What is a Podcast?
In this article I try to cover at high level the basics of podcasting. I share with you What exactly is a Podcast, How they really work and what are various podcast formats
Just think about you, how do you usually consume a content, if you think for a moment, you will realize that it generally via below 3 modes & organs
- Eyes – You may prefer using your eyes and do your reading and you feel more connected to this form of media. There are numerous blogs and content out there on the internet today which provide all the things that you may be looking for. And not to forget the best friend for most of us – The Precious Gems – “Books” that capture precious wisdom from all over.
- Eyes and Ears – Do you know the 2nd largest powerful search Engine after Google? Yes, it’s Youtube. It has millions of videos across various topics. Some type of content is usually very well explained through videos be it whiteboarding, animations, or turning those complex concepts or workflows and breaking them down into simple ones. Not to forget the various entertainment shows that get published each day through Netflix, Amazon, and various other similar channels.
- Ears – And this is my favorite mode of consumption. Imagine converting your non-productive time to a productive one. You standing in a queue or working out in a GYM or driving for work and still being able to listen and consume information that can give you a wealth of knowledge, inspiration or, solutions to your problems. And that’s exactly where Podcast comes into the picture.
The podcast is a digital audio form of media (.mp3 file) that can deliver any form of content right at your fingertips.
You can think of it as a downloadable radio, or Netflix for Audio, or Audio on demand
Generally, one would create a podcast on a specific niche, micro-niche, or topic like finance, inspiration, parenting for teens, entertainment news, so that target listeners who have an interest in them can subscribe to it.
Hope this gave you a fair bit of idea on What exactly is a podcast?
How Podcasts really work ?
Podcasts are powered through something called an RSS feed – Really Simple Syndication. Syndicate as the name suggest means sharing
RSS Feed is an old and powerful concept. Imagine you like to read new articles from your favorite sports website such as ESPN. Now it will be difficult for you to go to the website every now and then to check if a new article has got published, right? Instead of it, the alternate option is that you subscribe to its RSS feed. Now RSS feed contains all the information about the website ESPN.com and keeps a tap on any new articles that get published. So, as soon as the new article gets published RSS feed will share the article and you will be notified. Isn’t it interesting?
Similar to the above example, podcasts are hosted in podcast hosting websites such as Buzzsprout, Libsyn, etc (more on this when we talk about How to publish your podcast later). The podcast hosting website generates an RSS feed URL for the podcasts. RSS feed URL points to an RSS feed that contains the entire metadata information of your podcast such as Name, Description, Creator, Summary, as well as all your episode details.
This RSS feed URL is then submitted to various podcast listening platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, etc. This activity is a one-time setup.
Once done, anyone can go ahead to these podcast listening platforms and subscribe to your podcast through an RSS feed
From here on, whenever you create your new or fresh episode for your podcast and submit it to the Podcast Hosting Website, the episode gets pushed to Podcast listening platforms via RSS feed thus notifying the listeners (who have subscribed to your RSS feed) that “A New episode of your podcast is now available”
This write-up might be a bit technical but I really wanted to give you a flavor of how exactly a podcast would reach to your listeners and how does it works end to end. You don’t need to worry much about all the technicalities as the entire flow which we discussed above gets handled automatically. The only step you need to perform would be to submit the RSS Feed URL (ONLY ONCE) to various podcast listening platforms where you would like to make your podcasts available.
Format for podcasts goes a long way in organizing the content of your podcast episode. It gives a structure and prevents your show from being messy and going all over the place. It helps you to stay consistent with your listeners. The listeners know what to expect from your show and it also becomes easy for them to describe your show to anyone
So, here are the formats that you may want to consider
- Solo Format – As the name suggests you go Solo in this format. It’s kind of monologue where you go ahead and just speak on a microphone all your thoughts. You share information or present your thoughts and expertise to the world which is inline with the theme of your podcast. The length of solo formats is generally anywhere between 10 to 20 mins. This is one of the most common formats and doesn’t need much to get started if you have a lot of content and knowledge with you on the theme of the podcast. Many new podcasters start with this format since it is fairly simple and doesn’t have a lot of dependency on others. If your content strikes a chord with the listeners, then it also helps you to establish your brand and authority where people consider you as a subject matter expert in your niche. E.g – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
- Interview-Based format – This is also quite a common format. In this format, you bring in guests and interview them in every episode. It becomes your responsibility to extract out the best insights from the guest around your podcast theme which can bring immense value to the listeners of the show. One of the main advantages of this format is that content is brought in by your guest while you are facilitating the conversation. It also helps you to expand your audience network by tapping into the guest network. However, at the same time, it adds the task of finding quality guests who fit in the theme of your podcast and develop those interview skills that require patience and practice. The typical length of an Interview based podcast can be anywhere between 25 mins to 50 mins. E.g – The Ranveer Show
- Co-Host format – In this format, there are 2 people who are the co-host of the podcast and they engage in conversation with each other in every episode. They often have great chemistry with each other to bring the best out for the listeners. They generally do role plays where for eg – one might be sharing the latest news while other would give his or her perspectives on that news. If done correctly, this format often makes it quite fun and engaging for the listeners of the show by making them feel a part of a club or community. E.g. – Errthang Podcast
- The Panel Podcast format – Similar to interview-based, with the difference that it has more than one guest. E.g. – The Beancast
- Non-Fiction Storytelling podcast – Podcast episodes about real-life stories. Here in each episode you bring out and narrate stories of real-life events be it series of crime, exploration stories, travel stories, etc. Here you help listeners to know more about our world. The podcast format is highly addictive but requires a lot of preparation, research to come out with impactful and engaging episodes. E.g. – This American Life
- Fiction Story telling podcast – This is the least common format.As the name suggest, in this format you share fictional stories with your listeners. The more creative and imaginative you are the more impact the podcast format can create with your listeners. This can be really fun and valuable for listeners if executed correctly. While it can rewarding, the drawback is the huge amount of preparation that might need to go in for churning our episodes. Its kind of similar to dramatic television. E.g – Solve: A murder Mystery Podcast
Hope this post gave you a glimpse of podcasting basics. If you liked the article do share me your feedback on firstname.lastname@example.org