Right off the bat I need to tell you that this post is long and has technical info in it. You might want to bookmark the page so you can come back to it when you’re ready to turn your recordings into products, because this post tells you exactly how to do it.
Neatening up audio is a messy job, but someone’s gotta do it! If you have audio you’d like to turn into audio products, neatening it before you sell it will mean the difference between a satisfied customer who’ll come back to you for more and one who may not even finish listening to your message before demanding a refund. Your audio products should reflect your image – if you are buttoned-up, then your products should be, too. If you’re slap-dash, running around providing great content but taking no notice of your outward appearance or your website image, then you can probably get away without neatening up your audio.
This is not that hard to do. Your audio might be teleseminars, webcasts, or plain, old-fashioned speeches you’ve given. If you’ve got a recording, chances are there are ways it can go from good to great to a product that’ll make you money while you sleep, providing a new revenue stream.
Much of the audio I deal with for clients is internet-based, taped from a teleseminar or from a webcast. Website audio is notorious for its poor quality. That’s because the host companies try to get by as cheaply as possible, and on the internet, that translates to using as little bandwidth as possible. This results in muddy, tinny, fairly awful audio quality.
There’s not a lot that can be done to improve that kind of audio, but there are a few tricks you can use to brighten it up a bit. Built in to most audio programs like Adobe Audition, Audacity and Garage Band are tools that you should get comfortable with, because they’re going to be your work-horses. The de-esser, hard limiting, the graphic equalizer and making teeny, tiny edits to remove vocal gaffes or audience interruptions can make even the worst audio sound more pleasing.
You can’t take poor quality audio and make it sound great, but you can make it sound better. Make a copy of your audio and play with that copy. Don’t work on the original – that way, you have the freedom to play with all of the tools in your audio editing program. Keep the original, and compare back and forth between the two to hear whether your changes are positive or not so great. The undo button is your friend – play, knowing that you can always undo something that’s not right.
Maybe you haven’t recorded yet, and want to know how to start from scratch. Here’s what you need to know to produce high-quality audio. Let’s forget about audio for a minute and think about photographs viewed on your computer. You know how, when you zoom in tighter and tighter your picture gets ragged edges? That’s because the image you’re seeing is digital, and is broken up into millions of tiny boxes called pixels. The same is true with audio on a computer – it’s digital, and it’s broken up into millions of tiny boxes called bits.
Fewer bits per second means audio that sounds like the pixilated photograph looks – harsh and choppy. Always record at as high a bit rate as your audio program will allow. Most will allow 16 BPS, and some will allow 32. Record at the highest rate, and when you save the audio, save it at a high bit rate, too. 128 Kbps is considered cd quality, so that will be fine for most applications, and if your product is mostly voice, then save your product as a mono, not stereo, file.
If your recording software doesn’t allow 16 BPS for recording, you should invest in a higher-quality audio client, and here’s what your investment will be – zero, because there’s a pretty good one that’s free. Audacity is a good, basic audio editing program with the most common tools you’ll need, plus it allows for 32 bit recording. Remember, the higher the BPS rate, the smoother the finished audio will sound, so shoot for a high number. You can always save a copy at a lower rate if you are concerned about file size, but if you record at a high bit rate and save lower, your file will still sound much better than one recorded at a low bit rate.
This quality difference can be the difference between someone listening to all of your audio, or that same person missing your message because they couldn’t stand the tinny, buzzing sound. It can be the difference between converting a visitor into a client or not. Good audio is that important.
Whether you started from scratch or worked on existing audio, when you have the sound you want, you’re still not done. Don’t forget the show-biz part – a produced open and closing to your audio. You want to have someone else introduce you because it sets you up as an expert, and it makes your presentation more authoritative. In the closing, always remember to include your website address and a good reason for the listener to visit your site again. A free white paper, access to the members-only area or whatever you wish to offer that will spur someone to return to your site – offer it in the closing segment.
Remember this – very often, the purchaser of your audio product won’t be the only person with a copy of it. File-sharing isn’t just for music anymore, so be sure every piece of audio that you put out has a compelling introduction and a closing that will drive listeners to your website.
Perhaps you’re aware of the online recording sites, and may be wondering if they are good way to produce audio products. Many of the online recording sites only allow 4 BPS for recording, which results in audio that sounds like it was recorded through a kazoo. I don’t recommend them, and you won’t have success in trying to improve the audio they produce. You’re much better off recording on your own computer.
By recording at the highest bit rate possible, and saving at a high rate, you’ll have audio products that you’ll be proud to sell. By taking existing audios and neatening them up a little bit, you’ll have even more products to offer your customers and clients. Downloadable audio is a great way for you to reach more people with your message, keep people on your site longer and convert more visitors to customers.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, but you want more information, I teach hands-on workshops to groups of authors, speakers, trainers and coaches. Bring me in for a seminar and your whole group will benefit.
Of course, if you want products but don’t have the time or inclination to learn how to make them, call on us and we’ll make the products for you.
Get started, no matter which avenue you choose – all those new products make darn good revenue streams and who couldn’t use more of those!
Do you have a question? I’d love to hear it, and maybe answer it right here. Helping people monetize their content is what we do!
Sandy Weaver Carman
CEO, Voicework on Demand, Inc.
I partner with writers, speakers, trainers and coaches, taking work they’ve already done and turning it into a new revenue stream. Ready to get your feet wet?