In the last couple of weeks we have been to a number of radio conferences, podcasting events and done a decent amount of networking. When talking about what we do and the industry we were finding we were often getting the same 5 frequently asked questions.
We thought that it might be worth noting this down in a blog. In case either you have been asking this question in your head for a long time and no one had answered it, or if you are a long term podcaster and get asked these questions a lot too; then to compare answers.
Frequently Asked Questions in Podcasting:
1.) So what actually is a podcast? – This is asked a lot, and it will be asked less as awareness of podcasting increases however we were surprised at the amount of people who are in the industry of radio, that still asked this question.
You can obviously give the dictionary definition of “a downloadable audio file available via the internet” but that sounds about as exciting as waiting for iTunes to accept your new podcast. I often use an analogy around Netflix to explain further:
“If you think of podcasting as the radio version of Netflix: a few years ago Netflix used to be a catch up service simply showing what had been on TV. However now, it has grown to be one of the biggest TV services in the world making its own incredible content that gets billions of viewers, that is only available from the platform i.e. Narcos.
Podcasting is much the same, it used to be (especially in the UK) a catch up radio service, you would get the ‘Best of Chris Evans’ clips from the radio show released as a podcast on a Friday. However now, like Netflix, it is creating its own incredible shows that are getting more listens than a normal radio show (i.e. S-Town), that are only available as a podcast.”
2.) How do I send my audio out to iTunes and other podcast apps? – From a conference filled with ‘radio people’, we got this question a-lot! The short answer is an RSS Feed. An RSS feed is an online content information stream that, in the context of podcasts, can be used to automatically download new podcasts when they become available. When a user subscribes to a podcast’s RSS feed using a podcatcher, that user will receive automatic digital media content updates from the source of the content.
So from a podcasters point of view you simply generate an RSS feed, and there are many tools to do that, and then upload your episodes to that feed and iTunes, Stitcher and other podcatcher apps can simply recognise there is a new episode on the feed and show a new episode in the app. The good news is you don’t have to upload it to each podcast app individually.
3.) How can I find the time to podcast? – This has got to be a question that is stopping a lot of people from getting started. Unfortunately we cannot help you with physical time, we don’t have Bernard’s Watch (90’s cartoon reference) and therefore cannot create any new time for you, however you would be surprised how much even an hour a week put aside for planning, or recording little vox-pops with friends or writing out ideas, can equate to. Simply slipping your smartphone out when going through the park and recording relevant background noises or quickly recording reactions to ideas or stories. All of these really do add up and if you got together a few weeks worth of recordings like that, before you know it, you’ve got a podcast. To save on time or learning a new skill, you can also outsource a large number of the processes of podcasting for a very affordable rate.
4.) Does it cost? – This is a two part question. Does it cost for the listener? NO. Often people are put off by certain terms around podcasting, for example to subscribe. People associate that with a magazine subscription which would cost money, podcast listening or subscribing does not and is completely free.
Does it cost to make podcasts? Well technically yes, but not very much, you would be surprised at how many tools for podcasting you already have and are free. Mainly via your smartphone. There will often be a very small outlay for the hosting of your files / payment for the RSS feed creator but other than that you can get started for very little cost. You can of course spend a fortune on it if you like, like anything else. Microphones range from using your smartphone for free, to hundreds or even thousands of pounds /dollars, and you can create big flashy website or pay out for advertising on Google or Facebook but to get started you won’t need all this.
5.) I have lots of ideas but don’t know how to get started? – This often refers to they don’t know how to structure the podcast or what the processes are, and the good news is THERE ARE NO RULES!
Your podcast can be whatever you like it to be, for whatever purpose you choose, and therefore in that light the best piece of advice we can give is just do it! Get your smartphone or laptop out and start recording bits, then listen to podcasts of a similar nature or that you like to inspire you (but not to copy!) and start to form the cast. The worst thing you can do is not to get ideas down on paper or just to let them mull in your head, because if you are anything like me those thoughts will seem unorganised and the thought of starting will seem confusing. Get the ideas down on paper, and start recording something!
For those that are still worried about more specific aspects or have further questions, we are writing blogs like this weekly for example different types of microphones, or how to edit. Check them all out at http://branded.abruptaudio.com/blog
If you have a question specifically, or are a podcaster and get asked a different question all the time, please feel free to comment and let us know. Or get us on any of the normal social media feeds @abruptaudio.
Also published on Medium.