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What Small Businesses Can Learn from the Hospitality Industry

Author:

The world of social media, blogging and podcasting provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands to provide unique, personal experiences for customers past, present and future. The hospitality industry in particular has been able to take advantage of these opportunities to market in innovative ways.

The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” For a sector that is distinctly characterized by providing excellent customer service, the incorporation of social media to marketing and branding strategies is a perfect union.

Aside from day-to-day Twitter and Facebook posts, supplemental initiatives like Foursquare check-in perks, Pinterest promotions, Instagram presences and hotel blogs have allowed businesses to stay connected and build relationships with their consumers like never before. Many in the industry are finding unique means of implementing these tools in manners which are universally applicable to any type of business.

The Rise of Visual Content

Pinterest is extremely suitable for travel marketing since there are so many (independent and collaborative) components people consider when planning a vacation.

While many brands are still sorting out the tracking implications of Pinterest and how best to execute promotions there, a few have already emerged with authentic and captivating administration. Aqua Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii asked fans to “Pin Hawaii” – create a bucket list on Pinterest of their ideal Hawaiian vacation.

The process involved having users share at least one of Aqua’s pins (thereby sharing the brand name, along with the link to their website); using the #PinHawaii hashtag (spreading the word of the contest); and submitting their boards to a sign-up page (allowing for more accurate tracking).

Pin Hawaii was successful because it accomplished many things.

  • It got people fantasizing about a Hawaii vacation.
  • It got people spreading the word voluntarily.
  • It got people exploring the website (or partner sites).
  • It got people thinking outside the box.

These are qualities that any company can embrace with the right project, and a little fine tuning to each’s needs.

The Range of Written Content

Blogging is a great way to educate consumers about your brand, and many hotels do a fantastic job of utilizing this multi-layered platform.

First, more broad blogs on overall categories are a great way to provide an umbrella of information about a particular niche.

Hotel Chatter does this for hotels. Their goal is to cover everything related to hotels and lodging around the world, including hotel deals and reviews, which celebrities are staying where, hotel industry news, tips for booking online, the hotels you should stay away from, the hotels you should book, and more.

The site is supplemented by regularly updated Twitter and Facebook pages, allowing followers (over 120K on Twitter and 12K on Facebook) to be consistently updated with the latest information.

To curate content and keep everything as fresh as possible, Hotel Chatter encourages visitors to become members and submit their own stories. This allows not only for a substantial variety of material, but also for users to have a first-hand experience with the brand.

Second, many individual hotels themselves maintain blogs. Hotel blogs can serve many purposes, from being a forum for guest feedback, to being an online concierge, to boosting search engine optimization. They can also provide inside information about happenings in the area or on site, and really allow each property to showcase their distinct personality.

The Hollywood Hotel sets the bar high. Aligning with the hotel’s overall image, their blog does an excellent job providing visitors inside information. The right sidebar contains a calendar and tag cloud, making it easy for future travelers to search for specific items if they so desire, along with a variety of content – everything from upcoming events, to videos, to photos and general weekend happenings.

One thing that is also worth noting is that the blog itself contains very little actual promotion for the property. While the top contains the regular options presented on the website (accommodations, dining, etc.), the blog itself is not situated as a sales tool or advertising piece, making it more naturally alluring to visitors (who are used to be inundated with advertisements on a regular basis).

This is brilliant because not only does it show support for the community and other businesses, but it also depicts WHY the area is worth visiting, and therefore, why a visit to Hollywood Hotel would be worthwhile. When you can attract business without actually having to hard sell, it’s a win/win for all involved.

The Application of Audible Content

With the fast-paced advancing of technology, it’s vital for hotels to stay ahead of the curve in any and all ways possible. Some have even begun tying in podcasting to the online experience.

The Dearborn Inn, a Marriott hotel in Dearborn, MI, provides a podcast allowing listeners to take a tour of the celebrated hotel, learn about its unique history and the people who influenced it. The host, Alan Osborne, reveals the chronicles of the hotel from his 20 years of knowledge. How cool is this? Rather than sift through photos of the hotel, which all hotel websites provide, users can listen in to a passionate insider and hear intimidate details of the environment.

Small businesses could utilize podcasts in the same way. While we are an extremely visual culture and we are used to reading information online on a regular basis, it’s a refreshing shift to be able to ignite an additional sense and listen to someone’s first-hand experience.

These are just a few of the ways the hospitality industry is thinking outside the box when it comes to new media initiatives. What others have caught your attention?

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Working with Sponsors for your Podcast [Video Series]

Author:

If you’re a podcaster, one of the ways you can make money with your content is by working with sponsors. Yet, if you simply wait for the sponsors to come to you, you might be waiting a long time! In this three-part video series, we’ll cover what sponsors are looking for, how to evaluate and work with sponsors, and how to set your prices and treat your podcast like a business.

Part One: The Three Things Every Sponsor Wants (and where to find them) – Straight from the Mouth of a Sponsor! with Mark Fuccio

[youtube]http://youtu.be/J6y7dcjd46g[/youtube]

Part Two: Evaluating Sponsors: The Courtship and Marriage with David Sparks

[youtube]http://youtu.be/F-96L7BKcEY[/youtube]

Part Three: Treating Your Podcast Like a Business and Setting Your Sponsorship Prices with Lou Mongello

[youtube]http://youtu.be/LQNiX01zFXw[/youtube]

If you love this video series, you can find even more information about working with sponsors for your podcast (or blog) by picking up our FREE 130-page ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship.

5 Ways To Generate Content Topics

Author:

As I coach talent, people often ask me, “Where do I find good topics?” It’s often a struggle of new talent and veterans alike.

Creating an entertaining podcast show after show, week after week, is a challenge (and the tips below can apply to blogs and video episodes, too!). You need to find a topic that holds your interest. Your topic must also be attractive to your audience. Finally, you need to present it in a way that is engaging. Every topic, every time. Even the most seasoned talent run into a sort of writer’s block from time to time.

When you hit a wall and have no topic readily at hand, where do you turn? How do you get past the block to create engaging entertainment? Where does the next captivating topic originate?

There are five primary methods I teach my clients to get past the topic block. These five questions will help you find quality topics for your show. If you take a few minutes before each episode to brainstorm these questions, you will have plenty of material for your show.

The key to each of these questions is awareness. Be aware when events, comments and ideas throughout your day capture your attention. If you are interested in something, you can usually deliver it in a way that will be interesting to your audience.

Keep these questions in your mind as you go through your day. I would also suggest you keep a little notebook in your pocket to jot down ideas. You never know when the next interesting topic might pop up.

1. What daily happenings capture my attention?

Things are happening all around you everyday. You may find yourself wondering why things happen like they do. Something might spark a laugh. You might learn something new. All of these things can lead to great topics. Be aware.

Jot down people you meet, things you see and ideas you learn that capture your attention. It is possible to turn it all into great topics.

2. What has happened in my past that created vivid memories?

You have tremendous experience in your field. That is why you create your podcast in the first place. Put it to work.

What are the things in your past that generate clear memories? Remember, many listeners that are learning from you are staring at the very beginning. They are in the same place you were when you began years ago. Help them learn.

Even if your listeners already know the information, your podcast will serve as a refresher course. Be confident in your material. Deliver it with passion, and your listeners will love you.

3. What articles have caputure your attention?

Read many articles from a variety of industries. Your topic ideas won’t always come from information within your field. Simply look for statements within the article that pique your interest.

Read with a highlighter. Whenever you come across a word, phrase or sentence that captures your attention, highlight it. When you’re done with the article, scan the highlighted parts for the most interesting one or two. Use that word, phrase or sentence to begin brainstorming. You never know where it may lead.

Let’s say you read an article about the correlation between the location of churches and bars. As you highlight the article, you highlight a phrase where a local councilman wants to pass an ordinance to keep bars at least 500 yards from any church. Your podcast is about hockey. How do we make the link to a great topic?

When you begin brainstorming, your thoughts will lead in many directions. Within your freeform writing as you are considering new laws, you write, “People are always looking to change the rules of the game. Are more rules really good for the growth of the sport?”

Suddenly, you’ve gone from church and liquor to the rules of hockey. You now have a great topic. Topics can come from anywhere.

4. What conversations have you had today that were truly engaging?

If a conversation engaged both you and your counterpart, there is a good chance it will also engage your audience.

Conversations tend to wander in many directions. You might start discussing the news of the day. That may lead the discussion into a movie you want to see. Suddenly, you’re discussing classic leading men. Any part of the discussion might lead to a good topic. You simply need to be aware of the parts of the discussion that are most interesting.

5. What questions are people in your industry asking?

You can find questions on a daily basis even if you aren’t regularly talking to people. The internet is your friend. Search the discussion boards to find the questions.

Help those in your industry solve their problems. You don’t need to answer the question verbatim. Let the question lead you to great topics.

If you find a question interesting, but not completely engaging, rephrase it. Mold the question a bit until it becomes an entertaining topic. It doesn’t matter that the question is not exact. It only matters that it is compelling.

When your listeners e-mail questions to you, answer the question as it is stated and give credit to the individual that asked. If you feel the need to change the question to make it more engaging, briefly answer the original question, then move on to the rephrased version. Say something such as, “Yes, it is possible to do that. However, the more important question is ‘should you do that?’”.

Brainstorm your notes

Great topics can originate in many places. The topic might not jump out at first. However, you can brainstorm the topic until it becomes engaging.

If you get curious about something, there is a good chance your audience might be just as curious. Jot down things that strike your interest as they happen in daily life. Then, brainstorm a bit to really flush out the idea.

As you write, let your thoughts flow. Don’t critique.  Simply write.  Let the ideas flow to the paper.

You may start writing about your experience at a restaurant and by the end of your brainstorm wonder why we learn calculus. That’s ok. You simply want to find the most interesting topic related to your podcast. It doesn’t necessarily need to have any relationship to your original observation. Your topic only needs to be interesting.

Be aware of all that happens around you. That next great topic could come from anywhere. You’ll miss it unless you are looking.

Keep a notepad in your pocket. Write down everything that captures your imagination. Take ten minutes before your podcast to brainstorm your topic. You will get past the podcast topic block and create engaging entertainment with your content.

5 Reasons I Prefer Audio to Video

Author:

It has taken me a long, long time to jump into video production. Even now, I am not enthusiastic about it, and I much prefer audio. Video versions of my podcasts have been put up on YouTube, but not in the past many weeks…I just can’t seem to commit to it. I thought long and hard about this for about 15 minutes and came up with five reasons I prefer audio podcasting to video podcasting and web TV.

1. I have bad hair days

If you have seen me at various conferences or seen any of the videos that I’ve produced, you’ll recognize the hat that I always wear (it’s in my profile photo at the end of this very article as well). It’s become a bit of a running joke that nobody has ever seen me without it. Well, there’s a reason for that.

Bad Hair Day

Me, last Tuesday.

I’m not the most self-conscious person in the world about these things, but just enough that I am not often eager to jump in front of a camera—not without my trusty black Kangol, at least.

2. Video is more expensive to produce

Well, yes, you could do a video podcast with a camera built into a laptop and the internal microphone. You could do one using that camera and a cheap USB headset, certainly. It won’t look very good, but you can do it. If we’re talking high-quality audio podcasts vs. high-quality video podcasts though, video is more expensive. You’ll want to get a decent camera for a hundred dollars or more. Storage is going to be an issue, unless you want to use YouTube or a similar service. Video files run very, very large. Storing and serving them from a media host or from a service like Amazon S3 can add up. You may want to spend some money building or decorating a set, whether it’s just a room in your house or someplace else. Don’t forget lighting! Without proper lights, your video will look grainy, washed out or out-of-balance, and that can have strange effects on your appearance.

Bad Hair Day

This is also me in poor lighting.

Everything that will be seen on camera needs to be considered.

3. There’s more acting involved with video

You’ve seen it on television and in movies. A character is talking on the phone to someone he is not enjoying talking to, so he starts rolling his eyes, making gestures and generally expressing himself in ways he wouldn’t want the caller to see. No doubt you’ve done this yourself—who among us hasn’t silently mimed smashing the phone to bits when talking to a girlfriend or boyfriend? Nobody, that’s who.

Web TV or video podcasts make it impossible to express annoyance, irritation or “OMG WHY AM I TALKING TO THIS IDIOT?!” with a guest or co-host because that camera is always on. Even if you’re not doing the conversation via live video, your show will be seen by the other party later on. Every moment of your show now requires you to be an actor. You can’t look disinterested. Your gaze can’t wander the room, you need to look like you’re paying attention at all times because it’s not enough to pay attention in your headphones, now you have viewers judging your performance. I myself have considered acting lessons.

But Clooney won’t return my calls.

4. Video takes longer to produce…

Different audio setups will have different files to work with, but for my setup, I record a WAV file that turns out to be anywhere from 500-800 MB per show, depending on the length of the episode. I edit that WAV file in Adobe Audition, apply a filter or two, and export the show to MP3. The whole process takes maybe five minutes, and that’s if I stop to check Facebook while I’m working. Video, on the other hand…

The first time estimate. I’m not waiting for the update to get a more dramatic screenshot, sorry.

This is Adobe Premiere rendering an episode. The show was a bit over an hour long, and it took three days to finish. Each video file (mine and each of my two co-hosts) was over 2 GB. My computer isn’t state-of-the-art, it’s a 2009 Macbook Pro with 8 GB of RAM, but still…three days. Sure, I can make the video’s dimensions smaller, or I could just not do picture-in-picture with my co-hosts, or I could skip the intro and the graphics…but if you’re not doing a good-looking video, what’s the point?

5. …because video is more complicated

Well, it’s like I said. Picture-in-picture, intros, graphics. In order to make a professional-looking video podcast, you need professional-level elements, and you need to be able to put them together. Editing video is a lot like editing audio; it’s all done in multitrack editors. The software is a lot more complicated when editing video, however. Audio and video tracks are often separated, insertion of elements is more complicated with video. Filters, transitions and effects abound in video editing, whereas audio filters and effects are less numerous.

Convince me.

So, here I am, audio podcasting guy totally dissing video (though totally not dissing people that do it because frankly, I’m jealous). What do you have to say to someone like me that isn’t really keen on video? Do you think you can convince me to double down and push video versions of my shows? I want to hear from you in the comments below. Let’s talk about video.

8th Annual Podcasting Awards to Be Held at New Media Expo (#NMX)

Author:

New Media Expo ’13 is going to be a great time for podcasters. In addition to a stellar podcasting track put together by Cliff Ravenscraft, we’re happy to report that we’ll also be holding the 8th annual Podcasting Awards ceremony at our event.

That’s right. We’re going to feature one night where we celebrate all things podcasting and pay homage to some pretty special people.

To make it easy for all nominees to attend, NMX is offering:

  • A free exhibits pass or 50% off Content Creator pass for every finalist
  • A 50% off or exhibits pass for every nominee
  • Special speaking and live podcasting opportunities

Stay tuned for announcements regarding nominees and the date, time and location of the 8th Annual Podcasting Awards. If you’re interested is sponsoring the podcasting awards, please contact the intrepid Patti Hosking at patti@blogworldexpo.com

NMX ’13 Podcasting Track Lineup

We also think you’ll be pretty pleased with the lineup track leader Cliff Ravenscraft put together to form our Podcasting Track. Check out our speakers:

  • Cesar Abed – The Benefits Of Being The First To Podcast Within Your Niche
  • Darnell Darnell – Tips and Techniques for Building a Successful Fan Podcast
  • Craig Duswalt – How to Create New Content & Think Outside the Box When Podcasting
  • Gordon Firemark – Ten Legal Cases Every Podcaster, Blogger or Media Producer Should Know About
  • Erik Fisher – What You Need To Know To Reach Your Audience On Facebook: Understand Facebook Edgerank For Content Creators
  • Rob Greenlee – Learn About The Largest And Fastest Growing “Must Be On” Distribution Platforms In 2013
  • Karin Hoegh – How To Effectively Podcast To A Global Audience
  • Perry Lawrence – Video Podcasting – What You Need To Know To Get Started
  • Lou Mongello – 7 Ways to Find, Sign and Profit from Sponsors for your Brand
  • Leslie Samuel – How To Podcast Like A Pro And Never Edit – Say Goodbye To Post Production
  • Jonathan Shank – How To Use A Virtual Assistant To Produce Your Podcast
  • Jaime Tardy – How to Create Amazing Interviews for your Podcast
  • Jason Van Orden– Media Money: 5 Action Plans for Profiting from Your Blog, Podcast or WebTV Show
  • Rob Walch – Audio Podcasting – Doing it all from your iPad

Hope to see you in January. And don’t forget – Early bird pricing for New Media Expo ’13 ends this Friday, September 28th. Act quickly to save up to 50% on all pricing. REGISTER NOW!

 

23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Podcasting Gear

Author:

Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Podcasting Gear

I guess this week’s edition should be called “Brilliant Podcasters” instead of bloggers.

When it comes to just about anything in life, you’re only as good as your tools. Podcasting is no exception to the rule. If you use high-quality equipment, you’re going to have a better final product. Previously, we compiled a list of Brilliant Bloggers talking about starting a podcast, but today, we’re focusing on the specific gear you can buy to produce the best podcasts.

Podcasters, I hope you’ll also leave your advice in the comments!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week

daniel m clark The Best Podcasting Equipment by Daniel M. Clark

Today’s Brilliant Blogger is probably a familiar name to you if you’ve spent any time reading the NMX blog. Daniel is a regular contributor here, and when it comes to podcasting advice, he really knows his stuff. If you want a simple, great list of equipment to use for your podcast, his site is the place to find it! He goes over everything from hardware and software to WordPress plugins for podcasters on this list.

I also encourage you to check out all of Daniel’s contributions here on the NMX blog if you want to learn more about producing better podcasts. Definitely take a moment to follow him on Twitter at @qaqn after reading all of his great advice.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. Adventures in Podcasting Equipment by Frei Casull (@freicasull)
  2. Best $200 Podcasting Condenser Mics by Matt McGlynn (@recordinghacks)
  3. Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Budget by David Doucette (@residedavid)
  4. Don’t Forget about Shotguns as Podcasting Microphones by Brian Schwartz (@bschwartz)
  5. How I Produce My Podcast by Trent Dyrsmid (@TrentDyrsmid)
  6. How to Start a Podcast – The Gear and Software Needed to Produce Your Own Podcast by Ray Ortega (@podcasthelper)
  7. How to Start a Successful Podcast on a $50 Budget by Jonathan Taylor (@BIBPodcast)
  8. Microphone And Mixer Suggestions For Podcasting And Low-Power Radio by Michael W. Dean (@FreedomFeens)
  9. Microphone Reviews for Podcasting and Video Marketing by Colette Mason (@colettemason)
  10. My Podcasting Gear and the Ms. Ileane Speaks Podcast is Now on iTunes by Ileane Smith (@Ileane)
  11. My Podcasting Gear, Setup, and Process – Lean Blog Podcast by Mark Graban (@MarkGraban)
  12. My Podcasting Equipment by Dan Blank (@DanBlank)
  13. Podcast 101: Session 1: The Basic Gear by Matt Cohen (@cameltoad)
  14. Podcast Equipment by Cliff Ravenscraft (@gspn)
  15. Podcasting Equipment by Ben Curry (@BadDice_Podcast)
  16. Podcasting Equipment: Does size really matter? – Part 1 and Part 2 by Dan Lyons
  17. Podcast Equipment Jim Uses by Jim Harold (@ParanormalPdcst)
  18. Quite Possibly the Best Starter Microphone For Podcasters by David Jackson (@learntopodcast)
  19. Solid Option for Portable Podcasting: iRig Mic and iRig Recorder for iOS by Tris Hussey (@trishussey)
  20. Starting A Podcast: The Best Recording Equipment & Platforms You Should Use by James Bruce (@w0lfiesmith)
  21. The Top Five Most Affordable Podcasting Microphones by Briley Kenney (@BrileyK)
  22. What is the Best USB Microphone for Podcasting? by Jon Buscall (@jonbuscall)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about podcasting gear? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Media Kits

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How to Prepare for Your First Recorded Interview

Author:

microphone Blogging allows you to become an authority in your niche, and as you grow in popularity, you may get interview requests. Email interviews are pretty easy. You can go back in and edit your answers until it readers perfectly. Recorded interviews are a completely different game, though. You have to give answers off the cuff, and if you say something silly, you can’t really go back and reword it.

I’m an introvert, so video or podcast interviews make me a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous! Yet I still jump at the chance to do them because they are fabulous for promoting your blog and getting your name out there. Over the years, I’ve developed a few techniques to help me prepare for interviews so they go as smoothly as possible.

Even if you’re not intimidated by being on camera or recording a podcast with someone, preparing can really help you give a much better interview. If your interviews are scattered and rambling, you’ll be less likely to get invited to do them in the future.

Here are my best tips:

  • Do some research on the person interviewing you.

If you’re the interviewer, you need to do tons of research on the person you’re interviewing in order to ask the right questions. But if you’re the interviewee, you should do some research as well. Get to know the person who will be interviewing you to find out about their style. Will the interview be causal and fun? Will it be more formal? Who have they interviewed in the past? Watch/listen to older interviews when possible so you have a little insight as to what yours will be like.

  • Ask for questions in advance.

You can be best prepared to answer questions when you have some time to think about them. The nature of a recorded interview means that follow-up questions will pop up, but get as many questions as possible in advance.

  • Write down the points you want to cover.

Once you have the questions, go over each one and write down the points you want to cover regarding them. You don’t want to sound scripted, but you also don’t want to forget to mention certain points. It’s easy to get flustered or so excited talking about a certain topic that you forget where you were going with your response. Having a few notes in front of you helps avoid rambling and missed opportunities.

  • Open all links in relevant tabs before the interview.

What are you going to be talking about during the interview? Think about all of the websites, projects, businesses, etc. that you’re going to reference during the interview and have any relevant links open in a new tab. During the interview, it’s easy to forget the name of that cool blogger you wanted to mention or the URL of a certain tool you recommend. Don’t kick yourself for forgetting or being unable to answer follow up questions.

  • Get a good mic.

Bad sound can kill an interview. If the sound quality is poor, people won’t listen to or watch your interview, so having a good mic is important. Luckily, good doesn’t have to mean expensive. If you’re going to do tons of interviews or start your own podcast, go for the highest quality mic you can afford. But if you’re just doing occasional interviews, an inexpensive mic works just fine as long as you don’t sound fuzzy or cut out as you’re giving answers.

  • Make sure you have a secluded, quiet space and a undisturbed block of time set aside for the interview.

Get your kids out of the house for an hour. Shut the windows to block out traffic, dogs, and other noise outside of your control. Turn off your phone. These all seem like simple things, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do them!

  • Breathe, smile, and speak slowly.

Most people, myself included, have a tendency to speak very quickly when they are nervous. Be conscious of this so you slow down when you’re speaking. It’s okay to say, “Hm…let me think…” and speak slowly if you’re surprised by a follow up question and not sure off the top of your head how to answer it. People don’t need you to rush, and they definitely need to understand you. This is especially important if you have an accent.

If you’re nervous, acknowledge it to yourself and remember that most people won’t notice the little mistakes. You’re being interviewed because you know your stuff and your opinion is respected, so don’t worry too much. You’ll be fine.

After all, if I can do it, anyone can do it!

3 Ways to Monetize a Podcast

Author:

Have we moved past the notion that podcasting should generate no income? While there are certainly still many “purists” who think that all media should be free and that it should never generate income for the creator, it does seem that they are increasingly in the minority. There are costs to being a podcaster that climb ever higher as audiences grow and production scales. While it’s true that a podcaster can start off at square one with a cheap USB headset and a free hosting account, that changes when audio quality becomes a limiting factor to growth and video enters the picture (pun totally intended).

Cash

We’ll even accept foreign currency, if that’s what you’ve got.

Three primary monetization methods exist for podcasters and there are generally two ways to implement them: on your site or in your show. Many podcasters begin a show with a short advertisement (some go quite a lot longer… but I won’t name names).

And if I wasn’t writing for NMX, I’d show his picture and make a joke right here.

Running an ad or two for 30 seconds or a minute at the top of your show is one way to go. Other podcasters will take a break in the middle of a show to talk about an advertiser. These segments can last anywhere from half a minute to a few minutes, depending on the nature of the sponsor and the way the ad is integrated. Audiobook reviews, for example, can be tied into an advertisement for Audible.com. Least-used is the insertion of an ad after the show is over. It stands to reason that as soon as the host says “bye,” people will turn off the show. Ads at the end will not perform nearly as well as ads at the top or in the middle of the show.

Sponsorships

Advertisers buying ad space on radio or television shows are nearly as old as the mediums themselves. Podcasters are not exempt from this form of income generation, and while it’s true that a young show or one without a large audience will not get the primo offers, the offers are out there. This is perhaps the easiest form of income to manage—you deal with the advertiser directly, you set a fixed rate by the week, by the month or even by the episode, and you get paid.

Sponsors for podcasts, just like radio, will simply provide you with a script or a pre-recorded ad to run during your show. Some advertisers allow you to write your own script. Either way, you will direct people to the advertiser either by links on your site or ads on your show (usually both). With the ads that run on your show, you’ll need to be able to speak their website addresses, which is not usually a problem—unlike what we face with affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is not a scam. Affiliate marketing is not a scam. Say it with me: affiliate marketing is not a scam.

apples

The saying about a bunch spoiled by one apple applies here.

Unfamiliar with the concept? Heard some less-than-flattering things about it? Here is the rock-bottom truth: you, a website owner and podcaster, create a link to a product on Amazon (for example), only instead of using a regular link, you use a specially-coded “affiliate link.” When someone clicks that link and buys something at Amazon (for example), you get a small commission. You are being compensated for referring customers to a business, nothing more. With all this talk about clicking links, how can a podcaster work with this? You can’t speak affiliate links, right?

Well, no, you can’t. This is a sample affiliate link for the Blue Snowball microphone (yes, it’s one of mine. Full disclosure. PLEASE do not use it if you do not want to. I’m not after your clicks, I’m after your eyeballs right this second):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002OO18NS?ie=UTF8&tag=qaqn-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002OO18NS

How can you possibly speak that on your podcast?! Clearly, you can’t…but you can speak a shortened link. Services like bit.ly or tinyurl.com will take that monstrosity and cut it down to a manageable size. You can also (and I recommend this) use a WordPress plugin called Pretty Link to shorten links on your own website. That link above, destined for Amazon.com, has been shorted on my website to this:

http://qaqn.com/snowball

…and I can totally speak that link on my shows. When someone types it in after hearing it, it’s the same as if they had clicked the link on my website.

Donations

When it comes to raising money, asking for donations has a long, storied history in radio, television, podcasting, street corners and public schools.

Teenagers playing soccer in the rain

Sure I can spare three bucks. Go Wildcats! That’s the team’s name, right?

Many a successful podcast has been built on listener donations. Setting up a PayPal account and a form to collect money on your website is pretty straightforward these days and can often be set up in an afternoon. A call for donations can happen during a show in the same places that the other two forms of advertising run. A script like “You’re listening to listener-supported <show title>. Learn more at <web address>” can work wonders. A once or twice-yearly pledge drive, PBS-style, can also be a great source of income. Loyal listeners like to support the shows they enjoy—they don’t want to lose them.

Do you monetize?

Podcasters! Are you monetizing your shows in one of these ways? Let’s talk about it in the comments below. Podcast listener! Do ads in shows bother you? Let’s talk about that, too.

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Weaving Your Personal Life into Your Podcasting

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The power of podcasting is enormous. Just think about it, when somebody puts on their earphones and heads out the door for their daily run or their long commute, you are the one accompanying them. Your voice is in their ears and for a little while you have their undivided attention. It goes without saying then that you have the power to personally and massively impact the life of someone you may not even know exists.

But with this awareness also comes a great question: How much of my personal life should I share on a podcast? Or even further than that: How much of my struggles, my victories or even my insecurities am I allowed to share with my listeners?

The truth is that in order to build a successful podcast, you have to create a bond with your readers. It doesn’t matter what your podcast is about, if you only stick to the facts, you’ll hardly be likely to build a strong audience.

The boom of “reality TV” quite powerfully shows that people love to take a look behind the scenes and they hardly ever get enough of it. The same is true for podcasting.

People love to get to know the person behind the microphone. Why? Because it’s in our DNA. We are wired for human connection. We want to hear stories. We want–no need–to belong and relate.

We also have a high level of curiosity and simply want to know whom the person really is that we are listening to.

As a podcaster, you can use that natural tendency for relation to your advantage. By sharing bits and pieces of your life, you’ll create loyal listeners who have a meaningful connection with you.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to or should talk about all details of your private life.

Keeping your privacy, but still building an effective relationship with your audience is like a dance and you are the one who leads.

You give your audience the nuggets of information that are relevant to your podcast, your topic or just this one episode. You create a bond with targeted, specific and relevant information.

The secret is to share with a certain purpose behind it. The secret is to know which outcome you want to achieve. The secret is to be smart about it.

When I decided to not only blog but also podcast about my recovery from anorexia, I opened myself up and became very transparent. However, I didn’t do it in order to assuage my (non-existent) desire for fame and attention. I did it because I knew that I would be able to help others. I knew that by talking about walking the rocky road to health, I would inspire and encourage others to do the same. I knew that by giving away details of my private life, I would speak straight to the heart of others who are experiencing similar issues.

At the same time, there are still many areas of my life, many stories, many circumstances that people don’t know about and won’t ever hear or read.

Yes, there has to be a level of transparency about your life, but you get to choose how high that is.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when preparing your podcast episode:

1. Is there a personal story that would illustrate what I am talking about in this episode?

Would my listeners benefit from it? In the end, it all comes down to helping your listeners get the most value when listening to your podcast. By sharing a story, you’ll not only strengthen the bond with your listeners, but you’ll also be able to clarify the points that you are trying to make. We learn best when following examples. So, if you have one, then share it.

Do you want your listeners to let go of their delusional dream that having a certain body size will magically make them feel worthy and whole? If so, then talking about your own story of dieting and never experiencing this transformation makes sense. Do you want to inspire your listeners to get out of an unfulfilling job and find the career of their dreams? If so, then sharing details of how you finally walked out of a soul-sucking job and changed your life for the better is perfect. Do you want to encourage your listeners to find their way back to a healthy exercise regime? If so, then sharing how you fell off the bandwagon for a few months and successfully reintegrated exercise into your life is just the right dose of inspiration your listeners need.

There is a myriad of ways you can use your personal experiences in order to make a point. Just be sure that it really serves your audience in the best way possible.

2. Do I respect the privacy of others?

It is crucial that when you share a personal anecdote and other people are involved, you either ask their permission or change their names and adapt other information. It is easy to forget that not everybody feels comfortable having their name put out there or having thousands of people hear a story about them. I share a lot about my family’s past because it is so tightly interwoven with my history of anorexia. However, every time I share details that may be uncomfortable for my family or I decide to use a story that they’re involved in, I ask for their permission before I publish it online. It’s just the right thing to do. So, be respectful of other people’s wishes and accommodate them.

3. In a few years from now, will I still feel comfortable having shared this information?

I find this to be one of the most important questions to ask ourselves. It’s so easy to talk about something on a podcast when you’re mad, hurt or otherwise emotional and later on regret it. Or maybe it’s not even that. Maybe you feel led to share a very personal part of your life because you feel passionate about it at the moment, but you end up feeling uncomfortable knowing that thousands of people have heard you talk about it. When you get ready to share something deeply personal, then take a step back, breathe and really try to determine how this may impact your life and how you might feel about it in the future. I know this is not an easy exercise, but it is important to do if you want to save yourself some agony and if you want to respect yourself.

Like I said, sharing personal information on your podcast is extremely important to build a strong relationship with your listeners and to bring important points across. But you don’t have to disrespect your own sense of privacy in order to be successful.

Listeners want to get to know you, but they wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable doing so.

Know your motivation, respect others and always be true to yourself. If you follow these steps, then you’re on the right path to creating a perfect balance between sharing too little and sharing too much.

How about you? What is your experience with sharing personal information on podcasts? Do you have guidelines or do you feel uncomfortable sharing anything at all? I want to hear your thoughts!

The Secret to Why People Listen: 6 Tips for Podcasters

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Photo Credit: Dave Kennard

Why do people listen to your podcast?

Take a moment and really think about your answer. What is the true reason a person listens to any podcast or radio show or audio of any kind?

Does she listen to your show because you have the best content?

Is he coming to your show because you have the most attractive voice?

Is it because she is your mom?

What is that magic spell that brings listeners to your show?

The primary reason people listen to any audio is for companionship. People don’t want to be alone. They desire to have someone there beside them.

Companionship is your primary role. All else is secondary.

Your great content, fantastic voice and beloved relationship may keep them coming back for more. However, the primary reason they listen at all is companionship.

There are six secrets to providing a high level of companionship to your listener. If you add a little of each ingredient to your show, you will be well on your way to developing meaningful relationships with your audience.

1. Speak to me, not us.

When you are talking, speak to one person. You are not addressing a crowd. You are talking to an individual.

Audio is a very personal medium. People listen by themselves, even in a group. The imagination of each individual is unique to that person. The listener will envision the details of your story in a very unique way.

When you speak like an announcer does, over the public address system in a supermarket informing a mass of shoppers about sales, you will not make an impression. Just like you ignore the public address system in the supermarket, your listeners will ignore you.

If I write in “group speak” with words like everyone, all of you, and you guys, my writing sounds like I am addressing a group of people.

“You guys should come see me this weekend.” When you read that sentence, you are probably wonder who I am addressing. You are the only one reading this in your head. It sounds out of place.

When you are speaking, it sounds just as out of place. Your listener will wonder to whom you are speaking. They are listening alone. Talk to them as such.

2. Talk to me, not at me.

Have a personal conversation with your listener. When you announce in a third person style, you will sound disconnected. The show will sound like a lecture.

You will sound like an announcer talking at me when you use sentences like, “Podcasters should use a conversational style when addressing their audience.” You talk to me when you say, “You should use a conversational style.”

Be personable and real. That is how companionship is formed. Talk to me, not at me.

3. Make the listener the star.

Shine the spotlight on your listener whenever you can. Make them feel like they are the star of the show. Shower them with praise every chance you get.

If a listener sends in a great question, point it out. When your listener makes a great point, let the spotlight shine. Compliment them for adding content that improves your show. Above all, thank them for participating.

If a listener makes a mistake, be careful how you address it. You can turn it into something great. Your response might be, “That is a great point. Many people also believe that. However, it is a myth that started with an incorrect article many years ago. I’m glad you brought that up.” This makes the listener feel like they are adding something to the show, even when their information was incorrect.

When you make your listener the star, the glow comes back to you. The audience will think you are a great person by helping your listener. Other people will be more likely to interact with the show if they feel you will also make them a star.

People like people who are nice and share the credit.

4. Don’t waste my time

When you say you are going to discuss a topic, focus on that topic. Tangents, sidetracks and other non-essential elements to the story waste the time of your listener. Have respect for their time.

If a listener has taken time to listen to your show, treat that time as gold. Deliver on your promise. When you tell your listener that you plan to discuss proper care of an eggplant, deliver. If you begin telling me how rabbits got in your yard last weekend, you are failing. Your listener came for a discussion on eggplants.

Make sure each piece of content is moving the show forward. Don’t waste their time. Keep your listener engaged. Companionship involves respect.

5. Put me in the moment.

Telling stories is an art. When you make your listener feel like they are right there as the story happens, you are creating magic. Find a way to put them in the moment.

Start in the world of your listener.

Let’s say you have a story about taxes. Your listener is already losing interest. Your audience will be gone when you start the tale as many do with, “Government is considering another tax increase next year.”

You can begin at the point of the listener by simply reworking the introduction. “It sounds like you might have fewer dollars in your pocket after the first of the year.” This introduction piques my interest and gets me to pay attention. The story is now about me.

When you take time to make the story about me, you show me that you believe my thoughts, feelings, opinions and time are important.  Showing compassion is a crucial step toward companionship.

6. Care.

This is pretty simple.

When you care about your audience, they will care about you. It is the law of reciprocity. When I give you something, you feel compelled to give me something in return.

Be genuinely interested in your audience. Help them get what they want. Help them solve their problems.

Caring is a primary element of companionship. Whenever possible, show your listener you care.

 

Companionship is the primary reason people listener to audio. They don’t want to be alone. People desire friendship. It is a natural, human instinct. Help them experience it.

Follow these six steps and become a companion. Before you know it, your companionship will become friendship. That friendship will build trust. Soon, you will have long-time listeners, customers and fans. Your mom would be proud.

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