Podcasting won't take off until it's easier

When I talked to Terry McBride a few months ago, I asked him if he thought that podcasting was primed to be the next growth area in social media, especially as a tool to market music. He said he didn't think so, that he was leaning more toward peer-to-peer recommendation services such as IM, text messaging, and emails.

After spending the last few months(yes months) getting a podcast off the ground, I can say that I now agree completely with Terry, podcasting won't see any explosive growth until the entire creation process is made MUCH simplier.

Since the first episode of Mind the Gap went live last Friday(Click HERE to download) , many of you have emailed me to ask me how hard it was to get started, so there is obviously interest out there in podcasting. I think it's only natural for bloggers to want to branch out into other areas of social media.

From my experience, there are 4 stages to getting a podcast started:

1. - Research. Both for equipment necessary, and software you'll need to get going.

2. - After you get the equipment and software, then you have to play with both and get your podcast recorded. Of course there's the prep time as you flesh out the format of your show and its content.

3. - Post-production, editing.

4. - Selecting a host(server) for your podcast.


And also in my experience, all 4 stages were a headache. First there was the research phase. Since I have a PC, the software side was relatively painless, as everyone said use Audacity. Fine. But when I started checking out podcasting forums to see what equipment I would need, I ran into total confusion. Some people said all I needed was a cheap headset from Wal-Mart (I tried this path, it didn't work). Some said I needed a USB mic. Some said I needed a mixer. Some said I needed a pop-filter. Some said I needed a spider-mount, and that takes a stand.

Whew. After doing some more research, I decided that I wanted a good condenser mic, and I needed something to put it on (a stand), and a mount and pop-filter. I started looking for packages that would include all this, as I assumed these would be plentiful. They weren't. I finally found a kit on eBay that consisted of all Samson products, which I had been told were high quality. The kit had everything I needed, and was at a good price ($150), so I grabbed it. And I have been thrilled with it, it's a great kit, but again it took almost a month of research to figure out exactly what I needed.

The next stage is fleshing out the podcast's content and format. In my case there was a ton of trial and error involved. I spent about a week trying to record the entire show (about 10 mins) in one run-through. This of course resulted in plenty of 'do-overs' 30 seconds into recording. I finally got adept enough at using Audacity to figure out how to record the show instead in smaller segments, and after I got to this point, the recording phase went much quicker.

The third stage was the post-production, editing stage. For me, this was mainly removing sections where I screwed up, or 'dead air', and inserting the music tracks. I'd say this section only lasted a couple of days.

The fourth and final stage was selecting a hosting service for the podcast. This one I still haven't got right. Going into this, I wanted a service that would host, let me track how many people are downloading the cast, and give me the ability to add a 'mini-player' to my blog here. I ended up going with GoDaddy's Quick Podcast service.

Now, I am an admitted idiot when it comes to podcasting (since I'd never done it before), but my understanding was that GoDaddy would host my episodes somewhere on their server, and then provide me with a URL for the shows, which I could link to on my blog. Not so. I found out(literally at the last minute before the show was supposed to go up), that I had to host the episode on MY URL. So I had to put it on a URL I had registered a few months ago. And then I found out that the mini-player that GoDaddy promised, was to be on the 'blog' GoDaddy had created for the URL where the cast was being hosted, and couldn't be insterted here as I had hoped. Ugh.

Now granted, some or all of this might simply be a case of me being an idiot, and not knowing any better. But my point in all of this is, if this stuff is tripping me up, someone who is USING social media each and every day, then what will happen when someone in Everytown, U.S.A. picks up the Time issue that says that 'You' are the person of the year, and decides they want to see what all the fuss about podcasting is?

With blogging, if you want to get started, you can literally go to Blogger.com, register a new blog, and be blogging within 5 mins. Extremely easy.

Podcasting is the exact opposite. You need to be DEDICATED to the process of getting one off the ground. There's no plug N play(but a big market for anyone that can come up with a PNP alternative, at least a cheap one on the equipment side, IMO). Which is a shame, because I think podcasting holds enormous potential, and I'm a big fan of anything that gives people the ability to get their voice out there in more forms.

Right now, anyone with internet access can be blogging in 5 mins. Until we get to that point with podcasting, or a helluva lot closer than we are now, I can't see much significant growth in this space. Which is really a shame.

To any podcasters out there, have you had an easier time of it than I have? Any advice on how to make the process simplier?



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posted by Mack Collier @ 9:42 AM,

14 Comments:

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Mack,

Very enlightening. I am going to keep pondering all of this and see what happens. I do still really want to launch my podcast series, but your post essentially confirms my early fears and observations.

We'll see what develops next.

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Mike Sansone said...

BlogTalkRadio.com

I dial a phone number, hang-up when I'm done. Five minutes after the show, it's put into podcast form and ready for download.

You can add files (tho I haven't tried that yet).

Talk about easy. If blogging is as easy as email, podcasting is as easy as a phone call (if you use BlogTalkRadio).

And their service has been outstanding

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

I use Switchpod. It's $5 a month, but I've found it reliable and somewhat easy to use. Plus the flash player works well.

 
At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Jordan said...

I'm a little late to the party on this one Mack, but I just wanted to say that all the hard work was well worth it.

It's a great podcast, and it's terrific to hear the voice behind the legend. Please keep it up, whatever the hurdles.

And I love that drawl!

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Thanks for the insight....I think if some of these hosting companies that specialize in hosting podcasts would offer equipment bundles that would be a plus. They could even bundle the cost of hosting and equipment into the monthly payment.

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Sharon Sarmiento said...

Hi Mack,

I feel your pain :-). I've been trying to start a podcast (starting from ground zero on the know-how) and quickly just felt overwhelmed by all the technical aspects of getting it put together.

There are so many folks who say it's simple, but I think the problem is that there are so many different tools to use and so many equipment options that all the decisions just get tiring after a while.

If/when I do one, I'll do a Skypecast to keep things simple. I can add the podcast to my blog and do the tracking thru Feedburner.

Also, I've just listened to your podcast, and it sounds great--whatever you did worked really well!

Cheers,
Sharon

 
At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Doug Karr said...

I hate to be a Mac snob, but it took me about 20 minutes to do a video blog post.

http://www.douglaskarr.com/2006/11/05/video-blog-post-1/

My MacBookPro has a good camera and iMovie installed. The quality of the output posted on my site was due to the terrible conversion that YouTube did (the original is much cleaner).

I didn't want to host the video (I pay for my site) - that's why I uploaded to YouTube.

Personally, I just don't really care for video blogging. I love writing!

 
At 12:18 AM, Blogger Edward Santosh said...

Hi,

When I wanted to create my podcast, I just went ahead and did it.

Thank God for it is said ignorance is bliss.

I searched and found podomatic.com.

Here is my podcast:

Copywriting Services by Edward Santosh

Did I say it's free?

Enjoy,

Edward Santosh

 
At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever tried the School of Podcasting? www.schoolofpodcasting.com They offer personalized podcast coaching (or so they say).

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Sharon Sarmiento said...

I'm not familiar with the School of Podcasting, but I have started taking Andy Wibbels' Podcasting Bootcamp course (www.podcastingbootcamp.com). He is extremely knowledgeable and very, very patient with newbies and non-tech savvy folks, and he offers lifetime membership in his courses so I can take the class as many times as I like and bug him with my silly questions for all of eternity ;-).

I've have also heard great things about podcasting consultant Jason Van Orden's site www.podcastingunderground.com.

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Thanks for all the advice guys, and I got some great emails as well. Tim and Sharon, I can say that the second episode I did Friday went MUCH quicker, I believe it took around 2-3 weeks to get the first episode off the ground, the second episode took 3 hours, from creation to publication ;) I would guess the process for the next ones will be even shorter.

 
At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Dan Dashnaw said...

I agree in full with the notion that the 'barriers for entry' into podcasting can be just a bit much for the average non-tech centered individual, and I'd also like to facilitate entry for potential 'adopters' by developing more user-friendly tools for the technology.

Right now I am actually launching a podcast consulting/production company designed to address the exact issue (albeit on a 'one client at a time' basis!).

If anyone who is reading this would like some help in getting themselves 'up and running', I'd be happy to lend some insight and even tech-help in exchange for some goodwill and word-of-mouth support for my services. Let me know!

Dan Dashnaw
http://www.audioexpansion.com
dan.dashnaw@gmail.com

 
At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Mack D. Male said...

Hey Mack, great first name ;)

We've done a lot of work to make Podcast Spot (http://www.podcastspot.com) a great place to get started with podcasting. Our focus is on making it easier - reducing the technical knowledge required, and reducing the amount of time that must be invested.

If you check it out, I'd love to hear your feedback. And if anyone reading this is looking for a podcast host, check us out! We'd be happy to help you get started with podcasting.

 
At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Bryan Cury said...

I realize that this post was originally written a few years ago, however, when I started podcasting I found that things had not improved too much since this post had been written. There are so many different facets to podcasting and podcast promotion that it is still quite overwhelming. I spent hundreds of hours scouring the internet to learn everything I needed to produce a successful podcast. I have launched http://podcastingtips.com to help those following behind me. I am not selling anything, this isn't a marketing scam, just a collection of the tips and information I have collected about podcasting. Hope this helps some of you.

 

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