Video blogs and podcasts help you communicate your brand, increase traffic and build trust. They serve the same purpose but reach different audiences in different ways. So, what are they?
A video blog or “vlog” is a blog in video form, distributed through your own website or a social platform, such as YouTube. A podcast is also a blog, but is purely audio and is circulated through a platform such as iTunes. You can promote and share both types of content through social media.
How Podcasts and Vlogs Work
Podcasts and vlogs are valuable forms of marketing because they help you communicate your brand, build trust and increase your fan base. You don’t have to be very technical or have a lot of money to achieve success with these two forms of content, though investing money can improve the quality of your output.
Let’s walk through types of blogging, how to get started and why you should consider using them for your hobby and gaming business:
Podcasts are audio blog posts. Think of them as talk radio for your business. To create compelling podcasts you need:
- Recording equipment: a good microphone makes a huge difference
- Software to record and edit audio files (e.g. Audacity, which is free)
- Hosting: a file host that specializes in podcast hosting, such as iTunes
Once your podcasts are uploaded to iTunes, they are available to your audience. Podcasts can be played using an RSS feed reader such as Feedly, from an embedded player in your own site, or through a media player such as iTunes or Pocket Casts.
You can share individual links to podcasts on social media, stream them from a player on your website or syndicate them.
The most common way to syndicate your podcasts is by uploading an RSS feed to iTunes. RSS feeds are like news tickers: they contain a list of items that’s quick to download and allows your listeners to select, stream, and listen to your content.
Why Start a Podcast?
Once you understand how powerful blogging is, you’ll understand the importance of podcasts. The comparison to talk radio holds up well, here. Podcasts not only bring your personality (and brand) to life, but allow you to tap into a brand new audience of people who prefer audio to reading text.
Podcasts are also incredibly flexible for the listener. They don’t have to sit down and actively consume your content: they can listen to it while they’re driving, at the gym, walking the dog, or doing housework.
Podcasts can help you drive traffic to your website or e-commerce store. Every podcast directory provides a link back to your website, making it easy for you to direct listeners to your store at the end of each show.
Buggles sang that “video killed the radio star”… but how many millions still listen to the radio? Most entrepreneurs target video because it’s more exciting, so the podcasting world is still woefully underserved. This could be your chance to set yourself up as a trailblazer and to corner a big audience, simply by doing what everyone else isn’t.
It doesn’t matter whether you have been blogging for years or not. All you need is the passion for building an audience from scratch and positioning yourself as an authority in the games and hobby industry. Be interesting, be exciting and turn thousands of listeners into paying customers, translating into higher ROI.
What You’ll Need
A podcast name: make your podcast name descriptive, so your listeners know what you represent even before they tune in. If the name doesn’t cut it, include a “hook” or short description along with the name to give it more oomph. This enhances optimization on platforms such as iTunes.
Artwork (minimum 1400×1400, maximum 2048×2048): most directories only feature podcasts with beautiful, professional artwork. Make your podcast cover stand out. If you don’t know how to do this, hire someone on Fiverr or Upwork to get it done.
A microphone: you can use any old microphone to record a podcast. Even the one built into your phone or tablet will do. However, buying a dedicated USB microphone will improve your podcast quality significantly. It’s a small investment with a big return.
Software: as I mentioned above, you need a program to record and edit your podcasts, such as Audacity. Record each episode, and then use the software to add intro music and jingles, and to remove noise, mistakes, and other annoyances.
Vlogs are video blog posts. To create vlogs, you need:
- Recording equipment: a good camera and microphone make a huge difference
- Software to record and edit video files
- Hosting: a file host that specializes in vlog hosting such as YouTube or Vimeo
You can host videos on your own site, but it’s usually best to choose a platform that allows you to upload and share your content. You can then embed the videos in posts on your blog without using up lots of storage space.
YouTube is the most commonly used video platform. Unfortunately, there is so much published there (some useful, others rubbish) that it’s very difficult to rise above the clutter and get people to notice your brilliant work.
Viable alternatives to YouTube include Vimeo and Veoh. They are not so popular, though!
Just like podcasts, you can share individual links to vlogs on social media, stream them from a video platform or embed them in posts on your blog.
Why Start a Vlog?
You should start a vlog even if you think no one cares or will pay attention because vlogging helps you become a better communicator and storyteller. In marketing, you have to learn to tell great stories. Who knows, years from now, you may speak to an audience in a large auditorium; vlogging will help you hone your public speaking skills.
Vlogs create a very personal connection with your audience. When viewers see you, the way you talk, your facial expressions and body language, they are more likely to trust you, connect with you, and buy from you.
Vlogs help you diversify your content and reach a wider audience. Some people hate reading articles: they prefer easily consumed video content, so you have to ensure you meet these people right where they are. Remember, your purpose is to build your audience: the wider your reach, the better your chances of conversion.
Vlogging widens your skill base. When you start, you’ll probably be nervous, camera-shy and a terrible editor. Over time, vlogging will make you more confident and you’ll learn to present yourself and your business better. You’ll learn editing skills. You may even attract sponsors, creating a closer link to your suppliers and associated businesses. The better you get at vlogging, the more likely you are to grow your audience. And a bigger audience means more sales.
What You’ll Need
A vlog name: make your vlog name descriptive, so your viewers know what to expect even before they tune in. Always aim to make the name memorable. If you can’t find a great name, ensure you have a slogan that tells your viewers who you are and how they can benefit from watching your videos.
A good camera: You can get by with the camera on your smartphone or tablet – some vloggers go for the “homemade” look and it works very well on a personal level. If you’re aiming for a more professional look, you’ll need something better: a camcorder, DSLR, mirrorless camera or GoPro (which are surprisingly cheap) are great options. However, the best camera will depend on your budget, level of experience and the type of video you are shooting.
Software: You need a good editing program. Most operating systems have a free option that works fine, such as Movie Maker (for Windows) or iMovie (for Mac). Shoot each episode, and then use the software to add your intro, music and jingles, to remove noise, mistakes, and other annoyances, and to add your credit reel at the end. Don’t add captions for clickable options: you’ll do that on the hosting platform.
A good microphone: Your audience may be forgiving, but one thing I know they won’t stand for is poor audio. Invest in a good microphone (Rode VideoMic Pro offers an excellent experience) that will capture your voice and cancel unnecessary noise.
The Elephant in the Room
A vlog or podcast promotes a profound and personal connection with your audience, since tone, humor, and enthusiasm can all be thrown in the mix. Both formats perform this function well.
However, the “elephant in the room” that we can’t ignore is that podcasts have a much smaller audience, a shorter shelf-life, and much less SEO benefit. It demands more energy, time and money to produce, but most people get better results from video.
A vlog or podcast is just a tool that helps you spread your message to your audience. While both have value, help you communicate your company’s brand, build trust and increase traffic, they are used differently to reach different audiences. What’s your take, though? Are vlogs superior to podcasts?