At NAB/NMX in 2015 in Las Vegas last year I was walking over to the Las Vegas convention center Sunday morning with Gary Leland. I had my big suitcase full of stuff for the libsyn booth - it was definitely over packed. In the suitcase were a couple of boxes of flyers, a bunch of t-shirts, a big bag of chocolate, The libsyn banner and a couple of big bags of business cards from libsyn podcasters. About half way over one of the wheels on the suitcase split. It was still rollable but tougher to pull. A couple hundred yards later the other wheel split. Now it was really hard to pull. Gary offered to help cary it - but since he was already carrying a big bag of T-shirts for the libsyn booth (Thanks Gary) I said no and just hoped I would make it to the booth before the wheels completely locked up. Thankfully I did make it to the booth before the wheels gave out completely. Whew!
The one thing that takes the longest when setting up the libsyn booth at shows is laying out the business cards from podcasters that host with us. We have a tradition of dedicating about half our booth space to those that make libsyn possible - our podcasters. This allows Podcasters business cards to attend the shows we go to even if the Podcasters themselves can not. See the photo above for a look at last years NAB/NMX setup.
There are well over 50 different podcasts whose cards we have out and we will get more during the show. But even if that number was 100 it is a small number percentage wise out of all the podcasts that host with libsyn (>28,000). Is that because we pick and choose who goes out? Nope. It is because that is all that sent us their cards or dropped off their cards at past events. When I ask some podcasters why they did not send in their cards, there is one answer I hear more than any other. “I do not have business cards for my podcast”. HUH? Really? How can you not have business cards for your podcast I will ask them. Some say they are just too busy to get cards made, a few admit they are just to lazy to get it done, some will say they can’t design anything graphical, and a last group will say they don’t see the value in business cards for their podcast.
For the first three groups, Google “Design Business cards online”. Enough said.
It is that last group this article is for. At every event we have had cards out at, there have been multiple people that will look over the plethora of cards presented and go through picking and choosing cards. Some of them will say they are looking for a new show to listen to. If that was your card - Score you just gained a new listener. Other podcasters or news media people will say they are looking for guests to interview. If that was your card - MAJOR score you will likely gain many new listeners.
Beyond putting business cards on the libsyn booth - there are many other great ways to market with your business cards. I have heard of people going into book stores or libraries and finding books that match their topic and leaving their cards in the books. I have seen at events business cards placed in elevators or on billboards or other high visibility spots. But I think where it comes in most useful is when you the podcaster are telling someone about your show. Word of Mouth marketing is by far the number one way podcasts grow. And nothing backs up your own word of mouth about your podcast then when you can hand over a card with your podcast info. One it makes it easier for them to remember the name and where to find your podcast and two it shows a higher level of legitimacy about your podcast, in that you spent the time and money to get cards printed.
For my own business cards for Libsyn on the back I have my three main podcasts Artwork with the URL’s for each podcast site page. I found not having a card for my podcast - Today in iOS was hurting me when I went to someone to ask for an interview at a trade show. But when I could hand them a card showing my artwork and website URL - I found them much more receptive to come on my podcast and also hand over samples to test on my podcast. At Show Stoppers - a special event for the media attending NAB - they required you give over a business card to get in. CES has had that requirement as well for the Press. A business card adds a greater level of legitimacy to your podcast.
Back to our NAB/NMX 2015 setup experience from above. After I finished the libsyn booth I gave my wife a call. When I told her about the issues she said I should leave those big bags of business cards behind as they weigh a ton. Blasphemy I said - I would leave behind libsyn flyers before I did that. I can easily replace the libsyn flyers - but those individual podcasters business cards - they are priceless. Ok well maybe not exactly priceless as a new suitcase did set me back $100 - but you get the point.
Next week will be the biggest Podcast event of 2016 - Podcast Movement. Are you going to be ready for the show with your own business cards? Or as the title states - What's going to be in your wallet when you get to Chicago?
411 iTem 0230 - Ben Greenfield from the Ben Greenfield Fitness and the Get-Fit Guy Podcasts
Give us a call - 206-666-4357
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Links Mentioned in the Interview:
This list is in response to this other list - The Pod 22 the Most influential people in NY City Pro Podcasting
Rather than look at individuals - I wanted to look at the teams and entities that are really the most influential in ALL of podcasting - not the very small niche that is NY City Pro Podcasting.
The list in no particular order - but numbered so someone who does not read this intro can mis-report on it.
1. iTunes Podcasting team - it is more than one person at Apple - and clearly with 65% of the downloads directly to iTunes or the Podcasts App - this is the most influential team. Additionally another 15% of downloads comes from aggregator apps that pull from the iTunes directory.
2. Libsyn - The first podcasting hosting company - responsible for hosting around 35% of the top 200 shows in iTunes US. Libsyn will deliver over 25% of all the downloads iTunes and the podcasts apps play. No one else is even close.
3. Scripps - They purchased Mid-roll and now Stitcher - it is very clear they are in this space for the long term and have the financial chops to back up their plans.
4. Blubrry - That team has been part of Podcasting before iTunes was supporting podcasting. Their plugin supports a large number of podcasts and their ad sales support has been there since the beginning.
5. Podtrac - Their Ad sales also from the beginning and support many podcasts big and small.
6. Soundcloud - Sure their tools suck and they are all focused on Promoting the Soundcloud brand - and a simple search of “buy soundcloud plays” shows you for $50 you can buy 50,000 plays - BUT, they still do power a good number of shows and Twitter gave them life for at least 18 more months.
7. Podcast Movement Team - The guys behind Podcast Movement now have the largest podcast only event. This is where people through out the industry go to get influenced.
8. PodcastOne / ACE - Norm and Adam combined to build an instant and powerfully influential entity. Ok - lots of other people are involved in this tandem - Gary, Mike, Mike and more.
9. IAB Podcast Technical Working Group - This is the team that is working to standardize what the definition of a download is, so that everyone can talk in one standard language to advertisers.
10. GPM Team - Finally native Podcasting support for Android users. Right now it is about 1.7% of plays for big shows - That is actually really good for the first month.
11. Overcast - Ok Really this is just Marco Arment - but what the heck - Marco is smarter than most teams combined and Overcast is the number one 3rd Party App on iOS.
Honorable mentions: She Podcast Facebook Group, Podcast Paradise Group, Podiobooks Team, Roger Wilmut (Don’t know who Roger is - then you don’t have any right making a list on influential podcasters), NPR, WNYC, Gimlet Media, Spreaker, Podbean, Podomatic, Panoply, LA Podfest team, Blogtalk, TWiT Network, Audible, 5x5 network, Art19, Pod to Pod news letter, Auphonic team, BossJock Team, Serial Team, QDNow Team, Nerdist Industries, Clammr team, CBS.
There was a suggestion recently on one of the Google+ Podcast communities that we should be going to higher bit rates for our Audio files to compete with the big guys. The basic idea was Indie podcasters needed to up their game by upping their Bit rate. I took issue with that stance, good quality in podcasts is not about higher bit rates - it is about starting with a good source file and having good content. Most people listening with ear buds would be hard pressed to tell you the difference between 64 kbps vs 96 kbps vs 192 kbps bit rates and if you put them in a car and go down the highway - none of them can tell any difference.
Before we get into what I am going to recommend for bit rates lets look at what some of the top podcasts in iTunes are doing to get a feel for what most Podcast listeners are used to.
Here are 13 of the top Podcasts:
As you can see there is definitely no consensus. Bit rates varied from a low of 40 kbps to a high of 128 kbps. 5 were at 64 kbps, 4 were at 128 kbps with a 5th at 128 kbps true Stereo (really like 64 kbps mono quality wise) and 2 were at 96 kbps.
There was also no consensus on Mono or Joint Stereo with 7 at mono and 5 at Joint Stereo.
The only thing there was consensus on was 44.1 kHz sample rate and MP3 format and all were CBR = constant bit rate = good. Remember VBR = Bad.
Based on the specs above and testing I have done, for most podcasters I recommend the following settings and it is what I use for my latest podcast - KC Startup 411
64 kbps - bit rate
44.1 khz - sample rate
This works out to about 0.5 MB per minute.
If you are an audiophile and you just want your files to sound the best possible then you can go to 96 kbps bit rate (which is what I use for my Today in iOS and Podcast411 Podcasts). This works out to 0.75 MB per minute.
I do not see any reason at all to go to 128 kbps or higher bit rate for spoken word audio - It is just overkill. First 99% of the audience can not hear any difference between 96 kbps and any higher bit rate. Second going with a higher bit rate means your files are larger - which means more storage space and hosting costs for you and more importantly it means more bandwidth usage and costs for your listeners.
Increasing your bit rate above 64 or 96 kbps will not (NEVER EVER) gain you any extra listeners but due to bandwidth costs it may cost you a few. Remember outside the US most people pay per MB of data used - be considerate of your listeners.
It is far better to start with a good quality source file with good content and encode at either 64 or 96 kbps then it is anything else. WTF with Marc Maron gets more downloads then anyone reading this and he is encoding at 40 kbps - enough said.