“Podfade” is the term for podcasts that start out strong but slowly (or abruptly!) disappear into the ether, when the podcaster loses interest, gets too busy, or just gives up. Don't let it happen to you! Take these tips to heart to become a podcaster of longevity, not brevity:

1. Pick a topic you're truly passionate about. If you're not that into Barbies, don't start a podcast on them just because you think the market is going to be hot. Your lack of enthusiasm will show. True enthusiasts and rabid fans know a faker from a mile away. Don't be that guy.

2. Don't go too narrow. Want to talk about all-natural wart remedies? That's a viable business, indeed. But will you run out of topics in a month or two? Make sure you have a list of topics for the next six months, at a minimum. If you can't come up with at least a dozen topics, broaden your topic area. Maybe you could talk about all-natural skin care, or skin problems. 

3. Don't be overly ambitious. Saying you're going to podcast every day for the rest of your life is a bit insane. You can still take advantage of that early burst of energy by recording dozens of podcasts, if that's what you're inclined to do. But rather than releasing them all immediately, space them out, with one a week or so. Treat them like your kids treat their Halloween candy: Make it last.

4. Incorporate new items. After you've been podcasting for a while, you may lose your enthusiasm because you feel like the whole thing is just a bit too routine. Incorporate some new items into your podcast; bring in a guest host, add interviews or product reviews, take Q&A from your audience. Mix it up to get your mojo back. 

5. Take a break. Some of the best podcasters out there take regular breaks from podcasting. They create a podcast series – 10 or 15 podcasts on a theme – and then they take a few weeks off to create their next series and recharge their batteries. Just let your audience know your intentions so they don't think you've disappeared without a trace.

6. Podcast with a friend. Many radio shows rely on multiple hosts. Not only does this break up the flow, it also gives you someone to bounce things off of, to generate new ideas, and to cover if you need to take a break for a while. Think about sharing hosting duties with a colleague in your niche. 

7. Get feedback. One of the toughest things about podcasting is feeling like you're operating in a vacuum. You're never quite sure if anyone is out there, or if they're just downloading your show to leave on for their parakeet to listen to while they're at work all day. Asking your audience for feedback is a great way to keep your energy from flagging, as well as to generate new content for upcoming shows. Ask what questions people have, what they think about a topic, and who they'd like you to interview.

Once you've been podcasting for a while and have built a sizable audience, the natural next question is, “How do I make money from this thing?” There are a multitude of ways to make money from podcasting, but one of the most obvious is through advertising. Advertisers like podcasts because they are still relatively unique in the online world (as compared to blogs, for instance), and they can reach an extremely targeted market easily. Once you're ready to think about accepting advertising, take these steps:

1. Who sponsors the competition? If there are other podcasts in your industry, who sponsors them? What ads do you see on blogs in your niche? These advertisers are already sold on “new media,” so they'll be more receptive to the idea of advertising on your podcast. 

2. What products do you use and like? It's much easier to promote something you already use and love, so start with your favorites. If you're in the hairstyling industry, what shampoos, scissors, brushes, and color agents do you prefer? If you're a financial expert, where do you perform your trades and do your research? Contact them and see if they're interested in exposure on your podcast.

3. Who is advertising in magazines? So many companies have cut their magazine and print advertising, that anyone who's STILL advertising in print just might have some money to burn. Check these folks out. 

4. Ask your audience for referrals. You never know who's listening to or watching your podcast, so if you're open for advertising business, let your audience know. Your listeners already know and love your podcast, and if they're a small (or large!) business owner, they may want to get in on the ground floor.

5. Create an ad kit. The scenario you want to avoid is having someone ask you how much it is to advertise and how many listeners you have, and you say, “Umm, I don't know!” Figure out beforehand what you will charge, what the advertiser will get, and how they'll pay. Create an ad kit (a one-sheet PDF is fine) with information on your market, your audience, and your rates, and have it available for download BEFORE you start shilling for advertisers.

6. Have a track record of growth and success. No matter how big you know your podcast is going to be, advertisers (unless they're related to you) are going to want to see some level of consistency and success. If you can tell them your audience has doubled every month for the last six months, that's impressive. If you tell them you just started but you really, really know what you're doing? Not so much.

7. Do product reviews. Doing product reviews is an excellent way to ease yourself into the advertising space. Once you've started offering reviews, you can solicit free products from companies. And once you've established a working relationship with them, it's an easier sell to move them from donating product to advertising (Note: Remember that your first and foremost loyalty should be to your audience. This means you don't give good reviews to bad products, even if you're getting paid. Period.)

8. Make it easy for them. Have an easy payment process. Send potential advertisers the information they need – including a link to past podcasts and your advertising kit. Know why they're a good fit with your market. The easier it is for them to say “Yes,” the more likely it is that they'll advertise.

You may be wondering how you could possibly promote an online product like a podcast in the offline world. Well, it's not just possible; it's effective, too! Here are six ways to promote your podcast to “real live” people, thereby spreading your reach:

1. Business card. Put a link to your podcast on your business card – make sure to carry cards with you and hand them out at every opportunity. You never know when the guy standing in line behind you at Starbucks will become your next fan (and customer).

2. Signs. Small signs put up in strategic locales can be very effective. Are you a pet behavior expert with a podcast to match? Create an 8 1/2×11” sign and post it on the bulletin board at PetCo and the dog groomer's. Got a podcast on mountain biking? Promote it at the bicycle store. Think strategically about your niche. Home-based business owners hang out at Kinkos, coffee shops, and office supply stores. Meet them where they are.

3. Demo CD. Create a demo CD or DVD of a few episodes of your podcast and ask the proprietors of the businesses you identified above if you can give them away to their customers. No one can resist a freebie, especially when it's attractively packaged and on their favorite topic.

4. Ads. An ad in your local weekly paper or giveaway shopper can be an inexpensive way to spread the word about your podcast. Again, think strategically about the market you're trying to reach (place an ad for your pet-oriented podcast in the classifieds under “Pets,” and your real estate podcast with the current listings.)

5. Press release. Write up a one-page press release about your podcast and share it with your local paper and radio stations. Often, these reporters are on the hunt for “local boy/girl makes good” type of stories, and your podcast could be your ticket to some free press. Repeat the press release exercise if you're hosting a big contest, or interviewing a famous person.

6. Live interviews. Holding live interviews or broadcasts at an industry event is a great way to pique curiosity and gather a crowd – radio stations use this trick all the time! No one can resist checking out the camera crew, even if it's a person with a Flip camera. Host your next show from a Chamber of Commerce mixer, an industry trade show or seminar, or even at the local Starbucks. (Note: This is a great way to get interviews with a lot of industry experts in a short period of time).

Just having your podcast listed in iTunes will likely bring you a handful of listeners. But to really ramp up your audience, you need to kick into high gear and start promoting your podcast. There are many ways to spread the word online about your podcast, and here are some of the most effective:

1. Promo Spots. Creating a 15- to 20-second promo spot that other podcasters can play on their show is a great way to gain exposure to new listeners or viewers. Keep it short and sweet, and then target a handful of complementary podcasts who you think provide great overlap with your audience. Contact the podcaster and ask if they'd be interested in swapping promo spots with you or selling you some ad time. 

2. Blog Buttons. Buttons or badges for blog sidebars are a way for your listeners to feel involved in your podcast, as well as display their loyalty. Stick with smaller buttons (125×125 pixels is a standard size), and provide them for free download from your blog or podcast website. (Some podcasters even hold contests for designs, offering a prize to their favorite submission). 

3. Signature line. Don't overlook a great piece of real estate for promoting your blog: Your email signature line! You don't need anything more fancy than a simple tag line with the link to your podcast download page.

4. Podcast Directories. iTunes is the granddaddy of all podcast directories, but there are plenty of other directories out there, too. Make sure to submit your podcast to as many directories as possible, including PodcastAlley.com, Podcast.com, Podscope.com, Yahoo Podcasts (podcasts.yahoo.com), and SingingFish.com. Visit each to see how to submit your podcast for inclusion.

5. Forums. Many industry forums have listings for podcasts, so make sure yours is included. And when you comment on posts, you DO have your podcast listed in your signature, right? 

6. Ratings on iTunes and Other Directories. Higher-rated podcasts show up at the top of searches. In each episode of your podcast, encourage your listeners and viewers to rate your podcast in iTunes and other podcast directories. And when you get nice emails from your audience, write back and ask them to leave a comment on iTunes for you. 

7. Image on iTunes and Other Directories. We are visual people. If we're cruising through a podcast directory, looking for a new show, we're more likely to tune in to one with a great visual graphic – especially if it's a video podcast. Create a small avatar for your podcast and submit it with your podcast listing (it's free!).

Now that you're on the promotion path, don't stop there… in our next blog posting we will share some fabulously effective ways to promote your podcast OFFline.