Using Podcasts to Promote Your Site, Part I

Call it the new underground radio, or perhaps the next step in the media of the future, but podcasting has all but conquered the Internet. Offering Web users a new dimension in getting news, fringe entertainment, and music from emerging and/or established artists, the podcast is another way the Internet expands its interactivity. We can do more than see, we hear and listen… and we are introduced to new ideas and cultures that miss the mainstream.

Simply defined, a “podcast” is an audio clip, a miniature radio show that focuses on a topic such as travel, art, news, sports, or just about anything else of interest. The term comes from a combination of “broadcast” and “iPod”, as these short clips are primarily downloaded for use with iPods and portable MP3 players. Clips can be five to twenty minutes long to allow for easy downloading, and can be found through dedicated websites that offer podcasts or through specialized portals such as Libsyn, which hosts podcasting communities. Web users interested in listening to podcasts can use a specialized search engine like Odeo or iTunes to find the thousands currently available.

For website owners, authors, musicians, and others interested in a unique method of outreach, a podcast can be a valuable marketing tool. Whether you’re selling a book by reading an excerpt or reporting on a favorite travel destination, adding a podcast to your existing website can help drive more traffic to your site, which in turn can increase your visibility and business. The benefits of offering a podcast to existing customers and potential new visitors who enjoy this new technology are innumerable.

Podcasts are cheap to produce! If you think you need to rent a recording studio to do a regular podcast, think again. All you really need is a computer, good recording software, a microphone, a good voice, and the willingness to have a little fun. A quick internet search will point you to recommended programs, particularly freeware and/or shareware that work well in a pinch until you can spend a little money on more sophisticated production. If you find that you are running out of memory to save podcasts on your computer, simply burn the MP3 files to CD and continue!

Podcasts expand your audience! As you start to create a podcast archive, the chance of your website being found through search increases. In addition, a podcast allows your site to be included in specialized search portals dedicated to audio-enhanced websites, increasing your link popularity. Let’s say you’re a mystery writer and present a podcast about his novels and the mystery genre in general. A podcast listener looking for that particular topic may find it through your podcast, but not necessarily have found it otherwise. With the podcast, you open your door to a potential reader, and perhaps others who may not be interested in the mystery, but might change their minds by listening to your show!

Podcasts introduce a new level of comfort! Podcasts offer a new dimension to your website, personalization unmatched by the written word. When you offer a voice to accompany your website content, you enhance the style of your site, drawing visitors to the “real” person behind the website. The concept, of course, is not new. During his presidential administration, Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation through radio “fireside talks,” which were highly effective in raising public awareness and support. The broadcasts helped amplify a likeable personality in the president, bolstering the nation’s wartime spirit.

Now, your podcast probably isn’t designed to rally troops to victory. However, offering this option to site visitors can endear people to the image you project and, in turn, help sell your books, music, and services.

Podcasts give you a voice! With a podcast you can reinvent yourself. Do you operate a restaurant review website? It can house “The Phantom Dining Booth”, as the secret diner who reports on the daily specials in town. If you write romance novels, you can create all your own works and become the new Mary Hart, offering irreverent news and gossip about the romance publishing industry. Serious or playful, using a podcast gives your site a unique voice that you can take advantage of.

Once you’ve made the decision to record a podcast, then comes the fun part, actually doing it. In Part II of this article, we’ll go over the procedures for creating, uploading, and promoting a podcast.

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