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The Business Benefits to Podcasting
If you think starting a business podcast will make you rich, Sallie Goetsch has bad news for you. “There are a lot of reasons to podcast, but instant millionaire status isn’t one of them,” says Goetsch, proprietor of The Podcast Asylum, a San Francisco podcast producer.
People who hit the jackpot from podcasting alone are few and far between. Instead, aim to use podcasting as part of an overall marketing strategy. Podcasts are great for establishing expertise or connecting with prospective clients. “There’s something very intimate about having people hear you through the earbuds of their iPod,” Goetsch says. “To be able to let people feel like they know you and trust you is an important step toward getting them to spend money on your product or service.”
As business podcasting takes off, so do options for creating, hosting, and promoting the recordings, according to Goetsch and other pros. You can put together hardware and software to produce your own. Or if you or your company would rather not be bothered, you can hire a producer to do the work without breaking the bank.
Creating Your Podcast
This kind of project begins with a PC or Mac with a sound card and high-speed Internet connection. You’ll also need a microphone that plugs into the machine’s USB port sound card. Free audio editing software, such as Audacity, is also an essential. These extras will enhance your production:
- The Levelator Goetsch recommends the free software program from The Conversations Network to even out audio levels. The Levelator is essential if you record conversations over the phone because your voice will sound louder than the voice of the person on the other end of the line.
- A high-end sound mixer You’ll spend about $500 for a new model or considerably less for a used mixer on eBay.
- The Griffin iMic This $40 adapter helps avoid the hisses and pops that internal sound cards can create in a recording, says Jason Van Orden, a Portland, Ore., podcasting consultant. This $40 adapter converts audio sources to digital and sends them to your computer through a USB connection.
- A mic flag If you’re adding video to a podcast and think you’ll spend any time on camera, look like a pro. TV newscasters slide mic flags onto their microphones to display their station logo. You can buy a blank mic flag and attach your own logo. They come in a variety of colors and cost around $15.
Once you’ve got a podcast episode in the can, you need a place to host it. Although you can use an existing blog or Web site, a podcast specialist such as Liberated Syndication -- LibSyn for short -- offers useful features for a limited cost. For as little as $5 a month, you get 100 MB on LibSyn’s server, an RSS feed, statistics to measure listenership, and a basic blog.
If you want a finished product with a little more pizzazz, hire a production company to do the heavy lifting. Producers will write scripts, mix sound, find a hosting service, and submit episodes to podcast directories. Podcast Asylum sells a small-business starter package for $1,100 that covers scripting and recording of three to four podcasts and submitting them to podcast directories. Peter Brusso, a podcasting producer in Anaheim, Calif., who works with lawyers and other sole proprietors, charges $1,000 for an hour-long podcast with similar extras.
When your podcast is up, list it on a popular podcast directory, such as iTunes, Podcast Alley, Blubrry, or Podcast Pickle. Listing is free, but you’ll have to go through each directory’s registration process to do it.
More Podcasting Tips
Getting a podcast off the ground isn’t just about the right equipment and promotions.
Here’s a checklist of dos and don’ts:
- Don’t stick to the script “When you’re recording, review what you want to say, but don’t use a script,” says Brusso. “The more from the heart it is, the better.”
- Do stick to business Keep topics focused on your company’s products or services or issues in your industry.
- Do make a good first impression Take care creating your podcast’s title, liner notes, and physical design. That’s all people have to go on when they’re scanning through iTunes’ podcast directory for something to download, so make yours count, says Van Orden. Make sure your title succinctly describes your podcast.
- Do let audience dictate length Use feedback to determine the ideal length. If most listeners tune in during a break at work, keep length to a minimum -- about five minutes. A podcast of 20 to 30 minutes, for listeners commuting or working out, is about the max.
- Don’t be afraid of feedback Consider incorporating comments into your podcasts. Respond to negative feedback. Anything you do to create a sense of community with listeners will add to your podcast’s appeal, according to Goetsch.
Ultimately, podcasting is about bringing attention to yourself and your business, says Van Orden. It might not be a direct line to the bank, but it can help you build a relationship with listeners and trust in the market. “Sales and marketing will be easier, and the money will follow,” he says.
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