If you’re a podcaster, you’ve probably felt the pressure to add a video element at some point. You may be tired of hearing that video-first platforms like Youtube, TikTok, and Instagram are where the biggest audiences hang out. Maybe you’re going to snap at the next person who points out that, by producing an audio-only show, you’re missing out on those potential eyes and ears.
They’re right of course, but it can get frustrating because of the practical reality most creators face: adding a video element is difficult and takes time, and podcasting is already time consuming (there are also valid arguments about whether video sullies the purity of the audio medium, but that’s for a different website). Sure, you might get a bigger audience with video, but you only have so many hours in the day and the cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t work.
If that’s you, it may be time to crunch the numbers again. It’s more accessible and affordable than ever to add a video element to your podcast. Here are the reasons why.
Budget video gear is getting better
Yes, to make a video for your audio podcast, you’re going to need video equipment. For the full professional YouTube setup — say, a mirrorless DSLR camera, a lavalier microphone, professional lighting, and a fancy backdrop — you’d be spending thousands of dollars.
But you don’t need a full professional YouTube setup. You just need to look and sound good. You likely already have a podcast microphone that makes you sound crisp and clear, and natural light from a window (or, barring that, a couple of lamps) will do just fine to illuminate your face.
What you do need is a good camera. And while there are surprisingly good looking webcams you can get for around $300 (the Insta360 Link, the Elgato Facecam Pro, and the Opal C1 are all great options), the camera that has the best bang for your buck is likely the one already in your pocket — i.e., your phone.
Apple recently released Continuity Camera, which lets your iPhone connect to your Mac via WiFi — from there, you just select it as a camera in Squadcast, Zoom, or your video recorder of choice and you’ll see yourself in the vivid, high-resolution quality that iPhones are known for.
If you don’t have an iPhone and/or a Mac, there are still options for you — they just cost a bit more. Camo is a smartphone and desktop app that lets you connect your phone to your computer to act as a webcam. The free version only allows for 720p resolution, but for $39.99 a year you can upgrade to full HD. That’s still a lot less than a DSLR camera, and the quality is comparable.
Remote video recording is good now
When the world turned to remote work in spring of 2020, we became intimately familiar with the grainy, glitchy visuals of Zoom calls. So when podcasters started airing that glitchy video from their Zoom interviews, it felt good enough — it wasn’t Hollywood-quality, but it was practical and familiar.
But if you’re going to take the plunge and add video to your podcast, it shouldn’t just be good enough — it should be so good that your audience couldn’t imagine your podcast without it. No glitches, no grainy video.
To do that, you need a remote recording platform like Squadcast. Instead of recording the audio and video as it comes to you over the network — which is where glitches happen — Squadcast records all guests locally, as if the guest were recording themselves and sending you the file. (It also creates a backup recording in the cloud, just in case.) The result is high-quality audio and video that your audience will want to watch — not just tolerate.
Video editing is much easier than it used to be
It can take years to learn how to edit video in a traditional workstation like Adobe Premiere or Apple FinalCut Pro. And as we’ve already established, podcasters don’t have that kind of time.
But thanks to AI, there are now video editors that make the process much more intuitive — and way faster. For example, Descript automatically transcribes your footage so that you can make cuts to the transcript to edit the video. It makes editing video as easy as editing a word doc.
That means that finding a funny moment to share on social media or creating a highlight reel of the episode’s biggest lessons is as easy as hitting ctrl+F, highlighting the spot in the transcript, and copying it into a new composition to export as a video clip. And since you already have a transcript, adding captions just takes a few clicks. Descript also has all the features you’d expect from a regular video editor, including the ability to add B-roll, transitions, and effects. It even has a built-in stock media library.
Your videos don’t need to be episode-length anymore (in fact, they shouldn’t be)
There’s one more reason you should give video another chance as a podcaster: it’s probably less work than you think.
The idea of a “video podcast” often brings to mind full-length episodes of two people sitting across from each other talking on mics for an hour or more. That’s a lot of video to edit. And if your show doesn’t lend itself to that format, you might struggle to imagine how a video podcast could work for you.
In fact, a better way to promote your podcast via video is to post short clips rather than full podcast episodes. For nearly every video-first platform, you’ll reap the most engagement if your video is less than a minute long. Even YouTube doesn’t necessarily reward long-form content — 2 minutes is best for non-monetized videos, and 10 minutes is a good target to hit if you monetize your videos.
While shorter clips take less time to edit than full episodes, they do take more time to curate. To save time, make a note of the best moments during your interviews or recording sessions so you’ll know what to highlight during the editing phase.
Give video a try
If it’s been a while since you considered adding video to your podcast — or if you’re just starting a new podcast and you’re deciding whether video is worthwhile — it’s a good idea to try out what’s available these days. Make a few test clips and take note of how long it takes you, how easy it was, and how you like your end result. With the vast opportunity there is to gain a new audience through video content, putting in the time will likely reap huge rewards.
Ashley Hamer is the managing editor for Descript, an AI-powered audio and video editor. She’s also a podcaster, science nerd, saxophonist, runner, and cat person.