7 Reasons Why You Should Record an Interview at TBEX North America

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Have you ever wanted to be able to record a quick interview on your iPhone at a conference like TBEX? I have…for years.Can you imagine…recording 10-12 podcast interviews, all in-person, with key leaders and colleagues in your niche? How about recording and banking all of that content for a future Audio Blog or Podcast in less than 3 days. Wouldn’t that be smart!What if through these in-person interviews, you were offered:

  • Several Joint Venture opportunities
  • Five offers to become affiliates for your product
  • Four offers to be a guest on podcasts
  • Two offers to be a guest on webinars
  • A potential speaking engagement
  • An offer to write a guest blog post for a world-class conference in your niche

Wouldn’t that be incredible? Well…it was for me, and that is what happened to me in August at the second annual Podcast Movement Conference in Dallas, Texas. But here’s the crazy part: This is the 5th time in the past year opportunities like this happened at a business conference – all because I had a pro-quality, mobile recording setup with me at the event.Some of the best interviews happen spontaneously – in the hallways at the events.

Me:      “Do you have a few min’s for a quick interview?”
Guest:  “Sure, how about now?”
Me:      “Perfect! There’s an empty table over there…” 
Five minutes later, and we’re recording!

(To hear audio clips recorded on my iPhone with Lou Mongello, Chris Ducker, both speakers here at TBEX, and others, go here)

Attending conferences has helped me network, and connect with key people in my niche more than any other step in building my online platform.

Recording these in-person interviews on my iPhone at events have led to more business opportunities, and more sales, than anything else I’ve done. And they can do the same for you too.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Here are my 7 reasons why YOU should record an interview on your iPhone here at TBEX this week (even if you don’t have a podcast).

  1. Record 10-15 interviews in 3 days – Yep, in 2-3 days, you can easily knock out a dozen, 20-30 minute interviews, and still attend your key sessions. That’s two to three months of high-quality, high-value, weekly content you can bank for an audio blog post or podcast episode.
  2. Secure on-the-spot interviews –  Only at an event can you snag hallway interviews with Keynote Speakers, Session Leaders, Event Organizers, and colleagues in your niche – many that you might not get by phone or Skype. And again, the audio quality will be much better.
  3. People will remember your name – Hosting an in-person interview creates a much stronger bond than a business card swap. When you meet for 20-30 min’s face-to-face, and you shamelessly promote your guest and their latest project during the interview, and then again on your Audio Blog or Podcast, they will remember you. Plus, here’s your opportunity to give back to others who have blessed you, by promoting them.
  4. You have a digital recorder in your pocket – If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you already have a pro-quality recording studio! No need for lots of expensive, complicated recording equipment – and no extra batteries, cables, and chargers, like with a digital recorder. (Android users can record with their internal mic and the Auphonic App – it’s free in the Google Play store.)
  5. Cheap mobile microphoness – Just this past year, a bunch of tiny, lightweight, simple, cheap, pro-quality mics have been released and are available NOW (i.e. Use the ATR2100 ($60) for noisy locations, and the Zoom iQ5 ($99) for quiet spaces and to record interesting background sounds. I keep these two mics in my backpack all the time. They set up in 1 minute.
  6. Cheap apps – There’s a ton of simple-to-use, cheap, but pro-quality apps that you can download and start using NOW. BossJock Studio iOS App ($10) is my go-to favorite. These apps have auto-gain control, and auto-limiting built right in, so you and your guest will sound great every time.
  7. Your readers and audience love road trips – Take them with you when you’re on the road! You can feel the excitement, and buzz – both in the room, and in the voices of you and your guests during an in-person interview. Plus, with all the amazing places you travel, you can capture those vibrant background sounds not found anywhere else in the world.

If you have an iPhone or iOS device, for about $110, you can get a pro-quality app and mic that will fit in your backpack or purse, and you’re in the big-leagues. And they’re NOT that complicated to use.

Recording a podcast interview at TBEX North America can be the opportunity to finally get started with audio. Doing in-person interviews have transformed my business, and they can do the same for you.

So here’s your call to action:

BEFORE you arrive in Ft. Lauderdale (or before you arrive at your next conference), commit to recording at least ONE podcast interview at the event – even if you’ve never done one before!

Buy a small mic, download an app, or just bring your smartphone, and TAKE ACTION! If you need your first interview to prime the pump, let me know. I’d be honored to be your guest!

Finally, don’t miss my TBEX North America session:  Mobile Audio Blogs and Audio Books Made Easy:  How to Record, Edit, Level, and Publish an Audio Blog/Podcast or Audio Book on your iPhone or iPad from Anywhere in the World.

No computer or tech skills needed. Newbies and Pros alike are welcome! I’ll bring with me all the recording gear mentioned above, and a variety of microphone sets ups for your to see. I’ll be on-hand throughout the conference, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

PLUS, everyone who attends my session, will have the chance to win an ATR2100 Mic Setup, so you can start recording pro-quality interviews right away!

Author Bio: Shawn Smith (a.k.a. The Mobile Pro) is the author of the ground-breaking eBook and step-by-step video course, “5 Ways to Record Podcast Interviews with an iPhone”. Since 1994, Shawn has flown over 800,000 miles all over the world as a musician, keynote speaker, missionary, and mobile technology expert at TheMobilePro.net, and he is quickly becoming the foremost authority on Mobile Podcasting. Shawn is passionate about equipping, training, and inspiring entrepreneurs to create pro-quality content and manage their business from anywhere in the world. When not on the road, Shawn lives with his lovely wife in South Florida, in the United States.

5 Easy Video Marketing Strategies for Travel Industry Pros and Bloggers

How is your travel business growing online? Would you like to know a totally free and simple way increase visibility for your online brand? Whether you’re a blogger or travel industry brand, integrating a video marketing strategy into your mix is an excellent way to boost your online visibility.

lauraredprint2If you’re wondering how could you possibly fit in another ounce of content generation let alone video, check out the wonderful world of Google Hangouts On Air and use these simple strategies to produce compelling video content consistently.

Google launched their Hangouts On Air (HOA) functionality in 2012 and it’s been growing like wildfire ever since. Personally, I use HOA every week to deliver high content webinars and interviews with experts around the world. You can do Hangouts On Air right from your phone as well by downloading the Hangouts app.

Google HOA essentially allows you to host and broadcast live and recorded discussions and performances to the world for FREE through your Google+ Home page and YouTube channel. By the way, I did say “pre-recorded” video purposefully. You can set up these HOAs so that you record privately and then broadcast them once you’re ready.

With the versatile features that Google Hangouts On Air offer, the possibilities for creating highly engaging, interesting and shareable content are endless.Here are five easy video content creation and marketing strategies

1. Video on the Road or Behind the Scenes

If you’re a blogger, why not get into the moment? Start your HOA from your phone and point the camera on the scenery or a local vendor and share your commentary and new insights of the special places you’ve visit. Then tweet about the video you just created. Embed it on your blog with either a transcription of what you said or further commentary and tweet it again.

If you’re a brand, what better way to grow loyalty than to give your audience a sneak peak inside your facilities and introduce your team. Feature a staff member weekly. Or even feature your customers (who are willing to sign a video release, of course) who love you. That will get them raving about you too. Send out an email each time you do this and let your existing clients get to know your organization better.

2. The Virtual Tour 

Do you have extraordinary photos to share? Why not create an online event to share the photos of a particular location or genre (waterfalls, rain forests, deserts, cruise ship cabins, etc). Share photos via live streaming along with tips, stories, or commentary about the images. An even easier video to create (without being a live event or having to speak), could be simply to show the photos and play music in the background.

When you embed this on your blog, your written descriptions can cover what you would have said in a video. By the way, are you concerned that people will watch and not know who the source is? You can watermark your photos and create PowerPoint slides with contact and website information. If you want to spend time annotating the YouTube video, you can include clickable buttons on your video.

3. Interviews and Demos

Do you know any celebrities or C-Level executives you can feature? Set up a HOA with them and ask them juicy questions. Get the inside scoop on the services they offer. Feature chefs demonstrating a famous recipe, and highlight specialty business owners, cruise ship officers, demonstrate your product or someone else’s that is a companion to yours. If you have a venue that can offer a special discount, use this video in an email and let people know about the offer. Promote on Instagram and Pinterest. You may even want to pay for some Facebook advertising for these special offers.

4. Record the text from your blog post that accompanies the photos

If you’re really strapped for time, but want to dive into video marketing, take your existing blog posts and re-purpose them. If they have fantastic content and images, then simply read your blog post while showing the images on your HOA. You may even find you have more to say than you did in the original blog. For your audience who is more visually oriented, they will LOVE that you are offering video.

Many people enjoy podcasts. Did you know that you can easily extract audio from a video? That means you can place an mp3 file along with the video on your new blog post. That mp3 can also be used on podcast sites. If you go the podcast route be sure to get some good sound equipment.

5. Testimonials for products, recommended destinations, tours, events, guides, etc.

Who loves you? Why not video them from the comfort of their own space. That’s right, when you start a Google Hangout On Air, you can invite others to join the HOA and participate on air with you. All they need is a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Sometimes the recording quality is not as good as you may like, but the authenticity usually is compelling enough to make it a piece of marketing content.

Use these on your reviews pages on your website. Create press releases. Or simply add them as blog posts that your share about. Remember to send the links to these reviews to the people who gave them so they may share the links with their friends, followers, and connections online.

Re-Purpose the Video on Facebook

A strategy that you may also want apply to all the above video content is to download each HOA (as an mp4) and upload the video to your Facebook business page. Video engagement on Facebook has surpassed that on YouTube. So you can upload the video and link to your blog/website in the video description.

We have just touched the tip of the HOA video marketing iceberg. If you have a great video you’ve done with Google Hangouts On Air, please share it in the comments below and inspire others with one of the EASIEST video creation tools available today that is FREE.

Author Bio:  Laura Rubinstein is an award winning digital media strategist, marketing consultant, Certified Hypnotherapist, and author of the bestselling book Social Media Myths Busted. She is the creator of the Savvy Social Media Success System, and co-founder of Social Buzz Club. During the past 20 years, Laura has optimized marketing strategies for over 1,000 businesses. Her profit-generating strategies, and popular blog at TransformToday.com make her a highly sought after speaker and consultant.

5 Tips to Winning That Freelance Contract

_hawaii_bound_January_14__2014_at_0227PM

Money. It’s hard to travel without it, but it can be difficult to find a steady income while you’re traveling. One way for travel bloggers to earn extra income is to become a contracted freelancer.

When you freelance, you create content for other websites. It may be through articles and blog posts, images, videos, podcasts= virtually any form of new media is needed in today’s market. But how do you turn a one-time freelance gig into a regular contract? As a company that publishes a daily travel blog, we have a few tips.

Use proper language, grammar, and punctuation.

This can’t be stressed enough. When we receive a blog post, it should need minimal editing. Have someone review your posts before you submit them – a critical step especially if English is not your first language. Find out if the company follows a specific style guide and use it.

Keep the company’s tone and voice.

Unless otherwise instructed, keep to the tone and voice already used on the website. We like to work with bloggers who can provide their unique insights into travel without straying too far from the style already established on our blog. Whether you are ghost-writing or posting as yourself, it’s important for the company’s blog to seem reasonably constant from day to day.

Be consistent. 

As managers of a corporate travel blog, we like reliable bloggers: The ones who use standard writing styles, are regularly available, and – most importantly – are constantly on time. If you have a deadline, stick to it. If for some reason you can’t meet the deadline or are going to be unavailable for a while (you’re traveling and don’t have good internet access), find a way to let the company know or submit the post before you leave.

Be aware of your reputation.

If your name is associated with a blog post on our company’s blog, you’re a representative of our company – even, to some extent, on your personal travel blog. If we refer traffic to your website or your social media accounts, it becomes a reflection upon us. We want to maintain a professional image and hope that our bloggers will too.

Share!

We ask our bloggers to share their RoamRight posts on their social media channels. Our favorite bloggers will share on multiple different platforms and even link from their blog to one of their posts on our blog. Likewise, we make an effort to share our blogger’s content on our channels, when possible and when appropriate.

So how do you develop a relationship with a company?

If you already have an existing relationship with a company and would like to turn it into a contracted position, ask! They may not have considered it yet. Or, ask about extending your existing relationship. Have you only been writing for them but also have great images they could use? Or, do you create videos? Let them know your skill set and ask if there’s room for you to grow in your partnership.

If you’re trying to get that initial project with a company, take a step and develop a relationship first. Before you try to pitch them using the “contact us” form on their website, take the time to interact with them on social media, show that you understand their business and their audience, and even meet with them at events like TBEX!

TBEX sponsor RoamRight offers travel insurance plans for leisure, business, student, and group travelers traveling within the U.S. or internationally. Their insurance is underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, a market-leading specialty insurer with an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A+ (superior). Their staff and customer service representatives are travel insurance specialists who offer customers expert information about trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage options.

 

How to Use a Shot List to Tell the Complete Story of a Place

The very idea of capturing a quality set of images that truly represents a destination can be an overwhelming thought, especially when that place is a large city, like Havana, or a country, like Cambodia, or a region of the world, such as Tuscany or Patagonia.

By being on the lookout for a variety of images based on a well thought out “shot list,” any traveler can be sure to minimize the chances of creating an uninspiring slideshow for the folks back home.  There’s nothing that will put your viewers to sleep faster than 300 slides of nothing but monuments, or plates of food, or even the most beautiful landscapes.

The trick is to mix it up and keep your audience’s attention from start to finish by providing a sampling of each of the characteristic parts that make up the whole of the destination you’re photographing (also referred to as its “essence”).  Look at just about any travel magazine article and you’ll see that the photo editor will invariably have this in mind when choosing the images to accompany the text.

What is a Shot List?

A shot list is a list of the types of images for which you should be on the lookout.  This is a concept that’s been around since the dawn of photography, and some people simply use a piece of paper and pen, a spreadsheet or a notes app.

There’s something I like to call my “Zen of Photography,” and in it I say:

Seventy-five percent of successful photography is simply making an effort to put yourself in the right place, at the right time.

If you’ll just do that, the vast majority of the work is done, it really is this simple.

Get Yourself Organized

A shot list provides a framework that will put you head and shoulders above the unorganized photographer who’s just out to shoot whatever he or she may stumble upon.  After all, there’s an old saying: “Even a blind mouse finds a hunk of cheese once in a while.”

Spontaneous photo opportunities will certainly present themselves along the way, and you’ll definitely want to be ready to capitalize on them, but be ahead of the game by putting a plan in place, especially if your time in a destination is limited.  This pre-planning doesn’t take much effort and will surely pay dividends down the road when you’re on location.

Have a Goal in Mind

Often, shooting some categories, such as People or Street Scenes, is going to be easier to accomplish than others, for instance Establishing Shots or Night Scenes.  However, if you strive for a select number of keeper images from each of the categories on your list (5 is a good goal, but harder than you might think), you’ll have the basis for a dynamic presentation that your friends and family will be asking you to see, not the other way around.

The best way to improve your photography is to spend money on travel, not more gear.

Categories of a Shot List

The following is an abbreviated list of shots that will help you to thoroughly cover a city, region or even a whole country, and so allow you to stay focused and organized, in turn making the most efficient use of your time.  I’ve come up with over 80 categories of a shot list, and there are 52 in the app I created called My Shot Lists for Travel (free on iTunes), but surely there must be hundreds of other categories.  It’s important to note, too, that one image can represent many different categories.

Establishing Shots

In order to get an overall view of the place, seek out opportunities that will get you to the highest point in the city or place in which you’ll be traveling, whether it involves hiking, taking a cable car or employing a Sherpa or other local.  I always make an effort to venture up in the highest building or monument offering a public space from which to shoot, or I might try to talk my way into a private place with an interesting vista.

An Establishing Shot should give your viewer an overall sense of the place you’re representing with your photography and provides the perfect set up for the rest of the story you’re telling.

Establishing Shots - Dubrovnik from Above at Blue Hour - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Establishing Shots – Dubrovnik from Above at Blue Hour – Dubrovnik, Croatia

People

Few categories on your shot list will sum up a place more than its people.  My experience with photographing people around the world is that it’s a very cultural thing, where some cultures have little or no interest in being photographed, while others will actually seek me out to take their pictures.

People - Smiley Lady in Rice Paddy - Near Can Tho, Vietnam - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

People – Smiley Lady in Rice Paddy – Near Can Tho, Vietnam

Natural Wonders

Most of us love to get to the wild places, such as national parks and other locations where Mother Nature’s work is on full display, so it’s easy to be on the lookout for the natural wonders of any destination.   However, instead of just taking the postcard shots, be sure to photograph the same scene in wide, medium and detail versions, as well, to really give yourself a chance at telling the complete story.

Natural Wonders - From Behind Seljalandsfoss - L - South Coast, Iceland - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

Natural Wonders – From Behind Seljalandsfoss – L – South Coast, Iceland

Architecture

In many places, the architectural style of the buildings will immediately tell the viewer where you are shooting.  While attempting to capture a whole building in a unique way, at the same time be sure to hone in on the details.  The roofline, windowsills, balconies and architectural moldings are important, too, so they most certainly should be a part of it.

Architecture - Punakha Dzong and Bridge Over River - Punakha, Bhutan - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Architecture – Punakha Dzong and Bridge Over River – Punakha, Bhutan

Markets and Vendors

Because of the colors, textures and variety of shapes of both the products being sold and the people that abound at most local markets, they’re one of the first places I seek out when traveling.  It’s at these markets that you’ll capture the locals buying their daily provisions, and it’s here that the often weathered and experienced vendors become the subject, along with their wares.  If you seek them out, and your research should have provided insight as to where the best markets are located, wandering specific areas will provide a great opportunity to capture some candid shots of the merchants and their clientele.

Markets and Vendors - Man and Colorful Market Stall Display - Casablanca, Morocco - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

Markets and Vendors – Man and Colorful Market Stall Display – Casablanca, Morocco

Street Scenes

Look for distinctive design elements or surroundings that will provide an interesting backdrop for your photography.  If you come across a colorful wall, an ornate mural, or some interesting graffiti that adds to the story, be prepared with your camera and wait until your subject walks into the frame (or simply sits there, as in this image) to provide what I like to call a “human touch.”  After a while you’ll blend into the scene as you capture these unique moments.  Like a spider waiting for its prey, let a variety of subjects come to you and then be ready fire away (do some focus and exposure testing beforehand).

Street Scenes - Man Sitting with Cuba Libre Sign in Havana, Cuba - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Street Scenes – Man Sitting with Cuba Libre Sign in Havana, Cuba

Storytelling Close-Ups and Detail Shots

When I show my images of well thought out close-ups and shots of the specific details of a place, it’s often then that I’ll get the most positive comments that we all as photographers seek. Get in close and let the details reveal themselves. I know from experience that the keepers you get in this category will be some of the most gratifying images you’ll capture.

Storytelling Closeups and Details - Lady's Hands Making Medicine - Silk Island, Cambodia - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Storytelling Closeups and Details – Lady’s Hands Making Medicine – Silk Island, Cambodia

Conclusion

The above sampling is not a comprehensive list of shots by any means, but only a starting point.  Feel free to add or eliminate categories as you see fit, or as the location dictates.  Again, your goal should be to capture a minimum of 5 solid “keepers” (10 is even better) in each of the relevant categories for the particular place you’re photographing.  Accomplishing this goal will almost certainly guarantee that you come back with a well-rounded portfolio of images of which you can be proud.

Remember, photography is an art and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to being creative, and besides, as they say, rules are made to be broken.  If you push the creative envelope by stretching your photographic skills each and every time you travel, great results are sure to happen and your photography can’t help but improve.

Remember, you can’t get worse at photography…now get out and shoot!

Photo credits:  ©Ralph Velasco. Used with permission.

Author Bio:  Ralph Velasco is a U.S.-based photography instructor and international guide. His current eBook is titled Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer’s Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination, and in it he discusses more in depth the concept of working from a shot list in order to create a well-rounded portfolio of images that tells a complete story.  In his first book, Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography: 101 Tips for Developing Your Photographic Eye & More, he outlines a variety of photography and travel tips and tricks he’s learned from the road, as well as provides over 100 sample images and interesting quotes.

As creator of the recently updated My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch® (free on iTunes), Ralph has taken the age-old concept of maintaining a shot list and brought it into the 21st century.  Designed to help all travelers to bring back a more well-rounded set of images from any destination, the app is a powerful organizational tool, no matter the user’s photography skills or type of camera used.

Ralph has taught travel photography classes at the University of California at Irvine Extension Program, Saddleback College, Santa Ana College, Julia Dean Photography Workshops and the REI Outdoor School, among others.  He’s a regular speaker at the Travel & Adventure Shows and the Orange County Fair.

Connect with Ralph on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram, and subscribe to his blog at RalphVelasco.com.

Travel Video: Equipment Recommendations for Travel Bloggers

The vast world of travel video is a rapidly growing industry. It used to be that if you wanted to record video you’d need a heavy VHS camcorder and a great deal of upper body strength. Today, you have more recording options than countries to explore and each branch has become specific to varying skill sets and needs. Here’s a quick rundown on what to consider if you want to get into travel video and are wondering where to start.

Captain and ClarkOne of the biggest things we’ve learned about travel video is that good audio is key. The average viewer will gladly suffer through ten minutes of blurry nonsense if it has solid audio, whereas they will click away in under a couple of seconds if they can’t hear what’s going on. The first big purchase for our travel video kit was the Rode II shotgun mic. This super versatile mic sits right on top of our camera and is powered by a single 9 volt battery. It cuts down the rumble of wind, picks up subjects from over 30 yards away, and gives a strong clear sound to our videos. Many video bloggers swear by wireless lavalier “lav” (lapel microphone) mics as well. The trade off is that occasionally the lav signal can interfere with any other sound equipment (only important if you’re filming something like a set of a big shows like in Vegas) and they require you to attach the microphone to your subject. The shotgun mic is simply point and shoot.

When it comes to cameras, the first thing to consider is what your travel style is like. Are you active with emphasis on extreme sports or water activities? Are you always on the move and need a quick way to capture the organic moments? Perhaps you like to plan ahead and have a set itinerary. Maybe you want more control over your videos? In our experience, the most common families of video device can be separated into four categories: sport, DSLR, camcorder, and phone.

For the Active Traveler:

Our recommendation – GoPro HERO Black or Nikon COOLPIX AW110

The most common and obvious choice for sport recording is the GoPro. A GoPro kit will retail between $400 to $600, depending on setup and add ons. This versatile camera has more gizmos and customization options than any other comparable camera in its class. We know some video bloggers who only use a GoPro to fuel their YouTube channels. These devices are compact, waterproof, rugged, and can attach to aerial drones. The trade off is quality and versatility in image. No matter how HD a camera claims to be, image quality will always boil down to sensor size and controls. A GoPro can take you really far in life for a modest sum. However, it’s true proving ground is in sunny, outdoor, and fast paced moments.

For the Renaissance Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon EOS Rebel T4i or Canon 5D Mark III

If you want a camera that allows you control of every aspect, a DSLR might be for you. The beauty of the DSLR is in its large sensor size and myriad of controls. From manual focus to adjustable FPS (frames per second) and aperture, the sky is the limit with a DSLR.

DSLRs have the added charm of being more low profile. It’s significantly harder to tell if someone if filming with a DSLR than when they pull out a large camcorder. This has the nice touch of putting subjects as ease for interviews or even drawing attention away from zealous border guards and sensitive security areas.

A DSLR doubles as a great camera and can allow for a lot of customization. For any blogger whose travel style is constantly changing, this is a great option. The trade off is that is a big investment. A solid DSLR camera runs upwards of $2000 for a good body and lens. The great news is that you can later play with different lenses, adding great breadth to your video quality. The learning curve is also pretty steep. Unless you’re already familiar with ISO and FPS settings it can take some time to really get to know your DSLR and how to film with it. The pay off is well worth it though.

For the Solo Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon Vixia HF G20 or Canon Vixia HF R50

One of the best parts of a point-and-shoot camcorder is that it is so simple to use. Our first camera was a Canon Vixia HV30. It retailed for $400 and all we had to do was turn it on. For any solo travelers, a camcorder is a sweet option as it offers to bear the brunt of the work load. DSLRs are amazing, but they require someone to man the helm in order to keep focusing and changing the lighting. If you prefer to film yourself with arm outstretched or by setting the camera on a ledge and jumping in the frame, it can be hard to argue with such an easy camera. The trade off comes in control. If you really want to add that artistic edge in your storytelling or to master the illusive bokeh effect (subject in focus with the background all blurry) then you’re fairly limited. Most high-end camcorders run between $500 to $1500 depending on what you want and offer a range of high quality footage.

For the Quick Draw Traveler:

Our recommendation – The iPhone 5s

If you are wanting to dip your toe into travel video and aren’t ready to drop the cash on a huge equipment run, you’re in luck. The cameras on most smart phones now record at a better quality than most of the cameras I first started using eight years ago. The ease and versatility of an iPhone is really incredible. While you won’t get the crisp image of a camera with a larger sensor, it doesn’t really matter for most videos. The majority of travel videos are watched on a cropped YouTube screen anyhow so quality doesn’t start to betray you until your videos get blown up to full screen. You can get away with a lot by using some cool visual tricks too. The iPhone now records at 120 frames per second, lending itself to some super smooth slow motion video. Not to mention the slick autofocus and slim size allow you to get some amazing panning shots and impromptu videos.

Over all, the most important parts of video are really in finding your own personal style of storytelling. Are your videos going to focus more on capturing large sensor, high HD images? Or will you highlight your personal narrative and storytelling? Once you can identify what works for you it is much easier to determine the right equipment for your style.

Author Bio:  Chris Staudinger and Tawny Clark, better known in the travel blogging community as Captain and Clark. Tawny Clark and Chris Staudinger met on the summit of Kilimanjaro, courted in South Korea, got engaged at the Taj Mahal, and most recently were married at a Bavarian theme town in their home state of Washington. Their passions are travel, adventure, and storytelling. It’s their goal to inspire, excited, and encourage others to get out and explore this beautiful world. Video will be one of the things they talk about in the TBEX Athens Saturday morning keynote with Paula Froelich.

The Nuts and Bolts: Why You Should Understand the Technology Behind Your Website.

The website, over the past several years, has evolved.  The web started out as a way for tech-savvy people and businesses to monotonously display their information.  Now, the web is an expression of the caricatures of the human race.  The moments of greatness – and the occasional moment of darkness – are displayed in full high-resolution for everyone to experience.  Centuries ago, only the rich and powerful could print words.  Now, the power of the press is available to anyone and everyone. A website is a beautiful representation of a person’s soul and passion.  Why, then, would a person not strive to understand the inner workings of their own soul?

Mitch CanterOK, maybe that’s a bit on the melodramatic side, but I do know this: learning the inner workings of a website empowers people.  It’s an amazing feeling to be able to fix a problem on your blog – especially since you don’t have to to call your web developer friend when something looks out of place.  Being able to make (or fix) something with your hands – even if that something is made of bits and bytes – is a great feeling.

The biggest deterrent, I’ve seen, is that people just don’t know what they don’t know.  They’ve stumbled haphazardly onto their WordPress theme editor and panicked at the sight of lines and lines of code.  To best understand what’s going on in our website, we must first know what we need to know.  When people ask me what they should learn, there are three things without fail that I recommend they study.

HTML

HTML tags are the fundamental building blocks of the internet.  No matter what language you write in, the resulting output is usually HTML.  HTML stands for “Hypertext Markup Language”, and serves the purpose of taking raw content and applying basic structure and form.  HTML won’t tell you how wide or what color something is, but it does provide the backbone for being able to set those attributes.  Paragraphs (<p>) are separated from headlines (<h1>) and lists (<ul> or <ol>), and documents go from a mass jumble of words to a neatly formatted set of instructions for the browser to follow.

CSS

HTML tags only display information.  It’s the CSS (Cascading Stylesheets) that takes that information and applies true form and style.  You can make those paragraphs grey, change the headlines’ font, and ensure your lists have a colored background.  You can even take whole sections of content and position them exactly where you want to on a page.  Most browsers already have styles built into them, but we can over-ride those styles by changing their rules in a stylesheet document – a top-down approach that “cascades” the style rules down a specific order of operation.

PHP (WordPress)

Now that we’ve determined the structure and color, we can start talking about the content.  Running a site that’s pure HTML is a daunting task.  Fortunately, content management systems like WordPress have made it easy to “templatize” a site – you supply the style and function rules, and the machine spits out your content depending on where you are.  Going to a single page pulls only that content from a database, and a category only shows posts that are specifically marked to show.

PHP uses defined functions – meaning that you can write rules that can then be called again and again as needed.  A WordPress site, at it’s most basic form, only changes the ID number to figure out which content to grab – everything else is just a template.Yes, this is a gross simplification of a larger process, but once you learn the basics it’s amazing what you realize you can do.  I encourage anyone who owns or operates a website to at least pick up a few of the basics.  Your website is an extension of you – it’s your place on the web to make art, write, and even sell your wares. And I’d dare say that having a website is no longer optional – not even for your regular people.

I do workshops weekly for people to learn the inner-workings of WordPress and other design-related topics (and I’ll be doing a Design & Tech Workshop in TBEX Athens to teach people some of the very things I talked about above).  I’ve seen people’s lives changed because the act of learning, even if it’s just a small fix here or there, has empowered them to make the most out of their website.  Learn the basics, take control of your website, and make the world a better place.  Who could ask for more?

Author Bio:  Mitch Canter is a WordPress Designer / Developer from Nashville, TN.  He strives to make the web a more beautiful place, and to empower his clients better understand WordPress and how to use it.  You can see his work at http://www.studionashvegas.com, and find helpful WordPress resources athttp://www.understandwp.com.

Why Photography Matters as a Travel Blogger

sunset athens

As travel bloggers, our primary role is that of content creators. We weave stories from our experiences to share with our readers.

We have a number of mediums to do that. The main four, in my mind, are Video, Audio, Text and Photography. None of these are easy, and like any skill they all take a significant amount of time and investment to properly master.

So where to focus your attention?

Personally, I believe that Photography is the easiest medium in terms of connecting with your audience quickly, and making a long lasting impact on a user.

Take this picture.

Eiffel Tower paris scaled

 

It’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But you know that already, right? I don’t need text to tell you.

I shared this picture on my Facebook Page, and it reached 148,000 people, organically. Here are the numbers, if you like that sort of thing.

paris screenshot

Now, I could have done a wall of text instead, a status update perhaps on my trip to Paris. Or a video, that people would have to decide to click, find their headphones, and then get distracted by a notification. Or a podcast, describing my adventure.

Those are all great options too. But for instant impact, for something that can’t be unseen, for something that transports your reader right there and then to the moment, a photo can’t be beaten.

Once you have your readers attention, without having to resort to headline titles such as 26 Reasons Why You Wouldn’t Believe Paris Has Kittens In Every Window, you’re well over half way to having an audience.

Another real world example: I have almost 300,000 facebook fans. My secret to success? It’s pretty simple really. Share great, unique, photos. My fans are passionate, engaged, and I love interacting with them and sharing my adventures.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say that it’s simple. Photography is not simple. There’s a lot of technical jargon. There are a lot of different ways to approach a subject. There’s a whole side to optimising your images for your blog, and optimising your blog for your images.

If you want to know a little bit more, and get real first-hand, unfiltered advice, on all aspects of your photography as a travel blogger, from the practical aspects through to using it to grow your community (and yes, some more tips on using Facebook beyond “share great stuff!”), then come along to the workshop I’m running with Daniel before TBEX – there are still a few spots left.

It does cost money, and yes, there is a bunch of great free stuff you could be doing instead. Investing in your skills though is something you won’t regret. I look forward to seeing you there!

Author Bio: A photographer, writer and traveller, Laurence has spent much of the last five years on the road, documenting his journeys and adventures at his popular travel and photography blog: Finding the Universe, which he runs with his partner Vera. He is also a founding member of Lightmoves Creative, a photography firm which offers bespoke photography and learning opportunities to brands and individuals.

 

Travel Podcasting 101: Professional Tips and Trick

 

Successful travel podcasting isn’t about equipment; it’s about content and technique.

paul.jpegI’m probably one of the most widely heard podcasters in the world of travel. My wife and I produce, create, and record 10 travel podcasts a week for the American Forces Radio Network, and we now have nearly 10,000 podcasts in the archives. More than 2 million people in 180 countries listen to us every day. For us, creating radio content and quality podcasting are one and the same.

Think of podcasting as freezing radio in time. We’ve been doing it since we put up our first website in 1994. Then, we used a program called real audio. At the time, AM and FM Radio were the most popular listening models, and the Internet was almost unheard of.

Today nearly half of the world consumes their audio from the Internet by listening to podcasts and Internet broadcasts. And the audience today is hipper, more knowledgeable, and better educated than the radio audience in those days. That’s why podcasting is clearly the way forward into the future. To note how fast the world is changing their listening habits, BMW is proposing leaving AM radio out of their newest car models in 2015. You can imagine how legacy radio is receiving this news.

So at TBEX Athens, we’ll look at how simple it is to make a podcast and what you need to do to make it sound great. There is no long equipment list. You may not know it, but you already own a recording studio. And perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to leave the interactive session with the easily learned techniques you need to make a podcast that sounds professional and that people will listen to.

Author Bio:  Paul Lasley, along with Elizabeth Harryman, create half hour radio shows and podcats on travel topics every day that are distributed globally on satellite by American Forces Radio Network. The shows are daily in 180 countries to an audience in excess of 2 million. The goal is to help listeners travel better, smarter, cheaper and have fun. Paul and Elizabeth also produce and voice a one-minute feature for AFRN that airs several times a day and includes news and information on travel and travel related subjects.  Podcasts are available at www.ontravel.com. Paul is a member of SATW.

Editor’s Note:  If you’re thinking about giving podcasting a try, you won’t want to miss Paul’s breakout session at TBEX where he’ll create a podcast episode during the session. You’ll have a chance to see how it’s done – and give it a try yourself – in this entertaining and interactive session.

Are You Taking Great Pictures with your iPhone?

 

You should be.

We all know that we have a better camera on our phone than most people ever owned even a few years ago. We all know that we are sharing those images, and we all know that images engage far better on Facebook, and are what make Pinterest and Instagram so insanely popular.

Most of us are very intentional with the stories our words and pictures are telling on our blogs, but sometimes we take our mobile photography a little less seriously. We shouldn’t.

Here’s why: all those images are part of your brand, part of the story you are telling as a travel blogger. Many people follow their favorite bloggers far more closely and consistently on social media; they are getting the minute-by-minute part of your story as it happens through your images.

And so, of course, you need to think about what story you are telling with those images that you are snapping with your iPhone. Is it the story you want to tell?

The good news is – it’s not hard to tell your story, with great images, right from your iPhone. Mostly what you need is to take just a little extra time and care. And, of course, the right tools are a huge help.

So let’s start with where you are. Take a minute right now to pull up your Instagram profile (or your Facebook or Google+ photo feed). Look at that grid of pictures. What does it say? Is there any sort of consistent theme – perhaps that you enjoy adventure, or that you’re the life of the party, or that you love selfies? Think about that as it relates to your brand – are you saying what you want to say?

TBEX insta SBJ

 

Now, think about your favorite people to follow for their images. Here are a few of my favorites with an emphasis on travel:

TBEX insta collage

 

Pull up any of these feeds and it’s clear what these bloggers are doing. The scenery may change, but the feel, the brand, the story, is consistent. The other thing they all have in common? They are telling their stories with beautiful, compelling images – taken with their iPhones.

Don’t you want to do that as well? Sure you do! Remember…it’s not even that difficult!

Now that it’s settled, make plans to join me to talk about iPhoneography at TBEX:Athens, where we will get into the nuts and bolts of advanced iPhone photography. We’ll learn helpful techniques and tools to make those images tell your story clearly and beautifully.

And to get us all thinking about and working on our iPhone photography skills before then, I’d love for you to join me in a week-long photo challenge during the first week of October. Post a picture taken with your iPhone along the theme each day with the hashtag #TBEXiPICS, in addition to the usual #TBEX hashtag. You might even see some of your images in my session!

 

TBEX photo challenge

 

Author Bio:  Sarabeth Jones is a creative at Fellowship North who enjoys all kinds of artistic work: writing, directing, acting, design, photography, and the occasional flash mob. Her personal stage is her blog thedramatic.com, where life is series of scenes: some with fabulous costumes, some with witty lines, and some that should probably be edited out. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and 3 kids and loves to write about they way they make her laugh, whether they are traveling the world or living the #DogtownLife at home.  At TBEX Athens, Sarabeth will be leading a session on iphonography and some of the advance techiques that you may not yet have discovered.

Dragon Slaying Lessons for Travel Bloggers

 

Are you running your business or is your business running you? Is your blog contributing real money to your earnings or does it seem destined to always be a sideline hobby?

Tim LeffelMost likely the answers to those two questions depend a whole lot on how much you get done each day when you open up that laptop. Do you use it to slay dragons or do you use it as your virtual water cooler?

“Slay your dragons first” is a common piece of productivity advice that applies across most jobs, but is especially key for anyone who is self-employed, like your typical travel blogger. It generally means to get your most important work of the day done in the morning before you do anything else, but if you’re at your most productive at night, then become a noctural dragon slayer instead, putting on your night vision goggles and seeking out signs of fire. The key is knowing which accomplishments have the most impact on your business and giving them priority over everything else.

A Velvet Rope To-Do List

In practice, this means having a to-do list, of course, but one that puts highly leveraged and high-impact tasks in a class of their own. Maybe there are 20 things you hope to get done tomorrow, but there are likely two on that list that will truly move your business forward. Meeting a freelance article deadline perhaps, or getting that guest post done you promised two weeks ago. Often it’s getting your latest blog post published and making sure it’s as good as it can be. Or perhaps it’s nailing down an ad agreement or following up with that promising contact you made at last week’s trade show. It could be a media interview where you’re the subject or one where you’re interviewing someone else to meet a freelance deadline.

In every case, the key one to three tasks per day that really matter are the ones that shouldn’t be postponed, delegated, or phoned in. Since we’re all content creators, there’s your first sign of importance: taking the time to create good content nearly always needs to be near the top of the list. Without income, your business whithers and dies, so tending the relationship with anyone who is paying you is also a high-impact, leveraged activity. Third, communicating with the people who allow you to get more done in a day is also an activity that creates tremendous leverage, so keep contacts with assistants and freelancers who may work for you in that high priority section as well. Last, there are long-term projects that require long-term focus over multiple days or weeks, such as books, presentations, partnership proposals, and feature articles. Carve out distraction-free time for those.

If the items on your list don’t fit into one of these four categories, they can probably slide. If your time is worth $40 an hour and you can hire someone else to do the same job for $8 an hour or less, it’s downright dumb to be spending time on those tasks. You can outsource nearly anything that meets this criteria, or at least postpone it to a less busy day. I’m not saying these things don’t have some marginal impact on your future, just that spending more than a fraction of your day on any of them is probably not a very good use of your time. It’s like using Excalibur to kill 20 rodents instead of going after the glory.

Are You Spending Time on Things That Matter?

Here are the questions to ask yourself for each item on your list that you want to get done tomorrow or this week.

  1. Is there a good chance it will earn me substantial revenue now or in the future?
  2. Will it help my relationship with someone who is paying me?
  3. Will it serve and grow my audience on a long-term basis?
  4. Will this promotion action send more than a smattering of visitors to my site?
  5. Will spending an hour on this accomplish any more than spending 10 minutes on it?
  6. Could I pay someone far less than I am earning (or deserve to earn) for this task?
  7. Is this something I’m doing because of a real business need rather than just because I think it’s fun?

Once you’ve applied these questions to your list and have your “yes” answer ones starred or circled, turn off anything that is going to interrupt your concentration so you can get real work done. Close e-mail. Close every social media platform. Turn off Skype. Turn off your phone. Those are sending you other peoples’ priorities and they can all wait.

Now do real work for two or three hours until you’ve really accomplished something substantial.

After that you can go visit that virtual water cooler, go for a walk, have a leisurely lunch, hit the gym, or go to happy hour. If you go knock some lesser things off your list, fine. But if you get nothing else done today besides these one to three key tasks, it’s not going to matter much. You’ve got a couple dragon heads to display and your business is moving forward.

Author Bio:  Tim Leffel is the publisher of Al Centro Media, a collection of six travel websites and blogs, including the Cheapest Destinations Blog (established 2003) and the award-wnning narrative site Perceptive Travel (established 2006). He’s also the author of five books. Tim will be discussing specific tactics for becoming a more productive blogger and writer at TBEX Europe 2014 in Athens.