Podcasting

August 28th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Podcasting is something I’ve been looking into lately, especially at the urgings of several readers. It was always my plan to add audio content to this site, but I wasn’t sure if podcasting would be an intelligent way to do it. I initially rejected the idea of podcasting for a variety of reasons (time, effort, bandwidth, and a few others). But even as my logical brain kept saying no, my intuition nagged at me to take a closer look. So I did.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with podcasting, it essentially means adding free downloadable audio content to this blog. Perhaps once a week, there would be a post that includes a link to a downloadable MP3. WordPress, the blog software I use, includes built-in support for podcasting. Most likely the way I’d do this would be to add a category to this blog called “podcasts,” so you could easily find all the podcasts in one place, and if you only wanted to subscribe to the podcasts and nothing else (or if you just wanted to keep them separate from the rest of the blog), you could subscribe to an RSS feed just for that category. While you can use a podcatcher application like iTunes to automatically download each podcast to your portable audio player, it isn’t necessary to do so. You can just as easily click a link to play the audio content directly on your computer.

I began taking a deeper look into podcasting by reading several online articles as well as the book Podcasting by Todd Cochrane (who podcasts via Geek News Central). The book was a quick read and gave me a deeper understanding of the potential for podcasting in terms of providing an added benefit for visitors.

Then I downloaded and listened to many podcasts to get a feel for what’s out there. For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to podcasts for an average of about two hours per day. While there are abundant technology-related podcasts, I found very little in the area of personal development. There are religious podcasts and health podcasts, but I couldn’t find any podcasts that directly addressed personal growth. (If you happen to know of any, please let me know.) The closest thing I found was the JediTrainer.com podcast. Despite the clever name, it’s actually about an ancient philosophy known as Huna; this is an excellent podcast though — currently my personal favorite.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I already have all the hardware/software needed for podcasting, and last week I recorded a sample podcast (with garbage content) in order to test the whole recording pipepline. Due to recent traffic increases, I also upgraded the web server, so now I have plenty of extra bandwidth (at least for current traffic levels). Incidentally, you might notice that the site is a bit more responsive now, since I was really pushing the available RAM on the old server. I also learned of some affordable options for offloading podcasting bandwidth if that becomes necessary. So there are no remaining technical barriers that would prevent me from beginning podcasting immediately.

But before I produce and publish a podcast, I’d like to ask for feedback and suggestions from all of you. Do you think this is something worth pursuing, or are you largely indifferent to the whole idea? Do you feel that the addition of (perhaps weekly) audio content would be of benefit to you? If I were to start doing regular podcasts, what specifically would you like to see? Naturally I want the podcast to address personal development, but there are a number of ways to structure a podcast.

Off the top of my head, here are some factors to consider for a podcast:

  • Breadth vs. depth: One topic per show or multiple topics per show? Or a mixture of both?
  • Duration: 15-20 minutes seems about right to me. Do you prefer longer or shorter?
  • Frequency: Weekly would probably work best.
  • Topic Selection: How are topics chosen for each show? Is there some kind of natural progression from one show to the next, or do we jump around a lot?
  • Interaction: Listener-submitted questions (aka “Ask Steve”)? Other interactive elements?

Please let me know your thoughts….


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