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Podcasting Experiments

Podcasting Experiments is all about experimenting with your podcast. We explore ways you can implement and test different ideas to improve your podcast by looking at different strategies and ideas from other podcasters.
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Now displaying: Category: general
Jun 5, 2015

There are a TON of resources for podcasters to help them take their podcast to the next level. I'm going to be listing just a few of them here.

To start off, here are some of the podcasts about podcasting I listen to regularly:

School of Podcasting
The Audacity to Podcast
Podcast Answer Man
Ask the Podcast Coach
Podcast Review Show
The Podcasters’ Studio
Podcasters’ Roundtable
Podcast Talent Coach
The Podcast Report
The Podcast Producers

There are many other podcasts and blogs about podcasting, and you can find a great list at PodcastPlaces.com, which is a resource put together by Daniel J. Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast.
iTunes Reviews
Every week, I get all of my iTunes reviews from around the world sent to my inbox via MyPodcastReviews.com (another awesome service from Daniel J. Lewis). If you were to manually check on these, you would need to go through a long process of check each country's store in iTunes.
WordPress Plugins

Blubrry Powerpress
Pretty Link Lite
Social Subscribe and Follow

E-mail Newsletters

Hot Pod
Pod to Pod

Podcaster's Library
Phillip Swindall (Show Notes Guy) created a library of resources for podcasters. This library includes tons of information on the following aspects of podcasting to prepare you to launch, or even to re-launch your podcast to a more successful future:

WordPress
Podcasting
Email Marketing
Social Marketing, and
Mobile Marketing

For a limited time, you may be able to get this great resource for $49 (normally $299).
Podcast Production Services
As I've mentioned before, I am helping podcasters to take their podcasts to the next level and recover their time. I started doing this in February 2015 through PodcastGuy.co. If you use the discount code "CSA", you can receive 20% off the first month of whichever package you choose. Plus, the first episode is always free.

One of my clients, Scott Barlow, created this video, sharing his comments about us working together.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/simpleliving/podcastguy_htyc.mp4

The post Resources for Podcasters (3-13) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

May 29, 2015

Shawn Manaher is the host of the Author Hangout and the Sidepreneurs podcasts, and comes on today to share his tips about podcasting and podcast promotion. In episode 101 of the Sidepreneurs podcast, Shawn shared 101 tips that he has learned regarding podcasting.

Shawn start by sharing his best podcasting tips:
[Tweet "Absolutely everything will take long, be harder, and won't matter as much as you think. - @ShawnManaher #podcasting"]

[Tweet "Create templates for everything. Systematize everything as much as possible. - @ShawnManaher #podcasting"]
Follow your routine!
What is the greatest tip that Shawn has been able to gather from the many interviews he's done?

On his podcast, Shawn asks his guest what the number one thing that contributes to their ongoing success. A common answer among high-level performers is to have and follow a routine. This helps to get them in the flow and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of what they do.
Shawn's promotion tips

New and Noteworthy in iTunes
Strategic tweeting 20+ times per day to connect with influencers
Create systems and utilize virtual assistants
Strategic posting on social media
Create Quote posts for each episode
Include an image with social media posts
Be consistent with your promotion

Bonus session next week
I originally planned on having this session conclude this series, but I feel compelled to bring one more. There are a lot of resources available to podcasters. I'm going to share some of those next week.
Semester 4
Over the summer, we'll be having our Semester 4. These sessions will be scaled back some between June and August. I am working on getting back to the original intent of this site and podcast, which is to create resources that are easy for people to get and consume.

One of the resources will be some tutorials/courses about podcasting. I'll be using some of the content from the podcast episodes that we have done in Semester 3, but there will be much more content as well. I will be creating several levels of accessibility to these: some will be completely free and available, some will be for those subscribed to the newsletter, and some may be used in a paid/premium course.
PodcastGuy.co
I am doing some podcast production, and I'd love to help you with your podcast. As a listener of this podcast, I will give you a discount if you use the code 'CSA' when you inquire about one of the three packages on PodcastGuy.co.

The post Podcast Promotion and Tips with Shawn Manaher (3-12) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

May 22, 2015

Darrell Darnell is the founder of Pro Podcast Solutions, taking care of podcasters by handling their audio editing, show notes, and many other aspects of their podcast. Darrell has helped many people start podcasts and has a great podcast launch strategy to maximize their efforts. We also talk about the different podcast directories that we should consider having our podcasts in.

Darrell has

The post Podcast Directories and Launch Strategy with Darrell Darnell (3-11) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

May 15, 2015

Jeff Brown from the Read to Lead Podcast joins us to talk about his post production and editing philosophy and workflow. He was also on the School of Podcasting sharing some of his podcasting experience and tips.

The post Podcasting Workflow: Post Production and Editing with Jeff Brown (3-10) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

May 8, 2015

You would like to get a better recording. And you don't want it to take forever.

One thing you can do is learn to make improvements while you are recording. Last week, we talked about some things we can do before we record (preparation part of podcasting workflow). I have 15 tips to help during the recording process.

This week we also have Bill Conrad from New Media Gold. He has recorded in many different environment and experimented with a bunch of different things. He shares some great insights and tips for podcasters.

Tips for better recording

Drink water
Use chap stick/lip balm
Breathe in through your nose
Speak over your mic
Use a pop filter and windscreen
Get close to the microphone
Turn up the gain only as much as needed
Room with soft features
Try to get children and pets away from your recording room
Gently instruct them on being quieter
Turn phone and notifications off
Mute computer sounds if possible
Have microphone on a different surface than computer
Get comfortable with silence
Make note of spots to make corrections

The post Podcasting Workflow: Recording with Bill Conrad (3-9) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

May 1, 2015

Today, Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting joins us to share some an experiment he's been working on: How to Podcast for free. He shares his experience after podcasting for 10 years, as well as insights from being the Director of the Podcasting Track for New Media Expo.

The post Podcasting Workflow: Preparation and Dave Jackson (3-8) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Apr 24, 2015

Rob Walch joins us to talk about his journey in podcasting. He also gives us the low down on media hosting and how important it is.

The post Website and Media Hosting with Rob Walch (3-7) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Apr 17, 2015

Are you struggling to come up with a topic for your podcast? This is the episode to help you figure that out!

Hopefully you at least have a broad idea of what to podcast about, but here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do you love?
What do you like to talk about?
What do you want to learn?
Which influencers do you want to connect with?
What will help grow other aspects of your business?
What will provide you with enough content to carry on long term?
Would you do it for free?

The ideas above help to figure out how to choose a podcast topic for the show overall, but sometimes you need help figuring out what podcast topic for each episode.

Start by making a list of ideas
Follow different blogs in your niche
Search social media hashtags for related questions from people
Ask questions of people, especially in social media groups
Always be on the look out for content
Plan ahead as much as possible

 

The post How to choose your podcast topic (3-6) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Apr 9, 2015

In the last session, we talked about different podcast formats. Several of these involve more than yourself, and you need to learn how to work with these podcast guests. Whether the other person (or people) is a regular co-host or an interview guest, there are some great practices that will help the relationship grow and move the podcast forward better.

David Hooper from the RED Podcast (Real Entrepreneur Development) also joins us today and talks about his experience with podcasting, radio, and the music industry. He shares a lot of great stories and advice.

I've been podcasting for over 2 years and have done several different show formats. For one podcast, I had a regular co-host with some other guests from time to time. On this podcast and my other podcast, I periodically have interviews with people. Here's are 10 tips I've learned:

Don't cold call. Have meaningful interaction before you ask.
Make easy for the other person to schedule the interview.
Make it clear on how the interview will take place (phone, Skype, etc.).
Make sure you have the timezone right!
Send a reminder before the interview time.
Make sure you're ready when it's time to start.
Start with a little light conversation to ease the guest into the recording process.
Give the guest a quick overview of what to expect.
Be mindful of the time. Confirm the guest's time availability.
Follow-up with the guest afterwards.

David Hooper:

Working with guests and co-hosts
Solo shows
Scripting a show
Dealing with negative feedback
Tip: Just jump in

 

If you're interested in getting help with your podcast, check out PodcastGuy.co and see how I can help you!

The post How to work with podcast guests – David Hooper (3-5) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Apr 3, 2015

There are two things that many podcasters don't like to deal with, and one of those is the show notes. Philip Swindall is the Show Notes Guy and comes on today to share his podcasting journey and how he created a business around helping podcasters with their show notes.

There are two main purposes for show notes:

Increased SEO value
Providing information/links for podcast listeners

Each of these two purposes target different audiences, so you want to create show notes that makes it as easy as possible to accommodate each one. The podcast listener is primarily looking for the links and other goodies mentioned in the podcast episode - they're not necessarily looking to get all the details. Provide this information in an easy way by using headers in the content and providing a summary of the links and calls-to-action. The details on the show notes page, if done right, can help boost your search engine rankings, too.

Phillip starts out by talking about his journey working with TV and radio many years ago. He became interested in early podcasting efforts, but never jumped in. In 2010/11, he started to touch the podcasting world a little. In 2014, he jumped into the podcasting world with both feet as he launched his business as the Show Notes Guy during Podcast Movement 2014.

In the interview, Phillip shares the importance of having show notes and how to have better show notes. He shares how to get his guide on writing better show notes. I am downloading this myself so I can improve the show notes here! (The show notes for this episodes should be updated and improved soon!)

Phillip also shares the editing cheat sheet he put together about how John Lee Dumas edits 8 podcast episodes in one and a half hours!

 
Here's a transcript of the episode:
Joshua: "Alright welcome to the show Phillip. How are you doing?"

Phillip: "I'm doing great Joshua it's good to be here."

Joshua: "Yeah definitely glad to be able to have the opportunity to talk to you. I've been listening to you for several months now on your show the podcasters brought to you by the show notes guy."

Phillip: 'Hey you got the phrase right."

Joshua: "Like I said I've been listening."

Phillip: "It's all in branding dude, you got to brand it."

Joshua: "It is and so you do a very good job with that. And so everyone knows you as the show notes guy and they know you as the show with the podcasters. And I definitely love the show that you got there and you have a good mystery there with bringing interviews on and doing some solo stuff and answering questions; and definitely a very good resource. So for the person that's listening to this I would recommend going over there and checking out the podcasters by the show notes guys podcast. But what I want is to start out is just kind of start with your story because you haven't been podcasting for very long. Not even in the podcasting space for very long so can you go ahead and tell us your story about how you got into it and then kind of what you're doing with it."

Philip: "Well Joshua I started working in radio and television in the 1980s. I was working in a lot of different areas of broadcasting doing some news, some print journalism even; doing a lot of different things. And then I got out of the broadcasting arena for a while. And that bug once it gets in you just don't ever get rid of it."

Joshua: "Yeah!"

Phillip: "And so when I was in Seminary in the late 90s blogging was just coming on. My first blog actually was on a movable type blog and then they started charging. So we had to start finding other platforms and I eventually landed on WordPress which now is just a beast. But back then it was a bit of a struggle. But even when blogging was just starting guys were thinking hey why can't we do this with audio? We can do it somewhat with video. YouTube wasn't around just yet but you know there wer...

Mar 27, 2015

In today's session, our guest is Steve Stewart from the Money Plan SOS and The Financial Wellness Show. He talks about his podcasting journey, how it is helping him work toward self-employment, the different types of podcasting formats, and the Pretty Link plugin (both the free and the pro versions).

 
Solo show
The solo show is pretty obvious: you do the show alone. You prepare your notes or script and then record it by yourself. Of course, you could choose to have a live audience while you record, but yours is the only voice on the show.
Interview show
A popular podcast format is bringing different people on and interviewing them. This kind of format allows you to have another person to talk to, making it easier to have a flowing conversation. You are also able to bring (potentially) two audiences together (yours and your guests), making it a win-win for both people involved. Depending on your experience and personality, this can be an easy format to utilize.
Co-hosted show
A co-host can be great to provide an additional person, but brings more stability than the interview-based podcast. You and your co-host can develop a great relationship and the listeners can learn to expect the varying opinions. A caution here: both of you should love the topic, but if you both have the exact same opinion, then one of you isn't necessary.
Feature show
Box of Inspirations podcast is an example of a different format where the host is not on the show himself. He gets on Skype with his guests and has them share their inspirational story.
Story-driven show
Several podcasts, such as Serial, have become more popular. This is where there is a story that drives the podcast forward, usually spanning multiple episodes. Stories can be really engaging, but this format of a podcast can be more work than some of the others.

 

The post Steve Stewart (@moneyplansos) talks about his podcasting journey (3-3) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Mar 19, 2015

When it comes to podcasting, everyone seems to be concerned about the technology.

This is our second session about how to podcast, and we'll be talking about this topic. Technology covers both the hardware (like the microphones, mixers, and recorders) and the software. This will not be a deep dive into all of this - there's too much to cover in one episode - but we'll give you enough to get you going in the right direction. If you have specific question, feel free to reach out to either me or to our guest, Ray Ortega.

Ray Ortega comes on the show today to share his insight and excitement about podcasting technology. He's always playing with different equipment and experimenting with audio techniques. This is because podcasting is his full-time job and his night-time hobby. He is the host of The Podcaster's Studio and the Podcasters Roundtable.

Podcasting hardware
Here's some of the major podcasting hardware that you may use:

Microphone - A microphone is one of the basic pieces of equipment that a podcaster needs. There is a wide range of microphone options, from the built-in microphone in your computer/laptop to high-dollar, professional microphones. For podcasting (or any other "professional" audio recording), I recommend not using the built-in microphone - the quality is really low. In the episode, Ray explains a little bit about condenser and dynamic microphones. A strong recommendation for a good podcasting microphone is the ATR2100 or ATR2005 - they both have a USB connection (straight to the computer) and an XLR connection (to a mixer).

Audio mixer - An audio mixer is another great piece of equipment to help with podcasting. It's certainly not necessary. I only got a mixer recently and I've podcasted for two years without one. Again, there's a big range, and Ray talks about this a little bit in the episode.

Digital audio recorder - You can record using software on your computer or mobile device, but a digital audio recorder can be a great help. Software can occasionally crash or add noise to the recording, so a recorder can help with that. Ray discusses some of his recommendations in the episode.

Pop filter - A pop filter is a round screen that goes between your mouth and the microphone. It's job is to reduce the harshness of the plosives (p's, t's, etc.) and mouth noises (lip smacks, etc.).

Windscreen - A windscreen is the foam ball that goes over the microphone. It helps to reduce background noise a little, and it can also reduce some of the plosives.
Podcasting software
Audacity - Audacity is a free recording software that is fairly powerful. Some of the effects are easier with paid software, but Audacity can do a great job for many podcasters.

Adobe Audition - Adobe Audition is a paid piece of software that makes it easier than Audacity to work with the audio. I personally haven't used it, but Ray talks about this in the episode.

Bossjock Studio - Some people record into Bossjock on their mobile device. I haven't really used it for recording, but I have used it for mixing music and sounds. You can save different audio clips into the app that you can turn on and off with a simple button push. I have sound clips on my phone and then put that into my mixer so I can record some of the sounds as I record my voice.

Garageband - This is another popular app that people use to record podcasts. It can also be used for some editing and uploading the episodes. I haven't use it, but I've heard others talk about it.

 

The post How to tackle the podcasting technology (3-2) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Mar 13, 2015

This session kicks off the 3rd semester of the Creative Studio Academy. We'll be covering how to podcast. It will be directed mostly toward new podcasters, giving you the basics tools and information to get started with podcasting - hopefully avoiding the pitfalls and difficulties.

In this session, we'll be talking with Zac Bob from the Crowdfund Genius and Crowdfunding Comebacks podcasts. He is also one of the co-founders of OKpod15, a one-day podcasting event for small businesses in Oklahoma City. We'll talk about the importance of knowing your audience and knowing why you want to podcast. Both of these are key ingredients to make it passed the podcasting honeymoon phase.
Know your audience
I know you’re excited about starting your podcast, but there are several things you need to nail down first. The first and most important thing is your audience. It is the most important thing to know before your start, and it is still the most important thing as your grow and maintain.

At this point, you may or may not have an audience already. Maybe you already have a blog or YouTube channel with followers already. Maybe you just have a Facebook profile with some family and friends. Maybe you’re wondering what Facebook is.

No matter what your current status is, you need to figure out and understand who exactly you are trying to reach. This is a process of being very specific. Saying that you are targeting males 18-80 that love fishing is not good enough.

Here is one thing to think of to help you: your target audience is one person. Not one kind of person. One person.

That one person cannot fulfill every demographic or psychographic category. They cannot be 18 and 80 at the same time. They cannot live in the US and in Germany at the same time. Be very specific to describe this person.

Here’s some questions to help you get started:

What is his/her name? (that’s right - a name)
How old is he?
Is he married? How long?
Does he have kids? How many? Names, ages, etc.?
What is his career/job?
What is his greatest strength?
What is his greatest weakness?

This is just a start, but you get the idea. Be very specific about who he is.

After you nail down your target person - also called an avatar - you will probably be editing the description as you go. Just think, when you meet someone, you learn some basic things right away. As you talk and get to know them, your description of them become deeper and more clear.

I met my wife in January of 2000, and we’ve been married for 12 years. I know more about her now than I did 15 years ago.

As you move along the podcasting journey, you may be able to broaden your audience to include additional demographics. Instead of just a 30-year old accountant with a wife and 2 kids, you may start reaching other 30-something men that have office jobs. Or you may start reaching those that are 30-50 years old. As you grow, just make sure that you always come back to your avatar. He is the center of it all.

Knowing your audience is just the starting point. Next we’ll examine what you need to keep going through the tough times.
Know your why
Besides knowing your audience, you must know your why.

You need to have a “why” that is huge. Podcasting can be a slow-growing process.

Yes, there are plenty of stories of people that started a podcast and things took off for them: they had thousands of downloads, money started coming, and they became famous overnight. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. And usually, these “overnight successes” are a result of years of strategy, skill, time, and money.

Most likely, you will have smaller numbers. You won’t be bringing in money for a few months or even a year. You won’t reach that celebrity status. You’ll be putting your time and money into podcasting and see little results.

Feb 18, 2015

This is probably what you've been waiting for: how to make money!

There are many ways that you can monetize your blog. In this session, we will example 3 ways that you can make some money.
It takes time and work to monetize your blog
Before we start, though, this is not an endorsement of any kind of get-rich-quick scheme. This takes time and work. Eventually, it can become easier and take less time, but not at the beginning.

It could also take some money. They say that it takes money to make money. While this is not entirely true, but sometimes investing some money can accelerate the growth. A monetary investment could be advertising and marketing costs, graphic design, or hiring someone to do some other task for you.

You can save money in these areas, but that's were there's an increase in time investment. You may have to learn a new skill or just spend time doing the task itself.

No matter how long it takes to do the task, there is also a time for the ball to get rolling, especially if this is your first time.

With this in mind, here are the 3 simple strategies:
1. Sell affiliate programs
One of the easiest ways to start monetizing your blog is by getting involved in some affiliate marketing.

If you're not familiar with affiliate marketing, it simply means that you get paid a commission for selling someone else's products or services. There are a bunch of different options available for almost any niche.

It's not available in every state, but Amazon can be a great place for affiliate marketing. Many people use Amazon for purchasing all sorts of things. If there is a product that fits your niche, you could advertise it as an affiliate.

I have promoted several different products from microphones to e-books on Amazon. I have also promoted products and services like Bluehost for web hosting and StudioPress for WordPress premium themes. I have made several hundred dollars from my efforts, which actually hasn't been much. There are many more things I could do to promote these more and make more money. Why don't I? I just haven't invested the time.
2. Promote your own services
Another great way to monetize your blog is to offer services.

This may not work for everyone, but you may be able to offer coaching, consulting, or some other service. This doesn't usually take a lot of time upfront, other than creating the sales copy to market yourself - and that's something you can outsource. It could also take some time if you want to create some videos to promote the services.

This option is very much tied to time. You get paid for the time your spend. It may be structured as a simple pay-by-the-hour (or by the 1/4 hour, or by the minute...), or can be a package over a period of time.

This could also be where you create something for someone. Some of the services I offer are website development, website consulting, podcast editing and production, and voice-over. These are ways to serve your audience and meet their needs while being compensated for your time.
3. Develop your own products
The last strategy I want to mention here is that you can develop your own products to sell.

Selling other people's products can be a great way to start (affiliate marketing), but you can really maximize your profits by creating and selling your own products.

These products can be e-books, videos, courses, clothing, etc. There are all sorts of physical and digital products that you could create.

Digital products can be great because you can create it once and sell it many times. It can become a passive income over time. There is something to be said about physical products, though: people like to physically handle things. Sometimes (not always) a physical DVD can have a higher perceived value than a video series offered online.

I have created a couple e-books myself.

Feb 11, 2015

For several years, I've heard about the importance of building an e-mail list. "The money's in the list," I would hear along with examples of how the person implemented it.

I started an e-mail list, but I never did a whole lot with it.

I rarely promoted it.

I didn't provide a reason or benefit for someone to join the list.

All I've done is use it to send blog post updates, an occasional special post, and a few promotional e-mails.

Well, I plan on changing things!

Since I've heard many things about building an e-mail list, I've tried to compile several of the important elements from different sources. We'll look at:

How to collect the e-mail addresses
What to offer someone to join the list
How to promote the list
Options for ways to use the list

I know that I'm not prime example of how to do all of this, but I'm trying to bring all of this together to help all of us though this process. I'll come back later to report on how things went and how I may change things up.

I also welcome you to join me in building your e-mail list. If you have already started and have some tips to add to this, please add to the conversation in the comment section.
How to collect the e-mail addresses
There are several ways you can start an e-mail list. This list isn't comprehensive, but covers the most popular methods:

WordPress / Jetpack subscribe by e-mail
Feedburner
Mail Poet
MailChimp
Aweber
Infusionsoft
Benchmark

I would highly recommend not to use WordPress or Feedburner for collecting e-mail addresses. They are basically just ways for people to be notified of new posts. As far as I know, there's no way to send other e-mails to the list.

Mail Poet is a WordPress plugin that allows you to manage the e-mail list from the WordPress dashboard. I have it installed, but I haven't used it. There is a free and a paid version. Dustin Hartzler of Your Website Engineer has spoken about using it on his podcast.

MailChimp, Aweber, and Benchmark are basically similar services. MailChimp, however, has a free option if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 e-mails a month.

Infusionsoft, from what I understand, does more than manage your e-mail list and various campaigns. It can also help with sales and customer management. This is definitely a higher end service (not for the average blogger).

MailChimp is the service I currently use, and I plan to continue with them for the foreseeable future. I have is setup to send the people on my lists blog updates, plus I can send additional e-mails. I plan to start using an auto-responder series soon, which is a premium service for them. I'll talk about this later.
What to offer someone to join the e-mail list
Even with as great of content that you and I create, most visitors are not going to sign up just for blog updates. They would like a bigger incentive.

One great thing to offer is something special that they can download or view right when they sign up. This can be a PDF (e-book, report, worksheets, etc.), audio file, graphic, video, and more.

There was a few months that I offered a PDF ebook to those that signed up for my list. I since removed it. I can't even remember why I removed it!

I plan on implementing this on my list for this site. I have a short ebook written to help people get started with their websites. I've sent an early copy to those already on the list. It's being editing and formatted now, and it will be available for official use in a week or two.
How to promote the e-mail list
There are several places that you can promote your e-mail list. Each one has it's benefits and drawbacks. Here's a quick list:

The Feature Box
Top of Sidebar
After Single Post
The Footer
The About Page

Jan 27, 2015

We've been looking at blogging and writing as our primary focus, but we are going to switch gears for this week.

We all have unique skills. Each one is different, and we can learn to use them in different ways. Blogging is one way, but there are many other ways we can create content using these skills.

I have Brian Hull with us, who uses his unique skills in very creative ways. He has started to use his skills on his Youtube channel and working on doing voice acting.

I first learned about Brian because of his viral rendition of "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen.

Here's a preview of what we'll look at for the rest of this semester:

Session 10 - Networking with Mark Sieverkropp
Session 11 - Marketing your blog through e-mail and social media
Session 12 - Monetizing strategies for your blogging efforts
Session 13 - SEO and Google analytics

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

The post How to use your unique skills to create content (2-9) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Jan 27, 2015

We've been looking at blogging and writing as our primary focus, but we are going to switch gears for this week.

We all have unique skills. Each one is different, and we can learn to use them in different ways. Blogging is one way, but there are many other ways we can create content using these skills.

I have Brian Hull with us, who uses his unique skills in very creative ways. He has started to use his skills on his Youtube channel and working on doing voice acting.

I first learned about Brian because of his viral rendition of "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen.

Here's a preview of what we'll look at for the rest of this semester:

Session 10 - Networking with Mark Sieverkropp
Session 11 - Marketing your blog through e-mail and social media
Session 12 - Monetizing strategies for your blogging efforts
Session 13 - SEO and Google analytics

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

The post How to use your unique skills to create content (2-9) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Jan 21, 2015

As we have been examining several aspects of blogging, we have generally been assuming that you are blogging alone. This is probably the most common scenario that you will find yourself in. Sometimes, though, you may find yourself working with someone else. One case would be with guest posting.

Another situation may involve a multi-author project, such as was the case with Jim Woods and Erik J. Fisher. I was able to talk to them about their process of working together on a writing project (writing two books together) back in Semester 1, Session 17. They shared some great insight and things to consider when approaching a partnership like that.

Now, their project didn’t really involve blogging, although Jim did blog about several of the concepts while they were in the writing process. Many of the principles, though, can apply to a blog-based project with multiple authors.

Multi-author sites
There are many sites that utilize multiple authors. Much like an online newspaper or magazine, these authors contribute articles (blog posts) on a regular basis. There is usually some sort of schedule where each one will post a certain times.

This can be a great option for some people. You could draw from many different sources and points of view. You can also provide a higher volume of high-quality content by having daily postings (or several times a day). This can provide a great increase in website traffic and, as a result, higher chance of monetizing through the site.

Some draw backs could be that individuals get lost behind the overall brand of the site. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can see the author getting overlooked because the reader is just concentrating on the actual content itself.
Multi-author collaboration
Another format is where multiple people collaborate together to provide a single piece of content, much like Jim and Erik did with their books. There can be an even greater chance of the individual getting lost behind the brand, but there can be some great benefits, too.

I started such a project. It started back in May/June of 2013. That is when it was announced that a new season of “24” would be coming the following year. I had been podcasting for a few months at that time, so the thought of starting a podcast based on the show came to mind. I didn’t want to do the show myself, so I looked for a possible co-host.

I remember my friend, Mark Sieverkropp, mentioning once that he loved the show, so I asked him if he’d be interested in joining me. After a couple e-mail exchanges, he agreed. We spent June and July watching the news and planning how we would approach it. We decided that we would try to cover each of the previous seasons before the new season started. We launched the podcast (The 24 Podcast) in August, giving us about 9 months to cover the 8 seasons of the show.

It was an intense 9 months because we were trying to re-watch as much of the show as possible. What we couldn’t watch, we looked for summaries to jog our memories. We were also able to get two other guys to come on as guest hosts periodically.

As the new season started, we would watch the episode that Monday (or Tuesday morning online). We would then record and episode on Tuesday or Wednesday, giving our commentary on it. We got a lot of great feedback and interaction from people on Twitter.

Then, the season came to an end.

We were faced with a decision: what do we do now? We didn't know if another season would come or not and we had already recapped the entire series.

One thing we had done throughout the podcast was give our predictions and story ideas. Some of them panned out, and others flopped. But that gave me the idea to try writing our own story line. A fan-fiction project. This idea was also mentioned by Jim Woods, who had no idea I was already thinking about it.

At the time, I had no idea what it would really look like or what it w...

Jan 7, 2015

When you are blogging, you also want to consider your website as a whole.  Not only do you need to focus on the content on the blog posts, or in the overall site design, but you also want to look at the pages you have.
9 website pages to consider
Depending on your unique situation, some of these pages may not apply. You can at least learn what they are and maybe you can adapt it your site. Some of these were covered in a previous podcast session (5 Key Components for Your Website).

1. About page

2. Contact page

3. Guest post guidelines

4. Hire me page

5. Store page

6. Resource page

7. Getting Started page

8. Archive page

9. 404 page - 404 to 301 plugin

The post The 9 website pages you may want to consider (2-7) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 31, 2014

Many are concerned about the design and layout of their websites. This session covers several things that you want to consider regarding your website design:

WordPress Theme
Clean layout
Minimalism
Sidebar - to have or not to have?

Your website design
As you get started, you want to put a good consideration into the theme that you choose. A great design for your website isn't a one-size-fits-all - everyone's needs are different. Take enough time to choose wisely.
Your website theme
You can choose between free and premium themes. There are also great WordPress frameworks available, such as the Genesis Framework (which this site it built on).

 

The post Simple web design and layout tips for your blog (2-6) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 23, 2014

If you are blogging, you are likely wanting to create a conversation with your readers. A great way to do this is utilizing a comment system.
Why you may not want comments
There are some cases where you may not desire to have comments. There are some thought leaders that have opted to disable comments on their blogs. Seth Godin, for example, doesn't allow comments. He chooses to give to his readers and have them share the post on social media. He wrote a post about his reasons back in 2006.

One reason you may choose not to allow comments is the potential time commitment. Especially if your readership grows, the number of comments will grow. This increases the amount you need to read and potentially respond to. This increases the amount of possible spam comments or trolls looking for a fight.
Why you might want comments
Despite the work involved, you want to cultivate a deeper relationship with your readers by creating a conversation. You start the conversation in the body of the post, then the readers respond to it, and hopefully the conversation with continue.

You may be looking for the extra perspective that your readers may provide. You probably don't know everything about your subject, and your readers may be able to provide a different perspective that you hadn't considered. Maybe you'll be able to get ideas for future blog posts based on the comments and questions in the comment section.
Managing the comments
1. Use a commenting system
WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system. Some people use it and love it. Personally, I don't care for it too much. I like using a third-party plugin. Two that I have used are Livefyre and Disqus (pronounced "discuss"). I started with Livefyre several years ago, but switched to Disqus after seeing and using it on many blogs I followed.

Both Livefyre and Disqus require you to sign up for an account, which is simply providing your e-mail address or utilizing one of your social media accounts. They both also have a feature that e-mails you future comments on that post, allowing you to keep up with the growing conversation. (note: as the blogger, you'll receive notifications of comments anyway, but your readers that comment will be notified as well.)

One important aspect is spam filtering. Both of these systems help filter spam out. It's not fool-proof, but it's pretty good.
2. Use a spam filter
One popular spam filter is Akismet, which is a plugin that comes pre-installed on WordPress. You'll need to either sign up for a Wordpress.com account or connect to it to enable Akismet. There are different price points for Akismet, both free and paid.
3. Moderation
There can be debate on moderation of comments. One suggestion is to have all comments approved before they appear on the site. This is the best way to make sure spam or hurtful comments don't make it to the public. On the flip-side, it can hinder some of the interaction that can take place on the blog.

Based on recommendations from some top bloggers, like Michael Hyatt in his book Platform, I think that you should make it easy for people to leave comments. If you use a system like Disqus along with Akismet, you won't have to worry much about spam. The occasional may still show up, but you can easily blacklist them on the admin dashboard.
4. Comment policy
It would be wise to have a comment policy on your site. Michael Hyatt has some great resources regarding this: Do you need a comments policy?
5. Interact
One of the main reasons for having comments available is so you can interact with your readers. If you write your blog post and let your readers comment, but you don't show up again, you're being rude. Imagine doing this at a dinner party: would you start a conversation with someone and then walk away while they are talking?
Other helpful plugins

Dec 17, 2014

We all have an inner-editor that can help us improve the quality and flow of our writing. But, there is tremendous value in having someone else take some time to edit your work.

Today, Jim Woods joins us to talk about editing, and his experience on both sides of the process. You can check out his website, connect with him on Twitter, or join his Facebook group, Writers Unite.
Resources:
Five incredibly simple ways to help writers show and not tell

Bury the "I"

Common words/phrases in Scrivener
An example of an edited blog post
Jim Woods edited a blog post I did ("What's the ideal post length"), and I show you the before and after of this process in this PDF:

Editing a Blog Post Example

Quotes from the conversation
[Tweet "It's amazing how much extra #perspective can really help. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "Most #writers are intimidated by the process of #editing. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "A good #editor has the best final piece in mind. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "You have to put out your best product. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "What's logical for you may not be logical for your ideal reader. - @jimwoodswrites #editing"]

[Tweet "Sometimes we hit the publish button too quickly. - jimwoodswrites #editing"]

The post How to utilize the power of editing your blog posts with Jim Woods (2-4) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 10, 2014

As we dive further into blogging, we are going to look specifically at the content itself.

Utilizing some of the ideas from the previous session (looking at search engine optimization), there are several key areas that we need to look at regarding our content. Remember that SEO covers both the front end (the visual end) and the back end of your website. We are just looking at the front end today.

1. You need a powerful headline
This is one area I need to really work on improving. Headlines are the title of your post. They are the second thing people usually see (after a relevant image) and the first thing people read. They are the doorway into the post, so you want to make it as appealing (yet truthful) as possible.

Copyblogger has some great resources regarding magnetic headlines.
2. You need an intriguing opening
If the headline can be compared to the door of a house, the first sentence and paragraph would be the entrance welcoming you to come further. Just as the entrance to a house can set the mood for the entire house, the tone is set in these first few words.

Jeff Goins suggests starting with a quote, a question, or a bold, audacious statement. A short, relevant story can help draw the readers' attention and create a desire to keep reading.
3. You need headings and sub-headings
It's an older study, but the Nielson Norman Group deduced in 1997 that 79% percent of Web users scan content rather than read it. One reason they give is that it is more difficult to read on a screen than it is to read on paper, slowing the person down. If you couple this with the fast-paced society we live in, people what to quickly find what they are looking for.

Heading and sub-heading help to make the major points stand out. A scanner of your content should get a good idea what you are talking about just from a quick look through. Hopefully, you can entice them to slow down and read more thoroughly, but you should make it easy for them.
4. You need shorter sentences and paragraphs
Longer, complex sentences make it more difficult to read. I know, I know. In English class, you were taught to write with a variety of sentence structures. But that doesn't always work well online.

Remembering that many people are just scanning your content, they will miss more if there is a large sea of text. Shorter, simple sentences make it easy to see the point. Short paragraphs make it easy to visually break things up.

White space is good.
5. You need to emphasize your text
Well, don't emphasize all of your text. Just the text that needs to stand out more. Not everything can fit as a heading, but still needs more attention that the text around it.

You can emphasize text by using bold, italics, or strike-through.
You can use lists, both numbered lists and bullet points.
Underlining is not a good method because it can look like a link.
Putting a word or single sentence on its own can help bring emphasis, too. (white space is good)

Other considerations
I plan on covering some more regarding the content itself, but here are some other things to keep in mind:

Post length - short or long?
Call to action
Images
Links
Guest posting
Republishing

Question: How can you improve your content? Is there anything you would add to this list?

The post How to improve the content you are creating (2-3) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 3, 2014

In this episode, Ilya Fainstein joins us to share his tips regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can contact Ilya on his website.

SEO is basically sending out a proper signal to the search engines so they can interpret what your website is about, make a judgment about your website, and then rank your site accordingly in search results.
Submitting your site to search engines
Sometimes you may get e-mails or see advertisements for people offering services to submit your website to search engines (making you think that you won't be found if you don't).

It's not really necessary to do this because the search engines are good at finding sites. Through Google Webmaster tools, you can submit an XML sitemap to them. This may accelerate the process, but it's nothing to worry too much about.
Back-linking
It is one of the most important thing in SEO, but it has changed. There were bad practices of paying for rubbish links to your site - this will lead to negative consequences from Google.

A good example: you write a blog post and then someone authentically links to your article from a relevant site.
Get quality links!
Meta tags
Meta tags are really important, but not to SEO rankings. There is no need for stuffing the keyword meta tags - Google ignores these for ranking purposes. You have to write your meta-tags like a good ad. They won't help your ranking, but will help the click-through rate.
Keywords
Consistency is key.
It is half-art, half-science.

Have the keyword be consistent throughout the entire structure of the post:

Post title
Post url
Throughout the body of the post

Use the keyword naturally!
Use synonyms - Google is smart enough to figure out that you may use other variations throughout.
Creating content
Just creating great content isn't enough. It is vital, but it doesn't stand on its own.

Write your content for people (not computers), but you have to get out there and promote your content.

Derek Halpern talks about an 80-20 rule regarding this: 20% content creation, 80% promotion.
Extras
SEO is a very confusing topic. There's a lot of information and things change quickly, so you need to pick your sources carefully.
SEO is not dead!
As long as Google provides search results, SEO will be very much worthwhile.

The post Search Engine Optimization with Ilya Fainstein (2-2) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Nov 26, 2014

After a break, we are finally opening up the second semester of the Creative Studio Academy! I will be talking about the platform for your website and some of the basic settings that are often overlooked. Before that, though...

At the end of last semester, I hinted at some of the changes that would be coming. If you are new to the Academy, please go back and check out the first semester sessions. From the things I mentioned before, here is what we are looking at moving forward:

Narrowing the focus for the semester. This semester, we will focus more on blogging. We will also touch on writing e-books and improving your website (especially in light of blogging).
Regular blog posts. Especially since we will focus more on blogging, I will be dedicating myself to writing at least one blog post a week in addition to the podcast sessions. There may be additional posts, but nothing that I can promise now.
Improved newsletter. I was thinking about going to a bi-weekly newsletter, which will include an article (not found on the website), some tips, and links to previous blog posts/podcast sessions. I will also have an e-book available that covers things that you need to get started with your website. I also hope to have another e-book that will cover how to take your website to the next level.
I really want to increase the engagement that we have. I have received a few comments and several iTunes reviews, but I really want to have regular interaction. I started this site by stating that I am not the expert, but I do have experience and knowledge I can share. And so do you! Even if you don't think you have done much, there is still someone that you can help influence. I want to hear from you in the comment section, via e-mail, and now I have a voice mail number you can call right from your phone. I'd also like to schedule time to talk with  you one on one.

The 2015 Winter Semester

Even though we are technically starting in 2014, most of this semester will fall in 2015. With our focus on blogging, I have created a mindmap of the topics that we will be trying to cover. We may not get to all of them, or we may not get deep into some of them. If you would like to download the PDF of this mindmap, you can do that here or click the image of it.
Your Platform
The platform for your website is important. Whether you are looking at a platform for a blog or a full-purpose website, my recommendation is a self-hosted WordPress site. We talked about WordPress several times last semester, and we were able to get some great information about it. I honestly have not used some of the others, like Joomla, Drupal, and Square Space, but based on many reviews I heard and read, WordPress brings both simplicity and power to the user.

Note: While WordPress can be simple, there is still a learning curve, but much of it can be grasped in a short amount of time. Dave Jackson (School of Podcasting and Weekly Web Tools host) says that if you can use Microsoft Word, you can create a post on WordPress. This is true. But to take this analogy a little further, most people that create simple documents in Word barely scratch the surface of what the software is capable of, and it takes a little bit to learn them. Same with WordPress.

When it comes to WordPress, there are two options: WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress. While these are basically the same at the core, there are some differences. I will try to have a blog post up in the near future to show these.
Settings
When you get WordPress installed, you get so excited about creating the content, that there are several settings that can easily get overlooked (check out this simple tutorial if you need help installing WordPress).

General Settings

Site title
Tagline
Timezone

Permalinks

Choose "Post Name"

 

The post

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