“Podcasting is a way to turbo-charge your static content.”
Dave Thackeray, The Podcast Guy
Reading time: 15 minutes – 3,543 words of wisdom.
Are you keen to give podcasting a whirl? So am I. But it’s not that easy for a text bound, non-tech savvy blog writer like me.
Still, some of you like Sonia at Gutsy Writer and the simply splendid Se7en are also interested in podcasting and I like to give my readers what they want so I persevered. First I did a lot of experimentation and researched podcasting all by myself.
I even came up with an easy three step plan for creating a podcast which I then ran by my hubby, the techie genius aka the Mucho Man, who brushed it all off saying what I was writing about wasn’t even a podcast.
Fully deflated I sulked for a few months.
When I recovered I finally decided not to give up but to get help from a podcasting expert.
So I approached Dave Thackeray, universally known and loved as The Podcast Guy, and asked if he could give me a hand. Not only was The Podcast Guy delighted to help check my podcasting facts and share his tip – he wanted to take it a step further.
Dave suggested that we didn’t just talk about how to make a podcast, but actually make one.
So that’s what we’re going to do. Reading about how to do something is fine but you never really learn unless you actually do it. I’m hoping that, by watching me learn to make a podcast with Dave’s expert guidance, you can give it a go too.
So we’ve created The Ultimate Podcasting Guide Series which will include:
1. The Ultimate Podcasting Guide for Bloggers Part One covering:
- My Podcasting Fears
- Who is The Podcast Guy?
- What is a podcast?
- Who actually listens to podcasts?
- Why would you want to podcast?
- How do you record a podcast?
- What you need to create a podcast
- How to get started with podcasting
- How to make a podcast
- More on Podcasting Fears
- Podcasting Success
1a. Podcasting Giveaway – Your chance to win a one on one coaching session with The Podcast Guy.
2. The Ultimate Podcasting Guide for Beginners Part Two – A video with screen shots where Dave walks me through how to actually create a podcast and get it online.
3. The Ultimate Podcasting Guide for Beginners Part Three – Final podcasting tips and your questions answered.
You probably want to find out a bit more about Dave first and why the big interest in podcasting too but it’s all here in this conversation with The Podcast Guy.
The Ultimate Podcasting Guide for Bloggers
My Podcasting Fears
Annabel Candy: Hi Dave, thanks so much for offering to help me out with the podcasting thing. It’s a huge relief as I was getting a bit overwhelmed.
Dave Thackeray: Not a problem, Annabel. There is a learning curve with podcasting but it’s not too hard. You can get your podcast show off the ground quickly but building up an audience takes time.
AC: Aha! That sounds a lot like blogging.
DT: Absolutely. It’s blogging for people who don’t like writing and readers who’d prefer to listen. Podcasting is perfect for bloggers like you who already know their audience. It’s just another way to give your audience the content they want. Blogging and podcasting should work hand in hand. Podcasting is a way to turbo-charge your static content by bringing it to life.
Who is the Podcast Guy?
AC: Sounds exciting. I can’t wait to get down to the nitty gritty, but first can you tell us a bit more about how you got into podcasting? How did you become the Podcast Guy?
DT: Well, I was bitten by the broadcasting bug during my rites-of-passage stint on hospital radio here in the UK.
Later in my career while freelancing for a travel company I was tasked with investigating ways to wake up their online readership. As a journalist, admittedly a highly-geeky one, writing news stories in a zippy style was my traditional stock in trade but I quickly discovered after publishing audio extracts from an interview that people were way more engaged when offered content in different ways.
I suggested we put together a monthly magazine show on movements in the industry and it was a perfect solution to their lust for differentiation. I still host and produce the show, for an audience of holiday resort developers, and despite the hyper-niche nature of the programme we get around 600-700 listeners per episode. More important than the figures is the interaction – we’ve generated clients through the show, and gained new levels of authority in the marketplace.
I’m also the UK Ambassador for the European Podcast Award and co-host of its monthly show. My other productions include Double D Guys with Newsweek’s tech editor Dan Lyons (author of the Fake Steve Jobs blog) and my own show at The Podcast Guy. I’m also working hard to expand into online video – but that’s for another day!
What is a podcast?
AC: Wow! You have a real passion for podcasting. So what is a podcast?
DT: I do! An audio podcast is a show (usually in MP3 format) that people can subscribe to through directories such as the Apple iTunes Store. The technology that makes podcast episodes ‘subscribable’ is RSS.
AC: Okay. So let me explain that RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. It’s just another way to find out when a blog is updated. Now why should bl0ggers get into podcasting?
DT: Well, some people consume content with their ears instead of their eyes so podcasting caters for that audience. If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, like you, it also offers a great way to repurpose all the amazing content you have on your blog and reach a wider audience that way. I should also mention that you can video podcast but we’ll be concentrating on creating audio podcasts to get us started.
Who actually listens to podcasts?
AC: Who actually listens to podcasts?
DT: Most podcast listeners are 25-55 years old. They may be office-based workers listening on the commute, home-office workers listening on their computer, runners listening on their smart phone or busy parents listening on their MP3 player as they cook, shop or clean.
More and more people are listening to content on the move so there’s a growing market if you have content that is relevant to a hobby or business. In short, because so many people have devices that can play podcasts and online radio, their popularity is skyrocketing – which is great news for bloggers wanting to expand their audience.
Why would bloggers want to podcast?
I just explained the 5 reasons people might want to podcast in my free podcasting newsletter. Here’s an overview of why people would want to podcast:
- Build your brand by amplifying your message.
- Extend your network reach.
- Create customers by bringing your business to life.
- Prove your mettle as an expert in your chosen field.
- Get paid to produce something you love.
It’s also great to offer a different perspective through interviews, to expand your own network and to share more messages and ideas that aren’t necessarily meaty enough for a whole blog post.
If you’re the host you can bring in guests, ask their opinions, get their insights and then wrap it up. That puts you in a position of power, with guests ready and willing to tell their own communities about their latest ‘radio appearance’ so it could be a great way to get ahead or get noticed – and a fantastic way to talk to and build connections with A-listers in your niche.
How Often Should I Podcast and What About?
AC: Sounds good. So how often do I need to podcast?
DT: How much time do you have? First of all, you need to make a commitment. The most popular TV shows have made it because they appear on a set schedule and have longevity. These two elements must apply to your own podcast. Consistency is key – it doesn’t matter whether you publish new shows each day, week or month, just make sure that you do it on time.
While I prefer shows with guests or co-hosts, because you get at least two different perspectives on a topic, you could quite successfully create a podcast on your own featuring a summary of stuff that’s been going on on your blog or the blogosphere in general.
AC: Hmmm, I like that idea. I could provide a quick digest of my blog posts and also share what my community and readers had been up to, plus the value they add to the blog posts in the comments. That would be excellent because I always think of my blog posts as the start of a conversation. My blog readers add so much in the comments so podcasting would be a good way to share their tips more too.
DT: Absolutely. Or you could choose your 10 most popular posts and create a podcast from them to leverage your strength and knowledge. Consider how a podcast can compliment you and help spread your brand or message.
I can’t stress enough what a great position you’re in as a blogger to start a podcast, with all that great content ready to be put out there in audio format packed with your own unique personality.
How long should a podcast be?
AC: How long should my podcasts be?
DT: Keep it short and simple to begin with. The ideal length could be as little as 10 minutes. The average listening time is 24 minutes, according to iTunes studies.
Podcasting vs. Vlogging (Video Blogging)
AC: And what about creating video versus podcasts? There seems to be a huge drive for video content right now.
DT: It’s true there’s a gold rush to video. It’s the latest thing, so its popularity among producers is predictable. But it all boils down to two things: How, and where, your audience will consume your content. If they’re busy people or always on the move, audio is the best way to reach them. If they’re chained to a computer and need some entertainment to break up their day, then video might be your friend.
Ultimately, audio is my recommendation because it fits every environment and takes much less time to download and is quicker to stream.
You can listen to a podcast while you run, cook or drive. You can’t do that with video.
For volume and engagement it’s good to hit people between the ears. The air of mystique adds to the podcasting experience for listeners.
AC: I like the idea of audio better too. No lighting, makeup needed and no one will care if I’m having a bad hair day or still wearing my nightie!
DT: Well, I can’t quite relate to the make up and nightie side of things but I know what you mean!
AC: Dave, please can you bear with me now because we have to get on to the technical bit. I really struggle with that.
Many people don’t believe I’m non-techie but I am. Big time.
I’m a secret technophobe. I love what technology can do for us, but working out how to actually make it do it drives me bananas.
But what I’ve found is even a non-geek like me can learn the basics and get things done. I really appreciate you helping me.
DT: Ah well, I like a challenge!
AC: That’s lucky! So how can I record a podcast?
How do you record a podcast?
DT: Before creating their first show, clients of mine are always told to experiment with all the free stuff that’s out there. Not only because it’s risk-free, and it gives you a chance to get used to the sound of your own voice – so many people have a problem with that, which is just a self-conscious thing – but so you can test your early efforts on friends, family and close customers to get some frank and honest feedback on whether you’re moving in the right direction.
Tools you can use to get started include SoundCloud and Audioboo, which both let you record on to your smartphone or into the PC. Audioboo automatically creates an RSS feed (remember that?) of your recordings, so if you want to stick with that application, you can even publish it to iTunes in a couple of clicks!
Another option is iPadio.com which creates a podcast and live feed from a telephone call.
Get used to the idea of recording content first, and then you can move it up a notch.
AC: Well I never! That’s not what I expected.
Recording a Podcast on Your Computer: What You Need
DT: The more ‘conventional’ approach to podcasting involves you creating an audio recording on your computer. The easiest way to bring in a guest or co-host is to use Skype, and record your call using something like Pamela (PC) or CallRecorder (Mac).
AC: Well, I’m getting to grips with computers but mobile phones are tricky. Tell me what I need to make a podcast on my computer please.
DT: You should get a USB microphone or headset. No need to spend much to begin with, you should be able to find something for around $30.
AC: I’ve already got one of those!
DT: Good! Then you need an Internet connection.
AC: Got that too.
DT: And finally Audacity which you can download free.
AC: I’ve got that too!
DT: Good. If you want to be a real pro you could get some music to play at the beginning and end of your podcast.
AC: Mmmmmm. Let’s go through all that.
9 Podcasting Essentials
2. A microphone or headset.
3. Skype PC Pamela Call Recorder – download here. There is a free version but you can pay for more functionality.
4. Audacity – download here. This is the audio recording and editing tool. You’ll also need the Lame MP3 Encoder (download that here) for Audacity to Export your final file in the right format for a podcast.
5. iTunes – download here.
6. Powerpress plug-in for WordPress – download here. The easiest way to install it is by searching for it in your WordPress blog plug-in area.
7. Audio-player plug-in for WordPress – download here.
8. Two Jpeg images for your Podcast artwork to use on your RSS feed at Feedburner.com (150×150 pixels), and for your listing at iTunes (600×600 pixels).
What about my Podcasting Content?
DT: Then you just need to think about the content like a sandwich, and come up with a tasty introduction, hearty filling and an irresistible finale that gets people wanting another, er, bite.
The ending is your perfect chance to set up your stall and shout about your blog, showcase your social network profiles, ask for feedback and generally be awesome to hook your listeners ready for the next time.
How do I record a Podcast? (Warning this get techie. Breathe slowly, read it slowly!)
AC: Right, so I record my podcast with Audacity first?
DT: Yes. It’s surprisingly easy to get the hang of and we’ll be going through that in detail in the screencast in Part Two of the Ultimate Podcasting Guide Series. Then you can export the file as an MP3 and add tagging there so that people know what they’re listening to when you’re on the screen of their device. That’s the super-easy version: You can export your audio from Audacity as a WAV file, and add an image to your tags and produce a better-sounding MP3 in iTunes. But for now, the first route is the right way to go.
One more step at this point – finding somewhere on the web to store your MP3 file. I use LibSyn to host my media files, because that’s all they do and they offer an unlimited downloads service. Beginners might prefer to add them to their own webspace. Do this with caution, however – if you get super-big, quickly, the download demands may cause furrowed eyebrows at your web hosting company. It’s your call!
AC: How do I set up the feed so people can subscribe to my podcast?
DT: If you use WordPress get the Blubrry Powerpress plugin. That will handle the creation of a podcast-friendly RSS feed. It will give you a URL in the Feeds tab of your Basic Settings that you need to give to Feedburner.com.
But before you do that, you’ll need to create a post on your blog to attach your MP3 file to. You add the URL for your MP3 in a field towards the bottom of the screen. Once you’ve added shownotes to the main body text area, you hit Publish and you’re ready to add that feed URL I mentioned earlier at Feedburner.com which will say nice things to iTunes and get your show listed.
Please use Feedburner as the gatekeeper for your podcast RSS feed – then you’ll never need to complicate your life by contacting podcast directories if you move your website in the future.
AC: Okay, so there are three stages of podcasting.
3 Stages of Podcasting
1. Recording and editing the podcast.
2. Creating the feed.
3. Making the feed live.
AC: Do I need to edit the files?
DT: You do and you can do that in Audacity but if you really get into podcasting you can hire people to do the editing.
Lots of professional podcasters use Adobe Audition, but with all the whizzy effects available in Audacity, I don’t see the point of spending all that money versus something that is good, and free.
If you want to experiment with podcast software you might even want to try out the trial version of Hindenburg which pulls off a miracle by giving you more control of the editing process, yet makes it easier. And you can also record your Skype calls in Hindenburg, too!
More on Podcasting Fears
AC: We all have fears to overcome. Have you got any tips on overcoming podcasting fears? I hate the sound of my own voice. I think most people do. So how do we overcome that and create podcasts anyway?
DT: Oh it doesn’t matter what you sound like. There’s one hugely popular podcaster who sounds like Kermit from The Muppets but his drive, energy, passion carry the message through. Another example to prove my point: Have you ever heard of the British comic Joe Pasquale?
Squeaky, silly or strange voices shouldn’t hold you back from podcasting but you need to have a true passion for your topic or your message won’t ring true.
AC: What about people who are reluctantly getting into podcasting because they feel they should?
DT: Don’t do it if you’re a reluctant podcaster. If it’s not fun for you, it won’t be fun for your audience. You also need to have a strong connection to your audience, know what makes them tick and enjoy talking to them.
How Can I Promote My Podcasts?
Think about ways to get promoted by those you interview or promote. Ask them to put a badge on their site for example.
Not only that, but once you’ve hosted them most guests are perfectly willing to help out in the future, whether by producing show ‘idents’ – recorded segments for your show that say something like
‘Hi, I’m Steven Seagal and you’re listening to the TuTu Tango Show!‘
or simply as an ally to count on when you’re thinking about going down a different route with your show.
And don’t forget – the more guests you have on your show, the more communities you’ll break into. Egos are everything – massage your guests’ egos and they’ll do your job for you by becoming evangelists for your show.
Wow! Thanks Dave. So these are my five key podcasting takeaways:
1. You can just create a weekly podcast summarizing you blog content or focusing on recent blog posts that have proved popular (check your Google Analytics stats)
2. You need to be in it for the long haul and keep people interested by doing new stuff.
3. You have to be passionate and enlightened.
4. You need to provide expert subject matter for people looking for inspiration.
5. Just like blogging, podcasting is all about being brave, experimenting and having fun with it.
A BIG Thank You
To Dave Thackeray for sharing his fabulous podcasting tips and all his hard won experience with us.
To learn more about podcasting please check out Dave’s blog post at The Podcast Guy on How To Launch Radio Shows and Podcasts.
Or cut to the chase and hire Dave to help you get your podcasting venture all set up. He’ll take care of all the techie stuff leaving you to do the fun bits.
Got Questions? Concerns?
Whatever it is please ask your questions in the comments below. They will be answered by Dave in the final post in the podcasting series.
Stay Tuned for More in the Podcasting Series
This is part one in our Ultimate Podcasting Guide for Bloggers series.
Part 1a will have an amazing giveaway of personal coaching from The Podcast Guy.
Part 2 will include a video and screencast where Dave actually walks us through how to get our podcast online.
Part 3 will wrap it all up and answer your questions.
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About Annabel Candy