Originally known as “web-based amateur radio,” or “audio-blogging,” podcasting dates back to soon after the Internet was born. Podcasts didn’t really take off, though, until the advent of portable digital playback devices. When the iPod gained popularity somewhere around 2004, the word “podcast” (broadcasting via an iPod) soon emerged. That term has been attributed to Ben Hammersley in an article published in the February 12, 2004, issue of The Guardian.
What is a Podcast?
A podcast is a series of episodes produced by an “artist” or group of artists and published (i.e. broadcast) as downloadable audio files. A podcast series is often referred to as a “show,” and most podcast episodes include a supporting blog post, called the “show notes.”
Podcasts are often syndicated through web-based services such as iTunes or Google Play. Subscribers can then listen to the show on their mobile digital playback devices and receive updated content each time the artist broadcasts a new episode.
Podcasting as a Marketing Tool
As we all know, publishing is a highly competitive industry. With the explosion new books on the market due to the growth of eBooks and the ease of self-publishing, it’s challenging for authors to keep their heads above the flood of competition.
Blogs are a great marketing tool, and all authors should blog. Social media is an excellent way to build brand awareness and connecting with one’s audience. And, of course, email marketing still stands above all other platforms as an author’s best means of direct sales. Video is also useful, and Facebook Live has enabled everyone to get their face in front of the camera. Even though those methods are effective as various pieces of the marketing puzzle, nearly everyone is doing them.
Does that mean we should stop blogging, social media-ing, videoing, and email marketing? Of course not! But if you’re looking for a way to get noticed by new potential readers, and to put a higher perceived value to your community, you have include marketing methods that aren’t “same old, same old.” Podcasting is a great way for authors to rise above the blogosphere’s crowded space.Podcasting is a great way for authors to rise above the blogosphere's crowded space. Click To Tweet
While podcasting is popular, and continues to grow in popularity, the podwaves aren’t nearly as crowded a space as the blogosphere. An “internet stats fact” published in the summer of 2016 stated that there are 75.6 million blogs currently published. Compare that to the relatively few number of podcasts (approximately 180,000*), you can see how much lower the competition is in podcastland.
(*Note: This estimation was derived by taking the 2012 statistics quoted in Wikipedia and adding the average annual growth of podcast launches during the past five years.)
Podcasting Consumption is GROWING!
According to a study conducted by Edison Research (The 2017 Podcast Consumer), the monthly listenership of podcasts is increasing at an annual rate of 21-24 percent.Podcasting continues to rise, with Monthly listeners growing from 21% to 24% year over year. (via @edisonresearch) Click To Tweet
Approximately 67 million Americans listen to podcasts each month, and 42 million listen to weekly podcasts. That is roughly FIVE times more than movie-goers! (Statistics compiled by Convince and Convert – The 11 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2017).42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly - five times more than go to the movies. ~ @convince Click To Tweet
8 Benefits of Podcasting for Authors
In the “what’s-in-it-for-me?” department, the answer is PLENTY! Here are 8 ways podcasts benefit authors:Discover 8 ways podcasting can benefit authors. Click To Tweet
- It’s cheap. Yeah, I know “some” authors get six- (or even seven) figure advances, but the majority of authors are on a budget.How cheap, you ask? Like just about anything else, you can spend as much as you want on equipment, and there are a few minor initial expenses, but after that, you need two ongoing expenses: hosting for your website and hosting for your audio files.If you plan to have guests (recommended, as it helps you grow your audience exponentially!), then you’ll need a way to record them, which will add another expense (see details below).Equipment:
My complete podcasting equipment setup cost less than $100. I have a decent mic (CAD U37 Condenser Recording Micophone), and my “sound room” is an old red milk crate lined with acoustic soundproofing foam panels. (These are NOT affiliate links.)Website:
You’ll need a self-hosted WordPress website. It’s best to build it on a professionally designed theme. You can set it up yourself, or you can hire someone to do it, but your website is the HUB of your author platform. Don’t use a free website or a cheap-looking theme if you want readers to take you seriously. (Sad but true, people nowadays do judge business professionals, including authors, but the appearance of their website.)(Note: The purpose of this post isn’t to promote my services, but I do build author/speaker websites if you need help with this.)
Hosting for Your Audio Files
You’ll also need a place to host your audio files. Don’t self-host those on your website unless you want to get a notice from your hosting provider about placing an excessive load on their servers. Plus, you’ll eat up bandwidth like the Cookie Monster devouring macaroons AND it can slow your site down.
Where to host your files? Libsyn. You can trust me on this, or if you’re the skeptical type (which is fine – I am, too!), then research it yourself. If you listen to what most professional podcasters will tell you, you’ll come up with the same answer.
Libsyn’s prices start at just $5/month and go up from there, depending upon how much space you need and how many bells and whistles you want. The $15/month plan includes a generous amount of storage space plus analytics, so it should work well for most author podcasts.
Intro/Outro Music (Optional)
I like to use a professional-sounding intro/outro jingle on my podcasts. If you get stock audio, then you can pay one time for a license and save yourself a lot of money in royalty fees. I get most of my stock audio clips from a site called Audio Jungle. I paid $19 for the tune I use in the Ideas to Books Podcast.
Tagging Software (Optional, but HIGHLY recommended)
You’ll need to “tag” your MP3 files once they’re recorded and converted. I use a tagging software called ID3 Editor. It’s a one-time fee of $15. Worth it!
Guest Recording Tools
There are several options for recording guests. You can use Skype with a call recorder (there are free and paid Skype recorders). You can use a phone app, such as TapeACall Pro ($9.99/year), or you can use a recording service.
What do I use to record my guests?
If my guest doesn’t have a smart phone or a headset, I have used the TapeACall Pro app and recorded our interview from my iPhone. The audio isn’t super great, just sayin’, but if that’s the way it needs to be done, it will work. For guests with either a smart phone or a headset, I use a professional recording service called RiNGR. They have two pricing plans: $7.99/month or $18.99/month with discounts if you pay annually, plus there’s a 30-day free trial.
You’ll need some freebies, too, to get your podcast set up, including the actual recording software. I’ll list those a future post about “How to Get Started”with podcasting, but point #1 is about costs, so that’s all I’ve covered here.
- It’s easy. After the initial setup, that is. I’ll admit, configuring your podcast for the first time can raise your blood pressure, but once you get it going, it’s simply a matter of recording your audio, editing/tagging your audio, putting the pieces together, and publishing it. Then, you write a supporting blog post (called the “Show Notes”) and, viola! – you’re done!
- It introduces you to new potential readers. If you clicked on one of those statistics links in the beginning of this post, you’ll learn that most podcast consumers are fairly educated and of above-average income. Not trying to stereo-type here – okay, maybe I am – but that means they are likely READERS.
- It gives you an opportunity to use other people’s people to increase website traffic and grow your author platform. Here’s an example. I published a podcast where I interviewed a popular author, and my Facebook page saw an increase of 44 likes in one day. The first two episodes of my podcast were just me. The next two sessions were interviews of other authors. According to Google Analytics, my website traffic increased by 162.26 percent and my site visitors increased by over 100 percent when I added the author interviews to the podcast. Boom!Note, also, that those new visitors clicked around while they were there, because the Pageviews stats show a 73.96 percent increase.
Podcasting is a great way to build your author platform using other people's people. Click To Tweet
- Podcasting enhances your perceived value as an expert. That’s a fancy way of saying people will think you’re special because you have a podcast. Another example from my newly launched podcast. After just four episodes, I was contacted by the owner of a small publishing house whom I’d met at a writers’ conference a while back. She wanted information about how podcasting could help their authors grow their audiences.
- It gives you an edge over authors who don’t podcast. Yes, readers like to read, and, as I mentioned earlier, authors need to be blogging. But, as we’ve also discovered, readers enjoy listening to podcasts. Look around at the gym. Earbuds galore. Not all of them are listening to The Rolling Stones.People listen to podcasts at home. (I listen while doing house chores – the old, “Whistle while you work” method.)
People listen to podcasts in the car.
People listen to podcasts while commuting on public transportation.
And, yes, people listen to podcasts while working out.If you don’t have a podcast, then they are listening to someone else. Yikes!
- Podcasting helps your audience feel more connected to you.There’s something about hearing someone’s voice that helps the listener connect with the speaker on a deeper level than just reading someone’s words. Listeners of podcasts feel as though they “know” the presenter. It’s really the next best thing to meeting someone in person. Listeners become a special part of your author platform, your community.
- Podcasting gives you yet another way to promote your books, products & services.I listen to a lot of podcasts where the presenter uses his or her own products/services as the episode sponsor. My first thought was, “Why not?” This is an especially good idea for a new podcast that doesn’t have enough traffic to attract paid sponsors. So, when I launched the Ideas to Books podcast, I started promoted my own products and services, including my newest book release (The Coloring Book for Writers: Coffee Lover’s Edition) as the episode sponsors.I saw a slight increase in sales of that book the day the podcast went live. Was that increase due to the promotion on the podcast? I’m not sure, but it couldn’t have hurt!
I hope by this point you’re excited about the possibility of podcasting for authors. There is a lot more to share on this topic, and this post has gone long already, so I’ll continue the topic by making this post the introduction of a series – Podcasting for Authors. The Podcasting for Authors blog series will have at least two more segments: How to Start an Author Podcast and How to Grow Your Author Podcast.
How about you?
If you haven’t yet started an author podcast, what is holding you back? Leave a comment or question, and I’ll do my best to help answer it during this series.
If you have an author podcast, how is it going? Do you have any tips to share with us? Are you facing some challenges you’d like to discuss during this series? Please leave your thoughts/tips/questions in the comments.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to the Ideas to Books podcast, please click the link in the sidebar. I’d also really appreciate it if you took a few minutes to leave a review of the podcast at iTunes. 🙂
Have a blessed day!