Did video kill the radio star? How to start a podcast.
After the World Wide Web became a ‘thing’, people started to find their voice, voices they were now able to project on a global scale.
As bloggers began to upload written content, and as technology developed, at lot of users began to share information via audio files. However, platforms were not built for this new engenuity and usability was seriously poor.
It’s widely recognised that Adam Curry, a former MTV VJ and Dave Winer, an RSS developer, were the Godfathers of podcasting. In order to solve audioblogging’s current displacement, the pair worked together to develop an RSS feed specifically for audio content. They formulated a method of broadcasting that allowed this content to be available on devices and at the user’s command. A following article in the Guardian, written by Ben Hammersley on February 12th 2004, coined the term and it’s been history every since. Podcasting has taken off.
By 2005 Itunes had released native support for podcasts and a year later released Garageband, an audio producing application with built in podcast production functionality. By 2012, Edison Research reports found that 29% of Americans had downloaded a podcast and a year later Apple celebrated 1 billion podcast subscribers. Currently, there are over 60,000 active podcasts on iTunes and 55 podcasts being recorded at any given moment. To top it off, Podcasting has recently been labeled the zeitgeist of 2017.
If you want to know more, here’s an awesome interactive timeline on the history of Podcasting.
So why do people podcast? Why do we podcast and why should you podcast?
Why do people podcast?
So why do people podcast? Why do we podcast and why should you podcast? The simple answer is that podcasts create connection.
Podcasts are the most indisputably direct way to connect with consumers. I challenge you to find a more concentrated medium than talking directly into someone's ear.
The power of a tangible human voice closes gaps in brand to consumer connection that written and visual content just can’t. Furthermore, podcasts are more accessible and fit seamlessly into everyday life more so than any other medium.
- Video demands the attention of both visual and auditory senses, meaning that a user must be completely focused to absorb the message. Videos interrupt and are often ignored.
- Visual content distracts the eye, meaning the users can only browse in certain situations. Much like video, visual demands a fair bit of attention and once concentration is lost, so is the connection.
- Written content demands brain power and focus, it’s a one way activity - you can't do other things while you read. How many times have you simply skimmed a blog post rather than reading the whole thing?
Podcasts however, can be listened to while driving, showering, working, at the gym, shopping etc. the list goes on. Podcasts are able to be assimilated into the everyday, they move with you. Audiences, whether totally engaged or not will always be listening.
“Audio is one of the most intimate forms of media because you are constantly building your own images of the story in your mind and you’re creating your own production...” - @EmmaRodero
How to start podcasting
You’ve learnt about podcasts, you know why they’re great and now you’re ready to give podcasting a go, but where to start?
If I could give you one piece of advice to start podcasting, it’s start podcasting. The same rule applies to all other content generation, the best thing to do is to just start and try not to overthink it. Here’s some more:
- Ask yourself, what kind of podcast are you going to produce? Are you interviewing people, speaking solo, telling stories - will there be a number of hosts?
- Choose your podcast topic.
- How often will you be podcasting? Generally, one podcast a week keeps users engaged, however serious podcasters can post up to two times a day.
- Think of a title - like above, try not to overthink it.
- Write a short description detailing what your podcast will cover.
- Choose the category and subcategory your podcast will belong to.
- Consider how long your podcast will go for. Most generally fall around 20 - 45 minutes in length.
- Choose the podcast rating, will it be clean or a little provocative. It’s a good rule to stick with for the rest of your podcasts. In a business arena, clean podcasts are recommended.
- Source some artwork. It’s always good to start with some polished artwork but not everyone has that up their sleeve. Remember you can always change it later.
- Source introduction and conclusion audio. These are often snippets of music with voice-overs detailing the podcast name, a bit about yourself and the episode number.
Planning your podcast
Now we’re in the thick of it, it’s time to record a podcast. Time to start planning.
Podcasting, like any other content marketing effort, needs to follow the golden rules, it needs to be valuable, relatable and engaging.
What are you podcasting about?
What is your expertise? What could you talk about for hours on end? What do people want to hear? Make sure to structure your content around these questions. For your podcast to be good you need to provide the listener with some sort of value. Value can come from entertainment, often a funny incident, historical story, reviews etc. Information is valuable as well, that can be interviews with industry professionals, personal knowledge sharing and insights. One way or another your listeners be able to gain something.
Who will listen?
Who do you think is going to listen to you for half an hour? It’s paramount to consider your audience before you begin podcasting. What does their day look like, where do they work, how do they speak? To draw a loyal audience you need to be able to relate to these people.
For example, if plan to target older professionals who work in finance, you should be more formal, structured and polite in order to be respected and trustworthy. Conversely, if your podcast targets creative young men who craft brew, your podcast will gain more traction if it’s relaxed and entertaining.
Why will they listen?
You need to consider your edge. In marketing, we call this your unique selling proposition. What makes you stand out against your competitors - how are you different? Why should people listen to you instead of someone else?
What you need to podcast
When I start something new I always like to start at 100%. While this mindset is admirable, putting all your money on the table, to begin with, is bad business. If you’re anything like me, try to concentrate on your content rather than the shiny equipment - that can come later. We’ve compiled a list of the basic equipment and resources you need to start podcasting - most of which can be achieved for free.
We’ve compiled a list of the basic equipment and resources you need to start podcasting - most of which can be achieved for free
Smartphones and tablets:
Great things take time, but good things can be done with a smartphone. Your smartphone or tablet recorded podcasts aren't going to be as good as studio recorded interviews, but given nearly everyone has a smartphone/tablet it’s a great place to start.
Record your podcast on whatever inbuilt audio recorder you phone offers then simply send it to yourself to edit.
Smartphone and tablets also allow for a range of plug in microphone options, to enhance the recording quality. Many can be purchased for under $100AUD. For more information on USB microphones and accessories, take a look at The Podcast Hosts article on a basic podcasting set up.
Speaking into a microphone rather than a a phone is a different experience, it’s both intimidating and exhilarating. However, choosing a microphone, if you’re just starting out can be daunting. Even if you’re a beginner, microphones aren't out of your league and there's a ton of entry level microphones available on the market.
Take a further look at some recommended microphones.
Using audio editing software is necessary to make the most out of your podcast. Editing means your podcast is slick and allows you to add extra sounds and features. Audio editing software can seem a bit confronting when you first start, however there are lots free resources on how to use each program. We recommend the following software:
Audacity is free to download and is compatible with most operating systems. It takes a bit to learn but comes highly recommended within the podcasting community.
This software is free to Mac users and is available to download off the app store. Garageband is Apple’s official music software. It has an easy to understand interface and is seamlessly compatible with all your apple devices.
Adobe Audition is a paid service through Adobe and the Adobe creative cloud suite. It’s compatible with both Apple and Microsoft operating systems. This audio editing software can be harder to grasp and is recommended for those who have had experience with Adobe products or other audio editing software.
“It allows your readers and listeners to feel your personality, passion and hear your enthusiasm when you speak about your topic and business.” - @ChrisDucker
Where to publish your podcast
Lastly, in order to distribute your podcasts online they will need to be hosted somewhere. Media hosting is different to website hosting, web hosting platforms simply don’t have the bandwidth or speed to keep up with audio file downloading and streaming.
Podcasters often publish their shows on multiple platforms. This is common practice and highly recommended. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to put your podcast in order to get noticed. We recommend the following:
One of the first place you will want to publish your podcast is iTunes. iTunes is also the first place people have been going to, to look for podcasts for years. However, listening to podcasts in iTunes is only available on apple smartphones and tablets or those who have downloaded the iTunes application on a computer. Therefore while still reigning supreme, it has its drawbacks.
Google Play Music
Google Play Music is Android’s answer to iTunes. Accessible to those on an android or google smartphones and tablets as well as computer users. Google Play Music is limited in the same way iTunes is and is also not as popular.
Spotify is a newcomer in the game. Spotify’s advantage is that it is compatible with anyone who has the app. The app ranges across apple products, android and almost any in between, meaning that people are not limited to their device in order to hear your podcast. However, Spotify is continuing to only host recognizable podcasters. With backlash within the community there is a chance they may open their platform up further in the future.
SoundCloud is great for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it’s free with a few paid options for later, with an inbuilt RSS feed. As well as hosting, your podcasts can also be published directly onto the SoundCloud platform, which has great social media sharing capabilities. SoundCloud boasts a large listener base however their mobile functionality is is lacking in comparison to a platform such as Spotify. Our own podcasts are hosted on SoundCloud
This platform is known as one of the best in the business, it’s been around for a long time. Libsyn is a paid service, starting at around $5USD a month for 50GB bandwidth (more than enough for someone starting out).Though there is no free option, Libsyn is very reputable - infact, we use it!
PodBean offers both free and paid accounts for their users and is known for having an appealing interface on both desktop and mobile. As well as an RSS feed, you’re also able to add themes to your podcast page and track user activity.
Starting your podcast is the hardest part of podcasting, but once you’ve made some decisions and set up, you’ll be good to go right away and for a long time.
Yes, it’s true. You can embed your podcast episodes right within your blog posts.
This is perfect for adding additional value to your pages, and there's also a potential SEO boost that comes from people staying longer on your pages (it’s called dwell time, a UX metric Google pays close attention to).
You’ll need a plugin for this and I recommend Smart Podcast Player by Pat Flynn.
It’s a paid plugin, but worth it and it’s what nearly all major podcasters use on their sites.
A good podcast or a great podcast?
Congratulations, your podcast is done! It’s taken a while and some seriously hard work but you’re on your way. But how do you get more viewers? While this is a blog post in itself, here are some quick tips:
- Share! Ask your friends, family, colleagues and subway sandwich artist to listen. Encourage them to write reviews and most importantly share your podcast.
- Make sure you write a great episode description.
- Be consistent, post at the same time and frequency.
- Host interesting guests.
- Many people believe in launching with more than one podcast.
Remember to stick to why you started, believe in yourself and believe in your content. More than anything, speaking with confidence will get you far.
Podcasting is a unique way to grow your business or your personal brand. Millions of people tune in to learn, experience and feel things everyday.
Ultimately, podcasting creates a connection with your consumers beyond any other platform. Audio blogging establishes a concrete brand narrative and allows viewers to relate with you on a personal level.
Take that, The Buggles.