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Podcasting Pays Off

Reaching out to the iPod generation with web audio shows can add revenue for AV pros.

America Online has also jumped into the fray, adding a new AOL Podcasting 101 domain. It features a beginner's guide to podcasting, easy access to podcasts on AOL and the Web, and enhanced podcasting search capabilities. Plus, the web monolith has also added a streaming podcast channel to its AOL Radio.

Fish says that ease of use is key. “Podcasting lets you convey information in a friendly, relaxed, and inviting way,” he says. “It gives you the opportunity to let the presenter's personality shine through, draw in the audience, and lay the groundwork for future interactions.”

Plus, podcast shows demand relatively little effort to put together and post. Indeed, some podcasters say that after getting the hang of things, they're able to create and post a quick audio show on-the-fly in about 15 minutes. More involved shows, such as GearCast, which features some audio sweetening, background music, and a very professional feel, take about a half day to a day to create and post, according to Mazzara.

If you're thinking of experimenting with pod-casting as a promotional medium for your own operation, here's a blueprint for getting started, courtesy of Mazzara, Fish, and other podcast marketing gurus:

  • Initially, find an easy way to experiment with the medium. Gabcast.com, a free podcast creation and hosting service, is a good place to start. Just stop by, create an account in five minutes, and “phone in” your podcast. You'll see your recording appear in podcast form on a Gabcast-hosted site in only seconds.
  • Find podcast-creation software that's right for you. Once you've gotten the feel of how pod-casts work, you may want to bring some podcast software in-house. Some popular pod-cast-creation packages and online services include Podblaze.com and IpodderX.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Podcasts of 15 to 30 minutes will likely get the most play, Fish says. He also believes your podcast should have an unscripted feel. Try a Q&A format, which tends to be very popular, he says.
  • Be careful where you post your podcast. While podcasts are easy to make, the resulting huge audio file is a bandwidth hog, and can easily spike the bandwidth fees for your website. To save money, specialized podcast-hosting services will host your podcast at a cut rate. “We use Libsyn,” Mazzara says. “They only charge for storage size of the file — not the actual bandwidth needed to download the file. $30-a-month covers all of our podcasts.”
  • Promote your podcast ‘til you drop. Besides posting your podcast on your website, and including a link to it in every piece of email you can find, you can also post notice of your creation on numerous podcast directories such as Podcast Alley, FreshPodcasts.com, Podcast.net, Apple Podcasts, iPodder.org, Odeo.com, and Digital Podcast.
  • Stay current on the podcast industry and its technology. One of the best sources of information for all things podcast is PodcastingNews.com. The site is zealous in collecting any type of company press release related to podcasting, and also features a podcast directory, forum, and links to podcasting gear and manufacturers. This is Stop One for anyone looking for the latest on the industry.
  • Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Thousand Oaks, CA. He can be reached at joe@joedysart.com.



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