I became a podcast enthusiast in the spring of 2005—pretty much the minute I heard about podcasting, and so long ago that podcasts weren’t even available through iTunes yet. YouTube was hardly even a thing, and Google hadn’t bought it yet.
Since that time, podcasting has enjoyed considerable growth—and periods of excessive hype. You can find dozens of articles that tell you why you should podcast and what podcasting can do for your business. There is truth in those articles, but they rarely tell you the whole story. I’m not here to convince you of the awesomeness of podcasting, but rather to let you know that even though podcasting is awesome, it might not be for you.
Podcasting Is Not a Way to Get Rich Quick
In 2007, a lot of people rushed into podcasting because they thought they would get rich quick. Most of them left within a year or two when they discovered they weren’t even going to get rich slowly. The popularity of “Serial” has led to a similar gold rush in more recent years…with mostly similar results.
Some people do make good money from podcasting, either directly (by selling access or selling ads) or indirectly (by using the podcast to help market their products or services). But like any other form of content marketing, podcasting requires hard work on a consistent basis over a long period. Having a financially successful podcast requires not only uniquely valuable content but an effective marketing strategy.
If You Don’t Listen to Podcasts, You Have No Business Producing One
Seriously, it’s like writing a book if you don’t read. If podcasting is something you’ve only just heard about, start listening to podcasts and watching video podcasts before you decide you want to produce one of your own. Not only do you need to know what else is out there before you can create unique content, but other podcasters in your niche can be your best source of listeners.
You Don’t Have to Produce Your Own Show to Benefit from Podcasting
In fact, if your purpose in podcasting is to gain wider exposure for yourself and/or your business, you might actually get a greater benefit from participating in someone else’s podcast. There are a lot of podcasts out there looking for interview guests, guest hosts, panelists, or contributors. Producing a 5-minute segment for a popular weekly podcast will be a lot easier for you than producing a 30-minute episode of your own, and you’ll be able to tap into the audience that podcast has already built up, rather than spending weeks or months building up an audience of your own.
It’s Not a Podcast Without a Feed
Internet radio existed long before Dave Winer figured out how to add an enclosure to an RSS feed at the end of 2004. The thing that makes podcasting unique is the ability to subscribe to a podcast feed and get new episodes automatically. If your show is only available live, it’s not a podcast. It may still be a useful communication and marketing tool, but it’s not a podcast.
The requirement for an RSS feed is the reason WordPress became so popular with podcasters. As a blogging engine, WordPress automatically produces a feed—several of them, in fact. Plugins like Blubrry PowerPress create a specific feed just for your podcast. Once you have a feed, you can submit your podcast to iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and other distribution channels.
Pre-Production and Post-Production Take a Lot of Time
Suppose you want to produce a 20-minute podcast. It’s going to take you a lot more than 20 minutes. Here’s a rough example of what’s required for every episode:
- Decide on a topic
- Create an outline
- Schedule a recording time with your guest(s), if any
- Record the episode
- Edit the audio file
- Edit the video file
- Add your ID3 tags and album art
- Upload your file(s) to your media server
- Create show notes with appropriate links and keywords
- (Optional) Create a transcript, or have someone else do it
- Publish the episode
- Promote the episode
Are you tired yet? What if I tell you that you need about 3 hours of editing time for every hour of audio and as much as 10 hours for every hour of video? You can hire people to do your post-production and your transcripts, but you need a budget to pay them, and you may not have that when first starting out.
It’s not necessary to do a lot of post-production, but you should at least go over your recordings to adjust your audio levels and remove the most embarrassing errors, and you’re going to want to add your intro and outro and sponsor messages/ads.
Podcasting Can Still Be a Good Choice
If the investment of time and effort doesn’t deter you, podcasting can still be a great way to build your business and your network. Podcasting may be an especially good content creation channel if writing is difficult for you or reading is difficult for your audience.
If I haven’t deterred you, read Part 2 of this article for a few more things you need to know before you get started.
Sallie Goetsch (rhymes with ‘sketch’) built her first website in 1994 and started working with WordPress in 2005. She provides content strategy and WordPress development services at WP Fangirl. Sallie and her cat Bece are regular participants in the WP-Tonic Live Panel.