This is one that I’m going to be learning as I write.
The technical side of things is possibly the easiest to fix. Apple has a quick guide to Podcasting on their support site which covers a sample recipe for Podcasts and the bullet points in how to actually record sound and get it published via RSS. It’s a little high level but I guess this means that my mum would find it easier than me as I tend to overthink things.
I’ve left the non-technical issues until last. This actually involves the content itself and is best covered by the Podcast Recipe on the link above.
Talking for 15-20 minutes is a tough job for a lot of people which is why you have to plan it. I’ve only ever been involved in one Podcast as a guest (The Spodcast (#28) and it wasn’t hard to fill the time – mainly because it was a conversation about interesting stuff that was timetabled and, at the end of the day, there were four people talking. 20 minutes of talk-time is a lot easier to fill when there’s four of you.
Not to be sniffed at, there are real problems if you’re producing podcast content and that is simply accessibility. The first issue is obvious – anyone who is deaf or has a severe hearing impairment will probably not be able to access your content. In the US that’s possibly 2% of the population (link). If you include any kind of hearing impairment it rises to almost 14%. The solution here therefore is to offer a transcript which, as you can guess, is a poor substitute, but if your content ain’t rubbish then it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Another problem related to accessibility is what is required to listen to your content. MP3 and AAC formats should be fine because one is a defacto standard and the other is an actual standard. Once you start making a political statement (like Ogg Vorbis) then you’ve just thrown away another chunk of listeners. This becomes even more problematic when a format is owned wholly by a company, like WMA, and is poorly supported on other platforms.
There’s also the problem of file size. A minute of conversation might take 512Kbytes, which is the same as about 500 pages of plain text (or seven and a half lines of text in Word 2008). Using plain text means you can feed it into a braille machine or a screen reader or magnify it to ungodly levels without much distortion. A 20 minute podcast is a much higher bandwidth and storage sink compared to the same amount of content as text.
- Get a Mac – using GarageBand will just make your life easier. If you’re in love with Windows, then keep using it I guess but you’ll have to find your own killer podcasting app.
- Find a Friend – I don’t think Podcasting is a lone activity and some of the least interesting podcasts come from people who do it alone. Look at popular talk radio shows – Chris Moyles seems to have about 17 people stuffed into his booth.
- Do it regularly – Weekly is probably what people expect. Don’t disappoint them.
- Careful with Commercials – no-one likes commercials. Everyone wants to skip them but if you do accept sponsorship then make sure you don’t ram them in your listeners faces. Try to be objective about and don’t just think of the “free” money. It’s not going to score you a Mercedes or anything.
I don’t know how useful this was, taking podcasting advice from someone who’s never really done it. A lot of it is common sense. But I’m going to be starting topic 19 from Chris Brogan’s 100 blogging topics. If any of my readers (yeah, both of you) do a podcast, chuck the URL in the comments as I’m interested to listen.