Podcasting is undergoing something of a renaissance. It’s always been popular among a certain demographic, but in the last couple of years, podcasting has gained mainstream acceptance. The number of high-quality podcasts has grown. Traditional media outlets have jumped on the podcasting bandwagon. Skype and Google Hangouts have made creating video and audio podcasts with multiple guests relatively straightforward.
Advertisers now recognize the value of podcast audiences. They are usually smaller than those of traditional media outlets, but they are highly targeted. If you listen to Mac Power Users, advertisers can be confident of the products and services that will appeal to you. MPU doesn’t generate a big enough audience to justify a show on a national radio network, but it can generate a loyal international niche audience that advertisers will pay good money for access to.
Podcasting is also an effective content marketing channel. Unlike text, podcasts are a passive medium that don’t soak up all of a listener’s attention. If a business is capable of creating a podcast that offers valuable information presented by charismatic personalities, it’s likely to be greeted more enthusiastically than yet another white paper or ebook.
Most importantly, podcasting is incredible fun! If you and your friends have a passion for a subject and love to shoot the breeze, podcasting is the same thing but with microphones and the opportunity to share and engage with a wider community.
Using WordPress To Distribute Podcasts
Podcast publishing is much like blogging except that instead of textual content you’re posting audio content (thought the best podcasts also have extensive shownotes). The blog format is well-suited to podcasting publishing and WordPress is designed to be an excellent blogging platform.
Dealing with audio is not quite so straightforward as text and images. There are a couple of important factors to keeping mind.
Audio files take up a lot of space and bandwidth
Low-end shared hosting plans are unlikely to accommodate more than a few months’ worth of podcast episodes, especially if they’re long. If the podcast becomes popular, several thousand downloads of 100 MB audio files will quickly burn through even generous bandwidth allocations.
The solution is either to opt for a higher-end hosting account, perhaps a dedicated server, or to host the podcast’s website on a smaller shared hosting plan but host the audio files with a service like Amazon’s S3, which will accommodate the audio files and allows for easy integration with a content distribution network.
Most people aren’t going to get the podcast from your site
Almost no one goes to a website and hits play in an embedded audio player. Instead they use software like iTunes, Pocket Casts, and other podcatchers.
These apps use RSS feeds (although iTunes is a little bit different) to track new episodes — another good reason to use WordPress. If you publish an episode per blog article, WordPress will take care of generating the necessary RSS feeds and you can simply add them to your syndication accounts in iTunes and other services.
Podcasting Plugins For WordPress
It’s not really necessary to use a plugin for podcasting on WordPress, the default functionality covers most of the bases, but there are a couple of WordPress plugins that make life easier for the budding podcaster.
Podpress is the best known WordPress podcasting plugin. Unfortunately it hasn’t had an update for almost a year, so I can’t recommend it.
Instead, you should take a look at the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin, which will enable WordPress to produce the non-standard feeds that iTunes likes, embed numerous different media formats with a choice of players for audio and video, and support multi-channel podcasting.
If you’ve pondered becoming a podcaster, a WordPress site is the perfect platform for building a community and distributing your work.