The Quick Start Guide to Podcasting

The Quick Start Guide to Podcasting


One of the biggest advantages that online publishers have over print publishers is their ability to provide content in audio and video format. There are dozens of opportunities to provide exciting audio and video clips, whatever the subject area. Very few publishers however, have embraced these opportunities.


This article will focus on Podcasting. It will provide some simple instructions about how to get started.


What is Podcasting?


The word Podcasting, comes from combining the words iPod and broadcasting.


In the simplest terms, podcasting is the ability to download audio or video clips from a computer onto an iPod or similar device so they can be listened to or watched on the move. Technically speaking, according to Wikipedia, podcasting “is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the internet, using either RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers”.


Listening to audio over the internet is not new, it has just gotten a whole lot easier.


What sets podcasting apart from other ways of delivering audio online is the idea of automatically downloaded content. You can drop your MP3 player into its cradle before you go to bed and then in the morning it is full of fresh content. For subscription website publishers, this is a fantastic way of interacting with your audience.


Start Listening


To enable you to listen to and download podcasts, you need a piece of software called a “podcast receiver”. I use Juice, which is a free cross-platform application and can be downloaded from http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php.


Once you have downloaded the service, these are the steps that you go through:

  • Click on the subscriptions tab in Juice and then the '+' sign that enables you to 'add a feed'.

  • Click on the RSS feed button of a podcast you want to subscribe to.

  • A simple copy and paste of the address (URL) of the RSS feed will subscribe you to the podcast.

  • You'll now see the podcast episode details load in the lower window of Juice.

  • Whenever the podcast is updated, and as long as you are running Juice, this program will automatically download new episodes to a directory you specify.

If this sounds easy, Apple's iTunes makes it even easier by letting you subscribe to a podcast by dragging and dropping the RSS button into the iTunes podcast directory.

The process for downloading and listening to podcasts is getting easier and more intuitive by the month.


Creating Podcasts


Creating podcasts can be very easy. I would strongly recommend that you start learning to do it now. Audio and video will be the future of online publishing, so get a head start.


  1. The Easy Way!

The easiest way to create a podcast is to use one of the free automatic podcast creation sites such as Odeon (www.odeo.com)  or Podomatic (www.podomatic.com).

Here are the steps you need to follow to be able to create a podcast at one of these sites: (www.podomatic.com/)

  • First, register for an account. You'll need to provide a username, password and email address.

  • Next, check the confirmation email and click on the link. This will take you to your new podcasting homepage.

  • From here, you only need to click on one or two buttons ('Record Audio' at Odeo, and 'Post Episode' at Podomatic) to record straight from your browser.

  • Afterwards, your audio is automatically published as a podcast.

These sites really take the hard work out of podcasting, and mean you do not have to bother with finding server space or setting up an RSS feed. Without a doubt, it is the quickest and best way to start, and means you can concentrate on the content of your podcast rather than technical aspects.

If you would prefer to record your audio away from the computer and then create a podcast later, this is the way to do it.

  • First, record your interview, news, seminar or how-to guide using a digital voice recorder or a portable mp3 player that can record.

  • Remove the unwanted sections and reorder the audio if necessary with audio editing software such as the free-to-download, easy-to-use Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/).

  • Save the file as an mp3 file on your computer.

  • Upload the mp3 file to Odeo or Podomatic.

There is a limit to the storage space on these free sites, and although you can upgrade to a paid account (or create more than one), there are other ways of publishing podcasts.


b) The Difficult Way!

This is beyond the scope of this article and technically beyond most subscription website publishers, but for the tech savvy, this is the more advanced way of creating podcasts:

  • Create the audio in Audacity, or using an mp3 recorder.

  • Upload the file to server space (you can always use free space provided by a site such as Ourmedia (www.ourmedia.org), where you will need to register with the Internet Archive beforehand (www.archive.org).

  • Decide on where in your site you want the podcast or set up a new blog to act as home to your podcast. Blogger (www.blogger.com) or TypePad (www.typepad.com) are a couple of popular blog providers.

  • Set up an RSS feed that supports podcasting at Feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com/) and add the button to your page or blog. Even if your site already produces an RSS feed, it's worth setting up a separate feed with Feedburner just in case you ever want to change your site or blog in the future. You can also set up different feeds on the same site, so use it to have several podcasts.

If you would like to know more about advanced podacsting, you can always join one of the many Podcasting discussion groups.

Applications for Podcasts

Finally I will finish with a few ideas for how you might want to use podcasting on your website.


  • Interviews – You can conduct interviews by phone or face-to-face and then upload them as podcasts.

  • Record Speeches or Lectures – Many subscription website owners are also publics speakers. This is great content. Record it, edit it and podcast it.

  • Record Visits to Relevant Places – If you run a site about motor racing, next time you go to a race, take a digital record with you. You could provide commentary, get interviews or just capture the big race atmosphere. Also think about conferences and seminars

  • Create How-To Guides – Audio how-to-guides can be very popular. They work particularly well for self-improvement websites

  • Music – Are particular pieces of music relevant to your audience? A parenting site produced a audio podcast of songs that help a baby sleep.

  • News and Views – A daily or weekly news and views update can be a great way of keeping in touch with your members.

  • Ask Your Members – Ask your members to record their own podcasts and submit them to you.

  • Record a Teleseminar – Many subscription website owners now do teleseminars. Record them and make them available to the members on the site.


Conclusion


All subscription website publishers should become familiar with audio and video content. It will allow them to compete with and beat offline publishers who are restricted to producing content just in print.

Podcasting can be easy and fun to do. You could have your first podcast up on your site within the hour ... so give it a go now.