What is a Podcast?

So, what is a podcast? A podcast (noun) is simply an audio medium (for example, music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download or streaming over the Internet.

What is a Podcast?Podcasting is an incredibly niche area of media production, online marketing and sales strategy. Talk to a marketing director at any company, and it’s likely they’ll know little to nothing about podcasting and its benefits in improving a firm’s brand, publicity, awareness, goodwill and overall sales.

How Podcasting Began…

Apple’s iPod made it easy to transfer thousands of audio files onto a pocket-sized digital player. With the iPod, users could listen to audio while driving, running, working, cooking, etc.

With amalgamation of audio broadcasting and technology in mind, journalist Ben Hammersley from *The Guardian* dubbed the term podcasting in 2004. The term immediately went viral within the audioblogging community.

That’s why we now call audioblogs “podcasts”.

In 2005, iTunes added a Podcasts section to its Music Store. The podcasters who came out with shows in 2005 and 2006 built up thousands of listeners immediately and ended up making a lot of money since they were first-movers to podcasting on iTunes.

The content delivery systems I mentioned earlier (like Libsyn) beefed up their offerings later in 2005 because podcasters found that exposure to iTunes’ huge number of downloaders in its Podcasts section threatened to make great demands on their bandwidth and related expenses. The few hosting providers took off and are now in an oligopoly.

What is a Podcast Today?

So, what is a podcast today? Podcasting has gone through three major inflection points in its history.

The first was in June 2005, when Apple launched support for podcasting in iTunes. That brought podcasting into the public eye on mass for the first time. However, podcasts were still niche and difficult to consume.

The second inflection point (really a turning point) started two years later in June 2007 with the launch of the iPhone. The original iPhone ushered in the age of the modern smartphone. As mass adoption of smartphones took off, so did podcasting.

By June 2014, mobile represented over 64% of podcast downloads vs. just 43% 18 months earlier. Those with a modern smartphone can consume podcasts directly on their mobile devices – no syncing to a computer required – but users still needed to download an app to consume podcasts, and they needed to know such an app existed before they could download it.

The third inflection point was in September 2014 when Apple launched iOS 8 – and it had the Podcasts app installed natively in iOS for the first time. By the end of October 2014, there were over half a billion people with the Podcasts app on their iOS device.

This number will grow to be close to one billion people by the end of 2015, and that is just on the iOS side.

Podcasting is now entering into its true golden age of mass adoption.

Why Should You Have a Podcast?

There are many good reasons on why you should podcast:

  • Brand building
  • More time in the day for someone to listen to audio than read a blog or watch a video
  • Higher level of engagement with your customers / audience
  • Conveys a higher level of authority than a simple blog
  • Getting your content into iTunes where there are no blogs
  • Podcast listeners = more sales and leads
  • The spoken word carries more emotion than the written word

Yes – they are all good reasons to podcast. But in my opinion, the best reason is a simple one, and one that has always been a key for building success: Standing out from the crowd.

Remember back in the mid 2000’s when everyone and their brother started saying you need to blog? Well guess what, it looks like everyone and their sister listened and then some. Best estimates on how many blogs are out there put the number at close to 250 million active blogs.

If you compare that to podcasting, iTunes says there are 250,000 podcasts in iTunes. With only about half of those being active (updated in the last three months), that gives you a blogger to podcaster ratio of roughly 2,000 to 1.

If you have a blog covering a specific subject, typically there will be 2,000 bloggers to each podcaster covering that subject. Having a blog no longer separates you from the crowd – blogging is the crowd.

If you want to step away from and above your peers – having a podcast is the perfect way to do that.

I just want to state that ratio again – 2,000 bloggers for each podcaster – 2,000:1. Put another way… if you filled the Madison Square Garden up with bloggers, only 10 people in the building would be podcasters, and my guess is they likely would be the ones on the court.

If you are a female blogger – the ratio is much worse or better depending on your perspective. Only 13% of all podcasters are female vs 52% of bloggers being female. That means there is a 7,800 to 1 ratio of female bloggers to female podcasters.

If you are a women and blogging, then podcasting is a way for you to quickly stand out from your peers.

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five U.S. adults listens to podcasts occasionally.

Podcasts can be listened to anywhere… at the gym or in the office, while cooking or travelling by car, train, or plane, etc. That’s a big market.

How Do You Begin a Successful Podcast?

The first step in having a successful podcast is picking the proper niche. This is integral. The more targeted the niche, the better.

For example, I met someone a few months ago who’s an expert in fixing cars (mechanical problems, tires, paint, etc.). I suggested that he come out with a car mechanics show. Every episode could focus on a specific car issue. He could share all his wisdom.

Put yourself in this guy’s shoes…

I searched iTunes and the Internet for car mechanics podcasts. About ten shows came up. This isn’t great news, but there’s still an opportunity here. You can do a better job of providing timelier and better content and steal market share.

You can interview car mechanic experts on your show… just go to Amazon’s Books section and search for car mechanic. Hundreds of books pop up. Contact those authors and ask them to be guests on your show.

You can answer questions from listeners who are experiencing issues with their cars. This will help them save money! People love to save money!

Especially on their cars. Most mechanics around the corner know the average person knows nothing about cars. So they make their money by scamming customers. I know I’m not the only one who’s gotten scammed by a mechanic!

There are many opportunities like this. Once you build your audience and platform, you can start monetizing… through advertising, affiliate marketing, paid (subscription) content, selling your consulting services, selling your car mechanic products, speaking gigs, writing a book, etc.

Another hypothetical example…

If you like movies, instead of having a show about movies (there are many of these podcasts), have a show about your favorite movie. Let’s say your favorite movie is *Fight Club*. All your podcast episodes will discuss aspects of *Fight Club*.

You might think it’s impossible to have more than ten episodes on this topic. That’s false. One of my favorite movies is *Requiem for a Dream*. I can probably write a 500-page book on it.

Once you build your audience, the audience will dictate your content. That’s when your life as a podcaster becomes easy.

I’ve built audiences in a matter of two months. And then the audiences would send so much feedback that I didn’t have to do any show prep myself.

In a *Fight Club *podcast, you can talk about themes in the movie, specific characters, debate what happened, play out hypothetical scenarios, interview huge fans and experts of the film, the production crew, actors, director, etc.

Who knows… if you gain enough influence, you can get Brad Pitt’s attention and interview him. If *Fight Club 2 *ever comes out (the sequel to the book will be released in a few years), your show would be the first channel the producers would want to market.

Then you can write an e-book about *Fight Club* and a good chunk of your listeners would buy it… because podcast leads are the highest quality leads on the Internet (more on this later in the book). You can hold Fight Club webinars and charge people to attend. You can give keynote speeches at fight clubs around the world.

I’ve laid out hypothetical examples for you. You can apply the ideas and principles to any of your businesses.

This article was written by Naresh Vissa, founder and CEO of Krish Media & Marketing and author of the #1 bestselling book, *Podcastnomics: The Book of Podcasting… To Make You Millions*

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