July 9, 2014

One of the biggest trends in social media and digital media right now is podcasting. It seems like everywhere you turn, people are using a podcast like they used to use blogs. Whether it's hosting a podcast or listening to a podcast, this "new" media is taking over digital media.

So, should you be taking advantage of this platform?

Should you be hosting a podcast of your own? Should you be listening to podcasts? Should you be interviewed on podcasts as a guest? Should you be... podcasting?

Here's my thought: Yes. But only as it best suits you and your business.

For me personally, I can write a blog post faster than I can even try to record a podcast. I prefer to read blog posts than to listen to audio broadcasts. And I don't have the time to manage a show, come up with episode ideas, and organize guests. But that's just me. And that's why I still blog, read more blogs, and appear as a guest on someone else's podcast. That's how I take advantage of this powerful platform while staying true to what works for me.

But let's talk about you and podcasting.

Let's give a quick background on what a podcast is, first. According to Wikipedia, a podcast is "a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device."

I like to think of a podcast like a radio show on demand. It can be recorded live, or usually, prior to broadcast. It's available for download or streaming at your convenience. It's typically audio based, though you can find some which incorporate video or other visual content. Most podcasts are available from iTunes or other audio databases.

Google Hangouts are another take on the podcasting platform which allow video or audio only recordings which can then be shared on YouTube for easy, long-term access.

Podcasts have actually been around for quite a while but, as was recently brought to my attention at Social Media Day San Diego, it was the popularity and prevalence of the smartphone that catapulted the podcasting industry into the forefront of digital media. Now that almost every business professional has a computer in the palm of their hand, the ability to download and stream podcasts anywhere and at anytime has made podcasts one of the most easily accessible marketing mediums.

Podcasting can effectively establish you as a leader in your industry. While it can take a while to gain traction, podcast participation at any level will introduce you to new audiences, keep your message alive online for years to come, and bring you significant rewards.

Podcasting, when done right, can bring you new clients, website traffic, more sales, brand awareness, and expertise credentials. It can also bring you revenue if you host a podcast of your own and you learn to monetize the platform.

This is a really quick, simplified description of podcasting. But, if you're not familiar with this trend, I hope this helps you understand it a little better.

So, now let's look at the ways you can take advantage of podcasting.

Host Your Own Podcast

While it may seem like everyone has a podcast these days, that's far from the truth. If you have the interest in doing your own show, there is no time like the present to get into this medium.

And, no, you don't need a ton of fancy equipment or tools to have a successful podcast. Many popular podcasters got started with a laptop and a pair of headphones with a microphone. No audio switchboard, no fancy microphone, no studio with sound proof walls, no background audio files, etc. And you don't need this stuff either. Of course, if you have it, or can take advantage of it, they can help you. But don't hold off just because you don't have what you think you need.

To host successful podcasts, you'll need to determine why you're doing it and what you want out of it - just like everything else you do in digital media. If you have a blog, you should have gone through this same process for that platform.

Once you know how and why, you can figure out what. What are you going to focus on? What are you going to talk about? Will it be just you or will you have guests? What topics will you cover, or, NOT cover? How often will you broadcast new episodes?

Once you get going, you can start looking at how you want to monetize your podcast too. You can offer sponsors the option to be mentioned and featured in your episodes - and they'll pay you for these placements.

I'm not even going to get into how you can charge for certain podcast episodes for exclusive content - think webinar style. That's a whole other discussion. But, yes, you can do that too.

One of the advantages of running your own show is that you have ultimate control. You can set it up the way you want, target who you want, and determine how you want it to benefit you.

One of the disadvantages of running your own show is maintaining it. It will take time, energy, and dedication to keep it running smoothly and on schedule. Like anything else, people love consistency. If you can't dedicate the time to managing your podcast for that consistent schedule, it might not be for you.

Being a Guest on a Podcast

Since there are more and more people getting into the podcasting business, there are likely multiple shows in your industry or niche for which you can be a guest. These shows are often looking for fresh perspectives, new leaders in the industry, expert opinions, industry tips, products and services to benefit their audience, and other benefits you have to offer them.

Again, you don't need any fancy equipment to participate as a guest on a podcast. Usually a Skype phone call is how most podcasts are recorded, so all you need is a Skype ID and an internet connection. You can use your mobile device or computer - whichever is convenient for you.

And, since most episodes are recorded in advance, you and the host can schedule a recording time that is convenient to you both.

Just like hosting a podcast, you need to know what you want to get out of being a guest. Are you looking to reach new potential clients? Looking to increase your brand awareness? Trying to branch into a new market? Promoting a new product or service?

When it comes to getting on someone else's podcast, they may seek you out and invite you. This is the easy way 😉 But if they aren't coming to you, you can go to them. Find the best (or all of the) shows in your industry and reach out to them. Let them know why you're interested in being on their show and what you have to offer. If you can provide a bio or business material that supports your relevance in the industry and to their audience, they will likely get back to you.

Most hosts will also ask you if you have a product or service you want to promote on the episode. This gives you a chance to reach new potential clients with what you want them to buy!

One of the other big advantages of being a guest on a podcast is the ability to participate in this platform will little expenditure of your own. You only need a little time to prep for the episode and the half hour to hour to record the episode. Once it's done, you aren't responsible for any of the promotion or marketing - though I recommend you advertise it to your audience.

One of the disadvantages of being a guest is that you have little control over the show. The topics, questions, and content layout is up to the host and you will have to fit your message into their plan. But if they're flexible and you're prepared ahead of time with what they plan to talk about, you can come ready to crush it!

Listening to Podcasts

This is, by far, the easiest way to participate in this platform of podcasting - listening to them. Find the shows in your desired industries or niches and start listening. As I mentioned earlier, the accessibility on your smartphone means you can listen anytime, anywhere - on your commute, on your lunch break, at work, at home, at the beach, on vacation, stuck in the airport, or anywhere else you can think of.

Once again, you don't need any fancy equipment - have you noticed this trend yet? 😉 All you need is an earpiece or speaker and a device (smartphone or computer) to play the podcast. That's pretty simple!

You can listen to episodes in whichever order you like, from whichever hosts you like, and on whatever topics you like. You like to garden? There's a podcast for that. You like yoga? There's a podcast for that? You like to cook? There's a podcast for that? You want to learn about financial investments? There's a podcast for that!

Find those channels and episodes that interest you and take advantage of the plethora of free information out there to educate yourself!

So what do you think? Are you ready to podcast?

Is podcasting for you? No matter your business goals, style, or personality, I can pretty much assure you that you can take advantage of this platform to benefit you and your business.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Once again Jenn, you have mirrored my thoughts exactly! Most likely I may never do my own podcast (another “tech” thing I am sure to screw up) and I much prefer reading or writing a blog article. However, many do it very well and being so visual, it will gain in popularity. But with that popularity comes mediocre and downright poor practitioners, as has happened with bloggers.

    1. lol – we are often on the same page, Kim! 🙂
      There is, of course, a concern, like you mentioned, about a saturation of podcasts, diminishing the quality of content out there. However, just like blogging, it won’t take long to sort the oil from the cream.

  2. This is something I haven’t explored yet: I have a strong Spanish accent and I’m too self-conscious about it and if people would understand what I have to say…

    1. Antonio, have you thought about being a guest on a couple shows to get feedback on how you do? If you have some friends in the industry who are willing to help you try it out, you might find it’s not as bad as you worry about.

  3. Hi Jenn! Great timing on this blog. I’m about to release a set of social media guides called Social Media Quickies, and thought hey, whey not try a podcast. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far (and haven’t even done my first one yet!)

    – You have to be a little adventurous. Not everyone can talk into a microphone!
    – It take some education. How will you do it? Where will you host it? Do you have supporting tools, marketing, etc., like graphics, a web site, etc.? I found there were a lot of things I didn’t think about.
    – It takes planning, much like a blog like you mentioned. I found it’s going to work well to have both a blog and the podcast, with the podcast being an extension of my updates.

    I’m doing this to support my own product, so sponsorship is not an issue. I also have some radio experience, so running software and recording audio isn’t a problem. I’m approaching the whole thing as an experiment to see if this is a good extension of my other efforts. Time will tell! My hope is that the amount of work that goes into it, and it is work, will pay off. http://socialmediaquickies.com release on Monday, and the first podcast will be available Friday. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

    1. Congrats on the new venture, Joey! It sounds exciting!
      And thank you for your lessons learned so far. Those are definitely good things to keep in mind. As you said, it isn’t for everyone and will take getting used to. Every podcaster (guest or host) that I’ve talked to (myself included) will always tell you that the episodes, flow, and content get better with time and practice!

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