Beginner Podcasters, Consider This: Life On The Web and In Podcasting Can Sometimes Be Tough and Short-Lived

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I fully intended to be giving you a review of a nice little software program I tried out at the request of one of my reader/listeners … but I have found that they are no longer around. That software was called “Podcast Station” and I gave it a good try for the thirty day trial period and wanted to buy it but found they were out of business.

Wow, how quickly things change in this world we live in … especially this audio and video podcasting world.

That’s one of the problems, or should I say challenges, of getting started marketing either yourself or a product online. Sometimes a great idea is just that, a great idea, but needs to be looked at further BEFORE you offer more than you can deliver or before your hopes and dreams for a program or product bankrupt you either physically, spiritually or financially.

I am sure all of us would like to generate some sort of income from our podcasts, products or productions, but there are some pitfalls that need to be considered also. That’s why we need to look at our future in this endeavor before we’ve invested too much money or time (which is part of the subject I talked about in my last article).

I cannot, and will not, speak for the makers of “Podcast Station” but I do kinda know how they feel. It can be really tough in this life of technology and information sharing, whether you are trying to market a podcast or trying to sell a software program. I’m inclined to believe that just because something is so easy and inexpensive for individuals, or companies, to produce does not mean it will always be successful or valuable.

That’s why I think it is so important for beginner, (or wannabe), podcasters to really think about their short-term and long-term goals for their chosen direction. Although you can’t necessarily see all of the possible problems before you actually turn out your project, you can research and analyze your possibilities by taking just a bit more time before making a long-term commitment to something. Does this mean you can’t step out and just do it? No; but it does mean that you need to take the necessary time to look at your plan before it causes you a lot of grief or heartache.

If you take that little bit of extra time, what does it cost you? Nothing but the extra time it takes. The nice part is that if you take a little extra time and decide to continue on, you may find that it makes your progress towards what you consider success that much quicker. Can that be a bad thing? I don’t think so.

You see, I have this really big “wish list” filled with all kinds of nifty items I would love to have or at least try out. I just don’t have the extra cash laying around to throw at items that I probably don’t need anyway. I have managed to keep my budget relatively low because I took a little extra time to look at what I wanted to do, what I could afford to do and how important it was for me to do it.

I have invested in a couple of pieces of equipment to make my job easier for now and they were things I could use not only for my podcasting adventure, but also for other things I like to do.

One of the best investments I think I have made is how I record my voice for this podcast. I use a ZOOM H4 Handy Recorder. It is a portable and handy device that captures (records) directly to an SD memory card (up to 2g) in either wav or mp3 files from the built in x-y pattern mics. It also has the capability to directly connect external mic or instrument inputs. In fact, it is actually a hand held 4 track studio.

As I have mentioned many times before, I use Audacity to edit my programs. It is free, versatile and works extremely well. (Now, admittedly, I use ver. 1.2.6 just because I like the stability of it but I have used the newer versions which do even more and also perform well). Did I mention it was FREE?

You see, I’m a believer in not spending more than you need to and I also believe in keeping things simple. Both of the items I have mentioned here are easy to use and affordable. I didn’t start out with the H4 but took equipment I had laying around and used that until I determined what would be the best for me to invest my limited finances in. I’ve used an old hand-held, full-size cassette recorder and then graduated to using my little hand-held, audio note-taking digital recorder (made by Olympus) until I made that investment in the H4.

Now, I feel as though I am working with two things, (the H4 and Audacity), that allow me to quickly turn out a very good production and also serve me well in other areas of interest.

Does that mean I can’t do better?

No … it means I have put off making a larger financial investment in some equipment I would someday like to have until I really need it. I think what I use serves me quite well considering what I have invested in it.

You may ask the question, “Do I really think my podcast is that important or popular?”

I would answer you this way. If I can help just one person make a better decision in their quest for a dream, then I have accomplished at least one purpose for this website. My hope is that I have reached, and will continue to reach, more than one. I have considered my purpose and investment and it is worth the price for me to continue trying to help people not waste their time or money and become frustrated.

Am I looking to be popular? Although popularity is always appealing — no — I am looking to help you make wise decisions to accomplish your most burning desire in podcasting. The most important thing I have to offer is my experience in recording, editing and turning out productions and doing it the best I can. That part may not be important to you, but I have been doing it for a long time and I do care about what I do.

See ya next time …
Rusty

Beginner Podcasters – Three Important Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Podcast

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“So … why can’t you just start a podcast?” Well, that’s a really good question and here’s another. “Why bother thinking about the ins and outs and pesky details of making a podcast when all you want to do is interview people and/or talk about what-ever comes to mind?” Well, that’s another good question, and here’s one more. “When all is said and done, couldn’t spontaneity be the key to a successful podcast?”

The answers to these three questions are:

  • you can;
  • you don’t have to
  • and, yes.

But these are not the three most important questions you need to ask yourself before you start your own podcast. Hopefully, you will consider these and other questions as you progress towards producing your own podcast, but, you see, there are a lot of things that need to be considered and some are more important than others.

Let’s get real here. Audio recording and editing (especially simple, digital recording and non-destructive editing) is not at all difficult in this day and age but it is an ever-evolving craft as far as equipment and software is concerned. Although not quite the same, this same thought holds true for video recording and editing. Podcasting, more often than not, is merely an extension of recording and editing either audio or video or both.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget what a definition of podcasting actually is. It is the ability of the listener to take recorded audio or video files of information they’re interested in and listen to them at a time more convenient for them. Perhaps better stated, it is a recorded audio or video file that is portable and time-shiftable by the listener.

In the end, however simple or complicated you decide to make the above tasks determines what equipment and software you will need, but those are questions we can better answer later.

Now that we’ve gotten those preliminaries out of the way, there are other things you need to consider as you plan producing your podcast. You don’t need to consider every little detail here at the beginning, but you do need to think about the bigger picture. In other words, you may know you want to be podcaster, but, do you know what you are getting yourself into?

Let’s take a look at three of the questions you really need to ask yourself before you get started and before you make any large investments in equipment or software.

First: Just how serious are you about making a regular podcast?

  • You must first make up your mind whether or not you are really serious about doing a regular podcast. Believe me, somewhere down the road you will definitely come to the point of answering this question and you might as well answer it first. It is one of the most important you can ask yourself right now, before you spend any money or invest in any equipment or software. Think it through. After the newness wears off and the drudgery kicks in will you still want to pursue this?

Second: How much do you want to invest in this adventure?

  • Just because you only have a little money — or don’t have any money — to invest in equipment or software doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goal. It just means you may have to be more creative in your approach to getting started. It may mean you have to think a little harder or consider more broadly how you can actually get started or where you want to spend what little money you do or don’t have to purchase the necessary equipment or software. It is my opinion, if you have a relatively new computer and a microphone that records your voice somewhat decently, you are ready to get started, (even if only on a limited basis to begin with.) Your options are still wide open in any case. Trust me, if you really want to be a podcaster, there are even ways to be one whether you have a computer or not.

Third: How willing are you to listen to the input of others even if you have a working knowledge of recording, editing and podcasting?

  • Just because you know a lot doesn’t mean you know it all. Swallow that pride, be open-minded and listen to the input of others. You may not agree with them and you may not use all or any of what they offer but you can gain valuable input and information from them; and come to better know why you do things the way you do and why their way won’t work for you. You never know, you may actually find they have some really good ideas that you can tweak and use for your own purpose. (Who knows, you may even one day discover that people are willing to listen to what you have to say concerning this ever-changing way of communicating ideas to others.)

As I said earlier in this article, there are many things you need to consider before jumping headlong into your choice of podcasting. These are three of the ones I consider to be most important to consider before you get started. I do believe if you take the time to evaluate them and your plans for your production you will be miles ahead now and in the future.

See you next time …

Russ

Beginner Podcasters, What Do You Ultimately Desire To Accomplish With Your Podcast?

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Before I answer with the obvious, let me slightly re-state the question? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with, or by, podcasting?

Is it just something that you like to do or is it a burning passion from within you to communicate your thoughts, knowledge or view of your chosen subject or subjects? Could it be that you do what you do to accommodate people that can’t read your written words because they are visually impaired? Perhaps it is because you know they want, or need, to hear what you have to say? Maybe you just like to talk and think you have something to say that others want to hear? These are all good reasons for spending the time that takes to make a podcast, but, what is YOUR ultimate purpose? What is it that will make yours ultimately unique and will set you apart from the rest?

Think about it for a moment. What is your purpose for making a podcast or being a podcaster? It is important that you answer that question before you get too far into your podcasting experience. I can tell you that without a clear direction and a love for what you are doing, you won’t last long.

Because of personal reasons, I haven’t been blogging or podcasting for a while and, honestly, I hope I was missed but I don’t think anyone much noticed. The only fortunate thing I have going in my favor when I took the extended leave is that I have almost two years of content out there. Some of it is pretty good (even if I do say so myself) and some of it … well … it’s even better. That’s because, though I do get sidetracked at times, I have a lot of interest in this thing called podcasting and the recording and editing of audio and video. You do know that this thing most often called podcasting has really only been going on in its present form for a little over four years.

Just in case you haven’t had time to notice, a lot is going on in this communication field and it is becoming more and more popular all the time. More people than ever before are finding audio and video podcasting as a means of getting their message across to the masses.

I am not so sure that every podcast that’s popular sounds like just another radio program though. It seems more and more are discovering that the message is more important than the fancy “radio-type” production. In fact, it seems that the ones that provide the most pertinent information to their audience are the ones that are growing in popularity.

That’s why I think it is important for you, the beginner podcaster, to think about what drives you to be a podcaster. Just what is it that you desire to accomplish with it? What is so important or interesting about it that makes you and your audience keep coming back for more?

I would like to be really transparent and tell you that my biggest problem more often than not is deciding what to focus on. Some people ask me what equipment to use and others ask me to try out different and diverse software. Some, by their questions, have even forced me to become more familiar with some of the technical aspects of podcasting software and equipment that I used to just take for granted or think that most people somehow just understood. Now I admit, I do have an interesting time with some of the equipment and software but honestly, I’ve discovered that some of it is just a total waste of time and energy. More often than not, whatever you choose, simple is better.

The redeeming value to all of it is that I have the opportunity to learn something new all the time. When I learn something of particular interest, (or something that really surprises me with how well it works or how easy it makes a task) I share it with you as quickly as I can. In future articles, I have some interesting things to share with you. In fact, I have a bunch of ideas in my “article oven” right now. Soon you will able to tap into what I think is some really interesting stuff right here on “Podcasting Resources” at podcastnorm.com.

For right now though, I just want to talk to you beginners about what you want to accomplish with this form of communication called podcasting. If you haven’t started yet, now is a good time to take some time and think through your plans for the future. Try to visualize yourself a year from now. Does your chosen direction still look appealing? Do you look forward to each new podcast with the same excitement you used to.

If you’ve already started with your podcasting adventure, take a little time to evaluate where you are and how far you’ve come. Does this “podcast thing” still hold you in its grip with anticipation for every new show or do you dread even the thought of having to turn your next one out?

In the mean time, take a look at why you want to be a podcaster and what you want to accomplish with your podcast and be on the lookout for the next article, “Three Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Making The Committment To Be A Podcaster.”

See you next time …

Russ

More Good Reasons To Use A Musical Floor

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I’m sure you remember in the not too distant past we’ve talked about using a musical floor in the main body of your podcast. Well, I have a very good reason for bringing it up again and there are more than a few good reasons to use a musical floor.

(For those of you that may just be joining in, that’s background music, or for some of you out there, a musical underlay. Others may even call it an underscore. They all pretty much mean the same thing)

Some good reasons for using one are:

  • Setting the mood for what you are presenting or talking about.
  • Enhancing or reinforcing the mood you want to set for the podcast or subject.
  • Using it with video often adds mental excitement of some sort to the visual footage.
  • It can also be used to add a calming effect after some sort of intensity.

Now, I want you to know those are just some of the reasons.

Here, I would like to tell you two of the main reasons I use a musical floor:

  • The first is to add life or set the mood for the podcast.
  • Second is to cover over a little bit of background sound that I have no way of getting rid of, (at least, not easily at the moment.)

You see, I don’t have the quietest of places to record my podcast, I just have a place that is fairly quiet. Because of this particular reason, I decided, rather than let it bother me too much, I would just, basically, make it sound as if those background sounds weren’t there or at least cover them over as best I could. Now I know that sounds as if I am cheating a bit, but trust me when I tell you, I’m not alone in choosing that method of covering some small imperfections.

Remember, this is just one good reason to use a musical floor. It gives you a bit more room for covering things that might be a distraction to you or some of your listeners.

Now, I understand there will be some that will disagree with me on this, but when the proper music is chosen for this purpose, it can do more than just cover background noise. It can cause your listeners to be more responsive to your message.

I can tell you with certainty that the music you choose for your musical floor can make a world of difference in what people take away from your presentation (what ever it may be) and what they will think of it in general. It has to do with a thing called the brain. In fact it has to do with speaking to the left side and the right side of the human brain at the same time.

Now, I am not a psychologist but I do know that this works for several reasons and just about anyone in marketing will tell you that if you can effectively relate, or link, left brain-right brain activity, the more effective and better are the chances of your message being responded to and remembered.

If you think I’m wrong, let me remind you once again, you are entitled to your opinion. I can, however, make a good argument for my case. I would merely point out to you that music can, and probably has, helped you remember twenty six somewhat unrelated items (at least if you’re from the USA). This is a classic example that many have already experienced. Yes, you’ve guessed it; It is the a-b-c’s. Surely you know the musical melody and the letters of the alphbet by now.

For another example, I’m sure you’ve already noticed, if you watch much TV or many movies, there is usually some sort of music in the background. It isn’t necessarily the same music all the time and there are times when music just doesn’t fit, but, music can make or break a message or a scene. I’m also guessing you’ve noticed most commercials, whether on TV, radio or anywhere else, have music of some sort playing in the background. (That’s right; it seems inescapable, doesn’t it?) And here’s the important thing about it. All of that music is chosen because it does what it is supposed to do. It makes the message either more memorable, or more effective.

Now, we won’t be getting into all of the nuances of music and sound effects right now, but suffice it to say, music … the right music … can make a world of difference in what you are trying to get across to your listener and what they take away from what you are saying. Music in the background … the right music in the background … can help make your message more acceptable to those listening to it. Yes, I know not all people’s taste in music is the same and I know, also, that music is not needed in every situation. Used properly, though, it can possibly make your podcast more interesting and even more exciting than it may have been without it.

Now, admittedly, the wrong music can totally distract your listener and cause them to completely miss what you want them to take away with them. It could even possibly cause them to turn off your podcast before they ever get your message. This is why you need to put a little forethought into the audience you are trying to reach. By taking the time to think about your audience — who they are what their interests are — could quite possibly make the difference in how they respond to you and your message. Not only could that make your podcast more popular, but it could possibly make it more valuable in more ways than one.

Simply choosing music you like is not the best reason for what you choose to use as a musical floor. You need to think bigger. You need to think wider or broader. You need to think about your audience and what you are trying to get across to them. Experimenting with different types will not be a waste of your time, but wise use of it. By taking the time to think about these things, you’re taking the time to make your podcast a level above the rest and, in my thinking, that is a good thing.

I’ll see you next time …

What Does Podcasting Mean To You?

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Podcasting is very popular and a very interesting form of communication. On the one hand, some think it is a way for them to say what ever they want and not have to worry about what others think. On the other hand, some think it is a complete waste of time and they would rather not have to be exposed to such an obtrusive distraction. In reality, the truth lay somewhere in between.

Somewhere in that mixture of thought processes is the question of what Podcasting means to you and before we move on too much further, you need to answer these questions for your self:

  • Have you actually considered just how powerful of a means of communication it can be?
  • Is it something you want to use as a form of communicating your viewpoint to others?
  • Is it something you simply use to become informed on subjects of interest to you?
  • Is it something you desire to use to teach, preach or reach others with subjects of interest to you or important information you think the world needs to know?
  • Do you consider the quality of the productions (podcasts) to be important or do you just like the subject matter enough to not care how good or bad it may sound or look?
  • Does your idea for a podcast include thinking about the cost it may take to accomplish your desired “end result?”
  • Do you really think you can do it?

All of these thoughts are good points of interest to consider and all of them need to be considered before you invest a large sum of money pursuing your dream. In fact, I am here to help you get started, “On The Cheap”, and I know you can do it inexpensively if you want. I also know you can start inexpensively and build from that point and only invest the amount you need to accomplish your goals for your podcast.

I understand and have to admit, it is easy to get all excited and spend more money than you need to just to get started.

What if I told you you could get started for next to nothing? Continue reading What Does Podcasting Mean To You?