Making Big Leaps in Your Life and Your Home Business

Not sure how to even improve just on this one statement!

I have never had periods of intense growth (or even steady growth) in my life, my fitness or my business without some scary first steps. Have you?

  • Get tired of being comfortable!
  • Get tired of status quo!
  • Get tired of fitting in!
  • Get tired of everyone else’s normal!

When my life REALLY changed was when I decided that I was more afraid NOT to try than I was to try and mess up.

THAT is what I want for you!

Personally…I am taking LOTS of leaps as we speak! They won’t always be visible to you, but you have to know that I’m in a state of DIScomfort and yet ENTHUSIASM every day lately!!

What ‘leap’ are you nervous about taking? How can I encourage you? Tell me below! I’m on YOUR side!

 

Simplifying audio and video in your business

 This is the final in a 3 part series on ‘must-haves’ for your business.

Previously in this series, I mentioned that I don’t suggest any business be without

  1. an email service
  2. a payment processor and
  3. a media capture option. Let’s delve into #3, shall we?

 

3. Media Capture

 

Why do I feel a variety of media is important to business growth online?

Sooo many reasons, but just to highlight a few, I think you can never underestimate the ‘know, like & trust’ factor in business. There are so many reasons for prospects to DIStrust you these days…that the more you can do to build that trust, the better.

Ok – so to mechanics…I like EASY solutions with very little learning curves. I’m a simple girl with a busy life and I don’t want learning technology to be my full time job. So don’t expect rocket science here. I’m sure there are more bells and whistles and fancy solutions, but I like to stick to a budget and the basics.

So, whether we’re talking about audio or video, at the bare minimum you will need the ability to:

  • record interviews, tutorials, rants or educational pieces
  • host your recording online
  • post the link (or a player) on your site, blog or in email

Just like anything technical, you can find services from the simple to the complex…but some other features I find helpful are:

  • simple editing
  • royalty free music for top & tail
  • broadcast ability for live seminars
  • built in players

Audio Toolbox:

==> Audacity by Soundforge: This free software is both Mac and PC compatible. I use this to record straight from my built in mic (or if I’m getting fancy, I use my Yeti, which was about $100 on Amazon. I can also import audio into this program from a conference call or live event I’ve recorded and edit out the bits I don’t like or are unclear. This can be a very effective editing tool, but I mainly use it to clean up the front and back and add music if I want to. I’ve found tutorials on YouTube for everything I’ve needed to learn about Audacity. It is a must-have as far as I’m concerned.

I know many Mac folks swear by GarageBand for the same purposes.

This is just for recording and editing. This will not host your recordings or store them.

==> Audio Acrobat: This subscription service is a web based program that will allow you to upload records (perhaps from Audacity) or to call into your designated ‘hotline’ and record directly from your phone. I have done this hundreds of times for interviews, personal product creation or other purposes when I’m traveling. I also used this more before I had a good mic built into my computer.  This service will also store your recordings and host the players for you that you can send in email, post on blogs or put in your social media sharing.

However, this has a recurring fee monthly and if you have very busy watchers, listeners and sharers – you will rack up extra charges for bandwidth. I use this strictly for phone recording. I tend to use it really heavy for a month or two and then cancel until I need it again. However, if you don’t have many folks viewing your content, this may be the simplest and low tech solution for now!

There is no EDITING feature on this, so be prepared to publish ‘as is.’ *Trial Available*

** Audio Acrobat also has Video features available but I’ve not researched that or played with it, so I can’t testify to the usefulness **

==> Conference Call Lines: You can also use a variety of conference call lines for singular recording, interviews and teleclasses, but that really is a post all by itself, so I won’t try to cover those here. However, if you are familiar with Free Conference Call, Instant Teleseminar, Go Conference or any of those services, you can sometimes skip the above tools and use their built-in tools that you are already familiar with. I tend to come back to Audacity to edit what I do on the conference calls anyway 😉

I am SURE I’ve left some amazing tools out – but again, I’m just reviewing what I know and what I use – share in the comments section below what YOU have had great success with and can recommend.

Video Toolbox:

==> Camera Suggestions: My friend, Perry Lawrence at AskMrVideo.com has always said ‘the best camera is the one you will use.’ So I adhere to that mantra! I love, love, love the FLIP camera and use mine endlessly ‘on location’ from amusement parks, live events, in the car, etc. It’s a push-button content generator and I love that there are no chords. I use the one that is powered by AA batteries so I don’t have to find a computer to charge it when I’m on the run. I realize, however, that this camera is not still being made, so I recommend a hand-held flip-style camera like the Sony Bloggie. Kodak Zi8 or similar.

You may be in love with the quality of video you get from your iPhone or iPad, great. Like I said, whatever works for you is best.

I also love the simplicity of using the web cam that is built into my monitor or laptop. I open up Quick Time and Create a New Video. Simple as that.

==> Editing Software: My first preference is NO EDITING. Yep, I’m that simple. I prefer to Shoot & Share! But if I need to put an intro or some graphics as a ‘call to action’ then there are a couple of options.

  • Mac folks, seriously – iMovie is so simple once you go through a tutorial or two that it’s almost FUN to dress up your videos a bit. The templates, music, sound effects, transitions and tools that are built in are excellent!
  • YouTube editing – I haven’t played with this much beyond annotations, but I know you can do some simple editing ONLINE in YouTube. This is, of course, free and won’t be as ‘fancy schmancy’ as an offline pro editing software – but hey – we’re all about SIMPLE!
  • In Camera Software – one of the things I loved about the FLIP camera was the built in editing software. Super-easy and intuitive. Now that Flip isn’t being created anymore, I’m not sure the software is still being supported – but when you are buying your mobile camera, check to see if there is a camera-specific software included.
  • Sony Vegas and others – I’ve invested in these (in the past) and gave up because of the complexity. I just didn’t have the time or energy to get complicated. I know editors that use these with great success and swear by them, but for the price and the hassle, I couldn’t be bothered.

What did I forget?

==> Storage Options: once you create your media, it has to ‘live’ somewhere in order to be accessible online. Again, with the ‘cloud’ and so many evolving technologies, I’m sure the geekarati will come out of the woodwork to let me know what I’ve missed, but I’m reviewing what I use and know 😉

  • YouTube – this is STILL my favorite for video. It’s free. It’s searchable. It’s user-friendly. There are loads of tutorials and now that you can set videos to Public, Private & Unlisted…there really is no reason not to use it. I DO suggest you keep a backup of your videos on a harddrive or with Mozy or Carbonite, in case YouTube disappears (yeah, right) but this is a great solution for just about everyone. — and the price is right at FREE
  • Adobe Acrobat – I mentioned that earlier – but I haven’t used it for video, so I can’t recommend it personally.
  • AmazonS3 – I use S3 for my mass storage of pdfs, audio and video. It’s pennies on the dollar compared to many other bandwidth solutions and I feel pretty secure that Amazon isn’t going anywhere. However, it’s not the most intuitive thing to use, so I use a gateway front service called EZS3 to store all of my media. I LOVE that this service has a variety of player templates for audio and video and make my blog and webpages look professional just by dropping in a line of code. I have all of my media backed up here and couldn’t be happier. I’ve been using them over 4 years now and I have heavy media traffic, as you might imagine. (tutorials & support board are really helpful)
  • Your own site storage. You could store your media there, but depending on your hosting, you could max out your bandwidth in a hurry and incur extra costs.

Those are a few I’ve used (still use) and have personal experience with.

I’d love to hear below what you use and love and what features I perhaps left out! I know we haven’t covered ‘calls & tele-events’ yet – we will. And I know I’m not the most tech-genius online…but really, that is my point. I use these tools to function and to be profitable. I’m not a specialist in them nor do I have to be to know how to leverage them for my benefit.

I hope this series has been helpful and I’d love to hear about more tools or ideas below!

What is Independence Day?

Maybe a better question is, “What is Independence?”

I found this after doing a little digging…

In the USA, we celebrate ‘Independence Day’ on July 4, celebrating our freedom as a nation.

In May & June, graduating high school and college students celebrate their independence from education (and maybe even their freedom from ‘childhood.’)

In 1991 – my husband proposed to me under the fireworks and I celebrated my Independence into a new phase of my life.

We have independence from braces, from kids at home, from car payments and maybe…a dream of financial independence from a job, a boss or debt.

This is all possible. But just like in our nation’s founding, freedom doesn’t come without a price.

Any freedom you seek takes work, consistent effort and even sacrifice. It’s not a popular thought. We want easy income. Instant debt reduction. Simple solutions and while we’re at it – could you please ‘beam me back into my high school skinny jeans?’

Daily choices. Daily decisions. Wise guidance and, like our forefathers…a willingness to sacrifice time, blood, sweat and tears, to make our independence a reality. I believe you can.

Happy Independence Day…it’s up to YOU to determine… ‘Independence from what?’

Share with me some thoughts below.

`I need to find more time

We’ve been talking about obstacles to business growth and yesterday we covered Time Stealers. Now let’s recover some of that time!

How Do You Stretch Time?

  • If you’re almost out of milk…you add a little water in it to stretch it.
  • You scoop a little less coffee into the filter to make the coffee go a bit further until you get to the store.
  • And we’re all familiar with making cash go a little further by shopping with coupons, sharing an entrée, cutting back on our cable plans, etc.

Now we’re going to figure out how to add time to your day.

It’s not complicated…but as a business owner, it’s VITAL that you master certain time stretchers or you will be frazzled, stressed and always moaning about ‘needing more time!’

Here are 5 of my fave 10 Time Stretchers…

1)  Timer ~ The most important piece of technology ever is a Timer. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be a kitchen timer. You will use it extensively during Power Hour (to be covered in a future post) but I also like to just use it for social media time, blog writing, phone calls (oops, gotta go!) and break time.

2)  Blocking & Chunking ~ sounds painful but is super effective! When I shoot videos I don’t shoot one video. I sit down and make out a list of topics I want to shoot video about and I shoot lots of it. I do my hair, make-up and clothes once. I edit and choose graphics or music once. I get in a flow and focus on nothing else but video. (My record is 25 videos in one hour.)

Maybe you’re going to write 5 blog posts. Maybe you have 2 hours of email time or 2 hours of blog reading & commenting time.

Save your social media commenting and posting for a certain time. Create content during a focused block. Chunk your time. I do all my coaching and consulting on Tuesdays and Thursday via phone. I do all of my email coaching before noon each day. I write during certain chunks and I do videos in chunks. This is smart and makes YOU in charge of your time. Get in a flow. Multi-tasking can be a myth.

3)  An Automated Phone Service ~ I’ve used eVoice for 9 years.  It’s affordable and it’s practical. The message goes to an email which means wherever on the planet I check my email, there it is. OR to my assistant. It works for me. There are a lot of options like Ring Central and Google Voice. If you really prefer your phone answered by a ‘live’ person you can use something like Call Ruby which is a service that is more costly than virtual numbers, but cheaper than an employee.

(Before you get snippy about your phone and how connected you need to be, breathe — I will cover ‘filters & qualifications’ on who gets ‘you’ time in the next post)

4)  Turn Notifications Off ~ This is especially important during your Power Hour. I’ll explain that in a future blog post, stay tuned. For instance during my workday I turn off email notifications, incoming text, phone noise, etc.. As a matter of fact, I typically log out of email altogether (except during my email time chunk.) I never have Skype, gchat or IM open unless I have a preset appointment. I am not available to just ‘be there’ for if you have a whim to chat. (again, we’ll cover filters & qualifications tomorrow). Like another reader said ‘I’m not selling hearts or lungs, no one will die if I don’t answer right away.’

5)  An Alarm ~ on your desktop, phone or watch. I set the alarm clock on my cell to notify me to take a break and walk around or hydrate. I set alarms to remind me about calls. Alarms let me focus without me having to continually check the clock or my google calendar! My alarm reminds me during the school year ‘GET THE KIDS’ and reminds me ‘You have a deadline’ and all sorts of handy things. The more you can let something or someone else remind you, the less stress you have in worrying that you will forget. (Thanks Snowden McFall for reminding me of that!) Aren’t you breathing better already?

Well – that’s 5 for today! What are your thoughts on those? I’ll post another 5 tomorrow and then the next day we’ll talk about the ‘silver bullet’ I call – “POWER HOUR”

Already do some of these? GREAT – encourage other readers below on how that helps!

An email reader of mine suggested this (and I LOVE It!!)

** Carrie, I use VLC Player to speed up videos  – you can watch almost any format, and speed up/slow down as much as you need.  http://www.videolan.org/vlc – Thanks for that tip! Love it! **

Need to do some of these? Tell us below which one you are going to focus on this next week. Give it 7 days and see if you don’t feel like you have more time!

(gotta go – my timer just went off…)