Podcasts are one of the Internet's treasures. They provide a great way to learn when your eyes just can't take staring at a computer screen any longer. Many people listen to podcasts while commuting.
To some, podcasting may seem old school now, but many successful online sellers are creating content-rich podcasts—and getting lots of attention as a result.
Podcasts are a great way to help establish yourself as an authority and drive traffic to your site or listings. But it's not easy to break into this now-crowded field.
Because I communicate with my voice, my audience can hear how well I know my material…By podcasting, I'm building my authority
For pointers, we spoke with Daniel J. Lewis, an award-winning podcaster and Internet entrepreneur. He hosts a network of award-nominated shows on how to podcast.
Podcasting can be profitable
Schepp: What's the payoff for podcasting?
Lewis: There are many ways to monetize podcasting. The common thing most podcasters think of is affiliates, advertising and sponsorships. For these to pay well, you have to have a very large audience.
But the limitless method of monetizing is to offer extra products and services, or premium content, along the theme of your content.
In my own podcast about podcasting—The Audacity to Podcast—I teach people how to launch or improve their own podcasts. Because I communicate with my voice, my audience can hear how well I know my material and how skilled I am at presenting it. So when they need help, they hire me for consulting or to set up their podcast for them. By podcasting, I'm building my authority, which people trust and value.
My podcast allowed me to leave my full-time job as a Web designer and go into this business full time. Other podcasters, like Leo Laporte, Marc Maron, John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn and many, many more are making more than $100,000 per year (some more than that per month) all because of their podcast.
Schepp: How long does it take to get up to speed on podcasting?
Lewis: Podcasting takes patience, just like with any content-creation method. The most important steps are to start with a plan, bring valuable content, present the content well, produce it in a high-quality way, and then consistently repeat this daily or weekly.
The actual setup can be as quick as a week or two, if you focus on your plan and start with the right equipment.
Some podcasters will see success within their first few weeks. Others may not see success for at least a year. It really depends on the quality of the content and how the podcasters market themselves.
Start with a plan
Schepp: What do you need to do to start podcasting and what are the costs?
Lewis: Like any hobby or business, view podcasting as an investment. There are ways to do it for free—or almost free—but what you save in money costs in time and knowledge. So I recommend two levels, depending on how seriously you want to take this.
You must have passion for what you plan to talk about. In writing, you can hide or edit emotion. But with the spoken word people will see whether you truly care
1. Simple and starting out: Sign up for a podcast hosting account at LibSyn.com and use promo code "noodle" to get your first month free. They'll give you a basic website, create your RSS feed (necessary for submitting to iTunes and other directories), and host your podcast media files.
Then buy the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone. This mic sounds far better than any webcam, built-in or headset mic, and it's around $50. It's USB, so it can plug directly into a computer (or even mobile devices with the appropriate connection kits); but it's also XLR, so it can connect with professional audio equipment if you need a mixer later on.
Add a domain to point to your LibSyn website and get your own email address, and you're set to podcast for $60 upfront and about $100 per year.
2. Flexible, powerful and serious: If you want full control and plan to take this seriously, it will take a bigger investment. Host your podcast media with LibSyn (again, use promo code "noodle") but get a WordPress website through a company like BlueHost. Having a self-hosted WordPress website gives you a powerful platform for creating and promoting your content, as well as selling things.
Next, get an audio mixer, like the Behringer UFX1204, which can record to a USB drive and records every channel separately. Add to this an Electro-Voice RE320 for yourself and each in-studio co-host. You may want overhead boom arms and pop filters for each mic.
This kind of setup starts at $1,000, but the quality will rival that of professional radio shows, and you'll have extreme flexibility.
Success requires passion and time
Schepp: How do I decide what to podcast about?
Lewis: You must have passion for what you plan to talk about. In writing, you can hide or edit emotion. But with the spoken word in audio or video podcasts, people will see whether you truly care about the topic.
You should also be knowledgeable on the topic. It's OK for the podcast to share as you learn, but you need to be one step ahead of your audience.
Quality audio podcasting usually takes four minutes of work for every one minute of content
Schepp: What sort of time commitment is involved?
Lewis: Quality audio podcasting usually takes four minutes of work for every one minute of content. Those four minutes would be spent in preparation before you record and editing after.
Generally, the more time you spend preparing, the less you'll have to edit. Thus, an hour-long audio podcast will take about five hours for every episode.
Quality video podcasting takes about double the time for audio, since video requires much more attention to detail, editing and setup. This typically involves eight minutes of work for every one minute of content. Thus, a 15-minute video podcast will take about 2 hours or more for every episode.
Schepp: You seem to be quite successful. What are some of the strategies a podcaster can use to help ensure success?
Lewis: I work hard to create high-quality content—information that's thorough, authoritative, and helpful or entertaining. I try to present this content passionately, clearly and personally. I produce all of this in a professional way so that the quality doesn't distract from the message.
Everyone online wants to be helped or entertained. As I focus on this and build relationships along the way, I establish myself as an authority in the space. So when I create free or premium resources, people trust that they are worth the investment and are happy with the results.
Schepp: How do you draw attention to podcasts these days?
Lewis: As a podcaster, I still believe I need to do my part to educate the world about this fairly new method of distributing content. When someone asks what I do for a living, I explain what podcasts are and how I use them to consume content about my favorite topics, and grow my business by creating my own content.
Sometimes, I'll even show someone what kinds of podcasts are available on their favorite topics.
The industry is still young and goes through waves of media attention. With the prevalence of Internet-connected mobile devices, and especially with Apple's upcoming iOS 8 including a podcasts app by default, it's becoming even easier for people to find and subscribe to shows about their favorite topics.
With the prevalence of Internet-connected mobile devices it's becoming even easier for people to find and subscribe to shows about their favorite topics
eBay sellers have lots to share
Schepp: Let's say I have a fairly successful eBay business. How would I use podcasting to boost that business and even create new revenue opportunities?
Lewis: There are many approaches that you can take. You could create a series to teach how to effectively sell on eBay, your show could be news-oriented to cover the latest updates and tools to help eBay selling, or you could even take an entertainment route of talking about the crazy things people sell on eBay.
Any of these would work well to use your own eBay partner links to profit, or create products or courses on better eBay selling and promote these in your show.
Schepp: Where I can go to learn more?
Lewis: Check out these popular blogs and podcasts about podcasting:
Additionally, there are many groups of podcasters on Facebook, Google Plus, Reddit and other online communities where many other podcasters will be happy to help.
Schepp: Thanks, Daniel!