audio

How To Use Audio To Your Advantage

Here’s something I’ve noticed in my tenish years doing this work. Most people HATE to go on video, mainly because you have to worry about how you sound AND how you look at the same time.

For example, I video recorded my pastor’s sermons for a few weeks. I noticed everyone was distracted by the tripod and the visible presence of my phone (which was the recording device). So I tried an experiment and this week: I just recorded the audio of the sermon.

Now you may ask yourself, “What I can do with an audio recording?” Honestly, plenty.



Put a still image with your audio and upload it to Youtube (or Facebook).
I see some podcasts that do this so they can host their podcasts for free (see next point down) but since Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google, having content on there people can find can be key. You could use one still photo or slides as the visual portion while using your audio file. Note: you’ll need to add a picture to your file or Youtube won’t accept it. Here are a few ways around their ‘you need a visual too’ requirement: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-ways-add-audio-podcast-youtube/

Use Libsyn or Soundcloud or similar service to host your audio files. 
Unlike video, audio-only doesn’t have free hosting options, which means you have to figure out where these files are going to live. If you want them off of your website, there are several audio services that allow you to do this. Soundcloud allows 180 minutes free and Libsyn starts at $5/month. Once you upload them to these services, you can embed them or link them other places. (Kind of like how you can’t share a video unless you put it somewhere and then link it – typically these files are too big/annoying to email).



Use Media manager or Blubrry in Wordpress (if you have a self hosted Wordpress website).
If your site runs Wordpress, you can upload an MP3 (sound file) to your media folder or use the Blubrry podcasting app, which is not only very powerful but also free.

Transcribe your recording as a text post. 
Whether you want to do this yourself or pay someone to do it, having the transcription of an audio can allow you to have/share detailed notes or simply make the content accessible in written form too.

Besides these advantages, I don’t have to worry about taking notes and can be fully present. Also, audio recordings take WAY less space than video. So if I think I want video but it doesn’t make sense to have video, audio is the next best thing. 

Ten Things You Can Do To Your Website To Make Peoples’ Lives Easier

If you have a website, chances are you are continuously thinking about making it better. Here are a few things you may or may not have thought of that you can use on your website.

    1. Make phone numbers clickable.
      With the invention of touchable screens and cell phones, if you publish a phone number on your website (especially if it’s in an image or a button), why not make it so when people click it, it works? Here’s how to add the code. Save your customers the copy/paste, or worse, trying to repeat the number aloud so they remember it as they dial!
    2. Add conditional fields to your forms.
      Is this item a gift? If the person says yes *then* bring up the gift recipient name, address, and message form fields. Conditional fields in forms show up, as you’d expect, conditionally. They not only allow your form to be shorter and sweeter but allow whatever transaction you are facilitating to be more seamless.
    3. Allow email updates.
      People want to stay in touch when you do things like write a new blog post or launch a new product. Give them a way to get a notification when something happens on your site, ideally via email, so they don’t have to miss anything or follow up with you. I use Mailchimp RSS campaigns to do this with new blog posts (plus you can set them to autopost to Facebook and Twitter when they go out) but there is more than one way to set something up. Bonus points integrating signup into existing forms, like your contact form.
    4. Track ads.
      If you are a non-profit offering a banner ad on your website to those giving you money for X fundraiser, why not add tracking to it? Then when it comes time next year for your contact to ask their boss again for money, they can show them the return on investment. They are not going to ask you to do this but when you do, you will be much more likely to get sponsored again if they can understand their return on investment.



  1. Add closed captioning to your videos.
    Youtube and Facebook both autogenerate them (and you can spend a few minutes correcting them) or you can use Rev.com and get them done for $1/minute. Makes your video more accessible, which is great for people AND search engines.
  2. Make PDFs part of your site search.
    If your website isn’t indexing PDFs as part of the search feature of your website, and you use PDFs with any regularity, consider adding something (a plugin, for instance) so they come up when someone searches for content within them (note: the PDFs have to be readable).
  3. Accept credit cards (not just Paypal).
    There are whole groups of people who, when they get redirected to Paypal.com, cry out internally and click away. If you want someone to buy something, try to keep them on your site to do it. Not only can you collect useful information from them but it puts you in control of the entire process. (If you want to offer the option of paying by credit card AND Paypal, just don’t make Paypal the only option.)
  4. Make your website accessible.
    Your website needs to be as accessible as possible: adding image tags for text only browsers, etc. If you want to test your website and get suggestions for improvement: http://wave.webaim.org/
  5. Don’t make videos/music autoplay.
    This is obnoxious and means people can’t sneak looking at your website at work. Just don’t.
  6. Think about your website’s mobile experience.
    Over half of your website visitors are likely visiting your website from a mobile device. Check how your website looks/works on a mobile device so you can fix issues and make improvements.

If you act on any of these suggestions, please comment below (or message us and let us know). Anything we left out?



Creativity Without A Script

Last summer, one of America’s most beloved fixtures on public radio signed off from his role as host of A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor, 74, had been hosting the Minnesota-based variety show since the 1974, having revitalized a genre of entertainment that had largely been replaced by television.

I’ve been thinking about Keillor after having a conversation with Breaking Even’s Nicole Ouellette about this month’s blog theme — creativity and the creative process.



Arguably, the most memorable aspect of Keillor’s time at PHC is his monologues that capped off every episode of PHC. Rather than take each episode off with a bang, Keillor’s monologue is a quiet, intimate affair. There’s little fanfare, no eruption of fireworks, no zany vocal sound effects that frequently punctuated the rest of the show.

“The News from Lake Wobegon” was more of a hot cup of tea on the back porch than Broadway-style finale. It speaks to Keillor’s creativity that he could close his show every week in such a quiet, captivating way.

Keillor, in a 2006 interview with CMT, stated, “I never found that to be true, but I did find that if you want to get people’s attention, you speak more softly.”

The monologue starts that same — “it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my home town” — and then delves into the lives of its Lutheran inhabitants.

Keillor once told National Geographic that the creation of the fictional town was, in part, brought on by the loneliness he felt after moving to Freeport, Minnesota in 1970: “No minister visited to encourage us to worship on Sunday, no neighbor dropped in with a plate of brownies. … I lived south of Freeport for three years and never managed to have a conversation with anyone in the town. I didn’t have long hair or a beard, didn’t dress oddly or do wild things, and it troubled me. I felt like a criminal.”

Either despite, or because of, that isolation, Keillor was able to craft a fictional small town, described, tongue in cheek, as a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

How real those characters become, however, also depends on the audience, according to an interview Keillor did with The State in 2015: “I leave it to the audience to imagine the characters – I just try to get the events straight. I create a scaffold and the audience imagines a building – that’s how it works. The stories are based on real life in some way. … When you live in one place for so many years … your memories are attached to the landscape, particular streets, the river, woods, a town, and you only need to drive around slowly and you will recall enough stories to occupy you for hours.”

Each week, Keillor, would recite that week’s “news,” without a script, apparently on the fly.

It wasn’t completely improvised — let there never be said there’s no room for preparation in the creative process. Keillor would write a draft for each monologue in the days leading up to the show, and would review it a couple of times before delivery.

“The monologue you hear is a man trying to remember what he wrote down a few hours before. Sometimes, while he’s trying to remember it, he thinks of something better,” he told CMT.

The illusion was Keillor making a story up on the fly, as if he was your uncle, recounting a tale of the darndest thing you ever heard, when, in reality, there’s a lot of planning involved.

“It’s not the job of an entertainer to have a moment of revelation on stage, but to create them for other people,” Keillor told VQRonline in 2001.

Keillor has handed over the reins of PHC to musician Chris Thile, most notably of the country/bluegrass band Nickel Creek. But he has kept busy with his writing, a craft he has been honing long before he ever took to the airwaves in Minnesota. He even popped up in the news very recently after writing a scathing open letter to Donald Trump.

Keillor, by the way, is still performing live. He has performances scheduled until at least April 2017.

Links referenced in this post:

20 Questions with Garrison Keillor- CMT

Church on Saturday Night – VQR

Garrison Keillor on Storytelling, Technology, and Mockingbirds- The State 

Garrison Keillor Letter to Trump- Washington Times