Podcasts have grown so popular in the past few years that they now cover every topic under the sun, from technology to comedy, from family fun to business. And it’s no wonder so many people choose this medium to amplify their message—podcasts are a quick, portable, and oftentimes free way to reach an audience and spread your opinions and thoughts.
They’re also a valuable tool in growing your platform and diversifying your content, so if you have something to say, you should consider recording it in a podcast. A simple Google search reveals that several thousands of people have chosen to take that route.
Luckily for you, the hardest part of making a podcast isn’t in the technicalities. The difficulty comes in cutting through the clutter and reaching your intended audience. To do so, it is vital that you provide quality content and execute your podcast in a way that intrigues the public. Whether your intention is to put together a series or a one-time recording, a simple tool like an outline will help you gather your thoughts and keep you on-topic. Other things that you should keep in mind while brainstorming your podcast’s content include the following:
- Make sure your objective is clear and your content differentiated.
- Let your personality show. If you want to grow your audience, your listeners have to feel like they’re getting to know you.
- Keep a steady pace. Don’t rush through what you have to say. If you want to go longer than the typical thirty- to sixty-minute runtime of a podcast, split it into two podcasts.
- Consider fielding questions through email or social media and then addressing them in future podcasts or in other content you produce. Use the podcast to familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions your audience wants answered and the kind of content they find helpful.
While recording and broadcasting may seem like a daunting undertaking, there are several resources that provide software and instructions to record, broadcast, and market your podcast (quite a few of which are free). The easiest way to jump into the world of podcasting is to employ one of these resources and start recording.
Here’s a selection of services you can use to help you with your podcast:
Audacity is an open-source program that has many sound recording and editing capabilities. It allows you to record voice tracks, include music in your recording, and edit and manipulate what you have recorded. Audacity.sourceforge.net
Podbean is a one-stop shop for podcasting. You can use it to create and host your podcast, and it also offers special features like statistics, an iTunes preview, and opportunities to generate revenue from your podcast. Podbean.com
BlogTalkRadio is marketed toward users that want to create their own radio station. If you are looking to host a long-running series and are willing to buy into one of their packages, this may be a good option for your podcast. BlogTalkRadio offers features such as show scheduling, live interaction with your audience, and podcast hosting. BlogTalkRadio.com
All three of these services provide an easy-to-use interface and instructions that will walk you through the production of your podcast. You can also get a detailed how-to at Podcasting News.
After all the technicalities of the production of the podcast have been tied up, you will need to upload your file to a hosting site. The hosting site will be the place where people can go and listen to your podcast. The site will also provide you with a link that you can share on your website and through your social media channels. If the service you choose to produce your podcast includes hosting services, you shouldn’t have any problems following the instructions provided. If you choose to use software, like Audacity, that does not include hosting capabilities, you will need to choose a website that best fits your hosting needs.
There are several sites that can host your podcast. Most hosting sites will give you a small amount of bandwidth for free with a simple registration. If you’re aiming to produce a series, you may need a larger amount of space than is provided and need to pay a small fee. Figure out how much bandwidth each of your shows will take up and then gauge which site offers the best deal for you.
Here are some podcast-hosting services:
Libsyn offers different amounts of monthly storage at different prices. If you’re looking for professional help in managing your podcast, they also offer a service called LibsynPro.
For maximum exposure, submit your podcast to search engines and podcast subscribing sites. The resources mentioned below are all great ways to market your podcast.
iTunes provides access to thousands upon thousands of podcasts and is one of the most popular destinations for podcast listeners. Because iTunes has established itself as a go-to destination for podcasting, there is an approval process and stipulations that need to be followed in order for your submission to be complete. For a complete rundown of how to get your podcast on iTunes, check out its FAQ for podcast makers.
Feed Shark operates by “pinging” services that target blogs, RSS feeds, and podcast promoters to spread the word about your podcast. It’s an efficient, easy way to reach out to a large number of sources.
Podcast Alley is a podcast directory as well as a wonderful resource for viewing tutorials and accessing information on podcasts. The site will index your podcast and make the link available to people searching for the particular topic or genre your podcast falls under.
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Public relations, or PR, plays an integral role in the success of any author trying to increase book sales and visibility in the marketplace. No longer the ugly stepsister to advertising, PR has changed its image and is on the rise. For the budget-conscious author, PR is usually the most cost-effective solution for maximum market penetration. Use the tools below to keep your money in your pocket and your book on the shelf:
1. Online Alternatives
Everyone has a story to tell, a message to promote, and a product to push—and they’re using online media sources to do their bidding. If you aren’t blogging, vlogging, podcasting, or even Googling yourself on a regular basis, then you need to jump on the bandwagon. Americans create an average of fifty thousand blogs a day. That means every twenty-four hours your competitor may be creating a blog to sell his or her message.
The Internet provides a way to promote your message on a global scale, with the ability to reach an unprecedented percentage of the population. According to Redbooks.com, Coca-Cola spends approximately $2.16 billion a year on traditional advertising around the world. New Line Cinema spent less than .5 percent of that amount to promote its new movie Snakes on a Plane. Starting in January of 2006, New Line Cinema started blogging about their new movie and has created a huge cult following. Consumers have since created external blogs and podcasts, all for a movie that will not be released until August and that no one has seen. This same pre-release hype can be applied to authors. Use the popularity of online alternatives to promote your book before the release date. Start a blog and get your blogging friends to write about your book. If Snakes on a Plane can get a cult following, maybe your book can, too.
2. Wham! It’s WOM!
If you follow trends in fashion and retail, then why not follow trends in the world of PR and marketing? Leading the pack of new trendy services offered by marketing and PR agencies is Word of Mouth, or WOM, promotions. WOM starts by eliciting the help of others, often called WOM agents, to spread positive buzz about your product, ultimately leading to the creation of brand ambassadors. How often have you read a book because a friend personally thought you would enjoy it? Probably more times than you can remember. Creating brand ambassadors will help spread the message of your book through your personal network and the networks of your ambassadors. The eMarketer/WOMMA report stated that 43 percent of marketers plan on conducting WOM campaigns in 2006. Companies such as Microsoft, Volkswagen, and Best Buy have all integrated WOM initiatives into their traditional media campaigns. Entire marketing agencies are dedicated to creating WOM promotions by making WOM agents available for purchase, just like media space. Instead of spending money on agency-created WOM agents, create your own. If you look, you probably already have brand ambassadors. Try checking with your parents, friends, and siblings; they have to like your work, so use that to your advantage.
3. Get Branded
J.K. Rowling. Dan Brown. Both authors represent two of the most powerful brands in publishing. Books, movies, video games, and cross-promotional products are all things associated with them. Creating brands raises positive awareness with any product, service, or message and helps in the creation of positive brand ambassadors. Our culture is built on branding—what’s hot and what’s not. Make yourself part of the hot list and create a brand image that is memorable and lasting. Find where you want your position to be in the marketplace and develop a brand position statement. This way, people will talk about you in the light you want them to when you’re not around.
All of these tools run the gamut of prices. If you’re budget conscious, hire an experienced freelancer to help you. If you have money to spend, hire a full-service agency. It will be more expensive with similar results, but agencies have their own brand awareness and respect in the market. If you want more information about the world of PR, I recommend Full Frontal PR by Richard Laermer and The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries. These books offer great insight into the modern world of PR.