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Expanding Your Reach and Influence

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I would like to put a few ideas in your head, and I’m going to ask for your feedback at the end of it. Ready?

You’re a podcaster. By definition, that means you record a show (statistically, it’s probably audio) and post it to your website. That’s the bottom-line definition. How can you expand on that?

Publish your audio to iTunes. Publish it to the Zune directory. Grow your audience by putting your show where people gather to find new shows. Google “podcast directory” and go down the list, submitting your RSS feed to as many as you like. They may not have millions of users each, but why ignore them altogether?

You work with audio. Do you incorporate music? In a scientific study that I just made up for this article, 87.45% of podcast listners prefer audio podcasts with opening and closing music because it makes the shows sound more professional. The less you sound like you can’t be bothered to care about your production values, the more people will respect your show. More respect means a greater chance that your audience will share your show with their friends, post your content to social media sites and do much of your marketing for you.

Speaking of social media sites, are you on Twitter? You probably should be. You don’t need to spend a ton of time on it. Just tweet once or twice a day. More importantly, set up a system for automatically tweeting new episodes of your show(s). WordPress plugins make that dead simple. How about Facebook? Did you know you can use a tool to pipe your episodes to Facebook? Your audience can listen to your show right within Facebook. They can listen, Like and share your show with all of their connections. Now that’s what I call expanding your reach.

You work with audio. You upload your episodes to your website and your feed goes out to iTunes and all the rest. What about YouTube? Ever thought about that? I have, and I’m going to start posting shows to YouTube in November. But you work with audio? So do I. What kind of video could you submit to YouTube? How about a video that YouTube was invented for? No, YouTube was not invented so that people could illegally upload pieces of their favorite TV shows and movies 10 minutes at a time. Turn on your webcam. Record yourself doing your show. Now you’ve got audio and video.

If your first instinct is to scroll down to the comments and say “who would want to sit and watch you sitting and talking”, don’t waste your time. I don’t buy it.

I’ve talked before about doing your shows live. You work with audio, have you considered Mixlr.com? What about taking the video suggestion I just made and expanding on it by broadcasting to UStream? Do you think you could incorporate Google+ Hangouts somehow?

Well?

Podcasting can be so much more than simply sitting down at your computer, talking into a microphone for 20 minutes then uploading an mp3. Have any of these ideas sparked anything in you? Would you consider expanding your reach in any of these ways? I’d love to hear your take on them.

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Pirates of the Caribbean Blogging: Growing with Your Audience

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When I was five years old, my family went to Disney World. I don’t actually remember much, but I do remember absolutely loving Pirates of the Caribbean. Since then, I’ve been back to Disney a few times, and while the basis of the ride is still the same, I think it has an important lesson to teach bloggers: if you want to survive, you have to grow with your audience. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.

Get it? It’s a pirate-themed post. Dead in the…yeah, let’s move on.

The blogging world is changing faster than Lady Gaga’s hairstyle. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers embrace this, moving to start up social networking accounts, implement new blog plugins, and adjust how they monetize. I’ve also seen bloggers refuse to change how they do anything, then wonder why their readers are leaving them behind.

Back in 1990, Pirates of the Caribbean was a boat ride filled with creepy animatronics. Today…it is a boat ride filled with creepy animatronics. But some of the animatronics are modeled to look like Johnny Depp. And many scenes reference the popular movies. Kids are excited to go on this ride, even though it is pretty obvious that the pirates aren’t real. Of course, the ride dumps you into a pirate-themed gift shop at the end, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that families are going nuts buying stuff from this one Disney store. I’m willing to bet that it’s one of the most profitable gift shops in the whole park.

And it’s all because Disney wasn’t afraid to grow with their audience.

What about you? As new and innovative social networking and blogging tools are hitting the market, implementing them in your own life is one of the best ways to keep your audience excited. Do you have a Twitter account? Because in the vast majority of niches, at least half of your readers will be on Twitter. Does your blog show up nicely on mobile phones? Unless you’re catering to a very tech-unfriendly market, many of your readers will be browsing from mobile devices. Have you created a fan page for your blog? Your readers are probably there, too.

It is about more than just growing with the blogging world. You also have to grow with your specific market. Let’s say that you blog about home improvement. Just a few years ago, the concept of “going green” was innovative, but today, it seems like everyone has a compost pile and Energy Star appliances. If you aren’t blogging about eco-friendly options in home improvement, your blog isn’t keeping up with your audience. Another great example? Book bloggers. People will always read books and want reviews, but are you offering downloadable books with your affiliate ads or just traditional print books? You’ll make a lot more sales if you have links promoting both options.

Change is scary, but it is good, too. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. A rolling stone gathers no moss. If you stop, you die. Insert your favorite proverb about stagnation here. You don’t have to jump on new technology bandwagons right away, but when a trend has proven that it has staying power, it is time for you to evolve. Otherwise, you’ll just become extinct.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BlogWorld Expo’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She will consider herself a success when there’s an animatronic character of her at Disney World.

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