Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Podcasting Revealed

Ok, I have been asked lately by many sources what podcasting is so I have decided to explain it now, and some of the general concepts of producing and delivering a podcast to your audience or potential audience.

First, what is a podcast?

A podcast is a new technology for syndicating audio broadcasts to masses of people. Now that you are confused. Basically, you make a radio show, usually talk radio, and give it to the world. Cool, isn’t it. Now just because it is called a podcast doesn’t mean that you can only listen to it on a podcast. Because of how you are getting the file you can listen to it on anything your computer, any mp3 player, or you can burn it to a cd.

For further reading on technically what podcasting is go here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast

Second, what steps do you have to take to podcast?

Well first we need to break down podcasting into some essential parts that makes everything possible.

Requirements by the Content Producer:
1. Server and plenty of bandwidth
2. Site
3. Audio File
4. RSS Feed

Requirements for the Listener:
1. Podcast aggregator
2. Get feed

Content Producer:

Server and plenty of bandwidth:
Ok, this is probably one of the single most important things, next to the audio file, that makes a good podcast. First, you need a place to store the file, which is on the server, then you need a lot bandwidth incase you have a popular podcast. Bandwidth is important thing to consider when doing a podcast because it could end up costing you a lot of money.

Lets explain bandwidth and how it relates to podcasting. Bandwidth is the amount of data that is allowed to be transferred from a server or website to a user. So lets say you have a site you rent space and bandwidth on, and you have a cap of 100 meg (the meg is almost irrelevant in the explanation the numbers and math are important.) Ok, this is fine for a web site that people view pictures and text data on because they may only use up .02 meg per visit. And after 10 visits they have used up .20 meg of bandwidth. So for a website only this is fine not much to worry about. Now if you have a normal podcast that is 25 meg and you post that on your server and 4 people download the podcast you have just used 100 meg of bandwidth. So the problem is you just used up all your bandwidth allotment. Now at this point most hosting companies will let people keep downloading then they will charge you outrageous amounts of money for going over your allotted bandwidth consumption. So if you go over and you are charged you can use a lot of money fast.

Now if you have a server that hosts your files with unlimited bandwidth things will go a lot easier and you will not have to worry about losing money. Luckily with the innovation of podcasting there are now services available to podcasters that provide unlimited bandwidth, but you have a limit of how much you can put on the server for users to listen to. The company that is doing this is called Liberated Syndication at http://www.libsyn.com . They have plans for you starting at 5 dollars to 35 dollars depending on the number of shows you do. This is an excellent deal for a lot of people. The best part about Liberated Syndication is they archive all your podcasts, as long you stay a paying customer, and they never lose their address to listen to them. This is a phenomenal move because of how easy it makes things for non-technical people.

So basically if you have unlimited bandwidth you save money and can have a very successful show because you don’t need to worry about how many people download it.

Site:
The second thing that you need for your podcast is a site to advertise it on. Usually people have a blog that they use as their front end to get their show out, or they have a regular website they add it to.

Now if you don’t have a website and you use Liberated Syndication then you are covered because as part of your subscription you get website for the podcast so that you don’t need to worry about making one up yourself.

Audio File:
Now comes another important part the file itself the whole reason you are starting down the path of podcasting. This is self explanatory with this you just upload it to the server that is going to host the file so other can download it.

RSS Feed:
Ahh, this is the powerhouse of the whole podcasting experience. This is what allows all your loyal fans to get you file from now on with little effort at all. This feed is a file that you put on your site for others to get and put in a program called an aggregator (will explain in a little bit) so that they can automatically download the audio file without having to take the time to go to the site and find the show and listen to it. This saves the listener time which people are always happy about so you can have more listeners. I personally listen to about 25 podcasts because of this there is no way I would go to each site and check everyday if there was a post of a new show. This feed allows me to get them with almost not effort.

The Listener:

This is much easier than making a podcast because you only have two simple steps to get a podcast. So lets look at them.

Podcast aggregator:
Now I will explain what in the world this is, what it does, and why you need it.

To understand what a podcast aggregator is lets look at the word aggregator. Its root word is aggregate which means “to gather something in mass” (shortened slightly). So from these we can deduce that the aggregator is going to get something. Well the aggregator can get multiple things from audio files to text to programs. In the case of a podcast aggregator it will get the Audio file that is a podcast. The aggregator itself is a program that you download, the post popular being iPodder, and install on your computer to run in the background. At set intervals it will go to the internet and check to see if there is a new podcast if so it will automatically download it for you. Why is this important, well because it saves the user time from having to check every day or every couple of days for a new podcast. Again this is what makes podcasting so great the ability to get these shows with almost no effort.

Get Feed:
The second part of getting a podcast is finding the feed to the podcast that you want to listen to. This is easy because on most sites that are a database of podcasts they give you the link to the feed that you simply copy and past into your aggregator and click ok and you are done. It is literally that simple go to a site like PodCastAlley and search around their site for a podcast you like, click on get feed the load a new page for you with a link. What you do is copy that, go over to your aggregator and paste that link into a text box that is labeled feed. That is it.

Summary:

So as you can see there are many advantages to doing a podcast over just a regular radio show that people download off of your site. The main basis for this is you want people, naturally, to listen to you show. So if you do it in a podcasting format you can get a wide variety of people to listen to it regularly. You can spread you ideas thoughts or whatever else around to people all over the world. There are over 5000 people that have embraced this and are now successful at it.

Just to recap about Liberated Syndication it is an all inclusive service. They offer unlimited bandwidth, room for your site, and automatically make your feed for you so that you don’t have to learn all the technical things behind it. Also with the site you are able to do show notes to kind of cover in text what you covered in the show.

If money is a concern for you then you have the potential for your podcast to pay for itself. How can this be you may ask. Well on your site you just add a link to a tip jar that people can deposit money into, and just tell them in the show that you would like it if people would donate money to help with the cost of bandwidth. There are many avenues that you can explore with podcasting. It can help you grow as a person to learn more about something and to spread your ideas, similar to what blogs do, or it can help your business or organization grow because you are informing them as to what is going on. People love to be a part of something when its leaders are in contact with them. So are you ready to podcast?

If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas about podcasting you can e-mail me at percent20@gmail.com and I will get back to you as soon as possible. I hope this post has helped you today. I have defiantly enjoyed making it.

Buddy Lindsey

4 Comments:

At 1:39 AM, April 21, 2005, Blogger Chad said...

Kudos to you on writing a nice article explaining Podcasting. It was well written and explained (although I might be more informed than the rest of the crowd) :D

 
At 7:01 AM, April 21, 2005, Blogger Buddy Lindsey said...

Thanks man. I love feed back especially when it is good.

 
At 11:01 AM, April 22, 2005, Blogger Spaz said...

Nice article...you explained it all in a way that makes it all seem easy, and I'm not even all that technical.

 
At 5:10 PM, April 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the others - this was a FANTASTIC primer on podcasting!

 

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