How to Use Podcasts to Bolster Your Freelancing Business (Interview)

If you use an iPod, iPhone or iTunes, no doubt you’ve heard about podcasts. You’ve probably subscribed to a few and enjoy being able to consume content at the time and place of your choice.

Did you know that podcasting can be an effective marketing tool for freelancers too?

I recently interviewed Jeff Young, creator of the Catholic Foodie podcast. Jeff is a copywriter and social media consultant who was a teacher when he started podcasting. Recently, he left that life and became a full-time freelancer. Today, Jeff is going to share his experience with podcasting.

How Podcasting Can Help Freelancers

Here are Jeff’s thoughts on how podcasting can help freelancers:

1. What is podcasting?

Jeff: Podcasting is a form of “broadcasting.” Podcasts can be either audio or video, though audio is the most prevalent format. Basically, podcasts are internet radio shows (or internet TV). Some folks have referred to podcasting as audio or video blogging. And that would be an accurate description, as long as the audio or video episodes are included in an RSS feed. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is what makes podcasting what it is.

The magic of RSS “feeds” allow for instant notification of new content. What does that mean? Folks can subscribe to RSS feeds. And each time a new episode is posted, the subscribers are notified. Notification can be in the form of an email. Or it could come via iTunes or some other “feed reader” or “pod catcher.”

The wonder of podcasting is its convenience. Instead of being locked in to a certain time frame, the content is available 24/7 to those who want to watch or listen. Instead of having to DVR a program, or “record” a radio show for later listening, you simply download the episode to your computer or other compatible device (iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, or any other MP3 device). It doesn’t take a genius to see why this is so wonderful. I can listen anytime and… anywhere. Imagine. What an opportunity for businesses and freelancers!

2. How can freelancers use podcasting to attract prospective clients?

Jeff: Podcasting is part of the social media revolution. It is “new media.” As such, it presents the same benefits as social media to those who use it wisely.

I will say that the preeminent benefit podcasting delivers to freelancers is that it makes them an expert in their field. In this respect, it is a lot like blogging. Think about it. If you are able to produce consistent content about your specialty (which is hopefully something you are passionate about), it’s amazing how quickly you will be seen as an expert in your field. And we’re all looking for experts, aren’t we?

It seems like everybody and their dog has a blog nowadays. And that’s a good thing. But, you know, there are lots of folks who just aren’t into reading blogs. Instead, they like to listen to podcasts. If you are already a blogger, podcasting can expose you to a whole new audience.

The statistics on podcast listeners are staggering. There are over 50 million iTunes users in the US alone. Just Google the statistics on the number of commuters in the US. Wow. And most of those folks have iPods.

3. What is the minimum equipment and software needed to start podcasting?

Jeff: There is a wide range of options available when it comes to producing audio on your computer. I always advocate starting small. There’s no need to drop a lot of cash to get started. A $15 or $20 headset mic from RadioShack would suffice. I know folks who have started out with a lapel mic. Others started out using an online service where they just call in on their telephone to record. Start with what works for you.

In addition to a microphone, you will need a computer, of course, and an internet connection. You will also need software to edit and process the audio you record. If you are on a Mac, then you already have Garageband, which does a good job editing audio. Many podcasters download and use a free app called Audacity.

Once you have an audio file that is ready to go online, you will need a place to host that file. If you already have a website, then you can simply host your files on that server. Or you can sign up for a monthly subscription to a service like Libsyn. Libsyn is a very popular service among podcasters.

4. How do you get people to listen and subscribe to your podcast?

Jeff: Well, you have to just throw it out there. That’s the short answer. Of course, there are many things that you can do help people find, and subscribe to, your podcast. Here are just a few:

  • Make sure your content is search-engine friendly.
  • Submit your RSS feed to iTunes.
  • Post your episodes on your website / blog.
  • Use your social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to let the world know that you have a podcast (and announce each new episode you post).
  • Make it easy for folks to subscribe to your podcast (links on your blog, in sidebar and posts… Maybe a post teaching folks how to subscribe to your podcast).
  • But, here’s the real secret to getting people to listen and subscribe to your podcast: Create good content! Have something worth saying! If what you say provides value, then your listeners will tell others about it. And isn’t word-of-mouth the best form of advertising?

5. I know you started the Catholic Foodie out of love for food and Catholicism, and not to promote your freelancing business. What results have you gotten from your podcast? Has Catholic Foodie helped you find clients? How?

Jeff: The Catholic Foodie turns two at the end of this month. I am amazed at how much it has grown in the last two years. It started out as just something for me to do for fun. I had no idea that it would ever become anything more than that. But so much has come from it. Here are a few examples:

  • About nine months into it, I was asked to become an affiliate of the Star Quest Production Network, an international Catholic new media network.
  • I just launched my own Catholic Foodie coffee, appropriately called the “Morning Offering” blend. (And you can sip on it in your very own Catholic Foodie coffee mug!)
  • I have begun writing a cookbook. Shortly after announcing it on the podcast, a few publishers contacted me about publishing the book.
  • I have been invited to speak at events. As a matter of fact, I am speaking in Washington, D.C. next month at an annual convention.

These are just a few examples.

The Catholic Foodie definitely has name recognition in certain “markets.”  And on the podcast and the blog I have let people know what my freelance business is all about. I have gotten clients because I am the Catholic Foodie. People have gotten to know me through the podcast, and they trust me. I have also had listeners refer their friends to me for their website and social media needs.

Not the Final Word

I enjoy podcasts very much myself. They certainly make cleaning the house bearable! However, I’ve never thought of myself becoming a podcaster, although I never say never.

However, the fact that everybody’s already blogging but very few are podcasting makes it a rich, new field for those who have the guts and commitment.

How about you? Do you see yourself podcasting in the near future? Why or why not? Let us know by posting a comment below.