Podcasting is weird. Since its inception, it’s been a place where staunch independents seek out tight collaboration. We podcasters want to do our own thing, but we also like working with other podcasters when we can.
But it’s not easy. With most of the blame aimed squarely at our independent mindset, collaboration often turns out to be quite a chore. Your production schedule is not my production schedule. Nor is your production process anything at all like mine. That makes it really hard for more collaboration to happen throughout podcasting.
But there’s a better way forward if we embrace the notion of syndicated content.
This Is Really Simple, But It’s Not RSS
By syndicated content, I don’t mean the fact that every podcaster syndicates their episodes to various apps and directories with an RSS feed. Yes, the last letter in that acronym does, in fact, stand for syndication. But that’s not the definition of syndicated content of which I speak.
I mean syndicated content the way you’ve probably encountered syndicated content in other mediums. Using this definition, you can use syndicated content to inject fresh and relevant content into your podcast’s episodes, both enhancing your episodes and making them more enjoyable for your listeners. All without requiring you to create a lick of new content.
And here’s the fun part: Done properly, with technology available to podcasters today, the syndicated content in your podcast can make your timeless content timely, pegged to the time of download. No stale content. Ever. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Syndication Ideas That Could Make Your Podcast Better
There are lots of ways you might use syndicated content to enhance your episodes. Producers of health-related podcasts could stay focused on building timeless content for their main segment, then use syndicated content to provide today’s health news. Or maybe inject a single tip for living a more healthy life? Sure, the producers could create those segments on their own. But that may not be a core competency.
Would a show made for higher-ed academics be better if a syndicated segment were included that covers the latest grants available? Or maybe relevant legislation of interest just to the show’s audience?
One of my new clients is producing a golf show. How cool would it be if they brought in syndicated content on each episode—content that was fresh at the time of download, not production—that gave the PGA leaderboard or some other short tournament coverage?
Hosts of travel shows would love to let their audience know about get-it-right-now travel deals, but that’s not possible for shows that are produced weeks ahead of publishing. But they could syndicate in that content, with assurance that the deals mentioned in the show are pegged to the time of download.
How great would it be if you could give your podcast listeners relevant news, but still keep producing timeless episodes? Or maybe include an “advice” column that’s refreshed day after day? Or something even more simple, like a “quote of the day” or a short segment of inspirational content?
Meditation and wellness shows are seeing huge gains in Spotify. How about syndicating in a short clip to bring that to your show? You may not have time to create it, but someone else may. What about including a “new music” segment on your show? Licensing and fair use issues aside, a lifestyle-focused show might benefit from that kind of an arrangement.
Syndicated content would be much better than the stale, baked-in “promo swaps” we’ve been doing since the birth of podcasting. Imagine how much better those would be if, rather than running what is ostensibly a commercial, you ran quick, distilled-down, featured content from other podcasts in your network, using syndication to rotate in fresh bits from multiple shows?
For instance, I could take episodes of Podcast Pontifications and boil each down to a 60-second nugget of goodness and produce the audio, maybe under a related name. Maybe I’d call it a Minute of Pod Zen. I could then allow other podcasters to use this Minute of Pod Zen inside of their episodes. That would be pretty cool for the myriad PAPs—podcasts about podcasting—out there (and possibly some tech-focused shows as well) to enhance their episodes. Don’t you think?
Syndication Isn’t New, But Podcasting Can Use It Better
Other forms of media have used syndication for a long, long time. That advice column your stepmom still reads in her local paper? Millions of stepmoms are reading that same column in their local paper around the country. The investment update your rich uncle listens to at the top of the hour on his local finance-focused radio station is pulled off a satellite. And I hate to break it to you, but your local CBS affiliate isn’t where Star Trek: Discovery was taped.
Websites also make heavy use of syndicated content, but often in recognizably terrible ways that do nothing to enhance the user experience. I’m thinking of all of those crappy “suggested content” pieces that live at the bottom of articles that no one intentionally clicks on. At least not more than once. Gross. Let’s not do that.
Instead, let’s do something better. It’s not terribly complicated, but it is quite new. While the technology exists to power all the ideas I gave you and also whatever brilliant notion came to you as you were reading, the syndicated content may not be there just yet.
But some of us are trying. Today’s episode of the podcast version of Sounds Profitable includes two syndicated segments. The first is from James Cridland of Podnews. No matter when you download the file—today, tomorrow, or 6 months from now—you’ll hear James voicing a 1-minute highlight of that day’s most important podcasting news. At the end of Bryan’s episode, you’ll hear my voice giving you a Minute of Pod Zen. Just like with James’ content, the content I’m voicing will change depending on when you download the overall episode. Neat!
Your Minute of Pod Zen
I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday of last week making my Minute of Pod Zen a reality so that you too can incorporate my syndicated content on your podcast. Here’s how the segment sounds:
If you want it, you can have it. For free and I’ll even help you walk through the tech to make it happen! Details on the above link.
Oh, and I’m also syndicating the Minute of Pod Zen to Alexa as a Flash Briefing. Because why not?
Which podcaster would you like to collaborate with in a similar style? What producer makes the kind of content that you’d love to find a way to feature, perhaps in a more distilled format, on your show? Use this episode of Podcast Pontifications as an ice breaker and see what sort of ideas come from it.
Bryan has a full write-up on how he’s made syndication tech for podcasts work if you want to see what you’re getting yourself into. But as I said, it’s quite straightforward.
If you love this idea, great! Go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and show your love with little virtual coffee.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.