4 Surefire Strategies for Podcasting Success

One of the hottest opportunities in writing for the web right now is the podcast – a recorded audio or video file you download from the internet to your computer.

Podcasting didn’t even exist five years ago. In 2004, there were only 1,000 podcasts listed on the PodcastAlley website – and 94% of those were tech- or computer-oriented.

Today, PodcastAlley lists over 51,000 different podcasts in 22 different categories, including Arts, Comedy, Kids & Family, Technology (the most active area), Business, and 17 more.

Businesses are discovering that podcasts provide a powerful and relatively inexpensive way to keep their names in front of potential customers … without resorting to traditional advertising.

Most podcasts are free. And they contain (or should contain) entertaining and informative ideas. By giving podcasts away, businesses are able to establish a strong, personal relationship with potential customers.

Now that businesses have discovered the value of podcasting, as a web writer you have two opportunities: You can write podcast scripts for clients, and you can use podcasts to promote your own business.

But if you want to be successful with either (or both) of these approaches, there are four vital strategies you need to follow …

  1. Remember that content is king! Make sure you have something interesting to say. And say it in an interesting way.

    Your listeners/watchers want to learn or be entertained when they turn on a podcast. If you don’t give them something exciting, new, and informative, they’ll go someplace else.

    You’ll find a wealth of things to talk about in your client’s current files: white papers, stockholder reports, even office memos. But don’t just recycle material for the sake of getting something done. Make sure what you write about something that benefits the listener.

    So, for example, do not make your script a five-minute commercial for the company’s latest green tea extract supplement. Instead, you could write about three new studies that show green tea drinkers have fewer colds, have lower blood sugar, and have been shown to work more efficiently.

    And tell this story in an exciting way. Which brings us to …

  2. Avoid corporate-speak. Your listeners are no more interested in hearing jargon and four-syllable words than they are in reading them. Write your scripts the way you would talk.

    Here’s an example of what I mean by corporate-speak (taken from the internet):

    “Organizations gain competitive advantage from: research that intersects corporate strategy, organizational change, and emerging technologies; strategic services to design and deploy new business models … ”

    What’s this mean? Your guess is as good as mine. And guessing is not what you want your listeners to do. You want them to get your message clearly.

    Write podcast scripts the same way you’d write strong, compelling copy. Use simple words. Use short sentences, with a few longer ones thrown in to change the tempo. Tell stories about real people or real events. And don’t try to be clever. As in all copywriting, cleverness usually backfires. What seems cute or clever to the writer all too often isn’t understood by the reader (or listener).

  3. Keep them short. Jeremiah Owyang – Senior Analyst at Forrester Research – notes that most corporate podcasts are 5- to 10-minutes long. The longer podcasts are usually entertainment or long news stories.

    With podcasts of 5- to 10-minutes, the listener can hear a complete one during his commute. Or while getting ready to go to work.

    This is also a good length if your listener wants to listen on the computer while doing things that don’t require his full attention, like sorting email. Much longer, and your listener’s attention can drift to more pressing matters.

  4. Use a natural voice. This strategy applies whether you’re writing a podcast script or recording the actual podcast.

    As I said, if you’re writing the script, the best way to keep your listener engaged is to follow the secrets of strong copywriting. And that means writing in a natural “voice.”

    If you’re recording your own podcast, speak naturally. Don’t try to sound like James Earl Jones (unless that’s your natural voice). You may want to lower your voice, but only slightly. Speak slowly and make sure to show fluctuations in your voice.

Follow these four surefire strategies to immediately accelerate your career as a successful web writer.

But here’s one more, bonus strategy – and a fun one: Before you start writing podcast scripts, listen to podcasts. Be sure you have the free iTunes software (as described in yesterday’s Copywriting Insider article).

Do a web search on a company name and the word “podcast.” Subscribe to several and listen to them in iTunes.

You’ll find some great ones. And you’ll find some dogs. How do you tell the difference? No matter how important the content sounds, if the podcast is boring, it’s a dog. Model the good ones. Unsubscribe from the bad ones.

And an added bonus to this bonus: When you search for company podcasts on the internet, you’re on your way to finding potential podcast clients.

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: December 17, 2008

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