Should You Start An Industry Related Podcast?

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Should You Start An Industry Related Podcast?

This is an invitation to count the cost and consider the direct and indirect benefits that come along with starting a podcast related to what you do for work. Back in February of 2014 I started a podcast called AVShopTalk. It hasn’t been easy but it has been a lot of fun and I believe it is not only benefiting me personally but also helping others in the Pro AV industry.

First of all… What is a podcast?

Sometimes I run into people that don’t know. A podcast is essentially audio-on-demand. Here is a greatly reduced explanation of what’s happening behind the scenes when you see a podcast appear in the iTunes store. Typically podcasts are MP3’s published to the web on a weekly or monthly basis in some sort of serial fashion. Typically they are free. Listeners can access them through online directories like the iTunes Store, apps like Stitcher or directly stream them from a player within website. Duration can be 10 minutes or 2 hours long depending on the format. The classic concept of a podcast requires an RSS feed to be setup on a website. Each (audio only) MP3 episode is uploaded to a host site like Libsyn, for example. During initial setup the RSS feed should be submitted to various podcast directories so people can look you up on multiple devices and platforms. After the feed is processed and accepted by these directories newly published episodes are automatically pushed to all subscribers of that particular feed. More modern incarnations of podcasts include video and can be recorded and streamed live with Hangouts On Air and hosted on YouTube. Sound Cloud is another online ecosystem that can be used for hosting a podcast.

What are the benefits for the listeners?

As a podcast listener I value them because they allow me to be entertained, hear interesting stories and learn about relevant industry trends while I’m commuting. Let’s face it, even with the rise of telecommuting the majority of us still spend many hours each week being transported to and from work. Even when you work from home it’s nice to have something on in the background. Podcasts definitely beat listening to the same 10 songs on the radio. The biggest value add for me is that I can pick and choose what I want to download and take with me on the go rather than be locked-in to whatever the local radio stations decide should be on the air. Some of my favorite podcasts are , This American LifeDave RamseyTED Radio HourAV WeekThe Tech GuySound Design Live and Smart Passive Income.  I would have included the Daily Blob with Eli The Computer Guy, but if you’re reading this you already know about that.

Should you start a podcast?

I work in Pro AV so recording audio and figuring out the technology behind setting up an RSS feed was right up my alley. However I believe this question can apply to any industry. If you are a mover and a shaker, if you like to talk shop, if you have a hunger to keep learning more about your industry and most importantly if you want to connect with others and share your knowledge with other industry professionals, starting a podcast might be a good idea. If you don’t have the podcasting know-how there are many free and paid tutorials available from people like The Podcast Answer Man, who happens to have a podcast all about teaching others to podcast. There is a thriving community of people who are making their stories and voices heard through this medium.

What if you’re not an expert?

There are many folks in my industry that have more experience than I do. I’m not intimidated by this fact. After all, I’m a millennial right? Despite the fact that I may be relatively new to the Commercial Integration industry, entering in 2007, that has not stopped me. I co-host with a colleague in the Residential Integration segment of the industry. I first heard of Jason Griffingvia Twitter. Oddly enough we were formally introduced while participating in a podcast that we both had been invited to join. To this day we have still not met in person but we communicate and collaborate regularly via Google Docs, Google Hangouts, texting and Skype. That should prove my millennial-ness. In any case the AVShopTalk podcast has given us a platform to reach out to manufacturers and other industry pros. We aren’t podcasting because we have all the answers. We are podcasting to ask questions and further our own understanding of the technology that drives our industry and to bring others along for the ride. If we can throw in some real world career advice along the way and tell some stories that others will learn from I think that is a good thing. As a content creator for YouTube my personal mission has always centered around creating content that helps people. Podcasting has allowed me to focus on doing just that for a very specific audience of audio video professionals.

What are the benefits for the creators?

Some of the networking benefits are obvious and immediate. It’s a great way to get recognized in your industry and meet other people that may bring new opportunities your way. Especially if you’re in one of those smaller industries where you can be a big fish in a little pond. For me personally, speaking about my industry and emerging technologies challenges me to be on my game. It forces me to improve my vocabulary and really wrap my head around concepts I may have been inclined to skim over in the past. I’ll conclude this post with one of the more interesting and exciting benefits which is earning revenue.

The AVShopTalk podcast does not currently have any sponsors but we may decide to pursue that at some point in the future. Acquiring sponsors is not the only way to generate revenue for your podcast. YouTube monetization, affiliate programs and crowd funding are other ways to bring in revenue if you can attract a big enough audience. I see Patreon gaining momentum as a way to implement crowd funding directly from subscribers without needing sponsors. The obvious way to earn revenue would be to charge $.99 per download. According to folks that have been doing this much longer than I have that practice simply does not work. People expect podcasts to be free just like they expect music to be free. It’s wacky and I don’t necessarily agree with it, but that’s how it is.

Is it going to be difficult?

Yes. In the beginning you’ll need to dedicate a good chunk of hours per week to get everything figured out and up and running. The concept of AVShopTalk started in August of 2013. Our first episode was published in February of 2014. Splitting up the work load with Jason is probably the only way I would be able to stick with it. On the bright side this barrier to entry is also stopping many other folks from joining the podcast creation scene. This is good news for you. If you have the perseverance to stick with it that means you also have the opportunity to stand out in the crowd and get recognized for what you know.

Originally posted on Linked-In July 17, 2014

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2 Comments

  1. Eli the Computer Guy August 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Do you still think “podcasting” is the way to go? I’ve just found the YouTube platform not only is an easy way to distribute content, but also brings a massive network effect that standard Podcasting just can’t compete with. And as far as the “on the go” argument… I’m not saying I endorse such things as YouTube Downloader, but… ya know… …

  2. BigNate84 August 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I think you bring up a good point. I’m a huge fan of YouTube. However ,to counter your argument I would suggest that producing “audio-focused” content is the way to go because it offers more flexibility. Audio-focused content can easily translate to video only platforms. You can just add a still image or slide show after the fact. Or easily add a talking head shot. However it’s not a two-way street. Producing “video-focused” content does not translate to audio platforms very well. Video-focused content requires the end user to dedicate screen time for viewing said content. If I were to take an episode of the Daily Blob or Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy show and download the MP3 audio only version I would miss out on all the video clips, chat room conversation, and visual demonstrations. Re-packaging video content for audio platforms leaves something to be desired. Some of stated that doing that creates a second hand class of audio only listeners. The other part to this equation is number of channels to access the content. YouTube is great, in fact I will eventually upload all my audio episodes of AV Shop Talk to YouTube, but by producing audio content first I’m able to also leverage the major podcast directories that push RSS feeds to subscribers, like iTunes, Stitcher, Blackberry, Microsoft Store, Sound Cloud, etc. These directories help diversify in case YouTube shuts down one day. I think starting with good audio is the way to go. Add video later if your content is good enough.

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