MF 264 : Podcasting styles and an introduction to podcast hosting
On this episode, we go into podcast hosting styles (solo, interview, etc.) and a brief introduction to podcast hosting platforms. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Part 1: Practice before you preach (or podcast)
Continuing our discussion from last week of picking a topic and theme for your podcast, let’s take a look at podcast host styles.
As part of your topic and theme selection, think about what kind of podcast-style you want to showcase: interview, conversation (which is not the same as an interview) or a monologue or solo podcast, in which you share your thoughts and ideas.
Moving Forward started out as a formal business interview podcast. Throughout I also experimented with episode format, with some going into more freeform and less edited conversations as well as solo episodes. This year, Moving Forward is a shorter, solo podcast and I’m using it as a platform to share my moving forward journey with you along with practical tips and strategies in several areas within a mini-series format. This year, I’ve covered Poshmark, writing your first book, creating an adult coloring book, and now we’re finishing the season with creating and launching a podcast.
Picking a style is like finding the right clothes for the occasion. You’ll want to match your podcasting style to the purpose and the topic. If your podcast is a hobby or you’re talking about your favorite TV show, you may want to keep it conversational and less formal. If it’s for your business, you may want to make it more structured.
To this end, practice-practice-practice. You already have the equipment you need to get started: a phone, a computer, a tablet or some combination of three. You may even have an old school tape recorder or digital recorder. Use these to practice a solo podcast or if you’re doing an interview podcast, ask a friend to be a mock or practice interviewee.
The key to podcasting is doing so start by practicing. You’ll discover what you like, what you don’t and find a style that works for you. Moreover, practicing a podcast will be your spot check to make sure you like the topic and format.
Part 2: A brief introduction to podcast hosting platforms
Now let’s turn our attention to the technical aspects of podcasting. Over the next few episodes, we’ll be looking at equipment, software, platforms and more to get you started. Before you proceed any further, please make sure you’ve reviewed and done the exercises from episodes 262 and 263. It’s vital that you have an exit strategy and pick a topic / theme you love before you start looking at the more technical “how to” aspects of podcasting. I also recommend that you spent a lot of time on the above-exercise, practicing with equipment you already have to make sure you find a style you like but also as a spot check to make sure you love your topic and are ready and enthusiastic about doing a podcast.
Let’s start with podcast host providers. Think of a hosting platform as a home for your show’s file. Your podcast, be it you talking and sharing your thoughts or a conversation, is reduced to sound files like MP3s. You need a place to house these and from there, you can syndicate it to channels like Apple, Stitcher, and Spotify.
There are many podcast host providers out there and today, I:’l showcase two and briefly mention several others. You have a lot of choices so I do recommend you shop around.
Before we get to that, some of you may already have a website that is hosted on an unlimited storage plan. You may be thinking, I can just upload my MP3s there and publish it myself. I highly recommend against this because 1) it’s a real pain to do and 2) it will slow your website to a crawl as your podcast gets traction. It’s also tricky to syndicate it – you’ll need to create your own RSS feed and if you’re just getting started, it’s more trouble than it:s worth.
A third party hosting plan will do the heavy lifting for you so your podcast can handle as much traffic as possible without impacting your website. From there, you can integrate it into an existing website. Third-party hosting providers generally make this easy to do.
For Moving Forward, I use a company called Libsyn to do my podcast hosting. Libsyn is one of the oldest and just celebrated it:s 15th year in business. They serve some of the biggest and most popular podcasts out there and they have excellent customer support. All 260+ episodes of Moving Forward are housed on Libsyn and I’ve been very pleased with them.
Libsyn uses a variable pricing plan based on storage needs. You can subscribe to a plan as small as 50 MB for $5 or plans with 1400 MB+ for more. We’ll go into this more on a later episode but a general rule of thumb I use is a formula of 1 MB = 1 min. For Moving Forward back when it was a 30-40 minute interview podcast, I mostly used the $15 and $20 plans which gave me enough storage to pre-record and upload 2-3 months’ worth of episodes. During the months, in which I didn’t record anything new, I’d downgrade to the $7 or $5 plan which still gave me 50 MB in case I needed it.
Libsyn not only hosts your files, but it will also syndicate your show to all major channels including Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart and many more. I find Libsyn tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to forging new relationships with major syndication channels. If you have a YouTube channel, Libsyn also has a wonderful, user-friendly way to convert your podcast into videos for your channel.
There are tons of features and bells and whistles, but my favorites are the ability to schedule your episodes and the Libsyn podcast player which integrates easily into the Bemovingforward.com website. Libsyn hosts my files and provides a HTML code I can embed into each blog and write-up, turning it into a “radio station” for that specific episode.
There are many other podcast hosting plans out there including Podbean, Soundcloud and Buzzsprout to name a few. You can and should explore and research as many as you can and find one that fits your needs.
One other platform I’ll briefly discuss is Anchor. You may have heard of it, it’s a mobile app that currently provides free hosting for podcasts and syndicates to many of the major channels including Apple, Spotify (which owns Anchor) and more. This year, I’ve tried Anchor for the first time for my other podcast Making Fake Star Trek, which is based on the book I wrote and released this year. I co-host this podcast with my co-author and we record the episodes during his commute home since he lives on the West Coast. This is a much more informal podcast and we don’t put as much time into the production values. You’ll hear everything from static to dropped signals but for our purposes, it suits us fine and the raw quality is part of the charm. Making Fake Star Trek is a limited run podcast since it’s based on two books (the second coming out in 2020) so it has a pre-determined beginning-middle-end.
So far, I like Anchor and will likely stick with it for Making Fake Star Trek while remaining with Libsyn for Moving Forward. The benefit of Anchor is that it is free so if you’re on a very tight budget, the cost is right.
Libsyn I recommend if you’re going to stick with podcasting for the long haul. The customer service and many available tools are fantastic for a podcaster getting started and for growing your show.
Practice your podcast. You already have the equipment you need to get started. Don’t buy any equipment just yet. We’ll cover that next week. If you decide you are going to go through with this, start looking at podcast hosting platforms and find one that may work for you and your show.
Try out Libsyn for free with promo code: CAST
If you’re interested in trying out Libsyn, I am an affiliate. Go to Libsyn.com, pick a plan and use promo code: CAST to get your sign-up month plus the following month to try it out for free [Note: you cannot change your plan during the trial otherwise the billing will kick in so pick a plan with enough storage to try it out and if you decide to stick with it, you can adjust to a plan that suits your show’s needs going forward right before your free trial ends].
Part 3: What I’m reading
The Peanut Papers Edited by Andrew Blauner (***): A series of essays and thought pieces from writers, cartoonists, and animators on how Charles Schultz’s Peanuts influenced them growing up, and later in their careers. Overall, I enjoyed it, especially as the writers dig into the deeper meaning of Peanuts, which surprisingly, has some dark, even cynical undertones in the original comic strip than its later incarnations as a cartoon series.
Note: Episode 265
Since next week is Thanksgiving, episode 265 will air on Monday.
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