How Podcasting Can Improve Your Business

How Podcasting Can Improve Your Business
By Sean Paddison

The term podcasting has been floating about on the radio and in discussions with

friends, but you’re still not sure what it’s all about and if it’s relevant to your

business.

I’ll start by explaining in simplest terms what a podcast is.

A podcast is the combination of an audio or video file and a RSS publishing file,

placed on an Internet server and available for downloading.

Let’s say you plug a microphone into your computer and record a 15 minute blurb

about an area of knowledge you have. Now you have a sound file on your computer

waiting for a home, and you want that home to be on the Internet for millions of

people to listen to.

You will first need to find a “host” company to take your file and put it on their

“server” to make the file available to the world. This is called a “podcasting” server.

Once you have contacted a server and have placed your file on their server, you will

want people to find your file. To do this you have to create a special document that

“publishes” your file to the world.

This document is called an “RSS” file – which stands for Really Simple Syndication. In

this document you will put vital information like subject matter, keywords, website,

contact info and other information about the podcast and your business.

When this RSS file has been created, it is placed in the same folder as the audio file

on the podcasting server. When you have posted an audio file and published it using

your RSS file, you have successfully created a “podcast”.

Now you want people to be able to find your podcast

There are many online directories for podcasts that have searchable databases.

These services are generally free. On these sites people with new podcasts fill out a

form telling the world about the subject of the podcast, which is posted to the

directory.

Once your podcast information has been posted, anyone visiting that directory

searching for podcasts containing the subject matter of your podcast, will

immediately find a link to your podcast.

Of course the more directories you list with, the more people you’ll expose your

podcast to.

Another great thing about these directories is that Google and other search engines

visit these sites to find content, so there is an even greater chance of people finding

your podcast.

Once your podcast has been posted to a number of podcasting directories, it is now

available to millions of potential listeners worldwide.

How does one listen to a podcast, you might ask?

It is very simple. Once they have clicked the link on the directory or your website,

the podcast will automatically download and play in whatever audio player is

appropriate for the podcast file.

Then VOILA, they are listening to your podcast.

The beautiful thing about an RSS file is that once it is registered with a directory,

you don’t need to go back to the directory if you decide to add new podcast

episodes. All you need to do is update your RSS file to show that there more

episodes associated with the podcast. Listeners will be made aware of this if they

locate your podcast after a new episode has been added.

Millions of listeners and Google users are searching for information in podcast form

to listen to at their leisure. This is the most beautiful part of podcasts. The listener,

once they have downloaded a podcast, can listen to it many times over, at their

convenience.

How can podcasting help your business?

Simple, a key part of your RSS document is your website URL and company

information.

When someone listens to your podcast, this information is made clear to them

inside your podcasting information. Consequently this can generate a serious boost

in Internet traffic to your website which can result in more sales.

You don’t need to be a radio professional!

If you speak with customers on a daily basis about your specialized knowledge, you

are perfectly positioned to record and release a podcast.

Where to start?

First, get a decent microphone for your computer – USB microphones are best – and

practice recording to get comfortable recording yourself and delivering your

message. The process is the same for video, but a video file will be created instead

of an audio file.

When you have a recording you’re happy with, save it as a file in its own folder, and

contact a podcasting service provider. You can find one on the Internet.

Once you have located a podcasting service provider they will help you with the rest

of your podcast, right down to creating an RSS file and properly posting it on a

podcasting directory.

It is important to find a host that provides ‘unmetered’ hosting. If your hosting is

metered, the more often your podcast is downloaded, the more your service

provider will charge. An unmetered host charges a set rate regardless of the number

of downloads.

Podcasting is a wonderfully affordable way to be heard and found. It is portable and

easy to access. Once you get the hang of it, podcasting can be an easy way to reach

potential clients.

Podcasting truly is a great gift for small business.

Sean Paddison is the president of Northstreams Inc., a company that specializes in the production of audio and video podcasts and electronic press kits (EPKs) for clients in the Greater Toronto Area.

[http://www.northstreams.com]

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