An Introduction to Podcasting

Posted on Jan 7, 2019 - By Paxton Sellers

Podcasts are downloadable internet radio shows published in episodes and organized into seasons. The first podcasts to garner popularity covered crime, but in 2018, even General Motors has its own show. They can be run by individuals, companies, comedians or churches, and a podcast exists for just about every niche interest. Self-help and personal growth podcasts are especially popular today, because busy listeners can fit them into a morning commute or a trip to the gym.

Our podcast, OnPoint Pod, provides audio content that is empowering and informative to assist listeners in accomplishing their personal and professional goals. Our engaging episodes cover everything from how to navigate the book publishing process and the benefits of mentorship (both in and out of the workplace) to the value of community service.

The Anatomy of a Podcast

Popular podcasts publish new episodes regularly. The most common cadence is once a week, but a few publish once a month or multiple times a week. Also, like television, if followers expect a new episode on Tuesday night, they will be confused and frustrated if they do not receive it until Thursday. For podcasters, regularity is more important than frequency.

Additionally, a strong podcast starts with a strong idea. “Dogs” may be too general to capture an audience, but “training dogs” has a targeted demographic. Likewise, “training dogs” is flexible enough to allow room for years of content. In addition to a strong topic of focus, a basic podcast must have:

  • One or two speakers, either in monologue or interview style.
  • A Really Simple Syndication (RSS) system.
  • An online domain.

What You Need to Create a Podcast

Podcasts are not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so all you need to start your own is a microphone, a computer and an idea. However, if you want to create a great show, consider investing in:

  • A pop filter. B’s and P’s will make a popping sound in your microphone without a filter, and the audio will sound unprofessional to listeners.
  • Good headphones. You want to hear what your audience will hear, especially if you are doing interviews.
  • Recording and editing software. A basic recorder might do the job, but a clean audio file is key to the listening experience.
  • Social media accounts. It is extra work to run social media for your podcast, but creating profiles engages listeners and offers multiple platforms on which to share new episodes.
  • A hosting site. There are plenty of free options that will host your podcast. Using a host prevents the files from chewing up the bandwidth on your site.
  • A domain. You want to create a hub for your listeners. Owning a domain and creating an accompanying blog lets you hold all your episodes in one place and allows you to create show notes. Search engines do not crawl audio files, so unless you provide text to each episode, Google cannot index your work.
  • Podcast cover art. This will display on iTunes, Spotify or anywhere else listeners will stream your show. It will also display when your episodes are shared on social media.

Before you invest in cover art and domain names, try writing three episodes on your topic of choice. If you find that you are struggling for material, consider a new topic or a slight variation.

When you have your equipment, your website, and your first few episodes ready to launch, choose your publishing schedule. If you believe you can release two episodes a week, start with one. It is better to start slow and build up to your goals than to overcommit.

Podcasting is currently less crowded than blogging but almost as easy to produce. The limited competition and booming interest is why it is a good time to launch your own show, before the landscape becomes too crowded.

What makes a podcast worth starting?

Due to their digital nature, podcasts can engage with listeners more intimately than big media. Listeners can leave comments on their favorite episodes or reach out to creators across social media, allowing podcasters to respond to their followers and build a community. This relationship enables entrepreneurs to share their personality and make followers feel like they have a relationship. Businesses use this tactic to build their brand and create a touch point for the demographic.

But what’s the difference between podcasts and basic audio files? The answer is RSS. A syndication system is what allows listeners to subscribe to podcasts. Through RSS, new episodes download directly to a listener’s phone or computer as soon as they are released. The convenience of automatic downloads is a key reason that commuters enjoy podcasts – and why businesses and individuals will continue to churn them out.