What is a Podcast, exactly? The answer…

I confessed in my first post in this series on how to create a podcast that my first question was: what is a podcast, exactly??

I had always assumed it was just a trendy new buzz word for an MP3 or audio file. I was wrong. And I wasn't alone in thinking that's all it was. I discovered there's a lot more to it than that actually, so I'll share the details with you so we can both be up to speed...

The mode of delivery differentiates podcasting from other means of accessing media files over the Internet, such as direct download, or streamed webcasting. -source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast

As you can see from the wikipedia definition, it's not about the file format but rather the delivery method. Many people assumed (myself included) that you need an iPod to listen to or subscribe to podcasts. Not the case...

So a podcast is not just an audio file, and is not just for iPods. Which still leaves us asking: Okay, then what is a podcast?

A podcast is a media file - which can be audio, video, or even a PDF file.

A podcast has an RSS Feed, which means that subscribers can receive the media files in a variety of ways. They use a device (iPod, iPhone, etc) or an application (iTunes, feed reader, etc) to receive the files automatically. Meaning the subscription process is automated.

Similar to a magazine subscription which gets delivered to your door every month, versus going to the newsstand and buying a copy, a podcast is delivered to the subscriber automatically every time there is a new episode.

You don't need to be online, or even in front of your computer, to listen to the latest podcast episode. You simply open your device or application and any new content from that host is already there for you.

To improve on the definition quoted above, this 4-part definition of a Podcast has also been proposed:

A podcast is a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; programme-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed with computer software. -source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast

My big A-ha! moment

So I now know that a podcast isn't just a fancy name for an MP3 file. Podcasting is actually a method of delivering content in a variety of formats. Since I already create audio, video and documents for my market... this is simply a means of delivering that content when and where they are.

Instead of hosting a webinar at a certain time on a certain day, people who want to listen in can listen anytime and anywhere. They may do it at 3am or 3pm, in front of their computer or while they're out for a jog, they may listen all the way through or pause it and finish it later. It removes all the restrictions, and objections people may have for consuming your content!

And they don't have to come to your website to receive the content. It comes straight to them on the device, or in the application they are already using every day.

The fact that you can offer a variety of content types (audio, video, document, etc) was a real eye-opener for me. I immediately saw huge potential for using a Podcast as a means of growing "a responsive list". Generally we think of email marketing when we say that, but just imagine how you can increase your reach by offering a multi-media Podcast option instead of (or ideally, in addition to) email marketing!

Delivery Options

Since a Podcast has an RSS feed of it's own, you can deliver your content (podcast) in a variety of ways. Enough ways to suit anyone and everyone that may be interested in your content:

  • via iTunes & other podcast apps
  • straight to mobile devices
  • streaming/download online, in a blog post for example
  • via Email using Aweber's Blog Broadcast (with the RSS feed)
  • in a FeedReader that supports media files

I decided that I'll offer my Podcast through all of the above.

In an upcoming post we'll explore the various ways you can subscribe to podcasts, or receive the content. Even if you don't own an iPod!

But next we'll talk about the "biz of podcasting", or answer the question: What's the point?? Now that we know what a podcast is, and what all we can do with it, we'll dig in to the objective... Stay tuned!


p.s. You can subscribe for email updates below so you don’t miss a single post in this series – which is also where I’ll send the download link for the free report on how to create a podcast. πŸ˜‰

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Pod casts are great, especially is you subscribe to them via itunes, then they are automaticly downloaded and put on your ipod/iphone for you to listen to.

    • That's true, but I don't own an iPod or an iPhone myself (I should probably say "yet" -lol). I'm going to expand on that definition in that series and explain how "everyone else" (myself included) can enjoy podcasts in a variety of ways - the way that suits them best. πŸ™‚

  2. Lynn,
    Thank you as always for great information. I will definitely have to look in to this further.

  3. Learn something new every day! There is so much to this podcast thing, looking forward to learning more. Going to have your own Clicknewz app in the future? That would be cool!

    • I am considering it... and since you asked I'll spill the secret. Though it's nowhere near being available just yet. Still in idea phase.

      If I do have an app, it will be for Elite Members only, a perk to membership of my private brainstorming group. The podcast will be available publicly and free through a variety of channels (blog, iTunes, etc) while the app will offer even more content & media in addition to the weekly episodes. So you'd be able to view video reviews, listen to exclusive interviews, read reports & checklists, etc on your mobile device.

  4. Aha! Youv'e got my attention on this one. Believe it or not I have had an Ipod for 3 years and still not got round to really using it.

    I will stay tuned on this and any other updates on RSS feeds. I somehosw have a block there still.

    Always different and informative Linn. Thanks

    • Thank you Judith, and I *do* believe it, given how slow I've been to adopt this technology myself - both as a marketer and as a consumer! This is a lot of fun on my end, both the learning and the sharing πŸ˜‰

  5. Lynn, good to see someone finally taking the time to explain podcasting to others in layman's terms.

    Hey, if you find a good app designer, let me know, I'm looking for one for a client (or vice-versa)

  6. Lynn, thanks for the great information and the definition. Podcasting has been somewhat of a mystery to me.

    I'm really excited about your future app for Elite members. Can't wait!

  7. Stan Dubin says

    Hi Lynne, all of this makes sense except the point about a podcast may also be a PDF. It just would never occur to me that a podcast would be just a PDF. Now I've seen some podcasts (of audio or video) include a PDF with the overall podcast, but my understanding has always been some form of audio or video broadcast that then fits into the rest of the definition you provided.

    I think, not sure here, that the reason podcast was originally named such, was because it could then be heard (or viewed) on an iPod. Anyway, this is a really fine point, but do you have some knowledge of podcasts that are only PDFs in content?

    • Podcast is basically just "broadcasting", and media files that were originally intended for the iPod - but of course now those options have really opened up. Sending PDF files (reports, documents, etc) via iTunes is something Paul planted in my mind, so I'll be doing some testing and will share with you what I find - as far as how well accepted that format is across the various platforms.

      But it does really open up the possibilities, doesn't it? πŸ˜‰

      • Stan Dubin says

        Paul's been known to plant some interesting ideas...and I agree, it would open up some very interesting possibilities.

        The iBook ap that I'm using on my iPhone and is really full-featured on the iPad is a GREAT place to get PDFs distributed β€” they have an entire selection for it. Books and PDFs are going to get more and more media-rich and Apple is no dummy when it comes to distribution channels.

    • Dave Jackson says

      Typically people do not podcast "just" a pdf. It's typically an added bonus. While you can't read a PDF on an ipod (which you don't need an ipod to listen/view a podcast, you need a computer/phone and an internet connection). There was an internet marketing podcast (which I think has quit publishing, and whose name escapes me) a few years ago that did pdf's only (which were basically his newsletter in a pdf format).

      That is the one thing I'm looking forward to hearing Lynn tackle. The good news is people can subscribe to your podcast (for example in itunes) and NEVER come to your website. This makes getting them to click an affiliate link kind of tough (but not impossible - I'm writing a book on that subject as we speak). This is where content is king, and leading them back to your website without "Selling" to them. It is a delicate balance (that Lynn has been doing for years).

      Lynn is on the right path (as always) giving people the content in the format THEY want it in (be it email, audio, mobile, print, etc).

      Looking forward to more answers...

      • Good points. And since I don't own an iPod (again, YET), I wasn't aware you couldn't view PDF files there. But you can through iTunes if you notice it's there, and check it out when you're back at your computer - correct?

        With the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices, you can view PDF files I believe - though it may require an app. All stuff I'm digging into. πŸ˜‰

  8. Thanks Lynn for a very good explanation. A lot of my friends are using Podcast to sing via online. When they first told me about this, I was hesitant to check their site because I am scared they might be playing pranks on me again. But with your very detailed explanation, I will definitely try to visit their site too. Thank you so much..

  9. I've never run across a PDF podcast, but I've heard and seen many audio and video ones over the years. The term "podcast" is an unfortunate leftover from the early iPod days and has caused constant confusion ever since. A couple of years ago, Leo Laporte made the news services by trying to rename them "netcasts", but it was too late.

    While podcasting has always been associated with RSS feeds and iTunes, I've caught thousands of podcasts and have never subscribed to anything and have never joined iTunes. While those things are normally included with podcasts, users shouldn't think consuming a podcast necissarily requires iTunes, a subscription or an iPod. People do need to understand that. I rarely find one that can't be simply downloaded directly as an mp3-- and in fact pass on those that don't.

  10. Even though iPods have been around for some time, I just completely assumed that "podcasts" were an Apple created product to be consumed via their devices.

    But now I know better. Gracias, Lynn for the clear definition.

  11. Podcasts were kind of magical for me when I discovered them about 4 years ago. I had a small iPod shuffle and found that I could load it with content about a variety of different subjects and listen and learn on the way to and from my day job. Everything from internet marketing to tech news to grammar lessons. It was (and still is) amazing the variety of subjects available. I'm currently listening to a lecture series from Stanford University on the subject of the Internet. I've thought, from time to time, about doing my own podcast and so it will be very interesting and helpful to see the procses that you go through and what you learn about how to do things.

  12. What a wonderful explanation of podcasts, I had it stuck in my mind that they are just audio! You've got the ideas whirling in my head now as to what type of content can be included in a podcast. I'll be following along to see what else I can learn, thanks for the great post!

  13. My definition of a podcast is any audio show that you download. from the internet.

  14. Ok, thought I knew what a podcast is but seems like I was all wrong. I thought it were video files shared over Apple devices.

    Actually podcasting sounds like an amazing opportunity to build a community around a brand. Way more interactive than anything else.

  15. Gregory Snead says

    Thanks Lynn! My Fellow TeleSeminarians from The ZamZuu Nation have been making a living off the plain jane conference call lines for a decade. Only recently have teams across the nation employed Podcasting mixed media. Website hosted video is great, but to have Our Message of Financial Hope, syndicated, on-demand to any Device..It leaves us Network Marketers..Speechless (That takes some Doin', LOL!)

  16. Matthew Zinda says

    Oh my gosh Lynn, you have yet again sparked my attention!

    I have to stop coming to your blog weekly, and start coming daily again!

    I just can't get enough of your helpful, valuable, free information!

    I have always been involved with choosing a niche, keyword research, designing a website, building a mailing list, and marketing related products to my mailing list, which is generally referred to as email marketing, and it has worked well for me, but I just pointed a new domain name to my hosting account, and have decided to create a blog, which will also have an opt-in form on it, but I will be able to deliver so much more value with a blog, than I can with my website!

    And now this podcast thing you have going on here is really grabbing my attention!

    I have to take one thing at a time, so it doesn't get overwhelming, and I actually get things done, but I am definitely gonna catch up on podcast knowledge!

    Thank you for delivering valuable knowledge, and good luck to you!

    Matthew Zinda

  17. Wow - this really opened my eyes! Thank you so much for this really clear description of what a podcast is/isn't Lynn.

    Ideas, ideas, ideas, running thru my head πŸ™‚

  18. Pferdehaftpflicht says

    Lynn, thanks for the great information and the definition. Podcasting has been somewhat of a mystery to me.

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