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Stay Outside Your Comfort Zone

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Stay outside your comfort zone!

It’s one of the most important things you can do with any new media site, be it a blog, podcast or customised video channel. You can change the product at any point. It could be radical, or more likely it will be a little tweak here, some reworking of an element there, and the website continues on it slow evolutionary path.

But to do that you need to keep the ideas text file full of things to try out? What’s the best way of keeping your mojo flowing? Apart from thinking that BlogWorld LA might be a neat idea?

For want of a better word, keep grazing around the Internet like you graze a Conference’s Exhibition Hall.

Take Facebook as an example – with your lists of friends, and the status updates and links they post, you’re going to see, well, everything you’re expecting to see, things that you’ve told Facebook you like. If none of your friends are listening to "Anke Engestrom’s Podcast of Sand" then it’s super-unlikely you’ll ever stumble on it when staying inside your circle of friends. You need to actively go out there and "find the new."

And then you need to make a point of reading, listening (or watching) this new material. With an open mind. Just because you have no interest in pan-continental singing contests, you might learn something from a podcast about Eurovision that you can apply to your daily Major League Baseball round-up show. You’re not listening for content, you’re listening for technique. How do they handle background music, reading out URL’s, listener interaction, sponsorship messages, content structure, and everything else that goes into making a good podcast?

Where to start? Well, iTunes is a good place, primarily because of their "people listening to this also listened to" feature. Start at your favourite podcast, click on a random "people also listen to" choice… three times. Okay where are you now? That’s a good question. There’s probably a handful of ‘casts listed, so even though you’re not strictly here for content, might as well go for the most attractive one.

Do this once a week, and not only will you find some lovely little gems and broaden your horizons, you’re also going to expose yourself to a huge range of styles, techniques and the occasional "must make sure I never do that" shows. Keep a track of everything, good or bad, and listen to your own shows with that same critical process.

Oh and while you’re at it, drop an email to whoever you’ve ended up listening to. They’ll appreciate just as much as you do when you get fan mail. After all, isn’t it all about making human connections and sharing knowledge in the end?

Image Source: Rachel Clarke, Creative Commons

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