Podcasting has been around for years. But thanks in part to the recent popularity of the true crime podcast "Serial," there's been an uptick in interest. Also because of "Serial," everyone at ShortStack has been talking about the other podcasts they listen to and, as a company, we even committed to sponsoring a few podcasts in 2015. I'll let you know what we learn about investing in this sort of "alternative advertising" at a later date.

In the meantime, I've rounded up a list of some of what my team and I are listening to. Some of the podcasts listed here will make you better at social media and marketing, some will make you smarter and one is just for fun (#14, which happens to be my favorite from this list).

1. The Art of Paid Traffic with Rick Mulready

In 2014, social media marketing pro Rick Mulready created a successful podcast called, "Inside Social Media: Small Business Social Media Strategies for Today's Entrepreneur." Changing gears a bit for 2015, this week Mulready launched his new podcast, "The Art of Paid Traffic." The topics he'll cover for his new show focus on the different ways you can use paid traffic (think Facebook ads, Twitter ads, YouTube ads, etc.) to grow your business. Full disclosure: ShortStack is the sponsor his new podcast. Bias aside, we've listened to the first three episodes and are convinced Mulready's show is helpful for anyone whose business plans include investing in social advertising. Each episode is about 15 minutes long and Mulready dives into one paid traffic topic per episode. His goal is for his listeners to walk away from each episode having learned one, two or maybe even three proven paid traffic strategies or tips that they can add to their "test list" of things to try with their own business.

2. Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield

Amy Porterfield is a Facebook marketing expert, author and online entrepreneur. The reason "Online Marketing Made Easy" is on this list is because she does a really good job at taking a seemingly simple topic, like goal setting, and breaking it down in novel ways. Nowadays, many brands, including personal brands are interested in learning how to make money from their online efforts, something Porterfield has done successfully. In her podcast, Porterfield focuses on actionable lead-generation strategies, how to grow your email list and tips for turning your customers into raving advocates. If these topics pique your interest, give Amy's podcast a listen.

3. Build Your Tribe with Chalene Johnson

Speaking of Amy Porterfield, one of her 2014 episodes featured an interview with Chalene Johnson. The topic:how to attract leads on Instagram. Johnson is well known for her popular Beach Body workout DVDs but she's also a social media and business coach. Her podcast, "Build Your Tribe with Chalene Johnson," is full of tips and Johnson is a very passionate, motivational speaker. This is definitely the style of her show. Check out Chalene's "Build Your Tribe" show, along with her other podcast, "The Chalene Show."

4. Social Pros with Jay Baer

For three years,the "Social Pros" podcast has been the source of education and information for social media managers at large companies. During each episode, Jay Baer from Convince and Convert, and his co-hosts, interview a leading social media strategist from a familiar brand. If you enjoy listening to natural dialogue and Q&A type interviews with industry experts, you're going to love Social Pros. (ShortStack is also a sponsor of the "Social Pros" podcast.)

5. Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner

One of the reasons I'm a fan of Social Media Examiner (SME) and its founder Mike Stelzer is a selfish one: SME was one of the first outlets to take a chance on me as a writer. I've been contributing a monthly social media column there for a few years. "Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner" has been going strong since mid 2012. Each episode lasts about 45 minutes and includes social media success stories, interviews with well-known industry experts and tips from Stelzner on how to improve your social media marketing. If you're just getting started with-social media and need to get the lay of the land, this is the podcast for you.

6. Marketing Smarts from MarketingProfs

For interviews with some of social media's most well-known personalities, including Peter Shankman, Mack Collier and Chris Brogan, check out the podcast brought to us by the content pros at MarketingProfs. Topics like "A Holistic Approach to Content and SEO Strategy," featuring Lee Odden or "You are Getting Lead Qualification Wrong," with Dan McDade will give you insights you won't find in many other places.

7. Marketing Companion

Mark Schaefer is another social and marketing guru and he, and his co-host Tom Webster, take their topics seriously but not themselves. Check out "What's Next in Digital Marketing" or listen to them argue about whether "Personal Branding is Effective or a Waste of Time"--it's food for thought.

8. Startup: A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one.

The subtitle of this podcast kills me. Actually, it is me. StartUp is brought to us by a former This American Life producer and co-founder of Planet Money, Alex Blumberg. Blumberg and his co-host Matt Lieber delve into the chaos that is startup life. It's smart and informative and irreverent. The show is new but so far the topics are all familiar to anyone who has attempted to start a new business. For starters, check out "Startups are a Risky Business" and "Mixing Art and Business: Lessons on Outgrowing Your Business Plan." More full disclosure: I would love to be a guest on this show.

9. Boxes and Arrows

Alas, there haven't been any new episodes of Boxes and Arrows made since 2010 but some of the episodes are worth going back to, especially for people who work in UX and IX. At the very least check out episode called "Design for Emotion and Flow." It will make you think about taking user goals into consideration when it comes to design, especially in light of how much information we're all exposed to every minute of every day.

10. Content Inc. with Joe Pulizzi

ShortStack dove into content marketing full bore about two years ago. We've had some great successes and a few frustrations and Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute covers much of what we've experienced so far. His stated goal is to teach listeners how to build a loyal audience through "remarkable content" and anyone who's dipping a toe into this world will find a lot to learn here. There are just 12 episodes so far, and they're all really short (under 12 minutes) so you could easily binge on several episodes at once without getting overwhelmed.

11. The Boss Show

"The Boss Show" features a wildly random assortment of work-related topics that you won't see covered in many places. Case and point: "Encouraging Conflict at Work," and "Spirituality at Work." The hosts are Jim Hessler and Steve Montenko who, between them, have experience ranging from heading up corporate turnarounds to psychology education and journalism. Inc. contributing editor Jeff Haden has been a guest on the show a handful of times--he's always got insightful commentary--and anyone who's looking for no b.s. advice on how to be a better worker or manager should give "The Boss Show" a listen.

12. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, is one of the most prolific podcasters out there. She has 449 podcasts so far, with a new one going up each week. My favorite thing about "Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" is how Fogarty takes topics that trip up lots of us when it comes to both writing and speaking and breaks them down into bite-sized pieces. You might think topics like "When to use 'You' instead of 'me'"or "Why people mix up the pronouns 'Me' and 'I'" could only be interesting for 1 minute, but the 12-15 minutes of every episode fly by. And I'll never confuse you or me or I in writing or speaking again. I hope.

13. Ted Radio Hour

If you love TED Talks, you'll love TED Radio even more. Guy Raz (yes, another NPR guy) gets to ask some of the most popular TED speakers for the backstory on their presentation. A couple of the more riveting segments "The Source of Creativity," featuring musician Sting and writer Elizabeth Gilbert; "The Hackers," featuring Mikko Hypponen, a cyber security expert and climate scientist David Keith, and "Disruptive Leadership," featuring Stanley McChrystal, Sheryl Sandberg and Seth Godin. You will definitely feel smarter after listening to any one of these segments.

14. The Smoking Tire

I'm a car enthusiast and The Smoking Tire is one of my guilty pleasures. It's funny and irreverent--think Car Talk with much louder and more profane hosts. The episodes are long--an average of two hours (!)--but it's perfect listening for a road trip or for that weekend afternoon when you're, say, detailing your 1970 2002. Find The Smoking Tire here.

What podcasts do you listen to? Share the titles with me below and I'll check them out.

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Published on: Jan 9, 2015