I’m Back

Hi there.  I need to apologize.  I’ve been away and haven’t been blogging.  Several factors led up to this absence, including travel, award shows and a prolonged sickness that I am only this week starting to beat back and feel like myself again.  As for the awards, well, that would be the 2012 Hugo Awards, presented each year at the World Science Fiction Convention.  I was up for the podcast I produce and host over at SFSignal.com.  Alas, I did not win, but being nominated was thrilling and an experience I won’t soon forget.

A lot of podcasting out there is about promotion or self-promotion, and so I thought that would be the topic for today’s blog post.

I do a lot of podcasting.  2 episodes a week for SFSignal.com, plus another 45 minutes to an hour for FunctionalNerds.com, and I produce roughly 2.5 hours for IShouldBeWriting.com, the podcast for wannabe fiction writers hosted by Mur Lafferty.  As such, a lot of people ask me what a podcast is.  Wikipedia provides this definition:

A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.

A typical RSS icon you might see on a website

So essentially, it’s something that you create and distribute using RSS – Really Simple Syndication.  People can subscribe however they like – through a browser, a media aggregator, an iPod, whatever – and receive updates as they are made available.  In my case, I produce and host audio podcasts.  People can subscribe via the RSS feed or through their iTunes and every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, as I upload new episodes, they automatically receive them and can consume them at their leisure.

Podcasts, and specifically audio podcasts, have grown in popularity in recent years.  All you need is a computer and an Internet connection to get started, and a lot of people from large corporations to actors, authors and sales people, are flocking to the medium as another way to connect with their current and potential audience.

While in Chicago for WorldCon, I moderated a panel on podcasting.  After, I had a Realtor come up to me and explain that she was looking at getting into podcasting to help boost her credibility with her sphere – not a bad idea at all.  Email marketing is wonderful, but there is something about listening to another person’s voice that helps to make a connection, and any one in a sales or marketing position will tell you that making connections is huge.  That really is the core of social marketing.  She and I had a quick conversation but it stuck with me because I know a lot of people locally who are doing the same kind of thing, but are using YouTube as their medium of choice.

YouTube is visual, obviously, and the practice of using it to create episodic ‘diary’ type posts has become known as Vlogging or Video Blogging.  With my background in real estate and mortgage, I have seen a lot of Realtors and Mortgage Loan Officers turn to Vlogging, producing quick, 2 or 3 minute videos about specific topics like available loan types, or neighborhoods where they are focusing their attentions.  These videos work because they are quick, they impart useful knowledge to the audience, and they reinforce that the person, whoever they are, knows what they are talking about.  They also add that extra element of a personal conversation giving the watcher the opportunity to connect.

I don’t really have a recommendation here today, except to say that there are a lot of options available to you if you are looking to market and connect beyond the form letters and emails most people send out.  Do a little exploration and find the tools that work best for you.  If you are uncomfortable on camera, YouTube is probably not for you, but maybe an audio podcast is.