Podcasting, it’s a great form of content marketing that puts you into your listeners home, car, office, or wherever they decide to listen to you. A podcast is like listening to a radio station, except you can pick exactly what you listen to. You can use a podcast to share information, tell stories, jokes, sing, sell products or anything else thats limited only by your imagination. In this blog we outline everything that you need to start podcasting today!
Whilst this blog contains a lot of information, it is not a tutorial, you will not find steps on how to edit your audio or create your artwork, but we might add additional blog entries and videos, subject to demand – let us know what interests you.
You can listen to our podcast, without subscribing, by pointing your browser to our hosting provider LibSyn. To subscribe in iTunes, you can follow this iTunes link. To subscribe in almost any other app, you can search ‘Devology’ or type ‘http://devology.libsyn.com’ in their ‘Add Site’ feature.
The creative bit
As keen as you might be, you can’t just fire up the audio recording software and record a podcast, you need to consider what you plan to talk about, how regular will it be released, what format the show will take, what would attract listeners in the podcast artwork and title and much more.
I knew that our podcast would discuss our progress with Social Scheduler but this isn’t a compelling enough topic to encourage people to trust us and subscribe; it needs more interesting content.
I needed a short while to think about what else we could do, that would interest other people, that’s when it hit me, we are great software developers, but awful at marketing. Why don’t we share our experiences so that others can learn about marketing through our successes and failures.
The podcast name
Your podcast name is very important, it’s what helps you get discovered during a podcast search and if your prospective listener isn’t hooked by the punchy title, or they can’t conclude what your offering, then they might skip over you, and most likely you will never have the opportunity of getting that chance again.
iTunes use a combination of the podcast name and description, so you don’t have to make the podcast name too complex, but you do have to consider that some other podcast search listings might only search within the title, not within the description.
The way I like to look at this is you have less than 2 seconds to say what you do, explain it in your podcast name as succinctly and obviously as possible!
Prior to this epiphany, I was initially thinking ‘The Devology Podcast’, or ‘Devology’, or ‘Devology – the Social Scheduler podcast’, but only the owners of Devology and our existing customers would understand what the podcast might be about.
I then thought about some of my favourite podcasts, such as TechZing and Startups For The Rest Of Us, The #AskGaryVee podcast, Gaining Traction, SocialMedia Marketing, This Week In Startups, Bootstrapped Web.
All of those contain keywords / buzzwords that help prospective listeners know what their main focus is. Tech, Startups, Traction, Social Media, Marketing, Startups, Bootstrapped and yes, even #AskGaryVee (he’s a celebrity business person, so his product is ‘himself’). It’s important to have keywords that people search for and relate to.
Our SaaS product Social Scheduler, it’s a Bootstrapped Startup, but lets keep it to one word, what word would most people search for… ‘Startup’. In addition, I decided to talk about Marketing. Boom – simple “The Startup and Marketing Podcast”, I then added the suffix “From Devology” simply to aid any primitive podcast searching engines.
I’ll probably kick myself in the future, because I want to attract ‘Social Media’ marketing people to use Social Scheduler. But I decided that our future products might have nothing to do with Social Media Marketing and therefore a more generic name would have a longer shelf-life.
Here’s an example, it’s our own entry in iTunes. Don’t forget to mirror the name in your artwork (coming later), keep it consistent!
At this point, I knew that I wanted to talk about our product(s) and our marketing efforts. I didn’t want the show to be too prescriptive about the format, but for me a rough outline couldn’t hurt.
Here’s what I’ve decided that I will try to talk about every week, for 20-30 minutes.
- Startups / Software-as-a-service (SaaS) – especially our products
- Marketing (especially Social Media Marketing)
- Product updates for our own Social Scheduler product
- Productivity tips
- News (with emphasis on Social Media)
- Tech stuff – subject to time
It’s really important to aim for consistency. There’s no point releasing the podcast then slowly reducing the frequency that you release episodes; your listeners will want to know when the next episode is coming and have a higher chance of remaining a loyal subscriber if you put consistent effort in.
Why 20-30 minutes? I listen to many podcasts, those that are over an hour I think twice about listening to each episode, I also find that they are not laser focused. Whereas podcasts like ‘Startups for the rest of us’ and ‘The #AskGaryVee show’ are fast paced and entertaining. Since I prefer podcasts that respect my time, I wanted to create a podcast that respected my listeners time too.
Choosing the hosting platform
You might be thinking that you just upload to iTunes and you’re done? No, unfortunately iTunes doesn’t store your podcasts, it only points to somewhere else that hosts them.
I used to host a different podcast called BitBanter, on that occasion I use a self-installed Drupal installation (Drupal is a Content Management System, or CMS), then I installed the most popular podcasting module. That module enabled me to upload the MP3 (recorded sound) and add the episode metadata (title, artwork, etc) and it would generate the special RSS feed that iTunes monitors to know new episodes are present. It didn’t include all of the Apple iTunes fields required, so I hacked it a bit and remembered it being a pain. So this time around I done something different.
I researched some podcast hosting companies and SoundCloud and Libsyn kept popping up. One of my old favourite podcasts (from over 10 years ago) was The Java Posse, they always mentioned Libsyn so this was a good indication to me that they weren’t going anywhere soon. Also Dave Jackson on the Social Media Examiner (Society) forums said the following.
I could see from Dave’s previous discussions that he was worth listening to. Dave also had a lot of experience, he offered lots of advice about why you should and shouldn’t use each provider.
Credit to Dave Jackson – http://www.schoolofpodcasting.com/
The only thing I found painful was that LibSyn doesn’t verify all the iTunes compatibility that it could, for example I had uploaded the artwork, but for some reason it was not associated with my show, so it kept defaulting to the default Libsyn supplied artwork. Also my exported PNG image was larger than the maximum file size permitted by iTunes, so I kept getting a generic error message when I tried to add the podcast to iTunes. In the end I exported a JPG and it was fine. Apple were unnecessarily fussy, they were the cause, but it was frustrating the LibSyn could have solved me hours of head scratching.
Libsyn starts at $5 per month, but unfortunately requires boosting if you require analytics +$2 and if you plan to have weekly podcasts you’ll run out of space unless you jump to the $15 plan (250mb per month) – but this includes analytics.
I’m starting on the $5 + $7 subscription and next month I’ll jump to the $15 plan to get everything I need (note the amount of space you have available resets every months; it’s a renewable quota). It’s probably worth noting that their advanced plans will enable you to build a custom mobile app, dedicate to playing your podcast and showing the show notes. I don’t plan on using those features though.
Choosing your tools
I’m not an audio expert, so I asked Justin Vincent from the podcast ’TechZing’ and he recommended the Audio-Technica Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone. I used this on my old podcast, Bitbanter and continue to use it for our new Devology podcast.
Leslie Samuel from Social Media Examiner doesn’t recommend it though, because it picks up a lot of ambient sound, so unless your room is well insulated from noise it might pick up more than you hoped. For me, it’s working out great – I just have to hope the Seagulls are behaving before I start!
Alternatively, if you have a bigger budget, then this beauty, the Heil PR-40 Professional Studio Vocal Microphone is what Leslie Samuel and Mike Stelzner both use on their podcasts.
The Audio Software
I have used Audacity before, it’s free, but I personally don’t like it. Audacity looks and feels dated, it doesn’t come with jingles and sound effects that you can use out-of-the-box, but it is available on Windows and Mac.
I prefer Garageband but it’s only available on Apple Mac / iOS, also be-warned that Apple keep changing this application considerably on every release, so tutorials may refer to steps that are no longer applicable, or worse, missing (such as auto-ducking in Garageband 10 – ducking is where you reduce the volume of music in a background track to enable the foreground track to be easily heard, when nothing is spoken the background track volume is increased).
Below you can see a screenshot of Episode 1 of ‘The Startup & Marketing Podcast – From Devology’.
It took me a couple of hours to get rid of the background ‘hiss’, in the end I found that ‘Male Narrator Noisy’ worked best, where ‘Noisy’ is referring to the filtering it does to the audio, nothing to do with how loud you personally speak.
Whilst trying to find out how to improve the sound, I found that features I used in Garageband 9 were missing, some plugins were considered ‘Legacy’, so I needed to go to Garageband preferences and turn on ‘Audio Units’ and let it download some stuff.
Afterwards I had more sound loops and under Audio Units were the Apple plugins that I had previously used.
You need to consider how your artwork will look in the search results, when it’s very, very small. You also want to make sure that it looks good when it’s expanded. My advice is just to make it 1,400 x 1,400 pixels to 3,000 x 3,000 pixels, RGB as JPG or PNG. However, Apple limit you to a maximum file size of 500KB, so the compressed JPG format might work best for you; if it’s over 500KB you will likely get a vague error upon submission to Libsyn.
This looks great in the search results and in iTunes various screens.
If you have a Mac, then Pixelmator is a great choice at $29.99 on the app store. Overall I think the effects you can easily create mean that you don’t need to be a graphics expert. You can also try it for free.
The go-to for most graphic experts is Photoshop and it is also available on PC, but it can be expensive ($9.99 per month), whereas Gimp is free (whilst their product name doesn’t sound professional, the graphics application is actually fully featured).
Uploading your podcast (Libsyn)…
Once the podcast is recorded, you upload the MP3 somewhere publicly accessible. We have chosen Libsyn. When you upload the file you also specify some other details. You need to consider the podcast title and description carefully for discovery reasons, but you also need to consider the categories, artists, etc. Libsyn enables you specify all of the fields required by iTunes, here are some of our settings for the ‘show’ settings.
It would be nice if Libsyn showed you how it would approximately appear, but the mapping is logical. Here are the settings for the first episode.
And this is how iTunes displays all of that information.
Registering with iTunes
You only do this step once – once you are registered then iTunes looks at your podcast feed (i.e on Libsyn) and then keeps itself up-to-date.
This was a little bit of a pain, I was looking everywhere in iTunes for a menu option to add my podcast to iTunes. As it turned out, I performed a Google search which returned an Apple forum post that included a special link, causing iTunes to then prompt me for my podcast feed details. However, since then, it seems to be staring at me in the face within iTunes itself, so I guess I must have either been on a different tab, or perhaps was over tired. The screenshot below shows that you click on the Podcasts tab, then you’ll see the ‘Submit a podcast’ menu item. Worst case, here’s the link that I used https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast
Here’s the screen that Apple displays. For some reason it kept nagging me about an issue, but then it eventually let me register anyway – so I think it was using a cached version of the feed that had the incorrectly sized image. So if your image is 4,000 x 4,000 and less than 500kb and it’s RGB, then iTunes should no longer complain, if iTunes does complain, then I recommend leaving it for 30 minutes and then try again later; if it’s anything like my experience it will ‘just work’.
To find the correct feed information, within Libsyn you go to the ‘Destinations’ tab and then you’ll see the ‘Libsyn classic feed’ URL, it’s this that you paste into iTunes.
We are really pleased that as of 23rd August 2015, iTunes have approved our listing in their podcast listings, so you can now search for ‘Devology’, then up we pop.
Registering with other networks
I haven’t done this part yet, but here’s some links that I plan to work through, so that I’m registered with other podcasting search engines. iTunes is by far the largest, but some people on Android, Windows phone and Blackberry may not find your podcast.
http://feedshark.brainbliss.com/ <– UPDATE This looks like a waste of time http://www.podcastalley.com/ <– UPDATE No way of registering your podcast
http://www.podcast411.com/page7.html <– UPDATE currently shutdown podcast submissions due to spammers
http://podcast411.com/page2.html offers many, here’s the ones that worked for me and not already included elsewhere…
– https://marketingpodcasts.com/list-your-podcast/ <– But only if your podcast is about marketing!
http://stitcher.com/contentProviders.php <– UPDATE Applied – waiting
http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/tap069-top-podcast-directories-and-how-to-get-in-them/ <– about 50% work, theses ones worked for me…
– Bing Webmaster Tools
– Double Twist
http://propodder.com/2011/10/top-50-podcast-directories/ (below are the ones I done through this site)…
We would love to know whether this information has been helpful, perhaps you would like some additional information, or a tutorial written? Just leave us some feedback in the comments section.
Once you have released your podcast, then you can use Libsyn to send the details about your podcast to some of your social networks, but unfortunately not many. This is where Social Scheduler can come in, we can help schedule your messages to many more social platforms. The added bonus is that you can remind your Twitter followers every couple of days, at a different time each day, for say a week. Now you are increasing the chances of someone discovering you even more!
Check out Social Scheduler to promote your podcast!