Podcasts have been around for a long time, especially considering how quickly things can age in the technical field. And yet some things have stayed the same, and stumped podcasters of all experience levels. This post looks to answer some of the most commonly asked questions, and address some common podcasting concerns!
1. What is a podcast?
One of the most asked questions about podcasting is the origin of the name. The word ‘podcast’ came from a portmanteau of the words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast. The iPod was the original device through which one could listen to podcasts before smartphones were a thing with their apps and such. Despite the medium’s growth over the years into something beyond mp3 players, the name has stuck!
Today, a podcast is defined by its ability to stream online or downloaded for listening while offline, and is usually part of a series that listeners can subscribe to in order to receive information on future episodes. Podcasts can be either audio or video, though audio podcasts are a bit more popular, and they can be found on different platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the like.
2. How does my podcast get to other places like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc? Do I have to pay to be listed?
Out of all the podcasting questions, this is one of the most important to know the answer to. You do not need to pay to be listed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any of the other directories we offer walkthroughs on submitting to.
In order to have your podcast listed on any of the podcast directories, you need to submit something known as an RSS feed. In doing so, these directories will have a direct line to your content as you publish it, and can update your listings on their sites and apps.
3. What is an RSS feed?
An RSS feed is a unique URL that, when clicked, links to a long page of code that essentially makes up your podcast. It lists things like your podcast categories, your podcast description and cover art, whether or not your podcast is explicit or not, and your email address. And once you start publishing your podcast episodes, it will also contain all the information on each episode!
Your RSS feed is what sends all of this information over to each directory you’ve submitted it to, so that all of your info on their pages are listed correctly. In return, you receive information in the form of your podcast download statistics, which can be found where you uploaded your podcast content initially: your podcast host.
4. What is a podcast host?
Your podcast host is where you will actually upload your podcast content, and will give you the RSS feed that you send out to different directories. This is also where you’ll find your podcast download numbers, or your podcast analytics, so you can see how many times your content is being downloaded, where your audience is coming from, and what your most popular episodes are.
Your host of choice will also offer different services to improve the podcasting experience for both you and your audience. Things your podcast host will offer:
- Ways for you to monetize your podcast, where through ad insertion or through your audience (gonna reword better don’t worry okay)
- New methods for you and your audience to connect more, like through audio livestreaming
- Resources like support articles, webinars, videos, and more to help you on your podcasting journey
5. Can anyone start a podcast?
Anyone can start a podcast! You don’t need a special degree or a whole room full of equipment to get your voice heard. You can easily start a podcast with your phone and the microphone in your headphones. In fact, we have a whole tutorial on starting a podcast from your phone in two minutes or less!
6. How do I know that people will listen to my podcast?
This is indeed the crux of things; the real answer is that you don’t know. But in creating your podcast and figuring out your podcast launch plan, you can start cultivating a place for your community and you will find people who will want to listen to your podcast.
Think about what drives you to listen to your favorite podcasts – is it how the episodes are formatted? Is it the chemistry of the hosts, or how the singular host handles the topic? Think about what drives you to these podcasts, and figure out what you could emulate and incorporate into your own content.
7. Can I make money with my podcast?
This question about podcasting always appears because of the success many podcasters have found in monetization – Now Playing, for example, runs an incredibly successful patron program. There are many different ways you can make money with your podcast. All the different monetization options can be broke down into two categories: getting paid by sponsors and getting paid by your audience.
Payment through sponsors usually involves having ads put into your podcast. This will either be done by reading an ad while you’re recording your episode, or through dynamic ad insertion. Dynamic ad insertion means that at the specific timestamp you select, a cut will be made in your audio and the ad inserted so you don’t have to worry about recording episodes in pieces, or leaving 30 seconds of silence, or re-editing your episodes. And once the ad doesn’t need to run anymore – such as the advertising campaign coming to an end – the ad will then be taken out and your audio will sound just like it did when you uploaded it.
Payment through your audience will look like donations (either one-time through sites like Paypal or Ko-fi, or recurring through something like our Premium program), or profits from sales (either through merchandise, or through bonus episodes that you may put behind a paywall). To learn more about the different monetization methods offered, check out our free webinar that goes more into your monetized podcast questions!
8. What makes up my podcast stats? What’s the difference between a play and a download?
Questions about podcast statistics and analytics are also prevalent, and we go into further detail in some of our other posts. Your stats are going to be mainly focused on how many downloads your content gets. Your stats may also show you where your audience is coming in from, and what your most popular episodes are. (how is a download determined?)
At a certain point, plays and downloads are the same thing. For example, if someone is streaming your episodes ten times and they’re online, we’ll see each of those as a play/download. But if they download your episode once and play it ten times offline, we can’t see those offline plays and just see the single download. (Your stats can show you how many listeners you havee compared to how many downloads you have, giving you an idea of how many times they’re replaying your content!)
9. How can I get more listeners to listen to my podcast?
The best way to get more listeners is to promote your podcast! There are hundreds of ways to get the word our about your podcast, from posting on social media to organizing a street team to do some (socially distanced) stickerbombing and chalk-tagging (as we can’t condone spray-paint and graffiti because my boss might get mad at me, but you do you and I didn’t see anything).
10. How do I start a podcast?
To learn about starting your podcast, check out our walkthrough here!