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?
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Podcasting