Podcasting What is it and Why You Need to Start One Today

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Podcasting, so what exactly is a podcast

Podcasting is the distribution of digital media in either an audio or video format. OK thats great, but what does it mean? Think of podcasting as a recorded radio or TV show that you can listen to or view when it’s convenient for you. This article focuses on audio podcasting as it is easier to produce and has a much larger opportunity for consumption.

Why are podcasts becoming so popular

In 2005, Apple began official support for podcasting with the release of iTunes 4.9. Podcasting caught on with the tech nerds (myself included) but didn’t catch on with the mainstream. Listening to podcast required either an iPod or other mp3 player. With the advent of the iPhone and other smartphone, almost everyone now has the ability to download and listen to your podcast. If you have an iPhone, Apple include it’s own podcast app with the release of IOS6.

Captive audience

Reading a blog requires you to do one thing, read a blog. One of the largest groups of podcast listeners are commuters.  According to the US Census Bureau, the average commute time is 25.4 minutes (one way). This is one of the reasons audio podcasts are growing in popularity. This is almost an hour a day that you can get in front of perspective clients or customers. Lets face it, reading a blog post at 70 miles per hour is a very bad idea.

Besides commuting, podcast subscribers often listen while doing the mondane chores we all find ourselves doing. Whether it cleaning house, doing dishes or weeding the garden, these are just a few opportunities podcasters are finding to be heard.

Less competition than blogging

There are literally hundreds of million blogs. As of today there are about 200 thousand podcasts. Of theses podcast, there are only about 80.000 that are current and being released on a regular basis. Perhaps the most important aspect of podcasting is that you are seen as expert or thought leader in your field.

Higher barrier of entry

Podcasting isn’t as easy as banging out a blog post. This is why there is lower competition. You will need to invest in a good microphone and will either learn to edit the audio or have some one do it for you. The good news is that a decent microphone can cost as little as $60 but I would recommend that you spend around $100 for a good quality mic. If you decide to edit the audio yourself, there are two great free solutions. If you are on a Mac, you already have Garage Band which makes it easy to edit and post your podcast to iTunes. If you are on a PC, there is Audacity a great free audio editing software. You will also need a host (somewhere to store your audio files online) to distribute your audio. Although it is possible to use your website to host your files, most hosting companies discourage this. Most podcasters use Libsyn and services start as little as $5 a month.

You must be consistent

While blog readers may expect a couple of posts a week, its not uncommon for popular podcasters to release a single podcast a month.  Just as you need to consistently blog, its even more important to release or post a podcast on a regular basis. I would recommend a weekly release schedule and even post on a particular day of the week. Just as with blogging, I recommend that you have at least five podcasts completed and ready for release before you post your first show. This allows you to have a cushion for those times when your schedule doen’t allow the time for recording.

Is a podcasting right for you

Podcasting isn’t for everyone (but neither is blogging). Setting up a podcast can be fairly technical and does have additional cost associated with it. In my opinion, the benefits of podcasting outweigh all these barriers. Before you buy a mic and setup hosting record a few test shows and see how comfortable you feel. Most laptops, smartphones and tablets (and even some monitors) have microphones built into them. Consider whether you are ging to do interviews or just going to do an audio version of a blog post. Just keep in mind that unless you have experience reading from a teleprompter, you probably want to use an outline rather than a script. Prepare as if you are speaking in front of a live audience.

Key takeaways

The popularity of podcasts is exploding. There is much lower competition than blogging but it is much more difficult to set up. There are going to be additional costs but if done on a consistent basis, podcasting yields a higher ROI than blogging.

So what are your thought? Are you ready to give podcasting a try? I produced my first podcast in 2010 and can help you choose your equipment and setup. If you are ready to start or just have some questions you can either leave them in the comments below or drop me an email.