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In Episode 031, we dealt with the things you’d need to start a podcast. Today I will speak to you about “How to start a podcast.” I feel that the items listed in episode 31 may not be clear enough for some people. I took it upon myself to prepare this short tutorial that will teach you how to start a podcast with zero or very minimum budget.

To start a podcast you will need two sets of tools.  These are offline and online tools.

For offline tools, you will need:

A Computer 

We established that you would need a computer. It is also possible to use your smart phone, but for simplicity’s sake, please use a computer.

A Microphone

Yes, you will need microphone. Ideally for a start, you can get a USB Microphone from Amazon. I use personally a Samson C01 Pro USB microphone.

Headphones

It is always good to get feedback of your recording while it happens, than to record a good 45 minutes only find that there is no recording because the mic volume was too low. Headphones will help give you an idea on how your recording will sound.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

This is a computer software which you will use to record and edit your audio files. I use a free software called Audacity.

A Good Quiet Space

It is best to record your podcast episodes in a quite space to avoid disturbances. You don’t what your listeners to hear your dog barking or your neighbors fighting.

Next week will shall deal with online tools for podcasting

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The beginning of The Spokesdude

I started blogging many years ago. My first post went out on the 6th of January 2010. It wasn’t the greatest post ever written since I had no idea what I was doing. I published a post whenever I felt like publishing one. Some posts are months apart and some are years apart. The reason for this, is that, I didn’t know how to do blogging.

In my first year of blogging (2010), I managed to collect 442 views and 4 likes.  Of course this was pathetic. Some of those views, were mine. Needless to say…and I am going to say it, even though it is needless to say. I continued to produce content which was interesting only to a very few people. I used to write very short posts and one of the friends I had met in 2011, advised to me to write longer posts. I noticed that he had a larger following and had many engagements on his own posts. I took his advice, thinking that people will be miraculously attracted to my posts and there was no much difference except that it took me much longer to write these posts and as lazy as I was then, I just couldn’t commit myself on any form of schedule to write and publish blog posts.

If you were to follow The Spokesdude blog then, you would have been confused as when to expect a new post. There was no particular order of publishing. If you were to ask me about the purpose for my blog posts, I wouldn’t be able to give you a clear answer. I was just passing time, or more like wasting it.

In 2014 I had an epiphany. What if I recorded messages and the put them on my blog and share them on Facebook.  I didn’t know that I was soon to be introduced to podcasting. I must admit that prior to 2014, the word podcast made no sense to me. I never even bothered myself to find out the meaning of podcast.

I figured out that my superpower was speech and my English which was somehow praised by many South Africans. They said my English was unlike the English that spoken by ordinary black South Africans. In that super English I began to record myself, using my phone and then I sent those recordings to my friends via WhatsApp and BBM. Later I found some computer headset which had a mouth piece for making skype calls. I used that to record my first episode of the Spokesdude in 2015. It was a work in progress.  That first episode, when I am listening to it today, it sounds absolutely terrible. It carried and important message but the sound was absolutely revolting. The problem with my earlier episodes is that, I had no specific day in which I published an episode. This was my undoing. In 2016, I enrolled at a Bible college and I had to put The Spokesdude on hold for 3 years. In 2018 I graduated from the Bible and I decided to relaunch the Spokesdude Podcast. On the 20th of December 2018, I published the first episode following the relaunch.

I followed the likes of John Lee Dumas, Cliff Ravenscraft and other top podcasters who were offering free advice and free courses which are related to podcasting. One of the things they taught and practiced and I noticed other podcasters do, is consistence in their posting activity. John Lee Dumas posts one episode seven days a week. I heard that he records, his episode back to back on a single day. I decided that I will post every Thursday, as long as my podcast exists. Hence today, is the 38th episode and the 38th week since the relaunch of The Spokesdude Podcast.

I realize that in the blogging and podcasting industry, no man or woman is an island. In order to make it you need to listen to other podcasters and read other people’s blogs. When you make well-thought out, meaningful and relevant comments on their posts, you attract visitors to your own site. Based on your comments some people will wonder about who you are and what you have to offer.

Recently I have many likes, views and follows on my blog because of my headlines, tags and categories. Had I not read other bloggers, I would not have known that I have to write tags on my posts as one of the ways attract traffic to my blog posts. Last week alone the tag “blogging” drew a large number of visitors. I was amazed when I saw this.

What I used to be 9 years ago have disappeared through the years. I have grown to focus myself on the needs of others and meet them somewhere. The thing I learn from fellow podcasters and bloggers can be applied even in business. You cannot making on your own. You need fellow human beings of like mind to help you reach your goal and also help them reach theirs.   

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Now you have written your well-structured blog post. You feel very good about yourself right now. You have read and re-read your post, checking for any errors that might disturb your reader. You can see readers, reading and smiling and adoring the author of this magnificent post. They mean you, of course. You can see the comments pouring. If you were addressing a live audience, they would be rendering a standing ovation to your cause. You have great imagination… Now wake up! The work is not done yet. There is a number of things you need to do.

Actually, there are two things you have to do and this case I was right when I said there is number of things you need to do. Who doesn’t know that “two” is actually a number? Don’t answer that.

Of the two things that needs to be done, the first, is publishing your post and the second is promoting your post. Let’s talk about those two.

  • Publishing Your Post

No, you don’t need a publisher to publish your post. This is not a book. It is a blog post. Publishing your blog post means, you make it available for the internet to see it. As a result your readers will be able to find it and relish the juiciness of your textual prowess, which is showcased in each line and paragraph of your handiwork. It is the only way to make your post go live on the internet.

Publish Button

There usually is a button that you get to click when feel that your post is ready to go out. In the case of WordPress.com (which is my recommendation for those who are getting started), the button will be labeled “Publish” by default. This means when you smash the “Publish” button, your post will be published immediately.

Post Scheduling

You can publish your post at any time you wish.  You can choose to publish you post immediately or you can choose a future date and tell WordPress to publish the post on a specific date and time. Once you choose a future date, the “Publish” button will change to “Schedule.” This feature is very useful when you will be away from your computer at the date and time when you need to publish a post. A great example of this, is TSDN – 029 which was released on the 4th of July 2019. I was at the church conference on that date. I would not have been able to publish the blog post and I was in a place that had terrible internet connection. It helped me to write, record and schedule the post on the 2nd of July 2019 and had it published on the 4th without my involvement. As a result I have been able to publish TSDN episodes every Thursday for 37 weeks, without fail. It helps to know the tools which are available to you and to know how they work. When you schedule your post, WordPress will remember that instruction, and publish the post for you on that specific time which you will set up.

Draft

When you are typing your post and then have to stop typing because you have to attend to some other things. You have an option of saving your post as a draft. When you save your post as a draft, it is only visible to you and can only go live when you hit the “Publish” button.

Post Visibility

You can also set the visibility of your post. It can either be “Public”, “Private” or “Password Protected.” There are several reasons why you may want to use other visibility options instead of “Public.” Your posts will always be set on public by default. This mean when your post is published, it will be available for everyone in any part of the world to see it.

When you set your post to “Private,” it will only be seen by special people with whom you have decided to share its link. Also when you set it to “Password Protected” it will only be accessed by those with whom you have shared a password for that post.

Publicize Your Posts

To publicize your post means to link your WordPress account with your social media accounts, so that when your posts are published, WordPress would automatically send their links to the relevant social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr. Your contacts will be able to see your blog posts in their social feeds. I strongly recommend that you do this.

Tags

Before you publish your post, you must put some tags on it. This will help people who are searching for the topic you are addressing  to find your post. Tags are keywords.  One of the tags on this blog post is #blog. So whoever happens to type blog, could find this post which deals with the subject of blogging.

Categories

This feature is used to identify and classify your posts by putting them in specific groups, so it be easier to find them. This will help searchers to find your post.  

Once your post is published, you have one more task at hand. Promote it.

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  • Promote Your Blog Post

Smashing that publish button is not the end of the road. You have to promote your post so that it will reach more people. When you have written your post, you would want to drive traffic to it. Very few people will come to you if you do not promote your blog.  There are many ways through which you can promote your blog posts without paying. 

Facebook

Facebook is growing to be my least favorite platform for promoting blog posts, however it is better than doing nothing. You may share your link to your blog post on Facebook but you’ll have to write a bit of text in order to draw some of the readers to follow the link. The reason I don’t like Facebook is that Facebook has a very annoying algorithm. Very few of your acquaintances will actually see you post. The only way to get more Facebookers to see the post, is to pay up. Facebook wants you to pay for ads. May be you have seen Facebook trying to make you boost your post so that it can reach some 2999 people. When you follow that link you discover that Facebook wants you to pay them to promote yourself.

Instagram

Instagram is now owned by Facebook and it is equally daunting to try and promote something because nothing is ever clickable on your Instagram posts unless you start a paid-ad-campaign. You can pay if you have some cash to spare. I prefer to reach my audience in an organic fashion for the lack of money.

Twitter

Twitter is another way you may want explore. Personally, Twitter hasn’t driven much traffic to my site. So I wouldn’t say much about it. I have tried it many times. I really don’t know how Twitter works.

Pinterest

I have only been with Pinterest for a few months now and I can attest to that so far Pinterest is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. Pinterest is a little bit confusing at first but I got the hang of it and I saw an improvement on my site traffic. I promise that in future I will show you how Pinterest works. There are some YouTube videos which are dedicated in showing how Pinterest works.

WhatsApp

I started a group for The Spokesdude Network on WhatsApp and I shared that group’s link on Facebook. Some friends joined my WhatsApp group through that link. I also personally asked some of the contacts on WhatsApp if they would like to join The Spokesdude Network Group. They said “yes” and I put them in the group. No one in The Spokesdude WhatsApp group is there against their will and each person is free to leave the group whenever they want to do so.

I use the group to post the links to The Spokesdude Podcast and also the links to the Run Yourself Crazy Podcast. I also give announcements and ask questions that may spark an interesting conversation amongst the group participants. I try my best not to spam the group. I keep my postings there to the very barest minimum possible. I don’t wish to be a nuisance to my supporters. You should avoid that too.

Tips

When you are promoting you posts, try not to sell stuff to your prospect readers. If you keep selling to them, you will lose them. Rather promote the post and be on your way. I personally find it annoying when people start selling stuff to me especially on our first engagement on any particular platform. Such individuals lose me completely.

Trust me, no one wants to be sold to. So don’t sell anything to your prospects, unless you are a skilled sales agent. I promise you though, you will one day find a guy like me who will see right through you and who would anticipate everything you may want to say.  Promote your post and let people discover what you are selling as they go through your well written post.

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What is a blog?

You may have heard people talking about a blog before and perhaps you have been wondering as to what on earth is a blog. If not, then you already know what a blog is and you will agree if I say, the word blog is short form of the word weblog. Basically a blog is website which is regularly updated with new posts on daily, weekly, biweekly or in some rare awkward cases, on yearly basis.

Why should you want to start a blog?

There are many reasons why people would want to start a new blog. Some of those reasons would be boredom. One would pass some extra time by putting a line or two out there for others to read and hopefully to comment on it. In short blog writing can be done as a hobby. A lot of people have started blogs as a hobby with no particular purpose in mind.

On the other parts of the world there are people who would start a blog for business purposes. One will start a blog to promote a particular service or product, hoping that, some lonely people who have extra money would be interested in reading and perhaps end up buying what he has to sell.

Some people write blogs just to inform the public about the events that have taken place in their local communities. Basically, these people are the pain in the butt to the news agencies. Instead of waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper, people will now go to Mindy’s blog and read about a tornado which stole Mr Smith’s car and planted it on Mrs Huckleberry’s roof top, just minutes after the events. Mindy will even have a picture or video which was taken as it happened.

Some will start a blog to entertain their readers. They would post fictional stories, poems, lyrics to famous songs and more.

The reasons for starting a blog are endless.

When you have resolved to start a blog and you don’t know how and where to start, this is your day to know. I am going show what you need to start a blog and how to start a blog.

What do you need to start a blog?

  • Idea

You need to have a good idea what your blog will be about and what do you want to achieve in the end. You need to determine what kind of a blog it will be. This will help you to know what to write about on regular basis. You may want to start a business blog, where you showcase your work. It could also be a place where your customers can actually book your services or make orders for the product you have on offer. My blog is where my podcast episodes are found. It serves as a go to place for my podcast listeners.

Before you publish your blog, you need to ask yourself these questions:

Who is your reader? Where is your reader located? Is your blog intended for men or women? What is the current situation of your reader? Are they in business? Are they employed? What value do you bring to them? Why should they read your blog? What is the cultural back ground of your reader? In which language are you going to write?

Most of the time we get a temptation of wanting to speak to the whole world, but in reality, not everyone will appreciate what we have to say. It is better to focus on a specific audience to which you can bring value. So, these questions will help you to narrow down to a specific audience. They will also help you to focus on a specific niche. Once you determine the reason for your blog and the people it is intended for and the value you wish to bring your audience, you will know what to write about. You will have a good idea on what to research and then present to your readers.

  • Name Your Blog

Every blog has a name. A blog name sets it apart from other blogs in the same genre. People cannot find your blog if you refer to it as a news blog. There are thousands of news blogs in the internet. You need to give it a good name. A name could be anything. It could be “Lungisa’s Blog” or “The Weed Man” or something that is befitting and available.

You need to have a good idea what your blog will be about and what do you want to achieve in the end.

  • Give It Domain Name

Your blog must have a domain name. A domain name will in most cases match the name of your blog, if it is available. For example, my domain name is: thespokesdude.com. It is easier for me tell people where to find my blog. When you start a blog with hosting companies like WordPress.com, the default domain name will be thenameyouhavechosen.wordpress.com and this is on their free hosting plan. In the case of my site it is thespokesdude.wordpress.com. This may work for you while you are starting but in the long run depending on what you wish to do with your site, it is better to buy a custom domain name. WordPress.com at this moment charges $18 for a custom domain name if you choose to stick with their free hosting plan.

  • Hosting Service

So you have a name and a domain name for your blog, now you need a hosting service. I currently use WordPress.com. WordPress.com has five different plans for blog hosting. There is a free plan which is very basic and restricted. This one is best for just getting started. There’s also a Personal Plan for just bloggers and for personal use. Then there is a Premium Plan which best for freelancers, they also have a Business Plan which is best for small business and an E-Commerce Plan which is best for online stores. Depending on your budget and the purpose for your site, you can choose from any of these plans and begin working on your blog.

  • Internet Connect

Without an internet connection you will not be able to do what I have told you. Your blog can be started using a smartphone, a tablet or a computer. These devices must be connected to the internet.

Tips For Publishing Your Blog

  • The Frequency of your posts

It is very important to commit yourself to your blog. Decide on the frequency of your posts. This mean you need to choose whether you will be posting daily or weekly?  If weekly, how many posts per week? If you decide to post on Monday, it is important that on each Monday you publish a post. Never skip an appointment with your readers. If you post on random days, your readers will not know when to expect your posts as a result they will be turned off and move on. Be consistent.

  • Stick to your Niche

It is important for the sake of your audience to be consistent with both the timing of your blog posts and with the content of your blog. If your blog is about gardening tips, then stick to gardening. Your readers will not appreciate it if one day instead of receiving a post on gardening, they find themselves reading about politics and the elections. Stick to your niche! Make sure that your posts are well researched and useful to your audience. This will build your credibility. You will be able to retain your current readership while receiving new readers.

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