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DPP014: Podcasting for the Rest of Us, Making Crappy Stuff, eBook Dictation, and 4 More Ideas

February 7, 2013

In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I cover 7 topics from podcasting for people who aren’t very good at talking to making crappy stuff and dictating your ebooks.

The podcast is on iTunes here. It would be awesome if you rated and reviewed the podcast in iTunes. If you’re using something other than iTunes, the podcast’s feed is http://blog.osmosio.com/feed/podcast/. The podcast is now available through Stitcher, too.

You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player right below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 20 minutes long.

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DPP014: Podcasting for the Rest of Us, Making Crappy Stuff, eBook Dictation, and 4 More Ideas

Hey friends, I’m Tristan Higbee, and this show is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, from blogging to ebooks to membership sites and more, plus things related to internet business and online marketing. Stick around till the end of the podcast and I’ll mention my picks for this week’s featured podcast and featured tool for digital publishers. You can find a full transcript of each episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com.

I’d like to thank everyone that has gone into iTunes and left reviews and rated the show, I really, really appreciate it.

Real quick, I’ve got some business to go over before I start into the good stuff. I mentioned in the last episode that I was transferring the blog that the Digital Publishing Podcast is part of to a new domain, and that has been done. My blog that was called The Backlight is now called Osmosio (and that’s at O-S-M-O-S-I-O.com; it’s spelled like “osmosis” but with an O on the end instead of an S). So if you subscribed to The Backlight’s RSS feed, you’ll need to re-subscribe to the Osmosio blog’s RSS feed. And also, I don’t know how switching the domain has affected the podcast feed. I’ll figure it out eventually and I’ll see once this podcast goes live if those who already subscribed to the podcast’s feed will get it, but yeah. If you’re hearing this now, you obviously found out how to listen to it, bit just know that the dust from this move will settle and everything will work eventually.

Ok! I’ve got 7 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.

1. Optimization services

There are a ton of people and companies that offer SEO services. And I was listening to a podcast a couple months ago—and I don’t remember which podcast it was—and the guy being interviewed offered App Store optimization services. So if you develop iOS apps, you hire this guy and he’ll help you rank higher in Apple’s App Store search results for words and phrases related to your app, which in turn leads to more downloads and purchases.

And there are tons of other types of optimization services, too. There’s landing page optimization. Sales page optimization. Email optimization.

I think that ebooks are another area that could be optimized and turned into a service. You’d help people rank their books higher in the search results of whatever ebook store you’re in. Amazon’s Kindle store is an obvious candidate for this kind of service, but so are the Nook store at Barnes and Noble and Apple’s iBookstore. You’d help people tweak their titles, their descriptions, tags, keywords, categories, likes, comments and whatever else you can do to improve people’s rankings.

Another potential optimization service that someone could do is iTunes podcast optimization. You’d take a look at their title, keywords, categories, and all that good stuff and help people improve their rankings in the iTunes podcast search results.

So in other words, for all of these services, you see people doing things poorly and tell them how to do them better or do it better for them. If you can do it better and in a way that will get them more exposure or more money, you could turn that optimization into a service and charge for it, and I think you could turn it into a nice business.

2. Slash iTunes

Digital Publishing Podcast in iTunesYou know how I and a lot of other podcasters out there always ask for you, the listeners, to go into iTunes and rate and review our podcasts? I heard something pretty interesting about this on the Social Media Marketing podcast that Social Media Examiner puts out.

At the end of the episodes, the host says go to socialmediaexaminer.com/itunes. If you go there, it will redirect you to the Social Media Examiner page at itunes.apple.com, and there’s a “View in iTunes” button in the left sidebar there, and that is how you can rate and review podcasts. I like this because it makes it that much easier for people to rate your podcast.

So on that note, you can go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and that will redirect you to the official iTunes page online for the Digital Publishing Podcast. Then just click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar and that will open up the iTunes program on your computer and you can rate and review the podcast there.

3. Podcasting mistakes

Last week while recording the podcast I figured out a nice little trick for making it easier to go in and edit out mistakes. If you’re recording and you make a mistake, just yell out or make some other loud noise. When you’re done recording and want to remove your mistakes or messups or whatever, go look at the sound profile of your podcast in Audacity or Garage Band or Audition or whatever you’re using to record, and look for the places where the volume spikes (which is where you yelled or made the loud noise). Those are your mess-ups, and they’re easy to find. It saves you from having to write down or type out at what times your messups were. You just look for the spikes and edit them out.

4. Podcasting for people who don’t speak well

I want to talk a little bit about podcasting from the point of view of someone who does not speak well or coherently at all. I speak just fine in real life, but I’m not good at sitting down and just talking and having my thoughts come out and sound coherent. There are way too many ums and long pauses and me not saying things in the order they should be in.

So in other words, I’m not someone who you’d think would make a good podcaster. And regardless of whether or not you think this podcast IS actually good or not, I AM podcasting. It’s something I never thought I’d do because of my, uh, lack of eloquence when speaking, but here I am.

And I can do this and have it come out in a way that makes sense and that people can stand listening to because I write out everything I want to say. And I mean EVERYTHING that I want to say, word for word. These words that I’m saying now, I’m actually reading them right now off of my computer screen.

I know that this isn’t ideal. I know that it would be great if I could just plug in the microphone, hit record, and say everything that I want to say and have it sound good. But I just don’t work that way, so I’m making the best of it. And there are a couple tips I have for other people who might be in this situation, who can’t just talk into the mic and have it come out nicely at the other end.

So like I said, I write everything out that I want to say, and the key to making it sound good is to write the way you speak. You hear people say that all the time, to “Write the way you speak.” And most of us probably think that we DO do that well, but it’s different when you actually do read your words out loud. I remember the first few episodes I wrote and how when I went back to read them out loud to record them, I realized that that’s not how I talk. I’d type out words that I’d never use in my speech.

As I’m writing these podcast scripts, I’m reading them out loud to myself. And then once I finish an episode’s script, I read the whole thing out loud to myself to see if it sounds natural, and I do usually end up changing a few things each time I read through. And once I’ve done that, THEN I hit record and read the whole thing again.

It’s also important to not just write the words the way you’d actually say them in real life, but to actually make it sound like you’re just talking normally. This means maybe using some ums or pauses, and definitely getting the cadence of the speech right so that it sounds natural and NOT like you’re reading. That’s the hard part.

And that is how I podcast. If you’re like me and you thought for a long time that podcasting wasn’t your thing, try it again. Try approaching it in a different way. I’m a writer more than anything. I’m good at writing and I like it and it comes naturally to me. But other people feel that way about speaking and it’s writing that’s hard for them. So it doesn’t matter too much what you’re good at and not good at, there are ways to be good enough at something, even if that’s not your natural strength, and I’ll actually talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes.

5. Making crappy stuff

I tried for a long time to make money online before I was actually able to do it. One of the big problems was that there were so many different people saying so many different things and talking about different strategies and ways to make money and I’d end up trying one thing for a week or two before switching to something else, and I just repeated that cycle over and over again. And of course, that’s something that is not at all conducive to making money online, and that’s something I’ve talked about in the past and something you can read more about in a great blog post by Steve Pavlina, called Is It Time for You to Stop Dabbling and Get Serious?. I think I’ve mentioned that post before, and I’ll have a link to it in the show notes or transcript or whatever you want to call it.

That was the first reason I wasn’t able to make money online, because I wasn’t sticking with anything for very long. But the second reason is that I was making crappy stuff. I bought crappy domain names to make crappy mini sites that were populated with crappy articles, and then I’d make a few crappy backlinks and maybe write a crappy ebook and then wait for pots of gold to erupt all around me, which of course, never happened.

This is something I’ve been thinking about more and more recently. As you may or may not know, I run a blog that’s covers the free Kindle books that you can download every day. It’s called fkb.me and it’s at fkb.me, not a .com or anything, but .me. But as I’m looking for the best free books to link to from my site, I see so many crappy, crappy, crappy ebooks. These are books that have ridiculous premises, like how to get pregnant by meditating. Or they are like 6 pages long. Or the authors have literally stolen the content or have no idea what they’re talking about. Or they do any one of a million other things that all add up to a crappy ebook.

Please, do not waste your time doing stuff like this. Even if someone does get tricked into buying your crappy ebook off of Amazon, remember that there are reviews on Amazon. You might make literally only a dollar or two before someone writes a review and calls you out for being a scammer or piece of trash.

It’s not worth your time. Spend the time you would have spent creating 10 crappy ebooks and write one good ebook. Or instead of creating 20 niche sites that all suck, create one site or blog that you like and that actually helps people. I know that even after hearing that, people will try to make a quick buck, but let me reiterate once again that it is NOT worth it. As someone who has been there and done that, it is not worth it. You will not make money with a crappy niche site or a crappy ebook, so please don’t even try, and spend that time and energy on something of more lasting value.

6. Daily

I used to have a blog called Daily Climbing Tips, and every day I’d write about something relating to rock climbing. I kept it up for the better part of a year before burning out, because it was just too much work and effort to try to come up with something to write about every single day.

I’ve tried writing daily on other of my blogs too, but the result is always the same. Sometimes it’s coming up with ideas that is hard, and other times it’s marketing every post that is hard, but the end result is still me burning out and quitting.

Now, having said all of that, there is value in something that is put out daily. From a content creator’s perspective, putting out something every day will get you more downloads or pageviews or just about any other metric you want to use to measure success. And on top of that, people will get to know you better, and that’s important if you’re trying to sell something.

From the point of view of the content consumer, it’s nice to have something to read or listen to every day. We all have down time and in general there’s a lack of quality digital content in all forms. If you can create great stuff every day, there are plenty of us who will read it or watch it or listen to it.

But again, the problem is that it’s hard to create content daily. I think that the key to one person creating content daily is to cull through everyone else’s stuff and curate it. Then you don’t have the stress of having to originate an idea every day. You can just link to the good stuff you find or react to it by writing a brief summary or explanation or something. I know know that that word “curation” is overused and gets kind of a bad rap, but it’s awesome when it’s done well.

So let me give a couple examples that I’ve been thinking about recently. I read Hacker News, which is a social news site for programmers and entrepreneurs. People submit articles and can vote up other ones they like. I’ve noticed that a lot of the popular articles are about people learning how to code or program. So they’re things like “How I learned to code in a year” or “Why non-technical co-founders should learn to program” and stuff like that. There are a ton of people who want to learn how to code, but it’s hard to find both the motivation and the right way to start learning. But this is the perfect kind of topic for a daily blog or newsletter. You wouldn’t have to write every day about how or why people should learn how to program, but you’d find articles that talk about those things and then link to them, maybe including a little bit of commentary if you wanted to.

You’d be providing a really valuable resource and service by giving potential programmers great stuff to read, and you’d have people habitually checking out your site or opening up your emails every day.

Here’s another example. My pick for featured podcast a few episodes back was QUIT!. It’s a podcast about quitting things and making your work life better. I was listening to last week’s episode and it got me really psyched to quit some things and start some other new things, and I realized that that would be another great topic for a daily blog or newsletter. You could set up Google Alerts or subscribe to the Google Blog and News search results for words like quit or abandon, and then create a little blurb every day about someone who’s quit something and why they quit that thing. I think that would be awesome! I’d totally read and subscribe to that. That’s the kind of thing that you do want a daily reminder of.

All of that is to say that the daily blog that is run by one person is not dead, and you don’t have to kill yourself trying to blog every day. I think that it is VERY possible to have a daily blog or newsletter or podcast or whatever where you just find and link to or talk about good stuff that other people have already made.

7. Dictating your ebook

AudacityI’d guess that there are roughly a quadrillion books on Amazon that tell you how to write ebooks. It’s like how there are a ton of blogs about how to blog. A lot of those ebooks about writing ebooks have been free at some point or another in the past, and since I run a site all about free books, I download those ebooks about ebooks whenever I see them. I’m always interested in tips and tricks that I’ve never heard of before.

I know it will come as a huge surprise, but most of these ebooks about ebooks are crappy things written by people who are just trying to make a quick buck, like I talked about earlier. I did read one last week, though, that had an interesting point in it. It wasn’t a very good book so I won’t say what book it was, but this idea was interesting. The author said that he writes his ebooks by dictating them, by talking and recording what he says, and then having someone transcribe it.

So to back up a bit, the guy said to start out with a broad idea for your book, then break it up into chapters or sections, then write down as many points as you can think of for each section. When you’ve done that, hit record and talk about each point until you don’t have anything else to talk about. Then you use a site like Elance or oDesk or Fiverr to get someone to transcribe your MP3s.

I mentioned earlier that I’m a writer, not a speaker, so this method wouldn’t work well for me at all. I do my best thinking when I write. But if you’re a talker, this is a great way to write an ebook. Of course you’re going to have to edit and probably rearrange the transcription that you get back from the transcriber, but you’ll have the main body of an ebook and the heavy lifting will be done by then.

I just looked on Fiverr and there were several people willing to transcribe 20 minutes of audio for $5. So if your audio recording is 4 hours long you’d only pay $60. That’s not bad at all for an ebook, and it would end up saving you a ton of time if you’re a talker instead of a writer. And if you look more, you might even find someone willing to transcribe half an hour of audio for $5, but I don’t know what kind of quality you’d get. (And incidentally this means that if your podcast is 20 minutes long, you can get the whole thing transcribed for $5, which is a pretty awesome deal if you ask me.)

I would say that I’ll try this ebook dictation thing and get back to you, but like I said, talking just isn’t really my thing. But again, I think this is an interesting idea for people who are talkers, and let me know how it works out for you if you do try it out, and I’d be happy to share your experiences here on the podcast.

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And now it’s time for this episode’s featured podcast and featured tool for digital publishers. My pick for this episode’s featured podcast is Mixergy [link]. This is a pretty well-known podcast, and it’s an interview show. The host, Andrew Warner, built up and sold a successful, multi-million-dollar internet business several years ago and now he does this podcast where he interviews other successful entrepreneurs. There are two things about this podcast that I really like. The first is that each interviewee gets pre-interviewed by one of Andrew’s employees, so Andrew know what kinds of things to talk about during the actual interview that he does. And the second thing I really like is that Andrew is a fantastic interviewer. As soon as the interviewee says something that makes me wonder or that I’d like to learn more about, Andrew is right there to ask those questions.

My pick for this episode’s featured tool for digital publishers is a WordPress plugin, so if you’re not a WordPress user you can just tune out for a bit. It’s a free plugin called Black Studio TinyMCE Widget [link]. I found this plugin a couple weeks ago, and I’m bummed that I didn’t find it sooner because it’s awesome. So you know how the default text widget for WordPress is just plain text and html? Like if you wanted to have a little blurb of text in your sidebar, you’d add it to the plain text widget and if you wanted to make it bold, you’d have to use html to do it? Well this plugin creates a WYSIWYG interface. WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get”. So instead of needing to figure out the html for making things bold or different colors or different sizes, or instead of having to insert an image via html, you can do all of that via the normal buttons. The widget’s little window thing looks just like the WordPress post editor, so you have all of those options to choose from. Go ahead and give it a try, just do a Google search for Black Studio TinyMCE Widget and you’ll find it easily.

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Well, that’s all for episode 14 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for show notes and links and transcriptions.

I also have a weekly newsletter where I send out links to the best articles that I’ve read over the previous week.

Please don’t hesitate to email me any question you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening!

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