A Hints and Tips Interview with Travel Podcaster Gary Bembridge

When it comes to travelling and podcasting there's not much Gary Bembridge doesn't know. In fact, he's become a bit of an expert on commenting on the industry.

Gary has a few blogs to his name but the thing that he loves more than anything else is podcasting. Over the years he has worked in marketing, helping grow a number of global brands, before concentrating on his podcasts. Nowadays, he wants to challenge people's perceptions with thought provoking and challenging podcasts on the thing he loves most: travelling.

We thought we'd speak to him to see what it is he loves about it and to give a few hints and tips on how to make a podcast.

Who is your podcast for?

I run four podcasts and each is for a very different audience. My travel ones are "Tips for Travellers", "Travel Icons and Legends" and "Travel Bloggers Podcast". I also have a marketing podcast called "Marketing Mix Man".

My longest running podcast, with over 600,000 downloads, is called "Tips for Travellers". This is for travellers who are only in a destination for a very short time and need to get the "must do" tips on things like getting around, where to stay and things to see and do. This was based on my travels as a Global Marketing Vice President where I was flying in and out of places and had only a day or two to explore before or after work.

My most recent podcast is "Travel Bloggers Podcast" which is for travel bloggers and writers, and the travel partners looking to work with them to reach their audiences. I started this podcast to share the learning and experiences that I have gained since 2005 when I first started blogging. It is designed to be a free resource to help bloggers to access the latest thinking on blogging, trends and advice from successful bloggers.

What's so good about podcasting?

There are three reasons for me:

  1. For every 9,000 blogs there is only one podcast, so it is less cluttered and easier to stand out.
  2. The main reason I podcast is that I love having a voice and it releases the hidden radio presenter in me. I have always loved radio and as a kid was more addicted to radio than TV, but I chose to pursue a business career over radio and broadcasting; podcasting means I can still fulfil my passion to present audio.
  3. Not everyone wants to get their information and inspiration from the written word, and so podcasting means you can give audio-or video-loving people content the way they want it.

What do you think is your best podcast?

I am never satisfied and so the best one is still to come! However, I tend to focus on the ones that get downloaded the most as these must be the ones that are meeting the needs of travel podcast listeners the most. These are ones about Koh Samui, Las Vegas and Moscow from Tips for Travellers, and the "Is travel blogging doomed?" from the Travel Bloggers Podcast.

Who would you most like to interview for your podcast, bar Richard Attenborough and Michael Palin?

I actually would not like to interview either of them anyway! I want to find and interview people that have not found a vehicle to tell their stories. I think there are so many people with knowledge, insights and stories that are not recognised or finding a vehicle to get that out. Those are the people I want to and like to interview. The less interesting people are those that have told their stories before. There is nothing quite like the enthusiasm and energy you get when people are interviewed for the first time.

What are your top five tips on how to make a podcast?

  1. Passion - Have a passion for all things radio and audio. It takes a big commitment and so you need to love the medium to keep going.
  2. Find a gap - Find a niche or an angle that is not already covered by a podcast already. iTunes is still the main directory for podcasts and this is the best place to check out what is popular and exists. There are very few women podcasting and a woman's perspective on travel is very unrepresented in podcasting for example.
  3. Choose the right show format - Chose a format that works well for podcasts. The most popular podcasts across all categories tend to be either (1) "how tos", (2) panel discussions by experts in a niche or area talking on a different topic in each show, and (3) latest news and events.
  4. Commit to a schedule - In podcasting, audiences like and tend to follow shows with a regular schedule. Even though people listen to podcasts when they want to, they also choose to commit to a show and expect a regular and predictable schedule. You need to be clear about what your schedule is - and deliver it. For example, I post Tips for Travellers every fortnight on a Monday. Most podcasts never make it past episode seven as people find the commitment and work too onerous, and this is the main reason for shows dying, not the lack of content.
  5. Understand the tech -There is some technology linked to podcasting, and you need to make sure you understand it to get your shows out into the world. There are providers like Libsyn and Blubrry networks that have simplified generating things like RSS feeds which make it much easier than when I started when you had to code your own RSS feed.

What do you need for podcasting?

You can do podcasting for almost nothing right up to laying out many hundreds of pounds. The simple and best way to start is with the following:

  1. A voice for audio - Most people have this, but you need to ensure you like talking into a mike fairly fluidly as people do expect a good flow. It does not have to be BBC and drama school trained.
  2. A recording device - This can be anything from a Smartphone (there are free voice recording apps if your phone does not have one as standard), a laptop (ideally with cheap USB plug in mike) through to a fairly expensive digital recorder. Start with one of first two and if your podcast builds then maybe invest in more tech.
  3. Editing software - These are free. You should use either Audacity (both Mac and Window options) or Mac users can use Garageband. I find Audacity best. It is really easy to use. You need this software to edit the recordings, get rid of "umms" and "aahs", tweak and tighten up interviews - and if you want to add in music or introductions. You also need these to convert your audio files into MP3 files. MP3 is the standard file type for podcasts.
  4. Hosting company - You need to host your MP3 files somewhere. You may be able to host them where you host your blog, but the easiest is to use a service like Libsyn. Their cheapest rate is $7 a month to host your files, and the advantage is that they also give you some statistics on downloads. They will also do all the hard work in generating that pesky RSS feed.
  5. RSS feed - As per above, I recommend using a service like Libsyn as you can just type in content, upload the file and they generate the RSS feed link. This is the feed that you need to submit into podcast directories that people then subscribe to in order to download your show.
  6. Listings in podcast directories - You then just need to list your show in the main podcast directories. iTunes will account for between half and three quarters of your downloads and is the key one. Then spend time submitting to other directories. The best list of the active ones to list at is on podcast411.com.

How to make a podcast

Do you think podcasting is easier than travel blogging?

I do find it easier, as I find it easier to express myself via audio than writing. I am better at talking than writing. Though it is not easier in reality, and it takes much longer and has many more steps than writing for a blog. One episode can take you all day to produce. You need to still plan and research the content, write a script, record, and then do all the editing and uploading. I think that what you enjoy and fits with your passions is always easier.

Is it easy to podcast on the road?

As long as you have access to the things I listed in "what you need for podcasting" and a good internet connection to upload fairly big MP3 files (about 25MB or more) then it is. Podcasting on the road is a good idea, if it fits with your theme of course as you can include the sounds and capture the atmosphere of the actual destination.

Further Information

If you're interested in travel blogging then make sure you check out our articles on how to write the perfect blog post and travelling blogging on the road for more advice and information.

Also, if you're interested in trying out your skills and blogging on gapyear.com then head over to our blog section and get posting!