You might be thinking of ways to upgrade your podcast, different avenues to take to make it better than the year before, or have a better way to organize your podcast (and brain) with all of your episodes. Episodes (episodic) vs seasons (serial) is a big subject!
We get many questions about this by podcasters wanting to give their podcast a little revamp, but it’s something you need to think about before pursuing it.
There comes a time and place (or should I say podcast ) on when to use podcast seasons. Here are a few questions we’ve been asked so we took the time to give you our answers!
TECH TALK: Before we dive into the benefits of seasons and how they can help your audience. We want to clarify some confusion we hear about the iTunes feed tags. Tags can be confusing & we don’t want that!
There is a difference between delineating seasons in Apple podcasts feed tags and YOU, the podcaster, using seasons on your own without the tags. Look at the two examples below to see how to use each form of seasons.
Seasons, as denoted by Apple and iTunes feed tags, are usually not seen by you. They usually are part of the UI of your podcast host. Scroll to the Apple Optimization section of this article, so you can see how Libsyn adds them as you publish an episode! You can see them in action primarily in Apple Podcasts. They are there for delineation inside that app. Remember, some of these tags are not supported outside of Apple Podcasts.
If someone is consuming your show outside of Apple Podcasts on a podcast app that does not support these apps, means that they won’t show the same way as they do on Apple podcasts.
Here is an example of the Once Podcast, Daniel uses a comprehensive approach to using numbering and using seasons both tactically and technically.
He uses the iTunes feed tags so that in Apple Podcasts, people can easily see and browse through the seasons. He DOES use numbering in his episode titles on his website, and adds the number at the end of the title
Producers, if you like to break down your episodes into seasons (season-based podcasts or not) as a producer you can create your own way for “seasons.” You don’t have to use the tags in your episode feed, you can simply just state it in the episode and in the way that you name your episodes.
Here is an example of A Long Look Podcast, Karen’s approach to seasons is purely content driven. She establishes the seasons tactically. She does not use numbering or the iTunes feed tags to denote the seasons for her listeners. She states them to her audience through episodes and content.
What podcasts should use seasons?
Seasons are great for specific podcasts but not recommended for every podcast. Some podcasters create seasons because they are creating proper seasons, as you would a TV show. Some podcasters create seasons when they switch their focus, from one theme to another theme throughout their podcast. Lastly, some podcasters create themes not based on content, but based on lifestyle. They produce in batches and publish for 6 months then take a break and do it again aka a season.
If none of this fits your show that’s okay! Most podcasts are episodic podcasts that do not need seasons. To see some data on podcasters using episodic vs seasons, read this article on Pacific Content.
What are the benefits of using season numbers for your listeners?
There are benefits to seasons to help your audience stay focused, organized, and interactive with your podcast.
If your podcast is true crime, education-based or has different topics every X amount of episodes then seasons would be a beneficial way to organize your episodes for your listeners.
Each season might focus on a different topic or story to keep your listeners engaged in that specific topic during that time and to reference back to. Some of your listeners might only be interested in listening to a season based on their interests.
Is it odd that I do not use season numbers and only use episode numbers in my podcast?
No, most podcasts are only episode based (episodic.) Unless you have a podcast that is like the show Fargo or The Crown, with a complete new story during each season, or knowing that designing seasons for your audience would greatly benefit them, there is no need to use them.
How should I title my podcast episodes?
Your title should be descriptive toward that specific episode. Make it clear and create a title that your audience will find valuable to listen to. Also, think about what your potential audience is searching for to be able to find your episode. If you want to keep track of your episodes, a lot of podcasts add the episode number to the title so their listeners know where they left off.
NOTE: Apple suggests that you don’t add episode numbers to your title in Apple Podcasts. DON’T FREAK OUT. Read this for more. Remember that Tech Talk discussion at the top of the post? Ya. It’s about that.
Can I go back and change my episode titles so they are more descriptive?
Yes! If you want to go back and change your podcast episode titles on Libsyn, check out this Support article to help you.
Most podcasts haven’t gone to seasons and they shouldn’t unless it is needed. Libsyn’s advice is to use episode numbers to keep your listeners on track! Refer to this support article on publishing a podcast episode and note the Apple Podcasts Optimization area.
Libsyn makes it easy to add podcast numbers to your episode title and not add them for to the Apple Podcasts episode title, while adding them to the appropriate place!
If you want to use seasons without using the Apple Podcast Optimization section aka the iTunes feed tags; tell your audience in your episode when a season begins or ends, outline seasons by your artwork, or add something special in the title and categorize accordingly on your website
We hope this Q&A answered some of your questions about whether or not you should be using seasons.