Copyright 2006 John Jantsch
Much has been written lately about the subject of podcasting. Podcasting is a very powerful small business tool but, some are kept away because it all sound so technical.
In this article I will attempt to simplify the subject.
Lets start with the Podcast definition from the growing resource wikipedia: What is a podcast – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast
The definition provided by wikipedia is a good place for you to start but let me just add my take. A podcast is little more than an audio file (usually an mp3) placed on a website and combined with an RSS file that allows people to subscribe and automatically download any new content recordings.
From a technical standpoint, theres nothing really too complicated about podcasting so dont think this is some geeky tech stuff. From a marketing standpoint, I didnt get too excited about the concept until Apple decided to make a podcast directory a primary component of iTunes. When that happened the market for podcasting on any subject imaginable was born.
Podcasts are typically published with a blogging tool like Blogger, TypePad, or MovableType. If you already use one of these blog services, creating your podcast is as simple as linking to your audio files and using a service like FeedBurner to automatically convert it into a podcast friendly feed. (More on that in a minute)
Most podcasts are formatted much like radio shows. Hosts will interview guests or simply decide to talk about a subject that they feel is of interest to someone. From a business standpoint it can be a very powerful way to produce content that will make your website more interactive.
The plumber that records simple how to fix it podcasts will own the world! (Videocasts are just around the corner too.) There are a couple other very good reasons to host a podcast that may not directly have to do with content per se. Think about interviewing your clients on the benefits of using your service and posting those interviews as a podcast. Think that might make your best client even more loyal?
What about referral partners? What if you identified business owners that also serve your target market and invited them to be guests on your podcast. My guess is that you could instantly build a network of leading businesses with you as the hub. When you publish a podcast, whether you have a local or national audience, you become a member of the media. The tables are suddenly turned when you approach prospects and influential individuals. When you are the publisher of a podcast you have the opportunity to gain access to the decision makers inside your biggest prospects by simply requesting an interview. Do you see the potential in that?
As I wrote earlier, a podcast is a digital recording so one of the steps you must complete for each session is to record your podcast. There are many ways to accomplish this task. You can use a portable mp3 recorder, use a service to record a phone interview, record an interview using any number of VoIP services or create a recording set-up for your computer. (Obviously, you can go into a professional recording studio too.)
This article is not meant to explain in great detail every element of working with digital audio files but there are many ways to accomplish this step when you determine what your podcast needs are.
A great set-up for recording you own voice is to use a professional mic and a free software program called Audacity (Audacity has some very useful editing functions as well)
For phone interviews you can use a service such as Conference Calls Unlimited. CCU offers a phone bridge line, recording, editing and hosting of your mp3 file.
VoIP is a PC to PC or PC to phone service lead by a service called Skype. This is a particularly good option for International calls. A host of add-ons are cropping up to build even greater functionality into Skype.
Conference Calls Unlimited – http://www.conferencecallsunlimited.com/chaz
Gabcast – http://www.gabcast.com/
Audacity free audio recorder and editor – http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Skype VoIP calling – http://www.skype.com
Skype recording that interfaces with Outlook – http://www.skylook.biz/
Evoca – http://www.evoca.com/
You may find that after you conduct an interview you want to add some music or cut out segments. Again, look no further than Audacity (Its free and works very well)
Once you record your podcast you must upload the file to a server. There are services that offer recording and hosting options but, all you really need is enough space with your current web host to upload your mp3 files. Either way, you will simply link to the mp3 file from a blog post or web page. Below are some other options.
Podblaze – http://www.podblaze.com/
OurMedia – http://www.ourmedia.org/
Liberated Syndication – https://www.libsyn.com
One of things that makes a podcast something more than an mp3 file is the addition of a podcast format RSS feed. This is simply a file that is updated every time you add an mp3 file so that subscribers through iTunes or some other Podcast service can automatically download your new content.
Podcasts do require a specific kind of RSS feed but, the only thing you need to do is go to a free service called FeedBurner and allow them to convert your blog feed or other RSS feed to work for podcasting. They can also set your feed up the way that iTunes and Yahoo Podcast want it set-up.
FeedBurner – Enhance a blog feed http://www.feedburner.com
Feed for all – Create a feed – http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-tutorial.htm
Just like websites and blogs, podcasting has its own set of directories. You need to make a point of submitting your podcast or podcast feed (the one you formatted with FeedBurner) to the major podcast directories and engines.
iTunes – http://www.apple.com/podcasting/
Yahoo Podcast – http://podcasts.yahoo.com/
Podcast News – http://www.podcastingnews.com/
Podcast Alley – http://www.podcastalley.com/index.php
Podcast.net – http://www.podcast.net/
Digital Podcast – http://www.digitalpodcast.com/
ODEO – http://www.odeo.com/
Singing Fish – http://search.singingfish.com/sfw/home.jsp
Apples Podcasting FAQs – http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/faq.html
Apples Podcast technical specifications – http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/techspecs.html
Music and Intros
Maybe you want a cool music beat to kick off your show or a big radio voice type intro.
Royalty free music – http://www.royaltyfreemusiclibrary.com/
Professional intros and outros – http://audiobag.com/
Listening and Searching
You should subscribe to and listen to podcasts to get a good idea of some of the ways people are using this tool for business. You will need what is sometimes referred to as a podcatcher to subscribe. If you have iTunes you already have one. (Most of the time you can visit a podcast site and simply listen to the mp3 file if you have an mp3 player like Windows Media Player or RealPlayer installed on your computer.)
iTunes – http://www.apple.com/podcasting/
Juice – http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php
Doppler – http://www.dopplerradio.net/?page_id=74
Misc. Podcast Gear – http://www.podcastgear.com/ http://www.podscope.com search audio files
Podcast Tutorials and Forums
FeedBurners Podcast Guide – http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/popup-quickstart-podcast
About.com – http://radio.about.com/od/podcastin1/a/aa030805a.htm
Podcast Alley – http://www.podcastalley.com/phpBB2/index.php
Podcasting News – http://www.podcastingnews.com/forum/
Podstrigs – http://podcastrigs.net/forum/
Just in case you are curious, heres how I podcast I use Conference Calls Unlimited to provide my recording and editing. I hook up with a guest by phone, conduct the interview and about 24 hours later receive a link to the edited mp3 file to link to from my podcast blog.
My intro was produced my AudioBag.com
My RSS feed was created and enhanced by FeedBurner
There are lots of things that you can do make your podcast even more professional. In this article Ive attempted to demystify the major points and get you interested in producing your own podcast.