Videos and podcasts. Doesn’t seem like they’d obviously go together. Isn’t a podcast supposed to be something you listen to?

Well, yes, podcasts are traditionally only audio. But more and more people are making the jump to video podcasts, pulling in new audiences on platforms like YouTube. If you’re looking for that extra step to give your podcast a competitive edge, making it into video could be the way to go. In this post we’ll cover:

  • The benefits of video podcasts.
  • How to weigh the benefits against extra production costs.
  • The most common styles and formats for video podcasts.
  • Recommendations for recording equipment.
  • A step-by-step guide to creating stellar video content.

So grab a camera, fold out the directors chair, and let’s dive in!

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The Benefits of Video Podcasts

Creating video podcasts takes a lot of extra work. So is it really worth it? Well, that really depends on what your goals are. But broadly speaking, here are three of the biggest advantages video can bring to your podcast.

Video Captures Attention More Fully

You’re supposed to be listening to something, but your mind wanders and ten minutes in you realise you’ve missed every word. Sound familiar? Well, making your content visually interesting is going to make your audience less likely to drift off. Watching something grabs our attention more fully than just listening. Remember, it’s not uncommon for people to binge-watch Netflix for hours on end.

Using video also gives you more scope to express exactly what you want to say. Studies have shown more than half of face-to-face communication is actually visual, riding on things like facial expressions, body posture, and gestures. So relying solely on audio leaves room for ambiguity and confusion. Video can help fix that.

Whether you’re trying to get your audience into a story, spark a discussion, or spread awareness about something, a little boost in engagement levels can go a long way. 

Showing Your Face Builds Trust

Being able to put a face to your voice will help people feel more familiar with you. And the more an audience feels like they know you, the more they’re going to trust you. Gaining trust isn’t easy. It demands integrity, consistency, and a commitment to only publishing great content. But engaging with your audience through video can help the process along.

Video facilitates deeper connections with your audience

Video is King on Social Media

Sadly for people who love traditional podcasts, most social media platforms simply aren’t designed for audio. On apps like Instagram and Facebook, videos are usually muted by default. And podcast episodes with static images on YouTube lose 90-95% of their audience in the first 90 seconds. So when competing for attention in busy news feeds, high-quality video remains king.

If you want to gain more listeners quickly, having a strong social media presence is essential. According to one study, Millennials and Gen-Z spend more than half of their total video-watching time on social media apps. So video can help you tap into the newer generations of podcast listeners.

YouTube Opens the Door to a New Audience

Posting on YouTube can help you reach a lot more people. More than 80% of US adults said they at least occasionally watch videos recommended by the algorithm on YouTube. So you might find a lifelong listener from someone stumbling across your videos by accident.

Many people like to watch podcasts on YouTube

Having your stuff uploaded there will make it easier for people to find you in other places too. Google loves YouTube, so having videos there will improve your SEO. You can also easily embed YouTube videos in your social media posts and your website.

Video Benefits VS Extra Production Costs

It may seem like making a video podcast is a no-brainer then. But it’s not that simple. The biggest problem with video is it’s much more time consuming and expensive to produce than audio.

You can get away with spending a lot less than you might expect - your phone camera is sufficient, and a couple cheap LEDs will be enough for lighting (more on that later). But the real kicker is probably going to be the extra time you’ll have to pour into each podcast episode.

From getting the perfect studio set-up, to the hours it may take for your computer to handle large video files, creating a video podcast is going to take more effort. You’ve got to be realistic about how much you can take on. The priority should always be making quality content.

If branching into video is going to leave you without enough time to prepare, record, or edit your audio episodes, it's probably not worth it.

The fact that video demands the viewers full attention also creates a potential drawback. Often, the great thing about audio podcasts is you can stick them on and multi-task while doing things like driving or cooking. Adding a visual element makes this virtually impossible.

Of course, if you have the resources, you can always give the option of both. Uploading the video podcast to YouTube, and uploading the audio version to the traditional directories. This is the approach favoured by many big-name podcasters like Joe Rogan and Rich Roll. It maximises your potential audience. But at the cost of more time and resources.

Rogan has virtually unlimited recourses (pull that up, Jamie)

Ultimately, whether video podcasts are worth it depends on you and your priorities. If you’ve got the extra time and you want to give your podcast that extra step up to grow its audience, video could be the answer. But it’s not right for everyone.

Styles & Formats for Video Podcasts

So you’ve decided to take the leap into the world of video. Now you’ve got to decide what kind of video podcast you want. There are plenty of options, but here are a few of the most common formats.

Powerpoints / Slides

This is among the lowest cost ways to incorporate video into your podcast. Armed with a little bit of patience, a willingness to experiment, and access to MS PowerPoint (or similar presentation software), you can achieve an awful lot. Animation and motion graphics can add that little bit of pizzazz to your podcast without any costs of cameras or lighting.

Illustration

For those with an artistic flair, drawing can be a fun way to bring your podcast to life. You don’t have to be Rembrandt; stick figures will do the job. Check out Vezitos’ channel for examples of digitally illustrated podcast clips. If you don’t quite have the technical know-how to make animation like this, there are other options. Why not film yourself drawing? Watch Dodie Clark’s short video for an idea of how you could do this. Feel free to use actual paper and pens, or take it back to the good old days of messing around with paints. This approach won’t be right for every podcast, but there are many instances where it can work well.

Bring your words to life through illustration

Audiograms 

Audiograms allow you to add an element of video to your podcast with minimal time investment. An audiogram is a short highlight clip from your podcast, with captions and an animated waveform showing the sound. They are designed to be shared on social media to direct people toward the full length episodes. Because they stand out in news feeds, they have shown to generate 5X more traffic than static posts.

Podcast.co’s audiogram tool allows you to quickly convert short highlight clips from your podcast episodes into eye-catching videos, like the example below:

Use Headliner to convert audio to video in minutes

Talking Heads

This is probably the most common video podcast format. All you’ve got to do is film yourself (and any guests you have) while recording your podcast. If you’re recording in-person use more than one camera to give yourself the option of cutting between different angles, for example to highlight who’s speaking. Or, if you’re on a lower budget, use a careful set up where you can see everyone’s faces in one camera shot. If you’re recording your podcast remotely, you can easily record video on platforms like Skype and Zoom.

There are loads of great video podcasts using this style. Check out Grace Helbig’s podcast to see how it looks when done well. She’s got examples of podcasts filmed in person, and more recently some episodes recorded remotely.

Recording on Skype or Zoom is easy

What Equipment Do You Need?

The talking head format is by far the most popular type of video podcast. But it’s also the most demanding equipment-wise. So what are the basic essentials? In the video below, resident Podcast.co videographer Ben walks through how you can get started on a budget.

Camera

The most obvious thing is that you’re going to need at least one camera. It makes sense to use the best that you have, so if you’ve got a digital or DSLR camera lying around somewhere be sure to use it. But if not, your phone camera or even a webcam will do just fine.

Having a fancy camera isn’t the top priority when it comes to making quality video podcasts - good lighting and audio matters more.

Lighting

Listing counts for much more than you might think. If you’re always recording during daylight hours, filming next to a big window might be enough. But waiting on the sun always being there for you could get quite restricting. So it’s probably worth investing in a good light. There are loads of options out there but we’d recommend a softbox light like this one at $50. Softbox lights are usually better than LEDs for human subjects because the light is diffused, making it less harsh and unflattering.

Softbox lighting setup

Getting two or three lights will give you more control, especially if you’re planning on filming multiple people at once. But if you’ve only got the budget for one, it will still make a world of difference to your video quality.

Step-by-Step Guide to Filming Great Content

So you’ve got your equipment, now what do you do? Starting out might be a little daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. But with a little patience and experimentation, you’ll be making professional videos in no time. To get you there quicker though, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need.

Setting Up Your “Studio”

Your first task is to create your ‘studio’. The most important thing to think about is lighting. Whether you’re using daylight or you’ve got artificial lights, think about positioning. You want the light in front of you, 45 degrees off centre so it’s hitting the side of your face. If you’re filming multiple people at once, one light per person will work a treat. Or if you’ve only got one light to work with, you might need to get creative. Experiment a bit with your set before your guests arrive, and test out different positions for everyone to sit.

Think carefully about your studio lighting

Once you’ve got the lighting situation sorted, you can play around with the backdrop. You don’t want it to be too busy and distracting, but a blank wall is boring. Aim for a middle ground. Some unobtrusive but interesting objects, like houseplants or a bookshelf, will work perfectly. Even better, why not try using objects related to your podcast in the background.

Now you’ve got to think about the camera shots you’re taking. Set up one for you and one for your guest, and an extra one to capture the whole scene if you can. Or if you’ve got fewer cameras than that, one well placed camera will need some thought behind it. Make sure you can see everyone’s faces clearly. And a tip for framing - if you cut the screen horizontally into thirds, your eyes should be level with the top line.

It doesn't take much to liven up a set

Recording Audio

If you’ve been podcasting for a while, chances are you know how to record good audio. (If not, check out our article on the best microphones to help you get there). You should record your audio separately to the video. This will give you much better quality than your camera’s internal mic, and it’ll give you more control in the edit. Once you’ve turned your camera and mic on, clap audibly before you start your podcast. This gives you an easy way to sync the video waveform to the audio waveform.

Editing

You can do as little or as much as you want when it comes to editing. Uploading the video straight away without any edits will be fine if you took care to have a good set-up to begin with. But it never hurts to have a little play with the colour grading. There’s loads of video editing software that comes with premade colour filters you can stick on top of the whole video. You can also edit the audio like you usually would, for example to get rid of background noises, plosives, and extended silence.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could add some transition effects. Or try adding little clips or images relevant to what you’re talking about. You might want to start with more basic edits, and work your way up to more advanced stuff like this.

There’s loads of free editing software you can use to get going, like DaVinci Resolve 16. Or if you’re willing to splash out, we’d recommend Adobe Premiere Pro - you can get a 7 day free trial and then it’s $20 per month.

Editing on Premiere Pro

Uploading & Posting

Now you’ve got your video ready, all that’s left to do is post it. Be warned, exporting and moving large video files may take a toll on your computer - we’d suggest leaving it to work overnight if your episodes are long.

Once you’ve got your video ready to post, think about SEO to give it the best chance possible. Make sure you name the video file you’re uploading with the full episode title. Yes, it matters that your video file isn’t called ‘final edit episode 3’.

Consider making a custom thumbnail too. There’s no need to make this super fancy. Take a still from the video (ideally one where you can see the emotion in peoples’ facial expressions), and overlay bold white text outlined in black for the episode name. Add in your podcast logo too if you fancy. Enticing a viewer to click on your video can be as simple as that.

Thumbnails are extremely important on YouTube!

Once you’ve posted your podcast to YouTube, don’t forget to share the episode on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other relevant websites. Now you’re ready to leave your video podcast in the hands of the great algorithm gods.

Ready to Embrace Your Inner Videographer?

There you have it, everything you need to start a video podcast. It’s definitely not for everyone. Especially if you’re operating on limited resources. But if you have the time and money to invest, it’s arguably the best way to get your podcast out to a wider audience.

Now you’ve got the info, all that’s left to do is to start. Anything new can seem a little scary to begin with, but you’ll get the hang of it. All you need is some patience and some time to experiment. You’ll be a pro video podcaster in no time!

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