Blogging isn’t the only game in town any more for content marketers. Podcasts are super popular as the new “do-it-yourself” content format. So which works better, and why?
Today’s content marketing question: Should I blog or should I podcast? Or maybe I should be doing video? Or all three?
Or do I even need a site at all, particularly if I don’t work for myself?
Let’s get into it!
In this 25-minute episode, I talk about:
- An important housekeeping note about this podcast
- Why I think every professional in the 21st century needs their own individual website
- The “60s band name” technique for finding a good domain (especially if your real name is taken)
- The 5 questions to ask when you’re figuring out what kind of content to produce
- The audio advantage for “Personality Projects”
- SEO considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to blog or podcast
- The quick but essential step you must take if you offer transcripts
Listen to Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer below ...
The Show Notes
- My Digital Sharecropping post — why you don’t want to “build on rented land”
- Rainmaker Platform
- Our friend, “nicest guy on the web” Darren Rowse
- The Showrunner podcast (essential listening if you want to start a podcast!)
- We also offer a podcasting course if you need help getting rolling.
- Copyblogger‘s still the best spot to find my longer writing
- And Digital Commerce Institute is going to be the other best spot to find my longer writing
- I always love it when you say hi over on Twitter @soniasimone
Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.
I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.
First off, I want to let you know that the podcast will be moving house shortly — I’m going to start hosting it on my longtime personal blog, which lights the fire I’ve been needing to get that moved to Rainmaker platform.
The automagical URL will still forward, pinkhairedmarketer.fm will whisk you to the right place, and I’ll keep you updated on how you can make sure you get all of the episodes. I’m going to try not to miss a week, but we’ll see how that works!
Today, because we’ve been awfully airy-fairy for awhile, I’m going to talk about a very pragmatic content strategy question — Do I still need a blog? Or should it be a podcast? Or do I even need a site at all?
As you know, on Copyblogger and RainmakerFM and Rainmaker Digital, we’ve been all about the podcast this last year.
Maybe it’s a good thing blogger is right there in the name of Copyblogger, because you might think we don’t think blogs are cool any more. But we totally still love blogs — they just aren’t the only option any more.
Today I’m going to talk about how to decide whether you should have a blog or a podcast — or even, dare I say it, both.
Why everyone needs a content site
First, let’s talk about those of you who aren’t business owners.
You may be a freelancer (in which case you’re a business owner, but for some reason, some freelancers don’t think of themselves this way). You may also be an employee, which is totally legit and cool. There are many great things that are done by employees.
So if you’re an employee of any stripe, or you’re a student and you’re not in the working world yet, should you have your own blog or podcast?
My answer to this one is: Absolutely.
First: If you can get the domain for your name, go grab it. Like, now. Some of us have names where this is in the realm of possibility, and some don’t. If you don’t, you can go with something like “TheJohnSmith,” or “TheBestJohnSmith,” play around with it.
Or you can come up with a short phrase that you feel embodies who you are. “Remarkable communication” was the phrase I found — Brian Clark makes fun of it for being long, which it is. Brian makes fun of me for all kinds of things.
Think about sites like Neatorama — great name, memorable, but doesn’t pin you down. Made-up words are great when they’re evocative and easy to remember. They’re not so good when they are hard to pronounce or have some kind of unpleasant association. I wouldn’t go with Poomeister.com.
Or you can go with that old trick, I feel like Seth Godin recommended this way long ago, of a color or a fruit plus a random concrete noun. This is also known as the 60s band name technique. I just made that label up.
Blueberry Coffee, Sepia Martini, Pink Fedora, Tangerine Jalopy, I don’t know. These have the advantage of being easy to visualize so they’re somewhat more memorable than just something bland like HighValueCopywriter. The more senses you can pack in there, the better, because memory is strengthened by multiple senses. So if something has a familiar smell, like coffee or coconut, that can be an advantage.
I think in 2016 it’s ok to go with something that isn’t the dot-com. Dot-com is great if you can get it, but if there’s another top-level domain that you can make something nifty with, a dot-ly or a dot-fm or whatever, I think it’s fine. Make it memorable and make it really easy to say.
And they can mean anything, so they have that potential to evolve with you. Maybe when you’re 50 you’re going to want to be known for interpretive dance. You don’t know. So it’s nice to have something with some flexibility.
Put it on your own domain
Another thing I always want to hammer home is, you want to have some critical mass of interesting and useful content on your own domain.
So your ninja ability might be tutorial videos, and you might develop an amazing YouTube channel. Which is great. Some people are doing unbelievable stuff on YouTube. But I also want to make sure you have some significant amount of extremely excellent content on your own domain.
If Rainmaker platform is something that would work for you, it lets you add a few sexy bells and whistles like a members-only area, which is a much more nifty way to deliver content to an email list.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s talk about how you make that decision, let’s say, should I have a blog or a podcast?
Factor #1: Are you a writer?
I think you guys know that I’m not a fan of the whole idea that you have some set of preordained talents, and that’s it forever.
So I don’t buy into the “you’re born a writer or you aren’t” thing. I don’t think it’s supported by the evidence. If you want to be a writer, and you’re willing to do a lot of writing, I think you can be a writer.
Some people love to write, and some people super do not love it.
Also, some of you make a living, in whole or in part, as writers, and some of you don’t. And that’s pretty important.
If it’s an important part of your identity — particularly your professional identity — that you’re a writer, then you need to blog. You need to be creating words as text in a place where people can see what your writing looks like.
If you write for a living, start a blog, and put your best writing there. If you’re a freelancer, you may need to work this into any contracts you have with clients, allowing you to include writing you do for them in your portfolio on your site. Normally unless it’s a super-secret ghostwriting type of gig, that will be fine.
Factor #2: How much time do you have?
This next one is related to Factor #1, but for most people, podcasting is a faster way to create content. So if you’re short on time, it can be a good way to go.
If you’re me, this doesn’t hold up, because basically every podcast is a piece of writing. I script out about 80+ % of what I’ll say, with room to riff here and there.
Remember that you also need to account for production time — audio editing, putting music on if that’s a thing, and coordinating if you’re going to have your episodes transcribed.
Even so, for a lot of folks, audio is faster. So if that’s a factor for you, all things being equal, it’s something to consider.
Factor #3: Is this a Personality Project?
As I talked about a few weeks ago in my “Things I Love / Things I Hate about Fitness Marketing” podcast, some businesses are built around one strong personality, and some are built more around an idea.
If the business or project you’re promoting is one that’s based on an individual, it can be very useful to have the literal voice of that individual as a key element of your content.
I’ve found audio content to be the single best format if what you want to do is form a relationship with your audience. You’re literally speaking into their ear — it’s so intimate.
If you’re a very solid writer, you may be able to get there with text on the screen, but it’s not easy to do. So if your business is you — or that project or business for a client — consider at least adding some audio into the content mix.
Of course there’s also video content, which works really well for a lot of folks. I don’t love it as a content producer for two reasons: 1) The prep time is so much more than it is for audio, given that let’s face it, we’re lucky if I put pants on before 3 pm, and 2) I don’t personally watch much online video because it takes a lot of time. With audio, I can be filing or taking a walk or driving to an appointment or putting some pants on, and the audio can just come along with me.
And frankly 3) I prefer to preserve my own delusions about what I look like.
But that’s my bias — there’s no shortage of people who love video, and if you’re interested in producing it, don’t let me deter you. At some point I’m sure I’ll get my video act together — a lot of my video-producing friends have been giving me a hard time about it. We’ll see.
Factor #4: Which one do you love?
That third point is kind of sliding into this fourth one — which one do you think you would actually enjoy creating over the long haul?
I do a lot of text and I also create a lot of audio because I really enjoy both processes. I don’t do video because I don’t enjoy doing it.
Content marketing is a long game. It takes time to get found, time to build your audience, time to build a network of content publishers. So if you don’t like it, that time is going to weigh heavily.
What you actually want to do needs to be a big factor, especially because if you like it, you’ll be better able to be consistent with it.
Factor #5: Search
This is the very last point I’ll mention, which is that for now, search engines will have a lot easier time finding your text content than they will your audio content.
You can absolutely mitigate that by providing a transcript, if that’s in your budget and you’re willing to do the coordination. If you do them, I really think it’s a major plus to edit them at least lightly before you post them.
Otherwise you can end up with unintentionally hilarious things like the time our transcriber turned Darren Rowse, of Problogger’s, “readers” into “raters,” I think she thought he meant folks leaving ratings. It actually made sense in context, but, you know, wrong.
Small and totally understandable errors like this can completely change the meaning of your words, so if you’re hiring a transcriber, you really want to at least give it a read-through and make sure nothing’s hiding in there.
You don’t necessarily have to choose
Keep in mind that you can absolutely host podcasts, or audio posts if you prefer that term, on your blog — Rainmaker is designed to make that simple. So you can have an audio channel and a text channel, like we now do on Copyblogger. Or you can just have some of your posts be text and some audio — we had to go to a separate channel on Copyblogger because there was such an insane amount of audio, but you probably won’t have that issue.
This works particularly well, for those of you who aren’t sure you want to commit to a podcast, for a podcast series. People often don’t think of that — they think that they’re signing up to do an episode a week forever. That’s too daunting, you’ll never get started. Try a series first. You don’t have to have Rainmaker to do it — RM just makes it simple. But you can totally create blog posts or pages that have podcast episodes.
You can even turn your series into a product when the series is finished, and either charge money for it or put it into your members-only area as a bonus for folks who sign up for your email list.
That mixed content model is the one I think I’ll go with for my personal site — these podcasts will be hosted there, but I’ll also probably have some short, punchy text posts and things like announcements for speaking appearances, pointers to other content I think is excellent, that kind of thing.
Right now it’s still an amorphous collection of ideas, so you get to come along with me and see what I do with it.
For long-form text content from me, Copyblogger and also the Rainmaker Digital sites are where it’s at for me — those are my primary content homes. But waking Remarkable Communication back up will let me goof around with some personal ideas and give me a sandbox to try some things out.
I’ve been listening to your podcasts for quite a while now, and this one prompted me to write because it hits me right where I am. You raised good points, but I could use a little more guidance. Or at least a nudge in one direction or another.
I started my site in late 2007, and in 2011 I got involved with an organization that put me on the road to doing a weekly show. That show became a podcast a few years ago. I have approximately 1350 posts on my site–many are text only. The others are the equivalent of show notes for the podcasts.
My site has become a monster I don’t know how to manage any more. I’d like to revamp/update/delete old posts, perhaps moving some of them forward for republishing. This is such a huge task, and I can’t keep up with doing my podcasts. Conversely, when I focus on doing podcasts, I can’t keep up with reworking old posts and writing new content. I don’t know which way to go.
A friend tells me to hit the “reset” button, wipe it all out, and start over. I did purchase my name as a domain, but I haven’t decided what to do with it.
Incidentally–this is significant–my main site was set up to make money. Most of my income has come through affiliate marketing. Paid advertisers have dropped off. I’m a one-man-band operation withno funds for outsourcing. My site did OK for a while, but income dropped off over the past 3-4 years, and I lost money on it in 2015. Thus, the perplexity continues.
Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated.
Sonia Simone says
I wouldn’t recommend “starting over,” you don’t want to create all kinds of broken links to your old content. The old content probably isn’t hurting anything just sitting there — I wouldn’t let it become something that’s taking you away from more current work. If there’s something you feel you need to fix (maybe some outbound links you aren’t super proud of), you could always bring in a VA to go through and do a cleanup. But if you don’t have a strong business reason to go back and “fix” the old content — don’t worry about it.
If you do have some older posts that you think would benefit from polishing and republishing, you can always edit them and bring them forward (don’t change the slug, just the publication date). If you have content that’s getting search traffic, for example, that would probably be a place to start.
Since your domain has age and links, I’d just start “fresh” the same way you would with a new site — but don’t delete all of the old content, there’s no reason to throw that authority away. Just start today as you mean to go forward, and don’t direct folks to the old content other than the pieces you’re proudest of.
If you want to completely change gears on your topic, that would be a reason to retire (but not nuke, there’s no reason to) the old site and begin something new on the domain for your name.
Typically when you have these scenarios, the first question is: Do I have a business [or project] objective here? Is there some goal I’d like to reach with this site?