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Audio Podcasting Versus Video Podcasting: Should You Do Both?

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Audio podcast? Video podcast? Both? Learn how to decide.

Audio podcast? Video podcast? Both? Learn how to decide.

Is it better to do an audio-only podcast, video podcast, or both? Here’s what you need to know before deciding.

Audio podcasting is growing. In April 2020, there were 1 million podcasts on Apple Podcasts (Apple press release), the dominant podcasting service.

While Statista reports that in 2006, only 22 percent of the population was aware of podcasting, by 2020, that awareness had climbed to 75 percent. Listenership has also grown from 32 million in 2013 up to 88 million in 2019. That number is projected to rise to 164 million by 2023.

This growth could be attributed to many factors including the need for hands-free content consumption while driving or doing other things, preference for on-demand audio content as opposed to broadcast radio, and the meteoric rise of smart devices such as Amazon’s Alexa. Though Apple is still the dominant podcast platform in the United States as of this original post date, the growth has spurred other powerful content purveyors to enter the fray, including Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Podcasting is definitely on track to become a solid content format for the future. If your content can be communicated through audio, you should look into adding a podcast to your self publishing offerings.

The Challenges of Audio Podcasting

While the growth numbers just discussed are impressive, podcasts are still a small sliver of the internet content pie. Even though 1 million podcast shows on Apple Podcasts sounds like a lot, according to many estimates that I’ve seen, blogs number around 500 million at the dawn of the 2020s. Some estimates that include Tumblr blogs peg that worldwide blog number at closer to 1 billion (with a “b”).

Part of the reason why audio podcasts haven’t gained the traction of blogs may be due to where we are with technology. It’s easy for computer algorithm robots to scan and sift through mountains of text-based content that helps a blog’s SEO and search engine visibility. Audio content, not so much, at least not yet. Though it's gotten much better, if you read through auto-generated captions on videos, you'll see that audio translation tech has a long way to go.

Additional SEO and search issues exist on the listener side, too. Listeners need to know what shows they want to listen to. They can’t just ask a voice assisted device to pull up any old podcast on a certain topic. Well, technically they could. But Siri and Alexa would have to be sophisticated enough to instantly analyze an overwhelming amount of audio content in order to suggest one the listener might like.

What this means for podcasters is that they have to aggressively market a podcast to get listeners to intentionally go to their shows. That’s an expense and effort that many podcasters avoid because it’s difficult to gain any significant cash payback from podcasting. The listening numbers are too small for advertisers to get excited about. And soliciting paid subscribers either through the podcast hosting provider, or content monetization platforms such as Patreon, is very challenging.

Part of the problem with listener recruitment is that podcast shows can be super niche. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t mean you should create a mass appeal show. But it does mean that your listener base could be very small.

Video Podcasting

As video content becomes ubiquitous all over the internet and social media, it’s not surprising that video podcasting is popular. Like audio podcasts, video podcasts usually discuss only one or a few topics, and are often published on a regular schedule (daily, weekly, monthly).

Video podcasters may also offer the audio ripped from the video version as a standalone audio podcast, creating two types of content at one time. This is an efficient strategy that helps podcasters expand their reach to both audio listening and video viewing audiences.

The YouTube Video Podcast Solution and Dilemma

As with audio podcasting, video podcast files need to have a home on the internet and a way to distribute the show to viewers. Podcasters can host their video podcast shows on sites such as Libsyn, Blubrry, and Podbean for a fee that depends on how much file storage and bandwidth is needed. File space and budget can get eaten up fast with large video files.

The higher cost of hosting video content is why podcasters may choose to post their video podcast for free on YouTube, and host the audio podcast elsewhere.

Even though YouTube is, as of this writing, the second most visited site on the internet, that doesn’t mean podcast listeners and viewers will discover and consume any particular show there. Podcast subscribers also may not associate YouTube with podcasts, considering any podcast videos posted there as regular video content.

The good news is that if you optimize your podcast videos on YouTube with your title, description, keywords, tags, and hashtags, your show has a better chance of being found and followed on YouTube. That happened for me. Plus, listeners may also just listen to the audio on YouTube without visually watching the video. I've heard that from some people who follow my podcast on YouTube.

Which One Should You Do: Audio Podcasting or Video Podcasting?

I believe that podcasters should do both if they have the ability and comfort level to do video along with audio. Here’s my experience to explain why I suggest this.

In late 2016, I started an audio podcast that was focused on business, books, and blogging. It was a slow starter, and within 4 months, I abandoned it.

But as the interest in audio content was growing for both podcasts and audio books, I resurrected the podcast in March 2018, refocusing it to primarily cover publishing and related topics, and renamed it The Heidi Thorne Show.

Then in September 2018, at the suggestion of one of my blog readers, I added a video version of the podcast that is posted to YouTube. After I record the video of each episode, I rip the audio from the video file, and then post the audio file as the podcast. Both the audio and video version are published at about the same time (video the night before, audio early the next morning).

By the end of 2020, I achieved 5K downloads of all my podcast episodes from 2016 through 2020. Not a lot compared to the big shows. But I have a niche topic. In contrast, at the end of 2020, views of my podcast videos on YouTube were at 9.1K. So adding the video version expanded my podcast's reach, and helped me build my YouTube channel.

Going multi-format (audio and video) and multi-channel (podcast and YouTube) can help content creators reach more people in an increasingly fragmented internet content world.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 02, 2021:

Flourish, I just keep experimenting! Some stuff works, but some doesn't.

A lot of people are rushing to podcasts and anxious to get guests on the show--any guests!--because they really don't have any material of their own. That's a strategy espoused by some of the success gurus. I've been on both sides of the microphone on podcasts, and I'll tell you that I'd rather do it solo. The coordination is ridiculous because of the tech, timing, question prep, promo, etc. And as you noted, you as the guest didn't really see the value it would offer you. Good you didn't waste your time.

Thanks, as always, for adding your experience and perspective to the topic! Have a lovely day!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 02, 2021:

Mary, I think you're like a lot of people who consume podcast audio on YouTube. Consuming on YouTube allows you to jump back and forth between the formats.

Thanks for your kind comments, as always! Have a beautiful day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 02, 2021:

I'm amazed at your versatility. You never seem to be out of ideas on how to use these platforms.

An audio podcaster recently invited me on as a guest but I declined because I just didn't see any benefit for me and didn't get the full premise of the ask.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2021:

This is another instructive article. Recently, I had been listening to podcasts, mostly video but I find that I am mostly listening to the audio. Anyway, I enjoy both and congratulations for your YouTube success.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 01, 2021:

Bill, yeah, I know I keep harping on this. When you do find the will and the time to get it done, I think you'd do an amazing podcast. We'll be waiting.

Thanks for chiming in and have a terrific week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 01, 2021:

Peggy, I think it makes a whole lot of sense to do both these days, even though audio is a bit lagging in terms of numbers. Since it's so easy to do both, there's really no excuse not to.

Thanks so much for chiming in. Have a great week!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 01, 2021:

Liz, thanks for reading! So true that these podcasts have to offer value. Who wants to hear someone blab on for several minutes to an hour without saying anything? Appreciate your support. Have a great week!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 31, 2021:

Podcasts, along with videos on YouTube, etc., are becoming more popular with time. So to present them, such as you are doing, seems to be a smart approach.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 31, 2021:

Evidently I shouldn't do either, since I can't seem to make the time to do them. Sigh! Great information, as always. I'm mildly disappointed in myself for letting this drag on for so long. I really wish I had someone to blame for this delay/inactivity. :) Have a great Sunday!

Liz Westwood from UK on January 31, 2021:

This is a fascinating, very relevant and well-written article. I think the keys to both audio and video podcasts are high quality and a professional performance. There is so much available to listen to and view that sub-standard offerings will not get a look in.