4 Tips for Podcasting
Children's book author Katie Davis (left) published her first book in 1998. Thirteen years and 10 books later, she's learned a lot about the world of publishing and children's literature. In August of 2010, Davis launched Brain Burps About Books, a weekly podcast to share her knowledge of the business of children's literature.
Davis says her passion for children's literature and literacy, and the dearth of podcasts about the topic, led her to launch the show. Now with 73 one-hour episodes under her belt, Davis doesn't just enjoy her weekly broadcast -- she profits from it.
"The podcast has made me money by establishing me as an expert in my field," she says. "I am paid to speak at conferences, keynote fundraising galas and lead webinars. Additionally, because of my reputation and expertise, listeners will visit my site and often purchase my products, which include video tutorials, video series and an ebook."
Like Davis, architect David Doucette (right) launched a podcast in 2009 to promote his green residential design firm. He enjoyed his podcast, The Approachable Architect, so much that he now offers podcast coaching services to help others who want to produce their own online episodes.
"There are two categories of podcasters: the hobbyist and the business owner," Doucette says. "The hobbyist is so passionate about their hobby that they need to share it with the world. The business owner is typically interested in differentiating themselves from the competition while expanding their client base."
Doucette says he got hooked on podcasting because it offers the opportunity to reach people around the world when it is convenient for them. His podcasts, for instance, have been downloaded in almost 100 countries. And because people can subscribe to your show using a podcatcher like iTunes, they're more likely to become regular listeners. "Because of podcasting technology, we now have the power to become our own media companies, our own radio stations and produce high-quality audio or video content for not a lot of money," Doucette says.
Whether you're in it for the money or just for fun, here are four tips for getting started as a podcaster:
1. Share your passion.
"Often the hobbyists can be the best podcasters because they are so passionate and they have amazing stories to tell," Doucette says. "The best business podcasters are also the ones who are so passionate about their business, they want to tell others about it. The business owner who approaches podcasting from an educational standpoint, rather than a sales standpoint, is the one who will build up a core audience of devoted followers because he is bringing real value to his audience."
2. Don't break the bank.
While expensive equipment is available, podcasting doesn't have to cost a lot of money. The essentials are a microphone (Doucette recommends Blue Microphone's Snowball), a computer and audio editing software, such as Audacity, which is free. Paul Wheaton, who podcasts about permaculture at Rich Soil, started with his Blackberry in VoiceNotes mode for podcasting.
3. Be specific.
Most successful podcasts are targeted toward a specific niche audience. Choose your audience, work to please them, and don't worry about the rest of the people out there. "If you try to please everybody, your podcast will be of interest to nobody," Wheaton says. "Make a podcast for that one person out of a thousand who thinks what you have to say is cool. Expect a lot of people to unsubscribe or say icky things -- your podcast is not for those people."
4. Get personal.
In addition to sharing your specialized knowledge about your topic, podcasting also allows you the opportunity to share your own story and let your audience connect with you. For example, Doucette released 34 episodes of The Approachable Architect, and most of those episodes included interviews with in-studio guests. But the two most popular episodes have always been "Who is David Doucette?" a podcast in which Doucette shared more about himself, his values and beliefs, and "The Best of the Blog," in which he shared two personal stories about his father and his son. The popularity of those episodes showed Doucette "the power of podcasting to connect with your audience on a very personal level," he says. "People want to know about you."
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