I’ve done a lot of things online—blogging, forums, Twitter, Facebook and much more—but what I’ve loved the most is podcasting. When I tell people that I meet that I’m a podcaster, I invariably get two questions. The first is usually “what is podcasting?” The second is almost always “why do you do that?”
- Podcasting is the most portable form of information dissemination there is. If you’re looking to consume information, nothing beats podcasting for consumption anywhere. With television, you need a screen to look at. Same with websites and books. Try doing any of those three things while driving a car. But you can listen to a podcast anytime, anywhere. With an iPod, a Zune or a similar device, you can consume that content in the car, at the gym, on a train – heck, you can listen to a podcast while skiing down a mountain. Podcasting even beats radio, as anyone who travels through a tunnel on their way to work can attest.
- It’s completely unregulated and open. Remember that movie Pump Up the Volume? These days, Harry would be a podcaster. Why bother with pirate radio that only reaches the people in your town when you can podcast and reach nearly everyone on the planet? The government isn’t going to come down on you; you can use any profanities you like, talk about any topics you want, and not worry about getting fined or arrested. The only thing that movie had that’s missing here is Samantha Mathis.
- Not everyone is doing it. Unlike blogging, which feels like everyone and their dog is doing, podcasting is undertaken by a relatively small number of people. I’d never suggest that it’s easy to dominate the top spots in the various directories and search engines for your topic, but where there might be 100,000 blogs about marketing and how to make money online, there’s probably only 99,999 podcasts about… wait, that’s a bad example. Don’t let the number of podcast producers fool you into thinking that nobody is listening, though. Billions of episodes are downloaded yearly—and that’s just the stats from one service. Podcasting has fans.
- It’s inexpensive to do on your own. For a beginner, a computer and a headset are all that are required for a decent-sounding show. For those that want to make more of an effort, some good equipment can be had for under $200. Want something a little more Pro? You can get into some excellent gear for under $1000. That’s it. Compare that to producing high-quality video: a camera or two, lighting, sound, set elements and editing software can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, you can do video on the cheap, realtively speaking, but on the whole, DIY podcasting is far easier, financially, to get into.
- People don’t expect something from you daily. This is an important one for me, despite my desire to put out four or five shows a week. The common wisdom with blogging is that you should write something every day (or several times a week at least) in order to build an audience. That was always a problem for me; I found that I hated trying to come with something worthy of being read every day. Podcasts though, are expected weekly for the most part. If you’re putting out a new 30 minute episode once a week, you’re doing great! If you’re doing multiple shows, you’re downright prolific.
At the risk of ruining my third point, I do encourage people to podcast! Why not see if you can work it into your existing online efforts? Try producing a 20-30 minute show once a week for six weeks and see what happens; you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.