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What is a Podcast?

In Blog by A. Lee Judge

Even with its popularity, some may be asking – What is a podcast? A podcast is a personalized version of internet radio in which chosen audio or video content is delivered on-demand to your device which can be stored there for off-line listening at your convenience. A good way of describing podcasts to someone who has never heard about them is that they are like on-demand radio of their chosen favorite shows. But don’t let yourself or others be fooled into thinking that’s all they are. There are some added benefits and major differences.

  • New episodes can be automatically delivered to your device without you having to search for them
  • No app is required, but they can be listened to through apps already on your phone
  • You can listen to a podcast on your own time rather than having to tune in at a certain hour
  • No internet connection is required because episodes can be stored on your device
  • Podcasts appear in Google search results – and can be played from there!
  • They are highly shareable – the whole show or a single episode
  • You own the content and decide when it is distributed
  • Creators can grow a fan base outside of their known audience

The term “podcast” was coined back in 2004 by Ben Hammersley in an article entitled Audible revolutionThe term, “pod” comes from Apple’s famous iPod, while “cast” comes from radio’s broadcast system. 

How do Podcasts Work?

Podcasts work by combining the freedom associated with blogging with the benefits of digital audio and, in some cases, video technology. This, in turn, provides an almost endless supply of content for people to consume. Some even go as far as saying that podcasts are democratizing what was previously a corporate-dominated radio world.  

As a free service, podcasting allows internet users to stream or download audio files from a host website and listen on smartphones, computers, laptops, automobiles, and smart devices. Users can either download the podcast on-demand, or they can subscribe via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. This will automatically download the podcast to their device for later viewing. 

Since podcasts don’t rely on ratings as radio broadcasts do, the subject matter can cater to a more highly-targeted audience. This makes it a great tool for those looking to become thought leaders in their respective industries. It’s also great for building trust and drawing in a loyal and devoted group of listeners. 

How Do You Make Podcasts?

How Do You Make Podcasts

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Basically, there are three ways to go about making a podcast. You can make it entirely in-house, you can outsource the production, or you can combine elements of both in-house production and outsourcing. Below are several key elements you need:

  • Equipment – Investing in decent equipment and editing software is the first step in creating a podcast in-house. In this category, we can also include a dedicated space for recording. This space needs to be free of any background noise or unexpected interruptions, and make sure it doesn’t amplify reverberations and echoes.
  • Consistent Content Topics – Well researched and consistent content is key to success. You can’t expect a decent following if you’re posting haphazardly or you don’t have anything of value to say. Thorough research, talking points, and a consistent production schedule are needed. Inviting experts and thought leaders on a regular basis will go a long way. 
  • A Post-Production Producer – Post-production involves editing, mixing, adding music transitions and news clips, and everything else required to create cohesive episodes. Producers can do these things themselves or oversee a production team. 
  • A Hosting Service – Although you can host the podcast on your website, it’s highly discouraged due to the required bandwidth (data throughput) that will be needed. What you need is a hosting service from where it can be streamed directly to media players like iTunes, Spotify, iHearRadio, and Google Podcasts – to name a few. 
  • Time – Last but not least, you will need time. Many make the mistake of not allocating enough time to set everything up, greet guests, go over the talking points, record, edit, and account for any unforeseen circumstances. A 30-minute episode can take more than an hour and a half to shoot, let alone edit.  

How Do You Listen to them?

Accessing podcast shows and episodes is easy because there are so many ways to recieve them. Most mobile phones and smart devices come with the ability to discover and listen to shows without the need for additional apps. Users can either listen to it through their web browser or have their preferred “podcatcher” such as iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play download it for them automatically. These tools will detect every time a new episode is available and will download it on the user’s behalf for later viewing.

iPhone or iPad users have The Podcast App, which allows you to search for different podcasts, stream specific episodes, and subscribe. Android users can use CastBox or Podcast Go. These are two of the leading free podcast apps for Android.

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Podcasting has gained popularity due to the ability to passively consume content that you have personally selected. Unlike video or text, you can listen while doing other things such as commuting or working out. Plus, having the latest episodes automatically delivered makes it highly convenient.

There’s no denying the fact that this form of content has exploded in popularity in recent years. For the podcast consumer, they offer easily-accessible information and/or entertainment in bite-size chunks.

Also, it’s presented in an entertaining, narrative way, which is always a plus. Podcasts allow us to dive deeper into many topics in an easily accessible medium.  And there’s also a personal element to them. They are a means of coming across like-minded individuals who share our interests and ideas. 

For brands, podcasts serve as great marketing tools. They help with increasing reach and audience while being relatively inexpensive to create. They help build trust and reputation, establishing you as a thought leader in your respective industry. Most importantly, podcasts help educate prospective customers about your products and industry as a whole. Audio content through this delivery method will easily find its place in any company’s marketing strategy. 

Who Listens?

In terms of income, podcast listeners are 32% more likely to make over $75,000 per year, 37% over $100,000, and 45% over $250,000. Also, listeners are shown to be more active on social media than non-listeners and tend to follow companies and brands on social networks.

Statistically speaking, 51% of the entire American population has listened to at least one podcast, as of 2019. This is up 7 percent from 2018 (44%) and 11 percent (40%) the year prior. This year, roughly 144 million have listened to a podcast, 90 million doing so in the last month. Of these, 62 million listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, while 16 million describe themselves as being “avid podcast fans.”

On average, listeners subscribe to around 6 shows and listen to about 7 shows per week. Over half (56%) are male, while 27% of US podcast listeners have a 4-year college degree. This is 8 percent higher than the national average. This means that 45% of podcast listeners are more likely to have a college degree, 56% more likely to be undergraduates, and 68% to be postgraduates. 

Ready to learn more about starting your own podcast? Talk to a professional Content Monsta!