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Podfly Academy - Lesson 10 of 10 - Sharing Your Podcast

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 10 of 10 - Sharing Your Podcast

Sharing Your Podcast

Today we're taking a look at different ways of sharing your podcast after it's been uploaded to your server. Just putting your show out on iTunes or on Stitcher, or having it available on the internet, definitely does not draw attention to your podcast. The next step is to get listeners to know your show is live. 

Let’s look at social media techniques, ways of putting an HTML web player on your website, and a more. Let’s dive in!

 

Make It User Friendly

When sharing your podcast with either current or new listeners, we always want to keep in mind the easiest way for them to play it and listen to it. Asking people to go through a series of stages in order to acquire your show is often too much, especially in the day of social media, Twitter, Google+, and more. 

We really wanna just click on a button and hear the episode. If they like what they hear, they will go to iTunes or Stitcher and subscribe, but in the short term we want to find some way for people to just click play, listen, and be aware of what you released. 

Let's take a look at some of the web players we can put on our website to get that going. 

 

Embed a Web Player

In previous lessons we have recommend that you use Libsyn as your hosting service. One of the big reasons is that they have a great social media sharing service. Login to my Libsyn dashboard, I can go to 'Destinations', and see some of the social media options that I have here. Clicking on 'Add New', you can see I can automatically plug in LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogger, and more. 

This is a great way to automatically push out to your followers that your show has been published, but let's take a look at the web player they have available for you. 

Here I can choose a series of different web players, different sizes, and then publish it to my website. This is a great way for people to go to your site, click on play, and be able to hear your episode. The default configuration provides me with everything I need to share my podcast and have my people subscribe, listen, and more. 

The menu options that are provided here are fantastic. It makes it easy for people who are listening to your show to share it to some of their friends as well. All I need to do is go to my Dashboard, under content, go to previously published episodes, and you'll see here I'm provided with a series of menu items to share my show. Opening the link section you see that I have a direct download URL and at the button a preview for the embed code. You can highlight this HTML code and paste it into your website. 

Now people can go to your web page and play your show. 

 

Alternative Hosting Services

Remember that Libsyn is not the only hosting service available. Having chosen your hosting service, many of them offer very similar services. PodBean is another great service that offers you options to share your media, have mobile players and more. So look into the market and consider what's going to be the best hosting service for you and consider what's going to be the best in your work flow for sharing media.

 

Built-In Players - Squarespace

Another option rather than using the embed code that's provided by your hosting service, you can have this audio play directly off your web page. The downside would be that it's not collecting and arrogating your statistics. Using, for example, the Libsyn web player, you can count each and every play and download. However, some people want a little more control over their audio and how people are going to experience it. As an example, I'm in the back-end of Squarespace right now. Putting audio on Squarespace for people to play couldn't be simpler. 

Clicking on 'Audio', I simply find the file to upload, put the track title and author, and it will appear on my web page. 

While I'm waiting for this file to upload, I would like to remind you that you do have an option of using Squarespace for podcasts. This can create that RSS feed that is readable by iTunes and other service directories. 

For more information on the service, simply go back to the podcast posting lesson and take a look at how this can be done with Squarespace. But for now, we're simply going to have a player embed on our website. Now I can save my changes and view the page. 

I don't have any text or images or anything fancy at the moment. All I'm really showing you is how easy it is to get your podcast here.

 

Built-In Players - Wordpress

For those of us that use Wordpress, it's just as easy to put media on our site. By going to 'Media' and 'Add New', we can upload new media files to our library. We then can take that media file and embed it on the page and have it play right off our website. Again, remember the downside to this is you're not collecting statistics that you would by using an embed code that is provided by your hosting service. 

 

Using Direct Links as Web Players

Pushing people to our website is a great way to get our statistics up and also make people more aware of our brand. However as I mentioned earlier, sometimes we want to eliminate as many stages in the process of getting a listener to play our show as possible. One great way is to take a web player and simply embed it in our social media. Let's take a look at how we can use a link within Twitter or Facebook or any social media site in order to get people to just immediately listen to our show. 

Regardless of the hosting service you've chosen for your podcast, with each and every episode you will be provided with the direct download link. These download links are great because they will also play live in a web browser. Let's take a look at an example here in Libsyn. 

If I go back to my 'Content' and 'Previously Published', and then click on the links tab, you'll see that I have a direct download link. I can copy this link and paste it into a new web browser and the podcast will play directly in the web player. Now the value of this is when I go back and look at that link, I can use it in my social media. Taking this link and popping it in Twitter will make a shorten bit.ly link that people can click on and play immediately in their web browser. 

The same goes for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. So when sharing your podcast, consider using this direct download link so people can instantly hear your show.

Having looked at a couple quick play options for your podcast so that people can immediately begin listening to your show, you might be wondering how do I get people now to become a subscriber or visit my website. We find at Podfly one of the best ways to do it is to immediately mention right at the top of your show where you can be found.  Whether it be a web address or ask people to look for you at iTunes and Stitcher, they will hear it in that quick play within that first 30 seconds of your show. If they like what they hear, they're going to go and subscribe. 

 

Create a Call to Action Intro

Let's open up Audacity and cut a really quick intro to direct people towards our website and our subscriptions. 

“Hi, this is Corey from my new podcast, don't forget you can find us on iTunes and on Stitcher, simply go to www.myshow.net.”

Once I’m happy with my intro read, let's put a little bit of music underneath it and make this the introduction to our show. 

 

Ask Your Guests for Help

If you have a compelling guest or interview or someone that you mentioned during your podcast, getting them involved in your social media sharing can be really effective. In a lot of cases what I recommend we do is actually send them something to tweet. We can mention them in our Twitter feed, we can mention them on Facebook and Google+, and more, but a lot of people love if they can share something original when it's easy for them to do. 

After having a guest on one of my programs, I love to send them a follow up sheet. This follow up sheet has tweets, Facebook messages that they're free to share and use if they wish. Composing these after the program and sending these out to your guests and your audience is a great way to get them to share the show for you. 

 

Start a Conversation

Using social media effectively is tricky. Simply going on Twitter or Facebook and saying your podcast is available is not nearly enough. We want to find a way to engage that social audience. Having them click on it, retweet, reply, and share is ultimately the way to get you up in the rankings in these social media sites. Engaging your audience on this level will get them involved and interested in what you have to say. 

So composing tweets simply once a week with a little hashtag that says 'Podcast' is not nearly enough. Let's take a look at a couple of the social media managers that are available, so that even if I only post a weekly show, I can tweet every single day about my episode.

 

Social Media Managers - Hootsuite.com

There are a wide variety of social media management services available today. One such service is Hootsuite. This is a great way to plug into one hub all of your social media sites. The power of Hootsuite is that in one session, I can go ahead and create tweets, Facebook posts, and more and schedule when these are going to be released. 

It's great with a podcast when you've record one to not only let people know on the day that your podcast is out, but engage people socially on the course of the week on that episode. This is a great program and for as low as $10 a month you can manage multiple social media accounts. Making this part of your social media work flow means you can minimize the amount of time and focus on targeting people that you want to reach. 

 

TweetDeck

Podcasting and Twitter go hand in hand. This is an amazing way to engage their audience and directly communicate with them. The days of email and contact forms are long gone. People much prefer to directly reply to people and send messages via Twitter. A great free program out there that can manage your Twitter feeds is TweetDeck. Here you can also time out when your tweets are going to go, which service you're going to use, and an image, and more. 

This is a super way to engage your audience and let people know what's going with your show. 

 

Make it Easy

The takeaway from today's lesson is to make your podcast as easy from people to listen to as possible. Even though, for example, my mother has an iPad and an iPhone, she still does not to this day know how to subscribe to my podcasts. She loves to go to my web page and just simply click the play button. And she, to her mind, thinks that's what a podcast is.  

Educating the podcasting audience will take time and you will get there, but remember when sharing with social media and putting web players on your page, you're making it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to listen to your show. 

 

Conclusion

Sharing your podcast has to be part of your work flow. Understanding how to book your guests, record your show, release it and more is already enough work, but we begin to understand how social media can play a big role in the success of your programing. However, don't spend too much time on social media. Content is still king. If you were to look at a ratio, I'd recommend that you spend about 80% of your time on getting your content really good and maybe 20% of your time on social media. 

Ultimately good content is what's going to generate listeners. The better your content, the more people are naturally going to talk about you and share it on their own. However, getting that information out to a larger audience still needs to be done.

 

 

 

 

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

Validating Your RSS Feed

Now that we've created our RSS feed, we need to validate that feed before we submit it to any directories. iTunes is very particular, as are other directories, so we want to make sure we don't have any odd characters or anything unusual in our feed before we begin the submission process. Let's take a look first at a free service in order to validate your new feed. No matter how we created our RSS feed, we're going to end up with a RSS feed address. This URL is similar to that which you will find on a website. Starting with: Http://thenameofyourshow.hostingcompany,com/rss.

 

Finding Your Feed in Libsyn

In this case, let's take a look at one of the shows that we manage here at Podfly. We manage this particular show in Libsyn. By visiting the destinations page on Libsyn, you can see some of the quick links that are available to you. One of these quick links is the RSS feed.

 

FeedValidator.org

This RSS feed will never change as long as you stay with the same hosting provider. In order to validate this feed, we simply need to highlight the feed, copy it, and paste it into a free service called FeedValidator.org. When I copy in my feed, I simply click validate. We're looking for the first word being 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'. This means that this feed is available to submit to directories, which we'll be looking at in the next tutorial.

Following that are great recommendations from Feed Validator to make sure we don't have something that might be incompatible with a directory. Though many of these recommendations may seem inscrutable to the average user, they are valuable for the advanced user who wants to really tweak their feed. This gives an opportunity to insure that you are 100% compatible with all the directories that are available. However, for the purpose of validating your feed, we're only really looking for 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'.

 

Working With Text

Within the blogging community it's been a well known rule of thumb to never use Microsoft Word. If you're copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into a website, into a blog, or in our case, into an RSS feed, there tends to be an issue with something called 'special characters'. Microsoft Word uses special characters and these can break our feed. Let's take a look at some of those special characters and try and remember to use the same rule of thumb as bloggers do. Never Use Microsoft Word.

No matter what type of content we're putting on the internet. It is always advisable to be working in a plan text editor. Microsoft Word is a great, beautiful, powerful tool for doing office work and creating documents. However, it is not a good tool for creating text to be used on the web.

I point to a C-net article here on tips to make sure you do not break your podcast feed by using special characters that are often and involuntarily put into your document by Word. We can see here in this article a couple of special characters that are marked as bad and good. However, again, to avoid these issues, it's always advisable to simply use a plain text editor. These are provided by your operating system whether you're using Mac, Windows, or Linux.

 

Check Your Feed With Each New Release

We've learned now no matter how we created our RSS feed, whether it be using an online service, a program such as FeedForAll, or hand-coding our own, it's important to check and validate that feed. We also advise with each update and release of a new episode, you take a moment and check that feed as well. We sometimes forget within the show description itself, that feed can be broken. Using this free service is a great way to  make sure all of your content gets out to your audience trouble free.

 

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 6 of 10 - Podcast Mastering, Leveling, Encoding MP3 Formats, Adding ID3 Tags

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 6 of 10 - Podcast Mastering, Leveling, Encoding MP3 Formats, Adding ID3 Tags

Today we're going to be looking at mixing down your podcast, encoding it, adding ID3 tags and album artwork. I know this sounds like a lot of daunting terms, but we're going to find that it's actually really straightforward.

In today's example, we're going to use Audacity as it's the program that we've downloaded and showed you how to install. In future specializations, keep your eyes open for mastering secrets of the pros using things like Adobe Audition. But for today, let's use the free program and mix down a very simple podcast.

Podcast Mixing

In order to demonstrate the mixdown, I'm going to put together a quick podcast. This one is going to consist of an intro, a spoken section, and an outro. Very very simple. You'll notice here that I have my mp3 files on my desktop. I'm just going to drag them into Audacity so my intro appears on the first track. I'm going to drag the file 001 one, which is my recorded voice and I’m going to put a file called bump. This bump is a little section of audio that we're going to use at the end of the podcast.

Now I have three sections of audio, or three tracks. Obviously, we don't want them all to start simultaneously. So what I need to do is move these tracks so that they play when I want them to. I can select here the move tool, grab the audio track, and move it anywhere in the timeline that I wish. Now that I have the tracks in position, I want to go ahead and press play.

I can zoom into the area that I want to do a finer edit on and you'll see here that I have a little bit of music that is simply going to play before the announcer starts. The first thing I want to do is move that announcer right to the beginning of the music section. However, you'll notice here on the wav file that the music dos not fade out. Going to my selection tool, I can highlight the music, go to effect, and select fade out. Now the music is going to fade out while my announcer starts his voice.

Zooming out to the end, you can see that I have a little section of music here as well. This is going to be what's called bumper music. It's basically in place to fade out towards the end of the program. I'm going to move it to just after the announcer's voice. The same idea with the intro, I need this music to fade in rather than fade out. So I’m going to use my selection tool, highlight the section, select effect, and fade in, and now the music is going to fade in with the announcer.

Podcast Mixdown

Now that I've done a basic edit and created my show, I need to mix all of these tracks into one file. This is very easily accomplished. I simply need to go to file, export, determine where I want my file to go, and name it. In this case, I'm going to call it ' My_Podcast'. The format that I'm going to choose here is going to be uncompressed. In this case, I'm going to do a wav file and then click save. Audacity is letting me know that these tracks will be mixed down into a single mono channel in the exported file. This is not an issue as we're not doing a stereo podcast in this case. In this case, I'm going to click 'OK'.  

I can enter a little bit of metadata into this as well. The artist's name, the track title, and more. In this case, you're free to do so if you wish, but we're going to show you a better way to do it using iTunes after the fact. Simply click 'OK'.

Creating an .mp3

There's some debate within the podcast industry as to whether or not you should render things down to a wav file and then encode it into mp3 using a separate program. This depends on the application that you're using. For example, a lot of professional people in radio and podcasting use Adobe Audition. This is a wonderful program, really great to work in, and has amazing sounding encoders. So no matter which program you use, you can choose whether or not you're going to make it an mp3 file within the application or do it separately in iTunes. Today we're going to look at taking a wav file and making it into an mp3 using the free application iTunes.

Export to .wav

The reason why we put this into a wav file is simple. We want to have the highest resolution file possible before we import it into iTunes. iTunes does a lot better job of Audacity and the Lame encoder that you need to install with it of creating a good quality sounding mp3. In addition, iTunes does a great job of something called ID3 tags. This is the name of the artist, the album artwork, and more. However, if you want to simply use audacity to create your mp3 version, you can!

You simply go to file, export, and then here you can choose what file format. Clicking on 'Save' creates an mp3 file.

Importing to iTunes

Now that we've created a final mixed version of our podcast. Let's open up iTunes. I recommend in iTunes that you create a playlist for your podcasts. This is not for the podcasts that you'll be listening to, but rather the podcasts that you're going to be converting into mp3. Going up to file and new, I can create a new playlist. Let's call this playlist 'Mixdowns'. Now, I can go into my playlist and I see 'Mixdowns'. Grabbing the file and dragging it into the playlist, you'll see that my podcast now appears.

Remember, this is still in wav form. This is an enormous file and far too big to distribute on the internet.

Converting to .mp3

Before I convert this to an mp3 version, I need to change the default settings in iTunes. iTunes out of the of box creates an aac version of this file. This is not what we want. We need to change the preferences by going to iTunes, Preferences, here you can see 'Import Settings'. Notice that it creates its import using aac encoder, I want to change this to mp3. The default is high quality (160 kilobits per second), that's absolutely fine. Click 'OK'.

Now I can right click on my file and you'll notice I have an option to create an MP3 version and now it's done! I can search through my library for this file. Here are the two versions of my podcast. One being a wav and one being an mp3. Clicking on 'Get Info', pulls up the information on this file. You'll notice the type here is an MPEG audio - that is mp3. It gives you the file size and more information. This is where we'd want to enter our album art, mp3 tags, and more.

Each of these sections gives you an opportunity to fill in the artist, the album name, the groupings and comments, the genre, and more. It makes it extremely search friendly and compatible with all of the different players on the market. We strongly recommend that you add artwork, tag your podcast, and make it super search-able on the internet.

This also helps with iTunes, with your podcast distribution system and more. This is really a critical stage in making sure that your file and your podcast is complete.

Where's the file?

After we've entered all of the ID3 tags, album art, and information for our mp3 podcast. We can simply take this right out of our library, drag it onto our desktop. This is where we're going to upload it to our server in order to distribute.

Conclusion

Now we've created our mp3 file. We have ID3 tags, album art, and everything ready to go to have it distributable on the internet. The next step will be uploading this to the server of our choice, so that people can download and subscribe. In future specializations, I'll remind you that we will be looking at a variety of ways of doing this. But today, we looked at the most basic using Audacity with programs that are free and already installed on our machines. For more information about this, transcripts, and more, head to PodflyAcademy.com

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 5 of 10 - Developing a Show Clock

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 5 of 10 - Developing a Show Clock

Today we're looking at developing a show clock for your podcast. This is a page taken from the radio world. A show clock is a format or a structure that's put together every hour to indicate what advertising will take place, how long segments will be, and more.

You might be wondering why would I develop such a thing for a podcast. Well, there's a lot to be said for the reliability of format. Many listeners are looking for a podcast to be under a certain length. Have reliable segments that take place every week and that sense of dependability that comes with a show that's clearly produced. So let's start by diving in and seeing what a show clock looks like.

We have in front of us a traditional radio show clock. This is a great guide for producers, guests, posts, and more. This really helps us understand what is going to be happening and when, and for how long. Now with a podcast, we don't need something quite as structured as this because we don't have to stick to a clock. However, having this type of a format can really help us structure our show. Let's look at a couple of elements from here. The first being a disclaimer. In your case, you might not need a disclaimer for your podcast, but you might want a quick read of information in the first ten to twenty seconds of each and every program.

Following that we see a teaser. These are exactly what they sound like. Something to tease your listeners into the show and keep them listening for more. Following a teaser, you might have something called the drop. This can be a little piece of audio that segues you from the teaser to a commercial or from the teaser to your first segment. These little drops are handy, sound super professional, and really give that polished effect to your show.

At the end of the program, you might put another drop or a liner. It could be your sponsors, a call to action, or, in a podcast case, an outro. Now that we've looked at a traditional radio format, we can see how to apply it to our own podcasts. The intro and outro might be obvious and developing segments now makes a lot more sense. But for those who are looking for advertisements to put into their podcast, this is a great way to indicate to your sponsors when their ad is going to be played each and every week.

Let's take a look at a sample podcast show clock and how it might apply to you. We now have an example of a show clock we developed for a client at Podfly. This is really straight forward and a lot less complicated than that of the radio show clock. This particular client only wants to have two segments in their show. One of them being a long-form guest interview and the second being feedback, where they go through listener email and more.

So let's go one-by-one through each stage of the show clock so we can see how it's been constructed. Starting at the beginning of the hour for one minute we have the introduction to the program. This is the intro with the music and voice over work to introduce the program.

From the first minute to the third minute, we have the teaser and a quick sponsor read and also the host has in front of him or her the length of the segment to make sure they don't go too long. From the 3 minute mark to the three minute and 15 second mark we have a quick drop. That's that little bit of audio that's going to lead people into the first segment. After we segue with our drop, we have a long-form guest interview.

In the case of this podcast, it's about 20 minutes. Now remember, this is a podcast, we don't have to stick to that clock. If the segment is only 18 minutes or 22 minutes, it's no matter. The idea is to try and keep it within that 20 minute frame work so our podcast doesn't go too long.

At the end of the segment we can program in another drop. This serves as an audio segue into another segment. This segment happens to be feedback. For 5 minutes or more or less, they like to go through some of the email that comes in from some of their listeners. In addition, they'd like to do a quick little sponsor read and mention some people who made the show possible. For the last minute there's an outro. In this case, it's music with a voice over and a call to action to go back to the website. Subscribe on iTunes, follow them on Stitcher, and more.

Setting these up is really simple, but you'll see with this particular program, it's been setup to be only 30 minutes in length. Anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes is great and affording you that flexibility within segment one for example, gives you that chance to stay within that frame.

Let's not forget guys that this is still our show. We can format our podcast how ever we see fit. That's the beauty in independently producing our own content. However, there are a couple of considerations when we're thinking about our listeners. The majority of podcast listeners only want a show to be about 45 minutes in length. Anything over an hour you might be asking them for too much every given week.

In addition, having this format really makes you come off as a pro. People listen to your podcast on a regular basis because there is something about it that they can count on. Having a bit of a show clock and a format can keep your guests under control, keep you under control, and keep your listeners coming back for more.

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