I’m a podcasting newbie. No question about it.
I’ve recorded 7 episodes of The Great Big Small Business Show, and I’ve worked on mixing in the music for the last couple shows.
It’s been a lot of fun, interesting and a great learning experience. Before that, I had listened to a handful of podcasts but I hadn’t really gotten into it. Working with Chris Brogan and others, including the great group at Grasshopper New Media, I’ve jumped in with both feet and I can’t wait to see where this whole podcasting thing takes me.
In the meantime, if you’re thinking about doing a podcast or you’ve just started one, here are 5 lessons I’ve learned as a podcasting newbie:
- The technology requirements are not overwhelming. I’m using a $40 Logitech camera w/ built-in microphone and the open source, free software Audacity. The sound isn’t perfect but I think it’s good enough at this point, and it would be for those of you looking to dip a toe into the podcasting waters.
- Have a script, but don’t read it. I haven’t been enamored with some of the podcasts where the people “just talk” … it becomes rambling, and while radio talk show people might do a good job of it, there’s a certain amount of skill involved. I think a script is important, especially if you’re going to be providing advice, doing step-by-step or how-to type podcasts. Just don’t read it blandly. Try and use the script as a guide, but make the podcast feel as natural as possible. Think of it like public speaking (cause it is, without having to think of the audience in underwear, unless you want to…)
- Promoting a podcast is very similar to promoting a blog. For example, there are plenty of podcast directories (although the primo one in this case is iTunes.) Getting links from other blogs/sites is critical. Writing good show notes that you publish online is helpful, so search engines have something to spider when looking around. Get on Technorati, etc. So there’s lots of similarities between promoting a blog and a podcast; since in many ways a podcast is a blog…just an audio one. There are podcast info books that can help too..
- Listen to as much as you can. There are many podcasts out there. Upwards of 50,000 if not more at this point. And there are podcasts on lots of subjects (although I think there are plenty of niches left to fill.) And podcasts aren’t just for techno-geeks, marketing gurus or people interested in the latest news. Did you know there was a podcast out there by parents for parents with kids that have learning disabilities?
- Tracking stats is far from a perfect science. Tracking web traffic to a site or blog is quite evolved. There are some great, free tools out there like Google Analytics. But what about tracking your podcast audience? It’s not quite there yet. Services like PodTractor exist (although I haven’t used it yet), and if you’re using WordPress there’s the PodPress plugin…but there’s still more to be done in this field. It seems the bulk of podcast listeners do so via RSS feeds (same as a blog), and FeedBurner has a feature for making sure the feed is “iTunes-friendly” — so I would recommend FeedBurner. Plus, FeedBurner helps you track the number of subscribers you have, giving you some sense of the audience size.
- Podcasting requires plenty of planning and solid execution. No surprise here, planning and execution are important in anything. With podcasting, the planning comes in terms of thinking about the overall show and episodes (if you’re just starting out, see if you can’t plan out 5-10 of them so you see what’s taking shape), and organizing to have decent hardware in place. Plus, some planning is needed when it comes to things like publishing and promotion. As for execution, some will say “content is king”, which ultimately is true…but, people will also say that production values have to be as high as possible. That means making sure the audio is consistent (not too loud or too soft and not jumping around), your voice is clear, music is well integrated. Ultimately, the barriers to entry are a bit higher than blogging but not that much more. And there’s always room for improvement; so if things start off shaky but are heading in the right direction, you’ll win people over.
Podcasting is a lot of fun. I enjoy recording segments for The Great Big Small Business Show and I enjoy listening to what so many talented people are bringing to the table. Plus, I think there’s an enormous business opportunity with podcasting … even for newbies like me.