Your Choices


The majority of podcasts have a simple blog to post their show notes and links to the podcast. Blogger, WordPress, and Libsyn all offer this basic service. However, some of the bigger shows are going beyond the simple blog to house their podcast and are instead building a full-fledged website around it. A website adds supplemental material to the podcast. Just as a podcast can give an established site more content and therefore more worth, a website can give an established podcast the same.

The Blog

Thousands of podcasters can't be wrong, right? The content we create is aural, not visual, so for most of us, a blog does all the work we need. It gives us a place to post our show notes, links, and contact info. Also, many blog services automatically generate our RSS feeds for us.

Some use their blog as a place to dump show notes; others use it as an actual blog, writing about things related to the podcast as the days pass. It can be a place that ties your users to your podcast and keeps them interested in the podcast and you.

Jim Van Verth of The Vintage Gamer podcast (http://www.thevintagegamer.net) uses a WordPress blog as his podcast's home. He prefers a blog because he doesn't feel his podcast needs a full website.

"I was already using WordPress for another blog, and I was familiar with the way it worked. I don't need a full site because this is a hobby. I might think about [making a site] if I were doing this professionally."

Jim Van Verth, The Vintage Gamer


The pitfalls to a blog are simple: that's all there is. You can add links to friends or podcasts, some buttons for PayPal or Google Adsense, but as for actual website content, the site is pretty flat.

The Website

Some shows, especially the bigger ones, find that having a full-fledged website to support their podcast is the way to go. Sure, you still have a blog area to post show notes, and you have to have an RSS feed, but there's also much more you can do.

The award-winning podcast Eat Feed has an extensive website at http://www.eatfeed.com. The site offers a weekly "featured listener," book reviews, bios of guests, and extensive "about the podcast and contact" information. Host Anne Bramley spends about an hour a week updating the site.

"It never actually occurred to me to do a blog rather than a full site. But I'm glad I started off this way because of the control I haveespecially for things like creating the recipe index and using affiliates to sell books featured on the show. Plus, I feel it helps both in presenting ourselves as a professional business to our potential sponsors and being able to offer them a customized presence that a blog might not allow for."

Anne Bramley, Eat Feed


The downsides of a website are few, but significant, which is why most podcasts, like The Vintage Gamer, simply don't need them. They take up considerable time (and possibly money) to create and maintaintime you could be spending on podcasting. So before you start building a grand site for your podcast, question whether you need it and if you have the time to keep it updated to be of use.

Hosting Services

You have many choices when it comes to your blog, and many free choices can be found online. But your podcast needs to have a place to live, and the bandwidth with which to serve it to your listeners generally remains static. Once upon a time this did not come cheap, but like with most things, the podcasting landscape is always changing, and today you have plenty of options.

Free Services

You can't get cheaper than free. Although a lot of free things seem too good to be true, some modest free podcasting services are available that can serve your needs quite well. Although they're not buff enough to take care of the kind of bandwidth the TWiT podcast needs, they are enough for beginning podcasters or people who just want to get their feet wet without worrying about a blog or website. This section details some of the free services available.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org) is a nonprofit organization that was founded to build a library of sorts. Its purpose was to give permanent access for scholars to digital historical collections. It has expanded with the times, currently holding collections of texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages. This also means, of course, podcasts.

Pros: Internet Archive can handle any amount of traffic you throw at it. You can upload both audio and video.

Cons: It will stream slow and there is no stat package. This site is only for hosting your MP3 file, you will still need to get a separate blog account to handle the RSS feed.

Openpodcast.org

The oldest podcast service out there, Openpodcast.org was up and running in October of 2004. It's the brain child of Ben Tucker, and it serves as a distributor for anyone with a short (5 minutes or less) podcast. All you need to do is record your podcast and email it to the submission address, submit@openpodcast.org. If you don't have a recording setup, or you happen to be out and about and dying to podcast, call Openpodcast's number 206-350-OPEN and podcast through the phone.

All the podcasts go out on the same feed. It's a popular feed for people wanting to hear lots of short, interesting, and sometimes strange things, but it's also a good place to send promos.

Openpodcast has three rules:

  • No copyrighted material.

  • Be creative.

  • Have fun.

The first of these rules is probably the most important, but if you don't follow the other two, then it's pointless.

Pros: Fun and free, and you have a guaranteed listener base of at least 1,500 people (as of this writing) for your very first podcast.

Cons: Your time podcasting is limited, and you will be included in a feed with so many other podcasts you might get lost in the shuffle of a mass-delete.

Gcast.com

New as of December 2005, Gcast is the creation of the Garageband.com group (see Figure 13.1). Gcast offers phone-in (with a toll-free number) or upload technology, with the added bonus of allowing you to manipulate your files before saving to MP3 and publishing. Besides the free hosting, Gcast offers perks such as an imbedded player to put on a website and emailing the users a direct link to the podcast.

Figure 13.1. Gcast: so easy my grandma can use it. I think I'll ask her if she wants to.


Pros: Tons of extras. No limit to size. Podsafe music connection with Garageband.com. The ability to record and add new shows directly from a cell phone to your RSS feed. Free 1-800 number to call into service, which can also be used as a listener feedback line.

Cons: Too new for any glaring problems to make themselves known. No stats package in terms of its listener base. If you use this service, you will also want to use Feedburner to get an idea of how many subscribers you have (plus, you will want to use Feedburner so that you are not locked into using the Gcast feed URL as your public feed).

Odeo.com

In December 2005, Odeo took its podcast recording software out of beta and made it available to everyone. It became a one-stop shop for subscribing to and recording podcats. You can read more about Odeo in Chapter 1, "A Brief History of Podcasting."

Pros: Ease of use and recording capability make Odeo a site where anyone wanting to do pretty much anything with podcasts can go. The bonus with this site is that you can record directly on the site with a simple Flash playerno mucking about with a separate program, no uploading, no fuss.

Cons: Minimal capability in audio manipulation. You can only record 3 minutes on the site, and it may crash on some browsers.

Traditional Services

If you are just starting out and you already have a website with a traditional Internet service provider, there's nothing wrong with hosting your files there. You already have a relationship with the company and know its rules, its perks, and you're already paying a price for the service. Most people don't use their entire allocation of storage and bandwidth that they purchase from their provider, so you will be assured of getting your money's worth.

Note

Most Internet users with generic websites pay no attention to their bandwidth allocations. After all, most of these sites just have some pictures and some email and only marginal traffic. It's not until you start distributing files of several megabytes to hundreds or thousands of people that you start to realize that it's pretty easy to eat up that monthly allotment of 20GB or so that many ISPs allow.


The only issue with the traditional ISP, of course, is keeping track of your bandwidth to make sure you don't exceed its limitations. Before that comes up, you can contact your ISP and make sure you find out two things: what the penalty is for going over your bandwidth, and how much it costs to get the next level of service. Also, see if you can find out whether your ISP will warn you when you are nearing your bandwidth limit.

When your podcast gets popular enough, you may want to look into the podcast-only services to avoid large bandwidth bills.

Pros: If you already have hosting, you don't need to worry about getting new hosting.

Cons: Bandwidth worries.

Podcast-specific Services

Podcast-specific services came into being in late 2004 and early 2005 as bandwidth problems started to plague some of the more successful podcasters. The classic problem with the Internet is that when you become popular, your bandwidth usage goes up, and therefore your cost to your ISP goes up. It's more expensive to be popular than to be unknown.

The podcast-specific services focus more on storage space than bandwidth prices, charging their users for a certain amount of space and giving them bandwidth for free. This type of hosting service has proved to be incredibly popular.

Libsyn.com

The big player in the podcast-specific service is Liberated Syndication (Libsyn), which offers four packages, starting with the Podcasting Basic package at $5 a month and 100MB of storage and peaking at Podcasting Professional at $30 a month and 800MB of storage. Libsyn requires no contract and has no hidden bandwidth fees.

Pros: What can we say? It's not the most popular podcasting host for nothingit's cheap and has free bandwidth. It has very good statistics for reporting the number of unique downloads. It allows you to redirect a domain name so that your blog/site will appear as www.yourdomain.com, instead of with Libsyn in the URL, which is nice if you ever decided you want to change services.

Cons: Its popularity caused some server crashing issues in 2005. With over 2,500 shows sitting on its servers, when Libsyn goes down, everyone knows. (By late 2005, Libsyn did appear to have most issues resolved.)

Podlot.com

As the lesser-known "dark horse," Podlot has grown quietly, doing little advertising and allowing word-of-mouth to do its work. It has experienced few of the growing pains that Libsyn has gone through, and remains cautious with its services. Although the pricing is similar to Libsyn, Podlot also offers more storage for each type of account.

Pros: As of March of 2006, Podlot has never been down. It's also affordable to just about anyone who wants a podcast.

Cons: It's not the best choice for fledgling podcasters, because it doesn't offer as many services (blog, RSS help, and so on) as Libsyn offers.




Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
ISBN: 0789735741
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 162

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