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Podcaster Tips

On-Demand and Time-Shifted Talk Radio is the Future of Audio Podcasting

The talk of the death of podcasting is an annual right of passage these days,  but I am starting to think that nothing is really wrong in the podcasting medium. We are just seeing the natural maturation of this form of media.  Saying that is not to discount the need for the medium to improve its distribution platforms and offer greater quality content. It seems like the future should be centered on developing more synergy with the broadcast radio side.  I know this is a little counter to what we might all think, but really radio has wide adoption and podcasting fills a need that radio is weak at and that is around on-demand and time-shifted consumption of serialized audio programming.  It seems like many of the folks on the radio side don’t really get podcasting and the podcasting side does not get how radio works.  Both could really learn from the other and help each other.

I also see the video side of podcasting beginning to fade away as video shifts to being more cloud based-streaming that can be more easily monitized.  It seems that within a few short years podcasting will be 90% audio and radio stations will be much larger podcasters then they are today.  The other major concern area for me is around distribution platforms viability long-term as it is very difficult for any of these platforms to make any or enough money to keep investing in these platforms.

Here is an excerpt from a recent Wired Gadget Lab article:

“Stitcher Stitcher is a free talk radio app that lets you listen to your favorite programs on demand. You can choose from more than 7,000 shows, and the app is available on all major phone platforms — including Windows Phone for the first time.

“We decided that the time was right to create a Windows Phone Mango app now that Windows Phone is definitely becoming the third member of the space,” said Collin Billings, Stitcher’s director of user experience.

Stitcher aggregates popular content by source (for example, NPR, BBC and CNN) and by topic (for example, food and motorcycles). Content is wirelessly synced, so if you start listening to a program on your Windows Phone, you can pick up where you left off on an Internet-connected radio or on your PC.

The app’s name is derived from the practice of “stitching” together multiple stations and podcasts to create a personalized talk radio playlist. If you’re not quite sure what to listen to, or are looking to branch out to new sources, you can see what other listeners of the same show also liked.”

I need to say that the lack of podcast aggregator platform revenue is number 1# limiting issue around podcast distribution platform innovation and improvement.  The answer to this question looks a lot like Stitcher with more integration with internet radio in the car and on mobile/wifi devices.

Categories
Podcaster Tips

Hosting “Podcasting Next” Panel at BlogWorld LA

BlogWorld LA next month (Nov 3-5, 2011) is going to have a Podcasting Track under the PodCamp name.  Here is a link to the session. I am hosting one of the sessions called “Podcasting Next: Fly or Die?”.  I do think some very serious issues face “Podcasting” and its future. My session will also have Todd Cochrane, CEO of RawVoice and Rob Walsh, VP of Podcaster Relations at Wizzard Media/Libsyn on the stage.

Here is an outline of the session “Podcasting Next: Fly or Die?” on Friday, Nov 4th, 2011 in Room 406 A

This session will be a frank and open discussion about what needs to happen to podcasting for it to stay relevant in a social media connected, live streaming, monetization driven and cloud on-demand media platform world. Whether or not the large aggregator platforms will keep improving and innovating around “Free” podcasting? How important are aggregator platforms in a massively online syndicated and App focused landscape? Is RSS-based podcasting on track to being replaced by YouTube and Apps? Is it time to revisit the name “Podcast” for another alternative as we move more towards on-demand streaming to all screens?

Key Points

1. Clear understanding of the next steps for podcasting and its name
2. Answer the question about podcasting’s relevancy in an always connected streaming media world
3. Whether the distribution model of podcasting is being replaced

Categories
Podcaster Tips

Top 5 Tips to a Successful Podcast

I must say that the above headline for this post is very teasy and search baity, but rest assured these are tips based on 6 years of experience in the podcasting space. I know that success can be many things in podcasting and building a huge audience does not need to be a gauge of your success.

Here are the 5 tips that I have been promoting for many years in podcasts as a guest and in my direct one-on-one communications with hundreds of podcasters over the many years that I have been involved in making shows and promoting podcasting. I totally believe that the success of your podcast will hinge on your ability to deliver on some key things to build and maintain an audience.

1) Make sure you have good to excellent audio or video quality in every episode you publish. What ever the topic you choose this will be a key driver for gaining and keeping an loyal audience.

It might also be very helpful to make sure your audio levels are normalized and at proper loudness levels by using a free tool called “The Levelator“, made by The Conversations Network. This tool was designed to level wav files and clean the audio over more then one segment stitched together and is a great tool for any audio podcaster.

2) Focused presentation of the topic(s) promised the audience by the show title and description. This really is key, as your audience has committed to your show if they have tried an episode to consume, you really only have one shot to hook them into being a regular audience member. Most will download one episode and start listening and decide if it is of value to them, thus you must hook them early.

The key for you as the show host or producer is to explain very early in all of your episodes what the value is in the episode at the beginning of every show. This means tell your audience what will be discussed in this episode, just like the NBC Nightly News will give you a run down of all the headlines right at the very beginning of every new episode. This is important to your audience and for you as the podcaster. This helps you get FOCUSED on the topics covered in each episode and helps your audience to anticipate what value they will get from the program and help them decide to keep listening or watching. This is a time honored practice from broadcast radio and is of huge value to podcasters as well.

It is important to have some personal talk and fun banter amoung the co-hosts, but be very aware that doing this in excess will drive away your audience over time. Stay focused on delivering value in what ever form that is for your show.

3) Audience contributed content and involvement is really key to the long-term success for your show. This is not always easy or simple to do for all shows, but is one that is worth the effort. What this really involves is creating audience feedback loops that involves in-episode conversations with your audience. This is being done in a variety of ways today; Live streaming of you show production with a chat board running during the recording, giving out a show email address and discussing those emails in-episode, setting up an voice mail number and or asking for emailed mp3 files – then playing those on your show and commenting back. You really want to create a conversation with your audience as you cannot come across as only having a one-way talking relationship with them. This also requires actually replying to those audience members directly and even doing real world meet-ups to actually physically meet your avid show fans.

4) Engaging Show Promo Album Art, Show Title and Text Descriptions are key to the success of any podcast as these are the first things that are visible to potential audience members. These are a huge part of your show marketing strategy. You need to make sure you put a lot of thought and investment into these areas. Doing these right will help you get featured in iTunes or Zune, but will also help you be found in search engines. Most of all doing these things well will set you up for success. The podcast promo album art is the number one most important to get right of all of these. This standard 300×300 or 600×600 pixel sized .jpg or .png image needs to be colorful and use large bold title text to communicate the topic and or name of the podcast. I would suggest looking at iTunes and Zune and see what album art is being featured and what is being used by the top podcasts. This will give you a good idea about the bar you must achieve. The other thing to keep in mind is that podcast album art must be linked to in your RSS feed for it to be picked up and used on the Zune and iTunes podcast platforms.

The shows text descriptions are also important to help sell the value of the show and also communicate who the hosts are and credentials they bring to the topics covered. It is also very important to use a topic descriptic name or title of the show. Always keep search engines in mind when you name your show and use it as the title to your podcast feed. The other often forgotten part is the importance of episode level descriptions or show notes that breaks the show down into time durations for show segments and the topics discussed in each episode.

5) Distribution, Distribution, Distribution to a podcast is not much different then Location, Location, Location is to physical world retail. You can benefit a lot for learning from this time honored principle. You have created a show that is very much like an radio show on broadcast radio and thus many of the same leavers can impact its success.

One of the key concepts is making your podcast series available where an audience already exists for audio or video shows today. This practice is called syndication or online syndication is a better term for it. The content publishing world is very crowded with the growth of the web and Internet. It is difficult to rise about the noise of the online world of existing publishers and now social media platforms has made more and more people content publishers in one form or another.

The keys to getting the distribution you need or want is to go after it and earn it. Take advantage of all the ways to let people know of your show and submit your podcast feed to all the available podcast platforms and make your podcast feed URL available on your website. If you need to get your podcast feed into Zune then send me an email with the RSS feed to (rob at zune.net) and I will add it myself.

You also need to get involved in the topic community that your podcast covers and become a thought leader and comment on other community members websites, twitter, facebook accounts. You also need to attend meet-ups and write longer-form content like this as it has become a lost practice as everyone is going for only writing short stuff these days. This will help you in the search engines and you can using these in your social media strategy to more deeply engage with your audience.

I hope this article was helpful. Please feel free to write me anytime at rob at webtalkradio.com to share your story of your podcast. You never know – it might help you get featured on Zune.

Rob Greenlee

Categories
Podcaster Tips

Ideal Podcast Show Length: Short vs. Long?

I do not believe that length is a big issue at all, but is something that needs to be considered and thought about. Each podcaster needs to determine what his or her goals are for the show – overall format and depth of details covered in the recording will determine the length. You will find that half of your audience will want a short show and the other half will want a long show. So you cannot meet everyones desires.

Make the show length what you think is right for you and consider the value the audience is getting from the show based on the topic focus and segments. Do be concise, but have fun and give some of your personality over time as that creates a deeper personal connection with the audience. Over time this will create a friendship like relationship with your audience that will lead to the acceptance of longer shows. The comfort level you build over time will tend to cause your shows to get longer naturally anyway, unless you are rigid about it. 

Always ask for audience participation and talk about emails or tweets they send you. Always think about what value you are offering and is it fun conversation, news or useful tips. All of these have various degrees of value based are your knowedge and talents. Most of all make a show that won’t burn you out to do every week as it is common for podcasters to start a new show and podfade after 6-10 episodes then stop.