MAEKAN Classroom — Audio Stories Part 6: Publishing & Promotion

The MAEKAN Classroom is a series created by the MAEKAN team to pass on the skills we’ve learned in the past few years. We don’t plan to wait until we have a “masterclass” or spent decades honing our craft to share experience and knowledge that works. We want to help get self-taught creatives started telling and publishing their stories today.

We’ve finally come to the last part of this series on making your own audio stories. You’ve jumped through so many hurdles to arrive at a finished product you can be proud of and all that’s left is the (comparatively) simple but no-less important part: publishing and promoting your work.

Here, we’ll show you how to create new assets from your existing work that will help make your work more accessible and appealing to your prospective audience while giving you a workflow that will make it easier to repeat for future work including series.

Congratulations, you’re done…or are you?

Fundamentals


“Converting” at least part your story’s experience into other mediums will help more people access it.

Choose platforms for hosting your story and others for promoting it depending on your needs.

Marking highlights in your story will make it easier to search through the longer piece and identify the best promotional bits.

After or while you prepare your finished story, you might want to derive new assets that support your story wherever you might publish it.

Deriving Assets

Once you’ve finished your first audio story, it’s worth putting a little extra time into deriving assets that will make your story more accessible, whether that’s on the platform where your story is hosted or where you promote it such as on social media. After all, plenty of good work goes unrecognized simply because no one knows about it or they know about it but can’t recognize its value at first glance.

So to make sure your work gets the visibility it deserves, take stock of what you have and where you want to publish and promote your work. This will help you decide what other assets you’ll need to make.

What you have now:

  • Your final .wav or .mp3 of your audio story
  • The newfound inspiration to carry your story to the next level

What you likely have as well:

  • Captured audio/video from the recording session
  • Pictures from the recording session
  • The script you used if your story is scripted
  • Notes from your interview or podcast

What you can make from these:

  • Marketing copy: targeted for who and where you’ll be promoting
  • Transcript: a transcription of the whole audio story
  • Text Quotes: transcribed quotes from people
  • Audio Quotes: quotes from people that have been trimmed
  • Audio Excerpts: select segments from the story
  • Timestamps: to mark specific parts or chapters in the audio
  • Footnotes: any additional reading or helpful information
  • Article: an editorialized version of your audio story or podcast

Other things you can make or get access to:

  • Logo: to represent your show or platform or from another platform featured in the show
  • Album Art: especially good for streaming services
  • Photos/Illustration: or other portfolio work
  • Video Footage: B-roll or other video
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Where to start?

If you’re not sure where to start, the easiest assets you can make right away are the text ones because you already have a complete audio story and it’s just a matter of converting some or all of that story into text form.

  • Summary: a short description that can include the following:
    • What that specific story or episode is about including topics covered or guests featured.
    • What the show or series is about as well as maybe a bit about the hosts.
    • A bit about the platform, company or brand that encompasses that series or show.

Having this essential piece of text is the easiest and most helpful especially if you plan to host your show on different platforms since you can just re-use it. As a bonus, it includes all the key information you can share with people when you’re describing your story to them.

  • Time Stamps: if you have notes and if your timeline markers are still accurate to your audio (after all the edits you’ve made), you can include these wherever you publish your story.
  • Transcripts: transcripts are not just helpful to those who would prefer to read instead of listening, but it makes your story enjoyable by that many more people who otherwise can’t hear it due to hearing loss or where they are at the moment.
    • Styles: How you choose to style or format your transcripts is up to you, and comes down to how much of the original “flavor” of the spoken words you want to keep:
      • Clean Read: Transcribing for clean reading simply means removing most of the unnecessary repetitions, false starts, self-corrections and filler words. We generally aim to transcribe for a “clean read” with additional hints when necessary (such as laughter), but if there’s an emotive effect to a filler, for example, we’ll include it.
      • Verbatim: Verbatim sits at the opposite end of the spectrum and aims to transcribe as much accurate audio phenomena to text as possible including pauses and fillers. This is probably overkill, but you may consider writing peoples’ speech similar to how they really talk versus cleaning it up with formal English (gon‘ vs gonna vs going to etc.). To see a comparison of transcription styles, one transcription service offers some examples here.
      • Translations: This obviously goes one step further, but if you want to make your story accessible to diverse audiences, you may consider offering your transcript in a different language(s).
    • Services: For your first few stories, you probably will do the transcription yourself or divide up the workload between yourself and your team. But if you foresee yourself needing to transcribe a lot in the future and can afford it, there are a few automated services that you can use by purchasing credit:
      • Trint: Web-based transcription service (and the first one we ever used). Reliable for English and can detect multiple accents.
      • Descript: Supports video and has audio editing features built in. Has desktop app versions as well. This is currently the service we use.
      • Sonix: Also web-based, has support for over 36 languages and dialects. We’ve tested this before for client work with decent results for Asian languages, even from noisy environments.
  • Article: Many of MAEKAN’s earlier stories had an audio story accompanied by a text story. Not everyone necessarily enjoys reading transcripts of conversations, but they enjoy reading a story that’s told through the voice of a narrator. Having notes and timestamps will save you time on sifting through audio again if you choose to write an article.
  • Audio pull quotes: After text assets, the next simplest assets are audio quotes from your finished story. These quotes are helpful for when you want to showcase a short audio part of your story. Occasionally, you might need to trim these similar to how you would paraphrase a longer written quote (as long as you don’t go overboard with alterations) or re-export a version without any music.
  • Images: accompanying your podcast with images can always help set the tone for your story and fill in any gaps in context, especially if the people speaking don’t end up providing it. For instance, audio stories might not always describe the environment where it’s taking place. So if you have some pictures or footage on location or of places described in the story, this would be a good time to choose some, edit if necessary and set them aside for later.In the above screen shots from Social Effects — Vivien Liu, Charis made the hero image (slide 1) by combining two images provided by Vivien. She also did this for the album art featuring Edward Barnieh, the host of Social Effects. Aside from drawing in potential listeners and readers, this approach helped tie the series together and give it a more distinct visual identity.
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Platforms

Now that you have some basic assets to work with, you’ll need to find a place to host your podcast. For the most part what differentiates podcasting is that it’s essentially an open protocol. You can publish it once via a single hosting platform, but then have it simultaneously pushed to other platforms.We’ve used paid services before but eventually switched to Anchor (now owned by Spotify). It’s pretty painless if you want to experiment and run a few shows. One caveat is the simplicity of their stats unlike other paid options.

There are quite a few other hosting solutions out there, many which are paid. In our past experience, what we did get from paid solutions was better analytics, more features (which may just complicate your experience), and more flexibility in formatting and hyperlinking our episode descriptions. Most platforms will also create your own landing page for your podcast with their own domain as the root. For Anchor, we have anchor.fm/maekan and anchor.fm/maekanitup.

When you do get around to publishing on your desired platform, ensure that you cover as many platforms as possible. It doesn’t hurt to have your content seen in the most frictionless way possible — which means having it on a platform your audience is likely to use regularly as it is.

A spectrum video made using images and audio from Snapped to Track — Above the Clouds EP.

Promoting Your Story

By this point, you’ve got your audio story parked somewhere on the Internet and dressed up with text, transcripts, images and other touches to make it extra appealing. Your last step is to spread the word. There is no one correct way to do this, but the basic strategy involves making it easy for people to get from anywhere on the Internet to your story, such as through a link, and positioning different types of promotional media around that link.

  1. Shorten that Link

We want to quickly mention the importance of short-URLs, especially vanity ones you can customize. Having a simple and compact way to connect back to your story wherever it’s hosted makes it easier to share and integrate into your promotion strategy. Here’s why:

  • Easier to remember: Short URLs mean you don’t have to hunt for the link to share it. For instance, we know that all of our Making It Up episodes from The Pilot all the the way to Episode 118 (and counting!) can be reached on by using the short URL mae.kn/itup001 and every number up to mae.kn/itup118.
  • Easier to work with: Fewer exact characters to deal with means less margin for error and the chance one of your links will break, leading the audience member nowhere.
  • Easier to bring up: Because it’s short, you can easily bring it up in conversation and direct people to it on a phone or other mobile device because it’s easier to tap, even manually.

2. Share It! From here, it’s a simple matter of sharing that link through whatever means suit you:

  • Email: Did we mention we have a newsletter? We regularly promote any new releases of stories and Making It Up episodes, along with stories from our archive through our biweekly Briefing.
  • Word of Mouth: This doesn’t just include everyone in your peer group, but also your guests and everyone who worked on the story. With some luck, they’ll also share it themselves.
  • Social Media: Depending on the platform you’re promoting on, you’ll have to shape the assets you derived earlier into new assets that can include (but are certainly not limited to):
    • Pull quotes to text: A shortened text quote of one of the audio pull quotes.
    • Pull quotes over images: A more stylized version that incorporates text over images.
    • Images: Images taken from the story or the production of it.
    • Spectrum video: This video has a audio spectrum effect that animates the sound bite it’s paired to. We often use this to promote Making It Up on IG stories and Facebook and other stories in our IG feed.
    • Original video: If you happened to have a recorded a podcast on video as well as audio, you could consider covering all your media bases by sharing the video version as well.
    • Video with images: A video slideshow that progresses through static images with audio in the back ground.
    • Scrolling transcript video: We haven’t used this one before, but it could serve as an alternative to using closed captions in a video.

Of course, don’t feel limited by the current options out there. There are as many ways to promote a story as there are to create it. Feel free to think outside the box and come up with new ways on existing platforms, or look for platforms or spaces where your audience might be more likely to see it.

Key Takeaways


To sum up, your goal at this phase is to figure out:

Higher quality source assets tend to be easier to make sub-assets from because it means quality remains high and errors don’t get transmitted.

  • Simple visuals are better than no visuals at all.
  • Transcripts can be tedious but are a bare minimum towards making your story accessible to those who can’t hear it.
  • Identifying highlights early in the production or post production process will save you time when comes to promoting your story later later.

To sum up this series:

  • The entire process can be summed up in 6 P’s: Planning, Pre-production, Production, Post-production, Publishing and Promotion.
  • Knowing your audience from the beginning and how you want your story to be received can act as a creative restraint that focuses your project.
  • Giving yourself deadlines will ensure it gets made, but rushing will waste your hard work. Regardless, enjoy the process and the learnings you take away.

That’s it for this series. We hope this has been helpful and would love to hear about any stories you’ve made using this guide. Drop us a message at info@maekan.com or hit us up by direct message on Instagram.

In the last step in Part 5: Post Production, we showed you how to process your recorded audio into original audio stories. If you find yourself losing direction at any point, including how best to promote your story, you can always refer back to the essence of the story that you decided in Part 1: Story.

All Sections
Part 1 — The Angle
Part 2 — Equipment
Part 3 — Pre-production
Part 4 — Production
Part 5 — Post-production
Part 6 — Publishing & Promotion

If you have any questions or feedback on this episode or series, drop us a line at info@maekan.com.

 


 

Produced by Nate Kan
Audio by Elphick Wo
Main Illustration by Kevin Wong

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