Beyond the networks, there are communitiesand podcasting started very much as one big community. However, when any community gets large enough, it starts to splinter into smaller subgroups and cliques. With most online communities, forums are the local watering holes. Using the forums at popular podcast directories and podcasting sites is a great way to meet other podcasters. Some of the more active message boards include the following:
At each of these sites, you should be able to find people who will answer your questions. You will also find lively debate on a few of these forum boards that you can join in on. Remember, flame wars (fights between various posters) do not equal community building; they equal community trashing. Most importantly at these forums, you are likely to find like-minded people and some you may even come to call friends. Additionally, some podcasts have very large and active message boards, such as the following:
As far as promoting your show goes, many of the forums mentioned here have a place where you can pimp your latest show. By all means, take advantage of this. Like any forum, spamming will not be tolerated. So promote in moderation and only where allowed.
One of the best ways to build listeners is to cross-promote with other podcasters. Just shooting emails to podcasts you like and contributing to their shows is a great way to start community building. Reach out to other podcasts similar to yours. Come "bearing fruit," and you will be received much better than if you come looking for others to do something for you.
Once you build up a relationship with specific podcasters, you will find most will go out of their way to help promote your show. And if one of those podcasters is part of a social network, there is a good chance you will be invited into that network. With The 138 network, the only real requirement for entry is that a potential member is already contributing to and promoting two or more current members.
Online is not the only place to build communities; you can actually build a podcasting community of friends in person. Podcaster "meetups" (http://podcasting.meetup.com/) are a great way to do this (see Figure 15.4). There are over 20 different podcaster meetup groups, with membership ranging from 3 to over 200 people. If you do not have a local group, start your own. It is really easy, and it gives you a reason to contact your local paper to talk about podcasting and your podcast (more on that in the next chapter). Talking to someone via Skype is one thing, but when you actually get to hang out in person with someone and commiserate over drinks about your lack of sleep since you started podcasting, that is where great friendships are made.
Figure 15.4. The Podcasting Meetup Page lets podcasters build an in-person network with their colleagues.
Another way to community-build is by going to podcast conventions. Portable Media Expo (PME) and PodcasterCon were the two biggest conventions for podcasters over the past 2 years. Yes, these can be very cliquish. But it is really a great experience to meet fellow podcasters and get a face to put with each voice.
Rob cannot count the number of times when he met people at PME and PodcasterCon and they said, "Wow, you look nothing like what I expected." Granted, he is still not sure what to make of those comments, but the optimist in him thinks it was a compliment.
Being able to break bread with fellow podcasters and share ideas about podcasting is an unforgettable experience. Additionally, it gives you a great opportunity to promote yourself and your show to those who can help spread the word.