Starting a Podcast Has Never Been Easier

Starting a Podcast microphone and iPad

Have you ever dreamed of having your own radio show? I know I did. When I was a kid, I used to entertain my family for hours with my imaginary “Allen Brady Interview Show.” I always hoped one day I’d host my own show. Now that starting a podcast has never been easier, my childhood dream is totally possible.

Back in 2006, only 22% of U.S. adults had even heard of the word “podcast”. By last year, that figure had risen to 60%. People have not only heard of podcasts, but they’re listening to them on a regular basis.

According to Apple, iTunes now features more than 500,000 active podcasts, including content in more than 100 languages. Wow. Podcasts are popular.

What’s a Podcast?

Not quite sure what a podcast is? It’s kind of like having your own radio show. However, instead of broadcasting your voice live over radio waves, a podcast is an audio file that users can either stream or download and listen to.

People listen to podcasts using any digital device – a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. We’re listening to podcasts at the gym, in the car, at home, walking down the street, or sitting by the pool.

Last winter, the Launch4Life team looked into starting a podcast. However, after doing a little research we were in complete overwhelm. There seemed to be so many moving parts. Special equipment for recording. Software for editing. Not to mention the cost of finding a podcast host provider.

End result? We decided podcasting was way too complicated and expensive for us. Until we heard about Anchor.

Anchor.fm is an exciting new program that makes podcasting super simple. Creating a podcast episode with Anchor.fm is so easy, that anyone can host their own show.

Starting a Podcast with Anchor

To get started with Anchor, all you need to do is sign up for a free account. When you create your account, you can create a custom URL, where you can store all your episodes. You can even add artwork to brand your page.

You have the option of uploading existing audio or creating a live recording. Recording can be done using your computer, smart phone, or tablet. What’s great is that no special equipment is needed. Simply use your device’s built-in mic or attach an external microphone. It’s your choice. As a test, I used the ear buds/microphone that came with iPhone. The audio quality was great.

The podcast episodes you record are limited to one hour. And there is no limit to the number of episodes you can store. After you have recorded an episode you can save it as a draft or publish it immediately.

There are several different options for publishing. You can share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), embed it on your website, or distribute it to about 13 syndicated podcast sites (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.). Wow.

Of course, if you want to keep it easy-peasy, you can choose to only publish to your custom podcast page on Anchor. That’s what I choose to do as I am testing the waters.

I like the idea of embedding podcast episodes directly on our website. It’s super simply. You just copy the embed code from Anchor and paste it onto any page on your website.

The possibilities are endless. We could sprinkle podcast episodes on various blog posts or on select pages on our website. Or, we could dedicate a Podcast Page on our website to store all of our episodes.

Here’s an example of a podcast episode embedded directly on a WordPress website:

P.S. Contrary to what I say in the podcast episode, you are NOT limited to 5 minute recordings. My bad. You can actually record for up to 60 minutes. Awesome.

If we didn’t want to mess around with copying/pasting embed code to our website. We could just direct people to go to our custom page at:  https://anchor.fm/launch4life

 

Here’s an example of a podcast published on our Launch4Life page on Anchor:

With Anchor, there are no fees. There’s no charge to set up an account. And there’s no charge for hosting. If you’re wondering what’s the catch? The folks at Anchor are being funded by a huge grant from Google.

Anchor even provides excellent stats, so you can track your podcast audience. Their newest feature is that they recently introduced an iPad version that allows you to edit your audio. Hopefully, that benefit will soon be available for computer and mobile users.

If you would like to try your hand at starting a podcast you should take a look at Anchor. It really doesn’t get any easier than this. If you decide to give podcasting a whirl, please let us know, so we can check out your show.

Learn More About Starting a Podcast With Anchor

 

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size

Did you know your website’s page load speed has a huge effect on visitors? Customers have no patience for slow loading webpages. So what bogs down a website? Most likely it’s all those lovely graphics. Most likely, they’re too big. Easy fix. Reduce image size. The immediate result will be a faster website.

Your website visitors aren’t the only ones that don’t like slow loading webpages. Google hates them too. This month Google is releasing a new search algorithm. ‘Speed Update’ will track how fast a webpage loads on mobile devices. Slow websites will rank lower in Google Searches.

So what are we to do? We need to reduce the size of our images. Optimized graphics result in faster page load speed.

You may be wondering “which images on my website do I need to reduce?” If you’re like most small businesses, you have a ton of graphics on your website. And, have no clue which ones are too big.

Thank goodness there’s a simple way to find out. A free and easy website analyzer you can use to discover your oversized web graphics.

So let’s get started.

 

Which of Your Web Images are Too Big?

To test your website’s images, visit Page Weight by Imgix and type your website’s url in the search box.

Immediately, they’ll show you all the images you need to fix. They’ll even highlight your worst performing image. You’ll notice that they list the image’s dimensions (i.e. width x length pixels) and file size (i.e. KB or Kilobytes). They also point out their recommendations for optimizing the image.

 

 

Above is an example of a graphic image from Launch4Life’s website. Notice that while they have the same dimensions (1100 x 600 pixels) the file size 1017.3kb is too big. The webpage does not need the graphic to be at such a high resolution. The file size is causing slow page load speed.

As a good rule of thumb, the size of your image should match the display size on your website.

For instance, on our WordPress blog the featured image (at the top of the page), shouldn’t be any wider than 700 pixels. So if we used an image that was 3,500 pixels wide, it would be five times larger than we need.

The dimensions of a graphic are only one part of the “size” equation.

Resolution, or image quality, also has an effect. The higher the resolution, the bigger the file size.

Images we view on the web don’t need to have such high resolution. Therefore you should try to reduce the image size down to 100kb. Even better, shoot for 75kb.

 

How to Optimize Your Graphics? Reduce Image Size 

So below is an image I uploaded from my phone. Nice picture of me and my family traveling in Scotland.

In the graphic above, the image on the right is the original. You can see the dimensions are pretty large – 1280 pixels by 960 pixels. The file size – 508,460 KB – is pretty big too.

If I wanted to make this the featured image on my blog post, I would need to reduce both the dimensions and file size.

So how can we do that?

Resizeimage.net is the easiest online tool I’ve found to reduce image size.

You don’t need to set up an account. Upload your image, type in the dimensions you want, and click the Apply Changes button. Wow, it doesn’t get simpler than that.

As a tip, it’s best to choose select JPEG for your output file. JPEG files are smaller than PNGs.

As an added benefit, this program also has a few other simple editing features. You can use it to easily crop images and/or add a custom-colored border. It’s pretty basic, but then again, sometimes that’s all you need.

Once you’re done optimizing each image, you will need to upload the images to your website and place them where they belong.

You could stop there, but I suggest doing a few more things. Even if it’s a bit of extra work.

Number 1, make sure you delete all the old images from your website. Even though they will no longer be displayed, you don’t want them cluttering up your media library.

Number 2, go back and run your website again through Page Weight. Hopefully, your website will now pass with flying colors. Allowing you to feel confident your images are no long dragging messing with the speed of your website.

When you reduce image size the speed of your website should increase. Which means Google won’t penalize your website for being too slow. But most important, faster webpages will make your visitors happy. And happy visitors are more likely to stick around and check out your website.

 

Recommended Online Tools

 

Page Weight By Imigix

https://pageweight.imgix.com/

 

Online Image Resizer

http://resizeimage.net/

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Time Management Strategies to Help Boost Your Business

Time Management Strategies Clock

Time Management. Doesn’t this feel like an age-old problem? Do we avoid getting distracted during our day. Struggle with setting deadlines and finishing on time. Feeling stressed a lot. We want more time for fun and family. We need time management strategies.

Does this YouTube remind you of your business life?

If you don’t have time to watch it now let me describe it.

There are two guinea pigs on a treadmill. One fell off. He tried and tried but never got off. Funny but so sad. So, which guinea pig are you? If you are on the treadmill, would you like to get off?

Does it feel like insanity? “Doing the same thing and expecting different results”. You must make changes in your daily work habits. Perhaps you need some time management strategies.

Let’s face it. You do know what to do. There are plenty of books to help you. There are tons of videos. Plenty of courses. Great programs to learn Time Management skills.

Here are some basic time management strategies we all know.

  • First of all, stop reading emails at the beginning of the day.
  • Write a list of things you need to do – then break it down into bite size pieces.
  • Lastly, focus your to do list in order of importance

But why don’t you do it? That is the million dollar question.

Of course, we know better, but why don’t get off the treadmill?

It requires huge change. Self-discipline. Daily effort.  Habit is a key to the answer.  But don’t try and change all your habits at once. It may be too much. But each little change made a part of your routine will become a new habit.

Time Management Strategies from Janet

  • Here are some business habits I have incorporated into my business:
  • I use an online Google Calendar. I can access from my phone, Ipad, and laptop. It lets me know when it is time to do the next scheduled project.
  • I gave up scrolling Facebook in the morning. It wasn’t helping me with my business.
  • I use a timer on my laptop to mark out my daily projects. When the time is up, I stop.  I have a glass of water, take a stretch.  Work on a different project.  That’s actually a couple of habits.
  • I do the hard projects first when my brain is at its best.
  • I use an online program called  www.asana.com to map out my projects. Keeps me on task. check emails later in the day. I still struggle with this. But I am getting better at it.

My Mom taught me a famous line that has become part of my philosophy. I preach it to others who ask my advice. “When the pain to stay is worse than the pain to go, you will go”.

Making time management changes is painful. When the stress and lack of productivity are bad enough, the pain will force you to change.

#1 Tip for your time management strategies

YOU are the tip. It’s up to you to decide “its time”. The ability to change your habits is YOU. Finally, the success of your business is YOU.  You have the tools at your fingertips. Just do it.

Take baby steps to change one habit at a time.

Make a note of where you are today. Check back with yourself a year from now. See how many time management struggles you resolved.  Then reward yourself and find out what you need to change next. We constantly have to grow. Let me know.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Best Way to Bookmark Websites

Here’s the scenario. You find something on the web that you need to access again later. While you could just bookmark it in your browser, if you use more than one browser then what? Some days I use Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, all in one day! And, what if you use more than one digital device to surf the web? You might find a great website on your laptop that you want to visit again using your tablet or mobile phone. As you can see, bookmarking websites can be a bit of a challenge. Luckily there is one method that solves all of these problems.

Meet Raindrop.io, a slick method for saving and organizing all of your internet bookmarks. Raindrop works across all internet browsers and on all digital devices. This means you can create a bookmark on one device and seemlessly access it later on another. Best of all, you can even share your bookmarks with other people. The perfect tool for working with your team.

Here are some features that makes Raindrop.io so great:

Free

There is no charge to use the basic version of Raindrop.io and it’s free forever. No credit is required and it’s not a free trial. To get started, you simply sign up for an account using Google+, Facebook, Twitter, or by email address. There are a few extra features offered in their premium version for $3 per month. However, after using Raindrop.io for several years now, I have never felt the need to upgrade.

Collections

You can easily organize your bookmarks into collections, which is Raindrop’s name for folders. There’s no limit on how many collections you can create. Even better, there’s no limit on the number of bookmarks within each collection. If you’d like to make a collection stand out, you have the option to create a visual icon. If you don’t like any of Raindrop’s 100 built-in graphics, you can always upload your own icons.

Search/Sort

It’s easy to find bookmarks using Raindrop’s built-in search utility. You can perform searches from within a collection or search through all of your bookmarks. To keep organized, you can sort your bookmarks in alphabetical order or by the number of bookmarks there are in each collection. You can also sort bookmarks by: date, name, popularity, or website.

Custom Views

There are four different ways you can view your bookmarks: list, grid, cards, or by moodboard. I prefer the “List” view, which provides a small graphic, title, brief description, and website URL. It’s nice that they provide four different options.

Mobile App

There is a free Raindrop.io app you can download for your tablet or smart phone. The mobile app is easy to use and allows you to easily access your bookmarks on the run.

 

In-App Reading

I like that you can read saved bookmarks from right inside Raindrop. However, if you later decide you‘d like to access the complete URL, a simple click of the mouse will send you to the bookmarked webpage.

Sharing

 My favorite Raindrop feature is that you can share your bookmarks with others. You can share a single link or an entire collection of bookmarks. Sharing is so easy, simply type in the email address of the intended person, and they will receive an invitation to access the link or collection. What’s really cool is that if you share a collection with another Raindrop user, the collection will be automatically added to their account, allowing them to add more links.

So those are just some of Raindrop’s top features. I highly suggest you check out Raindrop.io. I believe you’ll discover it’s a great alternative to traditional bookmarking. Raindrop looks good and will help you stay more organized. Best of all, you will finally be able to access ALL your bookmarks across all internet browsers, using any digital device. This means the next time you bookmark a website you’ll be able to find it later.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

You Thought Building a Website Was Easy?

Think Again!

Building a website is a complicated process and requires a lot of thought. After being involved in building a website for our own business and building websites for our customers, I think I could write a book. It ain’t easy. First there is building a brand-new website. The second is revamping an old one. Both require lots of planning. Whether you are thinking about creating a website or want to update your existing one, I think this blog article will give you a few insights to help you have a better website building experience. Maybe even save you a few dollars.

Before you go to the expense and trouble of building your own or hiring someone, your first step is to determine why you need a website? Is it just to provide information or will it be a place for people to buy your products or services, which means it will require ecommerce integration. If you just need a page or two, you may want to just create an About.Me Page or purchase a do-it-yourself website builder like Weebly, Wix, or Square Space. If all you need is an ecommerce site, you may want to check out Shopify or BigCommerce. That may give you all you need.

If you decide you want a full-blown professional website using WordPress, you will need to choose a web hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator, or Bluehost. You will also need to buy a domain, which you will have to renew each year. While it’s not mandatory, it makes life easier if you buy your domain from your webhosting company. If you can get a discount when you purchase these products, you may want to buy a few years in advance. Next up is purchasing a WordPress Theme. While there are some free ones, they should avoided like the plague. Free Themes can have security issues and may not be current with the continuous  WordPress updates. Our favorite WordPress Theme is Divi, which can be purchased from Elegant Themes. We highly suggest you purchase a SSL certificate to keep your website secure for your customer and give you better ranking in Google searches. Finally, a few extras that we also recommend purchasing from your webhost provider is a backup plan, security protection against hackers, and premium email accounts.  

The SSL Certificate creates the locked padlock and makes your site secure.

As you can see, expect to pay a few dollars right out of the gate. Some of these costs will need to be renewed every year, so keep that in mind. Don’t buy a website package unless you know your business is going to be around for a few years.

Bottom line, you will need to do some research. You want to be sure that you have a website that is modern and responsive for mobile devices, since most of your customers will be seeing your website from their phone or tablet.

Heads up, this is just as important! You need to pay a lot of attention to how you want your website to look. Here are a few things to consider:

  1.  Audience – Know who you are building your website for. Do you have one ideal customer or several? Make sure your website answers the questions they will be asking when they visit your website.
  2. Colors and Fonts – It supports your brand identity and sets the tone of what your customers can expect from you. The rule of thumb for the color is one dominant color, one complimentary and one background. You may want to check out some color psychology articles to make sure you pick colors that will attract your desired audience. Font choices should be complimentary and limited to 2 or 3 max.
  3. Layout – How many pages do you want? How do you want the layout for each page? For example, a 4-page layout would have a Home page, About page, a Services or Product page, and a Contact page.  A 5-page layout would also include a Blog page.
  4. Content – It is a good idea that even if you are hiring someone to write your content, that you write some basic information to give your content/web designer an idea of what you want to express to your customers. Otherwise they won’t know what you want, and you may not like what they write. Save everyone time, anguish, and money.
  5. Graphics – Go find the graphics and photos you want. Ask your web designer what size they should be, so you get the right size and make sure they are clear.
  6. Tag Line – Create a compelling tag line. It will surely be the first thing they see when they click your website. Wow them if you can.
  7. Email Subscribe Box – You need a call to action (email subscribe box) so that people who visit your site are willing to give you their contact information before they bounce. Our suggestion is offering some sort of free gift. Like a free eBook, white paper, or free consultation that they would like and has value. If they want it, they will have to surrender their email. That is your goal. Make sure you already have an email platform (ex. MailChimp) to store that email address. You can add a subscribe or sign up button on your website that links to your email program.
  8. Social Media – You can also add your social media links to your website like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  9. SEO – you will want to do some research or work with your web designer to determine what are the right key words to have on your website. This helps optimize your website and blog for Google searches.
  10. Google Analytics – To track your website’s performance, you will need to have your website connected with Google’s web tools.

One of the biggest issues we have noticed in working with our customers when building their websites, is that some of them have not thought out what they really want in advance. They leave it to the web designer. It sets someone up for disappointment.

You may love it, or you may hate it. Do some research before you hire someone. Check out your competitors. What colors are they using? Do you like their choices or do you want a different look? The website you are building, or redoing represents you. Make sure you love it.  It is the face of your business.

Doing his website due diligence.

WEBSITE CHECKLIST

With this information, you will be better prepared to create the website you want and will be proud of. Most importantly, your website will attract your prospects and turn them into customers.

  • Determine need of Website
  • Web Hosting Company and fees
  • Domain and fees
  • Email Addresses
  • SSL
  • Color (3) and Fonts (3)
  • Graphics
  • Content
  • Number of Pages
  • Call to Action
  • Email Subscribe Button (have an email program)
  • Social Media Buttons (at least 1 or 2 social media programs)
  • SEO – keywords
  • Blog Articles (optional)

P.S.  One last thought. Think about who will maintain your website after its built? You can’t just set it and forget it. Websites need to be updated with content and and monitored for various software updates. Regardless of who is going to maintain your website I suggest you ask your web designer for the user id and password used to set up the website. This way you will still be in control and will never be held hostage.  You can use that web designer, someone else, or yourself to do the additional updates that will absolutely be needed.  But own your own website “keys”.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Internet Tips for Business Travelers

Many of you know that Launch4Life has a mascot, Bob Launch. We took Bob on our trip to Spain and while we were there he told us that he learned some things he hadn’t thought about before our trip. He asked me to share three tips with you that he believes will make traveling a little easier. Whether you are traveling down to a coffee shop to meet a client, traveling to do a workshop in another city, or trying to connect with clients in other countries, these tips will save you some grief and time.

 

Tip #1 – Secure Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available at most places you visit, either free or for a nominal charge. But it won’t necessarily be a secure network. How you will know this? Sometimes you will log onto a particular website on your device. It will allow you to do some things, but not all. You will think that a link is broken. But it’s not. The website is trying to protect you. What you need is a Virtual Private Network. A VPN will put a security bubble around you while you are logging in to pay a credit card, your mortgage, or making a transaction with your bank account. In essence it creates a firewall. I discovered a VPN called Windscribe: https://windscribe.com/  The good news is that they offer a free version that was perfect for me for this trip. This idea is great even for someone who only travels locally. If you think you will need more than the free version, the first paid level is only $4.08 per month and provides unlimited bandwidth. But whatever your need, this VPN is something that will make your life easier and prevent hackers. Also, it will allow you to see the websites you visit in your own language, very helpful.

 

Tip #2 – Online Calendars

How do you reconcile your online calendar with different time zones? This is the one that really made me crazy. You can bet I made a couple of mistakes with that. But now I have it all figured out. Whether you use Outlook or Google Calendar, both have built-in time zone converters.

If you have a Google Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Go to your Google Calendar.
  • Click the settings wheel, top right corner.
  • Scroll down until you see time zones.
  • Add another one,
  • Click Save at the bottom of the screen.

If you have an Outlook Calendar, here are the instructions to add a second time zone:

  • Click the File tab.
  • Click Options.
  • On the Calendar tab, under Time zones, select the Show a second-time zone check box.
  • In the Label box, type a name for the additional time zone.
  • In the Time zone list, click the time zone that you want to add.

Now when you go into your calendar you can schedule the appointment in the time of where you are currently. It will automatically convert to the default time for your appointment. So much easier.

 

Tip #3 – Wi-Fi Booster

Many hotels and Internet cafes have Wi-Fi. But it may be sketchy and not secure. You can use your new VPN to create security. But your Wi-Fi might still have strength issues. Downloading files or watching videos may be impossible. If you are like us and use video conferencing, having a good network connection is imperative. We plan on purchasing a Hot Spot before traveling to our next destination. I have done some research. There are a number of them to choose from.

I think I like this one called Keepgo: https://www.keepgo.com. It seems to have everything we need. We can use it nationally as well as internationally. We can buy the pay-as-you-go option for the data after our one-time purchase for the HotSpot of $99. They have a 30-day money back guarantee, so I don’t think I can lose on that decision. I will let you know how it works. There are a number of choices out there to review for your individual needs.

Whether traveling down the road or traveling far and wide, knowing these tips in advance can save you a lot of headaches. If you are in a virtual business like us, the ability to “have laptop will travel” is a huge plus. Utilizing these 3 tips will make all the difference. Bob wishes you “happy travels!!!”

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com