022: What’s a Podcast? Podcast Terms and FAQs

So you’ve heard of podcasting before, but it may still be a little bit vague, or perhaps you’ve heard of it and now you’re like, “Okay, there’s got to be some terms in here I need to understand.”

All right, you’re in the right place.

We’re going to go over a few of the key terms of podcasting basics. 

We’re going to cover the difference between a podcast and an episode. 

We’re going to distinguish the differences between hosting your podcast and distribution, and the different softwares that are involved in those kind of things. 

And we’re going to discuss about whether or not video or audio is considered a podcast. 

So, let’s jump in.

So, a podcast could be seen as a podcast show, or a podcast episode. Let’s first talk about the difference.

Now, you are familiar with shows because you’ve probably heard of Netflix, or television before. And they function in the same way. The show is the entire compilation of all of the episodes. So, if you were to sit down on a Friday night and watch an episode of your favorite television show, then you already know the difference between an episode and a podcast.

Usually we refer to the podcast episode as an episode, maybe it’s a 30 minute segment, or an hour segment of your favorite show, versus the entire show, the compilation itself, which would be your podcast. So, usually when podcasters are creating a podcast, they start with the full name of the show and a vision for the entire show, the podcast itself. And then they segment it into episodes. Some podcasters will even segment into seasons, like your favorite television shows.

So, if you were to get on Netflix and search for your favorite show, you could then find the show perhaps even segmented into seasons. A season, nowadays seasons can be six episodes, 12 episodes, or something like that. And as a podcaster you get to say what your seasons are. So, some podcast seasons might be 30 episodes long in their entire show.

So, that’s kind of the hierarchy of what to expect. 

The show has its own title and its own name, and that encompasses the entire series. Then within that show you may have seasons, which are usually themes within that show. And those themes within the theme that season, every single episode has its own unique individual theme itself.

So, that’s kind of the difference. As a producer, when I’m referencing my client’s show, I’m talking about their show in its entirety, all the moving pieces together. And then if I’m asking them for their next episode, so we produce shows in month by month. I might say, “Hey, can you send me your July episodes?” I’m asking for all of the episodes within their show that they’re going to be wanting to air in the month of July.

So, that’s kind of the difference between a podcast, the entire thing, the series and the episodes. 

Now that you know that let’s talk about how these actually get out there, like what is it that we’re pushing out? Because I’ve used so far is the example of your favorite television show, but podcasts are a little bit different.

So, a podcast can be audio or it can be video. Now, most podcasts, when we think about podcasts in general, most of them are audio. Like when I say most, I’m talking drastically more than video. And there’s a reason. We’re going to get into in the next little segment of this post, but first let me share with you the difference between the audio and the video, and what makes it an actual podcast.

So, if you were to create a video like just a simple video. If you just turned on your camera on your phone and just made a video, it’s not an episode yet, until it is produced. You’ve got to get it out to people. Just having it on your phone isn’t enough, because no one else can listen to it. So, on your phone, it’s just video. Same with audio. So, let’s imagine you just get out your cell phone, you plug in your headphones and you open your recording on your phone. Most phones have some way of recording audio only, or even video. And let’s just say that you just record.

Well, now you have a mp3 file. That’s like you know the difference between a Word doc or an Excel spreadsheet, and on your computer they’re listed as .docx, or .exl, or something like that. That’s the type of file that it is. And those are document files. But what we’re talking about is a different type of media file, which is either an audio file or a video file. An audio file is usually a .wav, what’s called a Wave file, or a .mp3. Mostly in podcasting we work with mp3.

So, an mp3 is an audio file. An mp4 is a video file. 

Now, once you have the file, that’s great, but now you’ve got to get it to people. That’s the difference between the file itself, just having it, and the distribution of production of an actual podcast. So, if I have an audio file and I’m like, “Oh, that’s all well and good,” but if I want people to see this, or be able to consume it, now I have to have a podcast to get it out to people.

So, now we know that audio files and video files do exist, but now we’ve got to produce it. So, here’s the thing I was telling you was coming. The difference in the production of an audio file and a video file really is the distribution of it. 

When you are a podcast producer, there are two very important aspects of getting your show, or your episodes, out into the world. The first is hosting. So, when you create your audio or video file, you have to put it somewhere that will be accessible to other people. On your phone isn’t accessible to anybody else.

So, you’ve got to put that audio file into the interweb. We call this a hosting site. Now, this hosting site, which in our production company we use Libsyn, but there are lots of others. SoundCloud is a hosting site, other hosting sites would be like Anchor. There are so many that are even popping up, new hosting sites. Usually hosting sites are something you have to pay for, but not always. But this is where your actual file is being hosted.

So, if you just are recording onto your phone, it’s being hosted on your phone. But if you want other people to be able to access it, now you’ve got to take it from there and place it into a hosting site. So, now that it’s in that hosting site, now we’ve got to get people to open it up and be able to view it. So, now we’ve got to have another piece, which is a distributor, a distribution site.

So, now we’ve got it hosted somewhere where the file is actually being stored, but now we’ve got to get it distributed, now we’ve got to find the bridge between the person that’s listening and the file itself. 

Let me explain, stick with me here, I promise this is going to make sense when I give you some analogies. So, YouTube is something that a lot of us are very familiar with, and YouTube serves as both a host and a distributor. YouTube is really the reason why people are so confused about podcasting, because they make it really easy. 

YouTube makes it very, very easy for people.

When you upload a video file, and you can’t really upload audio files onto YouTube, it has to be in mp4 format, right? Or a other form of video format. So, you upload it to YouTube. Now, it’s both hosted on YouTube, and distributed by YouTube. So, YouTube makes it very easy for you to get your content out there. So, you might record a video on your phone, and then you upload it into YouTube to host it there, they’re holding your actual file, that’s why it takes so long to get it uploaded because you’re moving your file onto YouTube.

Then, they’re also distributing it to people. Now, the difference with podcasting is that not all hosts are also distributors. Some of them are, and they make it somewhat easy on you. 

The real goal of podcasting is that there are so many distributors that if you host in one area, you can then connect all of those distributors to that one host. 

And then it gets really easy to distribute to multiple areas.

So, for example, formerly iTunes, in the future, right now it’s in limbo, but in the future it’s going to be called Apple Podcast. Apple Podcast is one distributor. You do not host your data on Apple, you’re not hosting it there. You’ll have to host it somewhere else, and then you tell Apple, there’s an application process where you tell Apple, “Hey, this is where I’m hosting my data, if you would distribute it from here.” Same is true of Stitcher or Spotify, there are several other different, Google Podcast or Google Play.

All of those things are distributors and you tell them, “Hey, this is where my content’s being hosted.” 

Now, this is also similar to if you were to send via email. Many of you might be familiar with Google Drive, in Google, through which you sometimes are sending over Gmail, that you’re sending a file that’s a little bit too large. And it will say to you, your email might say, “Hey, this file is a little bit too big, we’re going to host it on Google Drive. We’re still going to distribute it through your email, but because it’s too big we’re going to keep it on Google Drive.” And then your viewer of your email may find it, it’s going to point them back to Google Drive, where it’s being hosted.

So, when something is too big, you may be hosting something in Dropbox, you’ve got something hosted in Dropbox. You’re going to send the link to somebody so that they can find the link and it’s distributed back to them. But if you want mass distribution, now you’ve got to have some distributor that can get it to your host.

Okay, hopefully that makes sense. We’ve got the host, we’ve got the distributor. You only need one host, and then you can distribute in multiple areas. 

That’s the beauty of podcasting, is that you host, you create it, you create a file, whether it’s an mp3 or mp4, usually it’s going to be an mp3 as a podcast, and then you put it up on your host, and then you tell your distributor, “Hey, here is where I want to get at.”

So now when your listener comes to their favorite distributor, Spotify, or Apple Podcast, or whatever they listen to, Pandora, wherever they are listening to their podcast, if you are distributing through them as well, they will be able to find your podcast, no matter where it’s being hosted.

All right, so the reason that people hire a producer is because they don’t want to have to figure all this out. They just send their file over. 

So, for us, we just have our clients record however they are recording, then they send it to us and we put it on their host, we make it fancy, and then we figure out the distribution so that it comes to all of their distributors.

So, there’s a little bit of tech involved there. Not a ton, it’s learnable, but the big point is, is that you want to tie your hosting site to many distributors so that people can find your actual show. 

All right, so that’s hosting. Now, here’s the thing I mentioned between audio and video, when you are hosting your content on somebody else’s server. A server is kind of like a storage unit, let’s envision it as a storage unit. Your computer or your phone has a storage unit, but you know how your phone might get full if you take too many pictures and you’re storing them on your phone, or you’re taking too many voicemails and you’re storing it on your phone, it gets full. So, then it says, “Hey, you need to clear out some storage space to make some room here.”

So, you have a mini storage unit right here. If you are hosting your content, your MP3’s or MP4’s in somebody else’s storage unit, then they’re either going to charge you for it, or they’re going to likely limit how much space you use. Now, on YouTube it’s unlimited storage, because of the nature. They just want you to get stuff on there. They’re wanting you to interact with people. So, some hosts have unlimited storage space. Others require that you pay for how much storage space you’re using.

So, if you are paying for your storage space and if you’re using mp4’s, video files, it’s likely that they’re going to make you pay, because an audio file is like let’s say that an audio file takes up a shoe box size of storage space in a room. But a video file would likely take up like a giant closet sized space in storage space. So, now we’re talking a huge difference in how much storage is needed because of the size of the file.

So, if you’re deciding do I want a video show or do I want an audio show? Podcast style, my suggestion will always be podcast style, make it audio only, not video, because it’s just going to take up so much more space and you’re going to have to pay a lot more. And the payoff is not that much, because most people that are listening to their favorite podcast distributors, as we mentioned earlier, they’re only listening. It used to be people would do both, they would record video and still publish it as a video podcast and audio podcast. But they’re only listening, nobody is even watching podcasts, they’re really only listening.

So, what we do for our clients, what we say is if you are recording video style, that’s great, we’ll still use it. But we will only distribute it on areas where people are actually watching videos. So, YouTube, things like that. We’re not going to distribute on your hosting site and distribute it to podcasts, except for audio only. We’re not going to do that as video, we’re going to do it audio only.

Because that’s what people are really listening to. And it’s not worth the added storage space that you’ll need to pay for.Like I’m talking hundreds of dollars of difference. The difference between hosting, you might pay for hosting, I don’t know, five or twenty bucks a month for audio only files, but if you’re paying for hosting and you’re doing video, you might be hosting $300 worth if all those same things are being hosted as a video. So, that’s a huge difference, and it’s usually a deterrent, because it’s not even worth the while. People aren’t really tuning into podcasts for videos. 

You see what I’m saying here?

All right, so now you understand a podcast, the series, and the episode. You get the whole idea about why audio only is so valuable with podcasting, and why video is really not the way to go for podcasting. And, you understand the difference between hosting and distribution.

If you’ve got any questions please feel free to reach out to me. This is what we do and what we love. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. 

I promise, I promise if you are interested in starting a show, you will find your audience, and they’re gonna love you.