It’s funny, you know. I see so many conversations happening about content creation that are focused around written content. It’s seems we are inundated with lessons on the best way to write a blog, and how to best leverage Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

But let’s remember, podcasting has been around for a long time. While it really became popular in around 2005 (before blogging really took off), in fact, some of the earliest podcasts (delivery of syndicated audio content via the Web) date way back to 1998. Yet many people still don’t see the true value in podcasting as a channel. They think producing audio and/or video is too expensive and too time consuming, so they just stick with tweeting and pushing out a blog post once in a while.

But the truth of the matter is, producing podcasts can be tremendous bang for your buck and your time.

A little prep goes a long way
Back in January, I was fortunate to get my first official podcasting gig, with Stefan Halley, co-hosting I Can Haz Podcast, a show about social media and online marketing. At first, I was concerned that prepping for a weekly, one hour show, along with everything else I was doing, might be too much to handle. But I soon learned that, when done right, prepping for the podcast could actually be done very efficiently. Given the topic of the show (social media in all its glory), it was pretty easy for me to incorporate my show prep into my weekly activities. Since I was already immersed in the subject matter, gathering ideas and stories to share is just a part of my week. And by the time Sunday rolls around, Stefan and I have exchanged a few emails and figured out our show. Then, it’s just a matter of sitting for an hour over Skype and cranking it out. Of course, Stefan has some work on the back end to get the show ready to publish too, but barring any technical hiccups that seems to go fairly quickly.

Producing podcasts does not have to be super-time consuming. While I make a 1 hour commitment per day to blogging activities, my ICHP podcast commitment per week is probably a total of 2 hours when all’s said and done. And the reward I get from that 2 hours is significant. First of all, it’s great practice, as I’ve never really been an “in front of the mic” person. Second, it forces me to keep up on what’s happening in my industry so I can pass that on to our listeners. Third, it’s a pile of fun – recording an hour long show each week with a guy in Sweden that I’ve never met in person has been a cool experience…in 6 months we’ve gone from being complete strangers to being friends, all the while building a rapport and chemistry to give the show its own unique personality. Payoff, payoff, payoff.

Batch content generation
We all know that one of the most difficult things about any kind of publishing is delivering consistently. This holds true no matter whether your content is in written form, audio or video. But one of the secrets to consistency is to batch your content production. Get stuff in the can, so you can push it out consistently, and you’re never struggling for content. Now, unless you’re a super obsessed writing nerd like me, doing marathon blog writing sessions may not exactly be your idea of a good time. But what’s cool about podcasting is, depending on the format of your show, it’s far easier to batch produce stuff. I work on another podcast (though we are on hiatus right now) called The Contrarians. There are three of us (my co-conspirators are Bob LeDrew and Joe Boughner), and our goal is to produce a weekly 20 minute podcast around a randomly chosen topic that is loosely related to technology, communication, social media, or, if Joe has his way, hockey. It’s more or less just the three of us spewing our opinions and having a lively discussion, but it’s a hoot and even somewhat entertaining from what our listeners (read: Joe’s Mom) have told us.

Bob, Joe and I are all busy people, so we had to strategize how we were going to manage to achieve a new 20 minute show each and every week. First, we came up with a list of about 20 topics we wanted to cover. Each topic would be thrown into a hat, and at the beginning of the episode one would be chosen for the discussion. That way we don’t have to do immense amounts of show prep. Second, we decided that we’d only get together once a month or so, and in that time we’d crank out 3 or 4 shows (depending on our level of inspiration and how delicious the Beau’s was that day). By batching our content generation, we were able to produce 4 weeks’ worth of material over our lunch break, and nobody was burnt out by the end of it. Again, Bob has a bit of packaging work to do after we record, but in general, it’s not overwhelming for any of us.

Like I said, we are currently on hiatus, but look for The Contrarians; soon to be once again haunting earbuds near you.

So, as you can see, with a little prep, a few inexpensive or free tools, and a list of ideas, you could start podcasting today if you so desired.

Podcasting is really an underrated medium, don’t you think?

(Note that I’ve provided audio examples here, but you could easily do the same thing with video. Come up with 5 ideas. Sit in front of your web cam and do 5 x 2 minute videos on each topic. Presto – 1 weeks’ worth of daily posts, or 5 weeks’ worth of weekly posts, all for about 1/2 hour of work.)

(Oh, one more thing. If you’re interested in learning more about content creation of all kinds, and looking to be inspired by an amazing group of people, consider registering for PAB2011, taking place in Ottawa June 24-26. It’s the best conference for content creators out there, and there’s still spots available! Register here.)

[photo credit: sidehike]