How to create a podcast

Why should you consider podcasting as part of your book marketing and promotion? If your target audience is online, it gives potential customers one more way to learn about your book and buy it, especially if your podcast offers information they’re interested in. Some people learn by reading but others learn by listening. A podcast with good content lets you reach these audio learners, who can listen in on their iPhones/pods/pads, computers, any MP3 player, or on a CD played in the car while driving to work.

In addition, it’s just one more way for people searching about information on your topic or fiction genre to find you. When your name starts showing up in all kinds of venues and formats, people will begin to take you and your books seriously.

It’s worth noting, though, that if those in your target audience don’t spend a lot of time online or generally aren’t tech-savvy, podcasting probably isn’t worth it for you.

This is a big topic, but here’s enough to get you started.

Step 1: Study the formats.

Listen to the podcasts of others in your category (romance novels, business books, etc.) to get a sense of the format that will work best for your target audience. This will help you identify approaches you don’t want to use, too. Podcast sources include BlogTalkRadio, iTunes, http://www.podomatic.com, and http://www.podcasdirectory.com.

Step 2: Master the technology.

I’m addressing technology before format or content because I am more comfortable creating content than I am creating a radio show – which is essentially what a podcast is. This means that before I start thinking about my podcast content, I want to know that I can actually execute the physical steps involved in creating the broadcast. (The good news is that I can – and so can you!)

You can record a podcast using your computer and a microphone and upload it to an appropriate host site, such as your blog, or you can record over the telephone. The telephone is my choice because the learning curve is shorter. Phone-it-in sources include www.blogtalkradio.com and conference call services such as www.FreeConferenceCall.com. (I like BlogTalkRadio because the site is also a podcast hub.)

Consider using Skype, too. When author consultant Jan Bear interviewed me about virtual book tours for her podcast, we used Skype for our audio conversation (if your computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam, you’ll have to get one that plugs into your USB port). She captured the file with a program called Call Recorder. (This is a Mac product; for Windows-based Skype recording check out Call Burner, MX Skype Recorder, or Pamela.)

Many who record on their computer use free software such as Audacity. Other software options include www.wildvoice.com and WebPod Studio.

Step 3: Establish your show’s format.

Rather than creating just one show, develop a concept for an ongoing program that you record and broadcast at the same time each week or month, just as you might if you had a traditional radio show. Ongoing podcasts will help you reach more people more often and provide a way for you to establish your topic or genre expertise. Think of this in terms of publishing a newsletter on your topic or genre rather than writing a single article.

Decide whether you will interview guests or whether someone will interview you – or if there will be no interviews at all! A typical format is:

  • Welcome
  • Announcements
  • Interview or discussion
  • Audience feedback
  • Conclusion and promotion of next podcast or other event

Create a template outline that you can use for each call, and share it with your guest in advance. It’s the considerate thing to do, but it will also help keep your show to its regular time limit.

Note that the length of time for your podcast should depend on the attention span of your audience and your content needs. Some people will tell you 20 minutes is a good length and others will say 45 minutes works. It might help to know more about how your target audience will be listening to your podcast. If you expect people to be listening while they exercise, 45 minutes might be better than 20.

Step 4: Get the podcast online.

How you post the podcast depends on the software you use to record your podcast and the sites you upload it to. When using BlogTalkRadio to record via telephone, your podcast is automatically available on that hosting site (you can also publish it on your Web site or blog). Apple offers detailed instructions for the iTunes process at http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html (who doesn’t want their podcast to be available to iPhones, iPads, etc.?). Check out the options at hosting sites http://podbean.com/ and http://www.podomatic.com, too.

Step 5: Promote, promote, promote.

People can’t listen to your excellent show unless they know about it, so promote it on your blog, in your e-zines and e-mails, through press releases, through your social networks, and so on. Share it with others targeting your audience, too, so that they can offer useful content on their sites and newsletters.

There’s lots of helpful information on this topic online, but one particularly good source is the free podcasting tutorial from consultant Jason Van Orden at http://www.how-to-podcast-tutorial.com/. Subscribe to his free e-newsletter at http://jasonvanorden.com/ and receive a complimentary copy of his “Marketing Your Podcast” seminar, too.

Do you host a podcast that helps you promote your book or writing? Please share a link here!


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6 Responses to How to create a podcast
  1. Shirley McLain
    January 20, 2012 | 1:02 pm

    This is something I have been considering and that makes your post all the more interesting to me. I am a retired RN and I’ve been thinking about a weekly health show podcast. Enjoyed the article very much.

  2. Sandra Beckwith
    January 20, 2012 | 2:20 pm

    Thanks, Shirley. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  3. Selasie Bulmuo
    March 14, 2012 | 12:15 pm

    Thanks. Very informative. I previously hated anything to do with technology. Can’t go anywhere without being techno – savvy. I still find it all quite complicated but I am learning fast. Thanks again.

  4. Sandra Beckwith
    March 14, 2012 | 1:33 pm

    Hey Selasie, technology can definitely be intimidating! When that happens to me, I try to read as much as I can about it first and talk to people who have done/used it — that seems to help me get over the obstacles I might put up for myself.

  5. Ester Benjamin Shifren
    November 2, 2013 | 2:23 am

    I am amazed at the extent of your sharing information and help for writers. Thank you so much. There’s a lot to absorb, but your extreme input deserves our equal effort to learn it all.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      November 2, 2013 | 3:27 am

      I hope it’s helpful, Ester.

      Sandy

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