In article one, How To Create Text To Speech Blog Posts, of this three part series we used a free service to convert your text blog posts into downloadable audio files. In article two, How To Add Podcast Audio To Blog Posts, we examined what it takes to add a podcast to your blog. In this third and final article in the series we are going to learn how you can use your cell phone to create audio content for your blog using some pretty handy commercial services.
Okay, I bet you're thinking. Why on earth would I ever use a cell phone to create content for my blog? And, even if I wanted to, how could I possibly do such a thing? Well the answer is simple on both points.
The logic is simple really. We all want to get more done in the day and we are all looking for ways to make better use of the time we do have. But, during the course of the day you probably still have some dead time that could be better utilized. This is probably while you are in the car traveling to work, traveling to lunch, traveling back from lunch, or on your travel time back from work. Now, don't get me wrong, I like to space out during drive time as much as the next guy, but I bet you've thought to yourself at least once that it would be good if there was a way to make better use of your travel time.
Well, what if you could use that time to create content for your blog? Actually, you can using your cell phone and a call in recording service. You see, the cell phone is an extremely familiar tool to most people these days. Unlike most unfriendly recording software and hardware, the cell phone carries little to no learning curve for us to use it as a recording device.
So, if you can think of the cell phone as a recording tool and combine it with a service that records your voice for playback using a Flash based web player then you can have a powerful way to create audio content for your blog that can be used anytime you have dead time in your day.
The service I am talking about is called BYOAudio.com and it provides you the ability to call into a type of voice mail box and record long running messages. Those messages or audio clips are then made available to you as MP3 files that can be downloaded directly, downloaded as a podcast, or streamed on a blog (or standard website) through an embedded Flash player. You can embed your messages into blog posts, or use them as bonus download materials for other promotions. BYOAudio lets you record audio whenever you have spare time by simply using a familiar device and their call in service. By making use of that dead time you are creating value for your blog that will continue to bring you benefit long after you've spent the effort.
In addition to using the phone to record audio, BYOAudio has two other ways that you can capture audio for use on your blog. They offer a web recorder that allows you to record audio using a microphone connected to your computer. This means you can record straight from your computer into an MP3 format that can then be embedded on your blog. That relieves you of having to operate recording software, save down or convert audio to MP3 format, upload it to a public server, and then create the code to place on your blog.
The other option is a little more hands on. For anyone who does want to record their audio locally, you can upload existing MP3s that BYOAudio will then host and deliver via their Flash player on your blog. This is a good option for anyone who is getting audio from an external source, mixing down multiple tracks with a background loop and intro music, or for anyone who already has a library of content they want to put on their blog.
Customizable Player Code
One of the helpful features about the service is they offer a fully customizable Flash player so you can seamlessly integrate your audio player into your blog design. Some bloggers and website owners work very hard to get a certain look and feel and they don't want to just slap an ugly player on the page.
One of the things you'll want to understand is how many times your audio has been played. This is valuable information because you want to know if your efforts are being put into the right areas of your blog. BYOAudio provides individual file reporting so you can tell how many times a file has been played, what the total play time has been for a file, how many times the files has been played to completion, the completion percentage per file, the number of downloads per file, and whether the file has been downloaded directly, from a podcast RSS feed, or through a web player.
These are great statistics to have because you can tell if a particular audio is more popular or less popular than others and you can also tell if people are listening to the entire audio. This might be helpful to know if your call to action is at the end of the audio, but no one is making it to the end. Or if you are including advertisers in your audio then you will be able to provide them stats on how many times their advertisements were potentially heard because you will be able to point to completion percentages as a metric.
Conference Call Recording
In addition to being able to create content via a call in number, you also have the ability to record conference calls which can be helpful for interviewing experts in their field of study or rebroadcasting hosted conference calls. You could use this feature to capture product calls, sales training, or other events that you might want to offer to your audience as premium content or content that is packaged as bonus materials for other products you offer.
It is important to note that as of the time of this writing, the conference call recording feature does not actually allow you to host the call on the BYOAudio lines. You can simply use the service to record an externally hosted conference call. Essentially, if you already have a way of hosting a conference call, but not a way to record the call then the BYOAudio service can help. But if you are looking for a conference call service, then this is outside of what BYOAudio offers at the moment.
Multiple Call-In Lines and Comment Lines
A strong feature that BYOAudio offers is the option to create multiple call in lines or comment lines. These call in lines can be used to encourage members of your audience to call in to leave their comments, testimonials, questions, answers, segment pieces, etc. You can also use these custom call in numbers to track campaign success rates by monitoring which promotions get call ins and which don't. The more creative you are with this feature the more value you will get out of the service. And, just like the audio that you record on your main call in number each of the recorded audios from the call in lines can be embedded into your blog using the Flash web player, downloaded directly, or included as a podcast download.
BYOAudio offers podcast feeds for your audio so that you can deliver your content to your audience in a way that they are expecting to consume it. If you have not looked into using a podcast feed to offer your audio content to your blog visitors then I highly recommend you start researching it. Like a standard RSS feed, you will be "pushing" your content to your audience instead of hoping that they will come back to you for updated materials.
BYOAudio even offers video hosting and streaming deliver via an embedded player. You have all the same tools and reporting available to you as with the audio side of the service. Again, if you want to measure play through rates then this is a great feature to have.
Just as a side note, if you've looked into these solutions before you might be wondering about whether you should use BYOAudio, Audioacrobat.com, or Hipcast.com. The simple answer comes straight from the Hipcast support blog which states, "BYOAudio and AudioAcrobat are sister products with different markets– focusing on non-blog systems and conference calling, along with podcasting and functionality not in the Hipcast system– at a different price point." With that in mind it is probably best to research the pricing and features of each and choose the one that best fits your budget and project requirements.
For the most part all three services offer support for podcasting, video blogging, RSS feeds, phone recording, web recording, file uploading, and play through reporting. So it really comes down to features and price if you are going to use one of the three. Hipcast has been used by several well known bloggers and podcasters. In fact Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff of the BlogSquad used it when they recorded their Conversations With Experts series, http://www.conversationswithexperts.com/, which was very popular.
BYOAudio Samples (Using My Cell Phone)
Here are two samples of the BYOAudio service. I recorded these two audios from my cell phone while I was on my way to the bank. There are two files provided because I lost the signal on my cell. The recording quality is pretty good considering it was recorded using a cell phone. However, a land line recording would probably be better. A better quality recording could probably be made using BYOAudio's web recorder. At the time of this writing I have not used the web recorder.
The initial idea for this entire article series was outlined in those recordings and because I was able to capture them for later playback I am able to include them here as additional content. This audio could've been recorded in my home recording studio. I do have a full recording setup a mixer, microphones, and recording software, but that takes dedicated time and effort in a studio setting to sit down and make a recording. But, these sample recordings were made on the fly while I was out taking care of other business.
Free Conference Calls
Before we end this article, let's look at a similar service with a focus on conference call recording. As I mentioned before, if you're interested in hosting and recording conference calls then BYOAudio only offers a partial solution. However, a free and simple way to do this is using the FreeConferenceCall.com service. FreeConferenceCall.com offers a great service which is totally free except for any long distance charge you and your call participants might generate while you are on the conference call. Each participant pays their own long distance charges. I'm not certain, but I would imagine that FreeConferenceCall has a deal with the phone companies and that is how they get paid for the service. But that small cost aside the service is extremely simple and easy to use.
When you sign up for your free account you get a call in number and an access code that is good for 120 days. All you have to do is give the call in number and the access code to your call participants and then schedule a call in date and time. From there everyone calls in and you simply moderate the call. Be sure to read my article,
How To Conduct A Successful Phone Interview, for tips on how to get the most out of your phone interviews.
Once you have recorded a conference call, you can download it in .wav format, add some intro music, background audio, and exit music, save it all to MP3 and then upload it to your BYOAudio account to embed on your blog.
Large Call Participant Capacity
The service offers a call in capacity for just under 100 participants. Which is great because that means you can include a large number of people in the original call to help spread the word about your project.
Conference recording with FreeConferenceCall.com is very simple and instructions are provided with a step by step explanation of how to host the call, start the recording, and end the recording. Instructions are also provided for putting the call on lecture mode so you can cut out the background noise from all the participants on the call. Then when you are ready for a question and answers section of your call, you can open the line back up for questions.
At the end of every call you automatically get a report emailed to you that details the number and duration of your conference call participants. This is a great resource because it tells you how strong of an interest there was in the call and how many people listened to the entire session. The report gives duration details for each unique number that dialed into the call so you can really tell how many people heard the entire message, how many dropped out mid way through, and how many didn't listen to the meat of the call at all. This is good information to have when you are trying to promote the call later or if you are trying to gauge the popularity of a particular topic.
After each conference call you have the opportunity to download your call in .wav format that you can then convert to mp3 format. The service also provides an RSS feed that you can use to let other people know that a new conference call is available for download.
So, if you are looking for creative ways to generate content for your blog that will add value for your audience and you would like to make good use of dead time, then BYOAudio is a great solution. Also, if you are wanting to leverage the knowledge and value of others, then the FreeConferenceCall.com service is a low cost, high value option you can explore. Signup for an account and test it out for yourself. See if you can use it for your blog. FreeConferenceCall.com call in numbers are good for 120 days and BYOAudio offers a 30 day trial for $1. So either way you can't lose. So get out there and start creating.
Keep those eyes wide,
For more information about BYOAudio, OpenSourceMarketer.com/recommends/byoaudio