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Monetising Your Podcast Content with WordPress

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 20

In the final episode of the series, I’m talking monetisation. Now, before you start telling me off for using a dirty word, I think it’s pretty reasonable to think about getting something back from the effort you put into Podcasting. This is all dependent on giving huge value to your listeners every episode, so there’s no reason they wouldn’t benefit, just as much, from a paid product that you put out. In the episode I’ll talk about ways to monetise your content, and the 3 main tools you can use to do so, from basic payment functionality up to a full-scale membership site. Let’s have a look!

Listen to the Episode Below (00:19:45)
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Resources Mentioned on This Show

Monetising Your Podcast Content with WordPressPayPal

PayPal is an American, international e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. PayPal lets you setup buttons which essentially turn into a little bit of code that you put into your website. It also lets you put subscriptions, you can set up a button within PayPal that guides people to the PayPal website.

s2Member

s2Member is a membership tool that helps you to create membership content or membership site in WordPress. s2Member is compatible with Multisite Networking too, and even with BuddyPress and bbPress. With s2Member, you can either lock down certain parts of your content, pages for people to have to pay for, pages for people who are members only. The Pro version of this plugin allows you to take payments straight on your website which means people don’t have to have a PayPal account to be able to pay for your products.

Pro Sites by WPMudev

Pro Sites is a paid plugin that lets you easily charge your network users for premium services. It is a tool designed for membership sites only not one-off sales.

Your Task

  1. Choose one of the tools mentioned.
    1. For PayPal, create a couple of PayPal buttons, put them in your website and try to sell anything from your product.
    2. Or, install s2Member and setup a community on your website. Sell membership for it.
    3. Or, try the Pro Sites
  2. Pop a comment below. Give me a link of whatever product you put up.

Let Me Know What You Think

Tell me which one you went for and let me know what you’re selling. I’d love to see what product you’ve created based on the information here.

Now, as this is the last episode of the series, please do tell me what you think of the series. Let me know if you want more of the same type of series. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Finally, if you have enjoyed this, I’d appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks again for joining me on this series! I’ll see you on the next series where we’re talking about planning and delivering content.

Transcription

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 PodCraft. This is the series building a peerless podcasting website that is creating a great home for your podcast on the web. And dear, sob sob, we’re down to the last episode, episode 20 of creating a great podcasting website. I really hope you’ve got a lot out of the series. I really enjoyed creating that actually, it’s been a hard slugged in its daily, it’s my first time doing daily episodes so I hope it’s been useful, actually being able to it through in a shorter episode format. I’d love to hear what you think of the format, so, yes, if you want to pop across to podcraft.net/320, please do pop a comment and I’d really really value anything you can tell me about how you thought this, the last episode worked, whether the series format works for you, if you learned through the episodes, all that kind of stuff. Tell me what you think, tell me whether you enjoyed it, whether you didn’t, what worked for you, what doesn’t and then I can create more of the same hopefully good stuff for you in the future. But I do really enjoy making this focused series really, focusing on one thing for a series of episodes really is just good fun. It gives me a greats of a run of things to talk about so, yes, I hope you enjoyed it as well.

So this, the last episode we’re talking about the end result, the monetisation of your content. So, we’ve create a website, we’ve create something great, we’ve create that’s going to grow your audience, that’s really going to make a great user experience for all of your listeners, that’s going to attract in new visitors, that’s going to turn them into loyal listeners. At the end of all of that, whether your hobbyist or a business, it’s always good to get something back out of that effort and that means monetisation. So, that means all the effort that you’ve put in the last 20 days, it’s not unreasonable thing, you make something back out of that. Now, we introduced this a little bit earlier in the series talking about affiliate links, that means we talked about how to possibly monetise the recommendations we make, so you recommend a product, you recommend something external that you haven’t made yourself and hopefully get wee commission out of that. Now, it’s a great way to start in terms of monetisation but it’s a little bit passive. So, you’re just essentially recommending something, you’re passing people on to somewhere else and hoping that they perhaps take that recommendation. And commissions can be quite slim in that area too, I mean, Amazon are actually reasonably generous in terms of commissions. For real world products, I should say, this is, they offer anything between five and ten percent in terms of commissions and that’s actually relatively generous for real live products. You can get a lot higher commissions for information products for example, for courses, for digital products but anyway commissions are generally quite slim when you’re talking about affiliate marketing.

The best way to monetise really is create your own product and sell that. Now, when I talk about my own product or your own product, that doesn’t have to be a product, physical product as such, it can be, there’s a range of different types of products that we can talk about selling. And I’m going to go into that a little bit later.  But, essentially, if you want to sell, if you want to make sales on your website, that means we need an e-commerce solution of some sort. You need some way to sell, to guide people to a shopping cart, to choose a product they want to buy and to take money from them for it. The most basic way to do that within WordPress is with PayPal. So, sign up with PayPal, free to sign up, so you want the basic version of PayPal. We’re not going for Pro sites rental at the moment. You can get business account at PayPal, still doesn’t cost you anything on a regular basis, so this is all entirely free. And then you’re going to go through and you’re going to start to setup PayPal buttons. Now, PayPal themselves lets you setup buttons which essentially turn into a little bit of code that you put on to your website. You place that on any page within WordPress, all you do is go to the text option within the post creation or page creation section and paste in the code itself then you can go back to visual and you can see how it appears. So then you have a little hosted PayPal button on your page and when somebody clicks that button, they’re taken off to the PayPal website. So, they’re not paying on your website, they’re actually directed off to the PayPal website. And their charge whatever it is that you set when you created that button. So, you just create a button for every product that you sell. So, say, you’ve written an eBook, you’re going to charge £10 for that eBook, you create a button specifically for that eBook that charges £10, it’s got the name of the eBook, it’s got a little bit more detail about it. So, when somebody’s guided to PayPal, they’ll see your details, they recognise it and they feel safe to press the sales button. Now, that’s fine for one off sales. Similarly, PayPal actually lets you setup subscriptions as well though. So, you can setup a button within PayPal that guides people to the PayPal website and then tells them that you’re signing up for a membership to the xyzed podcast whereby you’re going to pay £10 per month from now on until you stop it. And it will take the first payment straight away and it will then setup a subscription with that person’s PayPal account. So, that’s easy enough to do. You can set it up, you can set different levels as well, you can have like a Pro version, a platinum version, all that kind of stuff. There’s lots of different options within there but PayPal make it quite easy to do that. Now, I say that’s free, the reason is probably not the best way to do it, and I’ll talk about for the other options in a minute, is that people always end up having to go to PayPal for that. So, you always have to go offsite and they have to have a PayPal account, so people that don’t have a PayPal account essentially can’t buy your products. Now, these days, PayPal is actually ridiculously common, so, you finding somebody that doesn’t have a PayPal account is pretty uncommon. So, it’s not a huge disadvantage.  And the fact that it’s free to setup doesn’t cost you anything ongoing, apart from a little transaction fee every time which is not ridiculous, similar to other services or in three and a half percent plus I think, means that’s a great option to start off with. So, if you just want to experiment with selling stuff, if you’ve got a couple of products, maybe a membership thing you want to try and sell then by all means try this initially. It’s a low effort and can let you validate whether people actually want to start buying those stuff.

Okay, so moving on from that though, I just want to talk about the tool that I use. This is what I’m going to really recommend if you want to start building out a serious e-commerce or membership website and that is a tool called S2Member, so, that’s just the letter S, the number 2 and then the word member and you can go and find the website for that at podcraft.net/s2member, just the name of the plugin there. So, go to that and it’ll guide you off to where you can have a look at the tool. So, S2Member is, as you’d imagine from the member there, is a membership tool, is a membership plugin, helps you to create membership content or membership site in WordPress. And the basic version of S2Member is entirely free, so S2Member can be used totally free and it’s actually pretty powerful even its free form. The benefits of S2Member is that it allows both one off sales and allows membership sites. So, I think that most people that run a podcast quite often people will start off with one product, so I think of maybe an eBook or a report or they want to actually sell a series of past episodes, so you want to sell your episodes one to twenty as a package you’re going to take them of your open feed and you’re going to sell them as a package of old episodes and you’ll sell that as a one off. But then, once you start selling that kind of thing, quite often people will realise that actually it’s a big benefit in getting membership, membership products on the go. So, whether that is, as we talked about yesterday, creating a community and then actually just paying for access to that community, that’s one way to get membership, actually you just offer £5 a month say, and people can get it and take part in this really focused supportive valuable community where you’re offering some of your time as well. That can be a very really valuable product in itself with very little setup. So, you just create that community, you charge £5 a month entry to it and then people can come back and they have to keep paying to keep access to it and they get a lot of value out of that. Or another option along those lines is a membership course so somebody actually joins your website, they sign up, they pay £10, £15, £20 a month and they then take part of the course. So, you’re releasing lessons every week, every month, you’re maybe doing webinars once a month, contributing two hours of your time say, to office hours or Q&A session. You have all that kind of thing where it’s training and resources that people can take part and you’re releasing new books, new reports, new lessons, new videos every month and this can be part of a huge training system that you’re building up, that people pay a certain amount of money every month to take part in. So, anyway, that I think is the two aspects to it and as I said, I think a lot of people start off with those one off sales, those one off products and then graduate to membership. And that’s the reason I like S2member because it allows both. So, you can setup with payment gateway like PayPal or many of the other options as well and then, that allows you to either setup that subscription model or the one off sales really easily. So, I’ve talked about a few, well, I’ve talked about a couple of options there, so the one off sales- selling your podcast, that’s what I mentioned, selling, say, having the most recent five to ten episodes for free, people can subscribe to them on iTunes but if they want to listen to old episodes they have to buy it as a one off sale, you can do that with an S2Member. Other options on one off sales, you sell your writing. So, it might be that alongside your podcast, you also have a lot of articles, you have lots of tutorials, you have a lot of how-to things, lots of things that offer a lot of people value that they’ll want to read. With S2Member, you can have, say, the first paragraph or two of an article available for free but you have a button halfway down the page that says, “To read more, pay £2.”, so people have to click that £2 and then it takes a charge from them via PayPal or whatever payment method you’re going with and then they get to see the rest of it. And they’ll login, they create an account in S2Member so they can always come back and they can always see that content again. And you can create that kind of gateway, that gating of your content on every single page on your website. And if you have just the minimal fee like say five, fifty pence on a pound, £2, do it on dollars, whatever your currency is. It can be really nice way to actually get a little bit of income of content that you already have. Now, obviously this relies on you creating pretty epic stuffs, so you’ve got to have articles on there that are really valuable, offer a lot of value that people think a pound or £2 is actually worth it because, I mean, it’s not a small amount of money, you can get eBook with that kind of price but there’s no reason you can’t create a series of videos for example, you could put on a video on a page which are worth one or two pounds to a customer or a one thousand, two thousand word article it’ll be worth that as well. It’s as long as you’re offering a ton of value, you’re offering a ton take aways, ton of actionable stuff that people can do and get that value back straight away. Okay, so other ways to do one off sales might be a course as well. So, I mentioned a course earlier on in terms of a membership, you can charge people on doing memberships for a course but it might be that you want to actually just sell a course of ten to fifteen to twenty videos as a one off, £10 now and you get permanent access to these videos whenever you like, so, that’s fine as well. Similarly, you can do an add-on product, so your episodes, you’ve got free podcast, say, a good example of this is Coffee Break Spanish by Mark Pendleton. He does some really good add-on products for their podcasts, so you go to Coffee Break Spanish, you listen to a lesson and then you go to the website and you can buy add-ons, you can buy worksheets, you can buy all sorts of extras that really enhance that podcast experience. You can do the basic one for free if you want but then you can pay a small fee to buy these extras that really make your learning more effective, really make it more fun. So, it might be that you can create them for your own podcast, you can talk about something for half an hour, for an hour, you put together a report or a book or a product for something that enhances that stuff that you just talked about, whatever it was you just talked about, you put together something else that makes it better or makes it more actionable, you can sell that as a one off. Equally, that could be a membership, people could pay five, ten pounds a month and they get these add-ons sent to them regularly or they get to just login to the website and get to them, no problem at all. So, S2Member is really just a gating system, you can either lock down certain parts of your content, you can lock down pages for people to have to pay for or you can lock down pages for people who are members only access. That’s the basic principle of S2Member. Now, S2Member does work well with bbPress as I talked about yesterday so if you wanted to have that community aspect to your membership site then it’s a good one to go with. And it works with a lot of other plugins as well, so it’s just a good plugin to go with, the free version as I said is great and you can go for, you can actually upgrade to the Pro version for not too much things but $99 for the Pro version and that brings in a whole lot of other features including website payment pro with PayPal which means that you can take payments straight on your website which is actually quite a big advantage, it means that people don’t have to have a PayPal account to be able to pay for your products and that’s quite big advantage obviously.

So, just to briefly cover an alternative to S2Member, another one that I’ve used in the past is Pro Sites so, that’s by WPMudev which I think I’ve mentioned on previous episodes. WPMudev are a great creator of plugins. Pro Sites you buy individually for about $20 or you can subscribe to WPMudev website and you can have constant access to it and its updates. Pro Sites is a bit more basic, it doesn’t have as many options as S2Member but it a bit nicer to look in and is a bit easier to use. The one downside of S2Member is it got tons of options and the back-end, the admin panel for it doesn’t look the most attractive, it’s not the nicest user experience, not the easiest this to setup in the first place. I don’t think it’s too difficult by any means but certainly Pro Sites is a little bit more easy. I think Pro Sites is possibly lacking in a bit of power once you build it out, so you can start with it for a pretty basic membership site by all means Pro Sites is a good option. And that is another disadvantage as well actually, I say membership site there because Pro Sites is only really designed for membership sites not one off sales. So, while S2Member makes it quite easy for you to do one off sales to sell just a single article or a single product, Pro Sites is really just for memberships. And obviously the final disadvantage is the fact that Pro Sites is paid, so you have to pay for it, there is no free version and again to get updates in the future from WPMudev you have to subscribe so either that or re-buy the product I suppose. But, it’s an ongoing commitment in terms of cost.

So, anyway, I hope that gives you a good introduction to monetising your content, how you could sell products on your website, how you could sell memberships, how you could start to benefit from the massive amount of work you’re putting in to your website, creating lost of content.

So, that takes us to the tasks for today. So, I think, choose one of them, choose whether you’re going to go with the basic PayPal function. Just create a couple of PayPal buttons, stick them on your website, try selling anything at all. Just put together a collection of your best articles and sell that as an eBook for example, try that initially. Or get S2Member, install S2Member and actually setup a community on your website, as we did yesterday, and start gating that. So actually sell memberships for it, just start it like £2 a month, sell next to nothing in terms of cost and just say you’re going to put in a bit of time each month and a bit of value and see if people are up for it. See if your community or your fans, your listeners are up for actually paying just something, give it a shot, see what happens.  Or, by all means, try a Pro Sites as well, if you want to choose that one, just run an easier entry. I’d love to hear how you go on with it though, so pop over to podcraft.net/320, podcraft.net/320 and drop a comment on the bottom of that page. Let me know which option you went for and let me know what you’re selling. Give me a link to whatever product you put up first. I’d love to see what product you’ve created based on the information here, I’m really interested to see.

And that takes us to the end of the series. So, that’s episode 320, that’s the episode 20 of the Series 3. We’re done creating out peerless podcasting website. I hope you now have a great podcasting website, all set up. You’ve got a great home for your podcast in the web. You’re really happy with how it’s looking, with all the tools on there, you’re really happy with how it’s growing out your listeners, attracting a new listeners and creating loyal followers. And if you have done, if you’re enjoying that, if you’re happy with that then my mission is accomplished. But I would like to hear your feedback, as I said at the start of the episode, please do tell me what you think of the series, whether you want more of the same type of series and yes, again just drop on to podcraft.net/320. But don’t worry, that’s not the end, we’ll be taking a break, short break and I would be back of Series 4 of PodCraft. Series 4 is going to be around planning and delivering content, so it’s going to be around all the process of creating your podcasting episodes from presentation skills to planning your strategy to actually defining your podcast in the first place. So, it’s going to be around how to create better content that people really are engaged with. So, I hope you’re up for listening to that next time around. And I’ve got a couple of really good guests. It’s more of an interview format for the next series. So, you don’t have to listen to just my voice again and again. So, I hope that gives you a bit of variety. But again, thanks for following me through the series. I really appreciate if you followed me through every single one of the twenty episodes. Or even you might still listen to a few of them, I really appreciate you as a listener coming with me on this journey, coming through every single episode. And the best thing you can do if you have enjoyed this, if you have just a minute, I would so much appreciate if you could pop on to iTunes and give me a review for the series, well, for the whole thing really. So, yes, it’d be great to hear from you in that way. Thanks again and I’ll see you on the next series of PodCraft. Farewell.

If you’ve been listening to all of the Series 3 of PodCraft then pop across to podcraft.net where you’ll find links to subscribe to the full PodCraft series. We can get all the other content from PodCraft including archives as well as all new episodes as they come out. Thanks for listening.

Creating a Community for Your Podcast in WordPress with bbPress

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 19

In this, the penultimate episode of PodCraft, we’re talking communities. The creation of a community has to be one of the main goals of any podcast, and to give it a real home on your website adds so much more value to that community. Today I’ll talk about the benefits of communities, both to hobbyist podcasters and business owners, and go on to discuss the right tools for the job. I have three community building tools for you, all for very different uses, so you can choose the one to suit you. Let’s get started.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:16:34)
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Resources Mentioned on This Show

Creating a Community for Your Podcast in WordPress with bbPressbbPress

bbPress is focused on ease of integration, ease of use, web standards, and speed. This plugin is hugely powerful and flexible. You can basically build this plugin into any type of forum you like while still allowing for great add-on features through WordPress’s extensive plugin system.

WP Symposium

WP Symposium turns a WordPress website into a Social Network, you can basically build a social network similar to Facebook on a WordPress site. It has all of the same kind of stuff like friends, followers, groups, events and even a live chat function so you can have live chat rooms for your community to get involve. Another advantage of this plugin it has some nice default themes that will make your box look good.

CM Answers

This plugin is more basic, it’s not a full forum package but it’s more of a Q&A type of deal. It’s a question and answer type of forum whereby people will post a question, anyone can post an answer and you can get the voting up answers type of functionality that you find in the links of Stackoverflow, Yahoo Answers and sort.

Check out this article by Copyblogger for more information about digital sharecropping.

Your Tasks

  1. Choose one of the tools I’ve mentioned which you think would suit you best.
  2. Install it on your WordPress website
  3. Start building a basic forum. Build a few different sections for that forum based on your topic
  4. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below

Let Me Know What You Think

Tell me which one you went for, why you chose that tool and tell me some of the sections you’ve created. I’d love to know!

Finally, if you’re finding the series useful, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks again for joining me and I’ll see you on the next episode!

View the Transcription for the Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of PodCraft. It’s the Series 3 where we’re looking at building a peerless podcasting website that is creating a great home for your podcast on the web. So, we’re up to the penultimate episode, that’s only two to go including today, that’s episode 319. And today, we’re looking at building a community. This is one of the greatest aims of a podcast, I would say, that idea of being able to build a full community around both yourself and your podcast and your topic. So, they have lots of people, lots of fans, all talking to each other, promoting your content, helping you, giving lots of feedback, all that kind of stuff, all the great stuff that comes with being the centre of a community. And giving all that value back to community members as well, actually changing people’s lives, actually adding something to their lives and helping them to do greater things. So, yes, that’s the aim we have for today’s and the idea of building a community on your podcasting website.

Now, even if you don’t monetise it, there’s huge benefits here. I’ve just mentioned a few of them briefly but let’s just go through them in detail. So, we’ll go on to actually monetising a community in a little while. But even if you don’t want to, even if you’re just a hobbyist, there’s still plenty of benefits for you around creating a community for your podcast. For a start, it’s great fun, so you’re getting involved with lots of your listeners, you’re getting involved with all the people that are interested in your subject. So, say mountain biking, that’s one of my podcast that I do, something that I’m really into and I actually get involve with mountain biking community. So, I get online, I talk to people, I get involve with conversations, I get a lot of value, I give a lot of value back, we give advice, all that kind of stuff. That’s what happen to the communities, so even if you’re the one that’s running it, you’ll get a lot of fun out of that too especially because as a person that is running it, obviously you’re a bit of a focus for it. So, there’s lots of benefits to you being that kind of pseudo celebrity of the community but besides that it’s just you make friends. So, you have lots of friends on there, people who come regularly and that’s the great fun aspect. Besides that, a lot of people will contribute content, so your members of your community, those people that start loyalty towards your community, towards your podcast, they’ll help you create content, they’ll offer you lots of tips, lots of advice, they’ll give you lots of things. So, going back to the mountain biking idea, find a community around mountain biking podcast, they would give trail guides for example, so I can’t go and visit all the trails around the country so people in my community might contribute trail reports that I can now note on the podcast or they can review bikes, I can’t buy all the bikes in the world either as much as I’d like to, so you get people reading out, sorry, you get people writing in reviews of different pieces of cap, of shoes, of bags, of shorts, of all that kind of stuff and you can read that out on your podcast as well. And people really value that, people would really enjoy doing that, they really contribute, enjoy contributing that type of stuff to a community. So, they feel a satisfaction about putting that out into the world, about helping people out and they feel even more satisfaction about having you read out on the podcast. So, it’s a bit of a win-win for both, you get a content and they get a lot of recognition, a lot of satisfaction out of it. Related to that, there’s also the fact that you get a lot of feedback, so people will give you lots of feedback on the types of things they’re struggling with in their subject. Whatever it is you talk about , you’re always looking for problems, the pain point, you’re always looking for the things that people struggle within your topic and that’s where you find a really compelling content. If you can answer questions, if you can answer pains, if you can answer problems that people have commonly within your topic then that’s the content people want to listen to, that’s the stuff people will really engage with if it solves as the problem for them. And if you run a community, you get to talk to a lot of people that are into this subject, you get to read a lot of comments from people that are writing about the subject. So, the idea for content will really come out, all these problems, all these issues that people have will come out in that community and you can then build content and built podcast episodes, build products for them in the future. Finally, even if you’re just a hobbyist podcaster, promotion, promotion is a big benefit of community. If you dozens of people in your community, then they’re all going to tell dozens of their friends. If they’re loyal listeners, they’re going to tell people about your podcast, they’re going to tell people about your website and having that community that is loyal to you becomes fanatical about your content. There’s nothing better for promotion than that word of mouth. They’re not recommendation from somebody who’s just a fan, they’re not invested in this, there’s no reason why they should be telling somebody about this community or this podcast other than the fact that they really like you and that’s the kind of recommendations you want to get.

Now, going beyond the hobbyist aspect, they’re all the benefits you get obviously if you’re running a business and you’re using a podcast to promote that business then all of those benefits really do count for you as well, obviously, the contribution of content that’s great, being able to actually find out what type of episodes that people want, that feedback as well, being able to find the problems that people are having so that you can create a podcast episodes and products, I mean if you’re running a business, if you can find out what people are really struggling with, you can then create products to solve those problems and that’s the type of products that really sell. When they sell, when they solve a problem that you know exists within your community, as opposed to something you just assumed exist which is quite often happens within businesses. The business owner will create something that they just think should exist or they think that think will solve the problem but when you’re getting it direct from the horse’s mouth, you’re getting it straight from your listeners, this is something they need solved and that is hugely valuable. And then finally, obviously, that promotion aspect to that works for business just as well as it does for a hobbyist. You want to get your business out there, and if people become a fan of your podcast, they’re going to not only promote your podcast but they’re going to promote your business as well, and how good is that? Now, building a community around a business is obviously a different prospect to building one around a hobby. People generally have a pretty good detector for lies, for just general baloney from people who are trying to pretend they’re giving value or pretend they’re doing one thing when actually they’re trying to sell. So, it’s quite different. The key to that, the key to building a community as a business is offering a hell of a lot of value, so you need to give away a lot of stuff, you need to give away advice, you need to give away your time so you need to actually answer those questions in the community, you need to get involved, you need to be in there as the business owner. And people really value because they know that time’s pretty much what you’re most valuable commodity so if you’re getting in there and you’re helping people, that is offering a whole lot of value. But it’s not really, it’s not costing you anything in terms of money or resources, just your time and obviously that is valuable so you need to be careful with that. But people know that and they’ll pay you back in equal measure. You can also, to build that value, you can also give away products, so you can actually give special treatment to your community members, you can give them special reports, information products that really cost you anything to give away just a little bit time to create. You can give away courses, you can give away things especially to your community which will make them feel really valued and make them more loyal to your community, to your business and your podcast in the future. And then, obviously when it comes time for you to actually sell something, so to sell a real product, something that is actually valuable, they’ve built a lot of trust in you because they know the kind of thing you provide, they know that you put out good quality stuff, they know that you’ve put out a lot of value in the past and they’re more than happy to pay you back. And if you’ve managed to build that type of loyal community in the past, your sales will absolutely sky rocket when you do come to sell, so when you actually ask them to do something for you, you’ll actually get it back, those people will pay you back in huge measure.

So, that’s the basics of why you might want to build a community and the benefits from it. Let’s have a look at how you do so. So, it’s possible to build a community in the basic WordPress platform, you have some types of communication methods, so you’ve got comments, so you can build a bit of community just in the comments, you can have people coming back again and again to comment on your post, to comment on your show notes and you can reply to them as well, so conversations can build up in the comments. That’s a very basic form of conversation but it does exist, so, that may be an option for you. You can also bring in social media conversations, so you can bring in a Twitter feed, you can bring in some of your Facebook posts, so you can bring in an external conversations and maybe show a little bit of your community in that respect. And finally, you can even lead out to other platforms, you could lead out to a Facebook community for example or a group on LinkedIn. So, you could have your actual community based offsite elsewhere but linked to it from your own website actually direct people there and that would give you full forum functionality conversation, all that kind of stuff, groups that type of thing. But again, I think I’ve talked about this in the past but I wouldn’t recommend that, I think that’s building on borrowed land something I read from Chris Mar actually not that long ago it’s “Shitting the Sharecropping Idea” I don’t think that came from him but you did a really good article on that subject which I’ll link to in the show notes. The whole digital sharecropping concept around people building on rented land, on borrowed land, it could be taken away any time. I mean, if you build a community on Facebook, there’s nothing to say that Facebook won’t charge you for that community in the future or even just take that functionality away. You might imagine that someone as big as Facebook wouldn’t do that but Google have been known for shutting down entire services with very short notice so you can never really on it. Really, you want to be building anything that you value such as the community on your own land, so on your server, so, that means on your website essentially. Not only that it gives you assurance that it’s always going to be there, so you actually have control over whether it’s going to be around in the future but also you just have a lot more control over how it looks, how it functions, stuffs like advertising for example, putting advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn groups, maybe not possible but you can do that on your own. So, ways to monetise in the future as well, it’s pretty important to own your own property in that respect. So, on that note you want to build your own forum.

So, how do we do this in WordPress? Here we come to the tools for today. So, it’s quite easy actually to build a forum out in WordPress. There’s a few different ways to do it and let’s have a look at the few tools. The one that I’ve always used in the past is called bbPress, so it’s the letter B B, so just B B and then press and that’s pretty much the daddy of forum software within WordPress. It’s been around for years, it’s in width that kind of the wood work of wood WordPress, in the olden age it used to be a standalone till they went alongside WordPress but then it was built completely into WordPress as a plugin and that was completely integrated. As a huge community out there around, including tons of plugins and themes so it’s usually powerful, usually flexible, you can basically build bbPress out into any type of forum you like. The downside of it is a bit ugly with box so if you just install the default bbPress then it doesn’t look very nice, you might have to play around with the themes to make it look nice or to actually tie it in with your normal theme. And some people do think that it’s not the most easy to use tool but that’s mainly because of its power. I think it is quite easy to use, to be honest, if you set it up in the basic forum, before it’s easy to get it go in that way, you can set up all the forums, all the different sections of your forum, all that type of stuff. And then, once you start playing around with the more advanced features, it does get a little bit more complicated but it’s the same with anything, once you get into the advanced stuff, you’re going to be just time about learning, about how it works. But, you’re going to be disappointed if you go with bbPress, you won’t be disappointed at all. Fully powerful, everything that you’d expect in a forum plugin so by all means try that out. Completely free as well, which is a huge advantage.

There is a contender though, that I will mention called WP Symposium. So, this is a newer one and really is actually, the whole principle behind WP Symposium is that it’s a social network. So, you can build a social network, very similar to facebook, on a WordPress site, so, it’s essentially building your own Facebook clone. It’s got all of the same kind of stuff like friends and followers and groups and events and all the kind of thing, so it’s got a lot of power, lots of feature in there and it’s even got a live chat function as well actually so you can have a live chat rooms for your community to get in there and get involved in if you think a standard asynchronies chat isn’t enough for you. The advantage of WP Symposium as well is that it looks good at the box, so, some nice default themes, so you don’t have to play around with it too much. Arguably, it’s easier to setup so if you want to just get going quickly and easily then WP Symposium could be a better option for you. WP Symposium and its basic form’s completely free, so you can play around with it, you can upgrade and get some extra features but the free one’s absolutely fine, I think, and does pretty much everything that most people will need from a forum.

So, the next one I’ll mention is called CM Answers. The reason I mention this one is because it’s a little bit different in the way to works. It’s more basic, so, it’s not a full on forum package but it’s more of a Q&A type of deal. So, it’s a question and answer type of forum whereby people will post a question, anyone can post an answer, and you can get the voting up answers type of functionality that you find in the links of Stackoverflow or Yahoo Answers or Quora. So, if you want to run more of a question and answers type forum, let people help each other out, or just ask questions of yourself or maybe other people who are kind of nominated answers within your community then that could be a good way to go. It is less about self in-depth conversations and more about just helping each other, answer questions then CM Answers is the plugin that could well work for you.

So, that’s three different plugin tools that you can try out. I hope they prove useful to you. I hope you go ahead and have a go at building of community for your podcast. Definitely, something is worth investing your time in whether you’re a hobbyist or business looking to promote your podcast. So, yes, get involved in that and I’d love to hear how it goes.

Fairly, just to, on that note, the task for today. So, choose one, choose one of the tools: bbPress, WP Symposium or CM Answers, whichever one you think would suit you best based on how I’ve described them. Install that on your WordPress website and start building out the most basic forum, just build a few different sections for that forum based on whatever your topic is. And as usual, you can obviously find links to these tools within the show notes, you’ll find them at podcraft.net/319 for today. You’ll be able to download them from there. And once you’ve done that, last step is just to let me know how it goes. So, go on to, again, podcraft.net/319 and drop me a comment on the show notes. Just drop in a comment saying which one you went for, why you chose that one and tell me some of the sections you’ve created. So, tell me what areas within your forum you’ve created for your topic, tell me what your topic is and what areas you have created. So, yes, I hope that covers communities, probably lets you know why you should be getting involved at community.

And that leaves us at the end of the penultimate episode, so just one more to go. Tomorrow, we’re going to be talking in a slightly related note about monetising your content. So, we introduced monetisation with affiliate marketing a little bit earlier in the series.  Now, we’re going to look at actually monetising your content, so, that involves creating your own product, maybe monetising that community we’ve just talked about or many other ways as well. And we’d look at the best tools that you can use with WordPress to actually start charging for the stuff that you create. So, I hope you’re looking forward to that. Generally, works quite a lot with businesses but hobbyist as well, always quite keen to get something back out with their podcasting efforts. So, I hope you join me again tomorrow. So, I’ll talk to you then! See you later!

Benefit from Errors with a Custom 404 Page on Your Podcast Website

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 18

In this episode we’re exploring the concept of 404 error pages. A 404 error occurs when someone tries to visit a page on your site that doesn’t exist. This might be because they’ve used the wrong address, or because they’re trying to find an old page which has since moved or been deleted. The basic 404 error page simply stops the user in their tracks, not really helping anyone, so our aim with a custom 404 is to help the user as much as possible. Listen to the episode to discover the types of things you can include on a 404 error page, and how you can go about creating one. Enjoy!

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Mentioned on This Show

Benefit from Errors with a Custom 404 Page on Your Podcast WebsiteCustom 404

This plugin adds a setting to the reading part of your website’s setting that allows you to customize your 404 pages by adding content, search button or other options that you can include on your 404 pages to make your visitors stay in your website.

Your Task

  1. Download Custom 404 plugin and install it in your website
  2. Create a 404 page for your website
  3. Pop in a comment below with a link to your 404 page

Let Me Know What You Think

Tell me what you’ve included in your 404 page and why you did so? If you have some extra stuff beyond what I’ve mentioned today, I’d love to hear any extra tips you have on how to create a great 404 page.

Finally, if you’re finding the series useful, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode.

Transcription for the Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is a series on creating a peerless podcasting website, so, that’s creating a great home for your podcast on the web. Yesterday, we were talking security, so we covered all of the things that can happen to your WordPress website because of the vulnerabilities that can be found from time to time. But we talked about all the ways that you can close those gaps, make sure you’re safe. So, pop back and listen to that if you haven’t already. If you have, obviously, thanks very much for being a continuous listener, popping back today after that. I mentioned that we’re going to be looking today at error pages. Now, error pages are obviously seen generally as inactive. So, somebody pops on to your website and  try to find something but they get an error and by an error, I’m really talking about a 404 error. Now, 404 errors arise when somebody types in a web address or they go to a link where that page is actually disappeared. So, they go to a link which doesn’t exist on your website anymore and that’s when a 404 error pops up. You’ve no doubt seen them around the web from time to time. It happens, people change the structure of their websites, they delete pages, they change the names of pages but other things around the web, whether it’s on their own site or an external site might still be linking to that old page. So, it’s quite often that you’ll find 404s around your website somewhere. Now, as I said, that can be inactive because people can’t find what they’re looking for. But the last thing you want to do is to show a default 404 page which essentially says “Oh! Whoops! We can’t find what you’re looking for, never mind.” and that’s it. What you want to do is have a custom 404 page that then says “Oh, sorry we can’t find what you’re looking for but hey, go ahead and look at this.” so that’s what we’re looking at today. How to do that within WordPress, how to create that custom 404 page that means that people who can’t find what they’re looking for will find something, will browse around, they’ll use your content, they might find some cool stuff that you’ve written, you’ve recorded and they’ll become loyal listeners and  loyal fans in the future.

So, let us go through it properly. 404 pages, generally, by default on WordPress will show, well, the default will depend on your theme. So, what you can do just to see what happens is pop over to your website, type in yourdomain.com/ and then random series of characters, hit return and then you’ll see the 404 error pop up. Now, some themes, at best, it will show just a list of recent posts, so one of my themes actually does that by default, it show “Here’s the recent posts. We can’t find what you’re looking for but here’s recent things that have been written.”, that’s not terrible. So, the person will might at least click on some of them, relies on them seeing a headline that appeals to them, so, that’s not awful, not too bad. Other themes that I’ve used though are a lot worst then they might just say “Oh, we can’t find what you’re looking for. 404 error” and that’s it. So, it doesn’t show you anything further. Some in between can be that they show a search box for example. I’ve got one theme that actually pops over the search box by default and at least somebody can then type in the name of the resource they were looking for and they might still be able to find it.

What we want to do though is create a custom 404 page that actually shows, well, it lets them search what they’re looking for, it shows some great post and it directs them to other materials. So, let’s have a look at how that works. The most basic way to do it is actually to just create a page within your WordPress theme that’s called 404.php and that’s in numbers, so the numbers 404.php. Now, that’s quite good for a security obviously, it’s quite good for keeping your website nice and clean because you’re not installing another plugin to do this, you’re actually just creating a page manually within your theme. The problem is, obviously, that you need to know how to code a little to make this work. So, you need to be able to get in to your website server, you need to be able to create that page and then you need to know what code to put on there to make it actually do something. So, it’s not practical for a lot of people but just to let you know, if you can do that, then that’s a good approach to take because you can, like I say, keeps it clean, you’re not adding it next to the plugins, very simple and very easy if you know how to do it. But if you can’t, then obviously you want to use a plugin, you want something that’s going to help you do this automatically. Now, the one the I use is called Custom 404 plugin. So, you can search for that in the WordPress plugins directory, just go into your plugins section within your WordPress dashboard, type in Custom 404 plugin, that’s the one I have on a few different websites that I run just now. It’s really handy, it’s very simple, all it does is it adds a setting to the reading part of your settings. So, if you’re going to your WordPress and then you go to settings and then reading, in there it now has an option that says, “What page do you want to use for your 404 error page”, all you do is you create a new page within WordPress which is simply your 404 page and then you choose that in that setting. So, on that page you can put anything, you just create it, very much the same as any other page on your website. So, you can make it along the same formatting style, you can have the same sidebars, you can have all your normal navigation and all your normal widgets. But, what I would recommend is have maybe a few of the following things on it, so this is maybe what you want to put on a 404 page.

Firstly, I think you should have a start here, so, a lot of websites these days are doing a start here type of area. So, they have a link that says, “New to this website, start here”, click that start here button  and it’ll essentially introduce that user to the website, that’ll take you to the most popular posts, so the stuff that you know on your website is really valuable, you know what is on your site that really grabs people, that really turns people into a long term readers, you know what you’ve written that is really good stuff, that really converts somebody from a one time visitor into a long term reader. So, you want that kind of thing on your 404 page because actually, one of the most common reasons that somebody gets a 404 is because they’ll come from an external website to your site from a link and basically you’ll have changed things around, you’ve edited your site, you’ve upgraded it, whatever, and that link is no longer valid. So, that’s probably the most common reason that somebody gets a 404, somebody that doesn’t really know your website is coming there from elsewhere. So, this is you catering to those new readers. So, best posts, most popular stuff, most engaging things. Related to that, you could have, and I would recommend having a mailing list opt-in, so have widget on this page which lets people opt-in into your mailing list. Make sure you’re offering something really valuable to encourage them to do that now because if they are new reader, they’re not going to give away their details just to willy nilly, they want something in return so make sure you’ve got your lead magnet, so whatever it is that you give away to get people to sign up whether it’s a massive report, an ebook, or just like a top ten resources, something that really encourages people to sign up, have that on your 404 page as well. So, that’s two things catering to your new, people that have just found your website brand new. They’re going to find your valuable content and then they’re going to take your report, your lead magnet, and they’re going to opt-in to your mailing list as well.

To cater to the other type of people, so people that do know your website, they have been there before, they’ve tried to find something, maybe they tried, they thought they remember the web address, they tried to type it in but they got it a little bit wrong, maybe you have some outdate link on a post on your website, they’ve tried to click through from there to another page but they know you a little bit. A good thing to include for that type of person is a search box, so do include a search box on your 404 page and say, “If you do know what you’re looking for, type in the title of the post here and it’ll pop up”. So, you let those people find what they’re looking for through search.

The final thing that I would recommend putting on is categories. So, actually just have a bit at the bottom that says, “If you don’t know exactly what it’s called, you don’t know exactly what the resource you’re looking for is named on the website then here are the categories maybe you can find what you’re looking for there. Here’s what I normally write about.”, and you’ll have a list of your categories and let people click thru it and try to navigate thru your website, find the stuff they’re looking for that way. So, you’re looking to cater to both of those types of readers, you’re looking to cater to your existing readers that know you already and you’re looking to cater to those people that are new to your website and really grab them in, turn them into long term readers. That’s what your 404 page is for.

So, task for today, download the Custom 404 plugin, install it on your website and create yourself a new 404 page. I’d love to look at it so pop over to podcraft.net/318 and that will take you to the show notes for today’s episode, it’ll give you all the resources as usual but it will also let you put in a comment and I’d love it if you pop in a comment with a link to your 404 page. So, just give me a link to your website and then I can type in that and then a random string of characters after it and I’ll find your 404 page. And I’d love to give you some comments on it, I’d love to see what you’ve included or even just put in comment what type of stuffs you’ve included on that 404 page and why you did so. If you have some extra stuff beyond what I’ve mentioned today, I’d love to hear it, any extra tips you have on how to create a great one.

Okay. So, that’s it for today. That ties up the 404 error page. Thanks again for listening to the series. As always, I hope you’re getting a lot from it and you’re nearly finish on your journey to creating a peerless podcasting website. We’ve only got two more episodes to go before we finish the 20 part series, so I hope you join me for the penultimate one tomorrow, the next episode. I’ll talk to you then.

Keeping Your Podcasting Website Secure: WordPress Security Essentials

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 17

Today we’re looking at security – not the most sexy of subjects, but vital if you want to run a good Podcasting website long term, and particularly if you want to make a living from it. WordPress itself is not an insecure platform, but it’s massive popularity makes it a big target for hackers. Lucky for us, there are a few steps, and a couple of tools, that can make a huge difference to how safe our website is. I’m looking today at updates, backups and plugins to help harden WordPress up. Let’s have a look!

Listen to the Episode Below (00:15:04)
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Resources Mentioned on This Show

Keeping Your Podcasting Website Secure: WordPress Security EssentialsManageWP

This plugin allows you to remotely manage your WordPress sites from one dashboard. It allows you to manage not only one website but up to 5 separate websites. It also helps you with updating versions, plugins and backups.

Login LockDown

This is a simple tool which hardens your website quite a lot and stops the chance of being hacked. It detects subsequent logins, if somebody tries to login on your website too many times using one IP address then Login Lock Down will lock down the page. Login LockDown also records the IP address and timestamp of every failed login attempt.

Securi

Securi is a security toolset for security integrity monitoring, malware detection and security hardening. If the plugin sees anything unusual on your website, it will inform you right away so you can get rid of it. And it also does server site scanning, it scans your entire web server on a regular basis to see if there are viruses or malwares.

For a full guide to installing plugins and working with WordPress in general, check out the LearnDen Website Course.

Your Task

  1. Go into your website and make sure your entire website is up-to-date.
  2. Setup back-ups

Let Me Know What You Think

What do you think of the plugins mentioned on this episode? Let me know what system you use to secure your website?

Finally, if you’re enjoying the series, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode where we’re talking about error pages.

Transcription

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is a series on looking at creating a great home for your podcast on the web, creating a peerless podcasting website as I called it. Yesterday, we talked about SpeakPipe. So, SpeakPipe is a tool that lets you take voicemails from your listeners. Great tool for building out engagement, making your listeners much more loyal and giving a lot of content for your show. So, do pop back and have a listen to that if you haven’t already. If you have though, thanks very much for listening along. Coming on to the next episode, this time around we’re talking security. So security, not most exciting, sexy of subjects, I know. But WordPress, while really super popular and a brilliant platform as far as I’d concerned, one of the things that can be talked down about sometimes is security. And actually, it’s a victim of its own success because of the fact that WordPress is so popular, because WordPress runs so many websites around the web, it means that the platform – the system itself is a little bit of a target for hackers. By that, I mean, if a hacker can figure out how to hack into WordPress in general, it means he has so many different websites around the web whereby he can use that trick. So, that’s why it’s so popular and such a heavily targeted tool. But have no fear, don’t start taking down your WordPress site already after the last fifteen, sixteen days of building it. There are ways to get around that. There’s lots of ways whereby we can make our WordPress site much more secure, much less hackable and simply make it a lot safer for us to use it as our platform.

So, I’m actually going through a few different tools today. There’s a few different options, few different things, different levels of security that may suit different types of websites. So, I’ll go through and we’ll see what will suit you. Step one, the basics of having a secure WordPress website and that is updates. Because WordPress is so popular, and as I said, is targeted by hackers, it’s always very quick to emerge when a vulnerability has been found. So, people discover that people are hacking WordPress websites very quickly and WordPress as a company, are great to putting on updates, to actually close those holes, to secure those vulnerabilities. So, the best thing that you can do to make sure that you’re not vulnerable to hacking is to update WordPress regularly. So whenever you see the message at the top of the WordPress window that says “Update now to version something”, click that as soon as you can, as quick as you can, just do the auto update and make sure that you’re WordPress website is always up-to-date. If you do that, you’re much much less likely to be hacked than if you don’t, so if you’re running now on a WordPress version which is like 3.4 something which is years old, even just a few months old then it’s a lot more likely that you’re going to get hacked because vulnerabilities are known about for those older versions whereas hackers are having tools to keep up to find vulnerabilities in the new version. So, if you’re on the newest version that means you’re as secure  as you possibly can be without any of the extra add-ons. So, yes, make sure you update regularly.

And that goes to your plugins and themes as well. So, always go into your plugins window once a week, even once a day if you want to, it doesn’t take long. Go into your themes window as well and check which ones have an update available. The plugins, particularly, if you go into that, you can always see plugins that have updates available, just click all of the, just click the thing at the top that says “Updates available”  then click to select all and do a bulk update and it takes you maybe thirty seconds to a minute to update them all. Do that once a week and you’re golden, you’re very up-to-date and secure. So make sure you do that, keep the main WordPress up-to-date and keep your plugins and themes up-to-date as well. And that does count for plugins that you’re not even using right now or themes you’re not even using right now. The fact that they’re installed in your platform means that they are a doorway to your system. So, if you’re worries about something or you’re not using it anymore, it’s not enough to deactivate that plugin, really, if you’re not going to use it, you want to get rid of it as quick as you can. You’ll only want the really essential plugins on your WordPress website because they a doorway in. Like I say, the WordPress system itself is updated a lot, it’s monitored a lot but plugins are not so much so if you use less well-known plugins, you can have an old plugin that gets out of date but it turns out as vulnerability in that plugin then people could get into your WordPress website that way. So, that’s why it’s good to really monitor the plugins you use, make sure you’re only using really popular ones, with good reviews, with their updated often and really be purposeful over the plugins that you do use. Okay, so that’s updating.

On to step two, step two is back-up. Now, everyone knows that they have to back-up, everyone knows that they should be backing up their own computers, their home computers, their laptops, their phones, their everything, you know you have to back-up but so many people just don’t do it. And it’s because actually you don’t need to use it very often, I mean it’s not that often that your computer falls over and you’ll lose everything. So you don’t really have this incentive as motivation to do it and it’s only when you actually do lose everything then suddenly you realise how important it is. So, what I recommend is backing up your website at least once a week, probably even more than that, maybe even every couple of days, depends on how often you update it obviously. I mean if you’re putting on new articles every single day, you probably want to be backing up every two or three days. But if you’re only updating your website every couple of weeks, then you can get away with just backing up that often.

Now, the way I do my back-ups is through a system called ManageWP. So, it’s a website that you can find at podcraft.net/managewp, just spell it out, no spaces or anything MANAGEWP that will take you to the website. ManageWP is a system that lets you manage WordPress websites. It helps you with updating versions, it helps you with updating plugins, it helps you with back-ups. Back-ups is the really essential thing in here that I use it for and it helps you with a whole bunch of other stuff as well actually. You can get a free account with ManageWP if you just go to that web address that I said, podcraft.net/managewp and you can sign up for a free account which handles five separate websites. So, if you have more than one WordPress website, you can actually manage them all in there. But the thing that I use it for is the back-ups. So with the free version you can do the manual back-ups, so you can actually back-up your website with one button click to any web space that you have, so, to another hosting account or to a dropbox account or something like that, you can do that manually. If you do choose to pay for ManageWP which isn’t too expensive for a smaller bit of websites then you can do auto back-ups as well, so you can actually set it to automatically back-up WordPress to whatever space you like, whenever you like on an automatic basis, so every day, every two days, every week, whatever choose. Now, some systems, for example Hostgator, which I recommended at the start of the series, do allow for certain types of back-ups. You can pay extra for better back-ups, for more regular back-ups, for more easy-to-use back-ups. I would not assume whatever system you signed up for including Hostgator, including Bluehost which I recommended at the start that those back-ups will work very well because sometimes the basic back-ups are quite hard to get back to, you don’t really know what you’re getting. I would be very purposeful with your back-ups and do it manually yourself, make sure you’re using like something like ManageWP or talk to Hostagor, talk to Bluehost  and either sign up for some extra back-up assurance. Or talk to them and see what’s offered and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. Make sure you’re happy with the back-up system that you’re using so if there’s something does go wrong, if you’re hacked or if just your server just goes down and everything’s lost, you know where you’re going to find a back-up for your website and everything is not lost. I mean, this step isn’t so much about making your website more secure, it’s about making sure that if you are hacked, if security is breeched then you have a back-up plan. So, if you are hacked, all you need to do is to change all your security details, re-install your website and you’re all good, you can get going again within hours. Okay, so back-ups, make sure you’re doing that.

Next step and this is a simple tool which hardens your website quite a lot, stops the chance of to being hacked, a great deal and this is called Login LockDown. So, the login page is probably the place where you’re most vulnerable, this is where most people hack in. You get lots of hackers out there that have tools that let them go on to our WordPress login page and basically just spam that page with logins, with passwords, all that kind of stuff and they can force their way in, in that manner. But the tool Login LockDown means that you are protected against that because it detects subsequent logins, if somebody  is trying to login too many times from the one IP address and it locks down the page if that happens too often. So, basically somebody can only try and login a few times from the same place and then the login form is locked so they can’t get in. So, it’s just as simple as that, there’s really not much more to it, it’s just a plugin. You can find it in the WordPress plugins directory, so you can search for Login LockDown in the directory or pop over to podcraft.net/loginlockdown and that’ll take you to the entry for it in the WordPress database. Now, that won’t cover all the possible vulnerabilities within the WordPress by any means but it does take out a good chunk of it, it does make a big difference to your security so worth going and getting that and it’s basically no effort to do at all. I would recommend doing that. So, I would say if you’re doing that, if you’re updating regularly, you’re always up-to-date, you’re always backing up and you’ve got something like Login LockDown installed that is a massive step towards being secured, you’re much more happy about being secure. If you’re running a hobby podcast, I would say that is plenty enough so if it’s something that you don’t massively rely on, it’s not like your income is coming from there and if the site fall over for a day then you’re basically out of business. If that’s your position then you could stop here, so, that would be enough I would say. For those who want to go a step further though or if you’re a hobby podcaster and you do want to just have that extra bit of assurance, a system that I use on all of my websites is Securi, spell S E C U R I, you can get to at podcraft.net/securi, so podraft.net/SECURI and that’ll take you to the Securi website. Essentially Securi is a full security system with a whole bunch of tools in there. What you get is a website monitoring system, so it actually monitors your website for malware, for hacks, for all that kind of stuff. So, if it sees anything unusual in your website, it will  check it every few hours. If it sees anything unusual at all like links off to viagra sites or anything like that, it will tell you straight away. So, you’re not going to find out days later when everything’s already on pear-shaped. It also has some hardening tools in there, so you can install a plugin on the back-end in your WordPress site which closes a lot of vulnerabilities like permissions on certain folders, like document files that give away vital details, all that kind of stuff, version files, that kind of thing, it hardens all them up, it gets rid of them or it changes permission so you’re much more secure. And it also does server site scanning, so it actually scans your entire web server on a regular basis to see if there’s any viruses, any malware on your server and it will tell you so you can get rid of it. It’s only $99 a year so 60 quid a year for a website it’s a pittance compared to what you can lose if you have a problem with hacking and the best thing about it is if there is a problem, if something happens to your website, part of the services that they will clean it. So, they’ll get in there and they’ll get rid of the malware, they’ll get rid of the problems and help you out with it. So, I’ve paid for that, I actually paid for it a couple of years ago for the first time because one of my websites was quite badly hacked and they, I paid my hundred dollars and they basically sorted out everything for me and I went on to pay a bit extra so that I can get all my websites included on Securi in the future. So, I use it, really recommend it, great tool. Keeps me a lot more happy, a lot more secure from hackers. So yeah, if you do want that extra little of insurance, if you rely on your website for income, there’s a big difference if you do lose your website for a day then I’d get on secure, just go to podcraft.net/securi and it’s an affiliate link just to let you know. So, I would get a small commission if you did buy thru that but I would thoroughly recommend and obviously you’re free to find Securi on Google if you want to by-pass it.

So, that’s it for security today. That covers a few steps you can take to be a lot more secure on WordPress to make sure that your site is a lot more safe, safe from hackers and safe long term.

So, your tasks for today. It’s a bit of a strange one today because I’ve covered a few different things. The main thing I would do, your main task for today, I think, is to go into your website, make sure you’re updated. So, go ahead and make sure you’re entire website is up-to-date; plugins, themes and the WordPress version as well and then setup a back-ups. Even if that’s the only two things you do today then that’ll make a massive difference even if you are hacked then at least you’ve got a back-up that you can fall back on and you could quickly get your website back and running. So, once you’ve completed those tasks, pop over to podcraft.net/317 you’ll see the show notes for today, links to all of the resources and of course you can always go and check the course that helps you with installing plugins, all that kind of stuff which I’ve talked about many times in this series at podcraft.net/websitecourse. Okay, that covers it. I’d love to hear your feedback though, pop on to the show notes, as I said, at podcraft.net/317 let me know what you think, pop in a comment and I’ll see you for  tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’re going to be looking at error pages, so how you can use error pages to your advantage, plugins for that. This is a wee trick that I’ve used on many of my websites and it gets a whole lot more value out of something that is generally seen as inactive i.e. somebody not going to find what they come looking for. So pop back to tomorrow’s episode for that. Anyway, in the meantime, thanks again for listening today and I’ll talk to you then!

Using SpeakPipe to Engage your Podcasting Audience & Source Content

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 16

Today on PodCraft we’re exploring the brilliant SpeakPipe. SpeakPipe is a tool which allows you to set up a voicemail system for your listeners, allowing them to leave audio messages directly on your website. As I’ll discuss on the episode, this can lead to huge engagement with your listeners, turning ambivalent folks into fanatical fans. It can also be an amazing way to source great content for your show, allowing listeners to contribute their own hints and tips based on a question from yourself. So, why wait, let’s get into it!

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Mentioned on This Show

Using SpeakPipe to Engage your Podcasting Audience & Source ContentSpeakPipe

This plugin allows your customers, blog readers, podcast listeners and fans to send you voice messages right from a browser without any phone calls. In podcasting, you have to let your audience speak to you, contact you and acknowledge the fact that they’re talking to you. This will help your grow your audience, make your current listeners into long term fans and refer you to gain more fans based on their word of mouth. SpeakPipe is the best tool for that, it encourages listeners give feedback, comment and actually be a part of the show by recording their voice quickly and easily.

Your Tasks

  1. Go to the SpeakPipe web page and sign up for an account. Just go for their free plan initially; you can upgrade later if you need to.
  2. Download the plugin and install it on your website
  3. Set it up.
  4. Once it’s set up, try to leave yourself a voicemail by clicking the little tab appearing on the side of your website
  5. Mention it on your next podcast and ask your audience to give you a voicemail.

Let Me Know What You Think

I’d love to know what you think of SpeakPipe. Have you installed it? Do you find it useful and effective? Leave me a comment below.

Finally, if you’re enjoying the series, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode.

View the Transcription for the Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is a series where we’re looking at creating a peerless podcasting website so that’s creating a home for your podcast on the web. And we’re on to the last week so we’re on to week four now. Last week we were looking at monetisation and growth, so that’s how to actually grow your audience and how to actually start a little bit money out of your podcast should you wish to do so. Now, this week we’re on to the final week, so the final five episode of this 20 part series and we’re looking at the extra stuff, the extra miles. So, this is the stuff that I was talking about last week where few extra tools, not quite in their own category, they’re all a mix bag of stuff which I use over the past few years to grow websites, to make WordPress websites a whole lot better and to grow my podcast. So, that’s what we’re going to be covering this week. No particular topic as such but just a collection of tools which I think can take your website the extra.

So, to get straight to it, what we’re looking at today. Today we’re looking at a tool which can be used to engage your listeners much more, to grow your listener base and a whole lot of other benefits which we’ll talk about in a little while. And the tool is called SpeakPipe. So, what is SpeakPipe? SpeakPipe is a tool which allow your listeners to leave a voicemail on your website. Now, this most simple form that essentially it’s just a voicemail tool the user does, it clicks a little button on your  website that brings up an option for them to record something. So, it brings up a little tool, tool type thing, which says “Okay, what’s your microphone? Click the record button when you’re ready and start speaking.” And that’ll allows user to record a little bit of audio, they can listen back to what they just recorded and they can re-record it as will if they want. It’s very similar to how a normal voicemail works on your standard phone, so not much different from that. But what are the benefits here? So, the benefits for a podcast are that, really, one of the most valuable ways to grow out your audience, to make your current listeners turn into long term fans, to keep them listening, and to refer you so that you get more fans based on their word of mouth is to let them speak to you, to let them contact you and to acknowledge the fact that they’re talking to you. So, many people talk about the fact that you should be reading out reviews on your podcast and that is a great tactic, it can encourage people to leave reviews because they think that their names are going to be read out in the podcast. And even though you imagine your podcast, you might not think of it, being a particularly massive platform, you don’t think people will be bothered by being talked about. It’s amazing the effect actually, when somebody gets into your podcast, the effect of you reading out their name, them hearing themselves on air perceived as , you know, you’re this kind of pseudo famous person that they listen to every week. It’s amazing the effect that can have in a person, the acknowledgement that they get as a listener, the value or how valued they feel based on you reading them out. So, the basic stuff is, yes, you read out reviews, you can read out comments from your blog, but this is an extra way to do it because not only can you read out and mention their comment but you can actually play them on the podcast. So, the person leaves a message, they leave you a minute, two minutes worth of speaking – a question, or a comment, or some feedback or a testimonial. And what you’ll do is, you download that file and you play it into your podcast so their voice actually appears on your podcast episode. And that person not only hear their own name read out, they’ll not only hear themselves acknowledged as a follower of your podcast but they hear themselves speaking, they’re a part of your show. So, it’s giving so much more value to that listener and it really does encourage people to feedback to you, to answer questions, to give you a whole lot of really useful stuff talking back to you as a listener. So, that’s the basic benefit, the fact that you can make your listeners feel more valued, turn them into long term listeners.

But related to another benefit there which is the feedback aspect. So, you can ask a question, you can put out a survey, you can put out a material to your listeners with the hope that they’ll come back to you and give you feedback in your show. Tell you things like what they want to hear more of,  what content that you already do that they enjoy, what they like about your format, what they don’t like about your format. I’m talking about getting feedback that will help you improve your show, that’ll improve the show for the future and it’ll help you attract more listeners in the future because of those improvements. So, obviously you can do that on your blog, you can ask people to leave comments, you can ask people to send you e-mails but again people just enjoy doing the voicemail thing more, they enjoy recording voicemail, giving you their own opinions and their own voice rather than typing it in. So, it can be a great way to get more feedback, to get more answers to your questions and help to improve your show on the long term by finding it what is it your listeners want.

So, another benefit of this is that, obviously you’re playing somebody else’s voice into your show using this method, so you get their voicemail, you play it in to your show and it can be a really nice way to break up that mono presentation style. So, if it’s just you talking on your podcast, like I’m doing just now, it could be really nice to break that up and have somebody else’s voice in there. So, it’ll be great to have just somebody else just speaking for a 30 seconds to a minute right now to break it up so it’s just not my voice. You’re not getting so bored of just hearing just from me. The final aspect is that you get a lot more great content for your show. You can ask people for their own tips, so rather than asking a question, rather than asking for a simple testimonials, you can actually ask people to come in and feedback on something that you’re talking about. So, you can say what tools like in this series for example, I can say “What tools do you use? What are your favourite WordPress tools that help you promote your podcast?”. You could record a one minute, two minute segment and I could then play that into the show and it can give you really great content to put into your podcast, extend that out to put some really valuable stuff in there. Create by your listeners and therefore it’s even more engaging for your listeners themselves, so that could be a really nice addition to a podcast. So, that’s basically all of the ways that SpeakPipe can really enhance a podcast, all the reasons why you might want to do it.

So, how does it actually work? Essentially, it’s just a plugin, so you download SpeakPipe, you sign up for an account on the SpeakPipe website and you connect the two together. Now, there are few different options, they do a free plan so you can sign up to SpeakPipe absolutely for free. With the free plan, you get twenty messages per month, you get a maximum duration of about ninety seconds per message, so you are limited slightly but for a standard show actually twenty message in month is not bad, it’s decent. And the ninety seconds as well is actually okay, ninety seconds does go by reasonably quickly but if you warn people that that’s the time limit then they can get by, no worries. They do have some paid options, so you can pay a bit more money and get in on a few extra features. The most basic one is $7 a month and that gets you up to a hundred and fifty messages every month, so a lot of messages to be stored and your message length goes up to three minutes as well. So, essentially you just get a lot more volume, you can store a lot more stuff. So if you’re getting very popular, you’re starting to hit your twenty message minimum, you can upgrade, pay the $7 a month which isn’t much obviously and start to get a lot more volume of material through. With that, you also get an audio attachment emailed to you so that can make things a bit quicker, you don’t have to download it yourself. And I think with that level, you’ll also get a widget for your site so you can actually have a voicemail button in the sidebar of your website as well. The free one actually just puts a little tab on the side of your website so the little tab appears on either the left or right hand side or at the bottom and it just says “Leave a voicemail”. And actually that’s what I use, I don’t tend to use the widget, I just use the tab and I think that works really well.

So if you start to pay a bit more, other features include being able to add people to a mailing list. So we talked about mailing list a little bit earlier on in the series. When people leave a voicemail, if you’re using the higher subscriptions, they’ll leave an email for you. So they’ll leave an email and the voicemail itself and with the higher subscription levels it’ll automatically send that through to your MailChimp or your Aweber list. So, that’s quite useful to be able to build out your mailing list as well. And also on another level up there is you can white label it so you can actually take away all the SpeakPipe branding and just make it, say, your own brand. It’ll be quite nice if you’re running your business, for example, you’re getting a lot of voicemails through and you want to make sure that people are just seeing your own brand rather than SpeakPipe stuff.

Let’s just tie up this episode with just a quick little summary of how it works. Essentially, somebody will click the button, so they’ll click the little tab on the side that say “Leave a voicemail”, it’ll pop-up with a little pop-up window that says “Trying to leave a voicemail, here’s a record button”. If your microphone isn’t setup, it might actually ask you to pick which microphone you want to use and it may ask to do a little security clearance so you’ll click a little “Allow” at the web browser to access your microphone and then just press record button. People can then record a message and they can listen back to their message and they can re-record as much as they want until they get the message right. They can listen back to hear in case their nervous about not sounding quite right on your podcast.

One of the good things about it is you can actually reply to it as well. So once you get a voicemail, you’ll be told about that, and you’ll have the opportunity to hit the reply button and it’ll actually e-mail a voicemail back to that person. What they’ll do is they’ll get an e-mail that says “Listen to a reply from whoever it is” and they can click a play button, takes them on to the web and asks you to play for them there. So it’s a really nice way to actually start a conversation with one of your customers but in unsynchronised way so you’d actually have to get in the phone with them but it’s almost like you’re having that kind of voicemail conversation with that person.

And that’s it for SpeakPipe. That covers the tool, what its uses are, what its benefits might be for you as well as how to use it and how to sign up. And if you do want to sign up, then, by all means pop over to podcraft.net/speakpipe and that’ll take you straight to the website.

And that just leaves me to set the tasks for today. So, I would encourage you to do after listening to this episode is pop over to the SpeakPipe web page, podcraft.net/speakpipe, that’ll let you sign up for an account with SpeakPipe, just go for their free plan initially, obviously. Just do it for free, you can upgrade later if you need to. But get that, download the plugin and then put that onto your website, install it and set it all up. You’ll soon see the little tab appearing on the side of your website and you can try leaving yourself a voicemail, see how it works. Just see how it works for the next week, two weeks, see if you got any listeners. Start promoting it on your podcast, actually, mention it on the next podcast that you’ve installed this voicemail system, please dig over and give you a voicemail. So, that’s about it. Go and do that. Leave me a comment on podcraft.net/316 and that’ll take you to the show notes where you can get all the resources from today. As well as leave a comment, leave some feedback, let me know what you think. And that’s about it.

So, tomorrow we’re going to be looking at security. So, WordPress, one of the things that can be talked about sometimes is around the security aspect. I’ll talk about why the reasons for and how to get around it tomorrow, so, do tune in for that. This one is possibly not the most interesting of subjects, thinking about security, hacking, all that kind of stuff but really quite vital if you run a WordPress website long term. So, I hope you join me again tomorrow for that. I’ll be on the next episode. Thanks again for joining me on this one and I’ll talk to you then.

Getting Social on Your Podcasting Website: Social Sharing with Shareaholic

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 15

In this episode we’re finally tackling the elephant in the room – social networking. It’s a rare person indeed who’s not involved, at all, in social media, and used well, it can be a huge driver of listeners for your podcast. In this episode I’m looking at one of the best social sharing plugins for WordPress, and talking all about how it can be used to promote your Podcast episodes. There are also a few extra bonus features in today’s tool, Shareaholic, that might be of use to you as well. Anyway, enough, waffle, let’s take a look.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:12:59)
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Resources Mentioned on This Show

ShareaholicShareaholic

This tools is one of the easiest, most effective ways to grow your website traffic and effectively engage your audience. There are a few reasons why I like this plugin above and beyond the huge range of social sharing plugins out there. For a start, it’s nicely designed; it comes with some really nice icons and template designs and has little elements that draw attention to those icons.  For the rest, have a listen to the episode!

Today’s Tasks

  1. Install Shareaholic
  2. Choose where you’re going to place it on your posts, and see how well it works for you!
  3. Drop a comment in below to let me know what you think

Let Me Know What You Think

What do you think of the Shareaholic plugin? I’d love to hear how it works for you. What themes did you choose? Tell me what you think about the advertising aspect. I’d love to know!

I hope you enjoyed the second week of PodCraft Series 3. I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks again for joining me. See you next week for the final 5 episodes of PodCraft’s Series 3.

Podcast Affiliate Marketing: WordPress Plugins to Make Amazon Easy

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 14

In this episode we’re delving deep into the idea of monetisation for the first time, and that’s in the form of affiliate marketing. During the episode I talk a little about starting out in affiliate marketing and how it can be used well to monetise a podcast. I’ll also explore a few of the best plugins to start out with which make it nice and easy to create links and make sure they’re relevant to your visitors, no matter where they’re based. Let’s get started!

Listen to the Episode Below (00:15:17)
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Resources Mentioned on This Show

EasyAzonAmazon

Amazon is one of the best and easiest options to start getting involved in Affiliate marketing. It has a huge range of products, so no matter what you’re working with or what your niche is, you’ll generally find something that will suit your market. Amazon also gives pretty decent commissions for such a big retailer – 5% is the minimum.

Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer

This plugin turns any normal Amazon link into an affiliate link for the correct country. It is a free plugin that works efficiently and perfectly in affiliate marketing. I’m afraid this plugin is a little hard to find, but if you can track it down it could be worth a look.

EasyAzon

EasyAzon 3 is a powerful WordPress plugin that can help you make more commissions and save a whole lot of time in the process. One of the big benefits is that it create your links automatically, as well as adding the “nofollow” attribute. Another big benefit of this plugin is that it pop-up a tool tip over every link which shows a little summary of the product within your website.

Amazon Link Engine

The Amazon Link Engine plugin is a way to convert all Amazon links within your WordPress site into affiliated links that work across all Amazon storefronts. Please bear in mind that this is a plugin I’ve not used, though, so I can’t vouch for it’s ease of use or quality.

Skimlinks

Skimlinks takes away all the effort usually associated with affiliate marketing, working behind-the-scenes and earning you commissions from the valuable links you include in your posts. It turns any link that you put out to a different product into an affiliate link.

Today’s Tasks

  1. Choose a couple of the products you want to promote, a product that is genuinely valuable to your audience, and then put an affiliate link to it on one of your latest posts, or in your sidebar.
  2. Get either EasyAzon, Skimlinks or find one of the free affiliate marketing plugins and get it working.
  3. Post a comment below and tell me what plugin you went for.

Let Me Know What You Think

What do you think of the Affiliate Link tools mentioned on this show? Which plugin do you find most convenient? What did you promote? Tell me the results, I’d love to know!

Finally, if you’re enjoying the series, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode.

View The Transcription on This Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is the series where we’re looking at how to create a great home for your podcast on the web using the wonderful tool of WordPress as I’m taking you through 20 steps tools and tips of how to create it and make it work for you to grow your listeners, really make your podcast successful. Yesterday and a couple of days before that we were talking a little bit about mailing lists. We’re talking about how to build a mailing list and how to make it really work, how to get the conversion rate up and get as many people as possible signing up for your mailing lists. Today, I promised we’re moving on to affiliate links, so this is about more on monetisation. This week, obviously, this third week of the four week series is on monetisation and growth and this is the first one we’re really talking about proper full-on monetisation using affiliate links. And really, it’s an introduction to affiliate marketing because I’m going to talk about one of the easiest affiliate programs to get involved with, a couple of them actually and how to make them work for you, how to really implement them in a really easy fashion.

So, what are they? For a lot of people, you won’t be surprised to hear this probably, Amazon is one of the best and easiest options to get involved in affiliate marketing. The main reasons are that they have such a huge range of products, so no matter what you’re working with, what your niche is, whatever you’re talking about, you can generally find something that will suit your market. Find something on there whether it’s a book talking about your subject, whether it’s a product that people could buy that they might be interested it, even something that might be just vaguely related, you know, that people buy everyday that you can put on there. And also, actually, Amazon do pretty decent commissions for such a big retailer. A lot of retailers have quite low affiliate rates down to 3% mark whereas Amazon generally has 5% as the minimum and actually once you start to sell a lot more products, it can go up to 7%, 8%, 9%, 10% depending on volume. So, it’s a great program, really good program to get involved with and it’s a good on to start out and just cut your teeth in affiliate marketing. And it’s also a really easy one to implement on a WordPress website because it’s such a common, such a big affiliate program, there’s quite a few tools built around it. The main problem with Amazon affiliate marketing is internationalisation though, so talk about the basic way to do it, when you sign up for an Amazon affiliate account, you basically get an account with them that lets you go in and lets you create affiliate links quite easily. So, you go in to the back-end, you log into the account and you can choose a product and you can say, “This product I want an affiliate link for” and it’ll spit out that link. So, you take that link, you place that into your post and that’s it essentially. But the problem is that, that points to wherever your local store is, so if you’re on, well, I’m in the UK for example, so I’m linking to amazon.co.uk as standard because that’s where the majority of my listeners are. But that means that anyone that’s outside  of the UK would still be directed to. co.uk stores which they can’t buy from, so obviously if they do that they’ll see the product they’ll go “I actually like that but I’m going to buy it in my .com store” so US listener, for me, would go to .com they would buy it and I wouldn’t get any credit because I’m not a member of the .com or I’ve not directed the user to the .com website. So, that’s the big problem with Amazon in terms of internationalisation. So, that’s one of the biggest problems I went to solve on the first start, to look for tools to make Amazon affiliate marketing easier. The second one was that, actually while Amazon do offer those tools to create affiliate links, it does take a little while to get into the back-end, to create the affiliate links, to bring them back out, to put them into your website. The easiest way is actually just to find the product on Amazon in the front and just copy over the link. And really what you wanted to do is then to convert that to an affiliate link for whatever geo-location that person is in. So, if they’re in the US, it’ll turn it into a US affiliate link, if they’re in  Germany, it’ll turn it into German affiliate link, etc. And actually, ideally, what you wanted to do is add the nofollow attribute as well because as we all know Google frowns on passing links when it’s paid for. So, an affiliate link counts as that, so if you’re linking to a product but you’re getting paid for it, even if it’s thru affiliate marketing, you need to be putting nofollow on to that link so that you’re not passing any authority thru that link. And if you don’t do that, you can get Google slap so you can lose a lot of authority in Google, maybe lose your search rankings, so, that’s something to be really careful of.

So, in the early days, as I was saying, I was making these links manually. They were only going to the UK Amazon store, I was adding the nofollow manually, it was all a quite involved process. Took  quite a long time and sometimes I would miss a nofollow, I forget about that. Sometimes I’d put on an Amazon link without remembering to make it an affiliate link so essentially I wasn’t making the best value I could of this. And that’s when I start looking into tools to make this a bit easier. Now, I looked into, for this episode obviously, I looked into the old tools that I used in the early days and it’s a bit annoying because there was a great plugin called Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer, it was simple as anything. All it did was plug it in, so you install then plug it in and all you did was get your Amazon affiliate link for each of the international affiliate programs. So, I would have one for the UK program, one for the American program, one for the Canadian program, one for the German program and I’d put it in the relevant box  and the plugin would essentially turn any normal Amazon link into an affiliate link for the correct country. And it worked perfectly, it worked so simply, it was just excellent and it was entirely free, that was the best thing about it, so, it costs you absolutely nothing to do. I looked up that to find the link to it today for this episode and apparently it’s gone. So, I hear people saying that it’s still works, so if you can track it down, by all means do get a hold of it  and use it because there are people saying out there that it does still work and it’s still entirely free. So, if you can track it down, it was called Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer, by all means. I couldn’t vouch for the fact that it’s still up-to-date so it maybe that’s the problem. But it is a bit annoying because that was great, that was the way I got into in the first place and that earned me many, a commission in the previous years.

Now, the reason I’m not using it now is because I moved over to EasyAzon. So this is another plugin called EasyAzon. The problem is, it’s a paid plugin, so you have to buy it. So it’s $50 for the basic, I think, and about $70 for the paid one. The benefits of it are that, it’s a little bit smoother, it’s a little bit more developed because it’s paid plugin obviously they’re putting a bit more work into it. You can find it if you want to go and have a look at it just now podcraft.net/easyazon, so you can find it at that link, that’s an affiliate link, so I do get a small commission if buy it thru that. If you enjoy the content obviously I’d appreciate if you use it, if you don’t then by all means just by-pass that  and find it yourself, just search EasyAzon on the web. But yes, if you pop-over, have a look at it. The benefits of it, as I said, one of the big benefits which I really like is that fact that it creates your links for you automatically, it puts on the nofollow automatically which is something that the previous one, Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer, did not do. And as I just said, I used to forget the nofollow every now and then which really risks my search results. So, EasyAzon added both of those automatically which is really handy. But the big thing as well was it popped up a little kind of tool tip over every link, so if I was to link to a podcasting microphone or a podcasting mixer on my podcasting website, it would not only create that as an affiliate link, it would allow people when they hover over it, it would pop-up a little picture of the product and a little button that said “Buy on Amazon Now”. And it was a really nice little way of  letting people see what that product look like, get an idea of the price actually, that was one of the big things that show the price in that little tool tip as well. So, it was just a really nice way of showing that product without letting people, without forcing people to click away from your website to Amazon to check it out. So, it gives them that little summary of the product really quickly and easily within your website. And that was really the sole reason that I thought it was worth paying for EasyAzon, it just made it so much better. And also, I mean, if you’re making even $10, $20 a month off this program then you pay it back over just 2 or 3 months so actually I thought it was a pretty bargainous price for a plugin that can make you quite a lot of money. So anyway, if you wanted to go and check it out, if you wanted to buy EasyAzon, which I would recommend, really good tool, really handy, really easy to use, then go to podcraft.net/easyazon, so, that’s E A S Y A zed O N.

I did have a look for some free alternatives. No, I’ve not use this, so I can’t recommend it entirely but it may be worth a look, one called Amazon Link Engine. It looks like it’s got some good reviews on the WordPress plugin site and it looks like it does exactly what I would want it to do. Again, I haven’t looked at it so please don’t e-mail me, “I tried it out” e-mail me after and say “It’s absolutely crap” because I don’t know but might be worth the look if you really don’t want to pay for EasyAzon. I’m still just annoyed that Amazon Affiliate Link Localizer is gone, it was such a good tool, I don’t know the guys stopped developing it. Because I’m sure he made a lot of money of it because anytime you didn’t put it, say, an affiliate link for the Japan’s store, the Canadian store, whatever, he would get that, so it would actually turn into an affiliate link for himself if you didn’t use that program which I thought was entirely fair enough.

Now, the last thing I want to mention, just before we tie up this episode is that there is one other option and that’s called Skimlinks. So, Skimlinks is a tool, is a program that essentially turns, well, it’s an organisation that are affiliated with a whole bunch of affiliate programs. So, they don’t only work with Amazon, they work with lots of other companies. So, they work with tons of companies that actually don’t have open affiliate programs. And Skimlinks works in a very similar way and that it looks through your post and it turns any link that you put out to a different product into an affiliate link. So, say, on my mountain biking website that I run, I was to link out to a pair of Merrell trainers, so Merrell trainers that are good for cycling, I link off to their page on Merrell, Merrell don’t really run an affiliate program so I don’t bother trying to do that, I don’t bother trying to make money out of it, it’s just to show people a good pair of trainers but Skimlinks because it’s such a big organisation, they do have an affiliate agreement with Merrell and they’ll turn that into an affiliate link and give me an affiliate commission for that. The reason I don’t mention this as a main option is because Skimlinks do take quite a big percentage, so they do take a good chunk of the commissions. For example, they do link up with Amazon, they do all the stuff that EasyAzon does, like geo-location, the automatic linking, all that kind of stuff but they do take a chunk of your Amazon commissions. And because I work solely or mainly with Amazon, I prefer to use a plugin that gives me all of the commissions and I pay for that plugin, for the privilege I give them just a one-off payment and I take all of the commissions so that’s why I don’t tend to use Skimlinks with Amazon but if you want to take a lot of the hassle out  or if actually the products that you sell  or the products that you link to, the type of things that you talk about don’t tend to be on Amazon or don’t to have their own affiliate agreements, worth looking up Skimlinks to see if they have an agreement with the companies that you might be talking about. Again, check how much you’re giving away to Skimlinks but again I don’t think there’s any reason to grudge giving away like a third of your commissions if in the end gets you more commissions, I mean, two thirds of a hundred commissions is better than a hundred percent of none or one or whatever. So, it’s better to get more commissions and get less of, less percentage of them than none at all. So, Skimlinks is worth a look. If you want to go straight there, just go to podcraft.net/skimlinks and that’ll take you to the Skimlinks website.

So, I hope that was a good little introduction to affiliate marketing and how you can integrate it into your podcasting website in a really easy way. The plugins I’ve talked about save me absolutely tons of time over the years in terms of promoting Amazon products and I’ve made a good chunk of all side income for the websites that I run as well. So I can really vouch for the fact that they’re worth putting the time into and worth investing in.

So, the task for today will be to choose one. So, it will be to choose just a couple products that you want to promote, couple of things that you think will be genuinely valuable to your audience. That’s the important thing, don’t be pulling any old rubbish here, you want to make sure that the stuff that you promote actually is useful to the people you’re talking to, is useful to your listeners. There’s nothing sustainable about marketing rubbish to your listeners because people will be straight away know that you’ve given them a bad recommendation and they won’t come back. So, really, all you want to be doing is recommending stuff that either you like, you use so you can genuinely recommend it or that you know from reputation or you know from other people talking about it, reviews, that type of thing that is good stuff and make sure there is something that’s really going to be interesting to the people that you talk to, to your audience. So, find something like that, find something relevant to your audience and stick it on one of your latest post or stick it in the sidebar, you can put adverts on your sidebar to products and use them as affiliate links as well. See if you can get your first pound, your first dollar out of your website in that way. Get either EasyAzon or get Skimlinks or find one of the free plugins to do that and just get that working automatically, that’s your tasks. And then pop on to the show notes which are at podcraft.net/314 and pop a comment in there and tell me what you’ve gone ahead and promote it. So, I’d love to hear what it is that you talk about, what your subject is and what it is you’ve chosen to promote as a result. So, what do you promote? Stick that in the comments and let me know what you think.

Okay! Thanks again! Tomorrow we’re on to the last episode of the week. So, that’s week 3 nearly finish of the Series 3 and that’s us on to about social sharing. This is one of the best ways to grow your podcast, to really get the word out about your content. So, I’m going to talk about one of my best plugins for really allowing people to share your content on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. And a couple of other benefits that come with it as well. So, I hope you join me again then. So, thanks again for listening and I’ll talk to you then.

Creating an Attention Grabbing Email Optin Box in WordPress | PodCraft S3E13

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 13

In this episode, we’re expanding on the email list work we’ve done over the past few days. We’ve already looked at the basics, now lets see how we can get our optin rates skyrocketing with an attention grabbing optin box. I’ve got a tool for you today which will allow just that – let’s have a look!

Listen to the Episode Below (00:10:09)
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Note: I mentioned the wrong episode link in this show I’m afraid – If you’re looking for episode 14 on utilizing affiliate marketing, then visit the right post here.

Resources Mentioned on This Show

Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered BoxDreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box

The plugin displays a pop-up box with customizable content. It’s designed to get the attention of the visitors who have engaged with your site. The box triggers at a certain point on the page, which you can specify. An example is the percentage of scroll, reaching the end of a post or reaching the comments.

If you need some help with installing plugins, go to Website Course.

Today’s Tasks

  1. Download Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box
  2. Install it in your website and use it with the techniques mentioned on this show

Let Me Know What You Think

Tell me what you think of Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box plugin. Tell me how you use it and if it increases your conversion rate as well. I’d love to hear from you!

Finally, if you’re enjoying the series, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode.

Transcription for This Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is the series on creating a great home for your podcast on the web. And yesterday, we were talking about mailing lists, so the reasons for setting up a mailing list, the uses for a mailing list, why mailing lists are so vital for any website. And today, I promised I was going to talk you through another tool which will help to improve your opt-in rates for your mailing lists.

Now, the plugin is called Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. Now, I’ve just had to record that about three times because it’s a bit of a tongue twister, Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. Now, I put a link in so that you don’t have to search for that directly, so just go for podcraft.net/dream and that will take you to the WordPress plugin page for it. So, you can find it there, have a look at it and download it from there if you like or you can least find out how to spell the name so you can put into the WordPress plugin directory to find it and install it automatically.

Now, what does this do? So, the name may give you a clue, Scroll Triggered Box. Essentially it’s a tool for drawing attention to your opt-in boxes. So, we talked a little bit already this week about calls to action, so the call to action would be to encourage people to take some actions. So, in this case our action is to click a button to go to our opt-in form or even just to view our opt-in form, so the call to action could be to fill in your e-mail address and click the submit button, so, that’s the call to action we want people to do. Now, you can put that in a post, so you can put in straight into any post, have the button here or the opt-in form there. You can also put in the sidebar, that’s a pretty common thing to do, put it in the sidebar, make it as prominent as possible. But all these things tend to blend in a little bit. People these days do have a big element of ad blindness, so we can, we’re very good at blocking out adverts, we’re very good at blocking out sidebars and really concentrating just on the content. So, it’s quite easy for your opt-in rate, your conversion rate for your opt-ins to be quite low just because even if you make it as prominent as possible, people just don’t really think they’ll click it, they ignore those things in the sidebar and just concentrate on the content.

Now, the Scroll Triggered Box is designed to get around that problem by making something a lot more obvious. What happens is you create your call to action or your opt-in form as normal, you just code it, you get a code from MailChimp, you used a short code, you use the call to action plugin we talked about a few episodes ago to create that call to action and then you put that into this plugin, the Scroll Triggered Box plugin as the content of the box. And then, when people scroll down your page, so they’re reading down the page, reading down the article, they get to a certain point in that article and then suddenly a box pops up and appears in the corner of the screen. So, they’ll appear either at the left or the right or in the centre of the screen. And it really draws attention to that box, it really makes it stand out, draws the eye, it forces a person to look at it rather than something that blends into the background, in the widget sidebar, it’s something that really pops out and it really draws attention to itself. And of course, when it draws attention to itself, it makes that user much more likely to click the button or to fill in the form that’s present in that box. Now, you’ve probably a little familiar with traditional pop-ups like actual pop ups that pop-up over the centre of the screen, obscure your view, basically take over the entire screen and do nothing but generally annoy you. Now, it’s pretty well-known that while they are quite irritating and a lot of people hate them, they are quite effective. So, the whole pop-up principle, the fact that it pops up and drag your attention away from the content is a good thing but most people don’t really want to take the full steps towards creating those pop ups because they know how annoying they are themselves. So, I think the scroll triggered box is a really good balance because it happens at certain point so that the big benefit here of this product, this plugin, is it that you can set it to happen at the certain point of the page. I have it set on my website to pop-up when people reach the comments. So, they go down the article, they reach the bottom of the article, as soon as the comment’s header appears at the bottom of the page, the Scroll Triggered Box pops up. So, the person has finished the content , they’ve read the article, they have got some value out of it, they’ve enjoyed it, you hope, and they’re ready to do something else. So, you’re hoping that if they’ve got a lot of value out of it. If they have enjoyed it then they’ll be more than willing to sign up for your list, they’re ready for this commitment, they really, they’ve bought in to your stuff, so they’re willing to hand over their e-mail address in exchange for more of the same great stuff. So, that’s what I think the real benefit of this is it really draws their attention to that call to action, to that opt-in at the point where I think they’re most likely to actually take action on it. You can set it, so you can set it in a couple of ways, I set it like that, so I set it to pop-up at a certain point on the page at the top of the comments. You can also do it on a percentage, so you can say that when a person scrolled halfway down an article then pop-up the box then, so you can say that if you think that people generally only reach to the thirds of the way down your articles, they’ve got enough out of it and leave at that point, you can set it so that the pop-up will appear at that point as well, so there’s different options in terms of how it pops up.

Now, there’s also the option to make it disappear, so when it pops up, a person can say, “I’m going to action it, I’m going to click the button or I’m going to just get rid it of it”, there’s a big cross on the top right hand side so they can just close it down. You can set a cookie up so that that box will then not appear for a certain amount of time to that same person again, so it gets rid of again that problem with pop ups which are that they’re really annoying. So if somebody doesn’t want to sign up, you don’t want to be badgering them, you don’t want to put them off reading your content because it maybe at some point in the future that they will buy in, so once they’ve read twenty articles, once they’ve read ten articles, they might buy in to your content then and actually sign up willingly. So you can set it so that a pop up doesn’t appear for say the next thirty days or the next sixty days or even just a couple of weeks, whatever you think is useful. So, that’s the principle behind it, that is essentially how the plugin works.

You can use this with a couple of the things we’ve discussed earlier in the week. So, within that box, within the box that pops up you can put whatever you like. There are a few templates that the plugin offers so you don’t have to program things yourself, you don’t have to create them yourself, you use their templates and just write the header and the text and that will give you a default form and that will essentially e-mail something to you or you can take your MailChimp or your AWeber sign-up form code and place that straight into it. So, you could make it so that it just has the sign-up form directly within that box and people just fill in their details there and then. Or, of course, you could place the call to action box within your Dreamgrow pop-up box and that will start that two stage process which is a bit more effective or it increases your conversion rates on opt-ins. So, you could put that a bit of text, a header and a button and that’ll take them to a landing page which then encourages them to sign-up for your opt-in box, sorry, sign-up for your mailing list. Now, of course, mailing lists aren’t the only use for this plugin, it might be that you could direct people to products or to resources or to prize giveaways or something like that, so, there’s plenty of different uses for this box as well. The final little benefit that you get with this is that you can also include social buttons within that box. It does include the option to put in Facebook, Twitter, that type of stuff so that people can share your content as well. And if that pops up at the end of a post, they’re much more likely obviously to share a post if they’ve already read it and enjoyed it, so again, that’s a good place for that to pop-up.

So, again, if you want to install this, go to podcraft.net/dream, completely free to try, in fact it’s completely free to use entirely, I don’t think they charge for it at all so it’s a great wee tool for that purpose. And again, if you need some help with installing plugins, just go to my courses over at podcraft.net/websitecourse and that’ll take you through a WordPress tutorial, a bunch of videos on how to do each of these things.

So, that just takes us to the task for today. So, the task is simple, download Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box from podcraft.net/dream, install it on your blog and use it with any of the techniques I’ve talked about today. So, either just stick the MailChimp sign-up form straight into the box or put it a call to action, put in a header, text and a button and take them to a landing page and see how that affects your conversion rates.

So, I hope that proves useful to you. I’ve really found that to really work for me, it really help with my conversation rates, with my opt-ins, without being too obtrusive, without being too annoying to the point where I’ve got proper pop-ups in, so I hope you like it.

So, thanks again for listening to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft. I hope you’re enjoying the series and I’d love to hear what you think. Pop over to podcraft.net/314, you’ll find the show notes for this and tell me how you found installing the Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. Tell me how easy it was, tell me how you did it, so tell me whether you did just put the sign-up forms straight in there or whether you’re using it for something else entirely. And I’d love to hear if it increases your conversation rates as well.

Alright! Thanks very much and I’ll see you on to our next episode where we’re finishing up the week and then we’re talking about affiliate links, we’re talking about how to get affiliate links into your website, make them more automatically, at least it’ll take a whole lot for your effort out of it for you. So I hope you come back for that. I’ll see you then!

Why You Need a Mailing List for Your Podcast & How to do it

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 12

In this episode we’re talking mailing lists. If you’ve investigated online marketing at all in the past, then no doubt you’ve come across the concept of mailing lists. If not, then you’re about to discover one of the most important aspects of growing a great audience on the web, whether it’s with a Podcast or any other type of content creation.

Despite being one of the oldest communication methods out there, email is still the one with the highest engagement. If you can get someone to voluntarily hand over their email address, then you have a much higher percentage of their attention that on any other medium.

Today we’re talking about how you can use a mailing list to grow your podcast, engage your audience and boost your success. We’re also briefly talking about how you go about setting one up, including the systems I’d recommend. Whatever you choose, start growing your mailing list now – you wont regret it.

Listen to the Episode Below (00:14:50)
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Resources Covered on This Episode

MailChimpWhy You Need a Mailing List for Your Podcast & How to do it

MailChimp is an email marketing service provider, founded in 2001. It has 7 million users that collectively send over 10 billion emails through the service each month. It is quick, easy and simple to use and it has a free entry cost so you can sign-up for a free MailChimp account. However, once you’ve reached more than 2,000 subscribers you have to pay a little bit.

AWeber

AWeber Communications provides email marketing and autoresponder software to small businesses worldwide. Unlike MailChimp, AWeber doesn’t have a free entry cost but AWeber arguably has more power tools.

Today’s Tasks

  1. Sign up for either MailChimp or AWeber
  2. Create one list
  3. Get the code for that list’s opt-in form and place it on your About Page
  4. Install one of the plugins for MailChimp or AWeber, whichever is relevant and put that in your sidebar so you have an opt-in form there too. Or take the secondary approach which is to create a landing page and a Call to Action box that takes people to that landing page.
  5. I’d love to see the results so pop a URL for your landing page or your website in the comments box below.

Leave Me a Comment

What Mailing List tool do you use? I’d like to see examples on how you’re using your mailing list.

Finally, if you’re finding the series useful, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks again for listening and see you on the next episode!

View the Transcription on This Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, this is the series on creating a great home for your podcast on the web, creating a great website out of WordPress and what we can do to make it work. So, today, we’re on to mailing lists. Now, I’m going to cavy at this at the start and say that I’m not going to go in too much depth into the reasons why you need a mailing list. I’m just going to say right now, if you’re not including mailing list capture on your website then you’re missing out a ton value from your readers, your listeners and you’re not giving them as much as you could be as well because you’re not offering them as much value as you could if you not only have their ears via your podcast but you’ll also have their eyes thru being able to send them emails, being able to send them extra content, being able to enhance you podcast.  So, I’ll talk a little bit how you can use a mailing list just to talk you into, in a little bit, but I’m definitely going to do an episode in the future, in fact a helpful series on promotion for your podcast and that will include certainly mailing list as a massive aspect.

So, first off though, the reasons why a mailing list can be a huge value to you and your listeners. SO, the first thing that really is that thru a mailing list, you want to be offering a ton of value, so you want to be not only sending out tons of great content  on your podcast, you can be delivery great content audibly every single week or you want to be sending out stuff by text as well. And I would say that some people who run a podcast and have a mailing list, they do send out kind of repeat content, so they’ll, their recent episode and then they’ll actually send out to your mailing list saying ,”I’ve just recently sent you episode, this is what it’s about, go and have a listen”. Now, if people subscribe already to your podcast, it’s unlikely that they need you to tell them that a new episode has come out. They’ll get thru their RSS feed anyway, that’s one of the huge benefits of podcasting. So, I wouldn’t say that that is the way to use a mailing list. I think the real value in a mailing list for a podcast comes in things like follow ups to episodes, so when you release an episode, say a day or two later, or even on the day, you could argue, you want to send something supplementary to it, so you don’t want to tell them “I’ve just released an episode”, you want to say, “I hope you enjoy the episode I released a couple of days ago. Here are a couple of things that will really help you take action on the stuff that was in that. So, here are some extra resources. Here are few things that might help you with this or that, that was in the episode. You know this question asked, this action that I want you to take, here’s a couple of tools that will help you do that.” You might even put on a couple of show notes around the resources that were included. So quite often when people listen to a podcast, they’ll be out and about,  they’ll be driving, they’ll be walking, they’ll be in the gym, wherever, and often people don’t tend to be able to take notes at the time or it might be that they think “Id’ love to do that” but by the time they get back to their desk or get back to whatever they do that work they’re not in the position to remember it or have it noted down. So, that means a well timed e-mail a couple of days later with something like “Hey, these are the links that you need for that podcast. I hope you really enjoyed it. This is what you need to be able to go and actually achieve what we’re talking about.” So, I think that supplementary information is one of the biggest ways you can use a mailing list. And that’s obviously a way to offer value to your listeners, so, that’s around growing your audience, that’s around making people even bigger fans of your content than it would be otherwise. And it’s also about getting them to actually achieve stuff, so if they listen to your content and they actually follow up on it and achieve success because of what you’re talking about, they’re much more likely to evangelise your stuff to promote you around, to, because of their success, they go “I achieve this because of what that person was talking about, you should listen to it as well” so, that’s a really good growth tactic. Something that benefits you though is that a mailing list is really handy as a source of idea for future content. So, you can send out questions to your audience. You can find these audience members who have made the effort to sign up to your mailing list, they’re obviously quite engaged, they’re obviously quite into your topic, send them a survey, send them a question, say “What is it you’re struggling with just now? What could I help you with? What would you really appreciate some help with right now in your podcast, well, for me it’s in your podcasting, for you it will be in whatever your subject is?” Now, this is not only ideas for future podcast, for future articles for your blog, it’s also ideas for products. So, if you’re running a business, if you’re running a consultancy, whatever is you’re doing, you might want to create some products, you might want to create stuff that will appeal to your audience that you can then sell to them. And the best way to create a product that will really sell, that will really appeal to your audience is to ask them what they want, so ask them what problems they’re having and then create a product to fix that. It’s really one of the most underutilised uses for a mailing list, that’s just speaking directly to your listeners and really finding what they want.

So, beyond that, if you want to just start to extract a little bit of value, start to monetise your list a little bit, to monetise your podcast a little bit, you can just start to promote other people’s stuff as well. So, you can talk about products on your podcast, you can talk about things like, well the most simple example actually in this case is MailChimp and AWeber. I’m going to talk about MailChimp and AWeber as mailing list tools, both of them run Affiliate programs. So, you could promote that like I’m going to do at the end of this podcast, I’m going to say, “You can sign up for MailChimp and AWeber. You can use my Affiliate link or you can just find them otherwise if you want to bypass it obviously. But if you want to promote that then you can just put that on your podcast” And obviously , I can mention it in the podcast, that’s a good thing but then  in my follow up material I can send out the links directly to MailChimp and AWeber in my mailing list and therefore it’s much more likely that the people will use my affiliate link to do that, essentially  because it’s right there in their inbox at that time. There’s bound to be plenty of affiliate stuff around your areas, wherever it niche you’re in, bound to be products out there that you could sell. If you can’t find any there or directly affiliate related, then just get in contact with people, find some people that are selling products that are related to what you’re talking about and ask them if you could do a deal, do a joint venture with them, set up a commission scheme and be able to promote that for them. You can do that much more effectively with a combination of a podcast and a mailing list that you can with just a podcast or even just podcast in a website. So, that’s the main uses I think there are for a mailing list. There’s hundreds more obviously but we’re only on a short episode, I just want to talk to you about the benefits a little bit convention, it’s a good idea and obviously we could talk about that sometime in the future, I’m a little bit more detail.

But the way we can go about this, the method for setting your mailing list, essentially you want to sign up for as I mentioned just a little while ago, a mailing list tool. And the two that I like the best are MailChimp and AWeber . Now, MailChimp is the one I use, so, that’s my favourite one but I know that AWeber is a really good tool as well. Tons of marketers out there use it, tons of podcasters, so by all means make your choice between MailChimp and AWeber. I tend to find that the main arguments for one and the other are that MailChimp is a really quick and easy, simple one to get into. It also has a free entry cost, so you can sign up for a free MailChimp account. Once you get up to a decent mailing list size, you have to start paying a little bit whereas AWeber you’ll be paying from the very start. But AWeber possibly has slightly more powerful tools but it’s a bit harder possibly to use, that may be the kind of reasoning between which one do you choose. So, the principle is that you sign up and if you don’t mind so, I would love it if you could go thru my affiliate links, obviously I get a small commission for this, it’s just as a thank you I suppose for the content if you find it useful, by all means, you don’t have to do that at all, so bypass it and just search them out on Google if you want. But if you don’t mind going thru mine, just go to podcraft.net/mailchimp or podcraft.net/aweber and that’ll take you straight to the sign up pages and you can sign up from there. So, that’s the first step, you sign up with either MailChimp or AWeber, you then just create your first list. So, you create a list on MailChimp or AWeber, you can have quite a lot of list in there if you want but you’ll start off with just one core list, just the, your main list for your website. And essentially then you just go to WordPress and you search for in the plugins directory the similar name again, so just for MailChimp or AWeber. Go to plugins directory, type in MailChimp AWeber, and the first one that comes up will be the official one. Now, you can check that you’re using the official plugin there by the little by line, so it’ll describe it, it’ll say MailChimp plugin or AWeber plugin, it’ll give a wee description and it’ll have a by at the bottom, so, that tells you who it’s authored by and generally in there it’ll say either by MailChimp or by AWeber, then you know you’re using the official tool. You can then put that into a widget in the sidebar and that is the most basic form of this. You’re just putting a sign up form in the sidebar and that lets people type in their name and their e-email address. As soon as they click the sign up button after they typed in both then that adds them to your mailing list and that’s it, that’s basically the whole process.

Now, there are better ways to do this. So, I think there’s much better ways to do this and I’m going to talk a bit about this tomorrow and future in the series. So, you could start off with that, start off by signing up and getting one sign up form into your sidebar. You can also pull out some HTML from both MailChimp and AWeber, so you can embed a sign up form on certain pages. The classic of that is the about us page, so a lot of people underuse their about us page, if you go to your about us, go halfway down, take the HTML  from MailChimp or AWeber, the sign up form that they offer you and paste it in, paste it in to your about us page halfway down, see if that starts getting you some sign ups, it probably will. It’s often one of the more successful pages on a website, so I hope that works for you.

The last quick tip I’ll just go through is to actually ties this in with what we talked about on the first day of this week. So, two episodes ago we’re talking about call to action plugin. Now, what you can do is create a call to action, that is to sign up for your list, so people click a button and they’ll sign up for your newsletter. But what you can do is have them so that they click the button and it goes to a quite a plain page which has nothing but a little encouragement to sign up and the sign up form itself or even a lead magnet, so again I’ve talked about this earlier on in the series about having a resource that people can download. So, whatever your niche is, whatever your area is, create like a top ten resources to help you do this or ten ways that you can do that, that kind of resource that’ll encourage people to sign up for. You create your call to action in the sidebar or on a post, they click that, they go to the page, a landing page that they call it, so it’s nothing but the sign up form and a bit of content and have the sign up form, HTML of sign up form code there. Now, this is called a two stage opt-in process, two stage because people generally just have to click a button first to get to the sign up form and that’s quite an easy thing. So, you’re not asking them really to commit to anything at that point, all they’re doing is clicking a button at this point, that’s the first stage of the two stage process. And the second stage is obviously putting on their e-mail address. Now, under what reason that this works a little bit better and this is something that Click Owens from Leadpages talks a lot about, they’ve gone a pioneer this two stage process. The reason they think it works better is because it starts this kind of this ladder of compliance, it’s a psychological effect that means that once you’ve clicked once that’s of easy entry, that first click, it’s starts this little thing in your head where you’re more likely to continue complying, that’s probably not the right word for it, probably not the best word for it but it’s means you’re more likely to actually take the next action as well. Once you do that first, well, you’re more likely to take the second action and that is to fill in your e-mail address. Obviously that is opposed to just offering the e-mail address input straight away which can be a little bit intimidating. So, some people don’t like giving away their e-mail address, so, that’s why the two stage process which eases people into that second stage of giving away their e-mail address seems to be quite effective.

So, yes, tying one of those plugins or just the general default MailChimp or AWeber opt-in forms on a page to the call to action plugin which we talked about a couple of days ago, that can be a really effective way to get people to opt-in. But again, we’re going to be talking about one more tool tomorrow which I think really puts the icing on the cake of your opt-in process. And I’ll really, I’ll talk about that and why it works so well. So, tune in again tomorrow for that and it’ll really increase your click-through rates or your opt-in rates I would say.

So, that just leaves us to go to the tasks for today. So, your task for today, as you probably guess, sign up for either MailChimp or AWeber, go to podcraft.net/mailchimp or podcraft.net/aweber, sign up for your account there, create one list and then get the opt-in form for that list, get the code for that opt-in form for that list and place it on your about page. Also, install one of the plugins for MailChimp or AWeber, whichever one is relevant and put that in your sidebar so you’ve got an opt-in form there too or of course take that secondary approach which I talked about, which was to create a landing page and then a call to action box that takes people to that landing page. And once you’ve done that, I’d love to see the results, so pop your, pop a URL for your landing page or pop a URL for your website into the comments for this page, sorry, for this episode, just go to podcraft.net/313 and that will take you to the show notes for this episode. I’d love to see some examples of how you’re using this. So, pop over and do that, I’d love to see it.

So, thanks again for joining me on another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft. I hope you’re finding this series and your website is building out well. I hope you’re finding that it’s really improving things whether you’re starting from scratch, right from episode one, or whether this is just helping you to build out your website a bit more. But again, yes, give me some feedback, I’d love to hear what you think, podcraft.net/312, drop some comments in. Okay, thanks very much and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Creating Compelling Calls to Action on Your Podcasting Website

The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 11

In the 11th episode of series 3 we’re talking calls to action. A call to action is an element of any page on the web that tries to convince a user to do a certain thing. This might be to buy a product, or to sign up to a mailing list. It might be to leave a comment, or to leave an iTunes review. Whatever you choose, every bit of content you create should have one call to action, and today I’m looking at how to create them quickly and easily. All of this will lead to more effective content, more value for your listeners, and more success for you. Let’s do it!

Listen to the Episode Below (00:14:29)
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Resources Mentioned on This Episode

Calls to Action

Calls to Action plugin

This plugin creates calls to action for your WordPress site. It gives site owners the ability to monitor and track conversion rates, run a/b or multivariate split tests on calls to action, and, most importantly, increase lead flow! Also, one of the basic points of this plugin is it lets you create these calls to action buttons really easily.  It has a lot of extra great features such as providing great templates, giving you a whole lot of control over where your calls to action buttons will appear and what they’ll look like, allowing control over making the calls to action button appear automatically, dynamically or manually entering them via the short code.

Again, go to LearnDen Website Course for a full guide to installing plugins and working with WordPress in general.

Today’s Tasks

  1. Go to your website and download the Calls to Action plugin
  2. Create 1 Call to Action for your website. Think of one thing you want users to do when they come to your website. Put on a decent header, a bit of a description, and a button.

Let Me Know What You Think

Let me know what you think of Calls to Action plugin. What are the plugins you use to implement your calls to action? I’d love to know!

Finally, if you’re enjoying the series, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks for listening and see you on the next episode where we’re talking about Mailing List.

Transcription on This Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Series 3 of PodCraft, the series where we’re looking at creating a great home for your podcast on the web. We’re now on to week 3, so this is into the third five episodes, so we’re doing twenty episodes in total on this series and now on to episode eleven. If you want to have a look back at the previous episodes, by all means, head over to podcraft.net for the main website and if you want to look at the series in particular, it’s podcraft.net/series3. You can look at all the stuff that’s come before and all the stuff that comes afterwards.

Now, I left it with a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of the last episode, not talking exactly what we’re going to do on this set of episodes, this third five. Not, what we’re going to be doing is growth and monetisation, so this is moving on to actually looking at how to really grow our podcast. And how to start to make a little bit money out of it as well, if that’s what you choose, obviously not everyone wants to try and make a lot of money out of the podcast, maybe some people want to try and keep it just a hobby, just want to give a lot to their customers, just give a lot, sorry, not customers, I suppose if you’re not selling anything it won’t be customers, it’ll be listeners. So, if that’s your, if that’s your bag, if you just want to keep it as a hobby just create a community around your podcast then by all means that’s great. But if you want to even create just a wee side income, just to be able to pay for your hosting, pay for that kind of thing then some of these monetising techniques in the next five episodes might be useful to you. But whatever you do, the growth aspect is always going to be important, so no matter whether it’s hobby, business, education, why ever your podcast, you always want to grow your audience, you always want it to make more and more successful, get more people listening to your stuff, basically get more, more audience out there, more value for the minutes you spend recording. So, we’re going to be talking about that, we’re going to be talking about how to grow and how to monetise.

Now, in this episode I want to look at calls to action. So, calls to action are essentially anything that causes a user to take an action that you want them to, so something that achieves the aim you have for your podcast. So, if you’re a hobby podcast and really the main thing you want people to do is to join your community, for example, then the call to action would be to  sign up  for the community or to maybe post something in the community or maybe post something in the comments and start a conversation there. If you’re a business podcast, it might well be buying a product or maybe signing up to your mailing list. These are all calls to action. Call to action refers to something that you put on your website or in your podcast itself that calls that person to take that action, so it’s something, even if it’s a simple as you saying “Go over to my website, click on the subscribe button and sign up for my mailing list”. But in this series, we’re looking particularly at the website aspect. So, a call to action on a WordPress website, simplest form, simply a button, so you have a button sitting on your website somewhere either in a post or in a sidebar that says “Click here to do this” and whatever it says to do is basically what your aim is for that episode.

Now, you’re going to have overall aims for you podcast, so maybe your podcast is, say, to promote your consultancy and what your call to action is that you want people to call you. So, you want them to get in touch with you so that you can actually chat to them, you can try and turn them into a prospect, so the call to action could be “Call me on…”, so they click the button and it would take you to the contact page, maybe with the phone number. So, that’s what we’re looking to implement on this episode, we’re looking to implement really easy ways to implement those calls to action on your website.

Now, this is quite an interesting one for me actually because I tend to code my calls to action in, manually. So, I’ll use the Text widget on WordPress and I’ll actually code in, I’ll put in some images, I’ll put in some texts, I’ll put in the buttons themselves and that’ll be manually coded. So, actually I hadn’t really looked into plugins that can do this and automate things in the past but because of this episode, I wanted to have a look to see what the easiest ways to do that in an automated fashion where and I came across a couple of really useful tools. One of which I’m going to talk about on this episode and it’s called Calls to Action plugin, so not a very original name given the design just to create calls to action but massively handy thing and actually I’ll be using this from now on because of a few of the extra features that it offers. So, the whole point is, that this plugin, Calls to Action plugin, you can find it at podcraft.net/cta, just the word, the letters C T A, so, that’ll take you to the install page so that you can find it. The point of this plugin is that, well, the basic point is that it lets you create these calls to action buttons really easily. So, it will create a box, either in your sidebar, well, actually sorry, it let you create a box in the first place so it doesn’t matter where it’s going to appear yet. Simply, you can create a box that has a headline, a bit of text and a button at the bottom. That’s the most basic form of the call to action. You can set the background colour, you can set the foreground colour, you can set the button colour, all that kind of stuff, you can set the width, the height, that type of things. So, you can set a number of different layouts for the call to action and you can say where that button is going to take the user once they clicked it as well. So, when they click that button, where are they going to end up, where’s it going to link to. So, that’s the most basic form of the call to action and that’s what essentially I’ve been doing up until now. So, I will code these things and I’ll put in a bit of text, a bit of header, that kind of thing, the button, it directs somebody somewhere, maybe even an image, you can add them into the call to action plugin as well and that would direct someone somewhere, so, that would be the most handy basic version of the call to action.

Now, where this plugin comes into its own are the extra features that it gives you beyond that. So, the first one is A/B Testing, now this is really handy, this is something that is vital, I think, for things like call to action and I doubt it should be in program in this a little bit manually sometimes as well just doing a bit PHP but can do it so much easier with this plugin. So, you can setup your call to action, you can have a header, a description and a button, as I said, and you can create two versions of it. So, you can have two different calls to action boxes with, say, different colours of buttons, so you can test whether a green button or a blue button converts more. And it sounds stupid but actually colours do have quite a big effect on people’s actions and therefore, your audience might prefer red over blue, they might be more likely to click a button that is red as opposed to blue. Sometimes with the text, headlines, we all know that headlines have a huge effect on people’s actions. Really good headlines can have a massive effect on the click through of anything, from adverts to calls to action to blog articles. So, you can try different headlines, you can test different wording, you can test different wording on headlines as well as buttons, you can test a whole different load of things on your A/B Testing. The way you do this in the call to action plugin, is that you create these different variations and they’re linked as variation A, variation B, variation C and then it will show you the stats, so it show you how many times each of this has been viewed, and it’ll show you how many times it’s been clicked. So, you can actually see the full stats for the click through rate, you can see variation A has had a click through rate of 1.5%, variation B has had a click through rate of 2.5%, so then you take variation B, you make a couple of different changes to that  and you start testing again. And you basically keep refining this until you end up with really well-designed calls to action that really speak to your audience and really ring the best possible value out of all the traffic that you get. So, that’s a great benefit to using this plugin in particular.

Next of all, it’s got some great nice templates and actually it’s just good looking. So there’s a range of templates, I think I saw about eight standard but it looks like they’ve also got a template’s framework, so you can actually build your own templates if you can do a bit of a design yourself or you could have somebody else create templates and I’ve no doubt if it’s a framework that out there, you can probably download loads of other templates as well, possibly paids, possibly premium ones but could be that they could fit in, in the future. So, it’s nice that they do have a few different options for creating this so that those of us that aren’t designers, you can get your calls to action looking really good from the start.

Next of all is where they appear, so this is something that I think is a really big strength of this plugin as well. Now, there’s a couple of different ways you can do it, so first of all, you’ve got a shortcode, so every single call to action box can, has its own shortcodes, you can take that shortcode from the edit page and you can place that shortcode anywhere you like. So, you can put that shortcode straight into a post, you can put it into a widget, you can put it into anything basically that appears on your website, on your WordPress website. So, that gives you some great refined control over where these elements appear, you can really place them anywhere you like around your website.

The next thing is that you can do it automatically as well. So, on any page you can add a widget, so if you go to your widgets, you can add a call to action widget which is either static or dynamic. So, you drag that into your sidebar, either static or dynamic, and essentially you can just choose which call to action appears. You can choose a test, so you can choose an A/B Test to show a couple of your variations to test them out and this can appear on every single page, so wherever pages that that sidebar appears on, that call to action will then appear in that sidebar there. Now, that’s the static one, so, that means that that call to action always appears whenever that static widget is present on the website. You can also have a dynamic one, so, that means that you put a widget over in the sidebar and it says “Show whatever call to action I have defined on this page”, not the way that that works is that when you’re creating a post or a page, you get a call to action plugin block at the bottom of that page or post edit page. It’s always a bit confusing when you’re talking about pages in WordPress because they have an actual item called a page. But when you’re editing a post or a page, you have a screen basically where you can put the title, the description, the content, all that kind of stuff and there’s a block on there that now has the call to action options in them. Now, you can go then to the bottom and you can say “On this page or this post, please show this call to action”. Now, I think this is really powerful because it means that for every page or post, if you have a particular lead magnet for example, so if you have a report that is related to the content, so for example on my podcasting website, I talk about  a lot of equipment, so, let’s say the best podcasting mixers, I could put together a report saying “These are the five top mixers that you can buy and here’s the links to buy them straight away if you want. Click this button to get that report downloaded straight to your computer”, so I can actually say that “On this page, show this call to action” which is related directly to that content. So, you can have some really tight control over what calls to action appear on every single page and you can make them appear automatically via that content block at the very bottom of your page edit.

Now, I hope that all made sense, it’s kind of hard to describe exactly how it works over the audio but suffice to say that this plugin gives you a whole lot of control over where your calls to action are going to appear, what they’ll look like, making them appear automatically, dynamically when you choose them to or actually just manually entering them via the shortcode. So, I hope that gives you enough information that you can choose whether it’ll be useful to you or not, but we’ll see. If you’re not putting calls to action on your website already, if you’re not making it really clear to your user what you want them to do and letting them actually take that action when they get to the point of finishing your post or finishing listening to your podcast or whatever then I think it’s really important to think about this.

So, again, just to reiterate, you can go and have a look at this plugin at podcraft.net/cta and if you want those videos that I’ve promoted a few times already, course videos that show you how to use WordPress, how to install plugins, how to mess with widgets, all those things that I’ve been talking about for the last ten minutes then just go to podcraft.net/websitecourse and you can sign up there or access the courses directly if you’re already signed up.

Now, this one in particular does tie in to the next couple of days where we’re talking mailing lists. I’m going to talk through why you should be using mailing lists, how you can use mailing lists with your WordPress website. And this call to action plugin is going to come in really handy in getting people on to your mailing lists, so worth keeping in touch, keeping listening over the next couple of days.

So, that just leaves us to set the action for today. So, what is it we’re going to do today? What are your tasks for today’s episode? I would say, just go to your website, download the call to action plugin and create one call to action for your website. Think of one thing that you want users to do when they come to your website. What is your most wanted action that really would give you the most value from the next person that comes to visit you on your podcasting website? So, once you find a thought of that, create the call to action, put in a decent header, put in a bit of a description and a button, maybe even do a variation if you want to try an A/B Test, if you want to go that far just now but as minimal as possible just get that call to action up there and start tracking how often people are taking it. Start editing it, start changing it so that people actually take that action and you get something out of each and every listener that comes to your website. And of course, that’s just now one way because you’re going to be directing them to resources, you’re going to be directing them to reports, all that stuff that you’re going to give them as a huge value, you’re going to really help these people that are coming to your website to really create those fanatical fans that we’re looking for. So, obviously it’s a two-way process, you’re giving them as much as they’re hopefully giving to you.

That ties us up for the first episode in week 3 of Series 3. So, that’s episode three eleven. You can find the show notes for this at podcraft.net/311 and for tomorrow we’re on to mailing list. So, I’m looking forward to that, one of the most vital parts of any website. And thanks for joining me again and I’ll talk to you then!