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Expert Panel Critiques Podcasts at BlogWorld

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Did you ever ask people to rate or comment on your show and all you get in return is “Great job!”? I see that all the time and thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like Simon Cowell to really tell you what is right or wrong with your show.

That is the idea behind the session “Critique a Podcast” at BlogWorld & New Media Expo. The best part – We can choose a group of four people that critique different areas of your show!

The Panel:

  • Steve Garfield – Steve has been videoblogging ever since videoblogging was a term. He has spoken about creating content to many panels and is also hosting the session: Video Podcasting 101.
  • Mignon Fogerty – Otherwise known as the “Grammar Girl”, Mignon created the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, which hosts multiple how-to shows including her own.
  • Rob Greenlee – Rob is a podcaster, but also has been working for Zune keeping the Zune media player up to date.
  • Mike Cioffi – Mike is the producer of the Adam Corolla podcast and the Digital Media Manager at Jimmy Kimmel Live. Mike also is a Podcaster at Low Budget FM.
  • MC: Jeffrey Powers – Jeffrey is a Podcaster and Videocaster in the Wisconsin area.

The Shows:

  • The iPad Show – a Weekly Podcast talking about the mobile device: iPad
  • Backroom Comics Podcast – The show talks comics. From a shop in Seattle, WA, the cast of 5 discuss what is going on in the comic book industry.
  • Beernauts – Are you a beerinado – then Beernauts might be for you. The cast of 3 checks out the latest beers out there.
  • Almost Friday Show – It’s a show about.. Geek. Well, being geek. A cast of 5 members talking everything from sci-fi and fantasy to tech reviews and news.

Can’t make it to BlogWorld? You can watch the discussion with a Virtual Ticket, and try this at home …

Here is a quick checklist to ask yourself about your show: 

  • How does your show sound?
  • How does your show look (for video)
  • Would you sit down and listen to (watch) your own show?
  • Is your intro too long (short)
  • Count the “UMMM” game (how many times you say Umm in the show)
  • Are you prepared for your show? 

    

Finding Podcast Sponsors: What NOT to Do

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BlogWorld 2010 Speaker: Jean MacDonald
Getting Sponsors For Your Podcast: The Nuts and Bolts

Friday, October 15, 2010
12:15PM – 1:15PM

Tradewinds D/8

Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing formats of communication in the 21st century. Listeners love podcasts because podcasts are focused on their interests and, usually, cost-free.

But it’s not cost-free to produce a podcast, even a modest one. Equipment and bandwidth cost money, not to mention the time spent recording and producing a quality podcast. Many podcasters seek out sponsors to help defray costs, perhaps with the goal of turning a hobby into a profitable business.

Together with Dave Hamilton of BackBeat Media and The Mac Observer, I’ll be presenting a session on how to get sponsors for your podcast. Dave is a podcaster himself, the host of the popular Mac Geek Gab, while I am a partner in Smile, a Mac software company and the sponsor of several podcasts. If you have been thinking about approaching sponsors, or have been approached by sponsors but aren’t sure how to respond, we have a bunch of practical tips for success.

We’ll be talking about what you SHOULD do as you try to find sponsors and get them to sign on with you. But as a quick session preview, here are 3 things you SHOULD NOT do.

Obvious Form Letter

Podcasting is a niche medium. Sponsorships work best when there is a clear affinity between the podcast and the potential sponsor. A form email will not impress a sponsor looking for a unique audience.

If you’ve used a potential sponsor’s products, say so. Give some details. What if you haven’t used a potential sponsor’s products? Well, that could be a sign that this particular company is not a good fit for you and your audience.

Complicated (and Possibly Irrelevant) Offers

When you first contact a potential sponsor, you want to persuade them to listen to your podcast. Make a compelling case for why they will be interested in the podcast itself. Don’t tack on a lot of ancillary offer information. If an advertising manager isn’t sold on your podcast, they won’t care about the various types of banner advertising they will get on their site.

If you produce more than one podcast, don’t try to sell a sponsor a package if the podcasts are unrelated. Unless you know for a fact that the sponsor is passionate about tarot reading AND iPad apps, for example, you will give the impression that you haven’t researched your potential sponsors’ target audience.

Big Media Kit Attachments

Before you send a media kit, you need to have some indication that the company is interested. Media kits are big files. No one likes to get big files that they are just going to trash. Especially in the age of mobile computing, don’t become known as the person who sends out unsolicited 10 MB .zip files.

Instead, boil down the facts of your podcast to a few bullet points that you can add to your email signature.

Jean MacDonald is the partner in charge of marketing at Smile, which develops Mac, iPhone and iPad productivity software such as TextExpander and PDFpen. Under her direction, Smile has developed a large portfolio of podcast sponsorships.

Blog: http://blog.smilesoftware.com
Twitter: @macgenie

Image Source: iStockPhoto

Growing Your Audience with the Ant Mentality

Author:

One of the most basic human instincts we have is to follow the crowd. Yes, everyone also has this need to be recognized as an individual, but on a genetic level, we see the crowd as the safe option. If a lot of other people are doing it, it must be a good idea, right? Yet, following the crowd has a negative connotation for many people, and I certainly don’t think we should be promoting the kind of mentality where people just mindlessly follow others to your blog like a flock of sheep. Mindless traffic is not a good way to grow your audience.

What I’d like to propose instead of the sheep mentality is the ant mentality.

I grew up in the country, so ants weren’t just an isolated problem; they were a common occurrence. If your kitchen floor wasn’t spotless, you were going to get ants, without a doubt. So, I learned from a young age how ants work and what to do to stop them. And ants are complex little buggers. Comparing your readers to ants is not an insult.

Every ant family has scouts that go out to look for food. Ant scouts leave this chemical trail that other ants can follow and that they can follow to find their anthill again. The trail changes based on what the ant is finding – food, danger, etc.

When an scouting ant finds a food source, it is only a matter of time before other worker ants follow the trail to find the food and carry it back to the anthill. That’s why you can’t just squash an ant and call your problem fixed – it is only a matter of time before more ants follow the “hey this way to food” trail and come calling. The ant traps that you can purchase aren’t designed to kill an ant immediately – they are designed to slowly poison, but not before the any carries the poisoned food back to the anthill, where it can kill all of them. If you don’t destroy the entire ant family, more ants are just going to continuously show up in your kitchen.

And ants multiply in a hurry. When one ant finds food, he leads an entire army of ants to your doorstep to collect it. Another way way used to discourage ants at how was with red chili pepper. If you find where the ants are coming into your home (i.e. the line of the “food this way” chemical scent trail) and you sprinkle pepper there…well I’m not sure if it confuses the ants or just deters them, but it certainly does work.

So enough about ants, how does this relate to content creation and your audience?

Well, think of popular bloggers or podcasters who have a large following as scouting ants. They’re always on the lookout for good content, and when they find some, they’ll lead others there with a trail of recommendations – retweets, “likes” on Facebook, even mentions on their blog. You go from one ant to a whole colony of ants in a hurry. If you have good food (i.e., good content), you’re going to attract scouting ants.

Or at least that’s the way it should work, though I know a lot of you are feeling frustrated right now. You have great content. You’re doing everything to ensure that you have unique, interesting ideas to entice the scouting ants. So why isn’t your content popular?

The problem? Without knowing it, you’re doing things to deter the ants. That might be a good thing in your kitchen, but it is definitely not a good thing on your blog or podcast.

  • Do you have enough crumbs?

First, in a home, you aren’t going to get ants in your kitchen if you have a clean floor. No matter how delicious your cooking might be, ants won’t find it if it is sealed away, with no crumbs on the floor. Online, this translates to social media and search engine optimization. What are you doing to promote and get your “crumbs” – aka, content – out there for the scouts to see? Are you ranking well on Google? Are you advertising your posts/episodes on social networking sites? Are you connecting with the people on your industry who have influence? Are you engaging readers? Are you networking with people in real life? I could go on and on, but the basic ideas is this: It is not enough to merely produce great content.

  • Are you poisoning the scouts?

Secondly, let’s look at one of the common ways to get ants out of your kitchen – the ant poison you can purchase that causes scouts to carry poison back to the hill, killing every ant there. For content creators, this poison is inconsistency and low quality. While I do believe that regular updates are important, what is more important in my opinion is that your everything you do is amazing. Some posts/episodes will naturally be better than others, but if you’re not passionate about the topic, if you’re not bringing new or useful ideas to the table, it doesn’t matter if you add more content once a day like clockwork. You’re poisoning your scouts, and they are killing off the readership connection that they could have brought your way.

This point boils down to the following statement: The worst reaction you can have to your content is “meh.” If you write something that people love, they’ll promote it. If you write something people hate, they’ll talk about that too. But if you’re just writing to meet your own self-imposed posting rules…you’re going to get a “meh” reaction, and no one is going to recommend it to others. They probably won’t come back either.

  • Are you confusing the ants?

Then we have the pepper deterrent. With ants, a line of chili pepper across the trail is confusing and off-putting. On a blog, make sure you aren’t confusing and off-putting to brand new readers. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my site navigation clear?
  • Do I have an “about” page that can easily be accessed from single posts and my home page alike?
  • Is my overall message consistent?
  • Do I make it easy to promote my work?
  • Am I personable, making my audience want to come back for more from me?
  • Can people easily subscribe to my RSS feed and mailing list?
  • Are there any technical problems that could be deterring people?

A lot of bloggers and podcasters, I’ve found, are their own worst enemies. If you have great food, ants should be knocking down your walls to get in, and the reason they’re not is because you’re taking measures to prevent them.

I’d love to hear your opinions on the idea of ant mentality – do you feel like bloggers and podcasters are deterring readers? What are some of the things that you see that would make you leave or not come back, even if the content was great?

Musicians: How To Rock Up Your Social Media Presence

Author:

As a struggling musician one of the cheapest and easiest ways to promote yourself is using social media. Many artists and bands have yet to fully grasp the full spectrum of platforms they can be using to really rock the internet and increase their fan base and buzz about themselves. I worked for bands and records labels doing internet and event promotion for almost ten years and way back in the day of the only way to promote online was through message boards and chat rooms… in real life, the flyer and poster was your best friend and getting people to show up to your show took convincing in this new world of promotion and connecting with social media it’s free, easy and doesn’t take a public relations degree to figure out.

Amber O (aka Miss Destructo)

Here’s how to promote your band using social media.

1. Keep your Myspace– Even though Myspace is becoming a bit of a social media mess, it’s a valuable base point for bands. Many already have a strong fan base on Myspace and it’s a good place to put your music to be easily accessable for the public. How to use Myspace with the new social media platforms, point your fans on Twitter or Facebook to Myspace to listen to your music. Get your old fans on Myspace to twitter and facebook. How?

2. Offer exclusive content– Start a blog from your shows and tours. Put content on your social networks that only people visiting these sites can get, such as a exclusive mix on the Myspace or a secret show location on your Facebook or Twitter. Cross promote! Have a reason for people to visiting these sites, you can also start a UStream chat with fans before a concert that the link you can only find on the Twitter or Facebook page or play a concert in studio via UStream just for your fans and take requests over twitter using a hashtag just for that event.

3. Stay professional– Have a nicely designed website for your band, think of this as your PR agent. It’s the face of the branding of your band or image online, it’s also the information hub for your fans, press and media sources that are searching for your band. Keep it updated with tour dates and press releases, bios and press photos. Make sure you have the contact info for how to book you for a gig…this is important. Don’t forget your social media integration, have buttons on the front for your Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter pages. Again, if you don’t know of a website designer or photographer and are broke… use twitter and network. You may be able to find the help for cheap or free.

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Why You Should Spy on your Competition

Author:

I’ve got a secret. I might look like a member of your community, but I have a pen with a little camera inside. When you’re not looking, I’m writing coded notes on wadded pieces of trash and infiltrating your comments section. I even have a trench coat. That’s right, I’m a spy and my main objective is to gather intelligence about my blog competition – YOU.

I’m actually not joking. Well, ok, I don’t have a pen with a little camera inside*, but I really am spying on my competition, and I recommend that you do the same, no matter what kind of content you create or what kind of business you run.

Spying on the Competition

This isn’t really as sinister as it sounds. First, let me explain that I’m of the opinion that  in any niche, competition is a good thing. I could debate the intricacies of capitalism with you, but let me forgo that and instead just make two points:

  1. Competition means that there is interest in your niche, a market for your interest. It is likely that the presence of competition means that you can make money in this niche.
  2. People don’t visit just one site on the Internet. Yes, you’re competing for time somewhat, but this isn’t like two restaurants competing for a lunch crowd. If you each lunch one place, you aren’t going to eat lunch again at the second place, but if you read one blog, you’re very likely going to ready posts at another blog in the same niche or if you listen to one podcast, you’re probably listening to others in the same niche.

“Spying” Defined

I do want to clarify that you should not be dishonest or sneaky. The concept of being a spy makes my point well in this blog post, but I’m not suggesting that you try to take down others in you niche by collecting information about them.

So what do I mean by spying?

  • Read other blogs in your niche.
  • Listen to podcasts in your niche.
  • Watch videos in your niche
  • Follow people in your niche on Twitter and other social networking sites.
  • Comment on others’ blogs.
  • Join forums relating to your niche, especially those run or frequented by others in your niche.
  • Analyze others’ blog posts and podcasts – what posts are most popular? what posts have the most comments/downloads?
  • Find out how others in your niche are making money.

Creating a Win-Win Situation

The so-called spy game can be a negative thing, if you let it become one. You shouldn’t copy what another blogger is doing or EVER swipe his/her content to use on your own blog. It’s also pretty shady to try to draw a blog’s traffic to your own through excessive linking. If you’re going to link to your own site in the comments section, for example, make sure you’re adding to the conversation, not just randomly spitting out your link.

In other words, don’t be a scumbag. It’s not really a hard thing to not be a scumbag, and some days, I wish more people would try it out. If you say to yourself, I’m not sure I should be doing this, changes are that you probably shouldn’t be.

Instead, create a win-win situation. When you see that a blog in your niche has posted an opinion piece, post your own ideas on your blog, linking back to the original. Call into podcasts in your niche or submit questions for upcoming episodes. Start hanging out in the popular circles in your niche so you can meet new people, establish friendships, and maybe even partner with one another in the future. Gather inspiration from the comments section on a high-traffic post that someone wrote. Suggest guest posts in areas where you feel like the other blog is lacking to fill gaps.

The truth of the matter is this: I want spies checking out my content. If you write a blog in my niche, I hope you visit my site every day and are inspired by what I write. I hope you voice your opinions, whether they are the same as mine or not, and I hope we can see one another at conferences and events to talk about our niche.

Most of all, when I sell a product, I hope you buy it or become an affiliate…and then I hope you develop a product that builds upon my ideas in a unique, new way so I can buy and recommend yours, in turn becoming inspired to build upon the concepts even further with yet another product.

In the end, bloggers and readers both win.

*yet.

How to Make the Most of a Saturated Niche

Author:

A saturated niche can put a real damper on the best-laid blog or podcast plans. If you know a lot about a particular topic, it’s really cool if that topic is popular. You can find hundreds of thousands of people from different nations who are all excited about about the same thing. Sing with me; it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all…

It’s a blogosphere of laughter, a blogosphere of tears…

The problem? If the niche is so popular offline, you likely aren’t the first person to write about it online. Popular topics like celebrity news, video games, making money online, and parenting are covered by hundreds of bloggers, and each site has worked hard to build up a following. As someone new in a niche that’s already more crowded than this train in India, how can you attract readers?

It isn’t Us vs. Them

Number one, this isn’t a gosh darn cage fight. The fact that there are other bloggers in your niche is a good thing, because you can share readers. No two bloggers will ever say the same thing or have the same blog content, even if you’re running extremely similar websites. So put away your nunchucks. You don’t have to take out other bloggers in order to be successful.When MMO* bloggers talk about “ninja” tactics, this is not what they mean.

Show your appreciation for their work. Become a member of their community by leaving productive comments and link back to relevant posts on their blog when you’re writing about similar topics on your own site. If you’re a podcaster, call in to others’ shows or mention them on your own podcast. Attend conferences to meet others in your niche. Guest post. You get the idea.

Be a Personality

Yesterday, I wrote about building your blogging brand. This is especially important if you’re coming into a niche that is extremely saturated. You want to be memorable, so that when people come to your site, they get a good sense of who you are. Be consistent, letting your personality shine through as much as possible. Remember, people aren’t loyal to blogs and podcasts because they like the information. People are loyal to blogs/podcasts because they like the information from you.

Put a Spin on Your Topic

Most successful content creators out there have one of two things going for them: they’re the “first” in their niche or they put a really different kind of spin on the same old topic. If you’re coming into a niche that’s already filled with bloggers and podcasters, you can’t be a first…but you can be original.

A great example of this? Men with Pens. It seems like every writer in the world has his/her own blog about writing, so the Men with Pens dudes (I say “dudes” liberally here) did something different. And they’re pretty successful where others have failed.

Try to think about your topic in a new way. What can readers/listeners get from you that they can’t get other places? It could you your writing style. It could be the way you approach a topic. Ideally, it’s both. Your branding definitely comes into play, but it goes beyond your personality. Focus not just on your niche, but the unique “oomph” that you bring to that niche.

Keep on Truckin’

The last piece of advice I want to dish out is this: no matter how full or empty your niche is, you can’t expect overnight success. Even popular content creators who are just starting out know that numbers are going to be down for the first few months. Keep on truckin’. I know one blogger who gave up after less than a month because she was frustrated with low traffic numbers. Building an audience takes time. Even if your niche is as saturated as Steve Ballmer’s shirt, you can build a following if you’re a consistently good at what you do – just give it some time. If people are interested in your niche, they’ll find you. After all, it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.

*MMO = Make Money Online, but every time I see it, I still think “massively multiplayer online” in relationship to video games like World of Warcraft and Everquest. Yes, that is how big of a geek I am.

Image Credit: Kirsten5400

Tips From A First Time Podcaster

Author:

My name is Bryan Curry and I am a first time podcaster. Podcasting and Social Media is not my full time job, it is my hobby and passion. My wife would probably describe it as an obsession. I began podcasting in September of 2009, I had no previous knowledge of how to podcast, how to manage a website or how to utilize social media.

Guest Blogger: Bryan Curry

Since that time I have spent over 600 hours scouring books and the Internet trying to absorb as much information as I could. It is now my goal to take what I have learned (am still learning) and share it with you. Whether your podcast has thousands of listeners and has been going strong for years or whether it is still just an idea percolating in your mind hopefully you will learn something as I share my success and failures that I continue to experience as a first time podcaster.

Get Your Head Right

Believe it or not, beginning your podcast does not start with equipment or software, it starts with you. You have to get your head right, because podcasting is going to require work. Having a successful podcast is not all about spending an hour recording your thoughts each week and then spending the rest of the week reading scores of glowing emails complimenting you on how fantastic you are and counting your money. The majority of the work on your podcast happens when that little red recording light is not blinking at all. It is the building and maintenance of a website, the never-ending promotion, consumption and community participation. You will fail as often as you succeed, so in order to prevent the frustration that ultimately leads to podfade it is important to get your head right before you begin.

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Inspired By Abby Johnson at WebProNews.com

Author:

I can’t help but give a shout out here to someone that has given me inspiration in her work that she produces and the content she provides.  I am talking about Abby Johnson with WebProNews.  I first met Abby when she interviewed me following a presentation I gave at BlogWorld & New Media Expo on Blogging For A Living.  Abby was quick, professional and respectful of my time and turned the content around and followed up.  She is a consummate professional in our industry.

Abby gets to attend some cool conferences, but unfortunately she doesn’t get to be a spectator as she tends to work very hard.  I subscribed to her feed and love to see what she has next.

This video caught my eye because I thought it would be good to know that Sony, like Apple is getting into the application development world by making their dash thingy open sourced. Love the info Abby and keep up the god work. Perhaps you would let me interview you some time and turn the tables a bit? See you at BWE10!

Blogging Badly At Blog World Expo

Author:

We love these montage videos and how people are producing content about the show from 2009.  This gives a great look at one Blogger’s stalking of Kevin Pollak at BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

Kevin was on BlogWorld Expo Radio at the show on October 17, 2009. Now I need to find a way to get an interview with the folks over at Blogging Badly. Apparently, they are launching something in 2010 and we will keep our eye out for them. Anyone that talks about Chad Vader’s junk is good with me!  Keep up the good work and keep blogging badly.

Tag You’re It! – Why Tagging Your Content Is Important

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Tag You're It

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “We live in a Google world.”  It is true, we don’t order Chinese food, find directions to the store, or stalk old girlfriends without using Google.  Being findable in this world is important if you are trying to be found.  Businesses especially must pay attention to how their customers can find them.  Keywords and key phrases are how that is accomplished through the use of meta tags or just tags.

Tags are a keyword associated with content attached to it.  If you want people to read your latest blog post on how to wash a cat, you have to determine how they would look for that content and attach that key word or phrase to it.

The same rule applies to your content as a publisher whether it be a blog, a podcast, video or even your photos.  We often put pictures into our posts that we find which we feel are relevant to our content, the title or completely off the wall for that matter.  We find those pictures at places like flickr, istockphoto, and yes, Google image search.  We enter a keyword into the search function of those sites to find a picture for the content.

In addition to being searchable or findable, it also has the effect of increasing traffic to your content and makes the content watched, seen and readable.  One of the things that I do on a regular basis is to search out and find anyone that mentions BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  You can imagine all the different variations of that and the number of tags used to describe our event.  This is also why we like people that use a common tag.  The most used tag last year was of course “BWE09” and this year we are urging everyone to use “BWE10”.  This allows us a quick reference to your blog post, your picture on your photo sharing site, your podcast and your YouTube (owned of course by Google) or other videos. A YouTube search with “blog world” returns 234,000 results.  We all know it may be difficult for me to look at that many videos.  Using a tag like BWE10 focuses the searcher into your content. A similar search with BWE09 allows me the benefit of watching less that 150 videos.

If your content is well done and is something we need to share with our community, we find and share it.  This in turn increases the readers, listeners, or viewers of your content.  We are still pouring over the content generated as a result of the 2009 event in October, I am finding new content daily and still trying to read all of it.  As we grow and get bigger and have more content generated it is going to be tougher to find your content and thereby making it even more important for you to tag appropriately.

For the upcoming show in 2010 we are asking everyone to tag your content “BWE10”  If you Tweet that hashtag, put that in your post, attach it to your videos, photos and podcasts, I’ll be there to say hello.  If it is something that needs to be shared with the thousands of people in our community, we’ll do so and increase your traffic and readership.  If I miss something because I couldn’t find it, your content may never get discovered and broadcast further.  We are listening and we are paying attention to what is being said. Tag your content!

Photo Via SD_Kirk

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