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The Business of Podcasting book is now available

The Business of Podcasting cover

At long last, the book I’ve been writing with Steve Lubetkin is ready. You can pre-order the Kindle version of The Business of Podcasting right now, or wait a few weeks for a print copy. In any case, it’s been a long time coming and Steve and I are delighted to reach this stage.

We’re also grateful to the people who’ve helped make the book possible – the experts we interviewed as well as Rob Cottingham, who drew hilarious cartoons for us, and Val Sanna, who designed a cover we love.

The Business of Podcasting is not a how-to-podcast book. Instead, it’s a book about the business side of podcasting. Why did Steve and I write this book at this time? To quote from the book’s introduction:

Anticipating a growing demand for podcasts, we’ve come together to write this book. It’s geared towards the person who knows how to produce audio but is unfamiliar with the business of podcasting for clients. It’s one thing to record and edit your own podcast show as a hobbyist; it’s another matter entirely to create a podcast for a client, whether that’s a corporate entity, a nonprofit, an educational institution, or something else.

This book is also aimed at professional communicators who have an interest in audio and who perhaps have taken a podcasting course or attended a podcasting conference or Podcamp, and who want to learn to integrate podcasting into their communications, whether inside an organization or for clients. Many of the skills you’ve developed as a communicator will help you to become an effective podcast producer.

If you’ve wondered what it’s like to turn your podcasting passion into profit, we hope you’ll read our book. If you do, please let us know what you think! In the meantime, you can read more about the book on The Business of Podcasting website or listen to Steve and I discussing the book in this podcast.

Podcasting growth continues; thanks, Obama

Marc Maron interview with President Obama

By now most online denizens have heard that U.S. President Barack Obama was a guest on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast last week. According to the New York Times, the episode set a new podcasting record, with more than 900,000 downloads in the first 36 hours. Wow.

What you might not know is that the president’s office – not Maron – initiated the interview. Once plans were set, the president flew by helicopter and made his heavily guarded way to Maron’s garage in Los Angeles to record the interview, in which they discussed race relations, gun violence, fatherhood and more. You can read more about the background to the story in this Slate article.

As podcasting continues to grow in popularity, we podcasters revel in the visibility an interview like this brings to our medium.

If you want to learn more about podcasting and its possibilities, I can recommend a few of my resources:

I also offer various podcasting-related services.

And soon, Steve Lubetkin and I will happily announce that our book, The Business of Podcasting, is available for sale. Watch this space!

Toronto Twitter workshop

Toronto Twitter Workshop“Help! I have a Twitter account but I don’t know what to do with it!” is, hands down, the most popular comment I hear about social media, from colleagues, friends and even family members.

That’s why I’ve decided to offer an intensive half-day workshop all about this micro-blogging tool. Participants will learn to use Twitter to follow news, to connect with influencers, to uncover business opportunities or to spread their nonprofit organization’s message.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Optimizing your  bio
  • Learning Twitter etiquette: following, direct messages and more
  • Finding influencers
  • Protecting yourself against hackers and phishers
  • Hashtag best practices
  • Safely scheduling tweets; the dangers of over-automation
  • Dashboards like Hootsuite and TweetDeck
  • Why you should use lists, and how to set them up
  • The power of persistent searches
  • Participating in Twitter chats and parties
  • Benefiting from tools like Topicurious and ManageFlitter
  • Curating tweets with Storify and Paper.li
  • And more!

Each participant will receive a Twitter workbook so that learning can continue after the workshop is over.

Space is limited. I like to keep the group small.

Interested? Please let me know. And feel free to spread the word to your friends.

Eventbrite - Toronto Twitter Workshop

Will Clammr be the Instagram of audio?

When I was at NMX in Vegas a few weeks ago, something Mark Ramsay said resonated with me: “People don’t share audio. They share conversations about audio.”

Well, this may change. Soon.

Shortly after Mark’s presentation, I met Parviz Parvizi, on the team of a new app called Clammr. Guess what? Clammr aims to be the Instagram of audio, allowing us to quickly share snippets of sound. This would be a boon for podcasters seeking to build their audiences.

ClammrOver the next few weeks I hope to put Clammr through its paces for my own podcast and for those of some clients. Stay tuned for a report in the future.

For now, here is my recap of the overall NMX show.

And here is a Clammr (edits are a little rough to meet 17-second limit).

You can download the Clammr app (iPhone only for now) here.

Have you tried Clammr? Please let me know in the comments.

The Twitter Tip Sheet

Donna Papacosta Twitter profile

The most common questions I hear from clients about social media tactics relate to Twitter. Those unfamiliar with this platform are often confounded by the lingo, the hashtags and the brevity. Here then is the Twitter Tip Sheet I often share with those who want to learn more about Twitter. Anything I’m missing? Please let me know in the comments.

Getting started

  • Decide why you want to use Twitter, and how you can complement your marketing and communication efforts.
  • Sign up at Twitter.com
  • Insert relevant and interesting facts in your profile, to help people decide if they should follow back.
  • You have 160 characters for your profile (bio) and 140 characters per tweet.
  • Don’t use all 140 characters; leave room for retweets.
  • Add a photo or logo plus a link to your Web site and/or blog. Do not use the default “egg” avatar!
  • This Mashable article will help you figure out the vocabulary of Twitter.

Making the most of Twitter

  • Write about 10 tweets before you start following others. Twitter notifies you by email when someone follows you, and people usually check out the follower’s profile before deciding whether to follow back.
  • Find people to follow; start with your own address book. Use the “Find People” tab on the Twitter Web site. Follow people that your friends follow.
  • Do not feel compelled to follow everyone who follows you.
  • To retweet someone’s tweet, either write “RT @username” or use the TweetDeck or other system shortcut.
  • To reply to someone’s tweet, put an “@” before their Twitter name.
  • You can send a direct message (DM) to someone by putting a D before their Twitter handle; you can only DM someone who follows you.
  • Think about using a Twitter client such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite instead of the Twitter Web site. It will make Twitter easier to manage.
  • Create Twitter lists of clients, prospective clients, colleagues and other interested stakeholders. Note that you can see someone’s tweets in a Twitter list even if you are not following them. This is handy if you want to track your “competitors” on Twitter; use a private list for this purpose.
  • For employee or volunteer use of Twitter, governance is important. Check out Social Media Governance for ideas.
  • To search through Twitter bios for keywords so that you follow people strategically, use one of these techniques.
  • For help managing your Twitter followers when the numbers grow, try Manage Flitter.

Related content
Why people don’t follow you back on Twitter

How to use Twitter lists

Toronto Social Media Workshop

Hands-on Social Media WorkshopI’m delighted to announce my next Hands-on Social Media Workshop in Toronto: May 1, 2015 at the Toronto Board of Trade. The group will be small, so each person can get individual attention. If you want to devote a single day to sharpening your social media skills, this is it. I hope you can join us.

Eventbrite - Toronto Hands-on Social Media Workshop

Pricing tips for independent communicators

As you may know, I belong to the Professional Independent Communicators, part of IABC/Toronto. On March 5 we’re featuring a panel on the hot topic of pricing for independent communicators. If you’re an indy in the Toronto area, I hope you’ll join us. Here’s a sneak preview from two of the speakers, Sharon Aschaiek and Randal Boutilier.

More information and registration on the IABC/Toronto website.

How Google just blew my mind

When I moved my home office from Oakville to Toronto, one of the things on my to-do list was to update the Google listing for Trafalgar Communications, my business. While procrastinating on a project today, I suddenly remembered the Google listing. Avoiding actual work, I just had to accomplish this feat immediately.

So I went to the Google listing for Trafalgar Communications and attempted to change the address. A box came up explaining there would be a verification step involved.

Google map of Trafalgar Communications

At that point I decided I needed to finish some genuine work, so I closed my browser.

Then the phone rang. The display said: “Mountain View, CA.”

Could it be?

Yes, it was Google – a real live human Google employee – phoning to verify that my business had indeed moved.

Google, you blew my mind.

I remember reading an article last year about how some unethical people had hacked Google Maps to destroy their competitors. Perhaps this is less likely today? I like to think so.



My most popular blog posts of 2014


The Blue Yeti

Looking at my Google Analytics for 2014, I spot a trend that doesn’t surprise me in the least: my most popular blog posts were all about podcasting. In case you missed them, here’s the list:

How to read a podcast script and not sound like you’re reading. This is a perennial favourite, first published in 2008.

The podcasting tip sheet. This post gets shared quite a bit among podcasters, especially newbies.

How to publish a Google+ Hangout on air as an audio podcast. Inquiring minds want to know.

Equipment for podcasting in a noisy environment. Say WHAT?

Basic equipment and software for podcasting. A great place for new podcasters to start.

The Podcast Scripting Book is now available. This post announced my ebook. If you like this you may want to check out my next book, co-authored with Steve Lubetkin, The Business of Podcasting.

The podcaster’s checklist. Another handy resource, I’m told.

Sharing stories with audio: podcasting for internal communications. I’m glad to see there’s interest in this topic.

Check out my friend Sue Horner’s top posts for 2014. There’s some gold there for communicators.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Hands-on Social Media Workshop back in Toronto

Donna Papacosta at workshopBy popular demand (thanks to word of mouth!), I’m hosting another Hands-on Social Media Workshop in Toronto, on Thursday, February 5, 2015. If you’d like to wrap your head around social media in the new year, please consider signing up.

Here’s what some previous participants have said:

“Donna is an experienced, knowledgeable and generous presenter. I would highly recommend her Hands-on Social Media workshop.”
– Patricia Davies, trainer, writer, editor

“Great workshop! Very informative. Gave me more focus and confidence moving forward using these tools, both for my own business and in support of my clients.”
– Lynn Woods, communications consultant

“Impressed by the richness of content and the engaging delivery!”
– Susanna Smith, communications consultant

“Lots of useful, practical information… I am eager to put into action what I learned today.”
– Amy Baskin, copywriter, author

“Excellent. I will definitely recommend this workshop to my network.”
– Randy Smook, HR professional

“This was REALLY helpful. Thank you, Donna! I really liked your approach and generosity. I liked your patience with basic questions and your insight into more complex ones.”
– Maryjane Martin, corporate communicator


Amazing gourmet lunch included.

“Donna is extraordinarily knowledgeable and very generous in her sharing of information, and very responsive to participants’ questions and needs. As always, very professional and well done!”
– Eileen Chadnick, Big Cheese Coaching

“Donna is such an expert and explains social media in an engaging, informative manner. Fabulous day!”
– Kristy Elik, Along the Lakeshore magazine

Eventbrite - Toronto Hands-on Social Media Workshop


A podcasting renaissance? No doubt!

orange purseLately everyone’s talking about the podcasting renaissance.

I must inform you I was aware of this trend earlier than anyone else, thanks to The Claire Index. Unknown to most prognosticators, The Claire Index (TCI for short) reveals emerging trends in both fashion and technology based on my 20-something daughter Claire’s tastes. Stay with me here!

You see, about three years ago Claire came home from shopping with a bright orange purse. I thought it was a joke. Who wants to walk around toting a fluorescent handbag?

Apparently a lot of people.

About six months after my daughter’s purchase, I began to notice fashionably dressed women in New York and Toronto carrying bright orange bags. So, Claire was on trend. Again. (She owned half-leather, half-fabric pants before anyone I know. Ditto Lululemon yoga pants. Oversized men’s sweaters. You get the idea.)

A couple of months ago, Claire waltzed into the kitchen and asked, “Have you been listening to the Serial podcast? It’s amazing! And did you hear the Alec Baldwin podcast where he interviewed Jerry Seinfeld?” (She knows I’m a fan.)

I spun around in my chair. “Claire, YOU are listening to podcasts?”

“Sure,” she said. “I even bought the app for This American Life because I don’t want to miss any episodes.”

I may have rubbed my hands together with glee. If it were possible to buy stock in podcasting, I would have called my broker immediately.

Yes, I knew the popularity of podcasting would go through the roof. The TCI told me so.

Do you need hard evidence? Edison Research reported in April 2014 that 39 million people had listened to a podcast in the previous month, the highest number on record.

A recent article in New York magazine also confirms the trend. “What’s behind the great podcast renaissance” explains some of the reasons behind the surge in podcast popularity, including the ease with which people can now play episodes in their cars.

Week in and week out I’m witnessing renewed interest in podcasting in my own universe. People who used to ask, “What’s a podcast?” are now saying, “Hey, maybe it’s time we developed a podcast for our business.”

For those of us in the podcast game since Year One (OK, 2004 or 2005), this rebirth is welcome and not surprising. After all, we recognized the value of podcasting almost a decade ago, when producing and consuming podcasts was a lot more complicated than it is today.

Are you seeing the podcasting renaissance in your world?

If you want to learn more about podcasting, I invite you to check out my
top blog posts about podcasting
as well as my podcast episodes about podcasting.

Equipment for podcasting in a noisy environment

Kaotica Eyeball

When I started podcasting in 2005, I was able to carve out a space in my office to accommodate my audio needs. With a bit of trial and error, I came up with a setup that worked for me and produced a pleasing sound for my own podcasts and those of my clients.

Fast forward to August 2014 when I moved to a condo in downtown Toronto where both my home and office are located. Even with the windows closed, noise intrudes. To top it off, a fan system that circulates fresh air throughout the high-rise building cannot be turned off within the suite. So I wondered: How could I record and produce audio in a less-than-pristine environment? Would I have to rent a studio to record?

Enter the Kaotica Eyeball. I discovered this handy solution just a few days after I moved. A client had hired me to produce recordings for them at their offices, and had smartly purchased the Eyeball in anticipation of several audio challenges in their building. The Eyeball’s acoustic treatment worked like a charm to isolate and channel my voice directly to the microphone.

How does it work? You simply insert your microphone inside and then add the pop filter that comes with the Eyeball. You may need to adjust your distance from the microphone and your audio settings to get things just right.

Since that day at my client’s office, I’ve purchased my own Kaotica Eyeball, and it’s allowed me to record audio even when the fan is humming and the occasional motorcycle screams by outside. Well worth the investment of $200.

The Kaotica Eyeball will fit many microphones. I have used it successfully with my ATR 2100. Forget about using it with your Blue Yeti, which is too big.

A happy solution to a vexing noise problem!

For more podcasting tips, check out these two posts:


Recap of TEDx Toronto, plus advice for speakers

I applied for a ticket to TEDx Toronto on a whim and then found myself getting excited about attending. Some are surprised to discover you must submit an application to become a “delegate” at a TEDx event. These are independently organized TED-like conferences, but on a smaller scale than the famous California gathering.

Kudos to the organizers of TEDx Toronto for running the day smoothly at the lovely Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music on Bloor Street. From the moment the Toronto Symphony Orchestra played the opening notes of Ravel’s Bolero, I was a TEDx fan. Music was used nicely to break up the day, with performances later by Choir!Choir!Choir and Maylee Todd.

But what about the content? I especially enjoyed the talk by Keith Vanderlinde, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. With beautiful photos and eloquent words, he showed us what it was like to live at the South Pole for a year. His use of humour was perfect and his delivery was well paced.

Nav Bhatia was a surprise to me. Billed as the “Raptors Superfan,” he spoke about his experience as an immigrant who happens to be Sikh, and how he made his mark in Canada and continually gives back to the community. He is succeeding at changing peoples’ perceptions of Sikhs, he says.

Child activist Rachel Parent is passionate about healthy food. She leads a campaign to have genetically modified foods labeled in Canada. How hard could this be? Pretty hard, it seems. Rachel is one to watch. For a teenager, she is a fabulous speaker.

John Cruickshank, publisher of the Toronto Star, is concerned about voter apathy and a lack of engagement by young people in the political process. I enjoyed listening to him speak about media today; what a great communicator.

Jamil Jivani of the Policing Literacy Initiative, a group with new ideas to improve police services and community safety in Toronto and abroad, grabbed our attention with his story of growing up in a bi-racial family. A brilliant young man, he is another one to watch.

Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden spoke from the heart about how his mother supported his efforts in sports, and how he found his own ways (sometimes unorthodox) to learn and excel.

My favourite of the day was comedian Sabrina Jalees, who talked about coming out as a gay person to her Indian/Swiss family. Sure, she’s hilarious, but her insights were also perceptive and thought-provoking.

I don’t want to forget to mention the emcee, Drew Dudley. Hands down, he was one of the best I’ve ever seen, seamlessly seguing between speakers with the right balance of insight and humour. When I heard about his original TEDx speech, Leading with Lollipops, which went viral and transformed his career, I looked it up. Well worth watching, here.

As you can see, when I attend a conference I consume the content from two perspectives: the ideas themselves, and how they are delivered. You can have the most amazing message, but if you’re not a skilled speaker, you’re not going to communicate it.

Eileen Chadnick

With my friend Eileen Chadnick at TEDx Toronto

Unsolicited advice for speakers

Here’s my unsolicited advice for future TEDx speakers:

  • Be authentic. Show your vulnerability.
  • Slow down. Yes, you’re probably speaking too quickly.
  • Don’t fear pauses. Use them for emphasis.
  • Share stories; don’t dazzle us with too many facts and figures.
  • Don’t try to communicate too many ideas. Three is plenty.
  • Be sure your message is crafted to be heard and not read. One speaker in particular seemed to have memorized what sounded like an article. Content like this is hard to follow and bores the audience.
  • While you are practicing your delivery, make a video of yourself so you can evaluate your body language and your voice. Beware of a singsong cadence that goes up and down in a regular fashion, and starts to irritate listeners (well, me, anyway).
  • On a technical note, you don’t have to be so obvious with the clicker; you certainly don’t need to aim it.

You can watch videos of all the 2014 TEDx Toronto speakers online.

The news release is not dead

The news release is not dead. So said the panelists brought together by CNW on the topic of “State of the Media 2014.” The speakers on October 3 in Toronto were Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail, Amanda Lang of CBC News, Edward Keenan of the Toronto Star and moderator Steve Ladurantaye of Twitter Canada.

I’ve captured the essence of the discussion in the Storify below, but here are my own key takeaways:

  • Most journalists do not want you to call them. Email instead. Several on the panel said they never listen to voicemails; the red light on the phone flashes forever.
  • Speaking of email, never ever put “re” in the subject line of an email to fake a previous exchange. Simon Houpt in particular will hate you forever!
  • Do personalize your email with a “Dear …” salutation, but be sure you get the name right!
  • The media wants you to provide voices who can give context to stories. According to Amanda Lang: “If information helps give us context, it’s important. Maybe not today but in the future.”
  • Personal relationships between journalists and PR people are more important than ever.
  • Amanda Lang said the news release is still effective today if the news is important. “We still rely on wires in the newsroom,” she said. Simon Houpt agreed that “stuff on the wire carries more weight than a news release on your corporate website.”

CNW says they will be publishing a video of this panel, so watch their website.

Thoughts after one month with a standing desk

standing deskWhen I moved from a house in Oakville to a high-rise condo in downtown Toronto, I knew I’d be reconfiguring my workspace from scratch, and one of the things I wanted was a standing desk. You know, because sitting is the new smoking, right? I was fortunate to find the perfect piece of furniture for my standing desk – a “Bedford” unit from Pottery Barn that fits nicely in the so-called “study” in my condo. (I would love to speak with the person who comes up with these fanciful names.)

Also, I should add that I’m 5’6” tall, and the height of the desk is right for me. A taller or shorter person might have to make adjustments.

These days I’m spending about half of my working day at my standing desk. The rest of the time I move over to a lower surface and rest my haunches on a chair. While on phone calls, I tend to pace.

As I write this, it’s 10 p.m. and I’ve just come home from a delicious yoga class. After all that stretching and flexing, it would seem like a shame to park myself in a chair. So, yes, I’ve become accustomed to standing; it’s almost my default position.

During the day, just as I did in Oakville when I worked at a traditional desk, I make sure to stretch and walk around at least once per hour – grab a cup of water or a mug of herbal tea. When I was first establishing this habit, I turned on the time announcement function on my Mac. When it said, “It’s ten o’clock,” that was my cue to move.

Here are a few observations after one month with a standing desk:

I don’t get as tired as I expected.
Just as exercising at the gym in the morning gives me energy, so does standing at my desk. At times it’s my feet that get sore, not my legs or back. I may have to invest in shoes with more padding or perhaps a cushiony mat to stand on.

I’ve lost a few pounds in the month since the move.
I don’t know if I can attribute this weight loss to the standing desk or to the amount of walking I’m doing. I was concerned that I’d grow chubby from not traipsing up and down the three flights of stairs in my Oakville house, but I’m walking – and standing – more overall since the move. Having sold my car, I rely on foot power and the Toronto Transit Commission to get around.

I’ve become much more aware of my posture.
When I owned my big old L-shaped desk in Oakville, I caught myself – many times – in an awful slouch. Worst posture ever. Now, when I stand at my desk, I’m aware of the placement of my body, the alignment of my spine, the position of my shoulders and the weight balanced on my feet. I’d say my posture has improved as a result of using a standing desk.

So: increased energy, weight loss and better posture. What’s not to like about a standing desk?

In the comments, please let me know of your own experience with a standing desk.




Don’t fall behind on social media

I wasn’t surprised to see yet another news report on the lack of social media skills by many businesses. Just today I communicated with a workshop leader – well respected in his field – who admitted his website is woefully out of date, he doesn’t know how to use social media, and can’t even accept online registrations to his events because he doesn’t understand how.

Don’t think for a minute that this skills gap is common only among sole proprietors and small businesses. As this CTV News report says, Canadian business in general suffers from a lack of social media savvy.

When I conduct my Hands-on Social Media Workshop, I usually find a mixture of solo practitioners, people from nonprofits, and corporate types, all of whom want to get up to speed with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more. By the end of the day, their comfort level grows and they’re more confident about integrating social tools into their strategy.

My next session is October 24 in Toronto. Join us?

The Hands-on Social Media Workshop returns to Toronto

Hands-on Social Media WorkshopReady for fall? Most of us in the Toronto area are dealing with hot humid weather, so fall should seem like a relief. If you’ve been struggling with understanding social media, my next Hands-on Social Media workshop  may also be a relief to you.

I’ve been running this workshop for a few years (although I update it every time). Many of the people who attend say they’re fed up with trying to figure out social media on their own. Or, they’ve been hoodwinked by some of the “social media snake oil” people out there, who promise fame and riches if you’ll just let them manage your Twitter feed.

In our small hands-on group, you can learn, ask questions and get expert tips. By the end of the day, you will be much more confident about moving forward with social media in your life and your business, and you will be able to make informed choices about which tools might be best for your particular needs.

Here’s what the workshop offers you:

  • A comfortable environment where you can ask questions and get honest answers.
  • Advice about developing a strategy for using social media in your communications and/or marketing.
  • Up-to-date information about the latest social media tactics and tools.
  • Tips to help you be more productive with social media (including the intelligent use of automation tools).
  • Suggestions for resources to help you keep learning about social media, because it’s constantly changing.
  • Networking with other smart, friendly people.
  • A delicious gourmet lunch.

I hope to see you on October 24!
Eventbrite - Toronto Hands-on Social Media Workshop

Marketing with social content

If you want to use social media to expand your marketing reach, knowing how to retweet or post to a Facebook page won’t help much. To achieve success, you need a vibrant personal brand, a marketing strategy and a process for producing and sharing great content.

At the first Professional Independent Communicators meeting of the fall season, we will cover this topic by discussing:

  • Thinking like a publisher and developing a strategy
  • Why you need to blog
  • Finding and sharing great content
  • Helpful tools, including Delicious, Buffer, TweetDeck, Slideshare and Paper.li
  • Streamlining your workflow so you don’t spend all day tweeting

This meeting is geared towards both independent communicators and those who work in organizations. For a taste of what the meeting is about, listen to this short podcast featuring PIC director of programming, Jane Langille, and me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
6:00 p.m.
Metro Hall, 55 John Street, third floor, Toronto
Seating is limited. Please register in advance.

Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) is part of IABC/Toronto. Our group meets regularly to provide professional development, networking and business development opportunities that address the particular needs and interests of independents.

How I locked myself out of Twitter

lock iconAfter lots of noise in the news about stolen passwords, WordPress hacks and other online hazards, I decided last year to set up two-step authentication on many of my accounts. This seemed like a smart thing to do.

After setting up verification on Twitter, for example, I wouldn’t be able to log into Twitter on my laptop without entering a code that Twitter would send to me via SMS. This certainly increased my feeling of security.

Similarly, I have Google Authenticator set up for some of my blogs, so that I can’t sign in without grabbing a code from the Google Authenticator app on my iPhone and entering it with my usual login name and password.

You may see where I’m going with this.

Let me preface this description of my bone-headed error by explaining that I’m in the midst of packing for a move, so everything I own seems turned upside down. In the maelstrom, I thought I was very smart to proactively change my mobile phone number to my new area code, and let my family and friends know the new number.

Unfortunately, I didn’t let Twitter know.

Yes, I, who should know better, found myself locked out of my own Twitter account because Twitter, bless its heart, was doing what I asked it to do: send an SMS to my mobile phone number. My old mobile phone number.

The good news: I was still logged into Tweetdeck on my laptop, so I was able to tweet as usual. I just could not access any features of Twitter.com.

It took two weeks of emailing Twitter Support to solve this problem. A seemingly endless series of automatically generated support replies kept sending me instructions to “reset my password.” Of course this was followed by a prompt to enter the code they’d just sent – to my old phone.

Finally, I was able to rattle someone’s cage at Twitter Support so I could delete my old phone number and add the new one.

I don’t blame Twitter. This was my own fault for not thinking about WHERE I had used my mobile number as a source of verification. If I ever change my number again, I will first disable any two-step verifications I’m using, then add the new number.

Which leads me to the Google Authenticator app. I hope I never lose my iPhone because I’ll be locked out of my blogs without a plan B. Here’s a helpful post about how NOT to get locked out when using two-factor authentication.

Bottom line: Don’t be so quick. THINK, then act.

Photo copyright: piren / 123RF Stock Photo

The podcasting tip sheet

podcasterOver the years I’ve created many resources around podcasting. In this post, I’ve gathered together some of my most useful tips. Please leave a comment if you find these helpful.

Podcasting definition
A podcast is an audio file that can be shared on the Internet, and played on a desktop or laptop machine or on a mobile device. By nature a podcast is serial and requires an RSS feed, whereas a plain audio file stands alone.

Preparing to podcast

  • What’s the purpose of your podcast?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • Have you decided on a format?
  • Do you have the software and hardware you need?
  • Do you have a name for your podcast?
  • Do you have iTunes-appropriate album art?
  • Are you going to write a script? Be careful of over-scripting

Suggested hardware

  • Mac or PC with sound card
  • Microphone
  • Earphones, headset or headphones
  • Portable digital recorder (optional)
  • iPhone or other handheld device with recording capability (optional)

Suggested software

  • Audacity with LAME encoder (free) for Mac, Windows or Linux
  • Garage Band (Mac only)
  • Adobe Audition (PC and Mac; pricey but feature-rich)
  • Levelator or Auphonic, which evens out the voices in your podcast; do not use for music!
  • ID3 Editor (Mac or Windows), optional, to add tags to your file, making it appear properly in iTunes and other players

Optional but suggested resources

  • A blog or other content management system, which enables simple podcast publishing; WordPress bloggers have access to many podcasting plugins (I recommend PowerPress from Blubrry)
  • An account at Libsyn or other hosting service
  • An account on SoundCloud, not for hosting, but for distribution

Minimum gear needed to podcast
Built-in microphone, Mac or PC

Better gear for a podcast
Headset/mic combo, Mac or PC

Best gear for podcast
Microphone, headphones, Mac or PC; optional portable digital recorder for field work

Best advice
Learn to use your microphone!

Note: Many smartphones allow you to record audio. If you use the Apple-supplied mic/headset with an iPhone and an app like iTalk, you can get decent quality. Just upload the file to your computer for editing, etc. Be sure to put the phone in airplane mode so your recording won’t be interrupted by calls or texts.

To script or not?

  • Light scripting usually better than tight
  • If you script, mark up and rehearse; learn to sound natural

Remember: the listener has no visual cues

  • Communicate for the ear, not the eye
  • Use simple language
  • Start with a hook to grab the listener’s interest
  • Give auditory guideposts (“We’re going to talk about three things…”)
  • Avoid lots of numbers
  • Use a recap at the end

Read The Podcast Scripting Book for more on this topic.

Why edit your podcast?

  • Get rid of errors
  • Delete excessive um and ah sounds
  • Even out the sound volume
  • Gives your listener a pleasant experience
  • Allows you to include other clips
  • Add music, jingles or sound effects to your podcast

The basics of podcasting using Audacity

  • Plan your podcast
  • Record your audio in Audacity
  • Edit your file in Audacity
  • In Audacity, export the file as MP3; add ID3 tags
  • Upload the file to a hosting service such as Libsyn
  • Publish the file to your blog as an enclosure; this distributes your podcast in an RSS feed (easier if you use PowerPress – just add the name of the MP3 file from Libsyn or other host)

Step-by-step recording and editing in Audacity

  • Connect your microphone to your computer
  • Check system sound settings so that microphone is selected
  • Open Audacity
  • File>New
  • Select input (built-in microphone or line-in or USB mic, whatever you are using)
  • Be sure defaults are set to project rate of 44100 Hz, mono, 32-bit float (keep it simple)
  • “Save project as” and give it a name
  • Hit red button and start speaking
  • Save file
  • Listen to make sure it’s ok
  • To remove parts of the sound file, highlight and delete
  • To move parts of the sound file, highlight, copy, paste (much like a word processor)
  • If using Levelator, export or save file as WAV and then drop onto Levelator application. If using Auphonic, upload a WAV file to be evened out.
  • Add optional jingles and music
  • Save file
  • Export>Format MP3

Note: Do not work with an MP3 file until you are ready to upload. MP3 is a compressed (lossy) format. You want to work with an uncompressed file (.aup, WAV, etc.) until you are ready to upload and publish.

Using Levelator

  • When you do an interview, often each guest’s volume differs. You don’t want your listener to deal with uneven audio levels, so use Levelator.
  • Download the app (just Google “Levelator); choose PC or Mac version.
  • Simply drop a WAV file on the app; it will create a file with “output” in the name.
  • Listen to this file to be sure it is OK, and then proceed normally with your edits.
  • Note that if there is a lot of background noise, you need to remove it before using Levelator. Do not use Levelator if you have music in your file; add music later.

Using Skype for remote interviews

  • Set up Skype normally for a call (voice only; not video).
  • Be sure to set up system and Skype preferences to select your microphone.
  • Use a third-party app such as Pamela or Call Recorder to capture audio; Skype does not allow native audio capture.
  • When finished recording, convert the file to a compatible format if necessary and open it in Audacity to edit.
  • Remember you can also use Skype to dial and record calls with non-Skype users.

Podcasting interview tips

  • Be sure the podcast guest is audio-friendly
  • Do a pre-interview but don’t ask exact questions; supply question areas
  • Discourage guest from reading or sounding stilted in any way; be conversational
  • Be sure the guest knows the technical expectations of the interview; in person, phone, Skype? (See the post on tips for podcast guests.)

Recording in the field with a digital recorder

  • Of course you can also use your digital recorder in your office; some recommend this as a safer option (no worries about your PC crashing)
  • Use the built-in microphone on your Zoom H4n or other recorder or add a dynamic mic
  • Experiment with mic placement
  • Plug in your unit rather than rely on batteries when possible; no worries about running out of juice.
  • Record in uncompressed (WAV) format
  • Be sure to select correct input (built-in mic or line in)
  • Remember to press the red button to record. Flashing red is standby.
  • When finished, press STOP button
  • To transfer the file(s) to your PC, turn on H4n. Then connect the H4n to the PC with the supplied USB cable. Press “menu” on the top screen. Select “USB” and press. Select “storage” and press. IMPORTANT: Before physically unplugging the USB cable and H4n from the computer, be sure to perform the “safely remove hardware” or “eject” function on your computer. You might damage files if you unplug otherwise.

Adding music to your podcast
You can add non-commercial music to your podcast. Find royalty-free music at Music Alley or Shockwave Sound and other royalty-free music sites.

To publish your podcast

  • Add ID3 tags to your MP3 file; this enables listeners to see the name of your podcast and other data.
  • Upload tagged MP3 file to your hosting service
  • Grab the enclosure information and the direct MP3 link names from your hosting service
  • Write your show notes as a blog post to accompany the podcast
  • Add the file as an enclosure to your blog post
  • Publish your blog post

Using iTunes?
The first time you publish, you need to set up your podcast in iTunes. The iTunes site contains step-by-step information. Submit your podcast to iTunes before sending it to other directories. Many directories will request your podcast’s Apple iTunes ID information

Role of show notes and transcripts
Show notes are text files to accompany a podcast, often published on a blog. Show notes can boost your search engine optimization (SEO) and are helpful to people who want to refer to something they heard on your podcast. Show notes usually are published with time codes. Some podcasters publish full-fledged transcripts, which are word-for-word text versions of the podcast. You can use a service such as rev.com to produce your transcript.


Related content
My Trafcom News Podcast
Basic equipment and software for podcasting
The Podcaster’s Checklist