Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Video didn’t kill the radio star.
In spite of the early belief at the dawn of television that all previous broadcasting tools were now obsolete, the radio is still the most popular mass medium in the world. Similarly, creating your own author podcast is a fantastic way to reach a wide audience and to keep yourself in the mind of your existing readership.
The main benefit to podcasting is that listening is a passive experience. Unlike vlogs, where your audience has to constantly focus on the screen, podcasts can be enjoyed in the car, while doing chores around the house, or while at work (depending on the job).
Podcasts, therefore, are a lot less formal than videos – you become a friendly background sound in the home, further helping you to develop your relationship with your readers.
Press ‘record’ and start podcasting
We’ve spoken previously about the marketing potential offered by video blogging. In many ways, podcasting is very similar to vlogging, but podcasts take far less effort to produce.
With vlogging, you need to worry about setting up a camera, recording footage, editing videos, and performing physically without a script. With podcasts, all you need to do is press ‘record’ on a microphone.
The microphone on your cell phone is probably good enough to record decent audio, and if you have a pair of headphones with a mic built in, that’s likely to be even better quality. If you’d prefer to invest in something more professional, a good high quality microphone that plugs into a computer or phone can be bought for around US$60 (this one comes recommended by some podcasters).
Unlike videos, podcasting can be done from a script. You only need to concentrate on your voice, which can lead to a far more relaxed and comfortable recording experience. Editing is also a lot easier, with tools like Audacity making the process far simpler than attempting to edit together various video files.
Creators of the extremely popular online comic strip Penny Arcade, writer Jerry Holkins and artist Mike Krahulik, create an incredibly popular podcast which chronicles their brainstorming sessions for their comic strips. When sitting down to generate ideas, they simply press play on a microphone, and start talking. They are currently funded by a Kickstarter campaign which raised over $200,000, proving that creating a popular podcast definitely doesn’t need to be a complicated experience.
What to talk about on your podcast
If you’d like to offer potential readers something a little more than just casual chat, the good news is that as a writer, you already have a lot of content that translates perfectly into audio.
Fantasy writer Abigail Hilton started podcasting by simply reading chapters from her books. As her talent for audio production grew, she began adapting her stories into radio dramas with sound effects, music and a cast of voice actors.
Excerpts from your book are a fantastic way to start podcasting – it gives listeners a taste of your work, and it gives readers a chance to hear your voice, which helps them to develop a greater personal connection to you.
Alternatively, if you’re regularly blogging about your writing process, your blog topics can also easily become podcasts – you can read a blog post, or write unique content. There’s no shame in reading from a script in front of a microphone (most professional radio DJs get away with it), and it means that you can speak eloquently without having to memorize anything.
New York Times Bestseller Gretchen Rubin, who writes and blogs about happiness, converts a lot of her material into regular podcasts to give her readers a different way to enjoy her work. In doing so, she ensures that her content will reach the widest possible audience – those who prefer to read her blog are able to do so, while those who’d rather listen to a podcast while commuting to work can also easily digest her advice.
One other fantastic thing that Gretchen does in her podcasts is interview other authors. There’s strength in numbers, and when authors work together on content like podcasts, they are able to share their audiences. If you know a fellow author, working together to produce a podcast is a great way to produce engaging conversational content, and to double your potential reach.
If you’d like to give your podcasts a more interactive feel, you could always offer to interview fans, or to answer questions that listeners submit. Through doing so, you can create new content and ensure that your fans are getting the most out of your podcasts.
Posting your author podcast online
While podcasts don’t have quite such a large social community around them as videos have access to with Youtube, audio is a fantastic way to connect with your readers and new fans through distribution platforms offered by companies like Apple and Amazon. The best place to upload your podcast is iTunes, as the process is fairly simple and it guarantees you the largest possible audience.
Once you’ve released your podcast, be sure to tell everybody about it through your various social media channels. Ask for comments, suggestions and idea submissions, and you can generate a lot of engaging discussion that will draw in more new listeners.
Podcasting is the perfect marketing strategy for your work: the written word translates effortlessly into audio, and it gives authors a chance to connect in an informal way with their readers while drawing in new fans through teasing book content.
Have you ever made a podcast? Do you listen to any podcasts made by authors? What content do you think could be included in podcasts? We’d love to know! Please leave a comment below.