Grab This Copywriting Opportunity While It’s Just Starting to Build

Five years ago, podcasting did not exist. But today, it’s one of the fastest growing marketing techniques on the Internet.

What exactly is a podcast?

Quite simply, a podcast is a recorded file – audio or video – that is downloaded from the Internet onto a computer.

Podcasts typically run five minutes to an hour. They are usually delivered directly to your computer once you subscribe to them. The majority are free, but some do cost a subscription fee.

There’s a huge range of types of programs available: interviews, news stories, entertainment programs, or virtually any other recorded content.

Some of my favorites I subscribe to are Car Talk, Podictionary (for word lovers), Dilbert Animated Cartoons, Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast, The New Scientist, and tons of others.

The reason I say “subscribe to” is because podcasts are usually ongoing, regularly scheduled programs. Once you subscribe, they’re downloaded automatically to your computer.

Getting Podcasts: After a Few Easy Steps, Everything’s Done for You

You have two simple ways of getting podcasts.

Most people learn about specific ones when visiting a website. For example, if you go onto the NPR website, there’s a link on the left side of the screen that says “Podcasts.” Click this link, and a list of all their podcasts comes up.

Click on a show, and you’re asked to subscribe using iTunes, MyYahoo, or Zune. I prefer iTunes – but only because that’s how I first got started with podcasts.

So, if you use iTunes, the next time you start it up, the podcasts you’ve subscribed to are automatically downloaded to your computer. Any new episodes you haven’t gotten are also downloaded.

To watch or listen to a program, you just click on it in iTunes. And if you want to take podcasts on the road, download them to your iPod or MP3 player (although, you don’t need one to enjoy podcasts on your computer).

If you don’t have iTunes, you can get it free (Mac or Windows versions) from www.apple.com/iTunes. Click on the “Download iTunes” button and follow the simple installation instructions.

The second easy way to get podcasts is directly inside the iTunes software. Double click the iTunes Store link on the left side. Once you’re in the store, you can search among hundreds of podcasts, most of which are free.

But you shouldn’t look at podcasts just as a source of your personal entertainment. They offer you an enormous opportunity to boost your copywriting career. Here’s why …

There’s Never Been an Opportunity With Access to So Many People

According to PodcastAlley – the largest directory of podcasts on the Internet – over 25 million people downloaded podcasts from them during 2008. This includes programs in content areas as varied as Arts, Comedy, Kids & Family, Technology (the most active area), Business, and 16 other areas.

How fast is this opportunity growing? In 2004 – the year podcasts made their first appearance – there were fewer than 1,000 of them available to download. By December of this year, PodcastAlley listed over 51,000 different podcasts available.

This growth in the number of podcasts reflects their booming popularity. And it parallels huge expansion in the amount of money businesses are pouring into them. They do this to get their names and products in front of the public … without resorting to traditional advertising.

As big as this opportunity is right now, podcasting is still in its infancy and is growing at a phenomenal rate.

Data from eMarketer estimates that U.S. businesses will spend $240 million in 2008 on podcasts. They project that figure to swell to over $400 million by 2011.

The source of podcasting’s huge popularity among audiences is this: Effective podcasts are not ads. They are informative and entertaining. They provide an incredibly effective and low cost way for businesses to keep in touch with customers and prospective customers.

For example, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Whirlpool, CBS-TV, IBM, Apple Computer, Adobe, and The Wall Street Journal are among the thousands of businesses offering podcasts.

John C. Havens (VP, Business Development of BlogTalkRadio) and Paolo Tosolini (New Media Business Manager of Microsoft) stated in a 2008 presentation:

“If you [businesses] don’t have an audio/video presence online, you are missing out on the largest, free distribution system ever created.”

And podcasting is not limited solely to businesses. They’ve become a popular medium in politics and the non-profit sector as well.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama started sending out their audio and video podcasts in 2007. President-elect Obama currently is sending his weekly radio address to subscribers though podcasts on “President Obama Radio.”

National non-profits like Habitat for Humanity, Boomer Esiason Foundation (cystic fibrosis), and the Monterey Bay Aquarium keep in touch with prospective donors with interesting, content-rich podcasts.

This flourishing of podcasts provides you with huge opportunities as a copywriter. Right now, there are three ways for you to take advantage of podcasting’s sizzling profit opportunities …

Podcasting’s Rich Opportunity #1: Earn $50-$250 to Write a 90-Character Ad

Many companies get podcast subscribers to websites with offers in print ads or on labels. Once there, visitors are offered the option of subscribing to a podcast.

This initial visit to a company website gives you the first opportunity to profit from podcast-mania. These websites frequently display small ads, often pay-per-click (PPC) or similar types.

Copywriting Insider already gave you the inside scoop on how to write pay-per-click ads in July 2008. So I won’t go into a lot of detail here.

The purpose of PPC ads is to drive visitors to your client’s website. The ad appears when a person searches for a specific word or phrase. But your client pays only if that person actually clicks on the ad and visits the website. (They “pay per click”!) If you are good at writing strong headlines, this may be the right opportunity for you.

Most PPC ads are less than 90 characters in length, and you can get anywhere from $50-$250 to write a single ad. Not to mention any royalties you arrange for a percentage of sales.

Once you get the writing style down, how fast could you write 90 words … to earn up to $250?

Podcasting’s Rich Opportunity #2: Write Podcast Scripts for Clients

Many companies decide that to compete in today’s business world, “They’ve got to start podcasting.” But just as with blogs, these companies find out keeping a steady stream of interesting podcasts takes time and effort. Time and effort they cannot afford to spare.

So they turn to freelance writers like AWAI Advisory Board member Steve Slaunwhite or Circle of Success member Sandi Krakowski to write podcast scripts.

How hard is it to write a compelling podcast script? Not hard at all. Most businesses have the basic content already in place. They’ve got it in white papers. Or PowerPoint presentations. Or any of numerous other business documents in their files.

All you have to do is tighten up these documents, make them conversational. Turn them from “business-speak” to real people speak.

When you write a podcast script, make sure the listener gets real benefit from the podcast. And real benefit is something you understand better than most corporate writers, because, as a copywriter, you’ve been trained to look for the deeper benefits.

How much does this opportunity pay?

This depends on how much work you have to put into the final product. This is a case where you should definitely charge by the job. But when you’re bidding the project, start by estimating how long it will take you, and then charge according to what your standard hourly rate is.

So, if you’re cleaning up existing business copy to turn into an interesting podcast, it might take you four hours to develop a 15-minute podcast. If your standard rate is $35/hour, then bid the job at around $150 to $200.

Of course, if you’re developing a podcast without using existing materials, it will take considerably longer. So charge accordingly and be sure to factor in research time if appropriate.

How much copy would you have to edit or write for a podcast? A five-minute podcast runs about 750 to 1,200 words (about two or three typewritten pages). A 30-minute podcast runs about 4,000 to 7,000 words (or 12 to 20 pages).

The best way to figure out how to write great, compelling podcasts is to listen and watch some. If you don’t currently have the free iTunes application, download it from Apple.com. (They have both Windows and Mac versions.)

Install the iTunes software on your computer. Then click on the “iTunes Store” icon in the left panel and subscribe to free podcasts that interest you.

You can also go to PodcastAlley.com and search among their database of over 51,000 podcasts. (Fortunately, the database is organized by subject matter.)

Podcasting’s Rich Opportunity #3: Produce Your Own Podcasts to Promote Your Copywriting Services

I’m sure you’ve heard Bob Bly or Steve Slaunwhite extol the benefits of publishing white papers to promote your copywriting career. White papers are short reports on subjects that interest clients and prospective clients.

They’re a great way to spotlight your writing skills while providing a personal connection to potential clients.

Podcasts are the new “white papers.” Just like traditional printed white papers, podcasts provide you a way of giving your prospective client something free. And when you give your prospect something valuable for free, you’re developing trust. And obligation.

The advantage of podcast white papers is that your prospect can take them with him to listen to at his convenience. Like when he’s driving. Or on the treadmill. And since you’re going to write a script to start with, you can also supply extra value – a printed transcript for his files.

It isn’t hard to record and format an audio file for a podcast. To learn more about exactly how to do this, search the Internet with the words “how to record a podcast” or “recording podcasts.”

Podcasting offers so much rich potential for your copywriting career … potential that’s just beginning to build.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: December 16, 2008

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