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The Future of Podcasting

Some people say that podcasting is the new blogging. However, there are still many impediments to podcasting becoming as simple as blogging. Having said that, as podcast technology improves and the ability to stream and listen anywhere becomes commonplace, podcasting has a strong future. 

  • iTunes – According to iTunes, there are over 250K podcasts available for you to listen to on their service, in more than 100 languages. It’s not that easy to get your podcast on iTunes, so that’s saying a lot. Tech like iTunes is necessary to help podcast developers monetize and count their audience. 
  • Streaming Technology – As you probably know from trying to listen to podcasts on your device, sometimes it’s touch and go. It depends on how strong your Wi-Fi is and where the towers are. As technology gets better, there will be more podcasts, and if you make yours super-professional it’ll stand out.
  • Recording Technology – The barrier to entry is getting lower and lower for podcasting. Today, most people can use their laptop computer as is to make a podcast with nothing more than a quiet room to do it in. However, using technology like Audacity.com will make it sound more professional. 
  • Multitasking – Regardless of the science involved with multitasking, people still like to do it. Podcasts are perfect to listen to while driving, while running, and while walking on the treadmill. If you can come up with a podcast that helps your audience in some way make something easier or more bearable, you’ve got it made.
  • Search Engines – Today there are search engines designed for podcasts and radio. This is a great thing to help your audience find you. It helps you filter content and even stop, skip, and save the things you like. This type of technology is going to make podcasts even more popular.
  • Monetization – It can be more difficult to monetize a podcast that a website or blog, but it is very doable. You can sell advertising spots directly to people who want to sell something to your audience, but you’re going to need to have a very popular podcast to accomplish it. However, the place to make money is on the back end via your own product or affiliate promotions during the show.
  • Stitcher – Apps like this help you listen to podcasts on any device on demand. You can get an ad-free version by paying for a membership. This is a great way to get your show listened to more often. It’s programmed using RSS feeds, so all you do is provide them the feed and they load it fast and your audience can play it over mobile or in their car network. The easier we can make it for people to find podcasts and listen, the more popular they’ll become. 

The future of podcasting is strong. If you have an idea for a podcast, you shouldn’t delay starting yours. Getting in now will ensure that you have more listeners, and more listeners will equate to more traffic and more money for your business.

How to Position Yourself as an Expert to the Media

If you’ve ever wondered how to get the media to treat you like an expert, then you’re not alone. Many times, you’ve probably seen a news story and thought, “Wow, that could be me.” And, you would not be wrong. You can be the go-to expert to the media as long as you position yourself as the expert in advance.

  • Build Relationships in Advance – Normally, you can’t just become an expert without laying a foundation. Follow relevant journalists and reporters that cover your niche and stories like yours on social media. Interact with them; if they ask questions or start discussions, take part in them. Get to know them and let them get to know you.
  • Define Your Story – Work on defining your story so that you can cut it down to one or two sentences that have meaning. The right words will elicit curiosity while also letting the media know about you enough to want to know more.
  • Hold Events – The media loves events. Plus, they give you an opportunity to show off your expertise. If you can plan an event that is free or paid where people show up, send out a press release to the journalists and reporters that you’ve built relationships with. This can give them a taste of how you work.
  • Never Cold Call – Journalists and reporters don’t like it when people call them without any provocation. If they’ve asked for sources, or just told a story that is relevant, send them a message through email before calling. They’ll call you if they want to talk to you. If you have inside information that’s of utmost importance, you can make an exception.
  • Know Who to Contact – It’s imperative that you know who to contact. Sending out generic press releases and blindly emailing editors doesn’t work. You need to contact certain individuals who will be interested in your story because that’s their subject matter and job. Ask yourself, what’s in it for them, because they’re going to ask you and you need to know the answer.
  • Pitch Only Relevant Stories – Never pitch stories that are irrelevant. Find ways to make your story applicable. If you’ve heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” then you get the idea. Find a connection and use that connection to make your pitch. 
  • Answer Their Queries for Experts – Sometimes reporters and journalists need experts to answer questions. If you’ve made a personal relationship with some, they will start calling on you if you’ve done a good job letting them know. You can also join an organization called HARO (Help a Reporter Out). 
  • Always Say Yes – Media work on short deadlines. Because of this fact, you should be prepared to always say yes to questions. Don’t worry; most of them are busy too so they won’t keep you longer than they must. But, you’ll endear yourself to them enough that when you have a story you want to be covered, they’ll show up. 
  • Become a Favored Source – By always being there for the reporters that you make personal contact with, especially locally, you can easily become a favored source and find yourself being quoted all the time. This is a good place to be in that may take some time to develop, but if you work at it, it’ll happen. 

Your expertise status might not happen overnight, but the more you connect and build relationships and say yes when a reporter or journalist wants to interview you, the faster it will happen. 

How to Educate Contextually – And Why You Should

When it comes to educating staff or your target audience, it is most effective to educate contextually, for a number of reasons. 

What Is Contextual Learning?

Contextual learning is based on the theory that all students will be able to use and retain information if it is put into a context that is understandable and relevant to their personal life and experiences. 

In former times, students were forced to learn by rote, memorize material so they could recite it word for word and respond only to question and answer interactions with the teacher. Their knowledge was drilled into them, with little or no exploration of whether or not the information was relevant in the real world. A child might be able to recite their times table by heart, for example, but could they do simple sums on their slates?

Contextual education recognizes that learning is a complex process which involves a student’s personality and perceptions, and that the information learned should make sense and be useful. 

For example, people once studied the classics, Latin and Ancient Greek, as a stepping stone to careers in medicine, law, or the Church. Now the only people who study these subjects tend to be people who want to earn a degree in Ancient History or languages. They are no longer necessary to survive and thrive in a good career. On the other hand, Microsoft Word and being able to use the internet are essential skills few modern people can survive without.

Meaningful Adult Education

Adults in particular do not learn in a vacuum and really have no time to learn things in an abstract way. They do better with hands-on experience and concrete examples. For instance, you can read a book all about PowerPoint, or you can find a step-by-step guide that teaches you how to create your first presentation. It will have illustrations and examples, and be full of shortcuts such as what menu items to use, so you don’t have to spend ages trying to find what you are looking for. 

The best contextual educational material will provide specifics, and action steps to ensure the student accomplishes their goals. This is one of the reasons online coaching programs have become so popular.

Coaching Programs

Coaching provides context, knowledge and support. The student has a goal they wish to accomplish. The coaching program should be structured in a way that will allow them to achieve that goal without wandering around the topic aimlessly in a confused fog. 

Around 70% of people are visual learners, so videos can be a great way to provide contextual learning. Some people like audiobooks rather than reading, so downloadable files they can listen to on their smartphone, iPod or other devices are ideal. 

The Advantages of Contextual Learning

Contextual learning helps students apply what they discover. They see real-world examples and can model their own work on what really works, so they don’t waste their time. They can engage actively in problem solving, such as how to create a numbered list in PowerPoint or produce a gorgeous graphic using SmartArt.

Contextual learning also offers continual feedback from the instructor, and from their own results. They can see how their deck turns out, for example, and they can then explore ways to improve it. The contextual method engages students, making them eager to learn more because they can see the value of what they are learning, and because they want to do better.

If you are not already teaching staff and prospective customers contextually, it’s time to start designing materials such as sales letters, coaching materials and more. This will make your target audience more active and engaged learners who will stay loyal to your business, because it is so relevant to their lives and offers such great value in terms of their personal growth.

How to Develop Empathy If You Are Lacking

Empathy is a valuable skill to have that can enable you to be more successful in life. If you have ever come across an individual whom you would describe as a “people person”, chances are it’s because they have a high degree of empathy. 

What Is Empathy?

Empathy refers to the ability to relate to another person’s feelings vicariously, as if one has experienced that feeling themselves. It can be joy, pain, loss and so on. It is like putting yourself into another person’s shoes.

Why Is Empathy Important?

Empathy is often referred to as emotional intelligence (EI) – the ability to understand the emotions of others. Studies have shown that those with the highest performance ratings at work tend have the highest level of EI, or empathy, while those with the lowest ratings tend to have the lowest levels of EI. 

That being the case, we can see that empathy can help us succeed not just in our personal relationships, but our business relationships as well.

Developing Your Empathy to Boost Your Success

There are a number of ways to develop your empathy. 

1. Look for good role models

Consider all the people you deal with every day. Who seems to be more of a people person than others? What do they say and do that would indicate this? Look for examples of how they show empathy and start to emulate them. 

2. Deal with your stress levels

Most of us are not at our best when we are stressed. We are focused on ourselves, not on others, which means we will be less than empathetic. Good self-care means space to care about others and practice empathy.

3. Be a cheerleader

Celebrate the successes of others. It will help people feel appreciated and play to their strengths rather than their weaknesses.  

4. Avoid the blame game

Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t blame people or scapegoat them. Have the empathy to realize we all make mistakes.

5. Pay attention when people express their emotions

When a person expresses their emotions, they are usually looking for empathy. They might also just be blowing off steam and looking for a sympathetic ear. Pay attention to what is being said, but without trying to “solve the problem”. Listening will often be enough.

6. Watch out for body language

Researchers estimate that up to 75% of our communication occurs through non-verbal means, commonly referred to as body language, and through facial expression. Learning more about body language can tell you if there is a mismatch between what the person is saying and what their body language is telling you.

Also, be aware of your own body language, which can damage the impression of empathy if you are not careful. For example, turning away from someone may appear that you are not interested in what they have to say, even though you might actually be doing it because you are self-conscious about your breath after eating garlic bread at lunch.

When people don’t face each other, they tend to lose vital visual clues conveyed through facial expressions, which means neither of them are really connecting fully and getting the whole picture. 

Giving our full attention to someone shows empathy because it indicates we value them and what they have to say. 

7. Study online

There are many websites devoted to empathy and EI that can help you learn how to read people better. Take the quizzes available to see what your level of EI is. Follow the suggestions the quiz makes as to how you can improve.

8. Practice in real life

Once you have assessed your level of skill, create a checklist from the suggestions and practice doing them in real life.

Now that we’ve talked about what empathy is and how it can be useful in every aspect of life, take steps to develop empathy and see what a difference it can make to your success personally and professionally. 

How to Boost your Business Brand and Sales with Speaking Events

If you’re a consultant, a coach, a trainer or an author (and a lot of professions in between), speaking events will boost your brand and sales almost effortlessly. There are many reasons, but one of which is how you’re perceived as more of an expert if you can get up in front of people and talk about it.

  • Meet More Future Clients – When you go to any type of event, you’ll be able to meet more future clients in person. But, when you speak, they’ll be waiting to meet you and be excited when you speak to them. As one of the so-called VIPs of the event since you’re a speaker, your attention will mean even more to the attendees than if you were another attendee. 
  • Enables You to Sell Your Materials – When you join an event and agree to speak, usually you’re allowed to promote your offering during your speech as well as set up a table outside the speaking venue to encourage more sales. If you have a book, you’ll be able to sell a lot more signed copies than if you did not go to the event. 
  • Some Speaking Events Pay – You can boost your income simply by taking paid speaking events. Paid events can be quite lucrative and often include travel, hotel accommodations and food plus money for speaking. This can lead to thousands in additional revenue each year.
  • Improve Your Networking – The more events you can attend, the more you’ll be able to network in person with people. It is a wonderful way to meet people. Even with online events, there is typically a chat room available. If you attend other people’s speeches, it’s nice to chat with the attendees between events.
  • Enable You to Get Sponsors – When you do public speaking, you can get sponsors to help support your tour if you decide to do one. Contact the brands that you want to represent and ask them. If you have experience as a speaker to show them, that will work better. However, often if you get on their radar due to your success they’re going to ask you.
  • You Can Even Do It from Home – Today, due to online conference software like Zoom.us, GoToWebinar.com and not to mention the advent of Facebook Live, you can perform public speaking events right from home if you want to. This is a great way to boost your brand and get more business. 
  • Increase Subscribers to Your Mailing List – When you do public speaking events, there will be some people who will reach out to you automatically. But, if you incentivize them by offering them a special offer that only they get, you’ll build your list even faster.
  • Boost Your Expertise Quotient – The fact is, most people are so terrified of public speaking that it’s just like writing a book in terms of boosting how people perceive you. If you’re up there speaking, you must be an expert.

Speaking will also provide some personal benefits that you may not have considered previously. For example, a job well done will boost your own confidence in yourself. You’ll feel more assured and feel more satisfied with your abilities to think on your feet and get things done.

Growth Priorities

Every business has a growth process and priorities. The basic process is this: first you come into existence, then you reach the survival stage, finally moving on to the success stage of your business where you kind of stay at a status quo of success. At this point, owners feel as if they have it all figured out and can sort of skate on the processes set up. 

It can stay this way a long time, but usually a business like this eventually experiences a take-off period where delegation is important. This is because many businesses suffer during this part of the growth stage due to lack of planning and fun. 

Eventually, with the right plans and priorities in place, the business will again reach a sort of status quo and seem to run itself. But, how do you get there? First, you must set priorities.

  • Financial Resources – What are the financial resources that you have for the business? Can you identify immediate cash as well as emergency cash? Set a real budget for everything you need through startup and maintaining as you grow.
  • Personal Resources – In addition, identify the human resources that you have available to you for the business. If you’re not going to hire people, are you using outsourcers or contractors? If so, consider them resources to you. 
  • System Resources – Take note of all the technology you have available or can afford to purchase for your business. Knowing where you want to go will help you make good choices about the technology you want to invest it. Systems like an autoresponder, a project management system, a customer relationship management system are all important. 
  • Business Resources – This is everything you have available to your business to use that isn’t personal in nature at all. Make a list of the things you have and what you need to buy. Setting a budget based on your financial resources is an important part of deciding what types of business resources you can buy if you need to buy anything.

Once you’ve identified these factors for the company, you can set priorities for yourself.

What Are Your Goals for the Business?

This is not the time to think about a short-term goal. This is the time you write down your big goal that might seem just like a dream. Where do you ultimately want your business to go? Do you want to build it big then sell it? Do you want to pass it on to your kids? Do you want to stop the business when you retire? This is important because it will inform how you set things up and what steps you do each day to bring your goals to fruition. 

What Are Your Abilities?

It’s also important to determine what your abilities are. Are you great at project management, marketing, or something else? What parts of your big goal do you need assistance with? These things are going to help you have smooth growth. 

How Good Are You at Delegating?

If you want to grow a business past the point that you’re running it alone, then you need to get good at delegation. That means you need to be able to provide instructions to someone and then let them do their job. This helps avoid bottlenecks where people feel the need to get permission for everything. Set up systems, then let your people do their jobs.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

Write down anything you think you’re weak at doing. If you’re weak in an area, it’s not a bad thing – as long as you notice it. For example, if you’re not good with technology, that could stop your growth if you’re afraid to upgrade to a system that will work better for you. 

How Can You Fix Weaknesses?

For a business to experience growth without breaking down, it’s imperative that as a business owner you’re always cognizant of each spoke in each wheel of your business. Otherwise, you can fail at a successful business when that’s not necessary. Keep your growth priorities in mind and focus on one thing at a time. 

Choosing your growth priorities requires you to consider all aspects of your business, from today to where you want to go. 

Finding Your Own Path to Productivity

Productivity is a popular buzzword. A search on the internet will yield millions of pages about the topic. But all this advice about how to be more productive can actually make people feel even more overwhelmed.

The important thing to remember is that everyone is different. What works for one person might be a total failure for another. Testing and tracking different methods for boosting productivity can help you find just the right combination of activities to keep you moving forward towards success. Here are some suggestions for finding the right productivity mix for you.

Keep a To-Do List

The dullest pencil is more reliable than the sharpest mind. Write everything down as you think of it. Cross off each item as you complete it. You can also transfer the information on paper to a digital to-do list.

Create an Online Calendar

Use a free program like Google Calendar. Invite people and share calendars as needed if you are working as a team.

Use Tools and Apps to Automate Your Work

Chances are you have quite a few tasks on your daily to-do list that can be automated, such as social media marketing or email marketing. Set up the work once, and you can use it over and over again. This means plenty more time to work on other tasks, particularly ones that can make money for you directly such as product creation and online marketing.

Create a Daily Timetable

When we were in school and college, we always had a timetable to tell us where to go and what to do. Create a similar timetable for yourself, using blocks of time to tackle your to-do list. For example, answer your email and phone calls in a block of time of about 30 minutes morning, afternoon and evening before the end of the work day. 

Block out time for social media marketing too. Plan a lunch break for 30 minutes and an exercise session. Pencil in time for yourself to do something you enjoy. The timetable will get you into a routine, but also help you stay focused and productive because you will rarely have to wonder what you need to do next. It can also help with your work-life balance.

Set Goals

Many people fail to set goals and then wonder why they seem to be stuck in a rut. Not having a goal is like jumping in a car with no destination and no GPS. A goal is like a travel itinerary, with a destination and some idea of which routes will be best to take in order to get there efficiently. You may get lost from time to time or take a detour, but that is up to you. It is all still moving in the right direction, not aimless wandering.

Formulate Action Steps

Once you’ve set your goal, plot out your action steps to achieve it. This can help you break down a large goal into chunks that can be measured and achieved. They can also serve as milestones to show you are being productive and making progress, not going around in circles.

Use these simple but effective ideas to find a method of boosting productivity that works for you. 

Creating an “Aha” Moment for Your Customers

Truly effective advertising requires that you make a great connection with your audience. And making a real connection with your audience requires that you know who they are, what they need, and how to provide it. 

  • Conduct Industry Research – Understand how your industry works. It’s imperative to know the norms of different aspects of your industry such as typical conversion rates, who your competition is, and other information like that. The more you know about the industry, the better you can understand what will connect you with your audience more.
  • * Find Out What Customers Think – Use various communication channels to find out exactly what your customers think about your business and offerings. Survey them after each purchase on any issue you want to know more about. This information can be used to improve sales pages, case studies, testimonials and more.
  • Know Your Products – If you created your products yourself, you likely know a lot about them. But if you outsource, it’s still important to know the products and services, as well as how they benefit your customers. If you know that on page 10 of your information product it answers a question your customer asked, you can better direct them to the right information.
  • Understand Your Customers’ Buying Cycle – Every industry and customer has a process by which they make buying decisions. The cycle is the same, but how your customers act within that cycle may be different based on industry and the segment you’re targeting. Awareness, consideration, and purchase happen for all customers, but you can affect it by your messaging during each stage of the buying cycle.
  • Show Proof – One thing to do to help your customers feel “aha” moments is to change your messaging by connecting with them in different ways through each stage of the buying cycle. For example, you can offer a free checklist to get someone on your list, then send them a white paper that shows the different offerings that solve their problems, including yours.
  • Use Many Forms of Content – Use text content, video content, blog posts, email messages, video, images, infographics and everything you can get your hands on to communicate with your audience. Each audience member may learn and “get” something differently depending upon how the information is communicated. 
  • Set Up Accrued Benefits – The more information you can get from your audience, the better. But, asking for too much information up front can turn people off. Instead, once you have gathered some information about your customer, find ways to get more information via surveys, membership areas, and more.
  • Improve Personalization – One way to create a real connection with your audience is to get more personal. As you find out more information, segment your audience differently so that you can address those special things about the customer in a new way. 

The most important aspect of creating “aha” moments for your customers is that you know who they are, understand your products or services, and send the right messaging at the right time during your customers’ buying cycle.

Choosing the Right Video Type for Your Goal

There are a number of different types of video to choose from. Matching the right type to your subject matter and the needs of your audience can make all the difference between success and failure.

Setting Your Goal

Whenever you decide to make a video, be clear about what goal you wish to accomplish. Once you have set your goal, you can choose the format.

Why a Video?

Decide upon a video versus other format based on what you wish to accomplish. For example, you could write a blog post or create a vlog post – especially if you wanted to show your audience what you are talking about.

It is also important to note that around 70% of the population are visual learners, which means that even if the content is exactly the same in the blog and the vlog, the vlog will have more impact as long as it is accompanied by useful supporting visuals.

Types of Videos

Once you set your goal and have determined that video is the best medium to use, decide on the format of the video. It could be a:

  • Product demonstration
  • Screen capture video
  • Webinar
  • Review or testimonial
  • Entertainment video
  • Educational video
  • …and so on. 

Video Demos

Seeing is believing, so a video demonstration of how a product works is ideal. Think of the infomercials you see on TV and you will understand the power of a demo video.

Screen Capture

Similarly, screen capture videos, such as those created using Camtasia, can demonstrate software in a way that no description ever can. This type of video is also ideal for teaching people how to do certain skills on the computer, such as create a great PowerPoint presentation.

Webinars / Online Lessons and Courses

A webinar can educate, entertain and drive sales as the audience makes a purchase related to the topic of the webinar in order to learn more. These videos are easy to create using PowerPoint. You can get as much as possible of the content pre-organized and pre-recorded, so all you have to do live during each webinar is the introduction and conclusion, and answer any questions from the audience.

Online lessons and courses give you the chance to build an audience as people start to follow your video series.

Reviews and Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials are always popular because they help people make smart decisions about what to buy. They might demonstrate the product, and/or show the wonderful results they have gotten from the product and how it has transformed their lives or their business.

These days, “unboxing” videos are very popular, in which video makers actually open a package from Amazon or wherever and go through the whole process of opening the box, taking the item out, and starting to use it. They might also unbox for monthly subscriptions like Loot Crate or Geek Fuel to show off the wonderful goodies they are getting in each month’s surprise package.

Entertainment

Unboxing is like a product review, but it can also be entertaining. So too can infomercials, original content such as comedy programs, and so on.

Educational Videos

Online education is booming, as are videos. Put the two together and you have a powerful recipe for marketing your business and boosting sales. Lectures, interviews, and TED talks are all growing in popularity. Why write a book when you can share what you know via video?

These are just a few of the top video formats. The only other issue is style – funny, serious, live versus prepared PowerPoint slides, and so on.

Match your goal to video format and style, and see how much you can grow your business.

Build Your Confidence with Small Goals

Being confident is not something that you’re born with, or that you can learn from a book. It is something you can learn from experiencing success, though. And the best way to do that is to set yourself up for success by setting smaller goals. When you achieve those small goals, you’ll start building your confidence. Here’s how to do it. 

  • Break Down Bigger Goals – When you have a big goal, instead of getting overwhelmed by it, break it down into smaller goals. Work backward from the due date to today, writing down small steps to achieve each day. Each day of success will build your confidence as you move forward to reach bigger goals.
  • Practice Positive Thinking – Each day, start and end your day with positive thoughts. A good way to accomplish this is by writing in a gratitude journal every night before you go to bed. Then, start your day by reading what you wrote. 
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses – It’s very important to not only know your own strengths and weaknesses but also to accept them. When you identify where you’re strong, you can lead with strength and you can improve upon most of your weaknesses if you know they exist. 
  • Improve Your Skills – When you know that you’re weak in an area that you can learn, that’s a good thing. You can always improve your skills. Take a course, go to seminars, hire a coach or whatever you need to do to improve the skill set that is needed to accomplish your goals. 
  • Network with Others – Having a group of friends and acquaintances that you can learn from, share with, and commiserate with is a great way to build confidence. When you hang around other people who value you and your contributions, you’ll start to believe in yourself more. 
  • Accept and Learn from Critics – It can be difficult to listen to critics. But, if you allow the criticism to help you, it can be a very good thing. Try to de-personalize the criticism so that you can look at it differently, learn from it and improve. 
  • Learn Time Management – One problem with achieving goals is time management. Remember that every little thing you do toward the goal matters. Even if you only do one small part of the work each day, eventually you’ll reach your goal. Allow yourself to feel successful each day that you do at least part of your list.
  • Write Everything Down – Don’t try to reach goals just by remembering them. You’ll trick yourself either by not doing enough or by doing too much and not feeling good about it. Write down each step for each day so that you know when you’ve succeeded on a day-to-day basis. 

Being confident starts from the inside, but is the result of taking steps to do the hard work that you need to do each day to build the good feeling inside. That good feeling is known as self-esteem. When you have high self-esteem, you can accept constructive criticism, small changes of direction, and work in a positive direction of your bigger goals.