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Alternablog: Podcast

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

Recently, we began examining alternate forms of blogging. Mostly this is to stimulate thought on other methods of bringing content to the table. Last week it was mobile blogging, or moblogging. Another alternablog is the podcast. While podcast describes an entry more than a blog, it is another way to deliver content and it is far more popular than other alternablogs, in my opinion.

While I have personally experimented with the podcast (it sucked!), I’ve found it lacking for my situation. But for many others, podcasting is an extremely powerful medium to enhance a bloggers influence and reach.

Everyday I walk through the halls of the building I work in and I’ve noticed that, increasingly, people are listening to iPods while they work. Not just MP3 players. Real iPods. In fact, as I sit here in my cubicle and type away, my iPod is plugged up to my theatre system (yes, I have a theatre system in my cubicle!).

While any MP3 player or computer can play podcasts, Apple has made it natural and easy to “do” podcasts. Subscribe in iTunes, sync the iPod and away you go. Fresh media for the new day. It’s no wonder that podcasts have taken off.

What can Podcasting Do For My Blog?
So what exactly is the benefit of a Podcast?

  1. Podcasting works for on-the-go blog consumers. Interested consumers who perhaps run, work out, or just sit behind a desk and working away can take in what you have to say. Not everyone has the chance to “surf the web” at all times, but they want to know what you have to say. Others might commute in their cars for an hour or more (I commuted an hour and a half to work every day for two years). To these consumers who might listen better than they read, or who simply want to keep themselves up on some of the ideas you present, a podcast works well.
  2. Podcasting works well as a supplemental source. I know of a couple of people who will do a weekly podcast that summarizes some of the weeks activity on their show. It provides them an alternate way to reach an audience who just wants to catch up.
  3. Podcasts make the bes interview mediums for blogs. Usually when a blogger does an interview with somenoe in their niche, it is really a whole lot easier to talk to the person, to hear the inflection and tone in the voice. It helps consumers understand the interviewee better.
  4. There’s a downside, right?
    Yes indeed.

    1. Podcasts take up a lot of bandwidth and after awhile take up a lot of server space. A podcast is typically not big in and of itself, but overtime, bandwidth restraints are often limiting. There are services, such as The Podcast Network, that will host podcasts for you but often times there are strict requirements on content.
    2. Less monetization value. There are not a lot of ways to monetize a podcast. If the podcast is being played from a browser, there is a chance (based on browser and server configuration) that the MP3 might be played directly on the blog on demand, in which case standard ad programs might have an effect (especially if the user stays on the browser window staring at the ads while listening). However, this is really unreliable in terms of revenue. On a standard blog, it is possible to insert ads into a page because a page is “multi-channel”… that is, ads can be consumed at the same time as content. However, podcasts, as an audio medium, offers only one “channel” – what is being heard right now. Ads can be placed at the beginning or end of a podcast and on a limited basis, in the middle, but its hard to maintain flow with too many ads in the middle.

    Best practice, as far as I can tell from my experiences, is to have multiple people contributing to a podcast. It is a whole lot less awkward to have a discussion when there are more than one person contributing.

    Your thoughts on podcasting?

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Comments

  1. Well, I do not listen to that many podcasts but still I enjoy some of them, like the Engadget podcast or SecondCast (regarding Second Life topics). I also did not search that much for new ones to listen as I won’t have time to do so anyway (when working I usually cannot listen to interviews etc. here I simply prefer music or nothing).

    And you are right, it is best if more than one person is doing the podcast so that some discussion is going on. If it’s only one guy just talking I think I’d prefer a normal blog over that.

    Regarding the bandwidth I don’t see that much of a problem nowadays. There are lots of services out there which let you host your audio (or video) files and bandwidth via DSL is usually quite cheap these days so downloading should not be a big problem.

    But you might be right about the monetary things. I am myself just a rare video podcaster and it’s more for fun than for making money and thus I haven’t looked into the possibilities of getting money out. So the real podcasters might be able to tell you more about it (and haven’t there also been services out there which do automatically insert some ads into your audio?).

    What I also do enjoy are actual video podcasts (or video blogs, vlogs, however you call it :-). I usually do watch some of them (like Rocketboom, Steve Garfield etc.) on my train travels to clients while I do listen to audio podcasts more while walking or sitting in a bus (where it’s not so handy to have a laptop on your lap as the time in the bus is usually not that long).

    The benefit of video podcasts btw. is that you also can show more things like screenshots, little screencasts etc. The downside here is of course also bandwidth (but the same as to audio podcasts applies here) and the length, as it needs to be short IMHO in order to keep the audience interested and file size small.

    So all in all I do enjoy audio and video podcasts as nice addition to normal blogs depending on the situation. A text blog is nice to read during work while audio or video blogs are nice to have for travelling or walking or just hanging around somewhere without laptop (at least true for audio, with video I found the screens of portable media players (I do use PSP) sometimes a bit too small, esp. for screencasts).

  2. A.H says:

    I’ve recorded my first podcast show back in December 2005, I received wonderful feedback and comments, and the blog showed a huge traffic growth in the following days which was led by people posting about my podcast on forums (i included music and everything from the podsafe network).

    With the new blog i’ve launched, DailyBuzzer.com , i intend in launching a bi-weekly podcast show that will mainly focus on music and unusual entertainment, i’m waiting for the blog to get a minimal amount of visits a day so i can make sure my podcasts are being listened to.

    A.H

  3. bestsubjects says:

    podcasting need a lot more time than normal text blogging. but it is great to get different kind of visitors, some that love text and some that love to listen.

  4. Miss Knees says:

    I got a lot of feedback and activity on my blog after posting my first podcast. I think they are a great addition to an existing blog. I have been struggling with how to monetize it, though. I’d love to see if your other readers know of any programs for podcast advertising.

  5. I do a podcast on English football (http://www.agameoftwohalves.com) with a friend of mine and we have a supporting blog (so really the opposite to doing a podcast to support a blog) and we’ve built it up since November to the point where we had over 13,000 downloads last month.

    Some observations:
    1) Podcasts are intensive. We do two shows a week and there’s around 5-6 hours work per show, writing the script, recording and post-production.
    2) 95% of our traffic is via iTunes which means very little traffic on the site – which means very little AdSense income! Although the site design is so bad this could be a contributing factor.
    3) Tried Fruitcast, but they could not convert a standard WordPress feed (I had to create a dummy Feedburner feed), had no ads to put on the shows and we had performance issues when downloading.
    4) Don’t worry about bandwidth! We host with Bluehost and get 400GB a month for US$6.95 a month. We have consumed over 250GB in the last two months with no problems at all. One host I saw was offering 750GB/mth for $US16.95 a month.
    5) Podcasts need at least 2 people – they need to be conversational with a certain amount of spontaeous comment. The script is just a guide – I don’t even show it to my co-host, so it’s fresh to him and that’s how it comes across (hopefully) in the show.
    6) We don’t have time to blog as well!
    7) Podcasts attract a different demographic. Reading a blog is generally quick and easy – listening to a podcast (in our case) is a 45 minute investment. We have found that very few of our listeners are from the UK, which is probably because there are so many other sources of information there and possibly because we are two ex-pats with Aussie twangs(!). We have a number of Australian listeners but the vast majority are from the US and most of the feedback we get is that we fill a gap bringing news and particularly views that is either not available or hard to find in the US.

    We are covering the World Cup as obviously this is a once-every-4-years opportunity to attract new listeners and we are thinking of building some additional services almost entirely around user-generated content that might generate income.

    So the podcast acts as our main promotional vehicle. There is potential for income for podcasts, the Fruitcast theory looks great, but I think we’ll have to sit tight until Google, Yahoo! or perhaps Feedburner launches an audio ad network.

  6. Louis Trahan says:

    I have been investigating starting a blog for a few months but have been worried about the amount of writing needed – I don’t actually enjoy the process of writing the articles. The answer I have come up with is to produce a weekly podcast, use the blog to promote it, and provide transcripts or podcast ‘notes’ to go along with the podcast. Now, I just need to figure out what blogging platform to use … wish me luck.

Trackbacks

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