Podcasts can be defined as episode series of digitally recorded audio/video that users can download and listen to and are usually available as a subscription. The roots of podcasting can be traced back to 2004 when devices such as iPods were immensely popular and smartphone technology was experiencing massive upgrades. Although podcasting is generally considered as an effective and efficient method of distributing audio series on the internet, the term also encompasses video series. RSS is used to subscribe to podcasts as the technology provides a great way of keeping up with the content that is updated frequently.
Users can subscribe to a podcast and automatically get notified of new content. Applications called podcatchers are used to subscribe to podcasts, which allow users to download podcasts on their smartphones, iPods or computers and listen as per their convenience. Podcasting programs such as Downcast, iTunes and iCatcher are some of the most popular applications and offer full support for mobile devices. This means anyone with a mobile device can enjoy their favorite podcasts whenever and wherever they want.
- 1 Why Podcasting?
- 2 Getting Started
- 3 Podcast Branding
- 4 Hardware Requirements
- 5 Talking on Mic
- 6 Be Honest, Practice Good Speaking Habits
- 7 Recording, Editing and Publishing
- 8 WordPress Podcasting Plugins
- 9 WordPress Podcasting Themes
- 10 Paperback
- 11 Podcaster
- 12 Soundbyte
- 13 A quick recap of the whole process
Still an unsaturated market, Podcasting has witnessed a massive boom in the past few years and has become an effective medium of broadening your online presence and growing your brand to new people. Combine podcasting with the flexibility and extensibility of WordPress and you get a powerful package to enhance web presence and increase traffic.
Considering that around 50 million people listen to podcasts in America alone (on a monthly basis), the medium cannot be ignored. Podcasting isn’t something entirely new as it has been around in one form or another since the introduction of devices such as iPod and popularity of the internet.
Statistics show that listeners of podcasts are generally well-educated, affluent and young people who consume audio content on a regular basis. With WordPress being one of the most popular and powerful Content Management Systems, there is no reason not to broaden your web presence through podcasts.
Not everyone likes to read websites, which is why many site owners translate written content into something users can listen to while on the go. Podcasting is not just another channel site owners and can businesses can use to expand outreach, but it’s also an effective medium to increase conversion rates and market products/services through your own ‘shows’.
Here are some of the primary reasons that justify investing time and effort into starting podcast:
- Anyone can be a podcaster
- Effective medium for distribution of quality content
- Target audience mostly consists of well-educated, young people
- Improved web presence and traffic
- Listenership and engagement
- Helps build authority
- Reach new audiences
- Understand the target audience in a better way
- Can also become a source of regular income
- Flexible delivery
- One of the most effective education delivery mediums
Starting your own podcast may seem like a daunting task in the beginning, but it’s actually quite easy if take care of the basics. With the right plan, hardware and content, starting a podcast that help broadens web presence becomes easy. Before starting a podcast, you need a proper plan just like any other business. Planning makes it easier to set benchmarks and track performance. Setting realistic and achievable goals is the first step in the planning phase and you need to ask questions like what do you want to achieve with the podcast? Do you just want to share your experiences about a specific topic or are trying to create something in order to monetize it later?
Once you have defined the goals, picking up the topics becomes easier. It’s highly recommended to only cover the topics that you feel passionate about. Producing hundreds of episodes of something you are not interested in can quickly become a boring task and you may eventually have to quit. Offer something interesting and valuable instead of ‘regular stuff’ that is already available out there. Podcasts are all about your target audience so make sure that your content attracts the right kind of people. If your podcast is about educating beginners about how to build their own website using WordPress, try making it easier for them to understand and avoid technical jargon.
You have three basic formats to choose from during the planning phase i.e. monologue, interview-type and narrative podcast. Monologue format involves a person discussing a specific topic and works best for the right type of personalities. The interview-type format features a host interviewing other industry experts, while narrative podcast adds an element of story and is also more difficult to produce. You can either start building a podcast yourself or hire someone to get the job done.
- Make a plan, preferably in a business format
- Understand the target audience, their needs
- Set realistic and achievable goals
- Determine how you can meet and exceed their expectations
- Make the podcast interesting and offer something valuable
- Keep focused on the target audience
- Stick to the topics of your own interest
- Choose the format that best suits your own personality
When starting a podcast you’d obviously name it, but that’s not enough as you also need to consider other branding elements. The name should reflect the essence of the podcast and should be selected based on how people usually search for particular topics. There are many online tools such as Google Trends, Knowem.com and Answer the Public that can help you better understand what people are searching for and the words they are using.
Although there are no specific hardware requirements to start a podcast, you’d at least want to have a quality sound recorder. It mostly depends on your budget and the type of content you want to record, but it’s better to invest in a dedicated noise-canceling mic or a digital recorder instead of solely relying on smartphones (even if they are flagships like iPhone or Galaxy). There are a lot of helpful websites that make it easier to select the right kind of equipment and provide instant access to recommendations based on your individual requirements.
The built-in mic of laptops should be avoided as most of them don’t support noise cancellation.
Some good microphones to look at for podcasting are as follows:
- Entry Level: ATR2100
- Entry Level: Samson Q2U
- High Level: Rode Procaster / Podcaster
- High Level: MXL990
- High Level: Shure SM58
- High Level: Blue Yeti
- PRO Level: Heil PR40
- PRO Level: Shure SM7b
You may also consider investing in other essential hardware such as shock mount, mic arm, pop filter and a quality headphone.
Talking on Mic
This is usually the stage where things tend to get a little trickier, but if you have planned properly, understand your audience and have something valuable to offer, then you don’t have much to worry about. You may feel a little strange or even awkward during the first few recordings, but that should not distract you as most of us don’t like our own recorded voice anyway. Nobody is perfect so don’t let the imperfections stop you from doing good work. Consistency is another very important element as podcasts are not just about a few minutes of recording. People trust podcasters who are consistent and provide regular updates.
Be Honest, Practice Good Speaking Habits
Compared to written words, audio has an added advantage of conveying emotions and it conveys much more details. For example, a person listening to the podcast can easily guess when you are smiling during the talk. Similarly, honesty also reflects from your talk and that’s why you should be looking for the human moments to make a relatable and more personal cast. Avoid using filler language, be articulate and use your body language to convey non-verbal messages. Your listeners can easily sense your body language in your voice, which makes it very important to express positive emotions during the talk. Although it’ ok in the very beginning to prepare your talk, it’s better to just note down important points instead of scripting the whole show.
Recording, Editing and Publishing
With so many recording setups available, it’s hard to provide details on each one. Using a digital recorder to record podcasts into an SD card is quite straightforward and a reliable method to record quality audio. Once you have a podcast in an audio format (MP3), you can either use it on an as-is basis or edit it for even better quality. Many software such as Adobe Audition and Audacity (free and cross-platform) offer advanced tools that help you record in a better way, and you can also use programs like Levelator to quickly level and balance the audio.
Once you have your audio files ready, it’s time to publish them on a dedicated audio host.
WordPress can be set up to pull and play each episode as a post, while you also need to submit the podcast feed to podcatchers such as iTunes and Stitcher. It’s better to store large audio files on dedicated audio hosts such as Blubrry.
Another good podcast host is Libsyn which has plans starting at $5 per month.
WordPress Podcasting Plugins
There are many WordPress plugins available that make it easier to publish podcasts, but Blubrry PowerPress plugin comes highly recommended. It’s easy to use and a beginner-friendly plugin and works great with the audio host. Uploading and publishing are easy using the Podcaster Dashboard and it is a hassle-free process. You also need a podcast plugin for your site to play episodes, allowing people to listen to podcasts directly from a website. However, be careful as most podcast player plugins don’t offer a good user experience.
Smart Podcast Player is one of the very few capable and reliable podcast players that offer a great user experience. It allows playing, sharing and downloading episodes directly from the player and is out-of-the-box mobile-ready. The pricing for this paid plugin starts from $8/month and is worth the money. If you are really serious about podcasting, investing in a paid plugin is highly recommended.
Podcasters who want a very simple to use and minimalistic plugin can try Seriously Simple Podcasting that uses WP’s native UI and offers essentials, shortcodes and widgets.
WordPress Podcasting Themes
We have put together a full list of themes suitable for podcasting, but here are our top three picks which are perfect for creating websites around podcasts.
A magazine theme that empowers you to quickly and easily create beautiful, immersive content.
Podcaster is a clean, flexible and responsive WordPress Theme. It supports native audio and video players as well as oEmbed. Manage your podcast or screencast with Podcaster.
A podcasting / audio WordPress theme.
A quick recap of the whole process
- You already have a WordPress hosted site/blog (also applies to other platforms)
- Plan well, clearly define goals and choose a topic that you are passionate about
- Choose a format that suits your personality type and topic (monologue, Interview-style, narrative)
- Try not to script everything in a solo show, note down important points
- Understand your audience and what they expect from a quality podcast
- Research well and offer something valuable
- Be honest, practice good speaking skills and convey emotions
- For interview-style podcasts, research and find good fits, ask quality questions and trust your own gut
- You can start with a basic recording device such as your smartphone, but you’ll have to invest in ‘proper’ podcasting equipment as the podcast grows
- You may also want to take advantage of audio recording software to enhance audio quality. Audacity is one of the best, available for free and works on all major platforms
- While recording your first podcast, you should not worry if your own sound feels awkward or strange. Forget about breaks, awkward pauses and unexpected glitches in the beginning
- MP3 is the universal audio format and works well on almost every device
- Name your podcasts appropriately in such a way that they clearly show the topic and episode series
- Since podcasts are usually large audio files, you’d want to sign up with a media hosting service such as Blubrry. It is optimized for WP podcasting and also offers advanced tools such as iTunes optimization, ID3 tagging and automatic artwork management. Ensures faster and reliable content delivery
- Login to WP’s admin area and install Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting plugin (recommended option), configure stats and hosting services if you also using Blubrry as the audio hosting service
- Upload media files after signing in and setting things up
- Setup an on-site podcast player, Smart Podcast Player is highly recommended as it offers a great user experience and allows downloading content right from within the player
- Create a new page in WP to add the first podcast, creating a dedicated category for podcast episodes is highly recommended right from the beginning
- Submit the podcast to podcatchers like iTunes and enter the subscription links into Smart Podcast Player
- Preview with podcatchers, preferably with iTunes
- That’s just the beginning; you can try different options, plugins, recording hardware and software to find out what works best for you
- Some of the other popular podcasting plugins you might want to try include Podcasting Plugin by TSG (bare minimum), Libsyn Podcast Plugin (AIO solution) and Cincopa (a lot of options, fairly easy to use)
- You can also use WordPress podcasting-specific themes, check out our list we put together.
- Choose on-the-go recorders if you don’t want to deal with the complexity of sophisticated audio recording devices and software