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As many of you will know, last week I stuck to my promise of launching a Podcast in the new year and released the first episode, ‘How I Would Make Money Online If I Was Starting from Scratch‘. I had hoped that a lot of people would get some value from the recording and be able to start 2012 in style, but I didn’t anticipate what happened next. Within 24 hours the podcast made it to #1 in Marketing and #2 in Business on iTunes which totally blew me away – sandwiched in between 9 podcasts by the BBC and the Financial Times.
In just 6 days (I don’t have stats for the last 24 hours yet) the first show has been downloaded over 18,000 times. Keep in mind that I didn’t even write a blog post about the launch, so the majority of my audience are only hearing about the episodes now. Episodes was not a typo. I’m adding another recording in the next 24 hours.
On top of that, this website had some of the best traffic days it has had, ever. In fact, January is the highest traffic month for the blog so far since June 2011, and there’s still quite a few days left before it’s over. I’m really surprised by the results and really, the only thing I can complain about is that I wish I had started this podcasting thing earlier.
As you can probably tell, I’m really happy to have launched and can see that this is going to be a big step in taking the ViperChill brand forward. For those of you who see opportunities for audio to grow your business, I’m going to show you the exact, step-by-step process of how to launch a podcast in style.
Though there were a number of reasons for me to start a podcast, many of which you would probably relate to, I have to admit that one of my biggest motivations in kicking this off was seeing the success that Pat Flynn has had with his own podcast over at SmartPassiveIncome.
The number of downloads his episodes are getting has been increasing month on month, with over 100,000 being listened to in December alone. Pat interviewed me in one show early on in the life of his podcast and I’m constantly hearing from people that it’s how they discovered ViperChill.
Not only that, but in a survey he gave to his audience he discovered that his podcast was the number one way that new people found SmartPassiveIncome in 2011. Are you itching to start yours yet?
When I was first starting out online I would sometimes listen to recordings from Webmaster Radio on my iPod as I walked to school or was sitting on the bus to work. My favourite show was on the topic of SEO which was put together by Dave Naylor and Mikkel de Mib, two very well known people in the industry who were always up to date on what to do about the latest algorithm changes.
Despite my love for it back then, I honestly haven’t listened to that many podcasts since. I would estimate that I’ve probably heard around 15 different episodes in the last two years, and that was just downloading the individual files directly; not subscribing to feeds in iTunes.
I still love SEO and marketing in general, but since I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s pretty rare for me to hear new things that nobody else is talking about or that apply to the specific types of things I’m working on. I’m always looking to learn, but I have a trusted system for growing my ‘knowledge-base’ and it’s all revolved around text. That aside, I definitely see this as an opportunity for me to give more value and grow ViperChill at the same time.
I see a lot of potential for you all to benefit from this medium as well. Some of the main advantages that come with podcasting include:
There are probably a few items in here that I’ve missed, but those are definitely the most important benefits that I’ve noticed myself. If you’ve decided that producing a few MP3 files or starting a full-blown podcast just might be for you, then I’ll now get into the specifics…
Once you’ve decided to give this a try, it’s time to get ready to record your first episode. Though the internal microphone on my Macbook Pro is more than suitable for Skype conversations, I wanted a bit more quality when it comes to producing a podcast so I decided to look around to see what was available.
Since I’m back in Cape Town at the moment (just for a couple of weeks before I start my ‘new life’ on a new continent) I went looking around the computer shops at a few malls to see what was available. Sadly, the best thing I could find was a small Logitech mic for about $30 which the salesman tried to convince me would sound fantastic, but I wasn’t convinced.
After asking around on Twitter a few people like Derek suggested that I pick up a ‘Blue Yeti’ USB microphone that seems to be a popular option. I knew I wasn’t going to have any luck in the shops here so decided to do some searching online. The best price I could find was on an African, eBay-style website where it was being sold for R2,200. That’s around $273, almost triple the price the microphone would cost if I were to buy it in Europe or America.
I wanted a quality microphone and while it wouldn’t kill my bank balance, I had no idea how long it would take to arrive, so decided to pass. I was getting a little frustrated with my hunt when Diggy had the idea of going to a music shop around five minutes from my apartment. My bad luck continued when they didn’t have any USB microphones in the shop, but the person I dealt with said they could order one in for me and it would arrive just after the new year.
I’m usually an impulse buyer and hate waiting for things, but at R749 (around $90) the price seemed a little more reasonable, and compared to the Amazon price of $73 I didn’t feel like I was being totally ripped off either. The microphone – the Samson C01U – arrived in store a few days later and I quickly tested it out (see image to your right). The quality far surpassed that of my internal microphone and impressed Diggy so much that he ordered the exact same one within five minutes of hearing mine.
The next thing on my list was software. For years now I’ve used Audacity for recording DJ mixes and MP3 files for various projects, so decided to go with that again. It’s totally free, and available for Mac and Windows users over here. I know other people like to use GarageBand (Mac) but it’s not something I’ve had much experience with so I decided to stick with what I know. My microphone actually came with it’s own software as well, called cakewalk, which I thought was a nice addition and I’ll definitely test it out for one of my future recordings.
After a few sound checks I silently wished that I had purchased a ‘pop filter’ for the microphone – which stops any P sounds like Pppppp – but found I could avoid that problem as long as I didn’t speak directly into it, and instead had it slightly to the left of my mouth when talking. However, this is an item I’ll still probably pick up in the future.
Deciding What to Talk About
My recommendations for what you should be talking about in your podcast don’t really differ too much from my content idea generation post when I was talking about blogging. The basics really apply here:
But hey, this is ViperChill, and we don’t just stick to the basics. One cool thing about iTunes is that is shows you the popularity of individual episodes. Just like you can go to blogs in your industry and figure out what their most popular posts are, you can also look at people podcasting in your industry and see which episodes of there’s were hits. What topics they talked about which really got their audience excited.
For example, I can go into the health category and click on a random show, The Meditation Podcast. By looking down their list of shows I can see that the most popular are the ones that focus on sleeping. Now I know this is an area that – if I can share some good information on the topic – will be of interest to a lot of people if I were to produce a podcast.
It’s probably a good idea to suggest here that once you have released a few episodes, make sure you check your own show ratings as well so you can keep giving your audience what they want.
Intro / Outro
If you’ve listened to my own podcast then you’ll know that I apologised for not having any “awesome intro music or cheesy lines from some voiceover guy on Fiverr.” I honestly don’t think that having these is really that important, but I do think it makes your recording sound a little more professional and shows new listeners that you’ve actually put some care into the production of what you’re doing.
When I ran PluginID, at the end of my videos you would hear lots of people saying the name of the website, including males and females with totally different accents, ending with my Taiwanese friend Rose repeating “PluginIDeeeeeee”. I could be wrong, but I think it gave the site a more global feel, and really showed that people all over the world were reading / watching.
I’m contemplating doing something similar with ViperChill, but don’t send in your MP3 files just yet. If you’re looking for voiceover resources besides Fiverr, you could try a ‘voice marketplace’ like Voices.com, or even just contact the owners of podcasts whose intro you like and ask for recommendations.
I’ve created a few MP3 files for various projects before, so I wasn’t totally new to this and had an idea of how I wanted to approach things. Whenever I used to record them I would try and speak off the top of my head without any script, but would find myself losing focus and sometimes missing key points. It’s a lot less time consuming to talk naturally without writing anything down first, but I think I need a lot more practice with this.
I decided to write a fairly detailed outline of what I was going to say before I started recording. This way I know exactly what I want to cover and can ensure there’s nothing that I miss out. This also helps me keep some form of ‘flow’ to the recording as well. One downside to this approach though is that it is slower, and you do run the risk of sounding a little robotic. To combat the latter point, don’t be afraid to go ‘unscripted’ at times and then get back to your next item.
Before I released my podcast to the world I sent it over to my friend Graeme to see what he thought, and listened to it myself for the first time as well. We were both in agreement that the information was good, but I could benefit by first of all, talking slower, and secondly, not trying to cram in as much information as I did.
I’m happy with the recording, but if you space out for a few minutes then there’s probably a lot of information that you’ve lost. I’m contemplating adding a little bit of ‘fluff’ in future recordings and not try and get so many concepts across in a short space of time, but I would love to know what you think about that in the comments.
If you’re anything like me, whether or not you are reading a script or going at it naturally, there are going to be times when you screw up and say something totally wrong or ridiculous. I did leave in a few errors, but some things are best taken out. Whenever I have a slip-up I’ll simply shout “STOP” into the microphone then carry on speaking.
When editing in Audacity, I can clearly see a big sound wave from when I shouted, so I know where the errors are and in turn know where to make my edits.
Once you’ve finished recording, it’s time to produce it as an MP3 file. If you’re using Audacity, you will be asked to locate a certain file once you try to Save it as an MP3. This file doesn’t come with Audacity by default, but you can find what you’re looking for over on this page.
One person that was constantly recommended to me when I was looking to launch a podcast was Cliff Ravenscraft’s website, PodcastAnswerMan. He has some great video tutorials on his site and with the introduction of one of them being “most people who podcast forget to do this” I had to keep watching.
His suggestion was to use a program called ID3 Editor to edit the specific information of your MP3 file and do something I had totally never thought of, embedding an image into the MP3. This image is what will show in the likes of Windows Media Player and iTunes as the cover graphic of your album or individual MP3′s when playing them, as shown below:
Audacity which I use already has options for things like the Title, Album name and track number so these were already filled in for me after producing. I added the simple graphic that I had already created for when submitting to the iTunes podcast directory and it was done. This image should be 300px by 300px.
To test that you’ve done this properly, just open your MP3 file up in iTunes and see if the cover shows when playing the file.
I was recently asked in an interview why I have a very strong community with this site. Basically, why my posts get so many shares and comments and discussion. One of the reasons, I assumed, was that I don’t claim to be an expert on everything. I’m always willing to learn more things and share my findings with people here.
This step is a good example of that. Simply put: I’ve found something that works, which I’m going to share below, but the way I do things is probably not best way to go about it.
Your podcast RSS feed allows general RSS readers, podcast directories and places like iTunes to ‘pull’ information about your podcast and your episodes such as its title, length, publish date, specific show information and the actual location of your MP3 files. It also allows you to notify these places whenever you add new shows or just want to make some changes to episode information.
The most popular option I’ve found for bloggers who podcast is to use a plugin like the podcasting plugin for WordPress, found here. With over 130,000 downloads, I’m sure you’ll recognise the little player it adds to your posts from some of the blogs you read.
This plugin will also help you create your own iTunes feed from a specific category on your blog, which you can then run through Feedburner and submit to iTunes. For most of you reading this, the plugin solution is probably your best option.
I didn’t take this route for a few reasons. First of all, I want full control over my XML file that iTunes and other services are pulling. I’ve witnessed more than enough people having corrupt RSS Feeds from conflicts with certain plugins (though they’re definitely the minority) and not being able to fully control them in WordPress.
Secondly, I didn’t really need the majority of the features in the plugin. Since I’m not going to be putting podcasts into posts (at least not anytime soon) and instead have them highlighted on a page, there’s no RSS feed that I can generate from a specific category.
Instead, I hand-created my XML feed. Again, for 99% of people, this probably isn’t the best option to take. I’m only going to be adding one or two podcasts to the site per month at most so it’s really not a big deal for me to manually edit the file. However, if you’re adding one every couple of days then it would probably get annoying.
A friend said he could make me a small script in 10 minutes to update this file if I ever wanted to take some more shortcuts. I’m kind of enjoying getting involved in all the technical stuff by hand at the moment though.
You can view the XML data I have for ViperChill below, if you’re looking to go the same route as me:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss xmlns:itunes="http://www.itunes.com/dtds/podcast-1.0.dtd" version="2.0">
<title>ViperChill Podcast : Viral Marketing</title>
<description>Presented by Glen Allsopp, who at 18 was the social media manager for companies like Land Rover and Hewlett Packard, the ViperChill podcast shares internet marketing insights you wont find anywhere else. I'm ultimately here to teach you how to get more traffic and make more money!</description>
<lastBuildDate>Thu, 08 Jan 2012 11:30:00 -0500</lastBuildDate>
<pubDate>Thu, 08 Jan 2012 11:30:00 -0500</pubDate>
<itunes:subtitle>The ViperChill Podcast teaches you how to succeed online by getting more traffic and making more money. </itunes:subtitle>
<itunes:summary>Presented by Glen Allsopp, who at 18 was the social media manager for companies like Land Rover and Hewlett Packard, the ViperChill podcast shares internet marketing insights you wont find anywhere else. I'm ultimately here to teach you how to get more traffic and make more money! </itunes:summary>
<itunes:category text="Management & Marketing"/>
<title>How I Would Make Money If I Was Starting from Scratch Online</title>
<description> Learn exactly what I would do if I was starting from scratch online in the first ever episode of the ViperChill Podcast!</description>
<enclosure url="http://www.viperchill.com/Starting-Online.mp3" length="21243263" type="audio/mpeg"/>
<category>Management & Marketing</category>
<pubDate>Sun, 08 Jan 2012 11:30:00 -0500</pubDate>
<itunes:subtitle>Learn exactly what I would do if I was starting from scratch online in the first ever episode of the ViperChill Podcast! </itunes:subtitle>
<itunes:summary> Learn exactly what I would do if I was starting from scratch online in the first ever episode of the ViperChill Podcast!</itunes:summary>
<itunes:keywords>make money online, starting online, viral marketing, viperchill, glen allsopp</itunes:keywords>
It should be fairly simple to work out what you need to change when you create your own XML file if you wish to do so. You’ll see that I’ve referenced the ViperChill MP3 file on my own server. If you don’t want to upload them to your site via FTP like I did you can also upload MP3 files to your site using WordPress, by clicking ‘Media’ on the left navigation menu in your admin panel, and selecting ‘Add New’.
Once you have your podcast RSS feed through whatever format, it’s time to add it to iTunes. To do that, simply open the software on your computer and – making sure you’re connected to the internet – click on ‘iTunes Store’ on the left menu. On the top menu bar select ‘Podcasts’, then a small link on the right sidebar gives you the option to ‘Submit Your Podcast’.
You’ll then be asked to provide your RSS URL, which iTunes will relay back to you so you can check that the information is correct. You’ll then go through a manual review before being approved onto the store. For me this took less than 18 hours so it shouldn’t take too long to see your podcast live once you’ve submitted it.
As far as making any changes to the podcast RSS feed go, I’ve generally found my changes to reflect in iTunes within 3-4 hours, though I’ve heard it can be much quicker at times.
The obvious first place to go with the launch of your podcast is in front of your current audience. I wanted to dedicate a page on the site just to view the podcast, rather than writing a post every single time I produce a new recording. Most of you would probably see more sense in the “posting every time you produce something” concept, but I guess I’m kind of weird like that. There’s also no reason why you can’t do both, ala Steve Pavlina.
Though I didn’t write a blog post about the launch, I did send it out to one email list and promote it on Twitter and Facebook. This no doubt helped me get a push up the rankings, and I again want to thank everyone who took the time to subscribe, review and rate over on iTunes. As promised, I’ve been checking out the sites of everyone who let me know via Twitter.
The aim really is to get higher up some of these category pages which iTunes podcast listeners check on a daily basis. If you can get in the ‘New & Noteworthy’ section then you’re probably even more likely to get a listener boost as well. Being high up on these sections is probably the best thing you can do to increase your audience in the early stages of your podcast.
In other words, if you’re going to launch on the iTunes market, try and make sure you can give your show as big a boost as you can in the early days to help your chances of your podcast being featured.
It’s up to you whether your not you want to want to give your audience a transcript to go with your audio files. I only received one ‘thanks’ for having one, yet I’m sure I would have heard a lot of complaints if I didn’t. Around 14% of the people who downloaded the MP3 from me directly (rather than going through iTunes) picked up the PDF, so it is used by a decent amount of people.
Since I had written a lot of what I was going to speak, it didn’t take very long to fill in the blanks and write the rest of the transcript. For transcripts you can once again find works on Fiverr, and assistants on the likes of oDesk, but you may want to look into the various software solutions that are available on Google. I haven’t fully looked into any of these yet, so can’t personally recommend them.
There are a number of podcast directories out there for you to list your new show, but I couldn’t find any that seemed popular, and would assume this is probably a waste of time. Now that I have some decent audience figures I’ll test some out and then update this section. This leaves my final process pretty straightforward, and highlighted in the graphic below:
The final question I want to answer is “Should I Start a Podcast?“. They clearly have a place in the marketing world, but audiences here are definitely more tech-savvy than the average person. I think that even if you don’t want to create a regularly updated podcast, at least create something so you can connect further with your readers.
It’s so easy to create an MP3 file that you can send out to your list or add to a page on your site or use as a bonus to a product that there’s really no reason not to give it a try.
I really hope you got some value out of this post and suggest that, as always, if you have any questions just leave a comment below. Thanks again to all of you who subscribed to and rated the show on iTunes!