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October 2012

Better Blog Pages: Optimizing Your About Page (Day Three)

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This post is part of a five-part series about creating better blog pages. You can see all the posts in this series here.

One of the most important pages for your blog is your “about” page. Actually, you probably want at least two about pages – one for your blog and one for yourself. On the blog’s about page, you want to cover what your blog is about while on your own blog page, you want to talk about yourself.

Today, we’re talking about the page for you. Let’s look at how you can optimize this page for maximum benefits.

Telling Your Story

The best blog pages are usually extremely personal, telling the story of how you got to where you are in life today. The problem with this? Personal stories can be rather long. Most people won’t read past the first paragraph or two.

So, start your about page with a short version of your story. Cover the basics – who you are and why people should care. Be personable so readers can quickly connect with you.

If you feel compelled to write more, create a long version of your story to put after the short version. This is something I’ve done on Blog Zombies. That way, readers who want to learn more about you can, but you also don’t bore readers who just want a brief overview.

Contact Information

Every about page needs to include contact information. Yes, even if you have a special “contact” page (which I definitely recommend). Yes, even if your contact information is on your sidebar. When someone wants to contact you, it’s important to make this extremely easy. Otherwise, you could miss out on some really great partnerships with other bloggers and sponsorship deals.

It seems like a no-brainer that you should make your contact information readily available, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked for a blogger’s information and haven’t been able to find it–and I’m more patient that most. Most people will get frustrated after only a few seconds and move on to the next blogger.

In addition to listing your email address, you should also list any social network where you’re regularly active. For example, on my about pages, I always list my Twitter account, since that’s an easy way to contact me. You don’t have to list all of your social profiles here if you don’t want people to contact you that way, but if you don’t, make sure the buttons are easy to see on your sidebar or contact page (preferably both).

Your Picture

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is failing to include a picture on their about page. People go to your about page to connect with you on a deeper level. It’s hard to do that when you can’t even picture the other people. You might not be able to look your readers in the eye face-to-face, but you can include a nice headshot so they can picture you when reading something you’ve written.

Even better, consider uploading a brief video about yourself. This is a great way to connect with your readers on a more personal level. Keep it under the two minute mark if possible; people have short attention spans!

Taking Your About Page to the Next Level

But how do you really make your about page stand out? What can you do to take your about page to the next level? That depends on your niche and your personality, as well as the tone of your blog. Here are a few suggestions that you might be able to use:

  • Promote your mailing list on your about page. If people care enough about you to want to read about your life, they probably want to sign up to get emails from you.
  • Be funny, clever, or interesting by doing something unexpected on your about page. Make it memorable.
  • Make some lists about yourself. You can do this on your about page or on other pages and just link to them on your about page. For example, I’ve seen some bloggers do “101 Random Things About Me” lists.
  • Get even more personal. consider adding pictures of your family, sharing a personal story of a struggle that you usually don’t share, or otherwise letting readers into your life in a very intimate way. This technique isn’t for everyone, but if your life is an open book, it might be a good option to help you connect with readers.
  • Include links to places you’ve been featured or other places where you write. Once this list starts to grow, you can consider a separate page just for press, but if you only have a few links for now, just include them on your about page. You can also list places you’ve guest posted.
  • Link to any books or ebooks you’ve written. Even if you have these products listed on their own pages, it makes sense to include them on your about page as well.
  • Add testimonials from people who enjoy your work.

Examples of Great About Pages

No two about pages look the same–and that’s a good thing. You want yours to be completely unique, so it totally represents you and your blog. You can definitely borrow ideas from others, though! Here are some great about pages from across the web:

As you can see, these pages are all extremely different! But hopefully you’ve come away with a few ideas of your own so you can totally revamp your own about page.

Join us tomorrow for Day Four of our Better Blog Pages series!

 

10 Tips for Your Brand or Business to Get Started on Instagram

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instagram homepage

instagram homepage Photo-sharing app Instagram isn’t the first service to help brands and businesses share pictures from a mobile device to your community and it definitely won’t be the last.

Instagram, fresh from finalizing its acquisition by Facebook and crossing the 100 million users mark, has become the prominent dashboard for capturing, editing, and sharing images across the social web. With the growing importance and emphasis placed on images within social media, Instagram has become an optimal visual sharing mobile platform.

If your brand or business is ready to integrate Instagram into your content strategy and social media mix, here are 10 things you can do now to get started on the path.

GET STARTED

Reserve Your Instagram Name

Instagram is currently not set up to have brand/business accounts, but you can set up more than one personal account. If you already have a personal Instagram account, just make sure that you sign-up for another account using a different email address.

KEY TIP: If you are having difficulty securing a username, Instagram does have a trademark policy in place and by contacting Instagram you may have a chance at claiming your business Instagram name.

Set Up Your Profile

Instagram allows you to add a profile image, bio, and link to your website. Take advantage of filling these out and keep your information descriptive and simple.

KEY TIP: Since Instagram is rooted in mobile usage, make sure that the website that you decide to link your profile to is mobile friendly.

Sync Your Social Profiles

Instagram can be an excellent visual starting point for any photographic content that you wish to syndicate on other platforms. Take Facebook, for example, you can share your Instagram photos to brand pages, ensuring that your content displays larger and more prominent in Facebook streams than conventional shares and updates.

KEY TIP: Be sure to connect your account to Facebook, Twitter and any other third-party social sharing sites where you have an account (Profile > Edit sharing settings).

DEVELOP A STRATEGY

What’s Your Story

Instagram is a great platform to tell your brand story and can allow you to connect with your audience on a very emotional level. Spend time researching what Instagram consumers are most excited about, what type of content they engage with the most, and why consumers should even follow you on Instagram in the first place.

KEY TIP: Planning out your brand story and content strategy ahead of time will give you the insight into how and where your Instagram content will be distributed within your social media ecosystem.

Develop Your Editorial Calendar

Much like an editorial calendar for your blog, Twitter, or Facebook page, Instagram should be viewed with the same comprehensive tactics.

Brands can earn greater reach and results by investing in a journalistic approach to their content. Move your editorial calendar away from promotional messaging to the delivery of very useful, inspiring, and meaningful images that will drive engagement and positive viewing experiences.

You can define a schedule on how often you would like to update Instagram. At the beginning of the week you may decide to post behind-the-scenes images of your business, followed by new product updates mid-week, and finally ending with inspirational quotes or photos leading into the weekend.

KEY TIP: Entering a social platform takes commitment and consistency. Over time, your brand or business should be able to understand what type of images are most engaging within your community. You will also learn when is the optimal time your Instagram audience is most active.

Cross Platform Integration

Since Instagram is a tool that works best in conjunction with other social platforms, developing a strategy within a holistic social media strategy is a strong approach. Visually-emphasized sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook can benefit from the additional photographic content that will help further the reach and engagement of your messaging.

KEY TIP: When re-publishing content across multiple platforms consider adjusting the copy on each platform’s post. Copy that is suited for Pinterest with a specific call to action may not work for Facebook.  Facebook and other social platforms may require a different call to action.

ENGAGEMENT TACTICS

Involve Your Staff and Employees

Sticking to a set Instagram editorial calendar can get overwhelming at times, especially when you find yourself with a shortage of visual content to update. This can be a perfect opportunity for your brand or business to begin involving your staff and employees.

Not only will empowering your staff in contributing to Instagram give them a stronger sense of ownership, it will also show your employees a more creative side of your business and how social media can play a valuable part.

KEY TIP: Like any other social platform it’s about defining a brand voice. Instagram is just a more visual medium. Behind-the-scenes photos from staff and employees can put additional faces to your brand or business, as well as show a holistic view of your brand.

Engage Your Community

Be sure that you stay engaged with your community even when at times you may feel like you have nothing to share. Just like any other social platform, remember that Instagram is a community too and that reciprocity is key! Reach out to your followers and other Instagram users by liking and commenting on photos, especially if they mention your brand or business. This can increase visibility and provide additional insights to defining your community. Responding back to comments can be viewed as active participation in the community and will continue to keep your consumers engaged and happy.

KEY TIP: Other engagement opportunities can include creating contests and promotions that encourage your community to talk about your brand or business. Feel free to share any promotions/contests you may have running on your other social profiles. This will help raise the awareness with your consumers that you are on Instagram and will be providing content that may be valuable to them as well.

Tag and Geo-Tag Your Photos

Incorporating hashtags (just like on Twitter) will help increase visibility. A great start can be as simple as using a hashtag for the photo’s subject matter, location, filters used, and maybe even additional inspirational descriptions. While hashtags can increase visibility and build context around your images, don’t go overboard.

Instagram now places additional emphasis on geo-located images with their integration of a map function in app, geo-tagging your photos can provide additional visibility.

KEY TIP: If you don’t like the look of all those hashtags in your photo caption, feel free to add hashtags in a comment below the caption. This will keep updates cleaner yet still prove functional within Instagram search queries. As for geo-tags, adding a location to your photos, whether it is a city or even your actual place of business, will provide greater context around your Instagram images that consumers can engage with.

MEASURE AND OPTIMIZE

Utilize Tools To Optimize Your Content

After all is said and done, gaining more insight into your community and content will keep you on the continued path of optimizing your photos. There are a number of different tools such as Statigram or SimplyMeasured that are available for brands and businesses that can shed light into your most engaged times to post during the day, best filter used, and even identifying your brand advocates who engage with your content the most.

KEY TIP: Define what your success metrics are when it comes to Instagram and developing your strategy. This will help you to know what goals you want to achieve and what you’ll need to optimize to get there.

Remember that Instagram should reflect your brand or business as a whole and not attempt to create it’s own identity. Instagram can be a positive investment within your social eco-system that you may be pleasantly surprised with later down the line.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Michael Brito: Chat Transcript

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This month at NMX we launched weekly, lunchtime chats on Facebook. Our first special guest was Michael Brito, SVP of Social Business at Edelman. Michael’s also one of the speakers at our BusinessNext Social Conference in January. His session is titled “The New Influencers: Brand Advocacy Inside and Out.”

Michael’s worked with big brands such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Yahoo!. He is also the author of Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media In Your Organization. If you missed our first, weekly chat with Michael, the transcript is below.

Shane Ketterman I have a question! What are 3 main differences between “influencers” and “advocates” and why is this important?

New Media Expo Michael – Tell us some of the ways brands can inspire customers to act as advocates.
Michael Brito: hi!…sorry I am a few minutes late!
New Media Expo It’s all good – We’re on Facebook time!
Michael Brito when I think about advocacy … a term called Reciprocal Altruism comes to mind… it’s this concept that we as marketers need to “give to the community, without any expectation of receiving anything i return”
Michael Brito if you take that concept and apply it to everything you do from a content perspective, that is how you turn friends, fans and followers into advocates
Michael Brito @Shane .. this one is easy….
Michael Brito Advocates already love the brand and talk about it everywhere. Influencers, for the most part, require incentives…
Shane Ketterman Thanks Michael! Do you think that Influencers and also be Altruistic and is that important?
Michael Brito there are also several tools you can use to help facilitate a brand advocate program …
Michael Brito Gaggle AMP, Social Toaster, Zuberance, Influitive, Social Chorus
New Media Expo What are some things to consider when putting together a customer advocacy progam?
Shane Ketterman I like the distinction actually and in a way – – we are all advocates for something – – I fall in love with things I use and tell others on a continual basis, but companies may not even know that I’m doing it…
David Schwartz Are Edelman clients looking for social media ROI as well as metrics?
Michael Brito @Shane — good point. Usually influencers are advocates of a certain vertical i.e. travel, technology … there are always exceptions
Michael Brito but rarely are they going to talk about just ONE brand. The advocates will .. assuming the level of emotional equity associated with their experiences with it
Megan Enloe Good point Shane. Michael can you share some ways companies can find and reward the people who already love them and are naturally being their advocates?
Mark Fidelman Do you think traditional PR is making the leap to Social? or are they still resisting the move?
Tina Baljian Michael- In the ”what’s in it for me” world, what can a brand do to encourage word of mouth marketing ?
Michael Brito Mark Fidelman .. they have to and if they haven’t yet began the transition, they will surely find themselves irrelevant and losing business.
Michael Brito @David yes, many of our clients report into digital marketing organizations so ROI is extremely important.
Michael Brito @megan usually advocates can be found through a conversation audit. An audit will tell you where the conversation is happening (twitter, blogs, forums, etc.), the sentiment of conversations and also identify the advocates. Also looking at your own facebook/twitter activity is a way to find advocates … they are the ones that are commenting/sharing/RTing, Liking your content the most. Simply MEasured (monitoring company) can also do this.
Dave Taylor Michael, social media is fundamentally about *people*, but that often is at odds with the need of a brand to remain autonomous and anonymous. There’s no Mr. Nike or Ms. Starbucks. The result: we have companies like Panasonic and Wal-Mart creating fake people to tap into social media’s buzz – astroturfing – or brands more identified by their representatives (I’m thinking of Microsoft and Robert Scoble) even when the person’s left the company. How do you counsel companies find a balance with this complex tension and be successful here on FB and elsewhere online?
Michael Brito @David — some ROI metrics also include decreasing call center calls, etc.
Mark Fidelman Michael Brito who inn your opinion has made the transition?
Michael Brito @Dave .. i look at it differetnly. Social media is about content… but that content should be created (paid, owned, earned) in a way that changes behavior. You can’t change behavior unless the brand is “human”. Dell is a great example of a company that has created employee advocacy .. basically enabling their employees to build their personas online. And guess what, they don’t just have one person. They have several hundred as does Intel and IBM Social Business.
Michael Brito so when I think of the Dell brand, I don’t think of Austin or a logo or whatever. I think of the people that work there that I have relationships with…
New Media Expo Michael Brito What can a brand do to seem more human when all customers see is a logo?
Michael Brito creating fake people isn’t smart and I think most companies have learned that this isn;t a best practice. Instead, they are using employees, customers and partners to feed into the content engine.
Michael Brito Mark Fidelman do I really need to answer this? LOL .. of course Edelman but also Ogilvy has done a fantastic job and even some of the smaller PR firms like Shift Communications, Voce, etc.
New Media Expo Beyond Facebook, what are some of the ways brands are reaching out to their communities/customers and achieving good results?
Michael Brito New Media Expo .. as I said in an earlier comments, employee advocacy (which I will talk about in my session) is the key to humanizing a brand. Not just empowering employees, but “enabling” them using content, process and even technology.
Michael Brito New Media Expo they are data mining their Jive/Lithium support communities and many are creating new communities using advocacy platforms like Fancorps, Influitive and Social Chorus.
New Media Expo Michael Brito – I know you had another appointment this afternoon. Thanks so much for joining us for our chat today, and I hope you won’t be a stranger on the NMX Facebook page.
Michael Brito Thank you New Media Expo .. had a great time!
Michael Brito I will stick around for a few more mnutes in case there are any more questions.
New Media Expo Thanks, Michael! Looking forward to your presentation at NMX and feel free to use this space to pitch your latest project.

Mark Fidelman Michael Brito I am very disappointed with most PR firms, where do you feel the industry needs to evolve? Also, Will traditional PR be dead in 5 years?

Michael Brito Mark Fidelman .. traditional PR functions like media relations will never go away. It will change but won’t be dead. The evolution needs to come because the skillset requirements will change. Many traditional PR pros don’t get social, search, paid media, etc. That will change.
If you enjoyed this chat, be sure to check out Michael’s session at the BusinessNext Social conference in January! And, if you’d like to join us for our next lunchtime chat, visit us on Facebook this Wednesday (10/31) at 10am PT/1pm ET as we welcome our special guest Phil Hollows, perhaps best-known for his work at FeedBlitz and author of List Building for Bloggers.

Better Blog Pages: Page Navigation (Day Two)

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This post is part of a five-part series about creating better blog pages. You can see all the posts in this series here.

In this series, we already talked about the most important page on your blog, the contact page. However, before we go even farther in talking about specific pages you need on your blog, let’s take a moment to talk about navigation to these pages.

After all, pages do not matter if no one can find them!

Top Bar Navigation

The most common place people will look for pages (like your contact page) is on a top navigation bar. You can put this bar above or below your header, depending on the other navigation needs you have on your blog, but I highly suggest having one, even if you like to your pages other places, like on your sidebar.

Don’t rely on drop-down menus here, at least for your most important pages. The five to ten most important pages on your blog should be spelled out in your navigation bar. It’s about making your blog idiot-proof. You don’t want people to have to spend time trying to figure out your contact information or other information you might need.

Interlinking Your Pages

We often link to our own posts, but most bloggers don’t remember to link to their own pages. Where appropriate, you should definitely do this to allow for easier navigation. I often see people say something like “contact me for me details” within blog posts, but then leaving it up to their readers to figure outhow to contact.

You pages shouldn’t just be linked within blog posts. They can also be linked to one another. It might make sense to link to your About page on your Contact page, for example. Google cares about how long people are on your site and how many pages they visit when there, so definitely take the time to link as much as possible.

Other Navigational Considerations

It might also many sense for you to include navigation to pages at other places on your blog. For example, some people will look for this information in your footer. Others will browse your sidebar. It’s important to have a well-designed site, and you don’t want to compromise the look of the blog, but wherever you can put more page navigation, do it. When in doubt, it’s always better to link to your pages as often as possible than to make readers search for the information they need.

Join us tomorrow for Day Three of our Better Blog Pages series!

Comigo CEO Dov Moran Talks About the Future of Smart TV

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Do you think current smart TV allows easy integration between viewing programs and using the Internet? Comigo CEO Dov Moran (best known for developing the first flash drive, which sold to SanDisk for $1.6 Billion in 2006), thinks the current solutions don’t allow enough of an integrated experience. Check out what he has to say about the future of smart TVs:

Comigo is an interesting company in that they are B2B instead of B2C. Rather than having to purchase a Comigo box as a consumer, the company is approaching television providers with this solution, so you as the consumer would get Comigo the same way you get a cable/satellite box now. Dov went on to demo Comigo, and the features included:

  • Inviting friends to watch a show with you
  • Targeted polls and games based on the show you’re watching
  • The ability to chat with friends while watching a show together
  • Product pages with items for sale that directly relate to what you’re watching
  • The ability to pull up additional information about actors, players, etc. who are on screen
  • Connection with your smartphone or tablet to take your TV with you

It really is a very interesting smart TV solution, especially for those of you uploading web series, as it brings the Internet to the consumer via TV in a fully integrated way.

What do you think? Is Dov right, are current smart TVs not actually “smart” enough for consumer needs? Would you rather a smart TV solution like Comigo that you get from your TV provider, or do you want to be in control as the consumer and choose your own solution from the market?

Better Blog Pages: The Most Important Page On Your Blog (Day One)

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This post is part of a five-part series about creating better blog pages. You can see all the post in the series here.

Hands down, the most common mistake I see bloggers make is this: making it difficult to be contacted.

People might want to contact you regarding several things. I most commonly contact people because I want to interview them or because I’ve featured one of their links on Brilliant Bloggers. As a reader, I sometimes contact a blogger when I have a question. You might also be contacted by people who want to work with you on a project, buy advertising on your site, send you to their event to speak, or otherwise work out a deal together.

If I’m trying to contact someone, the very first thing I do is go to their navigation bar and look for a contact page. If there isn’t one listed and I really want to contact the person, I might check the sidebar as well, but after that, I usually lose interest. It’s unlikely that I’m going to search through your pages to find wherever you’ve hidden your email address.

Assume that the person trying to contact you is stupid and impatient. Create a page that stands out so it can be easily found within five second. If it can’t be, you need a better contact page.

Including Your Email Address

I see lots of bloggers with just a form on their contact page. While this is certainly better than nothing, and I understand the need to keep spam at bay, I don’t like it for a few reasons:

  • I can’t save your email address for later. I have to use the form immediately or bookmark the page.
  • Sometimes, I email more than one person at the same time. I know that forms keep spammers from doing this, but legitimate people sometimes do group emails too!
  • I like to have a record of what I’ve said to you and when I said it. Occasionally, I see forms that allow you to send a copy of the message to yourself, but this is a rarity.
  • Often I’ll hit the send button and the form page just reloads as blank. So…did it send? I have no way of knowing.
  • I can’t save my message as a draft, which means I have to complete it in one sitting (not always an easy thing to do if you’re on the go like me or get interrupted with other tasks often).
  • If my computer crashes or there’s another problem in the middle of typing the message, there’s no draft saved.

If you love your form, you don’t have to get rid of it. Just consider including your actual email address as well for us anti-form people. You can include it as a picture if you’re afraid of spam.

Including Your Social Profiles

In addition to including your email address, I also like it when bloggers include their social media profiles on their contact page. When I link to someone within a post, I often don’t want to fill their inbox with an email message. Instead, I just mention them in a tweet. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably see me doing this all the time. I find it more effective than email.

You don’t have to include all of your social profiles. If you don’t use a platform often, I actually recommend not listing it, since you don’t want important messages to go there. But if you’re on Twitter or Facebook or another network all day anyway, it makes sense to include this information on your contact page.

Links on You Contact Page

You can get some extra mileage out of your contact page by including a few links as well. Linking to your about page makes sense of course, but including other links can save you time too.

For example, are you asked a question over and over again via email? Write a post about it and then link to it on your contact page to reduce your emails. You can also create a FAQ section on your page with short answers to the questions you get the most. And if you have a media kit, link to it so people don’t have to ask for it.

Other Contact Information

Email is absolutely necessary if you’re a blogger, but other contact information can be included on your page as well. We already talked about social media accounts, but consider a phone number or Skype username. If you have a P.O. box or office, you can also include a mailing address, though I would avoid listing your home address. List contact information for every way you are okay with people getting in touch with you. Some people like tweets while others like phone calls, so try to accommodate as many people as possible.

The bottom line is this: if you don’t currently have a contact page, you need one immediately. You might have your email address at the bottom of each post or on your sidebar, but without a clearly defined page in your navigation bar, you’re going to miss out on cool opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by, especially when the solution is so easy!

Join us tomorrow for Day Two of our Better Blog Pages series!

6 Steps to Becoming a Podcaster

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One year and some weeks ago, I wrote an article here at Blogw—well, at the time it was Blogworld—called A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting Basics. Thinking about what I wanted to write this week, I figured re-visiting that might be a good idea. More and more people are becoming interested in the medium all the time, after all. Does becoming a podcaster really come down to six steps? Well… not really. There’s a lot more steps once you start to break it down. Still, in the interest of not scaring people away, let’s just call it six.

Create a Show Overview

It would be cliché of me to say that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, right? So, I won’t say that. What I will say, is that planning and preparation begins long before you fire up the microphone and start making mouth noise. Start at the beginning. Open up Evernote, Word, Pages, Notepad, TextEdit—a pencil and paper will do. What I suggest is creating a document that will serve as your roadmap going forward.

  • What will your show be about? Knitting? Comedy? Baseball cards? The tragic rise and fall of the Turkish empire? Kangaroos? (It should totally be about kangaroos.)
  • Who will be hosting and/or co-hosting?
  • When will you record?
  • How long will the episodes be? Fifteen minutes? Half hour? More?
  • Who will the audience be? Where will you find them?
These questions should get you thinking broadly about the general direction of the show. You might also consider ideas for the artwork, how it will fit into your website (or if you need a new website), and how you might monetize the show (if at all).

Gear Up

You have many, many choices when it comes to podcasting equipment. Start cheap. If you’re a new podcaster and you don’t know if you’re going to enjoy it or not, there is no sense at all in spending a lot of money. Gearing up can mean simply buying a USB microphone headset if you don’t have one already, and a decent one can be found on Amazon, at Best Buy or at Walmart (to name just a few) for as little as $20-25.

Eventually, once you realize how awesome podcasting is and how much fun you’re totally having, you may want to upgrade to more professional equipment. A pro microphone, together with a mixer and a pair of pro headphones might set you back several hundred dollars, but you’ll sound like a million bucks.

Close enough.

Part of gearing up is considering your recording environment. You likely have a room you can record in. A bedroom or home office is good, but beware of room acoustics if the room is large. Too much echo, or reverb, can have an undesirable effect on your podcast. If you can’t find a room without a terrible echo… try a closet. Just remember to come out for air every now and then.

Record!

The fun part! You have your overview, you have a microphone and something to record your voice. You have Skype set up to bring in a co-host if necessary. Everything looks great, LET’S DO THIS THING! If you are hardware-based, you will likely have a dedicated digital audio recording device, but if you’re starting off with a USB headset and your computer, you’ll need software. The free Audacity app is a great choice for both PC and Mac users. Macs come with Garageband, which is also good, and if you have the budget, Adobe Audition is available for PCs and Macs.

Position your microphone correctly for best results: not too close to your mouth, not too far away. The key is to position it in such a way that you’re not breathing on it. Outside of a Star Wars podcast, nobody wants to hear Darth Vader on the mic. Test! Don’t press record for the first time and do your show for an hour—you need to test. Record a minute and play it back. See how it sounds. Once you’re happy, launch into your content.

Edit

If you want your show to sound professional, if you want to build an audience, you need to edit. This does not mean removing every second of dead air, nor does it mean removing every instance of “um” or “ah”. Aggressive editing of things like that can make your show sound stilted and unnatural. Twenty second pauses? Sure, cut those out. It’s about being reasonable.

More important though, is to take care of the most basic editing task: setting your levels. Your volume mustn’t be too loud. If it’s too low, listeners will have to crank their volume to hear you and then when they go to play a Justin Beiber song right afterward, their speakers will get blown out. And who will they blame?

His victims are innumerable, but you can’t pin this on him.

They’ll blame you for not setting your levels correctly, and then they’ll unsubscribe from your podcast. Every editor has a meter that shows you the levels. Aim for -6 dB to -1dB. That’s the range you want your levels to bounce in. Try for the sweet spot right in the middle of that and you’ll have it right.

Publish

Once you’ve recorded and edited, it’s time to give your show to the world. Although you don’t technically need your own website, you really should have one, and it really should be based on WordPress. While it is possible to be a podcaster using a different platform, it is not recommended unless you already have extensive knowledge of that platform. Podcasting support and resources for non-Wordpress platforms tends to be very thin.

Your show’s MP3 file needs a home, and it should not be on a shared web hosting environment. Shared web hosts will shut you down if you chew up too many system resources, and a popular show serving up 30-50 MB files to thousands of people is considered out-of-bounds. A dedicated media host like Libsyn or Blubrry is the way to go.

Get Feedback, Grow

Arguably the most important part of being a podcaster isn’t the equipment, isn’t the show, it’s the audience and the feedback they provide. Your show isn’t perfect. Your audience will tell you what needs fixing. If you fix it, you grow. If you don’t, you lose your audience and then it doesn’t matter that you spend $300 on a microphone because nobody is listening. Make feedback easy for them to send and for you to collect. A contact page on your site is vital. A listener call-in line (free through Google Voice) is awesome. Making yourself available on Twitter (and to a lesser extent in my opinion, Facebook) is a great idea.

That’s it, Right?

Nah, that’s not it. Like I said, there’s way more than six steps once you start breaking these things down into their components. My aim here is to outline the basics in such a way that people interested in podcasting will have a general overview of what the process is like. Thoughts? Questions? The comment section below is wide open, I’d love to hear from you.

Gorilla Networking: Building A Global Mastermind Group of All-Star Virtual Assistants

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Image your website just got hacked and you don’t know how to fix it, and don’t have the time to deal with it. Or, suppose you just found out about a new way to take your business to a whole new level, but you don’t know anyone with the knowledge and time to actually make it happen, and don’t have the bandwidth to figure it all out yourself.

How are you going to find someone to help you out if you don’t know where to start? Reach out to your contacts and friends? Scour your contacts on LinkedIn? Or maybe you’ll just hit the message boards and try and figure it out yourself.

Take a Step Back

Before we go any further, let’s take a step back, and think about why you are scrambling to begin with. You lack that go-to person with the skills, time, and knowledge to help your business, who is willing and able to give you a hand.

Your buddy might do it for free, but probably doesn’t have the knowledge you really need. The expert who has just inspired you to take action is great for the 1,000 foot level, but chances are you’re going to pay through the nose for their expertise, or spend hours digesting their material. You could try and hire someone on short notice who is a pseudo-expert, but it could be hit or miss if they really can deliver when and how you need them to.

So you’re on your own – either trying to do it all yourself, or maybe passing up on a great opportunity to grow your business because you simply don’t have the bandwidth to act. It’s rather ironic that in this age of some much interconnectivity, it’s actually harder than you might think to get many of our common problems solved. Interconnectivity is a double edged sword where the same ease of use that allows us to connect with so many people and ideas also brings so much noise and makes it difficult to find folks to really give us a hand when we need it. It doesn’t have to be this way.

A New Approach

Suppose you had a mastermind group of 10 to 15 handpicked professionals who know you, a specific facet of your business or industry, and who are willing to not only offer you advice, but have the knowledge and time to do some serious work for you right now.

The good news is the road to developing such a network is straight forward, inexpensive, and can start yielding fruit very quickly.

Welcome to Gorilla Networking With All-Star Virtual Assistants

Leveraging Virtual Assistants can be an effective and often untapped resource not just to get work done inexpensively, but more importantly, it can be used as a tool to build a long term global network of professionals you can tap into months and years ahead.

I’ve managed over 100 VA projects over the past few years, and it’s amazing the great relationships and diverse network that starts to develop on even the smallest VA project. Assembling a team of All-Star Virtual Assistants whom you have a great relationship with, who understand your business, and are available for quick questions or large projects can really transform your business.

When some folks hear about Virtual Assistants/outsourcing, they think of low paid and unskilled workers, who can yield scattershot results. This perception touches on an important fact – learning to find quality VAs and successfully utilize them in your business is indeed a skill that takes time to master. However, with so little downside and risk, and so much potential upside, it’s a skill that’s well worth developing if you want to take your business to the next level.

VAs by the Numbers

There are well over a million Virtual Assistants worldwide, with skills ranging from entry level to PhDs, and the opportunities are truly massive. Right now on oDesk alone, there are close to 100,000 VAs with a feedback rating of 4.5/5.0 or higher, and of these, over 10,000 have over 1,000+ hours of experience, at a median price of under $10/hr. These are folks that know how to reliably provide value to your business day in and day out. I call them All-Star VAs.

When you consider some of the obstacles many of them have had to overcome to successfully and consistently work with European/Western clients (power outages, learning a foreign language, working in a timezone 8-12 hours away) they exhibit some serious hustle. They have overcome barriers you and I will never face, spent countless hours building and developing their brand, and have been able to rise to the top 1% in their field. I have found this shared entrepreneurial bond between All-Star VAs and small business owners often results in amazingly strong and productive working relationship.

Taking Action

Test projects for $10 – $50 can be posted on sites such as oDesk, and can be posted in a matter of minutes. It’s very easy to try a number of different projects, and the chances are quite good that you’ll come out ahead while you learn the ropes of VA delegation, all while rapidly developing your business network. Below are five steps to start you down the path of building your business network using Virtual Assistants.

Actionable Steps (The APPLE Method)

1)      Assess the Need for a project you could hire a VA to do.

2)      Post a Job on a site like oDesk, Elance, etc. using other similar posts as templates for what to include.

3)      Prescreen the Applicants through e-mail and Skype.

4)      Leverage Your Selected VA to perform a trial project – this involves not only getting a job done, but establishing a relationship with them as well!

5)      End the Project,  taking full advantage of the work while learning to hone and refine your process for your next project.

Lastly

Where do you want your business to be a year from now? What areas could you use some help down the road? Consider investing your time in searching for All-Star Virtual Assistants who might become part of your business mastermind group, and can help bring you future success and less stress in the coming year!

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Virtual Assistants, check out Jonathan’s session at NMX entitled, “How to Use a Virtual Assistant to Produce Your Podcast.”

 

011 The Podcast Report – The Podcast Pavilion & The Podcast Awards

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Play

Hey everyone, Cliff Ravenscraft here. I’m back with another episode of The Podcast Report with my co-host, Megan Enloe.

The Podcast Podcast Pavilion

One of the major highlights of the NMX event in January will be the Podcast Pavilion. Megan and I discuss the vision behind the Podcast Pavilion and share only a few details about why we are so excited about this portion of the show. Please know that there is so much more that we were not yet able to share in this episode of The Podcast Report. However, as soon as we confirm the additional details, we will be sharing some more exciting news about the Podcast Pavilion.

The Podcast Awards

On September 18th, NMX announced that the 8th Annual Podcast Awards would be hosted at NMX this January. The most exciting part of this for me is the fact that Leo Laporte will be our emcee for the podcast awards ceremony on Monday, January 7th.

Register For NMX Today!

If you are serious about your podcasting efforts, I highly recommend that you attend the leading podcast industry conference. If you haven’t registered yet, click here to get registered today.

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BlogWorld is Producing One Big New Media Expo Event in 2013 Instead of Two

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We know lots of you make your conference plans months in advance, so we want to let you know our agenda for 2013. Although we’ve hosted both a West Coast show and an East Coast show for the past two years, beginning in 2013 we’ll be returning to our original conference schedule. That means one big NMX (New Media Expo) conference and trade show in Las Vegas; just one event per year.

We had three reasons for our decision.

First of all, many of  you told us you really wanted one big event where you knew you would see everyone in one place. Initially we thought bringing you an event on each coast would make it more convenient for all, but what we learned is that it just didn’t meet the needs of our community. You told us what you wanted, and we listened.

Second, New York is a very expensive city for hosting a show the size of this one, and those additional costs interfered with our goal of offering content creators a reasonably-priced conference going experience. All of the costs at The Javitz Convention Center (really the only venue we can hold an event our size in New York) were expensive across the board as well. This means everything, from the carpeting and AV, to internet and labor costs. This made our event too expensive for some exhibitors, attendees and us. On top of that the facility simply didn’t meet our standards for a/v technology and quality, and the wi-fi was undependable.

Lastly, we are growing quickly and adding even more events in 2013. This past March, we acquired the world’s largest travel blogging conference, TBEX. We have already produced a North American Show in Keystone Colorado, and followed it with a European event in Costa Brava, Spain this year. Our Keystone event was just 10 days after BlogWorld New York, and it created scheduling challenges for us.

We will be producing at least three new events in 2013 but they will be vertical events like TBEX.

What does all this mean?…It means if you want to get your New Media Expo fix in 2013, it’s time to make plans to come join the fun in Las Vegas at our biggest and best event ever! Since this is the only NMX conference of the year, we’re pulling out all the stops. This will be our largest Expo Hall and our biggest attendance ever. We expect over 4,000 attendees this year! Speakers and attendees are flying in from all over the globe (more than 50 countries, in fact), and it’s downright cheap to attend. Pre-event conference tickets are available at great discount prices, and you can get a comfy suite (yes, I said suite!) at the Rio for just 99 bucks a night! And the conference is being held at the hotel, so that means it’s convenient as can be, no need to pay for cabs or rent a car; it’s all under one roof. You will have more time to spend networking with colleagues and old friends, and making new ones.

An important note, by moving the event to January we are aligned with CES week. The last day of NMX kicks off the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show. This will give the thousands of bloggers and technology professionals in town even more opportunities.

So, if you’ve been watching news and excitement build for the NMX Las Vegas event, and you’ve felt torn waiting for news about an East Coast event next Summer, wait no longer. You snooze, you lose. All your peers–and competitors–will be learning and networking at the Rio in January. Will you be there? Or will you miss the boat?

Register now and save, prices are going up tomorrow night, 10/26, at Midnight!

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