By Mark Underhill
Integrating audio and video content alongside standard
text and graphics was once solely the realm of major
media outlets and technically sophisticated webmasters.
Now, rich media engagement is possible for
owners of any size website on any budget. And it’s
The word “podcast” is used frequently to refer to
audio content available on a website that is organized in
some fashion. An actual podcast is much narrower in
definition. A podcast is a feed to which iPod owners can
subscribe and automatically downloads newly added
pieces of audio content. Subscribers can then access
and listen to the podcast at their convenience.
When the podcast model works best
It’s important to realize that once an iPod owner subscribes to your
feed, there is absolutely nothing that will automatically alert them
to the presence of a new podcast waiting to be heard. That presents
a problem for producers, in making sure their audience is aware of
the availability of new content.
One solution is to regularly produce new material on a predictable
schedule and promote it as heavily as possible. Users then
know to regularly check for the latest podcast. There are a number
of ways to promote your podcasts online, including social networks,
which can be done on a shoestring budget. Those with access
to a marketing budget may choose to promote their podcasts
through targeted advertising as well. Either way, listeners must expect
to find new, meaningful content at regular intervals. For example,
a podcast providing travel tips could promote heavily
toward the end of each week in preparation for weekend travel.
Consistency is the key — you must offer content each and every
time a user thinks to update their podcasts.
How to build a loyal audience
Make sure your audio content doesn’t waste your visitor’s time by
following these simple rules:
1. Come to the microphone with at least a rough script of what you
intend to say. While it might not create Emmy-worthy broadcasts,
you do want to sound informed and coherent. Also remember to
avoid long pauses.
2. No one wants to listen to long-winded or choppy audio. Keep it
brief and upbeat. You might also consider breaking up your podcast
into segments (if applicable) to avoid losing your audience.
Include smooth transitions between topics.
3. Unless the content is intended to be a true stream of consciousness
and you are fluid in your verbal delivery, try a few takes. Digital
storage is cheap and easy, and listening to yourself can help
improve your style.
4. Spend some time editing the final version to remove awkward silences,
excessive “um’s,” and other miscues. This doesn’t need to
be overdone but can go miles to enhance the overall fluency of
Monetize your podcast
There are a couple of ways you can leverage your podcast to generate
revenue. Audio has a benefit similar to video in that the listener
can be presented with advertising messages prior to, during or after
the delivery of the main content. Tacking on a 10 or 15 second ad
at the beginning of the segment almost guarantees an impression, as
long as the content is at least a few minutes long and holds meaning
to the listener. The closer in scope the marketing message is to
the content, the higher quality the impression will be. For example,
if your website focuses on outdoor adventure, and you podcast a
weekly show highlighting specific hiking trails, target an outdoor
store to sponsor the podcast. The advertising message should
include a call-to-action and some element of value to the listener,
such as “mention this podcast for 20 percent off hiking boots,” so
results can be measured.
If your content piece is longer, consider adding more commercials
throughout the clip. If you can prove audience numbers and consistent
broadcast intervals to relevant advertisers, you could possibly
subsidize your hosting costs or generate even greater revenue.
Other revenue streams are less straightforward but if you operate
a site that actually sells products as well as offers informational content,
you may want to consider mentioning that various items are
available for purchase on your website, and make sure to mention
your URL. Remember, users may not be looking at your website
while they are listening to the podcast.
The most challenging part of podcasting is not actually the technology
but creating compelling content. Hopefully, if you are knowledgeable
and enthusiastic about your site content that it isn’t an issue.
Create quality material, be consistent with your updates and promote
your podcast to the right audience.
Jump in and start podcasting today to engage your audience and
possibly generate new revenue streams.
About the Author: Mark Underhill is the lead architect of Platformic’s online Web development
environment and content management platform that allows
businesses to easily build and update websites in real-time, as well as
including podcasts. He brings to Platformic over 12 years of experience
in building Web platforms for large media companies including Clear