You can create as much content as you like and release it as often as you want, but to maximize your subscriber base we recommend the following:
- Do not segment your content as parts of an episode
- Do not release more than one episode (media file) a day
These recommendations apply to each podcast feed (syndication stream). If you are using advanced features in PowerPress, such as podcast channels or podcast categories, you should apply these best practices to each channel or category, not the entire podcast website.
Do not segment your episodes into parts
Segmenting your episodes only confuses folks who are subscribed to your podcast. What does it mean when you release Episode 20 Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3? It means the audience now has a confusing matrix of episodes and parts to keep track of.
If you have enough content to split into multiple episodes/files, label them as such. For example, Episode 20, Part 1 of topic, Episode 21, Part 2 of topic, etc.
Do not release more than one episode a day
To better allow your subscriptions to grow, limit the number of episodes you release to at most one a day. If your content is three hours long, then make the episode three hours long. When you create three episodes and release them all on the same day, let alone in the same hour, your audience can be overwhelmed. Worse yet, for your subscribers who leisurely listen to your podcast (not right away), you minimize the time frame that they have to listen to your content before they automatically get unsubscribed.
iTunes (as well as many other smart podcatchers), will only auto-download your podcast episodes when one or more of the latest 5 episodes has been listened to or watched. If you release three 20 minute segments a day and two days pass since the last time that user listened to your podcast, their subscription to your podcast stops auto-downloading and will not start again until the user tells the app to restart the subscription.
Here is the explanation from Apple:
You’ve subscribed to a podcast but have more than five un-played episodes. iTunes will stop automatically downloading newer episodes. You may get the following message:
iTunes has stopped updating this podcast because you have not listened to any episodes recently. Would you like to resume updating this podcast?
You can click Yes to continue downloading additional episodes. Or you can just listen to any part of any episode and a new episode will download at the next update.
Apple put this logic in place to keep bandwidth costs and phone/computer download usage to a minimum. If the user has stopped listening or watching a show, this makes sense. If you release too much content in too short of a time frame you may inadvertently cause this to happen faster than your audience would expect.
As a negative side effect, usually only one (last / latest released) of the multiple parts or segments released will get fully consumed by your audience. This is because your last / latest release is positioned above or in front of your other episodes.
Other reasons you shouldn’t segment your content include…
- SEO – Repeating content on separate postings may hurt your search engine optimization.
- Maximizing Distribution Exposure – Podcast directories will typically only display your latest episode. If you release two episodes within the same day, chances are only one of those two episodes will appear as new.
- Consistency – You want to produce content on a consistent schedule. If you have to separate an episode, release the second portion as a separate episode at your scheduled time. Inconsistent episodes will throw off subscribers who schedule your content for their lifestyle (daily commute, workout, etc…).
- Capturing New Listeners or Viewers – By releasing episodes that can be consumed by themselves, you increase the likelihood that new listeners / viewers will want to subscribe to your show. Episodes that start midway into a topic or conversation can be confusing and turn new folks away.
Daniel J. Lewis from The Audacity to Podcast has an extensive writeup with other reasons not split a podcast topic into multiple episodes.