How to Make Downloadable Audio Products that Sell – Marketing Point of View

If you want to make money by offering audio recordings of your content, there are three great ways to do it: Downloadable files, CDs and Enhanced Teleseminars. In the interests of time, we’ll only cover downloadable files (a.k.a. podcasts) and CD’s here. But make no mistake, all these downloadable audio products have potential ROI’s of about 1000% or more if you do them right. However, if you do them wrong, they can COST your business a lot of money and prestige. So before you set up that Mr. Microphone in your closet, let me show you why doing this yourself is usually a very bad idea and why hiring a professional is the way to get the most bang for your audio buck.

Downloadable audio is a great way to add value to your Website. 

Not only can you charge people outright to download it, you can also offer it as a perk for signing up as a “VIP Member” (instant mailing list). Or you can just give it away for free as a promotional tool.

But what if it’s a bad quality sound? Or it takes forever to download? Or it doesn’t play at all? All of the sudden your value-add becomes a source of embarrassment (and definitely not a money-maker).

I’m not saying you have to be an IT genius to post audio, but it helps to know what you’re doing. Should the file be wav or mp3? 128kbps or 192? Stereo or mono? What if there’s music on the file? Does that make a difference? How about the length of the file? All these questions aren’t rocket science, but unless you hire somebody who already knows the answers, you’ll have to take the time to find them out. Time you won’t be spending doing what you do best.

It’s pretty much the same with CDs. 

They make a great retail product, especially in the “Back-of-the-Room” after you give a speech. They immediately reinforce your brand and message because they’ll be popped into the dashboard on the way home and more than likely will be repeated for the next several rush hours just because they’re already in the CD player.

But if they don’t play or are distorted because you burnt the copy master at the wrong speed or didn’t quite understand how to work with cda files, the result can be just as negative for your business. But let’s say you do figure out the technical end of things, the plain truth is if you record yourself in your closet with a mid-level sound card and a $200.00 microphone, most likely all you’ve done is post or burn a crystal clear file of a mediocre recording.

Sorry, but it’s true.

Well, for one thing, this setup will almost always create a low hiss, or hum on the recording due to the quality of the recording devices and the non-soundproof room it was recorded in. 

There will also likely be a slight echo in your voice called “reverb” due to not having the proper sound dampening equipment set up. So, even if there wasn’t a dog barking across the street or an airplane flying overhead while you were recording, you’ll still have a lot of compression and equalization work to do in post-production to get a presentable downloadable audio product-if you can at all. 

What’s equalization and compression you may ask? The short answer is: another reason to hire a professional when creating a downloadable audio product.

black and silver microphone with stand
Photo by Jukka Aalho

Another big drawback to recording yourself at your desk or in a closet, is that it’s likely nobody else was around to listen to you while you did it. 

Again, the key to downloadable audio is clarity. Wehn you’re alone, you have nobody to take notes on the repeats, skipped text and odd noises that creep into most recordings. Nobody to keep you focused on the business at hand-your performance. A good producer/engineer in a relaxed professional environment can offer great tips on everything from your vocal pacing and copy edits to proper breathing and mic posture, freeing you up to shine your brightest.

One other thing. If you work with a sound professional, you have the capability of making your content sound like a big-time radio call-in show or corporate resource, with high-quality microphones, musical intros and outros, announcers, the whole bit!

Again, you could try to bring all of these things together yourself, but at what time cost?

And be honest. Is the finished downloadable audio product likely to be as good? Remember the words of business guru Jack Canfield: “Do what you do brilliantly and delegate the rest”.

So let’s say you realize you’ll actually be saving time and money by not being your own audio engineer, director, and producer and you start pricing out some audio production studios to produce your content. Keep in mind that you are choosing a very important member of your personal team, so be thorough in the interview process.

Some questions you should ask when interviewing studios are: 

  • 1) What are your hourly rates? 
  • 2) Is there a minimum time requirement? 
  • 3) Does the hourly rate include an engineer? 
  • 4) Do you have separate rates for mixing and mastering? 
  • 5) Do your rates include music and sound effects? 
  • 6) Do you offer all-inclusive Project Rates, which are not based on hours worked, but on the length of the finished project?

Once you find the right studio, take advantage of their network by asking them to refer to some professional voice talent for your intros and outros on your downloadable audio. After all, that’s who they work with all day long. Keep in mind though that many of the bigger studios work primarily with talent agencies so the talent they refer to will be top dollar.

Now the big day comes and you’re ready to take that most important step toward turning your content into a cash machine: The Recording Session.

Here’s 4 tips for making your studio time as successful as possible: 

1) The most important three words in any recording session are Relax. Relax. Relax. Whether it’s Yoga, meditation, a good workout, whatever. Just do it! (no pressure though) 

2) Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You might want to bring a sweatshirt also, as many studios cool down their booths ahead of time because it’s too noisy to run the heat or A/C during the session. 

3) Don’t drink too much coffee or milk before the recording, but DO have plenty of water handy during the recording. 

4) You need to have a good rapport with your producer/director/engineer. This may seem obvious, but it could mean thousands of dollars to your ROI. If you don’t hit it off personally with your production team, keep looking. A fancy studio and technical knowledge cannot overcome tension in your session, and your product will reflect it.

Audio products are a great way to generate income without having to lift a finger. 

But if they’re poor quality, you might as well print up business cards in crayon or have client lunches at McDonald’s. What you save in costs up front is more than offset by lost revenue due to fewer CD sales and a poor company image.

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