During the January just past, as people look at their New Year resolutions and decided to try out some new projects, I’ve had quite a few people come up to me (okay, pinged me on IM, but you get the idea) and ask about starting a podcast. While many of them are looking for more technical details, I’ve always asked them what they’re looking to get out of the podcast.
I’m trying to figure out if a podcast is the right thing for them.
In many circumstances, people are looking to explore the podcasting space, to find out how it all works, to see how they get on with it, and have a bit of fun. There’s nothing wrong with that – one of my popular podcasts started as a few shows on my personal blog and it eventually became too big for me to not notice the traffic and “spin it out” to its own site.
But for a long time that show was just a hobby, with it’s own little corner of my website. And while I have long running shows that are nothing more than a weekly podcast posted on a basic blog, that’s a great place to start and learn the ropes. But if anyone is looking to start up a podcast with a serious goal in mind to be noticed and get coverage, I always come back to the same piece of advice.
A podcast will rarely stand alone.
And if you think about it, you would never start a new site and not have an RSS feed. You wouldn’t ignore Facebook, or Google Plus. You’d make sure to have a Twitter account. I’d argue that providing a podcast, be it audio or video, is one of those tools. It’s rare that a podcast will be the only tool you use (just as it is rare a Twitter account would be the only tool you use), but it can be an important one.
It provides a voice to your site, and a regular spot to engage directly with your readers. It allows a different type of discussion to be taken, it provides continuity and regularity if done well, and keeps your readers interested in your content. The podcast is a surgical tool, but it’s one that is easy to wield. And in my opinion there are very few circumstances where a podcast would not help improve a site.