Internet marketers have a new crush on video and many podcasters are starting to feel pressured to create video content. But do you really need to add video?

Start with audio

It's both my recommendation and my assumption for the rest of this episode that you start your podcast with only audio. Listen to my past episode, “Should Your Podcast be Audio, or Video?” to learn more about why I recommend this.

In other words, consider video only as something in addition to audio you already publish.

Think real video first, fake video last

“Fake video” is when the “video” is really only audio. It might have a static image or even an animated waveform or embedded captions, but it's still only audio. I've done a previous episode about the problems with fake video, and I plan to create a follow-up at some point.

Consider, for example, that even though YouTube has a (fake) “podcasts” section, you still can't upload an audio file or submit your podcast RSS feed (regardless of media format).

All the positive metrics are many times higher for real video than for fake video. Even in some misreported studies, surveyed people confirmed that they prefer to watch videos instead of listening to videos.

Thus, please consider all of the following through the premise of producing real video.

Video costs more

It takes more time to prepare, more expensive gear, and more time and resources to produce even halfway decent video. With audio-only, you need only a microphone, a way to record it, and a quiet space. With video, you need that plus a camera and lighting. Also, you might need a completely different microphone that works better for video, and a completely different editing app for editing the video. Then, you need extra stuff to make the video actually interesting and worth watching instead of merely hearing.

After that, hosting the video costs more. Someone has to pay for that bandwidth! So either you pay for it with money, or you and your audience pay for it with ads.

Consuming video also costs more. People can't watch videos in as many places as they can listen to audio. Consider driving, mowing the yard, operating heavy machinery, working a job, and more. Audio can be easily consumed in all these places, but video can't or shouldn't be. I actually recently got some IPX7 waterproof earbuds so I can listen to podcasts in the shower—but there's no way I'm putting my iPhone or iPad in the shower to watch a podcast through shampoo in my eyes!

Video can actually be “lazy” in a good way

While high-quality video requires a good microphone, good lighting, and a good camera, I've observed that people are much more forgiving of some lower-quality production in video.

For example, look how many people simply record with their smartphone in selfie mode and how few people complain about the non-studio sound or look.

But this comes with a huge caveat! Listen to my recent episode debunking the myth “It's not hurting their podcast!” Just because it's working doesn't mean it should go without improvement! Consider if those selfie-style videos actually used a better microphone. Wouldn't you appreciate being able to hear the person better?

Nonetheless, I think some of the forgiveness for sub-par quality is because video gives far more context to communicate the message: facial expressions, body language, imagery, lower thirds and other enhancements, and even simply seeing the words spoken instead of only hearing them.

So please don't think that adding video to your workflow means going all-out on a video studio! It could simply be selfie-style video from your smartphone (just please don't let the video record horizontally flipped backward!)

Video can be in more places

While the podcast ecosystem is mostly audio (although video podcasts have existed from the beginning and were actually quite popular before YouTube), publishing video offers even more opportunities to get your message out.

Just like audio podcasting allows your content to be places written content can't be, video allows your content to be places that audio can't be (or doesn't work well), like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and more.

Video also tends to be more shareable. I think a huge part of this is because of how easy social networks actually make it to share videos. For example, dropping a YouTube link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mastodon, and other places will automatically display a preview and even embed the video so it can be played right there without leaving whatever context the audience is in at that moment. But the same platforms have not made it so easy for audio. So the sharing experience is superior with video.

I think the consumption experience with shared video is also easier. This is not only because of that easy embedding, but also because some video can be enjoyed without actually hearing anything! This could be because the words appear in the video, or even simply because “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and the visual communicates effectively without words. Consider, for example, all the animated GIFs people share as reactions.

Your video can be completely different from your audio

One fairly easy approach to publishing video is to simply turn on the camera while you record your audio. You could live-stream or publish the video when you publish your audio. This style is often called “talking head” because that's really all people see: your head, talking.

And that can be fine! It's certainly much better than fake video!

A challenge you'll probably face with talking-head video is ensuring the experience is still great for your primary audience. And since I'm basing this episode on the assumption that you already publish an audio podcast, your primary audience will probably be only listening, not watching. So you have to remember that your listening audience can't see what you see, so you'll have to include extra descriptions or outright exclude some content. An easy way to think about this is to replace the word “this” with some kind of description whenever the “this” refers to something visual.

But don't think that you have to do your entire episode in talking-head style or with a fancy video studio! Yes, you could make video snippets of smaller sections. Or you could re-record some of the same information, but presented in a different way and—this is the most important part—focused primarily on the viewing experience because you would be publishing it primarily to be watched.

Some ways you can try adding video to your audio podcast

  1. Live-stream! If you can go live at a consistent time, this can be a great way to engage your audience in real-time and enable them to build community with each other. This is less about building a new audience and more about deepening the relationship you have with your existing audience.
  2. Record talking head(s). It's not exciting, but some people like watching you talk instead of only listening.
  3. Create snippets. Snippets can be very short video excerpts of your content. These are best when they include the words on the screen (but please display phrases at a time, not word-by-word!). These can actually work well as fake video because they're so short.
  4. Respond to comments. You can make videos sharing and replying to comments or questions you receive—either in response to episodes you already published, or general questions related to your niche.
  5. Show behind the scenes. People often like getting a peek into what things are like on your side of the production.
  6. Repurpose your information. Perhaps the best approach is when you can share the same information in your podcast, but segmented and shorter. So you're not merely cutting content into snippets, but recording an all-new presentation of the same information. This can be a great way to crosspromote the episode from which you're getting your information.
  7. Special content. I have both a YouTube channel and video podcast, but the only times I publish to those channels lately is when I have something I need to show instead of merely tell. For example, my on-the-floor interviews from conferences, or product reviews, tool demonstrations, or tutorials that have to be seen.
  8. Other updates your audience would enjoy. Imagine many of the same things you would post on Twitter or Facebook, but in video form.

Don't stress; you don't need video

Yes, video presents all kinds of new opportunities and potential. But you don't have to do it! So don't stress yourself out if you don't want to do video!

Right now, as a full-time daddy, the only time I can work is when my son is in school or he's sleeping. So I have fewer hours now to run my business and develop my products than I had before. Thus, I simply don't have the margin to create video right now, even though I want to and for several reasons! So although I can't do much video right now, I don't think it's really costing me a lot of opportunity because I'm already so present in other ways. And that's what I'm able to do well right now.

But if you want to try video along with your audio podcast, I hope this episode has given you some ideas and maybe even relieved some mental stress!

Engage your audience and grow your podcast!

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Ask your questions or share your feedback

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship. I may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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