Why I’m investing in podcasting & videos

I built a shed the other week. It’s a 3 x 3 potting shed, and I built it in the corner of a meeting room at my office. I’m aware that sheds usually go outside, but never one for convention, this one lives inside and it serves a very useful purpose.

After building the shed – which was surprisingly straightforward even for someone with the DIY abilities of a typical cowboy builder – I set to work on soundproofing it and then sound treating the interior. The shed is now a small audio booth, perfect for recording our weekly podcast episodes. It’s also a place for carrying out podcast interviews, over Skype I hasten to add, as the shed is cosy with just me standing in it; it would be far too intimate to invite guests to join me in the shed to chat.

I’m investing in podcasting because it has such massive potential. Back in September 2005 when I launched the first podcast from a UK financial adviser, it was too early. The world wasn’t quite ready for podcasting back then. Neither was I, truth be told. Having to manually write the RSS code for each episode to get it listed on iTunes was a bit too geeky, even for this self-confessed geek.

But today is a different story. Podcasting has arrived on the mainstream with the recent success of Serial Podcast testament to its popularity. If you’re not familiar with Serial, it was a 12 part documentary style podcast from the producers of This American Life, another popular podcast in the US. The series followed a real-life murder case, featuring interviews with the convicted killer and witnesses, casting doubt on his guilt. The podcast was averaging 1.5 million downloads an episode, quickly being dubbed “the world’s most popular podcast”.

The most relevant statistics I can find about podcast consumption suggests it is growing by 25% year on year. Around one in ten people have listened to a podcast in the past month. Podcast listeners average six different podcasts a week.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as podcasts are much easier to consume when we are driving, for example, than videos or blogs. Traffic police take a pretty dim view of drivers watching YouTube whilst traversing the M25, so I’m told.

When you listen to a podcast, you are fully engaged with what is being said. That differs so much from television where my attention is usually divided between the screen, Twitter and just about everything else which catches my attention. This makes podcasting the perfect medium to get into the head of your prospective client.

Podcasting also fits well with our changing attitude towards consuming media, where we time-shift content to suit our schedule, not the schedules decided by radio or television broadcasters. I can’t remember the last time I watched a live television broadcast; it’s all Netflix, iPlayer or iTunes now.

So I’ve started spending several hours a week recording, editing and producing a 30 minute podcast episode. In my shed.

To date I’ve published 15 episodes which have been downloaded over 1,000 times and reviewed (favourably) nine times on iTunes. I’ve got a long way to go before I catch-up with Pete Matthew and his 101 episodes of the Meaningful Money Podcast, with its over 250,000 downloads, but here’s the really exciting thing; there’s essentially no competition in the UK market for this type of podcast. Other than Pete and his Meaningful Money Podcast, there are no other Financial Planners that I’m aware of producing a regular audio podcast.

As well as investing in podcasting, I’m putting more time into video content.

Over the weekend I placed an order for a teleprompter kit, which turns an iPad into a fully functioning autocue device. This combined with a DSLR camera, lav mic and some softbox lights, and it should be easy to start producing regular video content in the form of three minute videos answering topical personal finance questions. Keep in mind that, after Google, YouTube is the most searched website in the world. Video offers the opportunity to create a real connection with people watching the content, getting to know and trust you.

This stuff might require a bit of learning and some basic kit to get started. It certainly requires an investment in time to create, edit and publish content.

But once you have cracked that and developed a simple workflow, podcasting and video content offers Financial Planners a great opportunity to reach the right prospective clients and strengthen relationships with existing clients. And it’s a lot of fun.