The Social Media Guide to Podcasting by matthewtommasi


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Do a search on Google for “podcast” and you'll get over 300 million results.
Obviously, podcasting isn't the fad that many people thought it was, when it first
came on the Internet scene. In just a few short years, podcasting has made its way
into the public consciousness, and everyone from your basement bloggers to Oprah
have joined in. Whether you want to get more organized, perfect your Chinese,
learn relaxation tips, or get great music to run by, there's a podcast for you.

Business people, passionate hobbyists, and everyday people are launching podcasts
in record numbers. With just an internet connection and an MP3 player or
computer capable of audio playback, millions of listeners can download and listen
to your voice or video virtually anywhere in the world. While there are thousands of
podcasts available, there's always room for one more, and creating and promoting
your own podcast is an excellent way to take the step to connect with your existing
audience and also reach a larger one.

This report will cover ten of the most commonly asked questions about podcasting,
from how to get started to how to keep your mojo flowing. This guide will give you
enough information to get you up and running in a matter of hours.


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What Is a Podcast?
In simplest terms, “podcast” is typically used to refer to an electronic audio or video
file delivered via download on the Internet. Here are the most common questions
newcomers have about podcasts:

 •    Who can podcast? The world of podcasters is as wide and diverse as the
      world of bloggers. There are popular podcasts on everything from technology
      to sports to gaming to weight loss. Just like with a blog, you can start a
      podcast on virtually any topic and publish it, if you have the desire to do so.

 •    How do people create podcasts? You can create a podcast with very
      simple audio or video recording devices or recording software. Some
      podcasters record with Skype. Other podcasters just use the telephone. The
      media file (usually an mp3) is then uploaded to the Internet for download
      and is made available for listeners.

 •    Do I have to pay to create a podcast? Again, just like with blogging,
      there are free and paid options for creating and hosting your podcast online.
      You do not have to pay to create a podcast or have it listed in the major
      directories, such as iTunes, but you may choose to pay for software, recording
      devices, and/or online hosting.

 •    Will my audience need an iPod to listen to my podcast? Contrary to
      popular belief, you do not need to have an iPod to listen to a podcast. Your
      audience can listen directly on their computer with an interface like iTunes,
      or download the file to an MP3 player and listen on the go. They can even
      burn podcasts to a CD or DVD if they prefer – and many do.

 •    Do listeners pay to download podcasts? Most podcasts are free, but you
      do have the option to create a pay-to-play podcast. Obviously, your
      podcasting goals will help you determine whether or not you charge listeners,
      and how much you ask them to pay.
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 •    Can people subscribe to my podcast? Listeners can subscribe to your
      podcast via an RSS feed, which allows them to receive the latest episodes of
      your podcast directly to their computer. This means your podcast gets pushed
      automatically to your dedicated listeners.

 •    How often do I release new episodes? Podcasts can be daily, weekly,
      monthly, or any other interval. The most successful podcasts are released on
      a regular schedule. Some podcasters create a certain number of podcasts in a
      series – say, a series of 10 or 12. Others podcast in perpetuity, for as long as
      they choose to keep publishing new episodes.

 •    Can I make money podcasting? Just like with blogging, most podcasters
      don't make money, but it is possible to do so. There are several different ways
      to make money podcasting, from charging for your podcast to finding
      advertisers and sponsors. Also, podcasting can help you to drive traffic to
      your products and services – which is where most podcasters realize profit.

Now that I've covered the basics of what podcasting is, let's move on to the next
topic: Why podcasting is good for your business.

Why Do I Need a Podcast?
Think back to the time you first heard of blogs. Or Twitter. Or FaceBook. You
probably asked yourself, “Why in the world would I want to do that?” And now you
may be wondering the same thing about podcasts – what's the point? Well, wonder
no more! Podcasting can do everything from making you into a world-renown
expert, to adding some cash to your wallet. There are several main benefits that
podcasting can bring to your business:

 •    Exposure. By creating a high-quality podcast, you are offering another way
      for people to find out about you. Individuals who might never discover your
      website or blog can find you on iTunes, for free. (As of today, reports show
      that there are over 160 million iTunes users. That's a significant audience.)
      Plus, it's always smart to offer another way for customers to consume your
      information. You can appeal to those in your audience who might not be
      interested in reading your blog or website. For instance, commuters who
      listen to podcasts in the car or walkers and runners who listen while out in
      the fresh air. Podcasting helps get you in front of more people who can buy
      your product or service.

 •    Expertise. Speaking regularly on a topic you're familiar with is a fantastic
      way to cement yourself in people's minds as an expert. After all, if you're
      delivering great content to them, month after month, and you sound like you
      know what you're talking about, you must be an expert, right? Also,
      interviewing other experts gives you “expertise by association.” Just think
      about Oprah – she's become an expert on everything from weight loss (over
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      and over again!) to women's undergarments. Her expert status comes not
      from years of research and training, but from interviewing OTHER people
      with years of research and training.

  •   Networking. What better way to make a connection with an industry mover
      and shaker than to offer them a platform to share their information?
      Interviewing people is a great way to connect with them and to establish a
      relationship. And while you can interview people by email, doing so “live” on
      the phone takes the relationship to another level.

  •   Money. Though money probably won't start pouring in the second you
      record your first podcast episode, podcasting does provide several ways for
      you to make money. You can sell advertising and sponsorships, you can
      review products for a fee, you can charge subscribers to listen to your
      podcast, and you can sell your products or affiliate products on your podcast.
      Obviously, the larger your audience, the higher potential for earning.

Convinced that you need a podcast to promote your business? Then let's move on
and talk about what you need to get started recording.

What Equipment Do I Need?
Podcasting can be as equipment-intensive (and expensive) as you choose it to be.
You can start on a shoestring, or – if you're the gadget-loving type – you can invest
in all the latest bells and whistles and spend a nice chunk of change. That's your
choice, of course. The good news is that you don't need to spend a lot to get started.
If you're not sure whether you want to podcast, or you want to test it out before you
invest in a lot of equipment, or if you just don't have the spare cash, you can be up
and running for virtually nothing.

In fact, there is a free way to start a podcast, go to BlogTalkRadio.

According to their website: allows anyone, anywhere the ability to host a live, Internet
Talk Radio show, simply by using a telephone and a computer.

BlogTalkRadio’s unique technology and seamless integration with leading social
networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Ning, empowers citizen broadcasters to
create and share their original content, their voices and their opinions in a public
worldwide forum.

Today, BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest-growing social radio network on
the Internet. A truly democratized medium, BlogTalkRadio has tens of thousands
of hosts and millions of listeners tuning in and joining the conversation each
month. Many businesses also utilize the platform as a tool to extend their brands
and join the conversation on the social web.
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As you can see, there are benefits to using (since tens of
thousands currently host their shows there). It's easy and their most basic plan is
free. (They offer “premium” plans for a monthly or annual fee.)

However, you may wish to have more control over your podcast and, more
importantly, keep your listeners on your own blog, rather than sending them over to
BlogTalkRadio to hear your message.

If you choose not to go with BlogTalkRadio, the basics you need are:

  1.   A recording device (a way to record the audio)
  2.   Software to edit your audio or video (unless you're planning on publishing it
       unedited and “raw”)
  3.   A podcast hosting service (a place to store the audios online)

That's it! Let's look at each of those in turn:

A Recording Device. If you are doing an audio podcast and have a computer
that's less than a few years old, you're in luck! Chances are the computer you have
already has the ability to record audio when paired with an external microphone
(Note: though many computers have built-in microphones, these are not
particularly clear or of high enough quality for a podcast. You will want to purchase
an external microphone if you don't already have one).

If you're opting for a video podcast, first check your computer to see if it has a built-
in video camera. If it doesn't, some cell phones and digital cameras take passable
video. Do a test-run and see what you think.

Editing Software. You're in luck when it comes to software! There's no need to
sink hundreds or even thousands of dollars into fancy editing packages; everything
you need is available for FREE. Don't you love that?

By far, the industry standard for free audio editing software is Audacity. If you have
a Mac, GarageBand is very similar to Audacity, and is pre-loaded for free.

For video editing, I recommend Windows Movie Maker on a PC and iMovie on a
Mac for free video-editing software.

You'll want to play around with these to figure out how to record and edit your
podcast, but suffice it to say that it's pretty simple to do. An hour of research on the
Web, and you should be ready to go.

A Hosting Service. Just like with your blog, you need a service to host your
podcast files and serve them to your audience. There are several free and low-cost
options, including PodBean.

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Many podcasters are using Amazon S3 which is a very affordable way to store large
files, but it's a bit tricky to set up the first time. So, if it's intimidating to you, then
you might start with the site listed above.

As you become more sophisticated and your audience grows, you may want to
upgrade your podcast components and services, but thousands of podcasters have
made their mark in the Internet world with just these simple tools.

How Do I Refine My Podcasting Skills?
There's that old joke about the New York tourist who asks a local how to get to
Carnegie Hall. “Practice, practice, practice!” replies the old-timer.

The same advice goes for podcasting: The way to get better is to practice. Nothing
substitutes for hours in the seat, working out the kinks, getting used to the
equipment and the process. But there are some tips you can implement to help you
ramp up to “expert” status faster:

  •   Figure out your goals. It's tough to know what to do to make your podcast
      better if you're not sure what you're trying to accomplish, so your first step is
      to figure out what your podcasting goals are. Do you want to get new
      customers? Do you want to provide information for your existing customers?
      Do you want to establish yourself as an expert? Do you want to network with
      others in your field? Determine your goals so you can monitor your progress
      and see how close you're getting to them.

  •   Practice speaking aloud with inflection. One of my favorite ways to
      practice speaking aloud is to read children's books – to kids! They are a tough
      audience and will let you know right away when you've lost them. By the
      same token, you know when you've got them; they look at you with their
      mouths slightly agape, totally enthralled. There's not a better audience to test
      your stuff on, anywhere!

  •   Ask for input. After you've recorded a few test podcasts, ask for feedback
      from colleagues and friends. What do they think of your volume, inflection,
      and pace? What about the length and topics? If you're recording video, what
      do they think of your demeanor and setting? Tell them you want blunt
      criticism (and put your shields up – this is no time for being sensitive!).

  •   Document the process. Write down how you create each podcast,
      including the keyboard shortcuts and tools you use in your editing software.
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      This way you can refer to this cheat sheet over and over again until it becomes
      second nature. By writing it down, you also may be able to pinpoint places
      where you can speed up the process.

 •    Listen to great podcasters. One of the best ways to learn is to listen to the
      “masters.” Listen to others in your niche, as well as those in other fields. See
      what they do, what they don't do, how long they are, how they break up
      segments, etc. What can you adapt to your own podcast?

Refining your podcasting skills is an ongoing process. Great podcasters know
they've never reached their pinnacle of success, and they're constantly trying to
achieve the next level of expertise or success. Get used to the “shampoo, rinse,
repeat” process; it's your real key to success!

How Do I Upgrade My Podcast?
Now that you've got the basics covered and you've discovered some ways to refine
your podcasting skills, you may want to know what other steps you can take to
upgrade your podcast. In addition to practicing, here are the next elements to
address that can make an immediate improvement in your podcasting:

 •    Microphone. Upgrading to a more professional microphone will make a big
      difference in your podcast quality. A great microphone should be one of your
      first purchases when you're ready to make an investment in your podcast.

 •    Music. Adding intro and extro music is an easy way to make your podcast
      sound more professional. But before you go taking clips from your favorite
      CDs and adding them to your track, be aware that most music is covered by
      copyright laws, and the music industry is notoriously nasty with infringers.
      Instead, go for royalty-free music options. If you have GarageBand, many
      sound tracks are available with the software. There are dozens of royalty-free
      music sites such as Royalty Free Music, Freeplay Music and Music Bakery.

 •    Sound adjustments. Invest a little time in learning to use your editing
      software so you can control sound levels, eliminate dead air, fade your intro
      and extro in and out, and control volume for different speakers. A few
      minutes of editing makes a huge improvement in the quality of your final
      product. If you're shooting video, the same is true: eliminate dead spots,
      create transitions and effects, and more to generate a polished finished

 •    Quit Popping. One of the most annoying things for podcast audiences is the
      popping of the Ps and Bs on a podcast. As a podcaster, you may not even
      notice these little exhalations, but your audience certainly does! The solution:
      Buy a microphone screen.

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 •    Create a dedicated website. You can make yourself look like a “big deal”
      by creating a dedicated website for your podcast – or by moving your podcast
      from a free service to your own blog. Include upcoming show topics, RSS and
      iTunes subscription links, and contact information. For each show, create a
      direct link to the download, and include “show notes,” which is a list of
      information and appropriate links for that episode.

How Do I Conduct Interviews?
Ready to be the next Oprah Winfrey? Then it's time to incorporate interviews into
your podcast. Interviewing experts and other interesting individuals is a great way
to provide fresh content, to increase your visibility, and to make you an expert by

Audio interview can be conducted by phone or Skype. Video interviews typically
require you to be in the same locale as your guest. Most of the steps below will apply
to video as well as audio interviews:

 •    Line up interviewee. Brainstorm a list of experts or “names” in your field
      whom your audience would enjoy hearing from. Don't be afraid of shooting
      too high and going after some of the big guys – they need publicity, too! After
      you've put together a short list, start contacting them and tell them the basics
      about your show, why you think it would be a good fit for them, and what
      topics you're interested in covering. Because podcasts can be pre-recorded,
      ask them when it would be convenient to talk; the more that you can adjust to
      their schedule, the more likely they'll be to give you an interview.

 •    Figure out questions. Some interviewers pose a set list of questions to all
      their guests, while others create custom questions, based on the interviewee's
      field of expertise. Either method works fine, it's just a question of your
      comfort level. If you're newer to interviewing, you may be more comfortable
      with a standard set of questions you can refer to. Once you have these
      questions in mind, send them to your guest so he or she can prepare.

 •    Choose taping mechanism. One of the easiest ways to interview guests is
      via the telephone on a free conference call service like Skype. You both call in
      to a joint line, you initiate the recording, and then later you can download it
      as an audio file and incorporate it into your show.

 •    Conduct the interview. This is the fun part! Interview your guest,
      remembering to include an introduction at the beginning. Don't stress if you
      make mistakes; the beauty of podcasting is that you can edit out the rough
      parts. Remember that your audience wants to hear your guest, so refrain
      from talking about yourself, saying “I” too much, or interrupting your guest.
      Let them do their thing!

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 •    Edit as necessary. Using your software, cut out any verbal missteps or
      awkwardness, but don't go overboard. You don't have to sound flawless; in
      fact, people like to know you're a real person who makes mistakes. Learn to
      laugh at yourself and make your guests feel comfortable. When editing, make
      sure not to edit your guest's meaning; let them speak in their own words.

Following these steps will put you head and shoulders above other podcasters, and
will make sure you and your guests are both prepared for your interviews.
Interviewing is a valuable skill you'll find will carry over to other areas of your
business, too, as you establish partnerships and other business relationships.

How Do I Promote My Podcast Online?
Just having your podcast listed in iTunes will likely bring you a handful of listeners.
But to really ramp up your audience, you need to kick into high gear and start
promoting your podcast. There are many ways to spread the word online about your
podcast, and here are some of the most effective:

 •    Promo Spots. Creating a 15- to 20-second promo spot that other podcasters
      can play on their show is a great way to gain exposure to new listeners or
      viewers. Keep it short and sweet, and then target a handful of complementary
      podcasts who you think provide great overlap with your audience. Contact the
      podcaster and ask if they'd be interested in swapping promo spots with you or
      selling you some ad time.
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  •   Blog Buttons. Buttons or badges for blog sidebars are a way for your
      listeners to feel involved in your podcast, as well as display their loyalty. Stick
      with smaller buttons (125x125 pixels is a standard size), and provide them for
      free download from your blog or podcast website. (Some podcasters even
      hold contests for designs, offering a prize to their favorite submission).

  •   Signature line. Don't overlook a great piece of real estate for promoting
      your blog: Your email signature line! You don't need anything more fancy
      than a simple tag line with the link to your podcast download page.

  •   Podcast Directories. iTunes is the granddaddy of all podcast directories,
      but there are plenty of other directories out there, too. Make sure to submit
      your podcast to as many directories as possible, including, and Visit each to see how to submit your podcast
      for inclusion.

  •   Forums. Many industry forums have listings for podcasts, so make sure
      yours is included. And when you comment on posts, you DO have your
      podcast listed in your signature, right?

  •   Ratings on iTunes and Other Directories. Higher-rated podcasts show
      up at the top of searches. In each episode of your podcast, encourage your
      listeners and viewers to rate your podcast in iTunes and other podcast
      directories. And when you get nice emails from your audience, write back and
      ask them to leave a comment on iTunes for you.

  •   Image on iTunes and Other Directories. We are visual people. If we're
      cruising through a podcast directory, looking for a new show, we're more
      likely to tune in to one with a great visual graphic – especially if it's a video
      podcast. Create a small avatar for your podcast and submit it with your
      podcast listing (it's free!).

Now that you're on the promotion path, don't stop there... read on for some
effective ways to promote your podcast OFFline.

How Do I Promote My Podcast Offline?
You may be wondering how you could possibly promote an online product like a
podcast in the offline world. Well, it's not just possible; it's effective, too! Here are
six ways to promote your podcast to “real live” people, thereby spreading your

  •   Business card. Put a link to your podcast on your business card – make
      sure to carry cards with you and hand them out at every opportunity. You
      never know when the guy standing in line behind you at Starbucks will
      become your next fan (and customer).
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 •    Signs. Small signs put up in strategic locales can be very effective. Got a
      podcast on mountain biking? Promote it at the bicycle store. Think
      strategically about your niche.

 •    Demo CD. Create a demo CD or DVD of a few episodes of your podcast and
      ask the proprietors of the businesses you identified above if you can give
      them away to their customers. No one can resist a freebie, especially when it's
      attractively packaged and on their favourite topic.

 •    Ads. An ad in your local weekly paper or giveaway shopper can be an
      inexpensive way to spread the word about your podcast. Again, think
      strategically about the market you're trying to reach.

 •    Press release. Write up a one-page press release about your podcast and
      share it with your local paper and radio stations. Often, these reporters are on
      the hunt for “local boy/girl makes good” type of stories, and your podcast
      could be your ticket to some free press. Repeat the press release exercise if
      you're hosting a big contest, or interviewing a famous person.

 •    Live interviews. Holding live interviews or broadcasts at an industry event
      is a great way to pique curiosity and gather a crowd – radio stations use this
      trick all the time!

How Do I Get Advertisers for My Podcast?
Once you've been podcasting for a while and have built a sizable audience, the
natural next question is, “How do I make money from this thing?” There are a
multitude of ways to make money from podcasting, but one of the most obvious is
through advertising. Advertisers like podcasts because they are still relatively
unique in the online world (as compared to blogs, for instance), and they can reach
an extremely targeted market easily. Once you're ready to think about accepting
advertising, take these steps:

 •    Who sponsors the competition? If there are other podcasts in your
      industry, who sponsors them? What ads do you see on blogs in your niche?
      These advertisers are already sold on “new media,” so they'll be more
      receptive to the idea of advertising on your podcast.

 •    What products do you use and like? It's much easier to promote
      something you already use and love, so start with your favorites. If you're in
      the hairstyling industry, what shampoos, scissors, brushes, and color agents
      do you prefer? If you're a financial expert, where do you perform your trades
      and do your research? Contact them and see if they're interested in exposure
      on your podcast.

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 •    Who is advertising in magazines? So many companies have cut their
      magazine and print advertising, that anyone who's STILL advertising in print
      just might have some money to burn. Check these folks out.
 •    Ask your audience for referrals. You never know who's listening to or
      watching your podcast, so if you're open for advertising business, let your
      audience know. Your listeners already know and love your podcast, and if
      they're a small (or large!) business owner, they may want to get in on the
      ground floor.

 •    Create an ad kit. The scenario you want to avoid is having someone ask you
      how much it is to advertise and how many listeners you have, and you say,
      “Umm, I don't know!” Figure out beforehand what you will charge, what the
      advertiser will get, and how they'll pay. Create an ad kit (a one-sheet PDF is
      fine) with information on your market, your audience, and your rates, and
      have it available for download BEFORE you start shilling for advertisers.

 •    Have a track record of growth and success. No matter how big you
      know your podcast is going to be, advertisers (unless they're related to you)
      are going to want to see some level of consistency and success. If you can tell
      them your audience has doubled every month for the last six months, that's
      impressive. If you tell them you just started but you really, really know what
      you're doing? Not so much.

 •    Do product reviews. Doing product reviews is an excellent way to ease
      yourself into the advertising space. Once you've started offering reviews, you
      can solicit free products from companies. And once you've established a
      working relationship with them, it's an easier sell to move them from
      donating product to advertising (Note: Remember that your first and
      foremost loyalty should be to your audience. This means you don't give good
      reviews to bad products, even if you're getting paid. Period.)

 •    Make it easy for them. Have an easy payment process. Send potential
      advertisers the information they need – including a link to past podcasts and
      your advertising kit. Know why they're a good fit with your market. The easier
      it is for them to say “Yes,” the more likely it is that they'll advertise.

How Can I Fight Podfade?
“Podfade” is the term for podcasts that start out strong but slowly (or abruptly!)
disappear into the ether, when the podcaster loses interest, gets too busy, or just
gives up. Don't let it happen to you! Take these tips to heart to become a podcaster
of longevity, not brevity:

 •    Pick a topic you're truly passionate about. If you're not that into
      Barbies, don't start a podcast on them just because you think the market is
      going to be hot. Your lack of enthusiasm will show. True enthusiasts and
      rabid fans know a faker from a mile away. Don't be that person.
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•   Don't go too narrow. Want to talk about all-natural wart remedies? That's
    a viable business, indeed. But will you run out of topics in a month or two?
    Make sure you have a list of topics for the next six months, at a minimum. If
    you can't come up with at least a dozen topics, broaden your topic area.
    Maybe you could talk about all-natural skin care, or skin problems.

•   Don't be overly ambitious. Saying you're going to podcast every day for
    the rest of your life is a bit insane. You can still take advantage of that early
    burst of energy by recording dozens of podcasts, if that's what you're inclined
    to do. But rather than releasing them all immediately, space them out, with
    one a week or so. Treat them like your kids treat their Halloween candy:
    Make it last.

•   Incorporate new items. After you've been podcasting for a while, you may
    lose your enthusiasm because you feel like the whole thing is just a bit too
    routine. Incorporate some new items into your podcast; bring in a guest host,
    add interviews or product reviews, take Q&A from your audience. Mix it up to
    get your mojo back.

•   Take a break. Some of the best podcasters out there take regular breaks
    from podcasting. They create a podcast series – 10 or 15 podcasts on a theme
    – and then they take a few weeks off to create their next series and recharge
    their batteries. Just let your audience know your intentions so they don't
    think you've disappeared without a trace.

•   Podcast with a friend. Many radio shows rely on multiple hosts. Not only
    does this break up the flow, it also gives you someone to bounce things off of,
    to generate new ideas, and to cover if you need to take a break for a while.
    Think about sharing hosting duties with a colleague in your niche.

•   Get feedback. One of the toughest things about podcasting is feeling like
    you're operating in a vacuum. You're never quite sure if anyone is out there,
    or if they're just downloading your show to leave on for their parakeet to
    listen to while they're at work all day. Asking your audience for feedback is a
    great way to keep your energy from flagging, as well as to generate new
    content for upcoming shows. Ask what questions people have, what they
    think about a topic, and who they'd like you to interview.

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By now, you can see why podcasts are one of the most popular forms of online
entertainment. People can find the information they want, from experts in their
field, and consume it in the way they want, at their leisure. Smart business people
are taking advantage of this trend.

I hope this short guide has answered some of the questions you may have had about
podcasting and what it can do for you and your business. Of course, there's more
that I could share – and maybe I will! – but for now, I just wanted to give you the
lay of the land and remind you that reading about it is no substitute for just
jumping in and giving it a go. The risks are low, and the rewards are immense, so go
to it.

Happy podcasting!

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