Podcast channels are great for everyone who enjoys getting information in an audio format while traveling to work or doing sports. Especially with the rise of smartphones and a broad range of topics offered by podcasters, this media type gained more interest in the recent time.

How to Set up Your Podcast Channel?

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This article is aimed to provide the basic knowledge for someone who wants to setup a podcast. We start with 1) what is podcasting and 2) types of podcasting and continue then to learn about 3) how to set up your podcast, and 4) pros and cons of podcasting.

WHAT IS PODCASTING?

Podcasting involves preparing and distributing audio files with the help of RSS to computers of users who are subscribed. These digital media files, created in a series, are known as podcasts. With the help of a software called “podcatcher“, a series of files can be subscribed to.

Once subscription is done, the podcatcher regularly checks for publication of fresh files, and if anything is available, the same is automatically downloaded to portable music player or computer, for watching or listening, as and when desired. At first, the file is saved as an MP3, following which uploading is done to the service provider’s website. Once uploaded, the MP3 file obtains its URL. Then within the RSS XML document, the URL is inserted into an XML tag, in the form of an enclosure.

What is podcasting used for?

Podcasting can be used for a number of activities, as follows:

  • Informational content for self-guided walking tours;
  • Interviews and band promotional clips related to the music industry;
  • Talk shows involving investor news, organizational or industry news, sportscasts and other news coverage and commentaries;
  • Informational material for instruction or training;
  • Storytelling activities for the visually impaired or children.

Why podcasting is done?

Podcasting is a favorite for people who wish to select their own content (as is done when we use the internet), rather than opting for the radio or television broadcasting model wherein you are required to tune in and select from the programs that are playing. A number of people prefer podcasting owing to the convenience with which they can load fresh materials into their personal music players or iPods. This enables them to enjoy listening to their podcasts all through the day.

In the opinion of many, podcast is a very good alternative to television and commercial radio, because the low price of creating a podcast enables an increasing number of viewpoints and voices to be heard. Moreover, contrary to radio and television, where programs are produced for mass viewing and consumption, podcasts can be termed as ‘narrowcasts’ in contrast to broadcasts. This is because, in case of podcasting, those who have an interest in a particular topic find out and sign up for programs to listen to them. There is a plethora of podcasts that are built around extremely niche topics of interest, building communities revolving around topics that are so obscure that conventional broadcasting is unable to cover them.

Now the question is, why do people make podcasts? The answer is that podcasting offers a powerful yet easy means for communication of messages and ideas. Through podcasts, potentially anyone can be reached; you just need somebody who has a broadband connection, is looking for podcasts and is ready to subscribe to your show. Since content is mostly delivered in a series, it spreads over a considerable span of time. The start-up costs and equipment required are minimal, and if you have your computer, the job is more than half done.

Podcasters usually begin their shows with an aim to create online communities, soliciting viewers’ feedback and comments. For communicating with the producers and listeners, people make use of forums, groups and web blogs. Businesses are also becoming keen on leveraging podcasts for promotion to groups having particular interests. Moreover, for big companies, podcasts are increasingly becoming an effective tool for communicating with employees and customers.

TYPES OF PODCASTS

Podcasts have numerous shapes and sizes. In fact, with each passing day, businesses are coming up with more and more creative ways to make podcasts a part of their marketing plans and business strategies. Broadly speaking, podcasts can be divided into four major types:

Type #1. Audio Podcast

These constitute audio only and come in MP3 or AAC format. Audio podcasts are the most common, as they are the ones that exhibit maximum compatibility with all portable media devices and computers. The advantages of using audio podcasts are that the file size is comparatively smaller, below 10 MB, and these files can be easily created. The only limitation of an audio podcast is that the content is restricted only to audio. However, on the basis of the content, the audio might be everything that is required.

Type #2. Video Podcast

Video podcasting constitutes delivering video content online. This term distinguishes podcasts that involve the distribution of video from those which constitute audio files. Video podcasting is increasingly becoming very popular for conventional television and media networks.

Contrary to an audio podcast, the production of a video podcast is similar to other projects involving video production and calls for more planning and production time. So far as the file size is concerned, the bandwidth connection for a video podcast downloading should be high since these are large sized files. For video podcasts, the preferred format is usually .m4v or MP4 H.264. Windows, as well as Mac users, can create and consume these.

Type #3. Enhanced Podcast

These are unique and blend audio podcast along with synced images, somewhat like a narrated slideshow. Enhanced podcasts more or less involve a number of still images that alter in the same manner as a slideshow. You may include live website URL links as well as chapter markers that will help to skip across the podcast. In fact, these podcasts are .m4a format (alternatively known as AAC or mp4 format). A layer is present so that the synced layers can be embedded.

Sony and Apple have adopted this enhanced format, which is playable on both Windows as well as Mac computers having iTunes installed. At present, Windows Media Player cannot play enhanced podcasts. The advantage of using enhanced podcasts is that you get audio as well as video content. However, the size of the file is almost similar to the conventional audio-only format, noticeably smaller in size compared to a video podcast.

Type #4. Screencast

A screencast is also called a video screen capture. Here, a computer screen output is digitally recorded, which may often consist of audio narration. Though the term screencast was coined in 2004, Lotus ScreenCam, and such other products were in use since 1994. The initial products did not have considerable editing features and led to large files. Recent ones render support to compact file formats like mp4/H.264 and Adobe Flash. Also, there are more refined editing features that make room for alterations in sequence, audio, and mouse movement.

When it comes to podcast content, these are some of the types of content that businesses usually carry out podcasting with.

  • Audio books – These ‘read aloud’ books are not only embraced by the visually impaired, but also by other individuals.
  • Audio tours – These are guided tours with detailed explanations.
  • Sporting event commentaries – Fans can enjoy commentaries and opinions about sporting events with more flexibility.
  • Class lectures – Supplemental class materials are provided by universities in the form of podcasts.
  • Medical instruction – Medical institutions leverage podcasts for offering studying aids to students.

HOW TO SET UP YOUR PODCAST CHANNEL?

Setting up a podcast is simple and can be done in a step by step manner. There are four steps and let us see how a podcast can be set up in these sequential steps.

Step 1: Establish a platform that is technically viable

1.1 Define a Podcast Category for your future Podcast: You may have an iPod, iPad, iPhone or iTunes, but it may not be the case always. Having a WordPress blog is a more feasible way to set up the platform. For creating the podcast category, hover across posts after logging in to the WP back office. Add the fresh Category “Podcast” once you click on Categories. For Parent, select None. Go to the bottom and click on the icon Add New Category.

1.2 Install an Audio Player: An audio player is required so that your audience is able to listen to the podcast directly from the blog. Go to the WP back office, take the mouse to Plugins and select Add New. Type Audio Player in the Search Plugins field. Most often Audio Player comes in the first search result. Click on Install Now and the plugin would be activated.

1.3 Select a Software for Recording: For creating a podcast, a software is needed which is capable of sound recording on your computer. You may choose Sound Recorder, which is accompanied by Windows Vista. But Sound Recorder does not possess editing features, which you will get in Windows Movie Maker. A downloaded program such as Audacity can also be used, which can both record and edit. There is also comprehensive software for recording, editing, and uploading.

1.4 Obtain the Domain Feed URL: Prior to establishing the FeedBurner, you would require the podcast feed URL for the blog. Do not confuse this with the blog feed URL; it is completely different. Just affix “/category/podcast/feed” after your URL and the podcast feed URL is ready (for example: http://www.yourdomainname.com/category/podcast/feed). Copy the link and paste it in something like a notepad.

1.5 Establish the FeedBurner: The FeedBurner is like a middle man connecting your iTunes and your blog. This is crucial since in case you opt for shifting your podcast to a different site or blog, the only thing you are required to do is edit a single field in the FeedBurner.

You need to start off with a Gmail account. Once you visit feedburner.com, you need to paste the podcast feed URL in the blank field. The box “I am a podcaster!” needs to be checked. Then click on the Next button. Then name the Feed Address and Feed Title, and click Next. Once the FeedBurner feed is live, copy paste it somewhere and click Next. The next step is the configuration of the podcast so that FeedBurner would be able to direct iTunes regarding listing of the podcast.

Step 2: Record the Audio

Before you start recording the audio, there are certain things you need to prepare.

2.1 Your Podcast’s Title: Your show would need a title. You can easily use the name of your brand or blog in addition to the word “podcast”, which makes good sense. But since you have the opportunity to add in some more extra words for targeting particular keywords, you may as well consider doing it for a good rank in iTunes, which is more or less a search engine. When you are thinking of inserting keywords in the title of your podcast, be as natural as you can. For more guidelines, look up “blogging” or “online business” in iTunes and go to the “podcast episodes” segment.

2.2 Your Talent/Host Name: This is, in fact, your name which will be also part of your branding. However, for the perfect keywords for ranking, you can always add something more. The name should guide people in understanding who you are.

2.3 Your Podcast’s Subtitle: Directories including iTunes might require your show to have a subtitle. For the subtitle, it would be great to have a small, short description revolving around your podcast. One or two sentences would be enough.

2.4 Your Podcast’s Description or Summary: This constitutes the primary description for your podcast. In order to describe your show, iTunes gives you 4000 characters. The copy ought to be engaging as well as descriptive. It should also include the proper keywords to ensure good ranking in iTunes. Remember that an apt description will incorporate keywords naturally.

2.5 Your Podcast’s Artwork: The podcast would require some artwork, which is something like a square image highlighting your show. It is true that podcasts are rather auditory, but they also call for a visual, graphical element, which has a very significant role to play.

First of all, it is those elements that the audience will view in iTunes and other podcasting directories before they listen to a spoken word or see a written word in summary or description. In fact, you need the artwork to create a first impression.

In case of iTunes, an attractive podcast image gives you an opportunity to be in the most visually appealing segments of iTunes. Moreover, people would also be able to see your artwork in the media players, that is, their portable devices or computers. A powerful image gives you a strong brand identity. Specifications required:

  • An image of 1400 x 1400 pixels, effectively representing the podcast;
  • Image needs to be in .png or .jpg file format;
  • Image should possess readability at smaller sizes;
  • The same image at 300 x 300 pixels under another file name.

2.6 Recording the podcast: Once you have prepare the preparation steps for recording your Podcast, follow the next creation and recording. If you are recording on your computer, plug in the headset and microphone and make the speakers mute. Once recording is done, play with Windows Media Player to ensure that everything is proper.

For those recording the audio using iPad, it is best to go for the GarageBand app, as it provides good quality. Launch the app and as your microphone, make use of Apple EarPods with Mic.

Step 3: Share your Podcast – Submission to iTunes

iTunes helps in the distribution of the podcast to your audience. With a credit card, open a free iTunes account. Then select the Podcasts Tab in iTunes store and click on it. Then go to Submit a Podcast and click on it. A blank field will appear where you will need to paste the Feedburner. Then click on Continue. If all the steps are correct, information would be automatically pulled from the feed by iTunes. If anything is wrong, you have to Cancel. Otherwise, you can click on Submit. Do not forget to select the Category for your Podcast. To finish the job, click on Done.

Step 4: Upload your tagged MP3 audio file

Once you add the required description and title to the MP3 audio file, the next thing is to tag it to the podcast hosting service. For this, you are required to create an account at libsyn.com. Go to the Settings icon and provide the correct details, after which click on Save. Similarly, provide information for the Destinations Tab and save. Select the icon Publish and then select Advanced publisher.

THE PROS AND CONS OF PODCASTING

Every coin has two sides, and podcasting also comes with its benefits and limitations.

Pros:

  • Podcasts are pretty easy to create. You just need the proper software and a standalone audio recorder or a microphone.
  • Podcasting allows the creator to freely present, thereby leading to a powerful relationship with the audience.
  • Like blogging, anyone and everyone can create podcasts.
  • Podcasts are appropriately suited for content that does not call for visual support.
  • The audio material can be distributed in a range of languages making room for a wider audience reach.
  • Podcasts give learners the opportunity to review information as many times as required.

Cons:

  • Audio podcasts do not properly suit subjects that are complicated and need to be accompanied by a lot of visual support.
  • Podcasts have limited search ability over the internet as the search engines often do not pick them up.
  • Audio and video files often consume a lot of space on the hard drive of the computer.

Although podcasts have some limitations, they are a great way to distribute content and get the following of a large audience. Considering the day-to-day requirements of the business world, podcasts offer a great medium for detailed information distribution for employees as well as customers. Due to this capability of information sharing in a unique manner, podcasts are becoming popular with time and are also turning out to be a great source of earning money.

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