Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: 7 Tips to Improve the Reach of Your Podcast – Neil Patel & Eric Siu

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Full Transcript: 7 Tips to Improve the Reach of Your Podcast – Neil Patel & Eric Siu

Get ready for your daily dose of marketing strategies and tactics from entrepreneurs with the guile and experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. You're listening to Marketing School with your instructors Neil Patel and Eric Siu.

Welcome to another episode of Marketing School. I'm Eric Siu.

And I’m Neil Patel.

And today we're going to talk about seven tips to help improve the reach of your podcast. So,tip number one: if you have a social following, if you have an email list, this has been really effective for us. Push your content out to your channels.

This seems very obvious, but a lot of people tend to forget this. So for us, we use a podcasting host called Libsyn, and this allows us to push to multiple social channels.

We push to SoundCloud, we push to YouTube, we push to our Twitters, our Facebooks, and even LinkedIn, as well. That way, we’re covering more ground. And granted, the depots are not super optimized. But, you know, we're still in the early stages right now. We’re just trying to see how effective it is, and it is growing us across these different channels such as SoundCloud and Youtube.

So try doing that. I mean, also, you know, email blasts have been effective for us, as well; Especially with Neil because he has such a big list. Don't forget about your channels. Don't forget about social N, don't forget about your email channels.

Here's a simple tip: when Eric and I were doing podcasts, we found a browsing iTunes and it only showed the latest 100 episodes. Iβ€˜m like, β€œWhy is it only limited to 100 episodes?” and then you're looking at some of the other podcasts in space and they all do the same thing. But then I found a few like Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast, and he had 300 episodes and there is a few other people who also had 300 episodes. And I quickly learned that the max that they let you show is 300. I’m like, β€œWait, why do we only show 100 when everyone has 300?” Or some other people have 300, right?

Most people only show 100, and the old content isn't bad, it’s not outdated, so I’m like, β€œIt should still show.” So I told Eric. He’s like, β€œOh, it's the feed. The feed is just limited to 100." He's like, "I can change it to everything." And once we ended up doing that, download rate according to Lipsyn doubled in the next 24 hours. Now what ended up happening is it fell back down because it just showed that the- when you produce a ton of content and you index really quickly, they just give you more love on iTunes, you get so much more search traffic.

And then of course it's going to go down again after that, but still you can get a really quick bump by just including all of your content. So don't just cap it at the last hundred episodes that you've done. Show every single one they you've recorded.

One other thing that we do is because we don't have a time to always consistently promote the old episodes that we have and a lot of stuff that we're talking about is evergreen. So we use a tool called the Meet Edgar- that's Meetedgar.com, and from there you can schedule basically a consistent feed of posts over time so it might be, for example, my Twitter might say: OK for each day we're going to share like a random Marking School episode and we'll have a different category for that specific podcast.

There might be a category for the growth everywhere podcast, one for the Marketing School podcast and we're just going to share content and you can share it more than one time per day. You can share even more if you want because Twitter, there's people that will share 10 to 15 times or so. So using a tool like that it makes our lives a lot easier so we don't have to constantly think about using a tool like Hoot Suite or Buffer to continue the schedule all the time because that just becomes a hassle.

Number 4. When I look at the Lipsyn stats, the biggest thing that I know the difference between popular episodes versus non-popular episodes it really comes down to the headline.

I know that sucks. Lipsyn doesn't give you stats on how far people listen in to your podcasts. So you don't know if people listen to the first 5 seconds or 10 seconds. So that doesn't really help you determine if the podcast episode is actually good or great. But it does show that the headline really impacts how many downloads a podcast gets. And we noticed that the attractive headlines do the best.

So Google copy blogger headline formula and they'll give you templates to create really attractive headlines. So when Eric and I are coming up with headline ideas, a lot of the listeners – you guys – are giving us ideas. Then we also come up with out own. We also use the copy blogger headline formula to try to craft attractive headlines. You can also use Portent's headline generator tool.

And then once you have a few finalized headlines, go to titlecapitalization.com and plug it in there. It will fix the capitalizations, the flow, etc. like the grammar- not really the flow but more so the grammar of your headline. And now you should have a finalized headline that you should be able to use for your podcast and it will do better than if you didn't use, let's say, the copy blogger headline formula.

All right. Number 5. This one seems obvious but a lot of people aren't doing it. When you're doing a podcast. Also add a blog too. We also have a separate WordPress blog in addition to placing the podcast on our site with the smart passive player, but having a separate site like marketingschool.io, basically we have the show notes automatically published to this WordPress blog and everything's included.

So Neil just talked about Lipsyn not being able to show you how far people are listening. At least with a blog you can see how engaged people are, how many page views, how long people are staying on a certain page, and things like that. So this is, I mean, this has been growing kind of in conjunction with what else we've been doing. But it's just good to have a separate- because the domain is- with a podcast called Marketing School, we have a marketingschool.io site. And, you know, that allows us to dig a little deeper as that continues to grow.

Then number six. This seems really obvious as well, but I was looking at everyone who is doing well. Common element is they have a ton of ratings and reviews. So the more ratings and reviews that you have, the better off you're gonna be.

Especially when it comes to iTunes rankings, the higher rankings you have, more people find you and you get a ton more views. When I look at our data and Lipsyn and what causes the spikes, it's not email blasts, it's none of that. Most of it actually comes from people searching on iTunes. So iTunes- think of it as your version of Google, right? for SEO. If you can do well on iTunes with your ratings and reviews, you're going to get way more traffic from the searches which will cause way more downloads and listens.

So whenever you're publishing a podcast, make sure you mention- and we used to do this at the beginning when we didn't have a ton of ratings and reviews, we would ask at the end: "leave a rating and review." And Eric, if I'm not mistaken, I don't know whoever recorded our intro and outro, but did you have someone — I think you had someone add that to the outro, correct?

Correct. So this is Tim Page from Lead Pages.

So Tim Page from Lead Pages, I'm assuming, who recorded our outro — what he pretty much did was: at the end we directed him to say, like, "Hey, thank you for listening to Marketing School. If you like the episode, make sure you leave a rating and review," and whatever else is in the outro. But the most important part is just telling them to leave a rating and review. If you don't tell them to leave a rating and review, you will get very few of them. So the more people you tell, the better off you are.

Number seven: cross promote. If you know people — let's say Neil and I are mentioning a specific tool or mentioning somebody's name, we're going to tell them that we mentioned them and hopefully they'll re-tweet. And sometimes you can also cross promote similar podcasts too.

So a lot of different ideas here. You could think about the different influencers in your space and how you can take advantage of that. But also communities too. John Lee Dumas has a great community called Podcasters Paradise, and in here people are sharing different ideas on how to grow all the time and how to improve the reach. But also they do something on Fridays called — I think it's Pay It Forward Fridays or something like that. I forgot what it's called.

But basically there, you know, if people are allowed to share their podcast and if it's actually good, you can leave a rating and a review. And this helps everyone in the podcasting community kind of move up there. So that's one way to, you know, one little known way of growing. But, yeah. You don't even need to go to that community. You can go to other communities, too, and just share your knowledge there. So that's number seven. I think we're all done. That's it for today's episode of Marketing School. We will see you tomorrow.

The section of Marketing School has come to a close. Be sure to subscribe for more daily marketing strategies and tactics to help you find the success you always dreamed of. And don't forget to rate and review so we can continue to bring you the best daily content possible. We'll see you in class tomorrow right here on Marketing School.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: How to get listeners for your podcast through paid advertising – Eric Siu

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Full Transcript: How to get listeners for your podcast through paid advertising – Eric Siu

In this video, we're going to talk about How to Get Listeners for Your Podcast Through Paid Advertising. I'm Eric Siu. I have a podcast called, "Marketing School."

We have over 6.5 million downloads on that one, and the one called, "Growth Everywhere," a little over a million on that one. And I want to talk about how you can grow through paid advertising.

A lot of people, even the two podcasts that I have, we've grown it mainly through organic, through our e-mail lists, through our social channels, kind of what we have already, but there's other ways to grow it too. So we have ran paid ads in the past, so you can use Facebook, for example.

And a really good example of this is, "Marketing in Your Car." So this is by Russell Brunson, who runs a company called ClickFunnels. Here's the amazing thing about ClickFunnels. I believe they do north of $40 million a year in revenue. They have raised no venture capital at all, and it's because they're really good at marketing. If you look at his podcast, it's called, "Marketing in Your Car.".

He has a podcast stick. And what he does is he drove Facebook traffic to that page, and once you got to that page, if you wanted the stick, you paid nothing for the MP3 stick, but you pay $9 for shipping, and then you get the product. This is amazing to me because basically he's controlling the growth that way. What happened was this for every single podcasts or podcast stick that he sold, which he basically gave away for free, he was able to get five subscribers, right. Five subscribers, and the people will get a great review.

So he's able to kind of manipulate the growth that way. He's spending about $15 per acquisition for the stick. He was actually profitable on that acquisition. So I think he was making about $32 or so, and that's the beauty of it. He's already making money. He's getting more subscribers. It's a no-brainer, right. So he's making money, he's getting more subscribers, and this isn't even factoring into his back end where he's selling $25,000 Masterminds, he's selling other courses.

If you can build some kind of funnel like that, which I highly recommend that you look into, you're able to kind of control and manipulate your growth. There's a podcast app called, "Overcast." That's what I use right now. It's faster than a regular podcast app, and you can actually run ads on there. You can do paid ads on Overcast, you can also do paid ads on Spotify as well, and try to look at other channels too.

In the future, this is what I'm guessing, this is kind of what I'm projecting too. People are listening to Marketing School and Growth everywhere right now through Alexa, and I suspect that we might be able to run ads in the future through Amazon's kind of paid advertising system on Alexa, for example. So that's it for this video.

If you want to get more videos on how to grow your podcasts or marketing or entrepreneurship, just hit subscribe, and we'll see you in the next video.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: How to scale a podcast to 1 million downloads – Eric Siu

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Full Transcript: How to scale a podcast to 1 million downloads – Eric Siu

Today we are going to talk about how you can scale a podcast to one million downloads and beyond. If you like entrepreneurial and marketing content, just keep watching the video and hopefully subscribe.

So let's talk about it. A lot of people are talking about podcasts more and more and the fact of the matter is podcasting is great because you get to have a 100 percent of the listener's attention. For the most part. Unless you're like you're really ADD like me, sometimes you start to, you know, you just, sometimes you start to think about other things.

With Growth Everywhere which is my first podcast I've been doing that one for over four years. You know, we broke one million downloads, you know, over four years. But the other podcast that I'm doing, Marketing School, we broke 1 million downloads in about four months or so. Okay. And it's been about a year or so, I think we've broke about 5, maybe 5.5 million downloads. So you know, we've gone over to seven figure mark and these are some of the lessons I want to talk to you about in terms of how you can actually get a podcast to that seven figure mark and beyond. Because if you're able to do so, you can make a lot of money advertising, pushing your own product, whatever it is. You're building that audience and you're building the audience of people that like you.

So here's how you can do it.

Number one: make sure that you're consistent. You have to be consistent. It's like watching a TV show, right. You know when a TV show is going to pop up your favorite show. Game of Thrones for example. All the people that go crazy about Game of Thrones. "OH MY GOD IT'S SUNDAY. GAME OF THRONES." Right? So you want to be consistent like that. Game of Thrones. You have to be predictable. You can't just release one show and then wait two months and release another one, right? It doesn't work like that. If you're going to do weekly, do weekly. If you're gonna do daily, do daily. But the secret is being consistent. That's number one secret. It's not really a secret at all but just people don't want to put in the work, right? Number one: be consistent.

Number two: make sure that the… that you have a unique spin on what you're doing. So what do I mean by that? So for example the Marketing School podcast that I do, I do it with my co-host Neil Patel and it's both of us at the same time and we do it every single day. And that is a freaking grind. Most people aren't willing to do it every single day. That's going to set us apart. And the fact of the matter is both with his travel schedule mixed with mine, it's a nightmare when it comes to planning. But guess what. We make it happen. We don't cry about it. Right. So that's one way to go about it. That's a unique spin. John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire does it every single day. The way he does it, he batches seven interviews on a Tuesday. Man he's blasted by the end of a Tuesday. But guess what? He gets it done, doesn't cry about it, right.

So just think about a unique spin that you can put out. There's so many different shows that I listen to out there and I listen to them because they have a unique spin or the content that they're talking about is really unique. So think about what you can do. Just, you know, it's not because you… it's not because people particularly like you, it's because they like the content that you're putting out. So I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but just think about how you can add value for the person, just like the fact that you're watching this right now. It's what are you going to get out of it. Right.

The audio quality makes a big difference because it's just like watching a video like this. Nowadays people can get, can do good video. Like your camera can do a good job with video. People are getting the, you know, these DSLRs. Video is table stakes for a platform like this, right. But look at this. I'm wearing a, I'm wearing a mic right now because I know that not a lot of people are going to invest in having a good mic, good sound quality. You have that good sound quality, you're going to be above, you know, a ton of people.

Now with podcasting, you should have good sound quality. Now what I'll say is this. With growth everywhere, over the first four years, we, you know, we have fast the sound quality. Okay. We kind of just plug in a Blue Yeti into a USB kind of plug. But now we have a mixer to, you know, make things sound better. Now, you know, with Marketing School as well, we… Actually last Saturday we went into a recording studio, we cranked out 40 episodes. 8:30 to 12:30. My God we just went through it. And you know, that's what it takes. You have to figure out how you can make yourself stand apart from other people.

Okay. Promotion is really important and here's an easy way to do it. When you are hosting your podcast. If you host them on the host that we host on which is called Libsyn. That's L I B S Y N. Libsyn will allow you to publish to your Twitter, your YouTube, your LinkedIn, your SoundCloud, your YouTube at the same time. You can publish a bunch of your other channels at the same time.

I'll tell you, our YouTube channel, now we're starting to do videos but the fact that we've got to 4000 subscribers without really having much video content, it's because of the audio content we kept pushing out, right. So that got us in the… that got us kickstarted and it's just good to be on different platforms out there, you know. I'm sure you have followers on Twitter. I'm sure you have some on Facebook as well. Make sure that you're pushing out there.

Now the fifth tip that I'll give you. The fifth and final tip for right now is make sure that you have some kind of shownotes going on too, right. Shownotes are strong because people can see what you're talking about. Don't be lazy about the shownotes. In fact when I did Growth Everywhere for the first year, I did all the shownotes myself. Each podcast took me six hours. I went through it, right. If you don't want to do it, you can hire, you can hire shownotes people. There is a ton of shownotes people out there. I think there's a guy called The Show Notes Guy. Right. So if you want to invest the money, you don't have time for it, pay for that time. That's the highest leverage thing that you can do.

So those five things should help you, put you on the path to getting seven figure downloads and beyond. And I certainly don't think I've done anything special. I think it's just because I stuck with these five rules that got me to one billion downloads and beyond and I think you can do it too. So if you like videos like this just hit subscribe and we'll see you in the next one.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Podcast Hosting & Submission Made Simple (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play) – Pat Flynn

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Full Transcript: Podcast Hosting & Submission Made Simple (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play) – Pat Flynn

Hey guys. It's Pat here, and I'm really excited because you are very close to finally getting your podcast ready for launch which is really exciting, but there's a few missing pieces which we're going to go over in this video. At this point, you likely have recorded an episode or maybe a few. You've exported them, you've tagged them properly and now it's an MP3 file that's ready for the world. So where do you go from here?

So in this video, I'm going to show you how to set up your podcast host. This is your media host, where you actually upload your files to. That's going to give you what's called your Podcast Feed Link. That is what then you will give to iTunes, and Stitcher, and Google Play. And then after a certain period of time, you're going to be approved and then you're going to be ready to get and share your podcast. Now you can also place your podcast on your website and have show notes. We'll talk about all those things in this video. But for right now, I'm going to show you the podcasting host that I recommend and we'll get it set up and I'll show you how it works.

All right, in terms of podcast hosting companies, meaning this is where you upload your audio files so that when a person calls for that file, this is where it's being downloaded from. It makes it very easy for you to manage all this versus having these audio files uploaded onto your own servers. You do not want that. That'll eat your bandwidth. That will cost you lots of money. This is why these services exist. So the top two that I would recommend are Libsyn and also Buzzsprout. They're both great. I've used them both. There are some slight advantages to each, but for this demonstration I'm going to use Libsyn. It's the one I use for the Smart Passive Income podcast and we're just going to show you how to get set up with Libsyn from here.

I'm not going to get into detail about account creation but I do want to share some of these plans really quick. There are a number of plans that you can get. I don't want you to be super confused. Really what most people get is the $15.00 a month plan which allows for 250 megabytes per month to be uploaded, which is sufficient for one or two episodes per week. And then it also gives you access to stats. If you do not get the S15.00 one, you get the $5.00 one, you don't get access to stats. So $15.00 per month for doing what they're doing is a huge deal and a great price. So that's the one I would recommend. But you can look at the details here if you want to go further.

Okay, so for right now, I'm going to log into a test account that I used to set up a podcast for demonstration purposes and it's already set up, but I'm gonna show you the bits and pieces that you need to know and how to set those things up so that you can get your podcast up and running, too. So I'll see you in there.

Okay so here we are in the back end of Libsyn and this is for a podcast called ChangED, with a capital "ED". This is related to education. I will be doing education related podcasts later down the road. But, again, this was just a test episode. However, it is live on iTunes right now if you wanted to check it out. What you need to do here is when you set it up, you're gonna register for a new show and if you haven't done that yet, you click up here on the triangle icon and click 'Register New Show'. After that, you then have to start to set up your show properly.

So first of all before we do anything with our MP3 file – those are the episodes – we need to set up our show first. So to do that, let's click out of that and click on 'Settings' and let's go to 'Edit Show Settings.' Here's where you want to include the things that you should already know, such as your show title for example; your show description, which is here; the website address where you want this show to live. So this is where people on iTunes can click over to when they are discovering your show.

And then here you can click episodic in terms of show type or serial. Serial would mean it's more like a storytelling type when, almost like a book with chapters, you don't start a book in chapter five, you start with chapter one. If you have a more episodic one where each episode can live individually on its own, then click episodic. Then you want to include some tags and keywords. Just try to think about the items that a potential listener would type in to potentially discover a show like yours. Then you want to have your public contact email and then you want to make sure that Libsyn Classic Feed is selected. You can even include a lot of these other things here that I have blank, but they aren't necessary at this moment. This is mainly stuff that's going to live on a page that Libsyn will give you that we don't really do anything with, but we do need a lot of these things for iTunes as well. So don't worry about all these other things. Just have this – what you see here – filled out especially the show title and the show description for sure, the tags and keywords, and those kinds of things.

Now when you go down here, you are also going to upload your artwork too. You can see the artwork for ChangED here, which is like a pencil on you know like notepad paper kind of thing. You can upload it just simply by using the tabs here. And then after that, you just hit 'Save' and you are ready to go with your show. Now that your show is successfully saved, now we need to go into where we can get our feed and we need to adjust our feed settings too. So to do that, you're going to go to 'Destinations' and then go to 'Edit' or 'View Existing'. Now when you scroll down, you're going to see something called the Libsyn Classic Feed. You're going to edit this right now by clicking on 'Edit'. Now here is where you select a lot of the items that are going to be really important for how you are viewed and where you are viewed in iTunes. So iTunes categories, you want to select a primary category. The number one category that you want to be found in and ranked in. And yes these can change over time but pick the best one that suits you, and you can pick two subcategories underneath that. Then you're gonna use an iTunes summary and this is similar to the description that you put earlier. The owner name, this is you; this is the contact host and then the owner e-mail and then iTunes Store Basics, the author, this is going to be also similar to the owner name and just make that the host name, obviously.

Subtitles – subtitles aren't used very often but when they are it's just, again, something that's nice to know. There may be a change in iTunes later down the road where they do use the subtitles so you want to make sure you include that just in case. We're clicking the same thing: episodic, show type. Language, English. You can select the content rating here: clean or explicit. Explicit, you can read some details related to what defines that there. Keywords, just copy and paste these keywords from before. Here in this section which is 'Episode Item' or 'Settings' you can actually create different podcasts artwork for individual episodes but that takes a lot of work and it's something that most people don't need to do. So if you just want, when a person plays an episode to be the same artwork as what is in your podcast, in general, your show, just click on this button – I have that on – and then you're good from there. Advanced options, you don't really need to worry about, so just hit save and then you are good to go.

Now the most important part of this whole process, you will be introduced to your feed. This is a link, a really important link that when you click on you're probably not going to know what it means. But iTunes and any other directories, that's what they use to understand what episodes are available, what MP3 files to serve and so forth. Whenever you upload a new MP3 file to this host, that feed will update. Any changes you make will update this feed and therefore those directories will be updated too. You do not actually upload individual episodes to iTunes or to Stitcher or to Google Play. They all read this feed so any changes you make, any episodes that you upload, it's all done here in your podcast host and that's the beauty of this. You just set it up once and iTunes and all those other directories, they kind of work automatically from there.

So let's go find your feed here. They've given it to me here since I just saved it. But it's also here as well. I'm going to copy this because that's really important. As you can see here, it's changed.libsyn.com/RSS. All right, a couple of things. Now that we have our show information ready, now that we have our feed ready, we have that link, tattoo that on your forehead. Don't literally do that, but you know what I mean like keep track of that link. That's really important. That's what you're going to give to the directory. So save that right now and you also know where to get it, it's in the Destination folder here in Libsyn.

Now we need to talk about your episodes. We're going to upload an episode and I'll show you exactly how to do that. Now to do that, all you have to do is go to 'Content' and then go to 'Add New Episode'. And here you can add that media file, the one that you saved. So I'm actually going to do that with our test episode that we did earlier and I'll show you how this works. I'm going to click on 'Add Media File', 'Upload From Hard Drive', and then I'm gonna click on remember the one that says 'final' on it because that's the final one that we want. We're gonna click 'Open'. It's going to take a moment to upload.

Okay so now that that file is uploaded as we can see here, we're going to go down to go to 'Details' and this is where we put again the title of that particular podcast episode, that's a subtitle for a description. Again, this is just best practice to copy and paste and add all these things here anyway. And then scrolling down, you can change some of these things so you can optimize your iTunes title. You can change the iTunes summary for this particular episode if you wanted to. And then you can even add episode numbers and season numbers. If you wanted to remove the episode number from the title of the podcast itself, you can just include that here and then just, again, any spot that is required it's always best to do it even though sometimes it pulls from one or another just because different directories pull from different places. It's always best just to have it all in there.

So after that's done you can go to artwork. Now, again, remember the artwork is already embedded into that file, but you can add new ones if you wanted to and then go to scheduling. You can schedule when this episode comes out. And then finally, you can hit either 'Publish' or 'Schedule'. Now if I were to hit 'Publish' right now, the feed on iTunes would then, within 24 hours – iTunes and other directories often take anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, sometimes sooner. Sometimes it's really quick, but give it 12 to 24 hours before it checks your RSS feed. It doesn't check instantly; it just checks every once in a while and then it goes, it says, "Oh there's some new stuff in there, let's add that to the mix." If it were to do that, it would take time, but it would eventually show up in there automatically. So it doesn't happen right away, you're gonna have to be patient, but that's how it works.

All right, so we have our podcast host set up. We have our show ready to go. We have our first episode on there and now we have also our RSS feed that, remember, we tattooed on our face. What do we do with it? Well now we have to let iTunes and the other directories know that this show exists. Now really quick I need to tell you because some of you might be like, "Wait, I'm going to tell iTunes now, I'm not ready yet. I just have one episode. I want to get more episodes up there," which is recommended actually. What do I do here? Why would I go and put my thing on iTunes right now? Can I wait till later? You can; however, I would recommend making sure to get up on iTunes right now. Yes, even with one episode. Not everybody is going to find it; it doesn't really matter. This is like the difference between building your house and your housewarming party. You're just making sure the house is stable and everything's connected. In case there's an error, you can fix it and then your housewarming party is like your launch party. When you make a big deal, you send everybody to the podcast. It's okay. So having that one episode in your hosting account is fine. And then you upload it just like we did and then you connect it to iTunes like I'm about to show you. And that way you know everything is set up and then you can tweak and change things, add new things, and then get ready for that big launch day like you will.

All right. So what do we do? Well to connect to iTunes, like with the other directories like Stitcher and also Google Play – I'll add instructions for those two underneath this video for you because I don't want to waste your time. It's basically the same thing for each one. But iTunes obviously is the big one. You're going to have to have an iTunes account in order to get access to this. If you don't have one, just set one up really quick. Then again go to PodcastsConnect.apple.com and then you're going to be prompted with setting up a new show. And to do that, all you have to do is include your RSS feed. As you can see here, we are in iTunes Connect. I connected my account and all you have to do is paste that URL, the RSS feed, into this space. And now to test it, first we want to hit 'Validate' and this just makes sure that the podcast is set up properly. It pulls in the right artwork; it pulls in the right description and it's actually going to tell us what's wrong, if anything.

Now already you can see there's something wrong and the thing that's wrong is this feed has already been submitted. Other than that, everything else is okay and this is what you're going to see. If it's ready to submit, you will see that this Submit button is highlighted. Everything else will be okay. It will say 'Ready for Publication' or something like that. You'll even see the episodes that you have in there in your feed already. Again this pulls this in from Libsyn. If I were to add another episode in here and hit 'Publish; on that other one, it would automatically show here because it is actively calling for what is in that feed. So actually I wonder if I could do that right now just for fun. But let's go in here and click 'Publish'. Oh well, I can't do that because I haven't filled out all the details but that's okay. But you get the idea. If I were to do that and spend time filling out all the details for that test episode here in Podcast Connect, you would see it here as another episode here. Now if you're ready, you just hit submit and then you wait.

Now you can wait anywhere between four hours, eight hours, to sometimes a few days. It depends on the human beings over there at Apple who literally check this out and make sure it's okay and legit. So that's how it is and that's how you submit your show. Once it's ready, you will get an e-mail. You'll get an e-mail and it'll say, "Hey your podcast is ready and it will be up on the stores very soon," and then you can go find it using your keywords or just, you know, typing it in. Or you might get an e-mail that says, "Sorry, something is wrong," and thankfully they've been a lot better lately at telling you what is wrong so you can go in there and fix it. Sometimes it's a swear word in your description. Other times, it's something to do with the size or the quality of your artwork. They'll tell you what's up and they'll be able to help you fix it. So that's how you submit to Apple and iTunes. And it's basically the same thing for Stitcher and Google Play and like I said we'll have the links for those right below this video for you too.

Now one question I always get is do I need a website to actually host my podcast. Well for hosting your podcast, no. I just showed you how to host your podcast. You can even submit it without a website. But I would highly recommend having a website for your podcast because that's a place where you want people to come back, where people can discover new things, where you can have call to actions like subscribe to your email list and all sorts of things. You could potentially even sell products on your website, too, for your podcast listeners and you can have show notes. Show notes are detailed notes about each individual episode. Each episode would have its own essentially blog post where you can include a player and I'll show you really quick in just a moment how in Libsyn you can grab a player for each individual episode and just plop it right into that particular blog post. Super simple.

I actually have a blog, obviously Smart Passive Income, where I use a custom player that I built called the Smart Podcast Player at SmartPodcastPlayer.com if you wanted to check that out. Once you get up and running, you can totally do that, but this is a player that we created and this is what hosts the podcast on the website and you'll be surprised. There's actually a lot of people who actually listen to your podcasts not on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play, but actually on your website. Especially those who are finding you for the first time. So you want to make sure they're able to listen to a podcast and obviously within your podcast, you want them to be inclined to subscribe so they can get it automatically downloaded onto their device later. So I'll show you really quick how to get a player from Libsyn and where the code is that you can plop into your website.

Okay, and over time you're going to see your stats increase, and again, remember this is a test episode so that's why I'm only getting a couple downloads a day, if that. But once your podcast is up and running, it's really cool. You're gonna see these stats grow. Over time, you'll see that when you publish a new episode, you're going to get a giant spike from all your subscribers. It's going to go back down again, but not down as far as it was and then you're gonna get an even bigger spike and that's kind of the sequence of events that happens as you begin to get consistent with your show. It's really fun.

Now to go to your older episodes here, you just go to 'Content' and you go to 'Previously Published'. Here are the three previously published episodes for this test podcast and I'm just going to go and click right here where it says 'Link and Embed'. So I'm going to click on that and this will give you a number of different players styles if you scroll down below. So I can get for example the standard one or I can get the legacy one. I can get this custom one. Typically the standard one works out pretty well, but you can do the custom one with its own image, too, if you wanted to. Either one it's all good. What you do is you set these parameters for the embed code and then you hit 'Preview' 'Get Embed Code' and that will give you the link and you can get a preview for it up there. As you can see, it just automatically pulled in my artwork. And this is what you include in your WordPress or your Squarespace blog post so that you can actually play your episodes within your content, too.

And then in terms of the written content that goes along with your podcast episodes, you can be as detailed and summarize as much as you want. Remember a lot of people are coming to your website to see this and the more detailed it is, perhaps the better impression it will make. You can even make it very useful saying, "I talk about this at this timestamp", "I talk about this topic during this part of the podcast". You can even have information and links related to your podcast, which is really the big benefit there for us. Any links and resources that you mention on the show you can say, "Hey, by the way, all these links and resources are mentioned on the show notes over at my blog. You can go there by going here," and that way even sometimes those are affiliate links or product links so that you can even begin to start making sales and monetize your podcast too. So that's how you can get your podcast connected to your website and how show notes work.

Okay so sequence of events one more time: you get set up with your hosting company. You can try Libsyn or Buzzsprout; then you can get your show settings all correct. Collect your RSS feed. That's, again, what you submit to iTunes and Stitcher and Google Play. You also want to make sure you upload your first episode, put in all the details there and that way, there is an episode that lives on your feed. Actually, if you were to submit your feed without an episode already in it, you will be denied. So you will have to have at least one episode to get approved and then you kind of wait a little bit until you get that email from Apple and the other directories to say, "Yes, your podcast is live." Then you can go out there and share it with the world in whatever way that you want.

Wow! We covered so much across the last three videos here. I'm so proud of you for getting this far and getting your show just ready for launch. Now, obviously, there's a lot more to this podcasting thing than getting your podcast up and running and you're essentially there. But there's so much more to this. For example, the launch of your podcasts, how do you make sure that there are listeners there on the other end the day you launch. What about over time, how do you keep growing it. How do you get more exposure for the podcast. How do you connect with other guests who are going to share this. There's so much more to this. What about monetization and sponsorships and advertising, selling your own products. What about tactics for helping listeners stay and listen on further through that episode that you create. There's so much more to this, which is why I created my course Power-Up Podcasting for those of you who want to go all in with me on this. You kind of get a gist of the style of my teaching. If this is something you like and you want to get everything you need to know in a way that allows you to do it and execute and get results from it like the hundreds of other students who have taken this course, I highly recommend at this point you upgrade to my course, Power-Up Podcasting. In addition to that content, you're also going to get access to me in office hours and access to a community with all of those other students, alumni, and current students who are all there to help motivate and support each other.

So if that's something that sounds interesting to you, all you have to do is go to PowerUpPodcasting.com. You can check it out right there. If not, that's okay. Perhaps you're just ready to go and that's totally fine, too. I'm just super thankful that you are taking action here and that you are committing to podcasting and Power-Up Podcasting will always be available to you if you change your mind in the future. For those of you watching this on YouTube right now, best of luck to you. I am so thankful and I'm excited to see your show up on iTunes and the other directories very soon. Good luck!

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – Switching Podcast Hosting Companies

Today, on episode number 602, we're gonna talk about podcast media hosting, and, if you've ever thought of moving to a new host, when you should, why you should, when you shouldn't. We're gonna talk about that. I'm gonna share a story about a new media host that was really one of the worst experiences I've ever had. Speaking of bad experiences, I tried something, and it didn't work at all the way I thought it would, and I'm so happy I did it. Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your very own personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you are new to this award-winning podcast, here's what we do. I'm gonna help you massage your message. I'm gonna help you tackle the technology. Today, we're talking a lot about technology. We're gonna get our geek on. I help you face your fears.

I help you flatten that learning curve, and get you on the road, not just to just podcasting, because look you can go out to YouTube, right now, and watch a lot of really old, outdated YouTube videos. and it's gonna get you going in the wrong direction. Today, I'm gonna stop you from going in the wrong direction. Wait til you hear about the fun I've had.

Our website is SchoolofPodcasting.com. Use the coupon code "LISTENER," that's L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R, and, by the way, that coupon code is not on the website. I'm giving it to you because you took the time to click on play. It's my way of saying thank you.

Now, what we're gonna talk about today is moving either your podcast media hosting … You're gonna go from company A to company B, or maybe, you've been self-hosting, and you think you should start using a podcast media hosting company. We're gonna talk about that. We're gonna talk about should I move my webhost, and how do I do that, and why would I wanna do either one of those? I'm also gonna tell you one of the absolute worst experiences I've had with any podcast company ever.

That is coming up, right after I get done telling you about what I'm doing July 24th through the 26th, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That is, of course, Podcast Movement 2018. This is where you're gonna have over 2,000 podcasters from around the world converge on Philadelphia, PA.

I was thinking about this today. I have met so many cool people at Podcast Movement. One was Seth Ressler. I met him at Podcast Movement. He's a guy that's kind of coming from the radio side. He's a really cool bridge guy. He talks radio, and he talks podcasting. There was a really big article that went out a couple weeks ago about is there a discovery problem in podcasting. Seth was the guy behind that, and I was included in that article. Why? Because I met him at Podcast Movement.

There is everybody there from … If you're a brand-new podcaster, starting out, if you're a seasoned podcaster, and you're having fun, but you'd like to maybe take your podcast, and start maybe monetizing it, things like that. This is a place where you wanna be.

Again, over 2,000 podcasters from around the world; over a hundred sessions on topics, ranging from the technical aspects of setting up your equipment, and the audio production, as well as the marketing, cuz it's not enough just to make it, you gotta market it. If you're into it, if you wanna monetize your podcast, there's gonna be some resources there for that, as well.

When you venture into the Expo Hall, you're looking at over 60 podcast service, and equipment providers. Whether you're in the mood for a new microphone, or you're trying to figure out which host is best for you … We're gonna talk about hosting today. You can do this face to face at Podcast Movement.

Again, it's in Philadelphia PA, July 24th through the 26th. Check it out – PodcastMovement.com; use the coupon code "SOP," when you go over, and sign up. Thank you, Podcast Movement, so much for sponsoring The School of Podcasting.

All right, let's get intimate, shall we? That sounds funny. I wanna share a story. I have a course, it's called Podcasting in Six Weeks. If you're a regular listener, you've heard me promoting this. I did it about five years ago; it went gangbusters. In fact, I had two sessions of it. It was really cool. Kinda took it off the market, cuz I had to work on my marriage, at the time. I was a little overbooked.

Now that I am divorced – apparently, that wasn't the problem – I've brought it back, and I maybe didn't give myself enough time to promote it. Maybe coulda worked on the sales page a little bit, but can I … Since it's just me and you, can I tell you something? I only have one student. That's right. One person signed up.

I always tell you, you can't improve what you don't launch. Some of us wanna launch the perfect podcast, and I … You've heard me say this – if you're a new listener, it's one of my favorite – Your podcast is not a statue, it's a recipe, and here's what is so cool about this. I did something, and, in a way, some might say it was a … Could you give me air quotes? "A mistake." It wasn't, because, number one, this is my top-dollar program. It's not cheap. It's 1,499. Six weeks in a row, we get together; we plan your podcast. It's me and you, working side by side.

It was supposed to be group coaching, but here's the cool thing: I have one person sign up, and what I'm able to do is tailor this class. We didn't change it a whole lot, but I'll give you an example. He'd already recorded a podcast in the past, so, he didn't need the whole microphone thing, and some of the other things, but he was thinking of having an online course. I'm like, "Well, I can help you with that." We customized the class for him, and I was like, "Ooh, this is cool. This is actually making a difference in this person's life. This is changing … Okay, cool.".

Then, when I was doing this, I had probably, I don't know, a dozen people contact me; had a few of them on the phone, and they're like, "Ooh, I wanna do this. Oh, I wanna work with you. Oh, this is gonna …" but there was one thing – there was a schedule. The schedule. Oh, yeah … Soccer practice, whatever it is. I was like, "Okay, well … Hmm, okay."

So, here's what I'm going to do, and there's no sales page for this now. I'm just throwing this idea out there. If you're the kinda person that wants me to get in the mud with you, work side by side, I love this, because I am doing all the things that I do: help you find influencers, help you find places to shape your content, and work with you on equipment, and things like that.

I wanna test this a little more. If you're interested in this, just e-mail me, and put in the subject line: Podcast Mentorship, because what I'm … This is what I'm thinking, you buy six hours of podcast consulting, just like Podcasting in Six Weeks. You get a year's subscription to The School of Podcasting. Then, instead of me going, "Here's when we're gonna meet," what you do is you look at my schedule, and you tell me, you tell me, when we're gonna meet. You wanna do this in six-hour things? Great. You wanna do it in 12 half-hour things? Cool. You wanna do it in 30 15-segments. Fine. You have 12 months, from the minute you order it, to use your six hours.

I am not a phone company. I don't wanna get into the fun joy of tracking how much time you have left. I like that idea. Some of you, we may do a traditional Podcasting in Six Weeks. We'll go from zero to hero. We'll go through planning, and everything else, but some of you may just want that mentorship to, "Hey, Dave, can we really get into you listening to my show, and helping me improve it?" or whatever it's going to be.

Again, I like this idea. I like working in groups, but it's, to me … I remember when I was working in a corporate scenario, and we would have people come in, and I was teaching computer stuff. I helped three people get their GED. They came in with their GED, the paperwork, and just gave me a big hug, and said, "You know, I couldn't'a done this without you …" I remember one person … This one person could not do math. I just kept saying, "You got this. You can do this. Just a little practice. Breathe." I really helped her through … She had serious test anxiety.

There is something of working one on one, too, that is … For me, it scratches an itch. Let's just put it that way. It's something that I'm like, "Oh, wow, I made a difference in that person's life." I kinda like this idea, too, of getting down the mud with you, and working with you, together, as a team. If you're interested in that, simply email me: [email protected]

Again, I wanna go back to my main point. I threw this out there. Wasn't sure if it was gonna work. I got feedback from my audience. I'm listening to that feedback, and now I'm coming out with my new recipe, and saying, "Hey, for those of you …" and I hate the phrase 'handholding.' Some people say that, "I just want you to hold my hand," but for those of you that want a little more personalized approach, and you've got the budget for it, what do you think of this recipe? I'm putting the pie back on your table, going, "Take a taste of that." Does that sound … Does this taste more like what you're looking for?

You can do the same thing with your podcast, but you can't … There's only one way to know if your podcast is good or not, and that is you have to launch. In my case, I was like, "Mm, not sure if Podcasting in Six Weeks is gonna work. It worked five years ago. Let's throw it out there," and it works. It's working great for one person, but I had a buncha people that said, "Mm, like the idea. Can we switch the schedule?" Here's my recipe, let me know what you think – [email protected]

"Hey, let's talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? That is, for almost two years now … I was hired, in February of 2016, to work at Libsyn – L-I-B-S-Y-N.com – It's a podcast media hosting company. You can get a free month there, using the coupon code, "SOPFREE." That's "SOPFREE," all one word.

Today, I'm gonna be talking about media hosting companies, and a lotta times, people go, "Oh, Dave, it's just gonna be a show for Libsyn." If you go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602, you'll see where there are a lotta things; that I have lots of screenshots today. I'm really trying to keep my School of Podcasting hat on, and just talk about facts.

There are times when people think about moving from one company to the other, and I wanna talk about what's involved with that. I wanna talk about what I look for in a media hosting company, and we'll kinda go from there. Behind the scenes, this is the third time I've recorded this. I have notes in front of me, and it's just really long, so I'm kinda trying to do a Reader's Digest version, without leaving out all the good stuff.

Here's my criteria, and this comes from me being a teacher for so many years. I think that's where [inaudible] here's the criteria. This makes it really easy to determine if I like a podcast host, or not. I've actually updated this.

The first thing is don't mess with my file name. There's an asterisk next to that one, and I'll explain why, here, in a second. Number two, don't mess with my file format. Don't change my bit rate. Don't mess with my ID3 tags. Number three, give me the ability to have an unlimited back catalog, so, unlimited storage. Number four, don't limit my audience size; meaning unlimited bandwidth. Number five, don't control my feed, and make it easy to leave, if I choose to do so. I need to be able to put in a 301 redirect.

Number seven, charge me for your service, so you can stay in business. I know some people are like, "Wait, don't you want it for free?" No, cuz free companies go out of business. I've seen it happen three times. Number eight, give me stats, so I can see what's working, and it would be nice if they were accurate. Number nine, this is new, support the iTunes serial-episodic season, and episode numbers. Those are the new fields that came out last year.

Then, number 10, be IAB-compliant. Now, please note, as I record this, on January 2018, nobody's compliant. We're all in line to be certified, but the certification process hasn't been unveiled yet. In the future, that's gonna be part of it. When you can be certified, I want you to be certified, so that I know my stats are normal.

The very first one – don't mess with my file name … I know that some media hosts offer the ability to inject MP3 files with an advertisement. In those instances, you get a pass, cuz I really don't expect you to take my file, split it in two, throw an ad in the middle, stitch back together, and not change the filename. If I'm not doing any kind of advertising, don't mess with my filename, doggonit.

Here are the media hosts I looked at: Amazon S3, Buzzsprout, Podomatic, Libsyn, Blubrry, Podbean, Spreaker, SoundCloud, Simplecast, Podmio, Pinecast, and Whooshkaa. Applying that 10 criteria, realizing that nobody can do number 10, yet, here's who made the cut: Libsyn, Blubrry, and Podbean. You're like, "But, Dave, don't you like Spreaker?" I do like Spreaker, but only in certain circumstances. They don't allow you to have an unlimited back catalog, but if I was a band, wanting to do live podcasts on the road, or record a podcast with my phone, Spreaker would definitely be in that conversation.

Why would you move your podcast to a new media host? In some cases, maybe you don't have an old media host. Maybe you were hosting your files on your web host. You go, "But Dave, my web host has unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage." It's not a problem with the bandwidth, or the storage. It's the matter that all the sudden, hundreds of people, maybe thousands of people, are grabbing that one MP3 file at the same time, and their servers go [gasping], and they can't handle it. You will get a thing, "You're using up too many of our resources," and they will politely ask you to move, or leave.

In some cases, maybe you're using … Now, everybody knows, if you're a regular listener of the show, SoundCloud is a music company that does podcasting poorly. Squarespace is a website company that does podcasting poorly. In the case of SoundCloud, they came out with two improvements, like two updates, like, "Here's what's coming in at SoundCloud." Two of them, last year. Neither one had a single update to their podcast system. Meanwhile, Apple has thrown out these new fields – the serial, the episode numbers. Not even a mention of it at SoundCloud. They're really not a podcast hosting company, in my book. We could also throw on top of that, they've lost hundreds of millions of dollars. So that would be one reason to leave.

Maybe you're just not happy with somebody's service. Maybe you're not happy with their support. Whatever it is … Maybe, in some cases, they sold you certain features that you find out later that aren't entirely accurate. We'll talk about that a little later. Maybe you decide that you, just for whatever reason, you hear about a bright, shiny thing, and you wanna try the new thing. Well, that's what I kind of wanna talk about here.

Let's talk about what moving to a new media host will not do for you. This is one of those … It's kind of a gray area, but, if you're thinking moving my show from … Let's say you're self-hosted. Let's go that route. Let's do a specific example. I'm self-hosted, and I decide to move to Libsyn, using the coupon code, "SOPFREE."

Is that going to bring me more audience? Because, I'm already on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, and Stitcher. Is it gonna bring me more audience? No, probably not. Why? Because you're already listed in all the directories. What you won't have, now, is your web host going, "Hey, you need to move." What might happen is your website might – key point, there – might speed up, because you can use the Libsyn feed, now. Might … Maybe.

That would be something I wanna point out. If your podcast is not bringing value to your listeners, the fact that you have a new media host hosting those files is not going to grow your audience. Now, I realize that some podcast hosts have more opportunities to promote your show, on things like Spotify, and iHeart, and things like that, but let's just go … Let's kinda forget that for a second, and just say, look, media host to media host, that's not gonna grow your audience. I see people that think that. "Oh, if I move to somebody else, They're a more popular host. They're a more popular media host. No. It's really about your content. That's what's gonna grow your audience.

What is the process of moving from one media host to the next, cuz I just did this, twice, and I'm here to tell you it's not a lot of fun. Now, on the other hand, it's not that hard, but there is one step that's really, really not fun.

Here's the typical process. Number one, you take your feed … Well, let's go right there, cuz if you're new to podcasting, you're like, "Dave, what's a feed?" Let's use the analogy of radio. If you're a regular listener of the show, you've heard this before. Hang with me. That is, with radio, you have a frequency. Here in Ohio, I have a 100.7, and I can have different radios – a Panasonic, and a Sony – both tuned into that that station, that frequency. When I put on a new record, that new record is then going out to those radios.

Well, with podcasting, instead of having a frequency, you have a feed, and instead of radios, instead of a Sony, and a Panasonic, you have Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher. When you put out a new episode, it is syndicated out to those apps.

What we're gonna do here, is we're gonna take your feed that has all your information, your artwork, and all your MP3 files, and you're going to give it to your new host, and they're going to import it. In fact, a better way of looking at it, they're going to clone your feed. It's gonna look exactly like it. All the information, all the artwork, all the MP3 files – everything is there.

Then, you go to your current- you go to your new host, and you wanna put in a thing called a New Feed tag. It's just a little bit of code, you copy and paste it in there. This is per Apple, by the way. That step is from Apple, saying you need to do this. Step three is, then, you basically redirect your old feed. This is like saying, "Hey, we're no longer on 100.7," and when you tune into that station, it says, "Hey, we've moved to 97.5." That's basically … The techie term for that is 301 Redirect.

If we follow that, now … Let's say I'm a listener of your podcast. I fire up my phone. I fire up my app. It goes to your feed, to say, "Hey, is there any new episodes out?" Instead, your feed goes, "Hey, we moved. We're over here on this new media host." Your app follows the address, goes over to the new media host, and the new media host says, "Hey, check it out. We're new. We're brand new. Could you do me a favor, and update the app, and in the future, don't look at the old host. Just look at me, and I'll let you know if there are any new episodes." The app goes. "Okay," and it updates. This all happens behind the scenes. That's the cool thing; that's what happens, and that part is easy.

That is something … Again, you've gotta be very careful with this, because if you mess that up, and let's say you put in a redirect that says, "We moved over to 97.5," and put in 97.6. That could be bad. You just told people … You just sent people to … Let's say it's a house. You just sent … Instead of giving them the correct address, you gave them the wrong address. Be careful with this, when you're messing with your feed. If you're not sure, find somebody who understands podcasting. That could be me, or whoever, and they can walk you through this, cuz it's one of the things that's easy, but you don't wanna just like, "Meh, whatever …" and blow your way through it, cuz you can really shoot yourself in the foot.

The fourth step of this process is the one that nobody wants to hear. In my case, I had a hundred episodes, and I switched my feeds, because I was playing. Basically, me, as a podcast consultant, I like to play with a lot of different toys. I had to take all the episodes, and replace them on my website. If I wanna track all of my downloads, the feed thing gets all my subscribers, but what about the people coming to my website?

I had to replace all the old episodes on my website with the new files. It sounds much harder than it is. For me, it took about 15-20 minutes, having multiple tabs open – a lotta copy-paste-copy-paste-save-copy-paste-save-copy-paste-save.

Now, the other thing is Apple recommends that you leave that redirect, that kind of change of address … They want you to leave it there for four weeks. Why is that? That's because not everybody fires up their favorite podcast app, every day. If they fired up every two weeks, and you only left it in there for two days, they're gonna miss the note that said, "Hey, we moved," and they're gonna keep looking at your old … They're gonna keep tuning into your old radio station, when you move to the new radio station. They're gonna keep looking at the old feed, when you have a new feed.

Now, in some cases, Google Play Music, and TuneIn, you might have to contact them manually, to update your feed. You can go into Stitcher.com, and update that yourself. You just go to the Partner Portal. In general, you go to all the places you went, where you submitted your show to these directories. You go to the exact same place. That's either a) where you can update it, or b) contact people to say, "Hey, can you put in here that I moved?" That's pretty cool.

Now, this whole redirect thing sounds kinda geeky, like how do I … 301-huh? In some cases, if your podcast is on your website, you can contact your web host and say "Hey, can you put in …" and that's the phrase you wanna use, a 301 Redirect … If somebody comes to my old feed, yada-yada-yada/feed/podcast, I want them to go to yada-yada- yada/newfeed/whatever-whatever. Your media host may do that.

Now, there's also a really cool, free WordPress plugin, and it's creatively named, you guessed it, Redirection. You can find it at Redirection.me. It's from John Godley, who actually worked for Automatic, which is the company behind WordPress. Basically, you install this plugin, and I've got screenshots, and directions – SchoolofPodcasting.com/602.

You put this in, and you save it, and your redirections should be in place almost immediately. How do you test that? You simply put the address of your old feed into your address bar. In English, you kind of go, like it's a website … You go to your old feed address, and you should see it switch to your new feed address, whatever that is. Now, if you're doing this in Chrome, you're probably gonna get a face full of code, and that's normal. We don't really care about that. What we wanna do is look at the top, at the address, and if that address is your new feed, then it's working.

What will happen, again, your app will fire up, and your audience will fire up their app. They'll go to the old feed. The old feed'll say "Hey, go to the new feed." The new feed will say, "Hey, I'm new. Update the app," and everything is cool. Then, again, you just have to replace your files on your website with the files from your new media host, and that's all you have to do.

Just keep in mind, again, that a) this may not help you grow your audience at all. In the end, it's your content that really gets your podcast going up the charts, and things like that, because you're inspiring word of mouth. Keep that in mind. If you are thinking of doing this, but you're like, "Dave, most of that just went right over my head," well, again, you can go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602, or just contact me: [email protected], and I can answer your questions on this.

Since I'm going to be talking podcast media hosting, I am gonna stick to the facts. That's how I do this, because obviously, I work for the competition. If I'm gonna do this objectively, here's what happened to me, in my case. This also stops me from getting sued.

The company I'm talking about is Podmio, and to pull back the curtain, I wasn't gonna review them at all, because I didn't wanna give them any exposure at all. They did something, recently, that I'm like, "Okay …" and this sounds weird, but I feel somewhat responsible for you. Like, if for some reason, two months from now, you joined them, and they turned out to be awful, I would feel bad that I didn't say "Hey, here's the experience I had with them.".

I'll tell you the final straw that I was, "Ahh, I gotta talk about these people." Here's the thing. They came out, and on their website, it says … Well, first of all, they contacted me. They contacted me, and so maybe that's rule number one: know who you're talking to. They have a statement on their website, "Podmio is the world's number-one podcasting platform that has everything you need for a podcaster of any level, at any affordable price.".

I interacted with a person via email; wanted to know if I wanted a demo. I'm like, "I really don't have time for this." On December 23, he came on Ask the Podcast Coach, which is a show I do every Saturday, with Jim Collison, from The Average Guy.tv. He gave us a little demo, and we kind of called him out on that particular thing, and this is what it sounded like.

Go ahead.

You have the world's number-one podcasting platform?

Yeah.

Okay, cuz I'm like I'm thinking there might be-

Can you qualify that?

We are … When I show the features, and the services we have, you will realize that no one even comes close to what we do. I'm not going to name anybody on this [crosstalk] demo, but I will highlight some points for you.

Okay.

Listen, you can't do this, Dave, but I can. I mean, it is a little … "The world's number-one podcasting platform" is a little misleading, because why. I guess, if you guys are gonna have your own definition [crosstalk]

Thinking of it this way … As a podcaster, who actually comes to the website, on sales pages, we have to convince them.

That's the reason they have that. He's trying to convince you that they're number one. I asked him how long they've been around. They've been around, he said, for two months, for the back end, and publicly, for two weeks. This was back in December, again. Let me just, cuz the first time I tried to tell the story, it took me like an hour.

Here's what happened. I jumped in. I wanted to test them. The first thing I saw is I went to import one of my old feed. This is where, again, and we talked about this at the beginning of the show, you want your new host to clone your old feed. Well, the first thing I see is, "Hey, thanks for your feed. It'll be imported in the next 24 hours." Now, again, from my chair, and I'm sure Blubrry can say this. I know I know Spreaker … I've done it on Spreaker. It doesn't take 24 hours. I've imported people from SoundCloud, and if you're on SoundCloud you can import your feed for free on Libsyn. Doesn't matter how many back catalog you have. I've imported people with hundreds of episodes, in 15 minutes, if that. The fact that I had to wait 24 hours, I'm like, "Mm, okay."

Then, it didn't have all my info, when it did import. Now, they said that wasn't their problem. It was the feed I was importing from, but they did fix it, so, let's talk about the bad, and the good. They did fix it, and they re-imported it. When I went to say, "Hey, this doesn't have all my information," they sent me to a ticketing system that didn't work. I went back to my original contact, and said, "Hey, your ticketing system doesn't work," to which he sent me to another ticketing system, and I'm not making this up, it didn't work. Screenshots at SchoolofPodcasting.com/602.

They were saying, "We're innovative, and we have all these new things." Well, the one thing they have is a thing, and it used to say this on their website … They use the phrase 'ad insertion,' and they have since updated this, which is good on them, because ad insertion, to most people, means that you're going to take my file, and somewhere in the middle, or end, or the beginning, or something, you're going to insert an ad. It's called dynamic ad insertion.

I noticed they just updated their website to 'interchangeable advertisements.' What this is, is this has nothing to do with your subscribers. Their ad system only works on their website. Now, it is kinda cool, because you specify an image, you upload an MP3 file that has your ad, and you have a link. When people click play on your website – that's a key point here – this little thing pops up. They have to watch the ad. It's a little bit like YouTube, where you have to watch an ad, before you can listen to the thing. That's cool, to a certain extent. Then, it dawned on me, "Oh, that's right. About 80 percent of people listen to podcasts on a portable device, not on a website." I was like, "Hmm, okay …" There are no stats on how many times the ad is played, or things like that. Again, they're new.

The thing that, for me, I was like, "Wait a minute, you said, 'dynamic ad insertion,' and this is not …" It's dynamic ad insertion on your website, with their player. Wherever you embed their player, this little thing pops up. I was kinda like, "That's not dynamic ad insertion, at least not in the traditional thing." That, again, is where you'll see where I kinda go, "I don't think they get podcasting.".

This innovative, number-one podcasting platform, when I logged in – this, again, is in December – did not have the new iTunes tags. Now, they have them now, thanks to me, because I went, "Hey, where's the iTunes tags?" I'm talking about serial episodic … Episode numbers, serial numbers. Once they put them in, it messed up my show. It put that my show was season one. I don't have seasons for this particular show. When I went to delete the number one, it caused an error message. Back to the help desk, and again, they fix it. I'm doing Q&A for what is essentially a competitor of mine, and I'm not getting paid for it. I was, at this point, a little leery. I'm like, "Okay, I don't think I'm gonna actually use these guys.".

I thought, "Let's kill two birds with one stone." There's a new service called PodcastMirror.com. This is from Blubrry. If you've been around long enough to remember FeedBurner, it's FeedBurner with a different name. You basically put your source feed into PodcastMirror, and instead of submitting your source feed to iTunes, and Stitcher, you submit the PodcastMirror feed, and then later, if you wanna switch media hosts, you just change it in PodcastMirror, and it updates every place else.

I get it. It's time for my opinion. You ready? This is my opinion. I try to keep the technology between me, and my audience to only things that are essential. In this case, I was no longer really trusting the media host I was working with, and I had a feeling I was gonna move, so I moved to PodcastMirror. That was kinda weird. When I went to PodcastMirror, and put in the feed – again, screenshots, SchoolofPodcasting.com/602 – it said "Hey, this applied URL is not a podcast feed." I went, "Well, that's odd, because I did go to CastFeedValidator.com, and it said it was valid."

I reached out to the lovely folks at Blubrry, who replied very quickly, and said, "Well, there's a couple of things. The iTunes category in your feed doesn't match what's in iTunes. The duration for the episode was in the wrong format." Again, this just led to me not feeling comfortable with their knowledge of the podcasting space. At that point, I went, "Okay, I'm done. I think I'm just gonna leave these guys," because, again, I'm kinda tired of doing Q&A. At that point, I quit telling them what the problems were, because quite frankly, I'm not getting paid to do Q&A. You guys figure out your own bugs.

They have a thing in there, where you can do a 301 Redirect. This was the one that I went, "Oh, okay. This has to go public." You typically put in this redirect … This is that change-of-address thing I was talking about before. After two days, it wasn't updated in Apple to show the new feed.

I went to my new host, and I said, "Hey, where do I put this new feed tag, because Apple says I should put that in the new feed, and you don't have a place for it?" In this case, this was Pinecast. I was gonna test them, as well. Kudos to Matt, from Pinecast, because he went above and beyond, and said, "Hey, I went back and looked at the Podmio feed that you were redirecting, and instead of being a permanent 301 Redirect, [we're gonna get kind of geeky here] it's a temporary 302 Redirect, and because Apple knows that's temporary, and not permanent, Apple isn't going to update." He says, "I've emailed the people at Podmio to let them know."

All right, that was on Thursday. Friday night, so it's been 24-hours-plus, I go into Apple. I find my podcast source, and it's still looking at Podmio. I emailed, again, the help desk at Podmio, with a screenshot from Matt, and said, "Hey, you guys are using a 302 Redirect, and I actually …" Plus, for the record, Matt had sent that to me on Thursday. It's Friday. I went out to Redirect-Checker.org and got the same result. Two different people, two different results. They're using the wrong redirect.

I emailed them, and – screenshots at SchoolofPodcasting.com.602 – I got a reply that says, "The redirect type we use is also fine." No, it's not, not for a permanent redirect; not to have apps update. Then, they said this, "You can also update your new feed, directly from iTunes, as well." That's when I went, "Okay, that's just horrible advice." In fact, right now, if you go to their website, on their support page, they say this again. "All you have to do to update your feed in Apple is to go to Podcast Connect, and update your feed." You ready for this? I'm trying to stay calm, but this … It makes me mad. That's how you lose your audience. You will lose all of your audience …

Picture this, let me walk you through this … You're on podcast host A, and Apple is looking at podcast host A. You put in a redirect, and it doesn't work. Apple is still looking at podcast host A, and so is … All your subscribers are looking at podcast host A. You go to Apple, and you say, "Hey, Apple, you look at podcast host B." Well, that's great for anybody who subscribes today, going forward, but your old audience – all those people, all the months, and years that you've worked on getting that audience – they're still looking at podcast host A, and there's nothing there to say, "Hey, you need to go look at podcast host B." Consequently, you just drained the swamp of your entire audience, not that your audience is a swamp, but you know what I mean.

To say that publicly … I was like, "Hold on a second …" because, and again, for me, this, again, diminished my confidence in their knowledge. I've, since then, went to their support, and said, "How do I cancel my account?" To their credit, to their credit, they did refund my first month, because I found their bug in their import feature.

They are doing some things that are different. Let's point out the good things they're doing, things that they're trying that are new. They have a way to capture email addresses, right there on their player. Now, again, not really new. It's new that a podcast media hosting company is trying that, but if you have a Hani Simple Podcast Press, or Pat Flynn Smart Podcast Player, both of those players have the ability, now, to capture email addresses. They also have a way, if you use Stripe.com, a way that, right on the player, you can accept donations. Again, somewhat new that a podcast media host will do that, but Podbean has been doing that with their player, and most podcasts, now, either have a PayPal button – that's not new, at all – or they're using Patreon. Again, not really new.

For me, let's inject some opinion here, now, when it comes to … Cuz you can actually capture email addresses, and then, use them as your email list. That's new. For me – this is where I'm gonna inject my opinion – when I use an email-list provider, I don't wanna email-list provider that is also a etc., etc. I want an email-list provider that does one thing, and that's make sure that my email is delivered.

If we go back 10 years ago, there were times when it was hard to get your email delivered, and that's why you went to these lists, because if somebody on your network was a giant spammer, the whole network would not get their email delivered, or it would be much more hard to get it delivered. That's my only worry. That's my opinion about using somebody who is not an email provider to provide my email list. That's the only thing I have worried about that, but I will give them credit, that's new.

They also had something … It was a little controversial, that when you use their Donate feature, there is no fee to move your money to your bank, like a bank-transfer charge. When they were on the Ask the Podcast Coach, there were people in my chat room that said that is not true. Any time you transfer money to a bank, cuz there's a bank involved, they're gonna charge you for it. On their website, they're saying they can do that without a charge. So, all in all, it's not a …

The other thing that got me about this is … Let's go back to the facts, okay? The facts: their import feature is slower than others. You got to wait a day. Their advertising feature does not inject ads into the MP3 file. Now, again, they have changed their wording. They had bugs to work through. Whether or not it was a few, or a lot, there were bugs to work through, and those have been repaired. Again, end result, there are less bugs. Their feeds, based on the PodcastMirror example, are questionable. I'm sure, when they hear this episode, they'll go over, and fix it. They actually do change your file name. The original criteria that I sent to my original contact, I said, "Do you guys do this?" and they said, "Yep," and they don't. They changed the file name. If I'd known that, I wouldn't even looked at them in the first place. Again, to their credit, they did refund my first month, due to the fact that I ran into so many bugs.

Now, let me talk about my opinion. I do not feel, based on their advice of things like, "Change the feed in iTunes," or, "3O2 Redirects are fine …" Based on those statements, I don't feel their staff has a deep understanding of the podcasting space, or how RSS syndication works, in general. My opinion is their support was not bad. In fact, it was pretty speedy. It was just sad that I had to use them all the time, and about every other day, I was finding some sort of issue. Now, to their credit, when I pointed out the issues, they were resolved. Another opinion, I feel their statement of 'the number-one podcasting platform,' I think that claim … I agree with Jim. That's misleading. I also, in my opinion, would never, at this point, in January 2018, recommend them as a host.

Keep in mind, when you're gonna try one of these new … Like, "Hey, here's somebody new on the scene …" If you are a new podcaster, this really might've taken you out of the game, and said, "Look, it's going wrong …" For me, when they added the seasons, and my entire listing in Apple just went kablooey … It was still there, but it was all jumbled, and people were like, "Where's the latest episode?" I'm like, "Ahh …" Again, to their credit, when I pointed it out, they changed it, but I do not recommend them as a media host, especially now, until they get all their bugs worked out. Because I'm leaving, they're gonna have to have another new guinea pig to do this.

I am done testing media hosts. Here's the cool thing about this, because I have people like you, and you're out there in the podcast world, and because there are Facebook groups, and because there are all these other awesome podcast … If somebody comes along that truly is doing something new, because the whole thing about having an ad pop up on your website, that's not new.

Spreaker's been doing that. Right now, if you have ads in Spreaker, if you're using Spreaker … Now, granted, you're gonna get … When I was using it, it was .000. That's three zeros … Two cents per download. It would pop up a little thing, and say, "Hey, click here to go to the Home Depot," or whatever.

They've also had pre-rolls. If you listen on the Spreaker website, I actually have a pre-roll that says. "Hey, Spreaker listeners, thanks for listening. SchoolofPodcasting.com, blah-blah-blah." That's not new. The whole getting payments on a website … Todd Cochrane's been doing that since 2004, with PayPal. That's not new.

Keep that in mind, sometimes, that sometimes the marketing can make it sound like they're really the bee's knees, but, in reality, they're not really doing anything new. That's my facts, that's my opinion, and that's why I don't recommend them.

Just keep in mind, when you're moving to these new platforms, it's gonna be hard to compete with Blubrry, with Libsyn, with Podbean, with Spreaker. Some of these companies have been doing it … Libsyn, since 2004; we're looking at 14 years. It's gonna be hard to really ramp up, and come up with something that's going to beat that. Be careful, when you're looking at hosts. That's why I have my criteria. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

What are you doing in February? I will be at Podfest. Check out Podfest.us. I'll be celebrating my birthday by having my closest friends rip me to shreds. Yes, it's gonna be a lot of fun. I will be roasted at Podfest, as well as I'll be doing a presentation there. That's in Orlando, Florida, February 8th through the 10th.

Then, on February 28th, through March 2nd, I will be at Social Media Marketing World. This is in lovely San Diego. I've never been to San Diego; never been to Social Media Marketing World. I know the opening night is on an aircraft carrier. This is a really great … Both these are great places to go, but I've never been to Social Media Marketing World. I'm really excited about that, and the fact that people are gonna rip me to shreds.

If you're interested in these, go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602. I've got links to both in the show notes.

I was making radio shows for fun. If everybody does it … Everybody I know … Shut up!

Speaking of fun radio shows, if you missed episode number 601, go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/601. We were talking about how to be a guest, and how to find guests for your podcast. In the future, I'm gonna be reviewing the … This is a great piece of equipment, I hope … The PreSonus AR12 mixer. It is a USB mixer. It's got two auxiliary sends, and it's got a built-in SD recorder. I'm looking forward to that.

Today, we talked about moving your podcast media host. I found a really cool tool for web hosts. We'll save that for another episode. I'm going to be talking about … I found a theme for WordPress. In the past, I recommended Appendipity. I've have been playing with a theme. I really like it. We're gonna be talking about that in the future.

To get an episode the minute it's available, all you have to do go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe, and I've got every kind of way to subscribe. [Inaudible] there if you're an Apple, or a Stitcher, or whatever, simply go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe, and get the content, the minute it's available online, all for free.

That is gonna do it for this episode of the School of Podcasting. Remember, you can't improve what you don't launch. You may find out that by just throwing that podcast out there, that your audience may go, "This is good. Have you ever thought of doing this?"

I would love to help you with that. Simply go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, use the coupon code, "LISTENER." You can sign up for a monthly membership, or a yearly membership. Again, if you're looking for podcast mentorship, email me: [email protected] Put in the subject line: Mentorship, and I can answer any questions that you might have about that. I really look forward to working with you, no matter what format you choose. Thanks so much for spending your time with me. I deeply appreciate it. Until next week, class is dismissed. Take care, and God bless.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. If you like what you hear, go tell someone …

I'm not making this up. In the Podmio support, they have a section – How to Migrate Your Existing Subscribers. If you're moving from Libsyn … Now, here's the fun thing, you can go to Libsyn's support page, and get the exact step-by-steps. Instead, they say, "Put the iTunes new feed tag into your Libsyn box." That's absolutely incorrect. Proving, once again, that I feel that these guys do not have an actual understanding of how podcasting works. The thing that blows my mind is the directions are on the Libsyn page.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. Go tell somebody. Yeah, go tell someone.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – Your Podcast Website

Today, on episode number 603 of the School of Podcasting, last week, we talked about media hosts. This week, we're talking about website hosts. Do you need a website in the first place? How do you start one? What if you hate the one you're on, how do you move? Also, it's the new year. We had that whole resolution to add the whole iTunes episodes. How do I go about, and do that again? "I actually wanna do it now, Dave." Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting, with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your award-winning personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you're new to the show, I help you massage your message for maximum impact. I help you tackle that technology. I help you face your fears, flatten that learning curve, and I just get you podcasting, cuz, look, you can go watch a bunch'a old outdated YouTube videos, and do that. Have fun with that. No, I help you get going in the right direction.

The website I want you to go to right now, SchoolofPodcasting.com/start. Use the coupon code, LISTENER. That coupon code is not available online. It's my way of saying thanks for listening to the show. The coupon code is LISTENER, L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R, and that'll save you when you sign up for a month, or a year, If you want, at the SchoolofPodcasting.com.

Thinking of starting a podcast? Since we're on that topic, let me talk about my sponsor and that is Podcast Movement. This is the largest podcast event that is solely geared towards podcasting. Being a podcaster is a great way to grow your network, and if that's- and that is absolutely true, well, think about this. gonna a podcasting event is like dumping gasoline on that, because you are face to face with the people you wanna meet. It's really cool.

Let me give you an example. I was there a couple of years ago. I've been there every year, by the way. I'm standing at one of the events that they do, cuz you have all these … Well, they have a hundred sessions on topics there, ranging from the technical aspects of setting up your equipment, to the audio production, as well as marketing, and monetizing your show, and your future, really, when you think about that.

Those go on during the days. At night, they have all these cool networking parties. I'm standing there, and Marc Maron walks in. He's got his shorts on, some flip flops. I'm like, "Oh, hey, Marc, what's up?" He's like, "Hey, man, what's up?" I shook his hand, and I'm like, "Hey, you remember when you were in Cleveland, and the morning show had this weird leaf blower thing that backfired, and threw puke on the ceiling?" He was like, "Yeah." I'm like, "We're not all morons in Cleveland." Really cool. Where else are you gonna go, and just hang out with great podcasters? It was awesome.

Some other things about this. If you're a brand-new podcaster, or if you're a veteran, it's a great place to show up. There's gonna be over 2,000 podcasters from around the world. It's in Philadelphia. You wanna check out the Liberty Bell? You wanna go see Rocky's statue, and go, "ADRIAN!!" and run up the steps? Philadelphia is an awesome place. July 23rd through the 26th, three days of workshops, panels, parties, and more. The Expo Hall is gonna have over 60 vendors, including Libsyn, so, I'll be in the booth. Come look me up. If you're in the mood for a microphone, or any kinda service, there's gonna be people there to help you out. Again, it's July 23rd through the 26th, Philadelphia PA. Their website is PodcastMovement.com. Use the coupon code, SOP, and you will get $50 off any registration. Thanks to Podcast Movement for being a sponsor.

I'll take websites again, for 300, Alex, please? Thank you. We're talking about your podcast website. Last week, we talked about media hosts, and what happens if you ever wanna move, and what you should look for in one.

This week, we're talking about websites, and you might even ask yourself … I've seen people do this, "Can I just get SoundCloud, and use Facebook?" The answer is, "Can you? Sure. Nobody's gonna stop you." I always say the question, "Can you paint with peanut butter? You can. It's not really recommended, but, you know, have fun with that." Would you buy a car, let's say … Would you buy a car from a guy that's selling it out of a tent? Would you feel really comfortable with somebody who didn't have enough money to have an actual dealership?

It just, it depends, really, on what you're doing. If it's just you, and "I wanna talk to my best friend, we're gonna record them, and put them out as a podcast," by all means, use Soundcloud, and Facebook your face off. What happens, often, is later you go, "Well, now we wanna treat it more seriously." You've got all this back catalog to just mess with, so it's not something I recommend.

The other thing is, to go back to that original question, "Do I need a website?" If you ever plan on telling people where to find something, you kinda need a website. Think about this: somebody goes, "Oh, you have a podcast? Where can I get it?" "Oh, just find me on iTunes." We'll talk about how that's one of the worst things you can say to somebody.

The other thing … Let's talk about that now. If you are a real estate podcaster, that's one of the worst things you can say, inaudible "Oh, just find me in Apple Podcast," because you have a very good chance of not being found, not because the search tool is bad; although, it has room for improvement. They've improved it. For a while, you got like 8 to 10 results. I think that has since changed. Because there are so many real-estate shows, because there are so many fantasy-football shows, because there are so many golf shows … There are a ton of shows that are called Thinking Outside the Box. I think the last time I checked, there were seven. Not to mention all the 'Preneur' shows.

When you say, "Find me in Apple Podcast," it's not a great thing to say, cuz there's a really good chance that you're not going to be found. In fact, saying, "Find me in whatever app," is really not a good way to do that, but if you say, "Hey, go out to my website, SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe," and you actually have a tutorial there to walk people through the process, that is worth the $5 to $12 a month you're paying in web hosting.

Do you need a website? Need, meaning can I live without it? You can live without it. Do I? You know, you need water, you need food. Do you need shelter? Well, you can live without it. It's just not very fun, especially in Ohio, in the winter. Something to keep in mind, if you're a school, or again, if it's just you, and your buddy, and you kinda wanna just … You wanna try on podcasting. "I don't wanna have to spend so much money to start one," and this makes sense to a certain extent.

When I started playing the guitar, when I was a little kid, I had this beat-up, old, crappy guitar. Later, I saved my money with my paper route. I spent $300 on a Gibson SG, only to turn on the very first day of MTV, because I'm old, to watch Pete Townsend, of The Who, smash it, and I was like, "What?" I didn't start off with a $300 guitar, so I can understand you wanting to kinda inch your way into it.

If all you need is a place for people to listen, and subscribe to your show, then Libsyn.com, Blubrry.com, and Podbean.com are all media hosts that have some sort of – keyword, here – basic website that comes with your plan. Well, how basic is basic? Again, if you just need people to subscribe, and listen, done. You don't need a fancy-schmancy website.

Now, if later, you go, "Well, I wanna have a funnel, where I add products, or newsletters, or I'm gonna have some sort of JavaScript that puts this cool little flashy thing," no. No JavaScript, in most cases.

There are some ways you can get around that, though. For example, let's say I wanna have MailChimp … MailChimp as a newsletter service. It's free. It starts off free. Again, you're trying to do this on the inexpensive route; wanna stick your toe in the water. There is a way, in MailChimp, that instead of grabbing the code to put on your website, you can grab a link, because with all these websites, you can do HTML, so you can do links, and images, and things of that nature. You could put an image that says Newsletter, and then link it to MailChimp, and on MailChimp's website, they have your form.

Often, there are ways to get around this. It's when you start into, "Well, I wanna have product sales, and I wanna have this page, and that page, and a page about the history …" No, that's … Now you're getting outside the bounds of, "I need people to listen, and subscribe." When you get to that point, you just basically copy and paste a whole bunch'a stuff, and you can move to another website. We talked about that last week, how to move your show, or, today, we're gonna talk about how do you move your website?

Keep in mind that, in some cases, you can actually get away without buying an actual web host, and use your media host for both. Now, some people think, "Well, why don't I do the opposite? Why don't I use my web host, my GoDaddy, my Bluehost …" and for the record, today, I did. I'm changing my mind on something, and you're gonna hear about who my new favorite web host is.

You don't use a web host as a media host. You can use your media host as a web host. Again, asterisk, as long as it's basic, but you don't wanna use your web host as a media host. You go, "Well, why is that?" Because it says right there on the front page that they have unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage. I've talked to Bluehost, and I've talked to HostGator about this, and it's not a bandwidth … It's not a storage issue.

It's the fact that when … If you think about it, when they say 'element of bandwidth' … When you access a website, like an actual page, it's maybe, maybe ,and I'm pulling this number out of my … I'm gonna say 50 kilobytes, maybe 500 kilobytes, if that. It's small. It's tiny, let's go that route. When you pull a single MP3 file, it might be 46 megs-50 megs. One is kilobytes, one is megabytes, and that's a difference.

What happens is now, when you have hundreds, maybe thousands of people pulling your MP3 file, it's not storage, it's not bandwidth, it's your tying up what are called resources on that server, and basically that server is going [heavy breathing] and it can't do it. That's why you don't wanna use your web host as a media host. I know a few people that can say, "Dave, hey, I'm not having a problem," but I can also point you to about five people that go, "I've been asked to move.".

So, now, let's talk about, "Okay, Dave, I need a little more than a basic website. What do I … What should I have," on your podcast website? Here are the four things I recommend, minimum. Number one, a play button. Number two, an About page. Number three, a Contact page. Number four, a Subscribe page.

Why do I need a play button? Think about it like this, when you go to the mall, don't you love it, when you see the person standing there with a tray of some sort of free something? Because, usually, it's pretty good. There's some sort of chicken place at the mall, and there's always a guy out there with a bunch of toothpicks, and you go, and you eat one, and then you go to the restroom. Then, you come out of the restroom, and you just happen to walk by the guy again, and you get a second one. What are they doing? They're giving you something for free, hoping that you will then go buy one.

A play button on your website is kinda like saying, "Here, have a free sample." It's super-easy. You don't even have to pull out your wallet, just do that. That is what having a play button on your website … I've seen people do this. They'll only have links to iTunes. I've seen that, or Apple Podcasts. Now, you've added "Click on That." Oops, you don't have iTunes, or Apple podcasts? Now, you gotta download the software. Now, you've gotta go back, and click … That's not gonna work. Or, they'll Click Here to listen on something. Okay … Why not just have it right there, because you're asking somebody to buy your podcast, shall we say, without actually sampling it. That's just not gonna work. Keep that in mind, when you're doing a Play button.

Here's another thing to think about, and this is like, "What, are you crazy?" Not … I know. I know it's 2018. Not everyone has a smartphone. I know it's crazy. What? Yeah, there's still people flipping the phone, and those people might wanna listen to your show. By having a Play button on your website, they can listen to it right there, so you need a Play button.

The other thing you need is an About page. I used a tool called Crazy Egg, and I think you can actually use it for free. It shows you a little more than Google Analytics, in terms of ease of use. It shows me this thing called a heat map, and it shows where people were scrolling down, and it showed what people were clicking on. The word 'About' on my website was just peppered, where people had clicked on it. For me, the About page was one of the most important ones.

If somebody comes to your website, and they're like, "What's this?" They're gonna click on that About page. This should explain a little bit about your show. For me, it should explain how your show is going to benefit them. Why? Because, who doesn't wanna benefit? Think about this: your target listener is right in front of you, and they're looking at your listing. What are you going to say to convince that person to go back, and click the Play button, or even better, click on the Subscribe button?

I recently looked at the description I have in Apple Podcast for the School of Podcasting, and it needs work, and that's the beauty of all this stuff. If you're a regular listener of the show, you're gonna probably vomit when I say this, cuz I say it about every episode – your podcast is not a statue, it's a recipe, so, you can change all this stuff.

I looked at it, like, "Mm-kay, I see what I was going for, but that's not really gonna work." Like, for example, in the first sentence of my description, I mentioned that I've been podcasting since 2005, and I say that … I often introduce myself that way, because it speaks to my experience. Not many people can say that, but I'm not sure that's the first thing I should lead with. I'm actually thinking of redoing my intro, in some ways, because, in general, most people don't care how the sausage is made. They just wanna know, "How good is it gonna taste in my mouth?"

Explain to people what they're gonna get in the podcast, how they're gonna benefit, how they're gonna feel, whatever the benefits are of listening to your show. Again, keep in mind you can always change this later. The tough part is … This is where things get tough, and this is where every podcast question typically ends in the phrase, "Um, it depends." Some consultants have a website for their consulting, and then they add a podcast. Some people have a podcast, and their website's about their podcast, in hopes that they will then do consulting.

Do I have a paragraph about the show? Do I have a podcast about the host? Do I have a podcast about my services? The answer is yes. The hard question is which one is first? That one, I can't answer for you. If your website's more about your services, well, then, maybe you should have that paragraph first, and then say, "Also, you might wanna listen to our podcast, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah …" but I think you should have all those in one place. Not an About the Host page, an About the Podcast page, and About Our … Just have it all in one place. Keep it easy for people to find.

You have a Play button. You have an About page. You have a Contact page. Yes, you don't make people contact you via Twitter, you give that information right there, on your website. I, and this is how I do it … Doesn't mean this is how you have to do it, but I think it's a good strategy. I put every way you can contact me on one page, and that page is called Contact. It's not called Buy Me Coffee. It's not called Do a Hang with Dave, or some other fun little way to say, "Eeee, let's hang!" No. People were looking for a button that says Contact.

So, there, if you go over there, I have email, I have voicemail from PodcastVoicemail.com, I've got my social media. That way, if somebody wants to contact me, they don't have to say, "Oh, I don't … I didn't see …" No, it's right there. You only need to look one place. If you're using some sort of form … Let's say you're using a plug-in, Gravity Forms, or Contact 7, or whatever it is, that's fine. Just make sure that works. Go to that form, pretend you're a listener, put in the information, and make sure that you get that information, because I hear so many people that a) say, "I'm not getting any feedback." Then, I go out to their website, I put it in there, and go, "Did you get my email?" They're like, "No." I go, "Your form's not working." "Oh, I see where it's sending it to [email protected]" Yeah, you need to update that to point to your email.

Double-check all your contact … Make sure that if somebody's leaving you voicemail, that the voice, the email that is associated with your voicemail account is getting that message to you, cuz you might have a bunch of voicemails, but they're notifying the wrong voicemail. Go through all the ways that a listener can contact you, and make sure those work.

Again, you've got a Play button, an About page, a Contact page, and a Subscribe page. I've kinda already talked about this, but as more, and more podcasts are added to these different directories, telling your audience to, "Find me at Overcast," is probably not a good way to handle this. As more new podcast listeners get involved, we need to kinda quit telling them to subscribe, because they might not have a clue what that means, cuz they're thinking, "Well, I have a subscription to Reader's Digest. How do I … Where is the subscription form?" No. Instead make a page that shows people how to subscribe to your show, with links directly to your show, so they don't have to go to Apple, and do a search. You just click this button, and boom, and then, click on this button, and click Subscribe.

The other thing it's really cool … Did you know this? Let me find … Where's my phone? Have you heard this yet? Let me think of a podcast. Hey, Siri, subscribe me to the RED podcast.

Just to confirm, would you like to subscribe to the podcast, Red Eye Radio?

We see where it's not that simple. No. Hey, Siri, subscribe me to The School of Podcasting.

Just to confirm, would you like to subscribe to the podcast, School of Podcasting – Learn to plan, start, and grow your podcast, by Dave Jackson, podcast consultant, and coach?

Yes … She's thinking about it.

You are already subscribed to School of Podcasting crosstalk.

Okay. That's cool. You can just tell people … You could do a Facebook video to do that. However, what about those Android people? You gotta keep that in mind. You also wanna be on TuneIn. You wanna be on Stitcher. You wanna be on Google Play Music. You wanna be on Apple iTunes. You wanna lead people by the hand …

Back in the day … When I was a teenager, I worked in a grocery store, and we were getting killed by these big giant chains that were moving in, and we had to stand out. One of the things that we did to stand out was we offered just like kick-butt customer service. If somebody came by and said, "Sonny, where is the whatever?" I would stop whatever I was doing, and lead them to whatever the heck they were looking for, and point them at it. If they were short, I would say, "Would you like me to get that for you? Is there anything else I can help you find?" I always think about this now. We need to stop what we're doing, and lead our audience right to our podcast, and go, "Here," and put it in the cart for them, and go, "Is there anything else we can help you find?"

Those are the things I think you need, minimum. A Play button, an About page, a Contact page that actually works, and a Subscribe page. Those are what you need on your website.

"All right, Dave, you talked me into it. I'm gonna build a website. Who should I use?" Well, in the past, I've used HostGator. I was even a HostGator reseller, and for whatever reason, their support just went down the tubes. I heard so many people talk about Bluehost that I went over, and tried them, and for the record, I've never had really great luck with them. I had a friend of mine tell me about GoDaddy, and I remember in the early days of GoDaddy, they weren't great. They kinda were weird. I gotta tell you, I had great luck with GoDaddy, to the point where I became a GoDaddy reseller. If you go to CoolerWebsites.com, and order over there, I get a very small percentage, but basically, it's GoDaddy that's doing all the service for me.

I've seen this new breed of websites that came onboard. In the past, you had what was just called web hosting, and behind the scenes, it was like UNIX. Now, they have these specially geared web-hosting packages for people that are running WordPress. If you're new to this, WordPress is a very popular free software that you can use to create your website. If you've ever used things like Microsoft Word, it looks a lot like Microsoft Word. It's not that easy, but it's not as hard as you probably think. .

I tried a few websites using this WordPress-kinda-formatted hosting, and I did see an increase in speed. Then, I put … I didn't think it was that huge. I'm like, "Okay, it's a little faster." Then, I put WordPress on a website that was just … Shall we just call it the traditional web hosting? I went, "Oh, yeah, this is noticeable. It's … Wow, it's noticeable." The fees are typically a little higher, usually a few dollars more a month, not a ton, but the speed is definitely higher. As Google ranks things, now, partly based on how fast the page loads, that's something you might wanna think about. So, that's the good news, it's faster, and it's not that much more expensive.

The bad news is most of these WordPress-hosting packages came with no e-mail address. For instance, I decided to use WP Engine. This is one of the first ones that came out, and again, it was faster. It was solid, but I didn't get @SchoolofPodcasting.com. I ended up going through Google at the price of $5 per month, per email. I had [email protected], and I had [email protected], and it was charging me $10 a month.

WP Engine is a fine company. Their support was great, but to make a long story short, if you get any kind of major traffic to your website, I ended up paying through the nose. At one point, I was paying between $50 to $70 a month for just the web hosting. Then, another 10 bucks for the email addresses. While I like GoDaddy's WordPress hosting, it's around $10 a month, and that's for 400,000 visitors. For most people, that's gonna be fine. Again, I've been using them, as a reseller, and I would recommend … That's why I've been recommending people, "Hey, just go to CoolerWebsites.com, and sign up, and get the WordPress hosting.

Well, then a friend, and this is one of the cool things about being a podcaster … Your audience kinda goes, "Hey, that's cool. Did you know there's something better?" That is a website called SiteGround. For the record, I have an affiliate program for them, so if you plan on checking them out, can you do me a favor? It doesn't cost you an extra dime. Just go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/site ground. That's S-I-T-E-ground. They have WordPress design packages, and … But, wait, there's more! They offer email addresses, as well. I was like, "All right …" I moved a couple sites over there; put my toe in the water.

Again, I noticed a speed increase with my pages. I talked to them, and I said, "Look, I'm thinking about moving The School of Podcasting," when another large bill came in from my buddies over at WP Engine. I said, "Can you guys handle this? They said, "Uh, yeah." The cool thing is they moved it for free. When you sign up at SiteGround, at SchoolofPodcasting.com/siteground, they will move one website for you, for free.

And, I got email addresses with it. In fact, I have unlimited email addresses, and their support is awesome. In fact, I'm kinda worried about telling you, because I don't want them to turn into HostGator, where they get so many customers that they can't keep up. I'm assuming they're gonna keep up, but they're awesome, and …

Oh, yeah, "What's the price, Dave?" Their largest package, which is what I'm using for The School of Podcasting, just to be safe, is $12 a month. I canceled my email accounts on Google. There's $10 in my pocket, and I'm not getting a $50 hosting bill. Instead, I'm getting a $12 hosting bill. So, to say I'm very happy … Oh, and, and, I swear the website's faster. Even though WP Engine is not slow, I swear theirs is faster, and that's just from an eyeball of, like, I went to my website,and went, "BAM!" And I went, "Wow, that was fast."

You're like, "Okay, Dave, I'm on an old shared hosting." That's usually what it used to be called, shared web hosting. "I'm paying $3 a month, and I'm willing to pay 10, if it's that much faster …" The other thing is it's kinda geared towards WordPress, and I think they keep things … It's not gonna keep you completely safe. We'll talk about that in just a second, but I think it keeps you safer.

So, how did you move your site? Well, number one, like I said, SiteGround. They moved The School of Podcasting for free. If you just have one site, you don't have to worry about that. I have multiple sites that I decided to move over there, and what I did … For me, it was I moved a bunch of websites that are kinda half-dead, just to test the water.

Normally, they charge you $30, after your first free one, to move a website over. Here's what I did, and I'm gonna tell you about one of my favorite WordPress/website tools. That is Manage WP. Here again, they have an affiliate link, even though it's free, but, if you don't mind, SchoolofPodcasting.com/manageWP.

Let me tell you what this does. You basically install a free plug-in on your website. For me, when I have multiple websites, so, website one, website two, website three, website four … When I log in, we all know the good things about WordPress is it's constantly updating, and having new features. We know the bad side of WordPress is, hey, it's constantly updating, and adding new features.

You've gotta go, and upgrade, and all this stuff, if you wanna keep your website safe. If you don't upgrade your website, you're leaving the door open. You're putting a big giant sign on your back that says, "Please hack me." I installed the free plug-in on my website site, and I can go in, I can trash all my spam messages in one place. I just … If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/603, I'll have a video, and you can see where I upgraded a bunch of plug-ins, a bunch of themes, with like three clicks. It's really, really cool.

How did I use this to move my website? Well, and this is … Before we get into this, I realize all the IT people are gonna go vomit when I say this, right now. My goal here is how to explain how to move a website, without learning any kind of admin, with databases. No FTP. How do I move it, without learning any code? I realize there are lots of better ways of doing this, than what I'm gonna describe. This one uses no code, and no back-end nothing, okay? That's why I chose this method, so just save your hate mail. I realize there are better ways to do this, but this is how I did it.

I installed this WordPress plug-in, and what's great about WP, or managed WP, is you can choose what to pay, and what to not pay for. I can have it back up my website for free, once a month. Well, I need to back up right now. It was, are you ready for this? $2. Yeah, I said, "Can you back up my website?" $2 for the backup, and if I leave that on, it's $2 every month. It backed up my website that I wanted to move, so I had this cool file that has everything on my website is now on Manage WP.

I then went over, and this is the squirrely part … I went to SiteGround, and installed WordPress on the same account that I had my other file on, my other website. I now have two websites. Installed WordPress, but my domain is still pointing at my old host. This is what … It's a little different in the hosting world. I always use the analogy of your house. With your house, you always thought your house had an address. It didn't. The land that your house sits on has an address. For me, it was 535 Stevens Road, and I always thought that pertained to the house. Nope. If you rip down the house, that plot of land is still 535 Stevens Road.

In the internet world, you can have one address, and pointed it at a different plot of land. In this case, the plots of land are your web host. Let's say you're hosted on HostGator, and you wanna move to SiteGround. You go over, and right now, your domain, yourdomain.com, is pointing at HostGator. You go into your domain manager, so that's whoever, GoDaddy, and you say, "Hey, quit looking over there. Would you please look over there, at the new host?"

When they do, they're gonna see the WordPress that you just installed, but there's nothing there. This is where the IT people are gonna go, "No, you just do …" Okay, I realize … It's a blank WordPress site. I just sat there, cuz this usually takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to a couple hours, and I was just like, it's … Again, most of these websites are fairly, "Meh …" They're half-baked. I just kept hitting F5, every now and then, and sure enough, I saw the blank website come up. I went right into Managed WP, and I said, "Restore this website." I put in the new log-in name, and password to my new website. It took all of maybe 45 seconds, and it pushed all those files over to the new host and, voila, there was my website. Super-easy.

The only downside was, for, who knows, maybe five minutes, my website was down, but I put … I put a post right on the front page, and said, "Hey, we're gonna go, and do some maintenance, so if you see the website go away, it'll be back in a minute." It was very easy. No coding involved. I clicked one button that said, "Back up," changed my domain name, clicked another button that said, "Restore." Done.

That is how I moved a site, and I've done this a couple time. It's really not that big a deal. Now, how many, then … "Dave, you said you have more than one website, on one plan?" Yes, I do. I asked SiteGround about this. I said, "Hey, how many websites can I have on one plan? I like this idea." They said, "It all depends, again, on how much resources you use."

Right now, I have the PodcastReviewShow.com, BetterDave.com, DavesBlankSite.com, FeedingMyFaith.com, PodcastingResources.com, PowerofPodcasting.com, all on one plan. Most of those, Feeding My Faith, Dave's Blank Site, BetterDave.com, Power of Podcasting … Don't get a huge amount of traffic. Kind of my second-string podcasts. Podcast Review Show gets a fair amount.

If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/603, you can see where I may be using 25 percent of my resources. Now, keep in mind, I'm using websites that don't get that much traffic, so don't go dumping 10 websites on one plan. Keep that in mind, and just … You do this by going into the C-Panel. Just realize that if you're like, "Ooh, I can't pay $10 a month for all of my websites," you might be able to put some of your websites under one account. That's the good news.

It does take a leap of faith, because I've done this before with HostGator. When you have all of your websites under one plan, and there's a problem with that host, all of your websites go down. Keep that in mind, but that's how I moved my host. This kinda goes back to you can pay people in money, or time, because you might say, "Well, Dave, all you have to do is go into the C-Panel, make a backup of the database, go into the C-Panel of the new place, and do that … or I could just pay them $30 to move it for me." That's fine, but for me, I didn't mind having my website down for just a little bit, and I didn't mind … I saved myself 30 bucks.

Now, depending on your budget, $30 may be a no-brainer. For me, I was like, "Nah, I'm a little frugal. I'm gonna pay $2 for the back up, and I will restore it myself." My big thing now is I'm a big fan of SiteGround, and you're going, "But, Dave, aren't you a GoDaddy reseller? Shouldn't you be telling people to go to CoolerWebsites.com?" I'm like, "Not with a clear conscience, I can."

I will keep using CoolerWebsites, because I get a discount on hosting there, but as you've seen, I've started to move a fair amount of people over to SiteGround. I think, over the years, I will slowly move all my stuff over to SiteGround. I have multiple plans, and because … The big difference here is you get email addresses, and, to me, I like that I can send email from [email protected], instead of [email protected] To me, it just looks a little more professional.

Last, this question came in from a School of Podcasting member, and you may have noticed that the calendar's changed, and it's 2018, and you're like, "Hey, those Apple-episode thingies, how do you do that, because, I know, I should probably update my Apple episode numbers. Can you tell me a little bit more about those?"

We talked about this a little bit last year, but Apple rolled out these new ways of categorizing your shows. One is it a serial, or episodic? Serial means it's a story. I have a podcast idea … I kept a diary, when I was in a band, called Six Shooter. I wanna take that diary, and put it out as a podcast, sometime this year, in my free time, of course. If I do, that will be out as a serial podcast, where I want you to listen to episode one, and two, then three, then four. If it's just one that you can listen to it in whatever fashion you want, that's episodic.

Then, what you wanna do is, no matter how you're doing it, serial or episodic, you wanna put in what episode number it is. That's the fun part, because some of us, who've been podcasting for a while, have 600 episodes to put their stuff in. How important is this? Well, we just heard where you can now ask your phone to subscribe to your podcast. There are rumors that, in the future, you'll be able to ask your phone – you know, that woman in the Apple phone – "Hey, why don't you play episode number such-and-such of the such-and-such podcast?" Well, that will only work if your episode numbers are in there.

Again, let me clarify, that is a rumor, but I could see that happening, cuz after all, why would you have us put that in there, besides the fact that it's pretty? You might as well use that. I know if you, right now, and we'll talk about this in a second … Amazon Skills are kinda like Apple apps. Right now, I'm a beta tester for Libsyn. To have the ability for you to say to the woman in the tube … I now call her Lexi, so I don't set off your device … You can ask Lexi to install the School of Podcasting. Not yet. Or the Alexa Cast, not yet, but that's something. I believe – again, this is all beta – you'll be able to play episodes, based on the episode number, if it's in there.

"Okay, Dave, well, how do I do this?" If you're on Libsyn, you wanna contact my buddy, Rob Walch, the vice president of podcast relations. You can email him, [email protected], and say, "Hey, I wanna update my podcast numbers. Give me the secret link," and he will teach you the secret handshake, and give you the link.

Why it's not available to the public yet, you'll have to ask Rob. To be honest with you, I think it has something to do with having a bunch of people use it at one time. It's a new tool that we just designed. I will tell you that I put in all the episode numbers for the Alexa Cast, and I only had like 36, something like that, in the matter of minutes. It was cool. School of Podcasting, not so much. School of Podcasting has over 600 episodes, and a whole bunch of stuff that I used to do, back in the day, for the students only. In other words, podcasts that weren't available to the public, except now, some of them were, because I clicked the wrong button.

I also went into my feed, and said, "Hey, you know what? Let's just give everybody every episode …" StargatePioneer, buddy, sorry. If you're using an old device, like a Nano Pod, or whatever those things were called … iPad Nano, or an iPod … Those are set to download everything this person has, and all the sudden, I give you a whole bunch more, it's gonna download them all. Yeah, so enjoy those great podcasts from 2007.

I have heard reports of somebody saying, "Dave, I'm using Overcast. It's not an iPod, and I'm getting some of that stuff." That is part of me trying to figure out … All I can say, and this is not a Libsyn thing, for the record, this is not a Libsyn problem, this is a Dave-2006-poorly-organized problem.

I'm not gonna go into the details, because it's very visual, but it's just the School of Podcasting's backend, on Libsyn, is a little bit of a mess, because I haven't always used the Libsyn feed. For a while, I was using PowerPress. Nothing wrong with using PowerPress, by the way, but I don't have the information there that makes it easy, when I'm trying to put in my episode numbers.

If you're on Libsyn, ask Rob for the for the secret handshake, and the secret link. If you have a normal show, with no weird, non-public things, it's a piece of cake. It really is a piece of cake. "Okay, Dave, I'm not on Libsyn. I'm using PowerPress." If you go into WordPress, go into Posts, and you'll have a list of all your episodes there. What you wanna do, this is a way you can speed this up, because you have to do it one at a time, to the best of my knowledge …

I got an email over to the gentlemen, and ladies at Blubrry to say, "Is there any way to do this in bulk?" I don't think there is at least not yet, and that is you just go into an episode, and PowerPress, along with Libsyn, along with Podbean, they are all updated. They were ready for this episode number, and season number, pretty much the minute it came out. If you're not using seasons, you just ignore that, but you'll see a thing in there, which says iTunes Episode, and you just put in, "Okay, this is episode number six," and then click on … In PowerPress, I think you click on Save, and that will then update that, and you just … What I recommend is instead of clicking on Edit, which will replace your list of episodes with the one episode you're editing, right-click on the Edit button.

Again, let's go back from the beginning. I go into WordPress. I click on Posts. There's a list of all my posts. Right-click on Edit, and choose to open a new tab. Now, you've got the original tab, with all of your posts, and then you've got one tab with that one episode that you need to edit. That way, when you put in the episode number, click on Save … You can close that tab, and you're right back where you were. It'll save you a little bit of a headache that way.

Where do you start? I would say start with your latest episode, and just work backwards, because your older episodes are not going to get as much traffic. Do you have to do this stuff? If we go back to the original part of this episode, do I need a website? Well, technically, no, but do I need to put these iTunes stuff in there? Do I need to put these Apple episodes? Well, technically, no, but we tend to believe that Apple put them there for a reason, and they might be used in the future, and no time like the present to go back and update your stuff. Not a lotta fun, especially when you have 600 episodes, but thank you for that question.

I was gonna talk, today, about the PreSonus StudioLive AR12 USB mixer. This thing is the cat's meow for me. It's got sliders, instead of knobs. It's got mute buttons. It's got an on/off-button switch. It's got inserts. It's got two auxilliary sense, plus effects, and – this is the one that really got me – it's got a built-in recorder right there in the mixer. I was like, "Oh, that's it. We are buying this bad boy." It's much smaller than the mixer I had before.

I do a live show on Saturday morning, called Ask the Podcast Coach. If you ever have podcast questions, you don't feel like paying for consulting, come on over. AskthePodcastCoach.com/live. I was using it. I had a phone line tied in. I was doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Got done with it, and I'm using it right now …

Here's what's really cool, if I wanted to, I could have an iPad plugged into this thing. I could have my … If I had a cohost on Skype, I could have them in another channel, and I could have everybody on its own individual channel. All the techies are like, "Ooh, you have my attention." It's really cool. When I record directly into my computer, not a problem.

There's a little bit of a problem, and this is a general pet peeve I have about USB mixers … I'm not quite loud enough. I would like to add another … If you could just put up your fingers, like that much more volume into the software, but it's doable. I could do that, but, again, I like to record to a external … Usually an external recorder, into an SD card. I don't like to rely on a computer. Just in my travels, about every 200 episodes, 300 episodes, it eats one. I like to have two, and I thought, "This'd be great!" I'll have the SD card. That'll be my main one, and then, I will have my computer, if I want to, as a backup.

Awesome, except one thing. When I record on the SD card, it has a high-pitched, ever-ever-ever-so-faint noise. When you go to troubleshoot, first thing I did: tried a new cord. Nope. Tried a different mic. Nope. Muted all the channels, except the microphone. Nope. Unplugged the microphone, so I was basically recording nothing. Nope. Still there. Okay, fine. Unplugged it from the computer. No USB connection, nothing plugged into it. Hit Record, still there. I have an email into the lovely people at PreSonus, saying, "What's the deal with this, and how do we go about repairing this?".

If you heard me talk about this on Ask the Podcast Coach, and the fact that I had bought this, just slow your roll just a second. It's a very … It's such a podcast problem. I mean, you have to be in a quiet room, smashing your headphones into your head to hear it, but nonetheless, because it's a high-pitched whine … It's one of the things that you don't know that you're hearing it, until it stops, and you go, "Oh, wait. What was that weird thing in the background?" I will be reporting on this in the future.

Speaking of the future, if you haven't got your tickets yet, you're gonna miss a really cool event. In fact, I just bought some special clothes. I did. I'm telling you to go to Podfest. If you go to Podfest.us … This is another podcast event, in Orlando, Florida, happening February 8th, which happens to be my birthday. February 8th through the 10th, in Orlando, Florida. I will be speaking there, a little bit, about Alexa. Couple of things I'm speaking on there. The last night, we're kicking it off, they're going to roast me. How fun is that going to be?

If that's not enough … But wait, there's more. Also, in February, I will be going to Social Media Marketing World. This is February 28th through March 2nd, in San Diego, California. This is a huge event that is not just about podcasting; it's about social media. We're talking Facebook, Twitter, the other thing … Face Match, Book Lot. Insta-book. Face the Gram, whatever. It's all there. The first night, they have an opening party on an aircraft carrier. That, I'm looking … I'm looking forward just to sunshine, which, of course, I can also get in Florida.

Podfest. Is it Podfest.us? If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com, I've got to link right there on the front page to Social Media Marketing World. I look forward to meeting everyone there. .

Another way that you can meet me is by joining the School of Podcasting. If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, an d use the coupon code, LISTENER, you can sign up, and join me there.

Anyway, "Dave, you know, I just have a couple questions. Can I pick your brain?" I call that consulting. I would love to have you pick my brain. Just go over to SchoolofPodcasting.com/schedule, and you can schedule 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. If you don't wanna join The School of Podcasting, or you just need some tweaking your podcast, I can definitely help you that way, as well.

Thanks so much for tuning in. We'll see you again next week, with another episode. Until then, class is dismissed. Take care, and God bless.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – The Best Sounding Audio For Your Budget

Today, on episode number 611, hold on to your hat. We have a cool Because of My Podcast story, thanks to Jim Harold. Then, we're gonna get into audio quality, and audio formats. Which sounds better, Fraunhofer or Lane? Should I use 64, 128, 32, etc., etc. Then, we're gonna talk about Skype calls – how I can save you $20 a month and how I saved $44 a month, and I ended up with faster internet. It's pretty cool. Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting, with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your award-winning podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you're new to this show, welcome aboard. I'm gonna help you massage your message. I'm gonna help you face your fears, tackle that technology, and get you going in the right direction, when it comes to podcasting.

My website is SchoolofPodcasting.com. If you go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, and use the coupon code – write this down, it's L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R; better known as "LISTENER" – that will save you when you sign up for either a month, or a yearly subscription.

I always like to start off the show with a Because of My Podcast story. Today, it's from Northeast Ohio's own Jim Harold. You can find him at JimHarold.com.

He is The Paranormal Podcast guy. He's been podcasting since, you guessed it, 2005. If you wanna see a guy that has a lot of podcasts, a lot of books, and a lot of things going on, and yet, his website is well-organized, check out JimHarold.com, and check out what Jim has been up to.

Hey, Dave, Jim Harold here, and I have a great Because of My Podcast story, at least I think it is. If you don't know me, I podcast on the paranormal, and you can find my shows at JimHarold.com, and everywhere fine podcasts are heard. Been doing that since 2005.

I just made my eighth appearance on a radio program, called Coast to Coast AM. If you don't know what that show is, it is the most-popular radio show for overnights in the United States, and it's on over 600 radio stations.

Now, do you think I would have had that opportunity to be on two hours, speaking to the people who love my kind of content, the supernatural, and the paranormal? Do you think I woulda had that chance had I not had a podcast? I don't think so.

So, what are you waiting for? Talk to Dave. You should start your podcast as soon as possible. Don't think about it, go ahead and do it, because you'll have your own Because of my Podcast story. Thanks, Dave.

Thank you, Jim. You don't have to plug The School of Podcasting. I really appreciate that, but if you can answer that question, Because of My Podcast ___, do what Jim did – record it, and send it on over. I deeply, deeply appreciate those. They actually kind of inspire me. Again, you can find Jim over at im Harold.com.

You know what would be really spooky? Not going to Podcast Movement. I would cry. I would be so afraid, I tell you what, because I would be missing out on having over 2,000 podcasters from around the world to network with.

You're like, "Well, where is this happening at?" It's in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, don't you know? July 23rd through the 26th. It's three days of workshops, panels, and parties, and there's gonna be over a hundred sessions, of which will be myself, and Jeff Brown. That's right, I'm speaking a Podcast Movement. The topics are gonna range from the super-technical stuff to the equipment, and audio production, marketing, monetization. Anything you need, it's gonna be there, [plus]. That's right.

But wait, there's more! Over 60 podcast service, and equipment providers. I will be there, as well, at the Libsyn booth. Stop by, and say hi. Whether you're in the market for a microphone, or you're trying to figure out which host is better. (Libsyn!) It's super-easy. You can go there.

Anyone who matters is gonna be at Podcast Movement. That, again, is July 23rd through the 26th, in Philadelphia, PA. That will be here sooner than later. Get your tickets now, and when you go to buy your tickets, at PodcastMovement.com, use the coupon code "SOP," and you'll get $50 off any level of registration. Again, that's PodcastMovement.com, coupon code – "SOP." Thank you, Podcast Movement, for sponsoring The School of Podcasting.

Hey, check it out. I am way over here, in your left headphone, because today, we're gonna talk about audio. One of the things we have to get a grip on is what the heck is stereo? Stereo is when you have sound coming out from the left side, but you can also have things coming out of the right side. This is typically heard, when you do things with, like, music. Just to get the full stereo sound, let's do this: Left, right, center … Nothing better than two-and-a-half-part harmonies.

Where you can really hear this is in music, so let me … I found some music that I think is very stereo-esque. Now, we're gonna go a little crazy with audio today, but not too deep. For all you super-duper audiophiles, this is gonna drive you nuts, but this is one style of audio that a lot of people use. If you're going to use stereo, it is called 128 kilobits per second.

We'll get into what the heck that means in a second, but really all that is, is it is like this: I've got 64 kilobits per second audio, in the left channel, and I've got another 64 kilobits per second, over here in the right channel. When you add those up, you get 128 kilobits per second.

What you need to know about this is this sort of audio takes up about one megabyte per minute; roughly one megabyte per minute. If you're gonna do an hour-long show, that's 60 minutes, and you're gonna do it weekly, that's four weeks, that 60 minutes times four weeks is 240 minutes. We said 128 kilobits per second is one meg per minute, so you're gonna need 240 megabytes per month to host your file.

I was afraid of this. Everybody's mind was blown. Yeah, too much jargon, I realize. I'm gonna try to … This is where the audiophile people are going to send me nasty letters, but we're gonna try to put this into something that we can all understand. That is, if you've ever had to paint, isn't it fun?! All the taping, and the … I admire people that love to paint. I'm not one of them. If you've ever done it, we're gonna talk podcasting to painting, here. When you have …

First of all, you always want to record in the best possible format you can. On a PC, that is in a WAV format. That pretty much means what you hear is what you get. There's no loss of the audio. On a Mac, it's AAC. That's the good news. The bad news is these files are huge, like gigantic, and by that, I mean they're big.

What we're gonna do, then, is you take that giant file, cuz you can't send that to your audience … They're gonna be like, "Dude, you took up all the room on my phone! I hate you!" Hence, enter the world of MP3s. The sound isn't as pristine as it was, but it's also like a tenth of the size of a WAV file, maybe. I don't know, but it's much, much smaller.

We're gonna talk about now … I have an original painting. I'm going to now draw a new copy of that painting. Let's go at it that way. We're gonna use paint. If you paint in stereo, it is like painting with two paint brushes. Now, if you're painting with two paint brushes, what's gonna happen? You're gonna use twice as much paint – one for the left side, and one for the right side.

That's why a stereo file, at 128 kilobits per second … You're like, "Dave, quit saying that! What is 128 kilobits per second?" Here's the thing we need to know about this. The bigger the number, the more paint on your brush.

I think it's GarageBand, or iTunes that occasionally … The desktop version, of course, because if I was talking about the app, I'd be saying Apple Podcasts, but the desktop version. I believe if you convert audio files there, I believe the default is 192 kilobits per second.

Now, going back to the painting analogy, have you ever tried to paint with too much paint on your brush? What happens? It runs, and then you're like … If you let the run dry, it's like, "Oh, it was perfect, except there's this big drippy thing in the middle." Too much paint can be bad.

Well, 192 kilobits per second – warning, this is an opinion – is way too much. Now, today, I'm actually going to export at 192, because I'm gonna give you an example of 32 kilobits per second, 64 kilobits per second, 96, and 128. These are gonna be very short, but I want you to hear the difference, because, in the end, it's up to you to vote with your ears.

That number, the kilobits per second, that's how much paint you're putting on your brush. The more paint, of course, we know that, especially if you're trying to paint over something, the more paint, the better the coat. The better the coat, the less you have to paint again. If you're painting in stereo, you're painting with two brushes. You're using up twice as much paint, and in some cases, you don't need that much paint.

For example, let me play you that stereo file we played a second … Let me play you that clip again. Now, did you notice anything? My guess is you didn't, unless you've got really good ears. The first part of that was in stereo. The second part was in mono. I'm gonna play this again, and when we switch from stereo to mono, I'm gonna put a little beep so you know that we switched.

Now, how can you tell which one is better? Here's the word that doesn't … One of these things doesn't belong here. The word 'better' does not work here, because it's really, and I mean really up to you. What you can do is you can go into your software, whether it be Audition, or iTunes, or Hindenburg Journalist, or whatever you're using, and you can export it as stereo, and then, you can export it as mono, and then vote with your ears, and pick the one that you like best.

Just realize that when you're in stereo, your file is going to be twice as big. Then, the bigger the number, the bigger the file; the bigger the file, the more hosting you need; the more hosting you need, the more expensive podcasting becomes.

Now, let's talk about what does a voice sound like? This is me being recorded as a WAV file, right now, and I will say, ohm let's use the good-old standard, Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow. Now, just to prove my point, I'm going to play that file, now, mono. Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Now, you might be saying yourself, "Dave, that didn't sound a bit different," and that's the whole point of that exercise. There is no difference. There's no stereo separation with a voice. You're listening to me in the middle of your headphones. Now, what I'm going to do is export that same little 'Mary had a little lamb' thing at different bit rates, so we can hear what they sound like.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

If you're like me, you're saying, "Dave, that sounded like crap!" You are correct. That is 32-kilobits-per-second stereo. Now, ooh, you ready for the braintease? If it's 32-kilobits-per-second stereo, what is in each speaker? What's in each headphone, right now? You got it? 16. 32 is 16 on one side, and 16 in the other, which means it sounds horrible, and that did. What does 32 kilobits per second sound like in mono?

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Not bad. Listenable? Yeah. Great? Eh … The upper frequencies, where your S's, and your T's are – a little wonky. Let's listen to what 64, which most of us consider high mono, because, again, 128 kilobits per second is kind of FM-stereo-CD quality. Now, let's listen to … What I'll do is I'll play the 32 mono, and then I'll have it right followed by the 64 mono, so we can hear them, back to back.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

This sounds better. Why? There's more paint on the brush, so it covers better. It covers the audio frequencies better. This is why a lot of people … You can get by with producing a file at 64 kilobits per second mono, and it will be fine, because technically, it is that CD-quality/FM-stereo quality, but there's no stereo separation.

Just for giggles, let's go up one higher. Now, we're gonna compare 64 mono to 96-kilobits-per-second mono.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

I dunno about you … My opinion, I didn't hear a whole lotta difference. There was definitely a difference between 32, and 64, but 64 to 96, now we're talking about icing. We're talking about do I need more icing on my cake? No. I think that's listenable, without being distracting, at all. That's just my personal opinion. Then, the question has to be … Remember the music we heard earlier? What really takes a beating, when you go mono, is music, because you go from stereo to mono. Let's do that one more time.

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson …

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson …

Now, if I start talking over that, is it really a big deal that it's not in stereo? That, again, is up to you to decide. Let's kill that. This is when you can then decide, because, again, the bigger the bit rate, the bigger the file; the bigger the file, the more hosting you need from your media host.

Yes, you need a media host. Use the coupon code, SOPFREE, when you sign up at Libsyn. That's L-I-B-S-Y-N-dot-com. Full disclosure, I work there, and that's my preferred media host. There are others. Blubrry, B-L-U-B-R-R-Y-dot-com. Also use the coupon code, SOPFREE, to get there …

The bigger your file, the more media host you need; the more media hosting you need, the more money you have to put out. It's up to you. It's a balance between your ears, and your wallet, but there's also other considerations. This is where you have to look at your target market, cuz you might say, "But, Dave, I think you publish in stereo, don't you?"

Here's my thought. If you're living someplace where you don't have a lot of bandwidth that it's gonna take forever to download my file, you are not my target audience. You're gonna have a hard time creating a podcast without a decent internet connection. We'll talk about that in a second. Now, some of you may say, "Hey, hold on! I've got poor bandwidth! Don't go peein' in my Cheerios!" Well, that's my thought, at least, and my shows aren't six hours long. They don't take up a huge amount of space. Sometimes, I actually still do publish them at 64-kilobits-per-second mono, if it's extra-long.

Now there's one other thing. Remember how we say the answer in podcasting is it depends? There is no one size fits all. Can you say that with me? There is no one size fits all. When somebody tells you something, please consider the source, and I mean consider it coming from me, because I have another reason why I podcast in stereo. I have an online streaming channel. I use a service called Abovecast. I spend $12 a month. I get maybe – I haven't looked in a long time – not very many listeners on this. This is something that's in … Just like there are podcast directories, there are also streaming-channel directories. Not nearly as popular as podcasting, but I'll put out the 12 bucks for that, and the way I have my channel set up, it wants – you guessed it – 128-kilobits-per-second stereo. So that's the other reason I do it, cuz otherwise, I gotta convert the file again.

My target audience, I think, has the bandwidth to handle it. I think they have enough space on their phone. If I was doing a show for moms, though … If I was doing a show for moms, I would definitely do it at 64-kilobits-per-second mono. Why? Because moms' phones are full of pictures and movies. This is something to think about. There is no wrong answer here. It's really up to you.

The final part of this, and then, we're gonna get into more fun things with the internet, is when you go to figure out how much space you need, we said you need to know how many episodes you're putting out a month, how many minutes those episodes are gonna be, and then your bit rate, cuz we said … Here's the thing, 64-kilobits-per-second mono, which is just a little bit of … It's one brush with a decent amount of paint on it. It's a half a meg a minute.

If I was doing a 20-minute podcast, it would be 10 megs. If I was doing that once a week, I would need 40 megs, so there's that. If it's 128-kilobits-per-second stereo … Remember, that's the same thing as 64 mono, except now, you have a left, and right channel, so your music's gonna sound better. That is double the size, one meg. These are roughly, don't hold me, roughly 1 meg per minute, so if I was doing a 20-minute podcast, a 20-minute podcast would take 20 megs of space. Times that by once a week, that's 80 megs of space. Now, I'm probably more into the $15 range of media hosting, versus the five-dollar, or seven-dollar range. Then, the more minutes you do, the more episodes you do, it just adds up.

I just wanted to let you hear that, but now, now … Ooh, the final … We're gonna pop a myth here. I've been exporting these in Hindenburg Journalist, and you may not know this … I didn't really know this until a while ago, when I looked it up, Hindenburg Journalist uses the Lame encoder, and the official MP3 encoder is from Hasenpfeffer … No, that's Bugs Bunny. Duesendorfer? It's something very German-sounding. I will look it up here in a second, when I go into iTunes, but I'm now gonna take a WAV file, that 'Mary had a little lamb,' and I'm going to convert it to 64 mono, using Lame encoder, which we've kind of already heard, and one using the one in iTunes, and we're gonna see if there's any difference.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

For me there's not a giant difference. One more time.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Now, think about listening to this in the car; think about listening to this at the gym, walking a dog. Think about listening to this, not like I am, in a quiet room, with my headphones smashed into my head, because I'm really … I'm like, "Okay …" Now, for the record, the first one was the Fraunhofer. It's not Hasenpfeffer. Bring me my Hasenpfeffer! I couldn't remember that. The second one was the Lame, and listening to it four times, I finally went, "Yeah, the Lame is a little …" Just like, if you could put your fingers … It's that much worse in the upper end, barely.

This is the thing that people obsess over, and that drives me bonkers, that we're like … We're sitting in a room, smashing our headphones in, listening to think … Nobody's listening to your stuff, five times, going, "Wait a minute, did he say rents or rent?" No. Nobody's caring about that. So, my point here is, really, all you have to decide, in my opinion …

If somebody asked me, as a podcast consultant, "Dave, what should I export as?" I'd go, "Here, it's really easy." Go in, record your file, recording everything as a WAV file, an AAC file, if you're on a Mac, so you can get the best quality recorded. When everything's ready, and all your music's in place, and everything else, export that once, as a 64-kilobits-per-second-mono file, then go right back in, and name it something like Episode 1-Mono 64. Then go right back to that same software … Everything's still in place. Go file, export Episode 1-128 stereo, and go back and listen.

Again, you have to do the math. How many times am I gonna publish? How long is my episode gonna be? How much hosting do I need, based on whether it's mono or stereo? Then look at your wallet. It's really that simple, but I wanted you to hear the difference, because there is a difference. Definitely, when you get down to 32, 32 is not good, in my opinion. That's like, "Ehh, it's a little …" Oh, I don't wanna be mean, but there are other media hosts that use things with the phone that sound pretty horrible, and that's what it kinda sounded like to me. It's, for me, 64 or 128, and again, that is just my opinion.

I just see people all the time, they'll upload a file. Not at 128, not at 192 … 256 kilobits – double the high. They'll upload it to their media host, and go, "Hey, why am I out of space already?" Because you're using a twice as much paint as you need, and it's not really … It's not benefitting the wall you're painting on any more. In fact, you're kind of running … You have runs in your paint now, and all it's doing is taking longer to download, and taking up more space on people's phone.

This next topic came to me, and I was like, "Well, that's a really good point," from my buddy, Troy Heinritz. You can find his podcast, The Blacklist Exposed, at, you guessed it, TheBlacklistExposed.com. Shockingly enough, The Blacklist Exposed is about the TV show, The Blacklist. See how that works? He's smart like that. Then he, and my buddy, Wayne Henderson, do the Packers Fan Podcast, which, you guessed it, is about the Packers.

He sent me a note, and I was like, "You know, this really makes a lotta sense." I'm playing with SquadCast, right now, and there's Ringer, there's Zencastr. I've yet to play with Discord. I know a lot of gamers use that. He made a great point, and I'm just gonna paraphrase his email. "If you have crappy internet, none of these is gonna work. It's not …"

Let me tell you a little story about a man named Jed. Well, first, let's go back a second. Let's talk about Skype. I use Skype, and I'm one of these weird people … I rarely have a problem with Skype. I have one example of somebody who … I was doing an interview. They were interviewing me, and they said, "Look, I live in Africa. I have crappy internet. It's gonna drop about six or seven times. I will call you right back. We'll pick up where we left off," and we did. He did. He fixed it in the edit, and everything was fine.

I went over to Skype, and I'm like, "What requirements do you need on your PC?" On the PC, you need at least one gigahertz, it said, with 512 megabytes, and it's … Basically, I always tell people … When I used to teach software, I used to teach a lot of Microsoft Word, and Excel, and QuickBooks, and things like that. We used to laugh when they'd come out with a new version of the software, with their recommended hardware, because it was always like, "Okay, you need to like triple that."

I'll give you an example. Zencastr, on their website, states you need at least 1.5 down, but then, they say, but really, it'd be cool if you had five. That is your typical … Like, well, you can, you can … On a Mac with Skype, you need at least one gigahertz, which probably means, again, about two or three … A core-two duo, and at least one gig of ram, which means, again, about three.

Then, how much bandwidth does Skype need? If you go out to the website, at SchoolofPodcasting.com/611, you'll see a screenshot I took. Again, I laugh when I see this. They say the minimum download/upload speed is 30 kilobits per second, and it says recommended download/upload speed – a hundred kilobits per second, which is kind of …

Can I tell you something? We're gonna get into talking about cable, today. I live in Akron, Ohio. I had Time Warner Cable. They got bought by Spectrum. I cannot go to their website, and find a different internet packages. The cable company needs to realize they need to make things easy. We want a la carte, and we wanna look at a page, and go, "How much is that, and what do I get?" They do not do that.

Anyway, I did see, for $29 a month, as long as I bundle it with a bunch of other crap I don't want, I could get a 100 kilobits per second up, or down, and they have other things. Now, if you have multiple people, right, if you have more people, and especially if you're doing video, you're doing a video, and you're doing that, now, that goes from 30 up to 128. In reality, again, it's probably 300, which is pretty fast internet.

Again, I went over, I just did a quick speed test at, I believe, it was SpeedTest.net? He said, looking at his website. Yeah. Right now, I have 162 down, megabytes per second, and 23.78 up. I might get a new modem, because I just … Well, here's what I did. I just saved myself 44 bucks a month. Before I get off of Troy's point, here … So, I have okay internet. Then, I realized not everybody does. Please don't call that white privilege. I don't know I am sorry I have the internet, but I do. I don't golf, I don't bowl, and that is my main hobby.

I spend … Well, we'll get into what I spend, here in a minute, but here's the thing. Let's say I'm having a problem with Skype, so I try SquadCast, I try Zencastr, I try TryCast, I try … There's a billion of these things now. If I'm getting an audio glitch on Skype, there's a good chance maybe that when I'm connected to my guest, I'm still going to hear a glitch. Now, the fun part of things like SquadCast, dotFM, and Zencastr is, in theory, they don't record the glitch, because they're recording locally. They're recording your side of the conversation on your computer, your guest's side of the conversation on their computer, so I get that. Again, Zencastr states you need at least 1.5 down. They've recommended five megabytes per second.

To kind of tie this in with the story, that sometimes you're just gonna have to change something, or, in some cases, you are out o' luck. I saw my cable bill came in the other day, and it was over $200, and I was like, "inaudible." I had had HBO, ShowTime, and those were free for a year, and they bundled it in. It was the Triple Play. It was the phone, which has been sitting on the floor gathering dust; it was my internet, and the TV, and I had a decent TV package, and I had a DVR, and all this other stuff.

Well, I was like, "No, no, no, I don't watch enough TV. I watch The Profit. I watch Shark Tank. I cry every Tuesday, when I watch This Is Us, and that's about it. I tape Jimmy Fallon, and I watch him in the morning, while I'm eating my breakfast. Other than that, and really, I don't need that … Bar Rescue is another show that I like. I tried, I heard of these people … "Oh, man, just get a free antenna. If all you want is the local channels, just get a HD TV antenna."

When I lived in Cleveland, where I could almost see where the TV was coming from, I had one of these things, and I still could not get … All I wanted was the four major networks here in the U.S. – NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, and then any kind of local channels, where they play … Why don't we just call it the dead channel, because everybody … It was like old black-and-white stuff; it was like here's more dead people. I see dead people …

I'm in Cleveland, and I cannot pick up all the channels. Now, I've moved 50 miles, 60 miles, maybe, south from Cleveland. I went to the Wal-Mart, and bought this … It was pretty cool. This little tube that, according to the box, picked up TV signals in every kind of direction there is. As long as I stood by the window, and held it about 12 feet in the air, it picked up almost everything. It was just kind of inconvenient if I wanted to take a shower, or, I don't know, do something else. So I was somewhat like, "Oh, maybe there's hope for this.".

I went back to Wal-Mart, and took it back. Went to Amazon, bought this one that said, "Look, 80-mile radius," and I'm like, "Hey, that's me." Put it by the window. Did the thing. Picked up seven channels. Now, the great thing about this, by the way, the seven channels that you're gonna get are all about like Home Shopping, something else shopping, blah, blah, blah, Jesus, more Jesus. In some cases, selling Jesus, or shopping with Jesus. I don't know, but it was all the channels, you're like, "Nope, nope, nope," you know, and so, I was not … I have nothing … I'm actually a fan of Jesus. One of the things I'm gonna ask him, when I get to heaven, is like, "Dude, what was up with letting people with purple hair, who point at the sky when they sing, represent you? What is up with that? But anyway, so I was like, "All right, that didn't work either."

It'd come to me. I talked to my brother, because I know, for a while, he was like, "Yeah, I've tried like five of those things. None of them will let you get the four major networks. We just …" If I lived in a metropolitan area, maybe, but I'm in the suburbs-ish.

Here's what's interesting. You wanna start a podcast, right? I bet there's about 80 million podcasts about this. I know there's a bunch of YouTube stuff. I totally went down this rabbit hole … Michael Delaney heard me go down the rabbit hole, from Baby Mountain Radio, which is actually a show about caregiving for dementia; links out in the show notes, of course.

He let me know about SiliconDust. This is a company that makes HDHomeRun, which is only 66 bucks. What's cool is you plug this thing in, and you can like take your HD antenna, and stream it to any device, and in some cases, multiple-multiple devices. Well, that's cool, except for one thing. It starts with an HD antenna, and we just … We've been there, done that. Dave can't get all the channels he wants. Even though that's a really cool product, and you can actually have a DVR for about … You can have like a recording of stuff for like 35 bucks a year. For Michael, he is like, "I love this thing." I think if you're in the right spot, you got it going on.

StargatePioneer, and I just mentioned this … I mean, this episode hasn't even been published yet. StargatePioneer. You might know him from Better Podcasting, or he also does the Agents of SHIELD podcast over at the GonnaGeek Network. He told me about Tablo, which is this cool Wi-Fi kind of DVR thing. It's, I think, close to 200 bucks, and it works great with, you guessed it, an HDTV antenna. They do make … I watched some guy on YouTube, Modern Dad, somebody like that, and he explained how – he's doing all sorts of cool stuff. – if you have an outdoor HDTV antenna, but I don't. I live in an apartment. I can't go pound one on the roof here. I might …

At any rate, here's the thing. In the same way that there are people that are going from Skype to TryCast, to SquadCast … If you have crappy internet, you have crappy internet, and I don't really think that's gonna … It's like saying, "Hey, my bed is too short. Can you give me a new blanket?" Okay, here, use the red blanket. "My bed's still short. All right, give me the blue blanket …" It's not gonna fix the problem.

Here's what I did, and how I ended up with faster internet, and I saved myself 44 bucks a month. Again, my bill was 200 bucks, and so, I was like, "No, I don't think so." Well, that got my bill down to 176, and I'm like, "I still don't think so." I contacted my cable company, which was formerly Time Warner Cable – they got purchased by Spectrum – and found out that, while I was on the fastest internet for Time Warner Cable, now that they were Spectrum, I was not on the fast internet. I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, what's up with that? I need me some fast internet." I said, "Here's what I …" They're throwing bundles at me, and I'm like, " I don't want a phone. I really don't want a phone I don't wanna … Look, this is what I want. Tell me how much it is for the fastest internet you have, and for the smallest TV package you have. They go, "110 bucks," and I go, "Done! That's what I'm looking for. It's like 300 megs I think is the fastest they have. Like I said, I might need to buy a new modem if I'm gonna really get up to 300, but I downloaded that and it's a much faster internet.

I was using a SquadCast, and I interviewed JJ Virgin, and when it was done … I used to kinda watch the progress bar. Again, it's not a SquadCast thing. I was watching the progress bar as it uploaded inaudible and I was like, "All right," and the call was done and … It was done. That was cool.

Originally, it was over $200. I was down to 106. Now I'm down to 109, but their basic-basic-free-cable thing a) did not have a DVR. Well, you know us podcasters, we love to time shift, so I was like, "All right …" Plus, again, the TV selection was like … I finally had the four main channels, and M*A*S*H. That was it. Then, of course, Jesus, and the Shopping Network, which I believe was the band back in the 70s. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus and the Shopping Network, coming to the show right now … All right, so anyway, and then, later, Jesus went solo, and he did just drop the Shopping Network, and depending on … Oh, never mind. Inaudible.

Now, I looked at … This is what's gonna be really interesting to watch in the future, cuz this is slowly … I don't have a PlayStation. I kinda looked at PlayStation as option. YouTube Live, I believe is what they're calling it now, I looked at them, and you could use your Chromecast and … I'm a big Amazon guy. I have a Fire TV. I looked at Sling. I looked at Hulu. I still like the thing that Michael told me about, the SiliconDust thing. I might call them, and say, "Look …" cuz here's the thing that's stupid about them. These people sell these things that stream what comes from an antenna, but they don't sell the antenna. How dumb is that?

Anyway, I look to YouTube Live. I looked at Sling. I looked at Hulu. I already had Hulu. To make a long story short, cuz I realize you're going, "Dave, this has nothing to do with podcasting." I did YouTube … YouTube … I did Hulu Live, which adds a whole bunch'a channels for 44 bucks. Now, my cable's 153, but come Monday, I'm cutting my basic cable. I'm basically cutting all of it down, and then it's gonna end up to 133. So, I went from 176 to 133. So far, it's OK. It takes a little bit for Hulu to figure out that you're now this live-streaming dude. It's a little clunky, but again, I don't watch a lotta TV. I really don't.

My point here is, again, going back to Troy's original point, is if you have crappy internet, and this does not mean you need a gazillion megabytes up, but if you're going to be doing Skype calls, you might need something more than you have now. Instead of spending $20 on, and I'm sorry, SquadCast, and I'm sorry, Zencastr, but instead of spending $20 on these guys, why not see what is better at your cable company? There might be a way that you can spend that $20, and just get faster internet. Then, you don't need SquadCast, and Zencastr, cuz, I'm gonna demonstrate this, you can actually …

If you want somebody in a split track, where you get separate tracks for each one, I'm gonna show you how to do this. Now, I'm using a mixer right now. My microphone is plugged into one channel, and my computer is plugged into the other one. What I can do is pan this so that I'm going to be all the way left, and the color … This is another thing, if you ever wanna test your Skype, you can do that. It's super-duper easy.

I'm gonna do this live. Here I am. I'm in both speakers, and now, I'm going to go all the way over here, to the left channel. There is a woman called Echo, just E-C-H-O. You'll see her. It says Echo Sound Testing Service, and she's from Britain, right? So, I'm gonna give her a call, here; give her a little chin-wag.

Hello, welcome to Skype Call-Testing Service. After the beep, please record a message.

Now she's in the right channel.

Afterwards, your message will be played back to you-.

I'm gonna talk over her, here, and this is me testing my microphone. Hello, right, you. Cup of tea? Chin-wag. All that kind of stuff. Pip, pip, Guvnor. This is me testing my microphone. Right, you, cup of tea, chin-wag, all that kind of stuff, pip, pip. Now I'm gonna talk over her.

If you're able to hear your own voice, then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice, then something is wrong with your audio-recording settings. Please check your microphone, and microphone settings, or visit Skype.com for more help. Thank you for using Skype Call-Testing Service. Goodbye.

This is an example of why you'd want to have people in separate channels so that I can cut me out, here. Right. You can call her as many times as you want. Again, in Skype, just search for the user Echo, E-C-H-O, and you'll see her, Echo Skype Testing Service.

I mentioned how I was gonna talk over her, so I could do that. Here's the fun part, I now have that track. I can go into Audacity, and split that track, and when I'm talking over her, I can now just mute me, and then export that as mono. Let me do just a quick second of this, just to show you what I'm talking about. Okay, now I'm gonna talk over her-.

If you're able to hear your own voice-

This is an example of why you would want to have-

-then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice-

-people on separate channels. Now, in Audacity, you can say split that track into … It's one file, but split the left and right of that file. You can also do this in Hindenburg Journalist Pro, and say split that into two separate tracks, so it sounds like this. Okay, now I'm gonna talk over her-

If you're able to hear your own voice crosstalk

-this is an example of why you would wanna have people in separate channels. Now, I simply take me out, and we're left with this.

If you are able to hear your own voice, then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice-.

If you have a mixer, and a portable recorder, or something to record into, you can basically pan you all the way left, and somebody else all the way right, and save yourself 20 bucks. Again, sorry to my friends at Zencastr, and SquadCast, but if that's really the goal, you can do that, and save yourself 20 bucks.

Now, a couple other quick things here on sounding good. Number one, I wanna give a shout out to my buddy, Kim, from Toastmasters101.net. She gave me this tip, and that is what if somebody doesn't have great internet, or what if they don't have a great microphone? This would be a better example of that … What if somebody doesn't have a good microphone. They're gonna use their built-in microphone. What you can do, and I'm gonna add in my spin to this … Her spin is have them use Skype on their phone. That's a great suggestion. I say let's take that one point further, and this is where I think this is cool. You can make a Skype account for free. You just need a free email. Go to Gmail, and make up [email protected], go over to Skype, and sign up for a free Skype account, and then, all you have to do is say, "Hey, can you install an app in there?" I'm like, "Yeah, I know how to install an app." I'm like, "Okay, good. Install Skype. Are you on Wi-Fi at the moment?" "Yes, I'm on Wi-Fi." "Okay, install Skype on your phone, and just log in with [email protected] The password is: Don't forget the password." "Okay, got it. Don't forget the password." "Type that in, and I will call you in two seconds.".

You're recording on your end. They're calling on their phone, which actually sounds pretty decent, using your log-in name and password, and when it's over, just have them delete the app. I really, really doubt they're gonna remember your log-in name, and password, and if they do, well, shame on them, but it doesn't really matter. There's no credit card information, I believe, with that. It's a free account, so that's another thing.

Now, the other thing you wanna do is mic technique, and that is you want to avoid popping Ps. Right now, I'm talking directly into the microphone. I'm using a Electro-Voice RE320. If I say something like peanut butter, yeah that was pretty bad … I'm trying really hard to make 'plosives. Those are awful, and you want a pop filter. What you actually wanna do … Here's an easy way to remember this, and I'm gonna move my mic here. I'm pointing the microphone at the corner of my mouth. I'm not talking directly into it. If the microphone is 12:00, I'm looking at basically 2:00, and this is pointed at the corner of my mouth. Now, the other thing you wanna do is make sure you understand how to use your equipment. Right now, I'm gonna say the dreaded words, that's right, you heard it, Blue Yeti.

So, this is me on a poorly placed Blue Yeti. Hear all the room noise? Yay. There are a couple of settings here, and what you wanna do is … Here is one, I think it's picking up the front. Hello, this is me in the front. This is me in the back. Hello. Can you hear me? Im the one doing the British accent. Listen to all the popping Ps. Isn't that a little bit annoying? I think so. This one, yeah, I think just picks up in the front. This is the setting you want with a Blue Yeti, where you want things in the front. Also notice this, if I touch anything on my desk … This is why this microphone isn't … If I had this in a stand, where it wasn't connected to the desk, it might not be bad.

My buddy, Rob Walch, who is the vice president of podcast relations at Libsyn, uses one of these. Sounds great. So does Ravi, from SubscribeMe. It's not a horrible microphone. Not my favorite, but you have to know how to use this. Right now, I'm not using a pop filter, which is really unheard of, so just be careful with this, if you're gonna buy one. I don't recommend them, unless … I just think there are better things, cuz it's … They're kind of a pain in the butt to get in a stand; they're kind of a pain in the butt to get a pop filter, depending on if you wanna get the specialized one, just for the Blue Yeti. I recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100, but this is an example of not great sounding … If we go back to the original one, where I've got it picking up everybody, and I've got the game cranked up, and yeah, and now, if I tap the desk … Yeah, bad audio.

Aright, And as we now … Again, that was … I was surprised, that … I think that's my lamp. Not sure what that thing is picking up. Did have one other tip for making you sound good, today, because we're talking about audio quality, helping you pick that. This has nothing to do about kilobits per second. My buddy, and I, Erik K. Johnson … You might know him as the Podcast Talent Coach, or PodcastTalentCoach.com. We do a show called Podcast Review Show, where we basically … You give us an episode, and we go over, and we look over every rock. We go through it with a fine-toothed comb, and we were … If you go over Monday, you'll hear us review a show called A Modeler's Life. It's about male railroads … Male railroads … It's about model railroads, both female and male railroads. One of the tips we had for the person was he didn't really set up the show. They just kinda started in. I was making all my notes, like wow, they're really taking a lot of tangents. They're not just talking about … Why do I wanna keep saying male railroads? Model railroads. I was really like, "Wow, this is not a great podcast." Then, I went back, and I read their description in Apple podcasts, and it says talking to people about model railroading, and the lives of those that like the hobby, or something of that nature. I went, "Oh …

An easy way to make your stuff sound better is to let people know what to expect, because I can see people tuning into this episode, going, "I don't know, I tuned in to hear about podcasting, and the guy started talking about cutting the cord." Well, okay, that was about how to save money, and the fact that it doesn't make any sense if you don't have a good internet connection, and you're trying to interview four people over Skype. It's not gonna work …

You want to frame your podcasts so that people know what to expect. Then, check this out, when you give them what they expect, they're like, "Wow, that was really cool." So that's my last little tip: How do you make yourself sound good? Let people know what's coming, and then give them what you told them you were going to give them, and they will appreciate it. If you tell them what's coming, and they tune out, they like that, too, because you just saved them 20 minutes.

These are the kinda tips, and the strategies, and things like that, that you will find at TheSchoolofPodcasting.com. I realize we got kind of technical today, but I built this episode on feedback that I get from people at Libsyn – I do tech support at Libsyn.com. Libsyn is L-I-B-S-Y-N-dot-com. use the coupon code, SOPFREE – A lotta times, they don't know how much storage do I need, and they don't understand kilobits per second, and things like that. I will have a video, as well, out at SchoolofPodcasting.com/611.

Remember, the bigger the number, the bigger the file. Think of it like adding more paint on your brush, and the more paint, the better recovers, but if you get too much paint, it's just a waste of paint. In the same way, having too high a bit rate is just gonna cost you money in the long run.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you'd like to work with me., it's really easy. Go over to SchoolofPodcasting.com/workwithme, and we can do one-on-one consulting. You can sign up at The School of Podcasting, using the coupon code LISTENER. All sorts of ways you can contact me there. Everything you need. SchoolofPodcasting.com. Thanks so much for tuning in. Until next week, class is dismissed.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. If you like what you hear, go tell someone …

You can find him at TheBlacklistExposed.com. He also does the Packers Fan Podcast with my buddy … Uh-huh, my buddy, Wayne Henderson. Total brain fart.

If you like what you hear, then go tell somebody. Go tell somebody. Yeah, go tell someone.

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E6 – Suicide

Previously on Up and Vanished.

On Friday, October 14th at 6:43 a.m., Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. She was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know that she was not acting normal.

The second piece of evidence was a business card found in Tara's front door. The card belonged to a friend of Tara's family, a police officer from a nearby town called Perry.

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

Late Sunday night on October 23rd, Tara's mom was concerned because she wasn't responding so she asked this family friend to go check on her. So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh, yeah.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burnt house. We determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks who lived there owned it?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. The homeowner did not own that.

Why was his vehicle there is what I'm getting at now.

He saw a black truck parked in the yard. He said that there was individual in there and that individual said something to him. GBI went to talk to them so they clammed up and never discussed anything about the black truck, no kind of composite. They never got anything close to that.

According to Marcus, they rode around together in the cop car that night and made several stops in reference to a man named Benny Merritt. If there's no reports on Benny Merritt, then where was Marcus Harper?

All we have is one report on him. The report date was actually 10-27-2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

If that's true, then somebody's told a bold-faced lie.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials say investigators…

Latex glove found in…

An $80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

Hey guys, before I get started, I have some good news for you. I originally plan on breaking this into two seasons and the next episode was supposed to come out in January but my plans have changed. Up and Vanished will now resume with Episode 7 on November 21st. We've recently had a huge surge of new listeners and I want to welcome everyone who is just now joining us. Unlike other podcasts, this investigation is pretty much happening in real time. So the content of the episodes is always changing last minute. The reason for the break in the first place was to kind of catch up on my investigation and organize everything into episodes. But with the great support you guys are giving me, I've decided to do this every week up until Episode 12. The podcast will resume with Episode 7 on November 21st.

Tara Faye Grinstead, first question. What is your greatest fear in life?

I really don't have a great fear in life. Whenever I have a hard time, whenever I feel like I'm down or I'm gonna stumble I just pray. And I know that the Lord is gonna see me through.

You're on the phone line, I don't know who you are. You could be the one that killed her, for all I know. I want to help you, don't get me wrong. And I want this case solved. I'm playing it close to my chest. Yes, my dog had interest at the building. Whoever burned the house knew that this was going to destroy evidence. Have you ever known, on a criminal case, them to lay all the cards on the table? They always keep so many back.

So you think police found evidence at the Snapdragon Road fire but didn't tell anybody?

Oh, I know they did because I gave it to them.

What was it?

I cannot say. The GBI's got it and the FBI's got it. That's all I'm saying about that.

That's the voice of Jim Handey, the man who led the search with all the cadaver dogs. When I first called him a few weeks back, he was pretty reserved with me, but for good reason. His experience with this case really hit home for him. And at first, he was pretty skeptical of who I was and why I was calling.

In our first conversation, he told me that his dogs alerted for cadaver at the house fire on Snapdragon Road. But the second time we talked, he opened up a little bit. And he told me that they found evidence there. What it was, he couldn't tell me or at least didn't want to.

Whoever burned the house knew that this was going to destroy evidence. Have you ever known, on a criminal case, them to lay all the cards on the table? They always keep so many back so that if somebody comes up and says, "Oh, she was wearing a blue dress." Well, that wasn't out in the police report, you're guilty or the knowledge that you're sharing is credible.

So you think police found evidence at the Snapdragon Road fire but didn't tell anybody?

Oh, I know they did because I gave it to them.

What was it?

I cannot say. The GBI's got it and the FBI's got it. That's all I'm saying about that.

Can you not say legally or you just don't want to say?

You've got to understand, you're asking me questions that if I don't know you and there's not a police officer beside you saying, "Yes, I can tell you this", I can't tell you that. It's an active case. I can't do that. The power's to be that have it and again, it gets to that thing of cards on the table. Okay?

Anything that you're allowed to say would be truly helpful for everybody, not just me.

I understand where you want, and I want this case solved more than you do. I guaran-damn-tee you. I'm going to give you one thing. All of the sudden we have a laid out plan. We're going to go to — today we're going to search A, B and C and tomorrow we're going to search B, C and F. And all of the sudden in the middle of the night, they get a clue, we're going to go search D which was out by Snapdragon Road, right. Everybody knew that this meeting the night before where we were going. And all of the sudden, "Oh, we saw a guy with her and it's over here.".

So then they send everybody up there to search and they never got back to Snapdragon Road. Somebody was leading that part of the information astray. If you don't want them search B, send them to Z. You know what I mean? "Oh, I don't want them to go there. I'm going to call in a tip and have them go here, give them false information and send them to Z.".

One of the things I would want to know, the Ford Expedition that was at that house, I would be asking him, at this time in your life, is there anything different you wanna say about that car? As the days go by, people get a little freer. Ten years down the road, he may be a little freer with what, where and how.

Obviously after hearing that, my mind was racing. What did he find? He didn't tell me but I definitely planned on finding out. I started my investigation in early 2016 and it hasn't stopped since. Literally each week before I release a new episode, I'm still learning new information. I had some theories of my own going into this thing but since then they've changed over and over again. On the surface based on certain information, this case in a way can seem pretty simple. It was easy for me to start pointing the finger at someone right away just based on a few suspicious facts. But as you dig a little deeper, you find other people who after a thorough examination look pretty suspicious too.

The bottom line is not everyone in this case is guilty. It's possible there was more than one party involved but there's only one culprit here. And the tough thing is these are all real people with real lives and careers and reputations at stake. My intent has always been to respect that. There's been several TV specials about this case over the years and they all seem to just skim the surface, reciting the same old narrative over and over.

I knew from day one that if I wanted this podcast and my documentary to actually help solve this that I couldn't leave anything out. So with that being said, I'm going to present all the facts and if doing that makes someone look guilty, then by all means please come clear your name. I don't have a dog in this hunt. This case is unsolved because of silence. The fear of blame.

Tara Grinstead was a prominent figure in Ocilla. She was beautiful, outgoing. She was only 30-years-old. Someone with a long, bright future ahead of them but somebody took that away from her. It's been 11 years now. Right now, it's time to dust off the cobwebs. No more silence, no more small town secrets and no more fear of what someone else may think. If somebody does know something, then I'm trying to find out.

About midnight Sunday, Tara Grinstead's mother, Faye Grinstead, called Tara's neighbor Joe adn Myrtle Portier to ask if they had heard from her daughter. "Normally, we saw her on an everyday basis," Joe Portier said. "I told Faye we had not seen her and her mother sounded concerned." After talking to Joe Portier, Faye phoned Heath Dykes, a Perry police detective and a close family friend of Tara's and her family and asked him to go and check on Tara. The drive from Perry to Ocilla is one hour and 15 minutes. After midnight Sunday, Heath arrived at Tara's house. Dykes left his business card wedged in Tara's front door.

Agent Rothwell would later say, "It was certainly a piece of evidence that we're interested in. I mean it's a business card stuck in the front door of a person that's now missing." The investigators later learned that Heath Dykes had talked to Tara around 10:20 p.m. while she was at the barbecue. He also phoned Tara more than 10 times, leaving messages on her answering machine. Agent Rothwell later said, "He was calling her all day Sunday." In a brief telephone interview with Crime Library in 2006, Heath said he had last seen Tara Grinstead weeks prior to her going missing.

She went over to the barbecue. While she was there now, she received numerous phone calls on her cell phone. She received one from a girl named Megan Evans. Megan was at a bar which is where Marcus Harper had dropped in to see some of his friends play in a band there. Megan talked to her but she talked to Heath Dykes too. He made about 20 phone calls to Tara's cell phone and her landline and left messages. And he was longtime friends with Tara's family.

Sunday night, see her momma, Faye, she couldn't get hold of Tara late Sunday night. She called Heath. She didn't call the police, she called Heath and asked Heath to go and drive to Ocilla and check on Tara and he drove down there. So he was standing in her yard about 12:30 to quarter one Sunday night.

You're a detective of all these years, that was the worst welfare check I've ever seen done by anyone on somebody at her house because he didn't do anything. The only thing he did is left his business card on the front screen door but I know Joe next door had a key. Nobody ever went inside the house and her car was there.

What I was interested in, and I've never been able to find out in 10 years, is when did he make the phone calls? He didn't make any of the phone calls before Faye called him. The thing is, if the phone calls were made before let's say, midnight Sunday night, then something's major wrong. Why would he become concerned about where Tara's at? Why would he call that many times before Faye called him? He knew when he was standing in front of that house Sunday night, he knew that she wasn't in the house.

If you retrace Tara's last steps, Heath Dykes immediately comes into the picture. We know she was last seen leaving the barbecue Saturday night, around 11 p.m. and from there, we don't really know what happened. What we do know for sure is that Heath Dykes was standing at Tara's doorsteps on Sunday night around midnight. He was supposedly sent there by Tara's mother to check on her. He didn't see anything suspicious so he placed his business card in the front door and left.

But the thing is, he's a police officer and to me, the setting at Tara's house that night did seem a little suspicious. Her car was in her driveway, her front door was locked and she hadn't been heard from in over 24 hours. But I'm not the only one who thought that was a little odd. In the weeks following Tara's disappearance, the national media took interest in this to.

On November 14th, 2005, three weeks after Tara's disappearance, the National Enquirer released an article about the case with some bombshell information. The article was titled, Cop is Quizzed Over Missing Beauty Queen. Was Tara having an affair with a married officer? This is how the article read, "A married policeman bombarded missing beauty queen, Tara Grinstead, with more than 20 frantic phone calls on the day of her disappearance. Authorities have already spoken to him and his wife. He may have been having a relationship with Tara. Investigators believe he told Tara he was going to leave his wife but backed out on the promise. A lawyer who has spoken to investigating officers said they had told him numerous messages were left on Tara's answering machine. The calls are from a married man and he's a cop.

So I think the glove is like there's a finite amount of possibilities why that could be there. It's not like it's infinite reasons a glove would be there. You know what I mean? What to you are those things?

It's only there to stage what happened in that house or to cleanup.

That's my friend Donald. He's been helping me with the podcast behind the scenes a little bit. And I call him up a lot just to talk about the case.

That's why you would go in with gloves, come out, take the gloves off so you're not outside with some damn latex gloves on with you. But I don't think you're wearing gloves to abduct her if she knows you especially because she's voluntarily probably going with you. I think your glove come into play when you go back to clean up. You come out the door, close the door and lock it, take them gloves off and put it in your pocket, one falls on the ground, you leave. I don't even know what other scenarios I can think of where that would happen.

He was there at her house Sunday night at 12:30. He's probably gone by one. Here's the thing is that at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, you know, basically nine hours later, because he was there 12:30 at night, that glove was in the yard. So it most likely was there when he was there. The chances of it not being there are very slim. That would mean that somebody between the time he left between like one in the morning and like six in the morning, somebody put it there or it was already there.

Right.

The business card to me is strange because it's so formal for somebody who was so close to somebody.

Yeah, I'm just trying to understand the mentality of it but all that stuff just doesn't add up.

Right.

Twenty calls, some frantic voicemails, talking to the mom but if he called the mom, that means he knows the mom personally. If she called him, she knows him personally. It was such a personal relationship across the board, why leave a business card? It makes it look formal like no one's going to ever know that I was sleeping with this woman. I can't look like the crazy boyfriend, I got to look like the detective trying to help.

This is another weird scenario in this case but the question is does it actually mean anything. How did a police detective who was friends with Tara's family drive an hour and 15 minutes to Ocilla in the middle of the night and not see this glove on the ground? Was it not there yet? Was it just too dark? Possibly, but it wasn't really sold on that. To me, this needed further investigation.

At the end of episode five, I called the Irwin County Sheriff's Department to see if they had any reports on Benny Merritt. To refresh your memory, Benny Merritt was supposed to have been the subject of numerous police calls on the night of Tara's disappearance that both Marcus Harper and his buddy Shawn Fletcher responded to. These reports on Benny Merritt didn't exist at Ocilla PD and they didn't exist at the county either. But there was actually one more place I had to check, the dispatch logs from that night.

Whenever an officer is on duty, they radio in to the dispatcher each time there's an incident or whenever they're responding to a 911 call. All this information is then logged by the dispatcher with times and names of the responding officers. So basically if these Benny Merritt incidents happened, they would have to be in these dispatch logs.

The report was actually 10-27-2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

Okay. This is probably a harder one for you to get but how do I go about getting dispatch logs?

I don't know if dispatch logs fall on open records or not.

They're supposed to.

Okay. I guess you would have to put the days that you were looking for in their request and then send it in. Let me get you to our secretary. She deals with all the open record stuff. Just hold on just a second.

Okay.

The two that handle that are not here. Are you just wanting the dispatch logs?

Yes ma'am.

You can just fax it and put down what day you need.

Okay.

All right.

Awesome. Thank you very much.

Bye-bye.

Awesome. I can just fax in my request with my fax machine. Thank god there's an app for that now. But still I was pretty surprised by how easy it was to get these records. Well, not so fast.

Irwin County dispatch.

County Sheriff's Department.

Irwin County dispatch.

Irwin County dispatch.

Irwin County Sheriff's office, can I help you?

This is Payne Lindsey again calling about the dispatch logs.

I will get them together but it's probably not going to be today.

It's Payne again about the dispatch logs.

Okay, she's on a 911 call right now. Do you want to hold or call back?

Dispatch logs I was trying to get.

The director, she will be back this afternoon around six or so.

This is Payne Lindsey again calling about the dispatch logs.

Oh, she mentioned them but I don't know if they were done cause she got called out.

Dispatch logs.

I've got to go through them but I'm having to work the radio tonight.

Dispatch logs.

I have them. I have them ready but the thing is you're gonna have to have a certain size paper to be able to receive this.

Okay. So it wasn't that easy. The lady in charge will be sending them this week, fingers crossed. But this leads me into a bigger issue with this case and for any case in the state of Georgia, under the Georgia Open Records Act, all public records can be made available to citizens. That sounds great, right? Well, not exactly.

In the written law, there's a couple exemptions to this request. One of them being "pending investigations". That means any case like this that is unsolved. Now, it doesn't mean that they can't give them to you, it just means they don't have to and they probably won't.

And that brings up a bigger issue. Who is policing the police? The answer is no one. As a citizen, we're supposed to trust the government with this information even after 11 years and no arrest. So that means stuff like Tara's cell phone records, a real list of people they've swabbed DNA for, any of that is just a big secret to the public. My argument here is how can law enforcement claim that this particular investigation is still in fact pending. From where I'm standing, it doesn't appear that this case is very active and in the eye of the public, it doesn't seem like they're any closer to solving it than they were 11 years ago.

But just so we're clear, I'm in no way trying to disparage the work of the GBI or the Ocilla PD in this case but it's been 11 years now. And obviously whatever they've been doing isn't working. The Georgia Open Records Act actually declares in the first paragraph that the state is in favor of open government and that public access to records is not only our right, but in their words, it's encouraged. So I can still submit a request for these case files but good luck getting them. In the recent history, submitting this request has often backfired on people.

Thomason says he and his lawyer were arrested because a Fanning County judge didn't like the questions he was asking. He says it all started last year when he got a tip that officials in the Fanning County courtroom used the N word to describe a black witness. Using George's open records law, Thomason says he requested the transcript and the audio recording from court and it led the court reporter to sue him for $1.6 million claiming defamation for implying her written transcript was inaccurate. Thomason says the court reporter then wanted him to reimburse her for the legal bills that resulted more than $16,000.

Thomason says he continued to dig and found evidence suggesting those attorneys' fees had already been paid from a taxpayer funded account managed by Superior Court Judge, Brenda Weaver. Thomason filed an open records request with Judge Weaver for copies of the checks but she refused saying judges are not subject to the open records law. Next thing he knew, he and his lawyer Russell Stookey were being arrested for identity fraud, attempt to commit identity fraud and making a false statement in an open records request. He was jailed and forced to take several drug tests and his ability to cover other stories on the court fee was limited. All because he says he dared to ask tough questions.

Well, you see, I've been on this case for 11, almost 11 years. Can you imagine doing a podcast for 10 and a half, 11 years?

I'd feel terrible.

See the last year and a half, you know I've been dealing with cancer so — but here's the thing. There's just too many wanna be web sleuths out there. And so here's the thing. What I wanna do is this, I'm going to work one lead. I've had this lead for a good while. And I wanna just do it til it just looks like I can't go any further. And then after that, I'm going to just quit the case for my health reasons, the psychology of everything. Unless the killer, the culprit is someone totally off the radar, I think I've laid enough ground in 10 and a half years of a case to be made about my involvement in moving toward a resolution.

But I'm gonna tell you something now. In 2010, this individual, he drove to Knoxville, Tennessee and he got into praying position and he shot himself in the head and killed himself. The question is, what does this have to do with Tara case?

He wrote a letter. He said that he could not live with himself anymore that he knew what happened to Tara. He was threatened and he saw something that he shouldn't have seen. There's something to this. You're not going to meet your maker on a lie. In the letter, he listed 12 individuals names. Each one of these individuals need to be talked to. I'm gonna work this lead and when I've taken as far as I can take it, then I'm quitting the case.

Thank you guys for listening to Episode 6 of Up and Vanished. There will be a new case evidence episode next Monday and this season will resume with Episode 7 on November 21st. If you're enjoying this podcast and you want to support, you can go to upandvanished.com/donate and send a donation of any size. They all go straight into the production of this podcast.

Later this season on Up and Vanished.

His first question was have you seen or heard from Tara. She didn't show up at work this morning. Then I get a call while I'm in my meeting from her phone.

She took me there one day and then like four strands of this long strand of dark hair.

Come on. I mean really, they don't use evidence tape unless they got something.

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E5 – The Black Truck

Previously on Up and Vanished.

The one person who has been vetted the most is her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper. He was absolutely tired of her.

She was crying and was upset about something. She was very irrational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

On Friday, October 14th at 6:43 a.m., Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. She just was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know she was not acting normal.

The second piece of evidence was a business card found in Tara's front door. The card belonged to a friend of Tara's family, a police officer from a nearby town called Perry.

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

Late Sunday night on October 23rd, Tara's mom was concerned because she wasn't responding so she asked his family friend to go check on her. So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh yeah.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burned house. We determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

The residence was completely destroyed. Also destroyed by the fire was a 2000 Ford Expedition. The vehicle belonged to Michael Lankford. The fire marshal report that I have right here says the cause of the fire is unknown.

It was completely burnt.

Did you ever remember seeing the owner of the vehicle? Did he ever come up there when you guys were there?

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks who lived there own that?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. The homeowner did not own that.

Why was his vehicle there is what I'm getting at now. I don't remember nobody talking about, "We're gonna interview this guy." I can't believe nobody didn't say nothing like that.

Was Marcus and Michael friends or what?

Marcus Harper and Michael Lankford worked at the Ocilla PD together. They are friends, yes.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials are saying investigators…

Latex glove found in…

$80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

The first thing I want to jump into in this episode is the fire on Snapdragon Road. If you missed last week's episode of Case Evidence, I'm going to fill you in real quick. Let's start with the basics. Why is this fire suspicious to me? One, it's the only place in the entire 200 square miles they searched that the cadaver dogs made a hit on, and it wasn't just one dog, it was several dogs.

Number two, behind the house there was a Ford Expedition that was completely burned too but it didn't belong to the homeowner. It belonged to a man named Michael Lankford. And Michael Lankford had actually worked at Ocilla Police Department at the same time Tara's ex-boyfriend Marcus Harper did and they were friends.

Number three, on top of all that, the fire marshal couldn't determine what caused the fire. And it's still undetermined to this day. I spoke to a man last week named Jim Hanley, who also had one of his search dogs hit on the house.

I went down there with my search dogs and I brought another one in. They spent many hours sifting the debris. I mean, like about 10 hours. First of all, if they didn't feel there was something there, are they going to do that, spend that much time and work? Yes, my dog had interest at the building. Was it Tara? I cannot prove it. That's it — that's DNA and that. My dogs been — was — she — I just put her down after 14 1/2 years but she'd been tested and tested and tested. Her nose was parts per quadrillion tested to. That's as high as you can get.

A dog is not like a person. A dog just does what it's trained to do. To my knowledge, which is best as I can do, she never false indicated. Now you can. There is some chemical compositions that will trigger as the same as cadaverine which is what the dog is searching for. What she did at that house, I am 95 percent sure that it was cadaver. I believe that place, in my heart, has everything involved. I mean it has everything to do with this case. Everything.

You're on the right track. Was she there when the house burned? No. I'll guarantee you that not. Was she there beforehand? Yeah. The body leaks, you know, bloats, in 80 degree weather. They can't clean it up. There'd be a spot there from hell. "Okay, let's burn it." There was bushes in between the house and the car that didn't burn.

He told me there was no trail of fire between the house and the car and the bushes in between them were never burned. This suggested that the car and the house were burned separately and that would mean arson, not an accident. Jim also told me that before he came down with his dogs, he was talking in a chat room with some people about the case and when he said he was going to Ocilla, somebody threatened him.

I kind of knew we must have ruffled some feathers on, I'm thinking the one involved because we were on the internet, you know, and in a chat room and discussing what could be happening and what should be done. And, you know, the plans were made and we're making it work for this big search.

You know, I got on there and they were asking me about canines and what you do and how you do it, you know, it's just a normal chat room. All of a sudden, this guy gets on there and nobody's antagonistic in this whole deal. And somebody writes, "You come down here, we're going to punch you in the face and kick your dog." Why would somebody say that? It was somebody involved and they didn't want somebody searching a certain spot.

I met up with Dr. Godwin in person and he told me about a big lead he was chasing back in 2006.

I found a kid who lived right around the corner from Tara's house on Ash Street. He told me that he was riding his bike around the area Sunday and he saw a black truck parked in the yard. He said that there was individual in there and that individual said something to him. Like a nasty comment.

They came to interview this kid again when GBI went to talk with them, they actually searched their mama's truck and they also searched her house. So they clammed up and never discussed anything about the black truck because it felt like they were being treated as suspects and no kind of composite. They never got anything close to that.

Then I found another witness. From their porch, you can see Tara's driveway and they saw a black truck. First at 7:30 Sunday at evening, parked in the driveway. The same person at 6:00 a.m. that morning, that person's husband, who want to get milk saw the truck there at the house again.

So who do you speculate that truck belonged to?

I have no idea. GBI's response, there's hundreds of black trucks in Irwin County.

So you think the black truck is important to this case?

Oh, I think so. Too many people seen it. Here's another thing. A year ago, I got a, information about another report of a black truck incident. This was that Saturday night. The lady was backing up out of her driveway into the road and the car pulled the stop light and liked to hit her but it was a black truck but that was it. See, at the time, you could have done something. You could have done a DMV on it, The Department of Motor Vehicle, trucks in the area but it's way too late now.

According to Maurice, a lot of people saw this black truck that weekend, driving by Tara's house or even parked in the yard next to it. And he's convinced that the truck is related to Tara. Too many people have seen it but where are these people now? I spend a solid two months trying to find the kid who saw the truck. He claimed that he actually saw the man driving and that the man cursed at him when he drove by. If this kid really saw the man, then maybe he could remember what he looks like and maybe a sketch artist could do a composite. But this kid was really off the map. I mean I tried everything to find this kid but no luck. So I moved on to other witnesses.

I remember the night that she went missing because me and my best friend was on the phone to. My house, when you go to Ocilla, you turn on the right on Paul Street and my property is down in the last block before you turn on Alder Street to go to her house. And her house was just on the next block on the right, a block away from me. Well, I remember, me and Kristy, the girl that was living in my house, we were on the phone because I was making the church bulletin for our church. I was having some complications and she said, "Don't worry, I'm on my way, I'm gonna come help you.".

We were still on the phone as she got in her car. You know, Ocilla is usually really quiet right where we all lived, you know. Right there where Tara lived and I lived, it was really quiet. You didn't have to worry about nothing. My friend said that she got in her car, all of a sudden she hollered. She said, "Dog, I'm about to back out of my driveway." And she said, "Here come this black truck like if you backed out of Tara's drive and came right up Alder Street.

She said that truck came around off Alder Street and turned on Paulk Street flying, about rear-ended her, about run her over. And this was around midnight. It was a black truck and she said it wasn't a new truck. She seen some lights coming up the road but, you know, she got in her car, was gonna, you know, back out anyway. They didn't even stop for the stop sign.

If you're looking at Tara's house, Alder runs down to the side where her carport is. When you come out of her driveway and come back to Alder, you wouldn't make a right that would go like to her backyard, you would make a left. When he came up that road or whoever it was, came to that stop sign on Alder and Paulk, that's my property. Well, they were coming up Alder that way and made a ride on to Paulk. So she said, "They never even stopped. They just made a right hand turn, come on Paulk Street." She had to slam on brakes to keep from hitting her. And she said, "Girl, I don't know who was driving that truck." She said, "But, you know, they could have hurt me because if I wouldn't have been paying attention and just backed on out, you know, they would have probably rear-end — I mean, you know, crashed our car pretty bad."

Do you know if it was a bigger or a smaller sized truck?

It was something like older Ford F150 or, you know what I'm saying? A black one, a real older one. Not a new truck. But I'm just saying, for it to come up that road, to come up from that way that late at night and the same night that she went missing, I don't know but it's scary.

In February 2009, a disturbing video surfaced on the internet. It featured a man with his face disguised and his voice digitally altered. He proclaimed to be a serial killer. He called himself the Catch Me Killer. In the video, he claimed to have killed 16 different females and one of these he described was determined by authorities to be Tara Grinstead. He said that he wanted to play a game and he would slowly release clues about his murders through a series of YouTube videos. He warned the viewers not to attempt in trying to discover his true identity and that his IP address could not be traced.

I've decided to confess a few things but in order to do so, I'm going to give everybody a clue, many clues. The first person to solve this first video, I'm gonna have you send me an e-mail. I'll post the address for the e-mail. This person out there that decides to play my game has a chance to become an actual hero. You have a chance to become something that I'm not. The only clues that I'm giving you are clues never released by the press or by police department.

The Catch Me Killer tells viewers, "Play my game and solve my puzzles and I'll lead you to 16 bodies one by one." He claimed one of his victims was a case we've covered heavily here on Issues, Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old teacher and former beauty queen mysteriously vanished from Georgia three years ago.

The video sparked the attention of the media nationwide and the GBI launched an investigation to track down the man's identity. Though the man's face and voice are digitally obscured, police were eventually able to track down the man by his IP address. The man was 27-year-old Andrew Haley of Gainesville, Georgia. After a thorough police investigation, they were ultimately able to determine that the videos were part of a bizarre and elaborate hoax. Haley was eliminated as a substantial lead in Grinstead's disappearance and was later charged and convicted of tampering with police evidence.

This case seemed to be full of different false leads. Surprisingly, just this last week, another internet video surfaced. A man named James Rankin was hiking in the woods by his house in upstate New York when he stumbled upon something pretty creepy. Over two dozen trees all around him were covered with people's missing posters and one of the posters was Tara's. The video hit the internet just a few days ago and has since reached over 30 million views.

So I come down the hill. And remember, we're still in the woods, we're still in the woods, right. Okay. I was like, okay, these are probably no trespassing signs or maybe it's something for the wildlife or something." Anyway, I'll cut right to the chase because I might die. Look what these are. What the fuck is going on here? These are all different people. This is Utah, Florida, they're all different. This one's from Georgia. Now, look at this. Like look, where the fuck we are. Who the fuck does something like this?

Though the video was indeed pretty spooky, it was likely some sort of hoax once again. But for the sake of the podcast, I tracked down James himself so he could tell me the real deal about this video.

There is a park nearby, it got some hiking trails. I'm going through the actual park and I see that little side trail branching off the main trail and I follow it. I see the end of the trail is like a fire pit and some things hung to the trees. I go down to take a closer look because I figure it's either signs that say keep out. Some of the parks hang up signs with information about local plants and kind of animals you should be looking for. So I went down to check it out. So I get down there and it's all these missing persons posters which caught me completely off guard cause I — it's so incongruous to anything that I was expecting to see and anything I've ever seen before. It was alarming.

You know, I'm looking around at where exactly I'm situated and seemed like what I needed to do other than get the hell out of there was get some kind of documentation about what I found. And I jumped on Facebook first and, you know, I wanted to kind of sound a distress call. I mean the longer I spent down there, the more fishy it looked.

The minute I left, everybody that had seen this video, I got friends and people that I don't even know and they're all in complete agreement, "Take this to the police." So that's what I did. Told them what I found, I showed them the footage, you know, they were like, "Thank you for calling in. You did the right thing. Go home." The next morning they — somebody from the office, they left a voicemail. They investigated. They were told by the homeowners at the property said that these posters were hung up by them as decorations for an upcoming Halloween party.

A few episodes back, I talked briefly about Marcus Harper's alibi. According to Marcus he was at the White Horse Saloon to watch his friend's band. Then he left to met up with his friend Shawn Fletcher, an Ocilla police officer. They rode around together in the cop car that night and made several stops in reference to a man named Benny Merritt.

So I made a request with the Ocilla PD to get the reports on Benny Merritt because if this didn't add up, then Harper's alibi didn't add up either. When I got the reports back from Ocilla, none of them happened on Saturday night the 22nd. There was one that happened the night before and one on the 26th but not a single report for Benny Merritt on the 22nd.

This was a pretty big deal. If there's no reports on Benny Merritt, then maybe those stops didn't happen. And if those stops didn't happen, then where was Marcus Harper? But before I got ahead of myself, there was still one place I had to check, the Irwin County Sheriff's Department. It's possible that the reports weren't filed with Ocilla but instead with the county. So I gave them a call.

Can you give me one of the person's name?

Benny Merritt.

Amy?

Benny.

Benny?

Yeah.

All right. Hold on just a second. This thing is gonna be slow.

It's all good.

M-E-R-R-I-T-T. I think that's how you spell it. All we have is one report on him. Let me see if I can see what it's about.

Okay. What date?

Incident date was 10/26/2005 to 10/27/2005. It was against a lady that lives on Fillmore Road. The report date was actually 10/27/2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

I just got off the phone with the Irwin County Police Department. And I called them to see if they had any separate records about Benny Merritt, separate from Ocilla police. So he actually ended up looking it up on the phone when I was there and they only have one report on him and it's on October 26th. That's it.

If that's true, then somebody told a bold-faced lie. I mean I was a police officer. I know if there was no report, then that's highly suspicious. The dispatcher gets a phone call, she has to write on the log when it came in and she has to put what was the resolution of that. If none of that exists at all, they're just depending on the word of Marcus Harper.

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E4 – Snapdragon Road

Atlanta, Georgia, 1979.

Are you scared?

Yes, sir.

One by one kids are going missing with no explanation.

A black 15-year-old male who lived in the same area where three other children have disappeared …

There was a real life monster on the loose and the city of Atlanta demanded answers.

In a city kids get killed, unfortunately nobody cares.

By 1981 the FBI was involved in one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history and eventually they put one man behind bars. But nearly 40 years later, this case has left more questions than answers in what may be Atlanta's darkest secret.

I don't know today whether he's innocent or guilty.

From the producers of Up and Vanished and HowStuffWorks, we present an all new podcast, Atlanta Monster. Subscribe to Atlanta Monster right now on Apple podcast and be the first to hear it on January 5th.

Previously on Up and Vanished.

I had never heard that she went to a student's house in between the pageant and the barbecue.

I've heard that in the talk around town.

Is there any way to find out who that student was?

Good gracious, that's been 10 years or more ago.

They found full profile of white male DNA on the gloves and it's been entered into the Georgia DNA database and it's been entered into CODIS for like 10 years and there's never been a match.

You know, there was a side of Tara that I didn't know, very free with men and one of them was a student, Vickers, Anthony Vickers

Hey. Is Anthony there?

Hey man, this stuff is kind of a little funny to talk about.

Did you have any involvement in Tara's disappearance?

No.

Was there someone else in Tara's house that day?

Oh, yeah. There was. Some guy from Perry, Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh, yes.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

Is there any chance she might have left under her own free will with someone that she knew?

I think that's how it started out and then something went very wrong after that. I really do feel like there is an abduction at this point.

The one person who has been vetted the most is her ex-boyfriend Marcus Harper. He was absolutely tired of her.

She was crying and was upset about something. She was very rational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burned house that had burnt down actually when we were down there. In this situation, we determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

What I'm about to read you has never been released to the public, Tara's e-mails. On October 14th, Tara sent Marcus's mom an e-mail. Tara says this, "Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it like this and something may happen to me.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials say investigators …

Latex glove found in …

An $80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

During the last six to eight months, I've had my fair share of white rabbits in this case. Dead end leads have sent me on countless tangents that would last for weeks before I realized there was nothing to it. It's made me live by the phrase, "If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.".

I think the hardest part about the whole thing is separating what could be important information from what is completely meaningless. To solve something, you have to follow every single lead regardless of your first impression. Sometimes a completely meaningless ends up meaning everything in a cold case.

A few weeks ago, the private investigator received a new tip which he shared with me. This was by far the biggest and likely the craziest tip I had heard yet. And as doubtful as it seemed in the beginning, it actually matched up with several accounts that I have received from separate people over the past couple of months.

The tip suggested that we search underneath the home in Ocilla. We had reason to believe that Tara's body was once there or maybe it still was. For now, I have to keep the details about the location confidential but I can assure you this place is very significant. This whole thing started with a phone call from Maurice just a few weeks ago.

I got a tip tonight. They do heat and air condition or stuff. The air conditioner went out on that house. He went under the house briefly. He had his flashlight and stuff like that. He said in the middle back, there was an oblong mound of dirt that was solid packed up and he said in the corner was a shovel.

To do the proper thing, you have to do a chemical analysis of the soil. The neighbor and the guy who owns the house, they're digging up three one gallon paper bags of large debris like I instructed.

Before they dig it up, tell them that I want to come down there.

That's gonna be arranged probably tomorrow.

Starting route to Ocilla.

I was preparing some air conditioning duct and I got under there and it looked like where something had been buried because the rest of the house is flat. The dirt isn't there and then there's that mound. Maybe they can figure it out with a soil sample.

I have my younger brother with me to help run the audio. I was filming with my camera. We were on our hands and knees inching our way through the crawlspace. Our goal was to fill several brown paper bags full of soil, then we would run forensic tests to see if a body had ever been there. A local from Ocilla helped us with the dig but he wished to remain anonymous.

A crawl space in general is pretty spooky but this one in particular was very eerie. It was dark and we could only see in front of us with our headlamps. In the back corner was a huge mound of soft dirt. This is why we came here. It's like a whole mound of dirt right here. It's pretty soft looking.

Yeah.

Is that normal or is that what kind of drew attention?

Yeah, that's what drew attention.

This area of dirt was about six to eight inches above the rest of the ground around it. And I kid you not, it looked like the exact dimensions of a human body, about six feet long, three feet wide. And the dirt was soft, so soft that your hand would sink down up to your elbow when you were digging in. Every second I feared I would see something that I would never be able to unsee. Definitely doesn't look natural.

No.

We kept our flashlights aimed towards the shovel and we gather a few pounds of soil, sifting through it as we put it in the bags. This looks kind of white chalky.

That's what I was looking at.

That looks just like that other piece I found.

It's hard.

Like it's the inside thread of a shoe.

Where's the little pile you made?

Right here.

There's three paper bags under there.

After about 30 minutes, we filled the bags and I was ready to get the hell out of there. Once we were back in the sunlight, we were able to take a closer look at the soil. We kept finding these little pieces of white chalky material that was hard as a rock.

It ain't concrete.

What is that?

That's what I was thinking was lime when we went on there. I'm not sure but I think it's the heat process of decaying a body.

It did look a lot like lime based off pictures I saw on the internet. I called Maurice to tell the job was done.

Make sure they stay sealed. Send it with a return receipt for me to sign for it. That follows the chain of custody and see the bags allow the dirt to breathe. Make sure that the bags are taped and sealed and put Payne Lindsey across the tape to the bag. You have to maintain the chain of custody because if something becomes of this, the damn defensive lawyer will tear it off pieces.

I asked him about that white chalky stuff that looked like lime.

People put lime on bodies to make it decompose faster but the truth is the opposite occurs, it preserves them.

Interesting. Just two days after our search, the Irwin County Sheriff's Department caught wind of it and they sent their own search team to the same location. With the help of a local, we were able to get live updates on the search as it was happening and I literally couldn't believe what I was hearing.

He said they told the whole damn house. He said there's some people over there that found five bones and a pair of panties.

They found five bones and a pair of panties? How in the world did we miss that?

He said it's almost dark there and he said that they were putting on white suits or something and they were going back there. I mean I'm just telling you what he told me. That's all. He just sent me a message. He said that they were putting on like a white suit on and that's what they do, that's drawback.

A few hours later, two unmarked SUVs with government plates pulled up. It was the GBI.

They think it might be an animal bone. They're going to send it off. My experience is law enforcement don't send animal bones to a lab and they know the difference between an animal bone and a human bone. It's just odd that they said they're going to have this turned away for testing.

I don't see a body … anybody burying a deer or a dog under a house. Do you? Who would put a damn dog under a house? That's sort of morbid. If you hadn't been out there the other day, they would never been there. There's no doubt about it. I think they probably got a wind of what we were doing out there and they were just covering their butts. I guess we just have to wait and see. I'm surprised the media didn't pick it up.

He has a point. Where's the media? In 2015, the GBI drained a pond to search for evidence linked to Tara and they made a huge deal about it in the news but they found absolutely nothing. Now we have five bones and a pair of panties and there's nothing about it anywhere.

I had originally planned to keep this whole thing a secret but I was getting impatient. Then finally, almost three weeks later, the GBI made a statement to WSB TV Atlanta but only because I mentioned it to the news station myself and they were doing a story on the podcast.

An Atlanta filmmaker turned podcaster is on a mission to solve the 2005 disappearance of Tara Grinstead and his new project is getting a lot of people talking.

Lindsey says his new podcast Up and Vanished is generating new information. The GBI is the lead agency investigating the case but nearly 11 years later, no sign of Grinstead, her remains or an arrest. This is never before seen video of Lindsey recently searching underneath a home after receiving an anonymous tip. The GBI searched the same area and a source told Channel 2s mark when they found animal bones but Lindsey says he's doing some tests of his own that could provide a new lead.

So there it was, heard through the grapevine. The GBI determined they were animal bones. We still have our soil samples to get tested and we're currently waiting on the results. As crazy as this whole thing was, it was time to move on at least for the time being.

At the end of episode three, I mentioned that I obtained some of Tara's e-mails. Other than Tara's family and presumably the GBI, these have been held confidential for over a decade but today I'm going to share them with you.

These e-mails are one of the few things out there to provide a true insight into Tara's state of mind before her disappearance. Before we dive into that, I wanted Maurice to share his insight about Tara's emotional state.

She was very distraught, emotional. It was completely over Marcus Harper.

In the weeks prior to her disappearance, she endured a bad breakup with her boyfriend Marcus Harper and she wasn't taking it very well. Maurice described an emotional breakdown she had in her car, so bad that her friends and neighbors had to come calm her down.

She was on the way to school, Tara was, and she received a call from Marcus and he told her that their relationship was completely over with. She became very hysterical and emotional to the point that she can't drive. She had an emotional breakdown and on the way to school, she had to have someone go out and pick her up and she was not able to walk and stuff so she had to have Dr. Davis to get her in the house.

On Friday October 14th at 6:43 AM, Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. I wouldn't want to see him. I would not even love him. He just truly does not believe anything I say and does not care.

I've tried to remain positive but at this point I cannot. Of course, Marcus obviously does not care and makes it worse. Since he has been ignoring me, all I can think of is the bad bad words he said to me in the past. Now I'm beginning to think he meant that.

I need to know what I did. People just do not hate folks for no reason. I need to know what I did to him or whoever. It hurts like hell to know in my heart and soul that I honestly do not think I did anything wrong and he hates me. So he has heard or think something that is not true.

I'm so depressed right now but Marcus is the lucky one. He has his shell to protect him like a crab. He's strong and tough while I become weaker. This does not mean I'm a bad person. It means I have to put it first in my life and I was happy having it that way. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

This e-mail was sent just eight days before she went missing. It's very clear that Tara was an emotional wreck over Marcus. But according to almost everyone by the next Saturday at the pageant and the barbecue, she was perfectly normal but one girl who attended the pageant that night told me otherwise. She did not want to use her name in the podcast but we'll call her Mary.

My mom actually was judging pageant and Tara was one of the judges and I was involved in pageants and whatnot. So Tara introduced herself to me and she wanted to be my pageant coach. So we started off with that and she actually had a Relay for Life Pageant one year and I decided to enter it.

Well, I ended up winning and I was one of her queens and we went to all these events. And she's always just so bubbly and just gives so much and just had a attitude of, you know, being so welcome to everyone. It's just … she was a great person.

And the Sweet Potato Pageant, you obviously know about that. She was at it that night but unlike what everybody else is telling me from what I've heard so far, there was something about her that was different. She was not, you know, normal or anything like that that night.

She was acting really odd and that the reason I know that is just because she was always so bubbly and would talk to everybody. You know that night, she was just so to herself. I just remember it so vividly like she was just so out of it.

Did she seem more sad or more like?

It's really hard to describe. I mean it was just like she knew something was going to happen in my opinion.

Okay.

It just wasn't, you know, normal. I mean that night, she was so distant, not really wanting talk to people and it may have changed after she left the pageant. It just … she just wasn't the same person that I figured that I've always known Tara.

That night, we actually walked Tara to her car from the Sweet Potato pageant. She was parked in front of the theater that it was at. And I asked her, you know, if there was anything wrong because like I said you could tell something was off about her especially if you spent any time with Tara, there was something off about her.

And she was like, "No, you know, I'm okay." And we were like, "Okay", you know, and I hugged her and that was the last time I've seen her. And she waved to my mom across the street, you know, got in her car, left and I haven't … I have no idea what she did after that.

Had you seen her in like the two weeks before that?

Yes. We actually had a parade. It was a Relay for Life in Irwin County that I had won, that was the pageant. And that was the … I think one of the last time that I saw her but she had a boyfriend there with her. I'm not sure what his name was. I can't remember. He was tall. I know she had a boyfriend that was in the armed forces or something like that and this was apparently a new boyfriend.

At this point, I had learned of a bunch of different men in Tara's life but who is this? She said she couldn't remember his name but if she ever did, she'd let me know.

You know, I didn't see him very much other than that. I mean I think that was the only time I saw him but her ex-boyfriend was very unhappy about it. The majority of people around here believe that her ex-boyfriend did something and that cops were involved in it. And that's why a lot of people can't put anything together is because somebody on the inside did something, especially since her ex-boyfriend had so many friends in that field and had a lot of knowledge with that.

Around here, it's so small, the town. Somebody would know something and somebody does and they're just not saying anything. Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. I'm really positive about that. She knew something was going to happen. She just was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know that she was not acting normal.

In the last episode, I interviewed a lady in charge of the cadaver dogs during the search for Tara. She told me that the dogs only hit once on a burned house near the area but it turned out to be a septic line. I started researching more into the fire and obtained a copy of the fire marshal report. Everything about it just seemed really suspicious.

On November 8th, 2005, an alarm was received by Irwin County Communications Center about a fire located at 425 Snapdragon Road, just outside of Ocilla. The name of the person that reported the fire is unknown. On November 8th, 2005 at the 0715 hour, the Irwin County Fire Department responded to the fire.

The fire occurred in a three bedroom, one bath wood construction single family residence. All utilities were connected at the time of the fire. The owner/occupant had not been living in the house. Also destroyed by the fire was a 2000 Ford Expedition which was parked behind and near the house.

The vehicle belonged to Michael Lankford. Michael Lankford claimed that he was looking after the property for the owner who lived out of state. Mr. Lankford lived on Snapdragon Road just down from where the house fire occurred.

Upon arrival by the fire investigator, the scene was not secured by local officials. Yellow crime scene tape had not been installed completely around the fire. The investigation involved an in-depth fire scene investigation. The residence was completely destroyed. The only remnants of the house with the brick pillars, a fireplace and chimney.

Due to the amount of damage to the house and SUV, the fire investigator was not able to determine if the fire originated at the residence or the vehicle. Accelerant detection canine examine the scene and made one indication on the ground beside the driver's side of the vehicle. However, it was determined to have likely come from the vehicle's gas line.

The cause of the fire was ruled undetermined and remains the same to date. To determine if the fire was connected to the disappearance of Tara Grinstead, different cadaver dogs were used on different occasions to examine the burnt house. The dogs hit in the front part of the house. The investigators determined that the dogs were hitting on a septic line at the house and not a dead body.

The fire marshal report that I have right here says the cause of the fire is unknown. The report was filed by a man named Vernon Singley, the fire marshal at the time of Tara's disappearance. I was lucky to get a hold of him last week. I wanted to know why they couldn't figure out what caused the fire.

Okay. Okay. Let me … yeah, I can tell you what may have … what led us to that determination because we ended up having to sift that thing out. We arrived at that scene, it wasn't nothing but one big black spot. It had … I remember it had one chimney standing in the middle of this house.

Wow.

You put charcoal on the grill and, you know, you just let them burn out on your grill, charcoal like you're going to grill a steak. That's basically what we got. We didn't have that but coals. It was completely burnt, all structures, all memories in it. It was like a country home or a vacation home, you know, for some owners like in Florida.

Now, it did have electricity running through it but since there's no activity in it, it's kind of like a little suspicious. You know what I'm saying?. Just why all of the sudden would this house just catch fire? No bad weather, you know, no electrical problems and then we have a fire and the house is completely on the ground.

What we've decided to do, we brought in these dogs and they ran those through when the scene got cool enough with the dogs. I know they run the dogs through there, the dogs hit. I mean how … I thought we got something here, we got something. So what we eventually do is we girded this thing out, we sectioned this whole plan of and we got in there. We sifted those ashes, looking for any kind of remains such as bones, teeth, anything. We did find nothing.

Man, let me tell you some of the stuff they told us. One of the hottest places in the house that attracted the dogs the most was in front of the fireplace. They said, you know, somebody could have got cut, you know, cut their hand and bled on the floor in that particular area. And then I'm like, mhmm. There were so many different scenarios that they was telling us.

I talked to one of the ladies who had the dogs and she told me that the dogs hit on a septic line. Do you remember that?

I'll be honest with you, I don't know that. Did she say about somebody could have bled there or?

This is what she told me, she said that her dogs made a hit like you said by the fireplace for what could be human remains and she said that one of the GBI people or whoever was there said that it was probably a septic line.

The GBI was there. I don't know what they told them but I know I didn't tell them no sep … I heard nothing about no septic tank.

What do you make of that car that was found on the property?

Yeah, it was like a little … a Ford Explorer or something.

What do you make of that?

It was sitting close enough to it and to the fire. I mean, you know, I don't know. I don't …

Did you ever remember seeing the owner of the vehicle? Did he ever come up there when you guys were there?

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks in Florida owned that?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. It was not the … the homeowner did not own that.

And he didn't own the house? I don't remember that. I don't … and why … I mean, I'm gonna be honest with you. I don't remember nobody, nobody saying that … what you said about that. I can't bring somebody come up in the middle of the day and tell us that.

Why was his vehicle there? What I'm getting at now. I mean I don't remember nobody talking about we're going to interview this guy or, you know, ain't nobody with us that day. Ain't nobody say nothing about that. Now you got me curious. I hope somebody checked into it cause Vernon didn't.

Why did the fire marshal not know about the septic tank? Was that ever really a thing? And what about Michael Lankford? Why would they leave out the fact that the car belonged to him and not the homeowner? The fire marshal should know that. And why was his car really parked there in the first place? Okay. You there?

Okay.

What do you know about this Michael Lankford guy?

A former police officer with Ocilla PD. He lived … when you turn on Snapdragon, he lived on the first house on the right. His SUV expedition was found very close within like seven feet, six feet from the back of the house. Marcus Harper and Michael Lankford worked at the Ocilla PD together.

Was Marcus and Michael friends or what?

Oh,yeah. They'll come working at Ocilla PD. All these guys know each other. They are friends, yes.

Thank you guys for listening to episode four of Up and Vanished. Starting next Monday, each week in between a new episode, I'm releasing a smaller episode called Case Evidence where I break down all the finer details about the case.

You can actually call in and leave a voicemail on a number we set up for the podcast. You can leave a question about the case and we'll answer it next week. The phone number is 770-545-6411. Again, 770-545-6411.

I've decided to make the Up and Vanished podcast a total of 12 episodes which will be split into two seasons with six episodes each. That means there's only two episodes left this season and the season one finale will premiere on October 24th.

Season two will premiere in January. Again, guys, thanks for listening and see you next week.

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