Powtoon Review: Animating Your Podcast
Do you find it a bit tricky to explain your podcast to your friends, or to sell to new listeners? Sometimes you can have a podcast which is pretty complex, and that's fine. Writing a bio description might be tricky so you may want to think outside the box about how you sell it. Animating your podcast can be the perfect way to do this.
Animating your podcast can be the most colourful and dynamic way to promote it to new people. And Powtoon is the perfect tool to do so with.
Animating Your Podcast With Powtoon
If you're reading this and thinking it's not for you because you've never worked with animation, don't fret. Neither did I a couple of hours ago!
Powtoon is designed specifically to help people who have never touched animation software before be able to make their own videos. Working with an actual studio or a freelance animator can put butterflies in your wallet, and take forever. However I have, and will for this article, show you how to make a video super quickly.
Creating a short video to put on the homepage of your website can be the difference between engaging a new listener with your video. This in place of boring people with a text box which reads what your podcast is about.
Much like in our recent review of Canva to make your Podcast graphics, Powtoon has a user-friendly editor built in. And I'm going to run you through exactly how it works as we design a video for our podcast, Podcraft.
Before we get into the depths of creating your own animated video for your podcast, let's chat about how much it'll cost you. The decision you make on this should be dependent on exactly what you're looking to do with Powtoon.
There is a free version of the app which allows you to access the basics of the site. With the free version you can make upto 100MB of video and store it on your account. This version means you will have Powtoon branding on it and you'll only have access to some of the content on the site.
If you're looking to make a video to put on social media as a one-off this is perfect. Likewise this'll do the trick for a video for your website as a one-off. However, I want you to consider using videos to promote your podcast on a weekly basis. It can be a powerful tool.
As we discussed in our article on using Instagram to promote your podcast, you can really stand out using video. Users will sit and scroll for an age, and if a colourful video stands out from text posts or picture posts, people will watch it. That's the benefits of using video. However thinking even beyond that, if you have an animated video with words on it, it can succeed ahead of other videos. Users don't even need to plug in headphones or listen to it. They can still view the content without sound. So a tool like Powtoon can be really effective.
At The Podcast Host, we have a Pro account which gives us our own branded content and lots of assets to use within the app. You can order this monthly or yearly, but it's worthwhile going for the annual price of $228. This over $86 per month clearly makes a lot of sense if you want to use the app long term.
This can seem a lot of money but bare in mind that this will be a lot cheaper than working with an animation company or freelancer. And you can work with your own freedom and to your own pace.
Selecting Your Style
Once you get your account set-up, your first decision will be what kind of animation you'd like to make. There are five main styles you can choose from, which you can see below.
Each has its own feel, and whilst the whole vibe of Powtoon is about cartoons, there are different kinds. There's even a non-cartoon style if you're not a fan of that.
It will obviously depend what sort of podcast you make. If you make a business podcast then selecting Modern Edge might be the obvious answer. For storytellers, Whiteboard might be your best bet in people able to re-create those stories in scenes on a video.
If you make a news or informational podcast then Infographic will allow you to access graphs and tables neatly. And if you just do a casual podcast with friends, you'll find lots of fun bits and bobs on the Cartoon style.
You can always go back and start again. And delete anything you don't want to keep. So do feel free to jump around and experiment with every style the site has to offer.
I'm going to go for Modern Edge for our example.
Powtoon's editor is user friendly but there's a fair few things for us to dive into and talk about. You can certainly do quite a lot with your piece.
Here's a look at what the editor window looks like.
We're going to start by examining the left hand side of the screen. Here you can see that Powtoon uses Slides as the different pieces of your puzzle.
The site allows you to work quite detailed assets into each slide individually but also allows for quite powerful connectivity between slides too.
It's pretty simple to duplicate a slide once you have the right colour background set for your video. Or if you have a logo or graphic in one corner through-out your video.
What's pretty cool about using the slides is that you can also use transition effects to make sure that your finished video doesn't look like a combination of slides. Rather it'll come off like a fully merged video, moving seamlessly between your slides.
If you've ever used video editing software, or even audio editing software like Audacity or Adobe Audition, you'll recognize the bar at the bottom. It basically does what a waveform editor would on those programmes. You use it to watch the slide you've put together and edit it.
Using this, you can decide on how long you want each slide to be. You can be really detailed about the way that the things in your slides appear.
Take our Podcraft logo above for example. We can decide how long into the slide the logo comes into shot. And when it leaves. And you can do this for multiple items within your slide. You can even bring in different items at the same time, but in different ways. Basically it's hugely customization that way.
This is great but I have one grievance with it currently. You can bring in each item with different effects which works really well in creating diverse happenings in your video. You can fade in, or pop in items. Or even bring them in from left, right, top or bottom. And you can take them away in the same or different ways. This is great.
My issue is that you can't change the speed of how these items drop into your video. This is fine nitpicking, but it would be great in future if Powtoon allowed you to slow fade in items. Currently everything moves in slightly too fast. It's not quite our tempo.
Finally if you look to the right of our image above, you'll see the toolbar of Powtoon. This really does open up a world of creativity.
In here you can set your background, add in text and add in various shapes and props.
What's also cool is the different characters you can add into your video. These characters are what really brings your animation to life. You can have different characters portraying emotions like being happy, sad or even doing actions like explaining things. This allows your animation to really tell a story.
With everything you can also set when and how these drop in. You can have text roll in from the left to join a character, the words explaining the situation in the slide.
There are countless things to work through here and it's best that you have your own go with it.
The one thing I will say is that what you can access, even on Pro, is limited. There are so many characters, props and shapes only available to ‘Pro +' users. This can be quite frustrating and stifle your creativity. But, there are still a lot of options on offer for you to make the video you need.
Exporting & Sharing
Powtoon does over a heck of a lot of sharing options. You can download your video as an mp4, PDF or even switch it into a powerpoint file!
You can also share it across so many platforms including LinkedIn, Google + and of course Twitter. Here's our guide on how you can use your video to promote your podcast on Twitter.
The reason I didn't mention Facebook there is because you can actually just upload straight to Facebook through Powtoon. Check our our guide on how to promote your podcast through Facebook. You can also upload straight to YouTube, Vimeo and other platforms.
And, you can embed it straight into your website like so…
That's All Folks…
There you have it then. Within an hour or two you can create your own animated video to promote you podcast. All through Powtoon.
There are only a few improvements I'd like to see, for the large cost of the site. If there were speed controls on dropping items into your video, it would feel like there was more freedom in your creation. It'd also be great if ‘Pro +' didn't lock off so much of the content available through the site.
However with that being said, this is a genius tool for you to use. It can cut through much of the noise on social media sites helping you reach lots of new audience. And it means you don't need an animation degree to be able to do it. It is super user-friendly.
If animating your podcast is something you decide to try, I'd love to see your efforts.
Animation is one great way to promote your podcast, but there are many other tips and techniques in our 30 Days of Audience Growth course inside The Podcast Host Academy. Check it out if you're looking to get yourself out there and build your fanbase!