Podcasting is one of the best tools for sharing your passion and expertise online. Free of traditional radio’s restrictions, you’re limited only by your imagination in terms of format, content, and length. Podcasts are also hugely popular with audiences, almost a requirement for entrepreneurs and entertainers trying to build a following without corporate support in traditional media. But as effective as podcasts are, should the content they offer stand alone? Is it necessary to supplement and support your podcast with something written?
If you’re reading this, you can probably guess that my answer would be a firm “yes.” Most of my podcasts for both the $100 MBA and my software company, Webinar Ninja, come with an attendant blog on whatever topic the show covered. Not only does this support and further clarify the information I present on the shows, it allows me to include links and visual aids. Most importantly, blogging in conjunction with podcasting allows my business to appeal to a wider range of potential customers.
As an educational administrator, I had to make sure that teachers knew how to reach their students. The same principles apply to reaching your audience. In teaching, “differentiation” is the way teachers appeal to multiple modes of learning. Some people best absorb information by reading it, some by hearing it, and some by seeing it. By producing content in both audio and written form, you effectively double your chances of appealing to certain consumers and getting your message across.
While it’s possible to have a successful podcast without written content, I don’t recommend it. To give your podcast the support it deserves, it’s better to have at least a show notes page (more on that below). Ideally, though, it’s best to maintain a full-fledged blog.
When deciding what written content to add to your podcast, first understand the difference between a blog and show notes. Show notes simply summarize a podcast’s content and provide links to products, guests’ websites, or any other resource mentioned in the episode. Essentially, it allows listeners to continue their research by following up on the podcast. It can also lead listeners to your podcast through SEO. For those reasons, I consider show notes to be a bare minimum in terms of supporting your podcast.
Without at least a show notes page, anything the listener is meant to take away from the episode will have to be either remembered or written down. This violates a basic principle of business: not throwing up unnecessary obstacles between the customer and the product. With a show notes page, following a link is as simple as clicking, rather than having to recall and enter a web address (and without having to waste “air” time reading out and spelling links and coupon codes).
On top of that, having to visit your page for a link means that the customer is visiting your page, even if it’s only to find something else. In that moment, you have the opportunity to advertise, invite them to join your mailing list, and generally make a greater impact.
For really maximizing the impact of your podcast, blogging is the most effective tool. In fact, blogging may do more than just supplement the podcast. In many cases, it may be the sole medium a significant number of customers use. Blogs can be more accessible than podcasts depending on the setting; it’s often easier to read about something when it’s not convenient (or polite) to make noise or wear earbuds. Beyond that, blogging can also give you a massive boost in credibility with your audience.
For example, NPR- a traditional radio station-not only posts their radio segments online, but also a written transcript of that segment on the same page. On social media, they don’t simply post a link to the audio, they post the transcript, with an option to hear the story instead of reading it. This is because NPR recognizes that some people simply prefer to read what they could just as easily hear, and vice versa.
While an NPR-style transcript is a great way to appeal to both preferences, a blog allows you to go even further. By articulating your thoughts in blog form, you go beyond simple transcription. You actually deepen the impact your musings have and sharpen your own grasp of the topic. In the end, this can do as much for your credibility as the best visual or audio segment.
Professional writers know that writing about something is the best way to perfect their understanding of it, and great bloggers know that a running “conversation” with an audience still depends largely on use of the written word. A podcast or video can be spontaneous and incredibly humanizing, a great way to make your audience feel like they know you. A blog, on the other hand, allows you to showcase sheer authority.
Setting words down on paper (or on WordPress) is the ultimate commitment to your message, going back to when the word was the only way to preserve and transfer information with accuracy. Even though a podcast is just as permanent as a blog, the written word still carries that extra gravitas that distinguishes an expert. If nothing else, good writing displays the kind of thoughtfulness that separates real passion from simple salesmanship.
Separating Notes From Blogs
Depending on how often you podcast, you have the option of combining your show notes and your blog into a single page. If you podcast less frequently than once in a week, it may be more efficient to go this route. However, for frequent podcasts, it’s worth the effort to maintain your blog as a separate entity from your show notes. The blog, though relevant to the podcast, should be able to stand on its own as separate, valuable content uncluttered by references back to the podcast. Theoretically, your audience should be able to follow your blogs without listening to your podcast (not that you want them to).
Maintaining both a regular podcast with show notes and a regular blog creates some complications, however. While the podcast and the blog are there to supplement and support each other, they have to be able to engage consumers independently. This means that you don’t want your podcast show notes and your blog to be confused with each other, especially as regards SEO. For this reason, it’s important to take advantage of a WordPress plugin called “list category posts.” This allows you to customize what categories your various posts fall into, so that blogs, podcasts, and show notes occupy their appropriate spheres. Using it requires a certain level of technical expertise, but there are plenty of resources from both WordPress and elsewhere that explain how it works.
If you’ve never blogged before, getting into the habit and learning the technical skills that will maximize its impact takes some time, and some practice. It’s well worth it. Even if podcasting is your specialty, venturing outside your comfort zone into the world of writing can only add to your skill set and improve your outreach.
Take the time to learn the initial setup processes, and you’ll open up a whole new avenue through which to reach consumers. Blogs add content to your online empire, and therefore value for your audience. Especially given the way search engines work these days (with sophisticated algorithms combing through content looking for “long tail” exposition), a few simple keywords in a podcast title or description won’t be enough. The more ways you articulate what you have to offer, the better your business will do.