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1. Have Album Art
You really must have some image embedded in your mp3 file; even if it is a simple image that you create yourself. Just as long as it’s something your listeners can identify you with in their podcatcher. I hate subscribing to a podcast and seeing the default PowerPress image or even worse, seeing nothing. Obviously it is preferable to have professionally designed artwork, but if that’s not in your budget then at least have a placeholder image that has your show name.
2. Use a Branded Email Address
If you’ve invested the money in a custom domain name (which I highly recommend) then take the time to setup a branded email account on that domain. If you use Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo for your feedback email address you are losing the opportunity to reinforce your branding to your listeners, among other things. For a more exhaustive explanation of why this is essential check out Episode 91 of The Audacity To Podcast in which host Daniel J. Lewis delves into this topic.
3. Use Episode Titles
Many podcasts put only an episode number in their post title field on their blog. I would discourage you from doing this. You certainly want to have an episode number, but also include a title that would give listeners an idea of what is contained in the episode. Many people who subscribe to a lot of podcasts will just scan through the titles of new episodes and if your title doesn’t grab their attention they may not ever listen. Use a simple format that uses three components; show identifier, episode number, and episode title. Your show identifier could be your full show name, but I recommend using an acronym. Here is an example from an episode of my show, Audio Theatre Central, which focuses on family friendly audio drama: ATC57: Review of The Count of Monte Cristo from LifeHouse Theater On-The-Air.
4. Allow Comments On Your Blog
Many times I’ve gone to a podcast website with the intention of posting a quick comment on an episode. Unfortunately, they had disabled the commenting feature on their website so instead of them getting feedback from me, I simply left the site. The lesson here is: make it easy for listeners to contact you. Offer them as many ways as possible; email, website comments, voicemail hotline, etc.
5. Include Your Contact Info in Show Notes
Studies show that a significant number of people are driving or doing busy work when listening to podcasts. If that is the case, and they hear something in your show that they’d like to respond to, chances are that they’re not going to be able to write down your contact info. But if you have it in the show notes of every episode they can quickly access it as soon as they have completed whatever task they were engaged in. Again, the point is make it easy for listeners to contact you. Podcasting is about interaction and engagement.
If you will follow these guidelines, you’re on your way to having your podcast stand out from the crowd and be taken seriously. Of course, you must have compelling content and good audio quality as well, but these issues are some of the many that lots of podcasters ignore. Therefore, if you address them in your show you’re taking the level of professionalism up a notch or two. And that’s always a good thing. Strive to differentiate yourself from other shows in these technical areas as well as in content and audio quality.
Do you agree or disagree with any of these points? Is there another issue that you feel is of greater importance that you’d like to mention? Please post your comments below.