Personal Experience in Podcasting

Date January 18, 2008

How I Got Started
I first got involved in podcasting back in January of 2006. It started with my listening, which quickly turned into my participating in other people’s podcasts; either by comments at their blog, messages left to show voicemail lines or participation in online forums. After a short time I was asked to guest host a show, which sealed the deal for me: I needed to start my own podcast and it didn’t matter what it was about. It was fun, engaging and wholly entertaining.

My First Show
A friend of mine agreed to co-host a show with me. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to get the show past two episodes and it fizzled out. I continued to participate in other people’s shows as well as help out where I could. There were times that I even produced my own audio segments for shows. In February of 2007 though, things changed. An idea was created to start a podcast based on the television show Grey’s Anatomy. It was the first fan based podcast of it’s time and was an instant hit. I co-hosted the show with Stephanie and Cliff Ravenscraft where we incorporated live listeners, voicemail calls, also making the show available for download at a later time. I created a visual brand for the podcast in terms of cover art, podcast logo, promotional banner and other promotional items to be used on forums and the like. After the television show finished up for the year in May, I resigned my position as co-host.

The Current Focus
Just a few weeks later in May of 2007 I launched another podcast called Girls Night In. This is a show with a total of four hosts. Not only do I occupy the role as a host but I also manage, produce and have branded this show. As I continue on I find that I’ve learned so much more than I thought was possible in regards to all aspects of podcasting.

I’ve established how to effectively market our brand, incorporate live listeners into the show, route and record audio where each of the four hosts of the show are in separate parts of the country, master audio levels, edit audio, learn to master post-production editing and effects to allow for the final product to be more palatable on the download. I’ve been able to give the show a presence on a number of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace where we’ve been able to find a number of listeners willing to interact and pose feedback.

The Visual Brand
I’ve established our presence at a website which is syndicated with RSS (a blog) thus allowing the media that we create to reach the listener without any action on their part. The site itself is branded along with the cover art. Beyond simply creating the logo, coverart and website with a consistent brand, I also went a step further and created individual avatars for each of the hosts to use if they so desired. This way, each host would be visually associated with the show on whichever social network they chose to be a part of. The blog has been sprinkled with all sorts of goodies that make it easy for the listener or potential new listener to navigate and find out more about the show. There are blog posts from the hosts, posts that contain the podcast episodes and show notes, pages that share what the podcast is about, how to contact the hosts, where to interact within the show, outside of the show and in social networks, a schedule of our show dates and an easy way to listen directly from the site.

Why do you want to do this? Well, people are going to find your podcast by searching for it, looking for it and not necessarily hearing it first. They’re likely going to read something somewhere about it, find your page and view what you’re about before they download and listen. This is why having an attractive visual brand is so important and an integral part in expanding your podcast audience.

A logo is the most readily available representative of your podcast. Your logo can accompany press releases, be used as a link to your site, for advertising purposes, and give potential audiences a glimpse at what you and your podcast are all about even before listening to your show.

If you or your company already has a logo, you could further brand your image by incorporating your business logo or design a variation of your corporate logo to strengthen and reinforce your brand. Just as with your logo, your cover art displays your identity. It will display your logo and the name of your podcast, if that is your desire. This is what is shown when any directory displays your podcast. It is used as a way to represent your show. This image can also be used as your show artwork in RSS feeds or on your website.

The Audible Brand
Outside of making everything visually appealing and consistent, the same needs to apply to what the audience is hearing. There needs to be consistency in what to expect with audio quality as well as what’s being mixed into the natural sound. The use of an intro, outro and audio bumpers in between segments is a great way to establish a template of how the show works, thus creating a consistent flow. The audience then recognizes and is able to anticipate what’s coming up. Outside of the mechanics of the audio, you need to sound like you’re more than just a drone reading from a word document. Even if you are reading, the best way to keep your audience engaged is to add flare to your voice. You need to be interested in what you’re speaking about or your audience will lose interest. If you lose the interest of your audience, you lose your audience.

What it Comes Down to
Create your brand both visually and audibly. Make it clear, concise and easy to follow. Your message needs to be relatable and interesting. Is it? Are you sure you’ve established yourself in that manner? What else needs to be done to make a podcast work and work well?

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