, correct yourself, and move on. No-one cares if you stumble over a few words or say the wrong thing, it makes you more relatable. Just make light of it and continue.

If you try to get everything perfect and edit each and every one of your ‘mistakes’ out, you accomplish 2 or 3 things:

First, you make yourself nervous, leading to even more fluffs!

Second, you set yourself the onerous task of detail editing, which means listening through lots and lots of the show, increasing production time exponentially.

Third, if you’re using the video for the show, if you edit lots and lots of small clips out where you’ve got a word or two wrong, you’ll end up with a ‘jumpy’ video that is very off-putting to a viewer.

For big mistakes that you just can’t get rid of, there are techniques to make editing easier, such as the 3-click approach: stop, pause, knock on the desk three times, pause, then carry on. It’s easy to see this section when you’re editing the audio.

Really, the aim is to cut down post-recording edits to almost nothing. Mistakes are fine, they make you sound human. Apologise, correct it, move on and leave them in!

2. Music

Beyond the mistakes removal, you might also want to edit in music, intros, outros, interviews, segments, and on, and on. All these things bring variety and can increase the quality of your show, so may be worth adding. But music adds editing time, as do different segments or interviews.

Plenty of great shows have shunned any type of musical fanciness and it’s never hurt them. Keep things as simple as you can to cut down editing time and make everything more sustainable.

5. Publishing

Publishing is everything that happens after you’ve produced the final audio files. That includes creating your episode page, adding shownotes, uploading your media file and any promotion you want to do of the episode.

Again, there’s a balance here – you could spend hours on writing up highly detailed shownotes, publishing a full transcription and then promoting the show to every network and social media platform known to man. But it’ll just mean you’re still working on that next week when you should be recording your next episode!

Pick a balance that suits you, and that allows you to get an episode out every week.

We cover all these things and more in the Speak Up Podcasting Academy. Come and join us and we'll take you step-by-step through every aspect of podcasting from buying your equipment to making money. Find out more here.

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