Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Podcasting Without Actually Podcasting


Did you understand what you just read? Or am I finally completely flipped out? How can you do something without actually doing it?

Well, what I’d like to talk about today could be summed up as “How to use the current trend of podcasting to promote my web business, without the difficulty of creating, maintaining, and promoting my own podcast!”

First, a bit of catch-up: Podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon where people create audio content (like music, or spoken commentary and interviews) and put it out on their websites. The advent of the iPod technology allows listeners to subscribe to their favorite podcasts using a program called an “aggregator”, and whenever a new episode of a ‘cast is released, it is automatically downloaded. In many cases, programs will not only download it automatically, but will also immediately install it onto the subscriber’s iPod, or other portable mp3 player. It’s information about your favorite topics, on a complete grab-and-go basis.


There’s lots of potential for promotion of a web business this way. Creating a “radio show” full of cool information and interviews about your website topic is great, and while building a subscriber base, you’re also pointing people to shop at your site.

But, creating a podcast can be a technical affair, involving mics, recording, tweaking of volume levels, waveform editing, and lots of other twists. Then you have to find the host and set up the site. It can be an organizational challenge as well, booking guests for the interviews, blocking out time to produce the ‘cast… For some, all these add up to make it all prohibitive.

So, that’s where this article comes in. In the past year, as I’ve seen the podcasting phenomenon grow, I’ve begun to see how it can be very effective to use other people’s existing podcasts to promote your site rather than trying to start your own.

One way is to acquire advertising time and/or space on someone else’s ‘cast. Another is to be the interviewed guest on a ‘cast, or to provide some kind of content for them to use.

Either way, the first step is to find the ‘casts you want to get in on. Look to podcast hosts like, or podcast directories like, and Remember the guiding principle of targeted marketing: Find where your audience is, and put yourself there. Look for ‘casts based around topics that interest your demographic.

Once you’ve found one with possibilities, investigate it. Most ‘casts have their own main host website. Check it out. Download and listen to an episode or two. This can be time consuming, because some ‘casts can be as much as an hour or more long. Still, not only will you find your audience in this process, but by listening to what they’re listening to, you’ll also find out lots ABOUT your audience as well!

That’s the real work. The next step is getting your site’s name and message in front of the audience of these podcasts.

One way to do this is to buy advertising in the ‘cast. And there’s a couple of ways to do that as well. One is to buy visual advertising on the ‘cast’s main page. This is a great way to get eyes and clicks on your ad. The downside of that is that once people subscribe to the ‘cast, they’re getting the content delivered straight to their iPod, and there’s no need to return to the site. So, if the ‘cast is growing, then there’s lots of new eyes on the site. If the ‘cast is stable, there won’t be so much site traffic.

Another benefit to visual advertising is that it provides a link back to your site, which can boost your search engine link popularity.

Another approach some ‘casts will do is to make audio ads in the podcast itself. The big advantage of these is, of course, that the listeners hear the ad whether or not they go to the site. The down side of these ads is that there’s no immediate response. The interested listener has to go back to their computer, call up a web browser and type in the address themselves. Still, it’s good for branding advertising.

The cost of these advertising efforts depends on the individual podcast. Generally speaking, the more popular the ‘cast, the more expensive the ad, and the greater the reach.

A second approach to utilizing other people’s ‘casts is one I’ve been able to play quite a bit in my efforts to promote my CD. That’s the strategy of providing content (often in the form of guest interviews) to existing podcasts.

Again, the first step will be to find ‘casts that appeal to your audience. Then, when you’re checking out their website, contact them. Mention your website, and your unique area of expertise. Comment on how that knowledge is of interest to their (and your) audience. Let them know that you’d love to do an interview. The actual process for the interviews can differ. I’ve just set one up that will take place this summer that will be done over Skype (internet voice phone). Another one I did last year was an actual face-to-face interview that got recorded. A third one that I’ve participated in was one where I merely sent some audio content (a song), and they included it in their ‘cast (a musical radio show).

This has a lot of advantages over advertising. One big one is that you get a lot more time and attention in the interview than you do in a short ad. Often, the ‘casters will include info and a link in their site for their guests, where they might not always for advertisers.

Keep in mind that one of the great challenges for a podcaster is to find interesting and relevant content week after week, month after month. You’d be helping to provide that for them.

All in all, it adds up to a great way to promote yourself, especially if you’re not feeling technically confident enough to produce your own ‘cast. You can still get in on what is becoming more and more an entrenched movement, and less and less of a passing fad.

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