Iâm sure you remember the times when you werenât âthat into Facebook,â or you didnât âsee the appeal of Twitter.â For many individuals and companies it takes a few hundred thousand people to convince them that they should jump on the bandwagon and figure out an emerging trend. It seems that in 2012, this trend is going to be podcasting.
Creating a podcast seems like a lot of complicated work, but itâs entirely possible to create a quality, interesting podcast while still remaining pretty basic. For those who are unfamiliar, a podcast is a way for users to listen to content as opposed to reading it. This is extremely appealing to a lot of people because it allows them to listen to a press release or a promotion that a company puts out while theyâre traveling to work. In other words, podcasts are extremely portable. They can be uploaded directly onto a personâs hard drive (as opposed to streaming from another server), and theyâre inexpensive to create.
Many companies including BusinessWeek magazine, CNN, and Toyota have begun creating podcasts so that they can offer another way for users to get to their content. If you are starting a small business and want to join the ranks of these major companies, but know nothing about podcastingâdonât sweat it. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- Podcasts can be offered through iTunes or a company can post the podcast straight to their website.
- Podcasts are generally created and scheduled on a regular basis. For example, some companies publish a podcast on their blog every Monday. This gets readers into a routine.
- There is no required length when it comes to a podcast. Some programs are ten minutes long while others are over an hour. I recommend around 20 minutes until you get a strong following.
- Podcasts are usually successful if you ask users to subscribe to the podcast.
Once you have a feel for the purpose of a podcast and how you will be able to use a podcast to engage customers and clients, itâs time to get started. Consider the three must-haves when it comes to podcasting:
Creating a Podcast is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (and 4 and 5)
Step #1: Writing great content.
It may sound obvious, but writing great content for a podcast is slightly different than writing a great article. You want to consider the length of your podcast as well as the material being discussed. Podcasts are generally not used for promoting a product or having a sales tone. People listen to podcasts to hear a great story and/or learn how to do something. When writing podcast content, your aim is to teach. Podcasts should be fun, light-hearted, and to the point.
Step #2: Get the right equipment.
The reason so many businesses stress out about creating a podcast is because they think they need to buy expensive equipment. The truth is, you can start creating your podcasts using the most basic equipment and still fulfill your purposes. Most companies who are just starting out with podcasting buy a podcasting kit. Kits will come with everything you needâmicrophones, audio editing programs and recording software, and headphones. If you would rather buy each piece separately, you will be able to go to a local electronics store and get all of these items individually. In terms of recording software, I recommend Audacity because it is free online, but it is audio only. You can stay as basic as Windowsâ Sound Recorder or click here for more choices if youâre interested in creating a video podcast. Once you have the equipment in place and a script ready to go, itâs time to begin taping.
Step #3: Record your podcast
Using the software is really quite simple and generally comes with a list of instructions. If youâre doing it on your own, then there are a few things you need to remember. First, you will want to connect your microphone to your computer and begin speaking while running the software. You will then be able to edit the recording when youâre finished taping. Second, you will want to convert your audio recording into an MP3 file. This can be done a variety of different ways depending on the software you use. Typically, most businesses and individuals use ITunes and the file can be converted in four easy steps.
Step #4: Publishing the podcast onto your blog or website.
After you have recorded your podcast and edited it to your liking, itâs time to publish it on your website for your readers to see. Companies generally create an RSS feed to make it easier on customers and clients when they want to subscribe to a podcast. If you donât already have an RSS feed, click here to get started. It may sound confusing, but it only takes a few minutes and no more than five steps!
You are then ready to upload your podcast onto the Internet. You will need a file transfer program (FTP) in order to make this happen. This software is generally around $40 and once again, is simple to use. One of the most popular FTP programs is called SmartFTP and can be downloaded for free.
Step #5: Advertise your podcast to your readers.
At the start of your podcasting efforts, it makes sense to give away your podcast for free. This will give readers a chance to see what itâs all about before you ask them to subscribe or buy the podcast on ITunes. You will want to advertise this podcast just as you would advertise anything elseâuse social media, feature it on your website, and ask people to share the link. Itâs also a good idea to publish your podcasts on a schedule. This will let people know when to look for it. Once they know it exists and are used to watching/listening, theyâll be more inclined to subscribe in the future.
Software Summary for Your Podcast
It sounds like there is a lot of software that you have to buy in order to create a podcast. However, most of this software can be downloaded for free or at a very low cost. Just to stay organized, here is the software you will need once again:
- Audio Recorder and Editor
- MP3 Encoder
- File Transfer Program (FTP)
However, the most important thing you will need to create a successful podcast is great content. If the content is there, the listeners will come. You can have all the fancy sound systems and editing techniques you want, but no one will want to listen if you have nothing to say. Keep this in mind, and then youâre sure to create a successful podcast.