Step 3 (pt. 6): Creating Your Products: Audios
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Avish: Fred, so far we’ve mostly been talking about written products, so now next move on to the next type of product, which is audio.
Avish: And audio, though often has a perceived higher value, you can actually make your audio products cheaper and faster than the written ones, correct?
Fred: That’s true, yep. For some reason I guess we’ve, you know that may be changing now, but audio products are perceived as more valuable than books, and it’s basically because the price points people usually charge for stuff, was substantially more, so that’s the beauty of audio. You can actually do them faster and charge more for them than you would for a physical book or an e-book.
Avish: Okay, and so it’s possible to create audio products just without spending any additional money with some of the equipment you have at home, correct?
Fred: It certainly is. It’s just like what we’re doing right now, I’m recording this on my Mac computer using Skype and recording directly into Garage Band and Garage Band is a program that comes free on the Mac so that, yeah, you don’t need any additional equipment and you can start cranking out some audio materials.
Avish: Okay, and so just to make sure we’re not losing people, glossing it over, when you say, recording over Skype and recording with Garage Band, what do you mean by those two things?
Fred: Well Skype is a service where you and I can be talking via the internet and that sound and/or pictures if you want, come through the computer. So it’s an online internet based service that allows us to talk similar to being on the phone. And so that’s sort of the one part of it. And then you know, the actual recording is done by using your computer, where you’re getting that Skype feed, and using a program like Garage Band or there’s a free program out there for you PC users as well, called Audacity and you can take that program and create, using Skype or some other different programs. There’s Gmail has a GChat service, but you can record and create some really good audio products just doing what we’re doing here.
Avish: So just using free software and something free like Skype, you can record and interview and boom, turn that into an audio product.
Fred: You can and that really leads us to our sort of our next section, I’m sure we’re going to be talking about it, which is, the three different ways to record audio products. Is that where we are now?
Avish: Absolutely. So let’s talk about it. There’s three basic ways to create an audio product, three formats. Let’s go through them, starting with the do-it-yourself in a studio format.
Fred: Yeah, well you can sit in, not necessarily a formal studio, but in your closet surrounded by blankets and a nice piece of carpeting and record a product sort of solo, just talking into the mike yourself. Now this is, of the three that I’m going to mention here, this is the one that I least prefer and least recommend. And the reason for that is that it’s very difficult, no matter how exciting and dynamic a speaker you are, to make you talking into the mike be nearly as good as the other two methods. So, it certainly is possible to sit down and record right into your computer using Garage Band, but I’m saying I don’t think that’s a preferred method for a number of reasons.
Avish: Okay, well what are those reasons? Because I’m sure some people to them that’s going to be the easiest way. They don’t need anybody else; they can just do it today, so how come it doesn’t work?
Fred: Yeah, well it is easiest way and it will work in a pinch. And it will work with some of your products, but I wouldn’t rely on this as the method. Because people when they’re listening to one person, number one, they will get bored with just one person’s voice. Number two is that you don’t have anyone there to serve as your advocate or the questioner; the person who’s going to query you, the speaker, on the various topics, and which is what really people enjoy listening to. Sort of like what you’re doing right here to me.
Avish: Playing the role of Mr. Stupid, as you like to call it.
Fred: Yeah, I call it Mr. Stupid. Asking the questions that anybody would want answers to, even somebody who was, you know, Mr. Stupid being—ask the questions as if, you know, like a first grader. So that you make it so that everyone can understand the information you’re trying to communicate.
Avish: Yeah and you know what’s interesting, I’ve found, and you tell me if you agree with this, is that when you do a recording completely on your own you’re expected to have a higher quality of audio than if you’re just doing an interview.
Fred: And the reason for that, I think Avish, is because people are used to audio book recordings which are generally done by people like Bill DeWees, who are professional voice over talent and they expect a certain level of quality and I think that’s the reason. Would you agree?
Avish: Yeah, yeah. I think so. I think people understand when it’s an interview that maybe it’s being done over a phone or Skype and they’re expecting that. So not only is the format weaker, but the expectation is higher as well, which is kind of weird.
Fred: Agreed 100%.
Avish: Good, okay. So we decided that’s not a great one. So let’s talk about the next one, which is what we’re doing right now, which is the interview format.
Fred: Yeah the interview format, by the way, can either be done in person or over the phone, like this, like Skype or you know, there’s other services that do similarly. So you can either record an interview in person, or you can record and interview like this, like we’re doing on Skype.
And you want to pick someone out to do, and by the way, I want to recommend everybody check out a site called expertinterviewer.com. Expertinterviewer, all one word, dot com. And that’s a site where I talk about how you can become an expert interviewer yourself and it’s a really good program. I record it with a guy named Terry Dean and it really does talk about some of those important elements to becoming a good interviewer. Because luckily you have improv background so it’s a little bit easier for your to do, and also people who want to learn more about that kind of stuff can visit thespeakingschool.com to learn more about our course on professional speaking.
So really, what I want people to do is realize that it’s easier to create an audio product when you have an interviewer like you and it’s also easier to create a good interview product if you have a good interviewer like you. So those things are necessary. Again, don’t just pull somebody off the street and say, hey can you interview me for this. Because I’ve, frankly Avish, I’ve seen some really, really well known people, produce some really crappy interview products.
Avish: Alright so then your advice would be to someone who’s looking at creating a product soon and they want to do the interview product, is to take a little extra time and find someone who’s good at interviewing as opposed to just getting it done quick with someone who would be sub-par.
Fred: Yeah, or who’s just available but not very good.
Avish: Okay. Got it. And then so let’s say you’ve got someone who’s pretty good, who’s going to do a good interview, what’s your next step? How do you make sure that interview recording goes really well?
Fred: One of the things you want to do is, you want to make sure that you’ve tested everything. The other day I was with somebody who’s a fairly seasoned professional. They were recording the program; I usually do the recording because I’m so used to doing it. But they recorded it, and as it turns out, they only recorded themselves, not me. So we had to redo it. So you have to make sure, do your testing in advance. Test all the different components so you know how to use them; make sure they’re working, so that there’s no screw ups and specifically, this is really important, when you get some great interviewer, get some great person to agree to be interviewed, say by you, and some kind of a recording malfunction goes on, they probably won’t get back on the phone with you and be as forgiving as I was the last time.
Avish: Well that’s actually a good point you just mentioned there. If you, as I was talking about, I think the way we’ve been talking about it, is you find someone to interview you to create a product, but you can also find an expert in your field and you can interview them and make a product out of that, correct?
Fred: Good point and yeah, we were going in that direction. But really for me it’s two sides of the same coin. Whether you serve as the interviewee or the interviewer, you’re creating an interview product. So yes very true that in many cases, you are the person being interviewed, but in other cases you might be the person doing the interview. And in both cases, it would be worthwhile to take a look at Expert Interviewer to help you on that, but yeah, both work.
Avish: Okay and so, you’ve got your equipment tested, you’ve got your interviewer; do you just start having a casual conversation? Do you have a very specific script? How do you kind of structure the content of that interview?
Fred: Well, I don’t have a script per se, but I do have an outline. What I usually like people to do who are interviewing, who I’m interviewing, is to create an outline of what it is they know about and for me to just go down through the outline and ask them questions and follow up questions, and that’s the key, by the way, to being a good interviewer, is to know how to follow up. Because any monkey can go through a set of questions, but it takes a professional to really then decide, once you’ve heard an answer to a question, whether or not that question needs or necessitates a follow up and if so, what kind of follow up and how deep and how in depth should you go? And that’s something you’ll learn just through practice.
Avish: So it’s basically, you have an outline but then you can go off of it to go deeper into things.
Fred: Yeah, so the outline keeps you, usually keeping the process and the product in order, but you know your improvisational skills to go deeper on a given topic and ask follow up questions is really based on sort of a soft skill or a very nebulous thing that it’s hard to define.
Avish: One more thing on this interview format which really frankly surprised me the first time we did it, but it made sense, sometimes you’ll be recording an interview format type product but then a truck will drive by in the background or a dog will bark and is that something you need to do a retake? Do you edit that out afterwards? How do you deal with that?
Fred: Well in most cases, it depends on who your market is. My market that is really sort of a content-driven market isn’t as concerned about things like that. Now if Bill DeWees was recording an audio program for some major publisher, you know he’s in a studio and the slightest sound has to be edited out or redone. Whereas our case, for most people creating products, most people listening to this program, you probably don’t need to redo some. Now I’m not saying that you should sit in the middle of a barnyard and have your farm animals baying at every single step of the way, but I am saying you shouldn’t really overly obsess about little sounds that occur while you’re recording. In fact for many people, this makes your product a little bit more folksy and people tend to like that.
Avish: See that’s interesting. I know it’s going to be a different perspective for people, but it makes a lot of sense.
Fred: Yeah, very much so. A lot of people will not understand or necessarily agree with this, it’s the way I feel, though.
Avish: Yeah, well that’s awesome. So let’s talk about the final type of audio product and that is recording a live event.
Fred: Yeah, one of the best ways to capture a product is to record a live event because of the energy involved. But I do have a few caveats that people might want to consider when you are recording a live event. Number one is test your equipment well in advance so that you can make sure that you have all your cables and cords and make sure that you’ve got all your batteries and everything else you need. Whatever you need, make sure you have it all done, tested and ready to go a couple of hours even before you start at a live event.
The other thing is about live events, is that often times, my biggest frustration and for most people as well, is when you’re listening to an audio program of a live recording, a live event; frequently you cannot hear the questions being asked. So it’s imperative that you as the producer of this material, either make sure that the audience is properly miked, A; and/ or B, that you always repeat the questions that are asked by the audience; preferably both of those.
Avish: So you’ll be miked, but you’re saying the audience, how do you make sure that you get the audience on mike?
Fred: Well, what I do is often times at an event I’ll say to people, if you have any questions, do me a favor and approach this microphone, it’s live and ready to go and just come up here; and they line up and then ask their questions from there. The other way is of course if you have a handheld wireless mike, sometimes you can hand that around to the audience members and they don’t even have to get up from their seats. And you can have what’s called a mike runner; someone who runs around and give the mikes to the people who have the questions in the audience. But make sure that you can get the questions of the audience on mike because if not, it’s incredibly frustrating for the listeners.
Avish: In either case, you still recommend that you repeat the question as the (inaudible 00:12:50).
Fred: Yeah, you know what? Even if it’s a little bit redundant, it’s a good idea to do.
Avish: Okay, and once you’ve got this recording; do you need to edit it? Or do you just slap it together and start selling it?
Fred: Well again in my case I do virtually no editing. We’re recording this program and no editing virtually is going to be done. But that’s because we’re trained professionals as well.
Fred: But, don’t tell anyone. But a lot of times, people, and again it all depends on your market and what your industry is. Again, if we’re dealing with a professional voice over artist or some corporate types you’d have to probably do quite a bit of editing. In my case I don’t. And it seems to work very well but again, ask yourself, who’s your market and what do they expect and then you probably should deliver something similar.
Avish: Okay, sounds great.