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WHAT IS A PODCAST?

Podcasts have generated quite a buzz in recent months. If you are still wondering what is a podcast, this blog will give a clear picture of podcasting, and all the podcast related concepts and podcast terminologies.


This blog elaborates on the following topics of podcasting:

  1. The definition of the podcast: What is a podcast?

  2. What is podcast hosting?

  3. What are the services offered by a podcast host?

  4. What is the RSS feed of a podcast?

  5. How to listen to the podcasts?

  6. What are the types of podcasts?

  7. Podcast vs Audio Files

  8. Podcast vs Radio Show

  9. Podcast vs Blog


Podcasts are nothing, but audio programs that are listened to majorly on a smartphone, but not limited to it. Though podcasts have existed for a long, recently, the numbers grew by leaps and bounds. It is visible from the statistics provided by Podcast Insights that there were 500,000 podcasts in 2018, while the number rose to 850,000 in 2020 with nearly 30 million podcast episodes in over 100 languages.


Podcast insights on how many podcasts are available in 2018 and 2020

Though podcasts have been popular in foreign countries for a long, it is only a couple of years that podcasts have gained popularity in India as well. If we look at the stats provided by Anchor, (a podcast hosting platform owned by Spotify), 25,000 podcasts got created on Anchor in the year 2020 from India.


Before we get deeper into podcast statistics, let’s have a look at what is podcasting.


WHAT IS A PODCAST?


Podcasts are the audio content consumed with the help of the Internet. Are you familiar with radio shows? If yes, then the podcast is never a strange concept. When you start a podcast, it’s like you launch your own radio show.


What is a podcast? The definition of podcasting

A podcast is a series of digital audio files uploaded on the Internet using a podcast host. People or the end-users listen to your podcast on the podcast listening platforms, again with the Internet. In a nutshell, you can call podcast the modern-day radio subscribed to and heard on the Internet.

Let’s understand the common podcast terminologies to get familiarized with the world of podcasting.


WHAT IS PODCAST HOSTING?


A podcast host is a place where you store the inventories of your podcast. As for a business, inventory includes the raw materials and the goods for sale, similarly, podcast host store your podcasts inventories, including the edited audio files, background music and other features to run a podcast. You must upload your audio files on a podcast host, upload your podcast cover and descriptions and publish it.


An illustration of what is podcast hosting and the services offered by podcast hosting sites like Anchor, Buzzsprout, podbean, Spreaker and Castos.

You listen to a podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast or any other podcast directory by searching for a particular podcast name, and start listening to its episodes immediately. You might feel that these platforms host the episode files of the podcast on their platform as they retrieve the results so quickly. But that’s not true!


A podcast host is a place that stores all your podcast details, audio files and communicates the same to all the podcast directories. And this communication is facilitated by the RSS feed of your podcast.


The popular podcast hosts are Anchor, Buzzsprout, Libsyn, SoundCloud, Kuku FM, Podbean, Spreaker and Transistor, to name a few. Many more podcast hosts are coming out owing to the growing popularity of podcasts.


What are the primary services offered by a podcast host?

  • A podcast host is the one that hosts the metadata or the basic details of your podcast, including the podcast name, cover, podcast description, category and other details.

  • It hosts all your raw audio files, as well as the podcast episodes, both published and unpublished ones.

  • Creates an RSS feed for your podcast.

  • Distributes your podcast to the various podcast directories, though not all, but at least a few platforms.

  • Podcast host offers good bandwidth so that listeners can stream huge content seamlessly and without any loading issues.

  • Provide analytics for your podcast and individual episodes such that you can have a clear view of how your content is performing.

  • It provides the convenience to embed your podcast on your website or blog.

  • A few hosts also provide monetization options so that your podcast becomes a source of passive income.


WHAT IS AN RSS FEED OF A PODCAST?


RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it hosts all the details of your podcast. You cannot record audio and upload the audio file randomly to a podcast directory like Spotify or Apple Podcast. They are not going to stuff their servers by hosting your mp3 files. An entire procedure goes behind uploading your podcast and its latest episodes to these platforms. And the biggest requirement for this is the RSS feed.


An explanation of what is RSS feed of a podcast and how it distributes the podcast to various podcast directories

When you publish the first episode or a trailer of your podcast and get it approved by the podcast host, you receive an RSS feed for your podcast. This RSS feed is used to distribute your podcast on various podcast directories. You can imagine RSS feed to be the agent or middleman that communicates your podcast details to the podcast directories.


RSS feed consists of two components –

  1. Podcast Channel Information: This includes your podcast name, hostname, description, podcast cover artwork, category tags, the language of the podcast and other basic details of your overall podcast.

  2. Podcast Episode Information: This includes the details of your podcast episodes like podcast episode title, description, publish date, duration, series and episode number and the episode artwork.


Thus RSS feed houses all the details of your podcast and communicates the same to the directories like Spotify, JioSaavn, Google Podcast, etc., including the updation of the latest episodes and changes made to any episode.

You do not have to update the changes to every podcast directory manually. Instead, make the change on the podcast host, and the RSS would automatically update those changes on every platform your podcast is available.


HOW TO LISTEN TO PODCASTS?

  • To listen to a podcast, download a podcast listening application like Spotify, Google Podcast, Apple Podcast, JioSaavn, etc., and search for the podcast you wish to listen to.

  • You can also listen to the podcast on the browser version of these platforms without the necessity to download the application.

  • Either search for the name of the podcast you wish to listen to or search for a podcast based on the categories and language filters available.

  • You can subscribe to the podcast by clicking on the subscribe button on the application.

  • Once you subscribe to a particular podcast, you get notified whenever a new episode of that podcast is published, and also, the new episodes get automatically downloaded to your device.

  • Podcast directories offer the feature to download podcast episodes for convenient offline listening.

  • According to Edison Research stats report, nearly 65% of podcast listeners use smartphones for podcast listening. And an average podcast listener listens to at least seven shows per week.

  • With the increasing craze of smart speakers, like Amazon Echo, Google Home used by people to listen to podcasts, podcasters can customize their podcasts accordingly to these smart speakers to stay ahead of the competition.


WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF PODCAST?

Podcasts do not impose any specific protocol on what should be the default type of podcast.

1. Podcast types based on the Podcast format:

You can have a solo podcast where you are the host and the only speaker. You can have an interview-based podcast where you interview people to add value to listeners’ knowledge. You can also have a multi-speaker podcast.


2. Podcast types based on Content:

You can speak about any topic of your expertise. The topics can range from business to technology to gaming to entertainment or anything that you love to speak about and add value to your listeners. Value can be knowledge, humour or counselling as well.


3. Podcast types based on Length of the Episodes:

There are no time constraints on what should be the ideal length of a podcast. You can speak for 5 minutes, 60 minutes or even a couple of hours. Some podcasts share 1-minute knowledge. So it can literally be of any length that you are convenient with.


4. Podcast types based on Frequency of Episodes:

You can have a podcast of one episode per week or a monthly podcast or a bi-weekly one. It is all up to your comfort level to decide how long would it take for you to come up with engaging content.


5. Podcast types based on media type:

Although audio podcasts are the mainstream content, video podcasts also do exist. Videos are highly engaging as they build trust among the audience, but a great deal of time and efforts is required to come up with a video podcast. YouTube is a great platform to have your video podcasts uploaded for the audience.


Apart from these, you can also have a podcast in any language, for it may be a global language or even the regional languages. There are nearly 850,000 podcasts available currently in over 100 languages. Hence language is neither a hindrance in sharing your expertise, opinions or content with the world.



PODCAST vs AUDIO FILES: What is the difference between a podcast and an audio file?


As mentioned earlier, podcasts are the digital audio files uploaded on the Internet, so a curiosity may arise on what is the difference between uploading a regular audio file on the Internet and uploading a podcast. So let’s find the differences between a regular audio file and a podcast.


  • A podcast is a complete show where each episode is an audio file. You can call a podcast to be a collection of audio files themed around a similar topic.

  • When you upload an audio file on the Internet, it keeps hanging around randomly on the Internet. But when you upload an audio file as a podcast episode on the podcast directories, these audio files are clubbed under a single podcast and also have continuity of episodes.

  • Moreover, when you subscribe to a podcast, you will realize the difference between a regular audio file and a podcast. Subscribing to a podcast automatically downloads its latest episodes on your device. Whereas if it is an individual audio file, you have to search for it every time and manually download it.

  • When you download a podcast episode from a podcast directory, an audio file only gets downloaded to your device. So podcasts are audio files but associated with more features.


PODCAST vs RADIO SHOW


People usually have confusion about whether podcasts are similar to radio shows. If not, how do these two differ from each other?

The differences between podcast and radio show

Let’s find out the key differences between a podcast and a radio show.


  • When you host a radio show, you have to keep up with the frequency and the length of the episode. Podcast give you the liberty to publish episodes whenever you wish, and there are no time constraints on how long every episode should be.

  • Podcast audios are pre-recorded and are well-edited before publishing as a podcast episode. Live radio is spontaneous and cannot be edited, once it is broadcasted.

  • You can make changes to a published podcast episode, and the RSS feed of your podcast would communicate the changes to all the podcast directories it is available on. It is not possible to make a change in a radio show.

  • You get to analyze the podcast insights better with the analytics, and find out how many people listen to the entire episode, how many leave after a few minutes, etc, etc. and then frame content accordingly. Though you can assess your radio show audience, the analytics are comparatively less detailed.

  • Radio shows appeal to a mass audience, but podcasts can cater to a specific group of audience interested in the subject.


PODCAST vs BLOG


Blogs have always been popular among people, so why is the focus shifting towards podcasts?

  • Blogs, as you know are the textual form of content ranging in diverse topics with varied lengths. Blogs are intended to share knowledge with the audience in various niche ranging from education to entertainment, technology to gaming, business to marketing.


Differences between podcast and blogs

  • Podcasts are similar to blogs while the difference being that podcasts are voice content rather than the textual content of blogs. These days, people have become quite busy in their lives. Hardly do they find time to sit and read a lengthy blog unless they are quite interested in it. You have to dedicate an exclusive time to read the content, but you can hear voice content even while multitasking.


  • People can listen to a podcast while driving, cooking, gardening or travelling. When there is no need for sparing time exclusively to listen to a piece of content, people are more likely to switch to it, rather than a textual one.


  • Moreover, when you read text, you don’t connect with the exact emotions of the writer. But when the speaker conveys the content in his/her voice, listeners connect and feel what he/she is trying to communicate. Voice finds a place in listeners’ minds leaving a lasting impact on them. Voice search and voice technology are growing by leaps and bounds, promoting podcasts as a preferable choice for content marketing and branding.


It is not like you have to adopt one format and neglect the other. In the current competitive era, make the content available on every platform for increased reach and traffic. Write a blog and repurpose it into a podcast to leverage the potential of both formats while remaining active in the competition.


Now that you have got a better idea of what is a podcast, are you planning to start a podcast of your own?


If you are still dubious on how can podcasts be useful, I have got you covered in the blog 12 Reasons to start a podcast.

A podcast is a good medium to present your thoughts in front of the world and dominate content marketing strategies. Do not think much and launch your podcast soon.

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