Recently, I partnered with a friend to create a podcast for a non-travel business. To be honest, I had no idea how simple, effective, and powerful they could be. In fact, I was so blown away that I likely will be starting another one for my travel business soon enough. Podcasts have been around for a long time and recently are taking off. With most consumers accessing content from mobile devices and most states preventing people from using them while driving, podcasts are becoming huge with commuters in addition to people at work who can listen.
Like everything else in business, especially for a solo enterprise, finding the time will be the challenge. But I do recommend you at least look into it and see if it may be for you. Here are some actionable items for you to consider.
You need some equipment to record. At the minimum, buy an external microphone and do not rely on the ones that are built into your laptop or your smart phone. Yes, you can record right to your smart phone. The microphone, I am told is the single most important piece of the puzzle for a good sounding podcast, so if you can afford a better one—go for it. We have 2 MXL 990 microphones which ran $69 a piece on Amazon. Assuming you have a laptop or a smart phone, you are really good to go.
If you want to play with your sound a little more, or add several people to the podcast, you might want to invest in a mixer. A mixer will allow you to adjust sound quality and volume as you go. You can also bring in external sources (a guest on Skype, a CD of local music, etc.) with a mixer. We went with a Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB which set us back about $150.
And that’s about it. If you wanted to get fancy, you could get wind screens for the mics or an external recorder, but it is really not necessary.
The only other cost you will have is hosting. I do not recommend hosting it on your own site because of the bandwidth it will require. Libsyn is the hosting platform that we chose. The basic plan is $5/month for limited bandwidth—probably ideal for a short, monthly piece. But even the larger plans are not that bad—we are doing 4 hour-long podcasts per month and opted for a $20/month plan.
From Libsyn, the rest is easy. They will help you submit to iTunes, Google Play, and all of the other directories in order to be found. You upload your content, create a description and some graphics, and let it fly. They have very robust reporting available for you as well. The key thing to remember is to bring everything back to this source (or whatever you choose) so you can measure it. If you upload the files to Libsyn, a separate one to your blog, and another one to SoundCloud, you fracture the information you want. Libsyn makes it easy to send your Libsyn hosted content elsewhere—iTunes, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. They also give you a link to each piece of content so you can manually do all that as well.
Again, this is a lot easier than I thought. We set up, we do a few “testing 123’s” and take off running. We do lay out our episodes in advance (somewhat) so we have a plan and we go start to finish. Once it is saved and on the computer, I use the free software called Audacity to edit it.
Audacity is incredibly powerful and has more oomph to it than I will ever need. And being free, it is a helluva lot cheaper than Audition—the Adobe product which is the gold standard in audio. What we do is trim the file to the start and the stopping points and then do two effects on the file:
Normalize-which automatically somewhat compensates for different voice levels. It give us both the same (or close) volume.
Compress—which defines the top peak of the audio before distortion, and then magically adjusts all of the sound to fill that space.
To be honest, it is technical process that I do not fully understand, but that is what I was told to do by an engineer at XM/Sirius and it works well.
To add a little professionalism, we did have someone record an introduction and an exit with some music (that engineer at XM/Sirius I mentioned) and we simply copy and paste them into the audio file.
We upload it to Libsyn and fill in the blanks and off we go. The rest (to SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, etc) is all automated.
As I said, finding the time is the tough part. We have only done a few episodes, but we timed it last week and from start to finish, it took 2.5 hours—which included an hour of recording and about 45 minutes at lunch
BSing preparing for our discussion. Not too bad.
The podcast has a limited audience, but I did find that once launched, we were seeing 200 to 500 downloads per episode and a significant bit of traffic coming from the podcast to our respective websites. I will follow up with more as we continue to produce episodes.
Thoughts for travel
As I mull this over, I can think of so many uses for a podcast in travel.
- Trip report. Maybe grab an interview with the GM of the resort or the Cruise Director.
- Upcoming sales. Talk about what is hot, and where the deals are.
- Supplier talks. Bring in a BDM to discuss the latest products and cool amenities.
- Customer testimonials. Talk to a client who is happy with your service.
- Behind the scenes. Here’s what we do for you.
- Travel Tips. Packing. Preparing. Etc.
Have you tried podcasting? Any tips? Thoughts? Leave a comment!