Podcasting Basics: Yes, You Can Podcast

What is podcasting?

Podcasting is simply a way of sharing audio files (content) through an RSS feed. The original meaning of podcast (the word is the offspring of a happy union between ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’) applied to audiofiles, which are most commonly served up in the MP3 format. Aside from podcasts there also vodcasts (video podcasts, or Video On Demand content), although now the word ‘podcast’ is already accepted to mean audio and video content.

Podcasting saves your subscribers’ time because they don’t need to visit your site to view the latest updates. Subscribers get your podcasts automatically downloaded into their podcasting clients (like iTunes and Podget, for example) and get to listen to them on their own time, at their own pace. They can also transfer the podcast episode to their portable player of choice to take with them wherever they go. {more}

Podcasting is different from file-sharing, direct downloads or streaming because it can be subscribed to, syndicated and automatically updated when new podcasts come in. This updating process is accomplished with an aggregator or feed reader, such as RSS or Atom, that can read feed formats.

Getting a good number of people to sign up for your podcasts is a good indication of your site’s popularity, in that people willingly subscribe to your podcast/RSS feed because they want to listen to what you have to say. You get a bigger audience (including those who like to listen more than they like –or have time–to read) and your subscribers get more control over what they get and listen to.

Podcasting is an easy, low-cost venture. The process doesn’t require sophisticated equipment or software. You can use your laptop’s built-in camera and microphone to record your episodes. You can even record your VOIP conversations. For recording and editing, you can use the free software called Audacity, and mix the tracks you need, for example, voice, music and sound effects, to create an episode.

To share a podcast you also need a domain name (so your subscribers know where they can go to download your podcasts) and a webhost — so you can store your podcasts for your subscribers to download from online.

Bear in mind that audio files can grow to big sizes; the more you plan to store, the more space you need. You have to consider your bandwidth needs as well. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred to and from your host in a month.

If you have large data files and plan to gain a large number of subscribers, they can use up your alloted bandwidth in days instead of weeks. It’s okay to start small, but have a back-up plan for when you actually hit your target number of subscribers and exceed it.

If you’re still leery about podcasting for yourself, thinking that you’d never be able to say anything worth listening to make up a full episode , look for podcasts on subjects that interest you.

This isn’t an idle suggestion. The people who made those podcasts started out not knowing how, just like you,and they kept on trying because they believe they have something they have to say. You do too. If you already have subscribers to your blog or site, then podcasting is just another way of getting to share with your subscribers and customers. Don’t give up before you even start, you can do it.

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