August 13, 2009

Cali Lewis on what goes into a successful podcast

Cali Lewis of from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

The host of GeekBrief.TV also offers 7 secrets to podcasting success

JD LasicaIf you travel in technology circles, chances are you’ve heard of Cali Lewis, the extraordinarily gifted, personaable and successful Web show pioneer who hosts and co-produces GeekBrief.TV. She’s about to top 50,000 followers on Twitter at @calilewis.

Geek Brief, launched on Dec. 23, 2005, now boasts more than 600 episodes (I’ve watched most of them), done on location or at Cali and her husband Neal Campbell’s studio in Dallas. I don’t know how they keep up the pace, given the show’s high production values. Over the years in my talks on new media, I’ve often held up Cali and Geek Brief as a spot-on example of how to “break” into new media — and of how the next generation of Web video shows will look: fast-paced, interesting, fun, personality-driven, passionate and polished.

In this interview, conducted at WordCamp SF shortly before her talk, Cali discusses the genesis of Geek Brief (after 5 months, “we were done with our day jobs and began doing the show full time” — living the dream), podcasting’s place in the mediasphere (“What podcasting offers is that anybody can do it. They don’t have to be told by ABC or NBC or any radio station that they have the talent to do this. The audience is picking and choosing who is successful.”), and how she chooses which tech news to feature (new technologies that excite her and her viewers).

Social media’s role

We spent most of the interview discussing social media and how to engage an audience. The most important rule of audience participation is “you participating back,” she said. Putting questions to the users is a good technique, through Twitter, blog comments and directly on the show itself. She’s on a campaign to coax people to communicate via Twitter rather than email (“You can have a great conversation in 140 characters.”) She’s also particularly adept at using live video streaming during some of her episodes, calling it “a great way to interact.”

Her advice to those just starting out: “Think about what you want, and then just go for it!” I often echo her advice to not get tripped up by the technology. GeekBrief.TV offers some training materials on its Podcasting Tips page.

The lighting on this 9-minute video was subpar because it was bright outside and my LP-Micro fill light wasn’t up to the task.

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May 31, 2009

Tim Ferriss: Tips on what works in a blog

Tim Ferriss

JD LasicaYesterday was my first WordCamp, held all day at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. I’ve been caught up by WordPress fever since early this year when I switched from TypePad.

Some 730 people turned out at WordCamp, about double last year’s number. Here’s a Flickr set of WordCamp photos I took.

The biggest learnings came right at the outset, when Tim Ferriss (pictured above), author of The Four-Hour Workweek, gave a deep dive into what has worked and not worked on his well-trafficked blog. (I finally got to meet Tim and invited him to attend a future Traveling Geeks trip abroad.)

Learnings: What works in a blog post

Ferriss’s suggestions were useful not just for beginning bloggers but also for veterans who like to pick up a trick or two.

• He uses CrazyEgg (which has plans at $9, $19, $49 and $99 per month) and Google Analytics for all his blog metrics and checks them religiously.

• For archived blog posts, just a simple change in the title wording from the default “Categories” to “Topics” increased click-throughs significantly. (I did this on my blog years ago.)

• Tim uses Slinkset as a polling mechanism to ask his readers questions, and they in turn vote options up or down. He calls it “a personal Digg.”

• He finds RSS “less and less valuable” because it reduces traffic (and thus, presumably, the potential for advertising income) and gives uers an easy excuse for staying away from his site.

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