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Friday, September 09, 2005

Putting audio on your web site

I have been bit by the audio bug! This past week, I was thinking about information products and web site content (as usual) and I decided to see if I could figure out how to get my 1 hour interview on Awesome Entrepreneurs onto my web site in the easiest way possible. It was in MP3 already - but a BIG file. And, to listen to it, one would have to have a player installed. Too many steps and people don't do it.

So I started researching tools. I found MP3 Stream and downloaded the demo. Within minutes, I'd created a little flash gizmo to put on my site which provided the play and pause buttons, and compressed my 107 MB file down to ELEVEN MB! You simply can't beat that with a stick!

You can see what I did, right on the blog.

Emboldened by how easy it was, I went out and bought a basic microphone/headset - Altec Lansing brand, about $19.99 at Staples. I figured I'd start cheap and see what I needed to improve. I then needed something to record and edit audio with. So I did some more research and learned Audacity was highly recommended and FREE.

So I recorded some of my written material with that. And then edited out my boo-boos. I found that if I made a mistake, and then just repeated what I'd said poorly again, I could go back and delete out the things that sounded wrong. I added silence where little blips in the audio occurred, and polished it up. Saved the file to MP3 format, which took the installation of another add on to Audacity, and I had a big fat file to run through MP3 Sound Stream. Moments later, I had another file to put into an HTML page and upload, if wanted.

It's no secret that I love to talk. If I had any idea how easy these tools were to publish audio, I would have done a lot more of it, a lot sooner!

That said - there are some cautions. There is a learning curve to do anything fancier than what I've just described. Not everyone has a good speaking voice and it takes some serious effort, even for those who do, to sound natural. Just like with copy writing, if your words aren't hypnotic or interesting, and your content isnt' good, you can blah blah blah on forever and there is no point to it. And of course, audio files are still hefty in file size so you will probably need to look at more space on your web server. And if you get popular, greater bandwidth allowances.

I've got some great ideas now on using audio for myself and my clients - still mulling around my options and paths. But if you've ever thought about it - what are you waiting for? Tools like Audacity and MP3 Sound Stream make it so simple!