Niche Market for Web Hosts – Podcasting
I’ve learned that in every face to face encounter, regardless of how brief, we leave something behind – Anonymous, Age 45
And the perfect way to for you to have a face to face encounter and connect with your Website Visitor is through Podcasts. Podcasts allow your visitors to hear your articles and see your videos through syndicated subscriptions or simply through your website.
Podcasting is a method to distribute audio and video over the Internet. Podcasts are simple audio files that are streamed to listeners over a website. No, podcasting has nothing to do with the Ipod. It doesn’t require you to own an ipod.
Podcasting became a popular on-demand method for listening to music, speeches, articles and sermons in the later months of 2004. It really caught on because of its Killer combination with RSS feeds which made it the favorite method of syndication with bloggers and Radio stations. It allowed people to subscribe to RSS feeds on various websites and listen to various shows and speeches at their own convenience.
Now don’t get me wrong. Podcasting is still catching on. People listen to podcasts more as a novelty. But those who have , are already hooked. Its simply more convenient to listen to an article and do something else than sit and read the article.
Its an easy method to distribute audio files. All you have to do is to send along a link to your friends and customers. They can listen to it whenever it is convenient to them.
It makes sense to Bloggers is because they can easily connect to people. Listeners easily relate to the Blogger once they listen to her voice. Its much more powerful than plain writing.
You can listen to Podcasts on a website (for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Spoken_articles).
Or you can subscribe to RSS feeds of your favourite Radio stations or Blogging sites via programs (called Podcatchers or Podcast Receivers) like iTunes(http://itunes.com) or Ipodder(http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/)
You can access the iTunes Podcast Directory and subcribe to an interesting Podcast. If you have an iPod, you could even upload it to your iPod.
For those who have a website but with limited space and bandwidth, it is possible to create and store podcasts using a 3rdparty site such as www.audioblog.com. These sites give you tools for less than $5/mo to upload sound and video files and link it from your site. They allow you to even record your audio via phone. Yes, just call up their phone, enter a pin and record your voice. The benefit is that you use their bandwidth and disk space, and their tools allow you to do the whole thing with minimal effort.
Now in case you have sufficient bandwidth and space on your own site, you may want to consider doing it the manual way.
First upload your music or video files on to your site using FTP say at http://yoursite.com/firstpodast.mp3
Then create an RSS file say http://yoursite.com/rss.xml with the following content
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?> <rss version="2.0"> <channel> <title>My articles</title> <description>My artciles are all about blah blah</description> <language>en-us</language> <item> <title>my first podcast</title> <link>http://yoursite.com/firstpodast.mp3</link> <pubDate>Thu, 23 Dec 2005 18:30:00 GMT</pubDate> <enclosure url="http://yoursite.com/firstpodast.mp3" type="audio/mpeg" /> </item> </channel> </rss>
You can link the RSS from your site using those little RSS feed buttons. Visitors can subscribe to these RSS feeds using their Podcatchers
You can also create accounts in sites like www.feedburner.com. Feeds provide updates whenever there is new content. FeedBurner makes it easy to receive content updates in popular podcatchers.
The first people to adopt Podcasting have been Radio stations and Bloggers. Radio stations use it to syndicate their shows. Bloggers use it for people to listen to their articles whenever it is convenient. For example, www.webhostingshow.com is a Podcast for Web Hosting industry.
Newer apps are starting to emerge. A Godcast is a podcast with a religious theme. With the new advent of podcasting, Godcasts have surged dramatically and have been labeled by some as the podcast’s first “killer app.” Web Hosts should see Church websites clamouring for podcasts.
Educational sites like schools and colleges are moving towards Podcasting to improve long distance teaching and to send instructions to students. This may include imagery and audio.
Politics. In the U.S., both major political parties have various podcasts, as do several politicians. Conference and meeting alerts. Podcasts can be packaged to alert attendees to agendas, hosted roundtables and daily feedback.
Newspapers and media houses use podcasts to publish audio Interviews and drive traffic to their websites.
Podcasting presents a wonderful opportunity to Web Hosts and Web designers to integrate something new in their offerings to their customers. Many customers may not know the implications or applications of this new technology. Web Hosts and Web Designers can release this as a new medium to their customers and reap the benefits using newsletters to existing clients and on the site for new clients.
Whatever be the use that websites have for it, know that Podcasting is a High Bandwidth and Disk space affair. For a high visibility site, adding podcasting, increases Bandwidth several fold, provided it is subscribed to by their visitors. This gives an opportunity to Web Hosts to upgrade the Hosting plans of their clients.
About the author: Sangeetha Naik heads Bobcares.com. She is the co-founder of Poornam Info Vision Ltd., Software and IT services company specializing in Linux based solutions for Webhosts and ISPs. Poornam Info Vision is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company with a team of over 140 engineers.
Sangeetha is a Computer Engineer based in India and has over 7 years of experience in the hosting industry. Her articles have been published both online as well as in print in magazines.