Podcasting is the new blogging – everyone is getting into it!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll remember that ten years ago blogging was the New Thing. Everyone started doing it including Yours Truly (my very first blog post was published October 9, 2011 – stick around until October, I’m going to plan something Big to celebrate (prizes, give-aways, etc). Back then, blogging was The Way to reach readers, to entice people to visit your website. To increase your SEO. Sell more books. Bring in new customers. It was the answer to all of your publishing/business/you-name-it problems. All you had to do was write 500-1000 words a week or a day and boom! your business would take off.

Now, with the rise of audio (books, etc), podcasting is taking over from blogging. Everyone and their cousin is starting a podcast. Some people are getting very creative with their podcasts, others are basically posting their blogs but in audio form. Some people do their own shows, others rely on guests to provide their content (no judgments here – my favorite podcast, which is five years old, relies on—and has always relied on—guests every week).

As you all probably know, I started a podcast last Fall with my good friend (and fellow author) Pru Warren. Our listenership is slowly growing and I’m thrilled to say we’ve gotten some really good feedback. People are enjoying the show we put together each week and learning a lot from it – which is really all we could ask.

There are a number of different formats of podcasts. Basically, you can have one person talking. They could talk about their own work, it could be a review of the work of other people, it could be about their own life or another topic that interests them and that they think they have enough material on to talk for hours and hours. Or you could have two or more people talking. With more people it’s easier because you, the podcaster, doesn’t have to simply talk at your listeners for however long you decide the podcast should run (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, usually). Instead, you can have a conversation. You’re actually talking, live, to another human being, which makes it so much easier. That’s why I chose to ask Pru to join me in co-hosting the podcast I wanted to start.

With two or more people (best not to have too many because then listeners can get confused), you can have peers talking about a topic or, as in my case with Pru, an “expert” and a “newbie”. I love working with Pru because even though she’s new to writing novels, she’s been a professional writer her whole life. She’s also incredibly intelligent, questions and tears apart so much of what we talk about which makes for fascinating conversations!

So, once you decide on the format of your podcast, how do you actually create it?

We do it the easy way—through Zoom. The software records our conversation and even produces an audio-only version which I then edit using the free software, Audacity. Pru uses her computer’s microphone which is crisp and clear, I use my Bluetooth headphones which actually have really good sound quality (I actually bought a microphone and then found that it picked up way too much noise for a clear sound). To do it absolutely “right” we would both be sitting in a sound-proofed room (I tried using a closet filled with clothes and blankets for a while), but that’s not always feasible so just go for the best sound quality you can.

Audacity has some filters you can run which will clean up background noise and I go through and removed odd sounds like the clicking of a pen or a deep inhale of breath, not to mention to the terrible number of “um”s I say, although I’m getting better!

To ensure that the sound quality is as good as I can get it, I then put our mp3 file through a website called auphonic which cleans up the file further and automatically puts in our intro and outro recordings. (You don’t have to have fancy intro and outros, but I thought it sounded professional to have one, so I produced ours choosing some royalty-free music with Pru and then asking my husband, who has a beautiful speaking voice, to record it for us. Here’s what our intro sounds like.)

The final step in publishing a podcast is to upload it to a podcast distributor. There are a number of them. Some are free, some have an annual subscription. Here’s a list of some that are recommended. I use the one recommended by the person who convinced me to start a podcast in the first place, Podbean.

These distributors will have varying features but they all get your podcast sent to wherever someone might listen to it: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcast, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Tune-in. Spotify is another big one, but on Podbean you have to pay extra to get listed there. It does have the advantage of having its own podcast player as well, so when people write comments there, we get notified and can easily respond.

We’ve also gone the extra step of getting a website for our podcast, thewritersblockpartypodcast.com.  There, for every episode, we post the description and show notes including all links to things we mention on the podcast. You can also listen to it from the website and post comments.

The idea is to make it as easy as possible for listeners to find the podcast and for then for them to comment on it so that we can get a dialogue going with more than just the two of us.

One thing Pru and I have not done is monetize our podcast. These podcast distributors make it very easy to do so, offering ways to add advertisements. You could also create a Patreon, as many authors and podcasters do, where listeners can donate to help support the costs of creating the podcast.

This brings me to the final thing – money. How much does it cost? The good news is that the answer is “not much”. I think we’ve spent about $2-300. We host a website and pay for the next level up on Podbean so that I can upload and schedule our podcasts in advance. I pay a little every couple of months to Auphonic for their service… and that’s it! We did have a logo professionally designed which cost a couple of hundred dollars, but that was something we chose to do.

Honestly, podcasting, like blogging, costs relatively money and allows you to reach a nearly unlimited number of people. How well it does at selling anything is completely unknown but probably leans toward not at all. We don’t podcast to sell stuff, though. Just like I don’t blog to sell anything either.

We podcast because we have information that others will find useful to have. We podcast because we like to entertain people. We podcast because it’s fun! If it weren’t we shouldn’t be doing it. The same goes for blogging. If you write a blog but no longer find it fun or interesting, you shouldn’t do it. On the other hand, if you’re like me, and really love sharing information, making life easier for other people, then hop onto the bandwagon. There’s plenty of room for more!

Looking for some great podcasts to listen to? Here’s a good list of the top podcasts for writers, and here’s another. Of course, don’t forget to check out The Writers’ Block Party Podcast. It’s published every Friday morning (EST) and you can find it either on our website or wherever you listen to podcasts!