If you want to gain authority in your field, sell products, or influence others, then producing engaging, helpful content is a great way to drive traffic to your website. What's the best way to present that content? Blogs and podcasts are the two biggest methods. Which one is going to be best for you? Let's take a closer look at blogging vs. podcasting. We'll figure out out what best uses your abilities, and engages your target market.
Why Choose Blogging?
The most popular choice for creating and putting out content is to start a blog. It's not hard to see why.
All you need is internet access, and some writing skill. Web site editors are as easy to use as tweeting or posting on Facebook. The bar for entry is pretty low.
However, it can be difficult to keep people's attention, once you've gotten it. Short, frequent social media posts seem to have conquered users. A Kennesaw State University study showed that frequent social media users have shorter attention spans. If you're marketing your products, services and skills to people who spend a lot of time online, be aware that short posts have the most impact.
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Podcasting Barriers to Entry
Like blogging, you don't have to get permission to share your thoughts via a podcast. But, you have to make a bit more effort than simply typing thoughts into sentences. You need to record your audio, edit it so it makes sense, upload it to a media host, and then publish it online.
At its most basic level, podcasting can be nearly as simple as making a phone call. Most people have smartphones with decent voice recorders included. It's very easy to record an episode and upload it to a free account on somewhere like Soundcloud. This is limited, but realistic. Even so, there are more steps between the initial idea and the published content.
Use your skills and strengths
We've all been taught how to write, and how to type. For many people, the idea of typing out content is easier and less intimidating than recording their voice. It's familiar. For some folks, sharing your voice with strangers feels too personal. Others have no fear of public speaking, and are great with a microphone, but can't write in complete sentences or use commas. Whether you're more confident in writing, or when speaking, you can use your strengths to conquer your weak spots.
Blogging, Podcasting and Search Rankings
It used to be that blog posts had an advantage over podcasts when it came to search engines. Blog posts are made up of text, and internet search engines like Google can find words and phrases easily. Text loads to a web site faster than audio, it's faster to find and share. Until very recently, this meant that podcasts relied on show notes, transcripts, and blog posts promoting individual episodes, to make podcasts discoverable in search engines.
As of March, 2019, Google Podcasts automatically transcribes dialogue, and uses it as metadata. As of this past August, it looks as though Apple is doing the same thing, for users of their podcast app. If you search on Google for “apple pie recipes podcast,” Google includes individual podcast episodes with apple pie recipes in its search results. But, the search term, “apple pie recipes,” doesn't mention podcasts. Again, this transcription and ranking feature is really new. Podcasters can't rely on Google's transcription alone, to take care of their search engine optimization for them. Providing transcripts of your podcast helps.
If someone's looking for a specific answer to an urgent question, a blog post's text is quicker and easier to find, consume, and act on. If the same information is in a 23-35 minute podcast episode, it takes more work and time for the end user to get to that information. If I'm about to leave for the local orchard to buy apples to make a pie for a special event tonight, I'm probably going to grab the answer to “what kind of apples make the best pie” from text, rather than from an audio discussion.
Why Choose Podcasting?
We know that blogging is low-commitment, accessible, searchable, and shareable. Blogging could seem like your one easy answer to any content sharing strategy questions. Stick with me. Blogging might be how you get someone's phone number, but podcasting is how you get them to go on a date, hold hands and share popcorn.
Reaching a Captive Audience
Podcasts reach your audience almost anywhere, at any time. Most people have access to a smartphone and wireless internet now. They can subscribe and listen to your show with a couple of clicks. More importantly, they need only their ears to experience your message.
You won’t find many people reading blog posts whilst driving the car, cycling, jogging, mowing the lawn, or soaking in a bathtub. These conditions nearly beg for something to listen to, whilst doing them. Podcast listeners want to have someone with them while they’re travelling, working out, or doing a menial task. In an environment where they can't consume visual material, on-demand audio is perfect.
Web sites are loaded with information that fragments the reader's attention. The user has to use part of their brain to tune out the sidebars, ads, videos and so on. It's hard to concentrate on reading a paragraph, let alone several.
Podcast listeners treat the experience like a companion. It helps the listener pass time, or make boring work more pleasant. People often have their hands occupied with something else, and are more likely to stick with the listening experience, than click away.
Podcasting provides an intellectual and emotional intimacy that visual text lacks. Audio allows for the speaker's emotional nuance. It's in the listener's ears. A podcast that's released on a regular, predictable basis becomes a habit. It starts to feel like a friend.
Podcasting: Less Competition
Earlier I mentioned blogging's low barrier to entry, which results in a lot of people doing it. If you're trying to stand out with a blog, you're not going to have an easy time of it. It's been part of the culture for over twenty years. As of this writing, there are over 500 million blogs available on the Internet. By contrast, Google claims to have indexed two million podcasts, and in 2018 Apple claimed that there were 525,000 active podcasts. Would you rather try to be noticeable in a room of 500 people, or a room with two?
Discovery and Search Tactics
Again, for a long time, blog posts have dominated audio in an internet search. Podcast episodes each have a secret weapon: show notes. This means that they come with their own blog post. This is your search-engine-optimization opportunity.
Show notes can range from simple bullet points, to summary in a paragraph or several. Some podcast listening apps allow for dynamic links. Others only show the link as text. This area gives you a space for links to your web site, social media, and calls to action. Think of this as a spring board to get your listeners closer to your web site. Not only is this a great way to promote guests, products and services, but also you can link to visual elements (such as an Instagram account or YouTube videos) to fill out your episode.
Blogging Vs Podcasting: What's Right For You?
There isn't really one choice between the two. Some of the people you want to reach are visual learners. Others are aural learners who enjoy listening. Both have their pros and cons in the world of content creation. What matters the most is:
- your strengths and skills
- your goals for content creation
- the needs of your audience.
You could produce a blog and a podcast as separate podcast streams, if you have limitless time and energy. Or, you can run one content stream which combines the best of both blogging and podcasting. Here's an example where blogging and podcasting combine to make a multi-faceted content stream.
Organic Life is a podcast about eating and living in a healthier, more sustainable way. The show notes for each episode include a link to the podcast web site, and links to the podcasts guests' web sites. Not only do these show notes inform the listener and promote the web site, they also cross-promote. At the top of the web site is a link to the Organic Life Instagram page. It'd be a crime to exclude colors and visual textures from a content stream about healthy food and sustainable agriculture. This is another facet of engagement. This content stream has multiple sensory avenues to becoming a habit.
Akimbo is a content stream that combines podcasting and blogging to discuss culture and change. Marketing expert Seth Godin packs the show notes with video, the website with rich, elegant photos, and engages directly with users via an embedded tool called SpeakPipe. Rather than asking users to sign up for a mailing list, he invites them to ask a question. Not only is he letting people hear his voice, he's asking to hear theirs.
What can you do?
Think about how much time you can set aside each week for content creation. Is your schedule predictable, or does it vary? Do you tend to stay in the same place, or are you frequently traveling? If you're creating content while in transit, jotting down a few notes and snapping some pictures on your phone, blogging may be the best option. If you have dependable privacy, then recording a podcast is a viable concept.
Check out our articles on how much time it takes to podcast, and how much it costs to run a podcast series for more information. Knowledge is power, and you should know what you plan to commit to. If you decide that you'd like to really build a deep and lasting relationship with your audience over time, then it's worth considering the podcasting route.
Pat Flynn, one of the most successful bloggers on the Internet, recently said that his podcast:
“has enabled me to build a stronger relationship with my audience – much stronger than I could ever do with just my blog alone.”
In a blog post about how podcasting is the new blogging, Seth Godin said,
“podcasting is the generous act of showing up, earning trust and authority because you care enough to raise your hand and speak up.”
You might feel as though you need more guidance to create a multi-faceted content stream. In that case, consider The Podcast Host Academy. We have courses, videos, downloadable resources, and a community of peers and experts for support. You'll be well on your way to making a content stream that inspires their eyes, amuses ears and warms hearts.