We have been listening to podcasts, talking about them, and sharing them with our close ones for quite some time now. Yet how many of us can precisely define what a podcast is?
It is slowly becoming one of those words whose meaning is fading behind the habitual random use. This is the issue that led you straight to this article. To set a clear definition, and discover the ins and outs of this new form of content.
Today we will be covering a brief overview of the podcasting world, its history, and the types and styles of podcasts available. We even decided to walk you through getting started with your own podcast as a bonus.
Let’s dive in.
WHAT IS A PODCAST?
A podcast is a compiled collection of audio recordings made available for streaming or downloading on the internet. One audio recording to a podcast series is what a video episode is to a TV show. It is usually hosted by one or more people who either conduct a conversation with a guest, report the news or simply entertain with anecdotes and fun facts.
A BRIEF HISTORY
When following the culmination trail of what we call today a podcast, we can easily trace this type of program to its predecessor, the audio blog. Since the 1980s, Radio Computer Services has been supplying digital-talk-related software to radio stations. Subsequently, during the 1990s internet boom, several radio stations and comedy programs offered downloadable audio copies of their live shows.
It wasn’t until 2004 that a certain former MTV video jockey Dave Winer partnered with a software engineer to develop the “iPodder”. A software application that allowed users to download internet broadcast copies on their Apple iPod. They coined the term “podcast” for the first time by mixing between “iPod” and “broadcast.
The main difference between a podcast and a simple audio-embedded file is that the former registers on an RSS feed. Short for the Really Simple Syndication, it is a web feed that allows access to the latest updates of a website by informing you through a series of notifications.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PODCAST?
The main purpose of a podcast is always to entertain while spreading knowledge on subjects that matter to listeners. Podcasters want their audience to finish an episode with a fresh takeout so that they come back for more.
Some unique podcast hosts attract their audience simply because of who they are. People keep coming back to listen to their riffing and jokes, and they care more about the podcaster than the actual content. They are in most cases celebrities and famous influencers.
SOME PODCASTING STATISTICS AND DATA
The year 2020 was a miracle year for the podcast industry. With all of us quarantined, we found podcasts to be soothing and made them our daily companions. It was due to the lockdown that some of us even discovered what is a podcast.
We listen to them while cooking, others do so when driving, and some even listen while working out at the gym. This is why podcasting gathered almost 384 million listeners worldwide in 2021, compared to 274.8 million in 2019. More than a hundred million listeners in only two years.
There are about 2.4 million podcasts with over 66 million episodes as of June 2022.
The podcasting market which is currently roughly valued at 2 billion dollars, is expected to reach the 4 billion mark by 2024.
Almost one-third of the American population listens to podcasts regularly.
There are more Americans who listen to podcasts than those with a Netflix account.
Sweden, Ireland, and Brazil were the top three podcast-consuming countries as of 2021.
In South Korea, 58% of adults listen to podcasts monthly.
Every month, 9 million Canadians over the age of 18 listen to podcasts.
The most popular podcast genre is comedy.
Chile is the fastest-growing country in podcast consumption with over 83% audience growth in 2022.
You can see that podcasting has grown a great deal, and is still planning to do so. The commercial use case is just getting started with ads and monetization. The best is yet to come.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PODCASTS AND RADIO
One major word stands in the line between radio shows and podcast episodes: Convenience. While the former has a specific broadcasting time when you need to tune in to enjoy, the latter offers you access to content anywhere and anytime. Assuming you have internet of course.
The lack of regulations and auditing permitted an enormous wave of creativity in podcasting. Many break out of the constraints of conventional radio practices and investigate stunningly unique perspectives in delivering audio content.
Podcasts can be any length: from a 1-minute snippet to a 3-hour long interview.
Any frequency of delivery, from daily to monthly, is acceptable.
Any format, from straightforward solo performances to massive group audio dramas, is acceptable.
Any subject is up for the taking, including those that would never be covered by radio.
Some even went an extra step and started video streaming their podcast on Youtube and other platforms. It ended up being a success as people loved watching what they are listening to. It makes it feel more realistic and immersive.
We would not even be exaggerating by saying that nowadays, anything that interests you has been covered by someone somewhere on a podcast. If not, at least a guest on an episode might have done so.
The question now switches from “What is a podcast?” to “What can a podcast be?”, and the answer is your imagination is the limit.
TYPES OF PODCASTS
There are three types of media in which you can host a podcast: audio, video, and enhanced.
Audio, of course, is the most popular. You only need to play the program, lock your phone and then get on with your business.
Video podcasting is growing fast in popularity, as many listeners report watching a video podcast on their TV while folding their clothes, or simply resting after a long day of work.
An Enhanced podcast is an audio file with a timeline-based slide show attached to it. You have links available throughout the listening experience, to give you access to images that help shape more meaning and clarity in content.
STYLES OF PODCASTS
There are as many podcast genres as you can think of, including fitness and health, news and education, humor, and even fiction. All of these are delivered in four major ways:
Conversational: The most popular of them all. This format tends to be more casual, featuring everything from lone hosts to roundtable conversations. A big majority of conversational podcasts are interviews between one or more hosts and their guests. They typically delve deep into the guest’s personal experience and area of expertise.
Repurposed content: Podcasts became an opportunity for more formal content producers such as radio and TV talk shows to repackage their episodes into downloadable versions on the internet. A great way for people who miss the live broadcast to catch up on it.
Narrative nonfiction: Long-form storytelling is another format that suits podcasting well. Covering a true story about a real event or issue falls under the category of narrative nonfiction.
Scripted fiction: The episodic nature of podcasts works well for writers who want to read their scripted stories to their audience. It is still a new podcast format, but it’s growing in popularity by the day. The most popular of them are podcast novels.
DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN LISTEN TO PODCASTS
You can listen to podcasts on virtually any electronic device nowadays. The multitude of platforms that hosts these programs makes it possible to enjoy the experience on smartphones, computers, tablets, iPods, smart TVs, car audio systems, and smart speakers.
You see why podcasts are the new generation’s answer to radio shows. We wanted ongoing access to our favorite audio content, and the internet’s advancements in terms of storage and communication made it possible.
HOW TO START YOUR OWN PODCAST?
Now that you have a clear definition of what is a podcast, the time has come for us to keep our promise. Let us walk you through what you need to get started, and what to keep in mind before submitting your first broadcast.
Content is king. No amount of good equipment, amazing guests, or ingenious marketing can beat a good piece of content. We live in an era where listeners are thirsty for something unique. You can’t just copy content and rephrase it anymore, you need to come up with a unique view on a subject and share it with your potential niche. A common good practice in the podcasting industry is to plan 10 episodes ahead.
Make sure you prepare for your first dive into the podcasting world by following this checklist:
Pick a compelling name for your show (The shorter the better).
Find music and artwork that will go with that name.
Decide on the main theme of the podcast (What do you want to cover?).
Divide your main theme into subthemes you can cover on different episodes.
Identify your niche of listeners.
Find adequate guests for these subthemes and find a way to contact them.
Establish one key goal for each interview ( some form of added value for your listeners would be best).
Write each episode’s outline.
Draft an interview model on which you can rely during the show.
Now that you have your first ten episodes planned and ready to deploy, it’s time for you to get the proper equipment. The first thing to do before you get to choose your hardware is to consider your setup. Are you recording in a studio? A tiny or a large room? Will you record remotely? How many guests will you have per episode? The choice of equipment will depend greatly on the answer to these questions.
Basically, what you want to have so that you can properly host a podcast are the following:
You can invest in some extras if you want to increase the quality of your show:
A Mic Arm
A pop filter
A shock mount
After treating the room from any reverb and undesirable sound effects, how you set these pieces of equipment together is also important. Being able to manipulate your equipment without feeling entangled in a complex setting can be a game changer.
Finally, you will need recording software to capture everything directly into your computer. You can either go for specialized podcasting software or Digital Audio Workstations. Just remember that you’ll be spending quite some time on it, so choose what you’re most comfortable with.
Different software offer different ways of recording and editing, and even different output quality. You, therefore, need to dig deep into the different options you find as they will have a long-term impact on your project.
Finding the right guest for your show can be a bit tricky, and this is where planning ahead plays a big role. Chasing one guest after the other can result in delaying an episode to find the next star of your show. This will damage your credibility. Instead here are some tips on how to effectively find the right guests for your project:
Conduct some field research: It’s crucial to determine who can potentially be a good expert on the subjects you tackle on your podcast. Sending an email to someone who can’t relate to your show will easily get you dismissed. Even if you end up convincing them to come just because they’re influential, your niche audience might feel disconnected. You don’t want to start with your audience on the wrong foot.
Write an inspiring pitch: Influential people and experts receive tons of invitations for attendance. You need to stand out and show them the passion and inspiration behind your podcast. If you don’t believe in it, nobody else will.
Reach out: Now that your pitch is ready to go, start e-mailing it to your potential guests, send a copy to their Instagram Inbox, and leave another copy on their website’s “contact me” section if applicable. Do that for as many potential guests as possible to fill the list for your planned episodes.
Keep an eye out for special events: If one of your potential guests recently published a book, was chosen for a big role in a show, or maybe just went on another continent for the first time, send an invitation for them to come share their experience on your podcast. They will likely appreciate an outlet to share and market their experiences to the public.
HOW TO HOST AND PUBLISH YOUR PODCAST?
You need to put your audio recordings on a specialized podcast hosting solution. An RSS feed is created and uploaded to all major podcast platforms and allows for heavy listening traffic as opposed to a normal website. Additionally, it gathers your podcast stats and metadata and, allows you to dynamically place advertisements in your program.
Always take your time comparing the available options, as engaging with one of them will define your workflow and turnover.
Once you go through all these steps and finally host and publish your first episode, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and congratulate yourself. You are now a fellow podcaster.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PODCASTS
Just because people like Joe Rogan and Russel Brand host podcasts, doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. We feel it’s important to debunk certain myths that some of us take as truths when they’re only pure misconceptions.
I don’t have enough skills to start my own podcast
This cannot be any further from the truth. Anyone can start a podcast. In fact, some podcasts are all about hosts sitting with a guest and spontaneously having a conversation live. No editing, no script, nothing. Just an attitude and a willingness to sit down and do it.
I need fancy equipment to start my podcast.
Another lie in the batch. Before podcast software became a thing, some podcasters used to record their episodes on their phones. You only need the bare minimum to start with. The fancy equipment is for later when you want to grow your quality and spend more time recording and less time editing.
I don’t necessarily need a niche
If you speak about everything, there is someone in every subject that specializes and has a bigger focus in his niche. Therefore, you won’t be more interesting than anyone, because each podcaster is mastering his niche.
It’s true that famous podcasters like Joe Rogan cover every subject on earth, but the niche here is himself. People listen to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast because it’s Joe Rogan hosting it.
I need to be techy to use editing software
You only need a simple guide like this one, and a couple of YouTube videos to be able to edit audio on software. Of course, some of the insight and expertise of a professional podcast editor will be missing. However, you will be able to produce a decent podcast that can be enjoyed by your audience without any nuisance.
I need to do better than other podcasters
Don’t fall for this trap. Many have, and they started copycatting without even noticing it. To beat someone, you need to do exactly like them but better. Instead, focus on being unique, and tending to your niche audience. If you’re consistent enough, your audience will find you.
There you have it. A clear definition of what a podcast is, a brief overview of the podcasting world, and every main step you need to get started. Podcasters are known to be a strong helping community, so don’t hesitate to reach out and read more blogs about it.