Can’t Stop Learning

Just because I finished college and went back and got my Master’s doesn’t mean I’m done learning.  Honestly, the thing I learned MOST at Vanderbilt was learning HOW to learn.  I  acknowledge that my college experience was surrounded more by humanities than by mathematics and engineering (a potential mistake, but nothing I regret!).  That means that I’m familiar with Montaigne and Shakespeare, but that I also know how to research anything and everything.

Case in point, I taught high school english when I graduated.  I loved it and I loved coaching as well.  But I met my wife and I quickly realized that my wife was going to cost me more than I could make on a teacher’s salary.  (Although that is true, I freely admit that the life I wanted with her was going to cost more because of MY desire, not just her needs…)

So, with a little help, I took an 8 week course in IT and this English/Education major (with an accidental minor in classical languages) teacher became an IT worker.  Just like that I had learned a new career.  The internet has increased that opportunity a million fold.  Everything I learned in those 8 weeks are now easily found on Youtube (and deal with technologies that are well beyond what I learned).  For a person with access to the internet, and some free time and passion, it’s possible to grow outside of your comfort zones.

www.khanacademy.org is a perfect example.  For a person like me, who didn’t focus on math or economics, there are free academies that allow me to learn those subjects.  Couple that with local libraries and mentors and there is very little holding us back, except ourselves.

I’m taking this journey into podcasting and blogging because I need to keep learning.  I’m researching how to effectively use Audacity right now.  There are several videos about how to utilize it, and as I watch them I go deeper into the youtube rabbit hole of learning the product.  Will I become an audio producer?  Highly doubtful.  But I’ll make certain that the podcast sounds more professional than it would have before my focused learning.

All in all, I now know that I can’t stop learning, I’d get too bored.  I know that playing video games has gotten me very good at… video games.  Now I need to focus on growing myself in different directions.  This podcast and blogging journey (that my wife calls a ‘hobby’) has opened up a new world to learn.  Oddly, it’s a world that I’m pushing into my work world as well (you didn’t think that I could learn something not related to work and not improve how I work AT WORK, did you?).  That’s another blog post though…

Goals… Set and Do Not Forget.

People wander.  I’m referring to the nomads, the ancient jews, and the attention deficit disorder junkies.  I don’t put myself in any of those categories, so I guess I’m referring to the rest of us as well… Read all the self help books you’d like, outside of the need for a spirirtual component in your life, you’ll find that if you want to improve an aspect of yourself, set a goal and stick to it.  Full disclosure, I don’t read self help books…

Some of us were taught to set goals in schools, some were taught by their family, some just learned it themselves.  The weight that goal setting is given in education (at least in the US public schools today) is not nearly enough.  There are examples of it… Task lists, weekly assignments and due dates.  But emphasizing the act of goal setting and completion and how to achieve them, not so much.

And that’s what I am trying to do here now.  I’ve set so many life goals in my past.  Write novels, become a teacher, visit all 50 US states, etc.  Some I’ve met and some I haven’t.  The ones I’ve met have two things in common compared to the ones I haven’t acheived.

They are specific.

There is an end date.

“Write a novel” is ridiculously generic with no end date.  I had no real direction.  I have started many novels (I’m actually surprised at how many I’ve started) and finished none.  I have had no end date, I have had no specific reason to finish them.  I haven’t been driven to work on them during those days (that inevitably come) where working on a novel is not only drudgery but drudgery that prevents me from enjoying pleasure in other activities.

But I’m done with a flag football coaching book…  I await the illustrations from a local artist to complete and publish it.  If those don’t come by my end date, I will publish it without them.  The difference between this book on coaching and the “novels” is the specificity and the timeline.

I’ve coached youth sports for over 20 years.  I decided that I should write a book about how to do it effectively not just for the sport in general but how to interact with the parents and players and other coaches and refs.  It was a detailed and specific concept.  One that, once I started filling in the details, started to complete itself.

I also have a deadline that I created for myself.  One that is still looming.  I want it to be published prior to the spring flag football season…  So I need to have it completed (fully completed) in August.  And magically I have a reason to work on it even when I’d rather be focusing on listening to a podcast in a hammock…

The same applies to this blog.  This is my journey to podcasting and monetizing that podcast/blog.  I have a specific goal, create a podcast, create a book about the process of creating it (this blog), and monetize both.  The monetization of the blog into a book is self explanatory.  The monetization of the podcast is something that I’m still determining the best approach.  And I have created a date to have accomplished the first two.  Podcast will be starting in or before July.  It will be about teaching a single Dad how to cook for himself and his children (incidentally, I plan on writing a book about THAT too, but I’ve not set that goal yet).  The podcast “journey” book will come after that but by no later than November…

I have specifics and an end date, I will make them happen.  And they will not be perfect!  I don’t expect them to be.  Every writer, every podcaster, every creator knows that their creation could be better.  But if I was seeking perfection I would never finish anything…

And one other thing, there can’t be any other things.  The third and possibly most important aspect of setting goals, at least for me, is to not set too many.  Sure, there can be the vague no time goals that don’t have specifics, but those are dreams, not goals.  I’m not going to stop dreaming.  But I’m also not going to set other goals until I’m done and am living within THESE goals.  If I do then I might have to sacrifice these goals in order to meet the next and I will never have accomplished/finished anything.  A goal without a plan is just a dream…

On a side note, I’ve been to 48 of the 50 states, two more to go!

Beginning Podcast Equipment

My goal is to monetize a podcast and a blog.  In order to achieve I’m going to have to invest in some equipment.  I’m also going to have to invest in some domain names and blog hosting other than this free wordpress, but that’s another post.  This wordpress blog will remain as a testament to what I’m trying to create, an opportunity for others to build upon, and potentially an e-book about my journey into podcasting…

First things first, a computer…  Done.  I’m using my existing laptop, although I could use almost anything to record, even tablets or phones.  I plan on editing the podcast audio with Audacity, a free audio editing program that I’ll be researching on how to use effectively.  You can find that here.  I’m using Pamela for Skype to record and will add a link to that soon (once I get my affiliate link…).  In the meantime, google or bing “pamela for skype.”

I plan to use notepadd ++ or some other basic electronic notepad, coupled with a mini legal pad and pen, to take show notes.  Notepad ++ will be for copying and pasting URLs and typing down the notes I’d like to share, while the legal pad will handle the time and recording notes that are temporary and I’ll only use for post editing.  Notes like the time stamp of when I went into a coughing fit, so I can cut it later with Audacity…

For audio, I have some good headsets with microphones that have pretty good audio quality.  My wife would potentially leave me if I bought any more of them, actually…  Apparently, I collect them with some unknown compulsive hoarder mentaility.  Some of these headsets would do well for podcasts, especially with types I’m planning to record.

Spoiler: these podcasts will not involve my singing voice…

However, those headset microphones, although they exhibit good sound, can still be outdone by an actual condenser microphone.  You can pay an unnecessarily large amount for these studio quality microphones. There are several, however, that are sub $50 and will elevate your audio quality from laptop microphone to high end podcast.  I chose this one for $25.99:

It’s pictured at the top of the page and I bought it for two reasons.

  1. The audio quality, that I mentioned.
  2. The professional look of the microphone itself.

I plan on having a video podcast as well as an audio podcast. Having an actual microphone with a boom arm will be much more professional than a headset and mic when it comes to the video.  Having good audio quality is much better for any potential future listeners regardless of the podcast format.  Here is the link to the boom arm:

Podcasts have become much more professional in the recent years with radio and TV personalities joining the ranks.  Even the government and PBS are trying their hands in the podcast pond.  I’m hopeful to compete with them eventually, but if I can be more professional on the cheap… all the better for me.

 

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Karma and Four Square

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I spend Sunday afternoon and night with family.  We lunch at my in-laws and dinner at Mom and Dad’s.  It’s at my parents’ house that I get to watch and interact with nephews and neices that are always energized.  I’ve watched them grow up together and always have each other to spend time with on Sunday nights.  They will always and forever remember those weekly family reunions.

This Sunday was a little quieter with only one of my four siblings present (although we had two familes of children running around).  It was no less energetic, but was a touch quieter.  As the adults continued to eat dinner though, I watched my 13 year old interact with my youngest nephew (who loves me the most…).  My son was the perfect goofy complement to his little cousin, Cooper.  They were laughing and sharing, and it was nice watching my son interacting in that compassionate way that I love so much.

Then they moved on to the next activity and the moment was gone, replaced with board games and loud play.  Until after the adults were done being boring and talking and we all went out and played four square.

That’s when the extra time that Mack had spent with his cousin offhandedly was rewarded.  Full disclosure, we play a modified version of foursquare especially for the young ones who can catch the ball and throw it into another square.  Everytime Cooper caught the ball he made a grand show of which square he was going to throw it into.  And every time, he would yell, “MACK!” and throw it to his older cousin who had given him a little bit of interest…

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Although this is a fresh example of this, it’s something I’ve seen often, especially when I was teaching High school.  People desire interaction.  People desire attention, and want you to simply show interest in them.  When you do, it changes the way they interact with you.  Sometimes, it impacts their whole day.

It’s not just the large interactions either.  Mack spent very little effort while playing with Cooper.  I’ve enjoyed noticing things about people’s clothes that make them stand out.  “Wow, I really like your shoes…” in passing, can make that person feel like they are special, make them feel like they are standing out in a sea of people.  Take that concept and bring it to interactions with people you work with, people you care about or support.  That’s when you’ll see people sticking up for you when things don’t necessarily go your way.  I make a point of protecting people who are positive towards me and show interest in my family, my life…  Others will do the same for you if you express interest in theirs…

And the best part of it all…  Once you start doing that on a surface level, you actually start to find that all people are interesting on a deeper level.  Empathy grows only when you learn what others are dealing with.  You’ll never know that unless you express interest.  So even if you start out selfishly, to get people to express more interest in you…  You might find that you grow more selfless as you start learning about the lives of others…

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Too much! The Importance of Focus.

I am excited. I mean, really excited… I stayed up in bed last night thinking about different podcast ideas, book ideas, alternative blogs, etc. I didn’t realize how many things I want to eventually share. But there’s the rub (read, or watch, Hamlet again if you don’t get that reference…), I have too much that I want to accomplish.

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I say that partly in jest.  I fully plan on accomplishing every one of the ideas I dreamt up and any others I dream up along the way.  But I don’t have to accomplish them ALL right now or even at the same time…  I have three book ideas (One is very close to the final push for publishing), and they will all get published, but only one book at a time.  I’ve gone down the multitasking  road before.  I believe that I’m better at it than most, but no matter what effort I put into  doing multiple things at a time, unless I have distinct separation, the results are…  mediocre.

Not starting my cookbook idea until after my flag football book is complete drives me insane.  I’m EXCITED about the cookbook idea.  The flag football book is 90% done.  That means I’ve been working on it a lot and although I’m excited about it, that cookbook is much more interesting to me at this moment.

If I were to start working on the Cookbook project, I absolutely know that the other projects would take a backseat…  That’s a good thing in terms of following my energy and passion, but it’s horrible in terms of completion.  So what’s my purpose?

What’s YOUR purpose?

Is it to follow your energy and passion?  Have at it, float like a kite in the wind…  Cut your string and let the winds of your passions take you wherever they lead.  That honestly appeals to my creative side.  It’s also how I’ve handled most creative projects that didn’t have an end goal…

But that’s not my purpose anymore

My purpose now is to have results…  to have books published, not several being written.  My purpose is to START a podcast, a blog, an online shop.  To have a library of books that I’m ACTUALLY selling.  And to maintain those things…

This is why I’m focusing on maintaining this blog three days out of the week…  It’s why I’m investing time into researching what it takes to create a podcast.  It’s why I’ll focus on finalizing the flag football book and getting it published prior to working on the next book.

This is also why I have a pen and paper on my nightstand.  I need a list to check off completions for these project ideas that I keep thinking up, so that I can focus on the one I’m working on right NOW.

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Self Doubt… Time To Start Failing.

It’s funny to me how willing people are to question themselves.  I experience it constantly at work.  People who are afraid that they won’t be good enough at a potential promotion so they never apply.  People who are unwilling to take on a task or complete a task because they are afraid of their workmanship.  These are people who are often already doing the tasks associated with the promotion or have set examples of craftmanship in the past.  It’s irrational…

And yet, it’s constant.  And I’m no giant when it comes to overcoming it.  I have doubts that I’ll be able to run an online shopping site, learn how to dropship expertly, or create and maintain a podcast.  But like this blog (which I might be moving to a hosted site), I plan on bypassing that “confidence barrier”.  I am commiting myself to going beyond any self doubt, just like I committed to writing three blog posts a week.

And the beauty of that?  I know for a fact that I’m going to fail…

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I know that I won’t be as successful the first time I try a podcast, or shop, or whatever comes up.  I know that it won’t be incredibly successful (with a potential lucky exception)…  But I know that I will learn…

That’s one of the many things I’m good at (I didn’t say I lacked confidence, I only said I had self doubt…).  I can learn, and research, and grow and become an expert in any of the items I’m discussing.  We literally have the internet at our disposal…  The only thing you need beyond that is time, will power and a mind that can grasp it.

So, yes, I will fail.  My first podcast will not be professional immediately.  It will not make much money (Affiliate marketing for example).  But I will learn from it…  And I plan on taking that first podcast and continuing to make it even while I start others.  And as I use that first podcast to learn how to do it well, I’ll use that knowledge to make others stronger from the start.

Same thing with this blog and others.  I’ll learn how to write better (and use less parenthetical statements!).  And I’ll start other blogs.  I already have several ideas I think would be fruitful.  Several of them will be awful.  I welcome the awful one’s, those are the one’s that will make the good ones great.

Self Doubt is something we all deal with, even at home.  Am I a good enough father, provider, mother, wife, husband?  Could I be better?  Well, I am sick of the self doubt when it comes to writing, to podcasting and to making money online…  Time to start failing…

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Audience… Define Your Audience

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I suggested last post that I was going to go for three posts a week…  Monday, Wednesday and Friday seem to be an appropriate schedule, let’s go with that.  That is not the first thing I’m going to focus on (consistency and a goal), but it’s what I’m focusing on right now.

The first thing I’m going to focus on is something I should already have done.  I suggest you do this as a first step going forward.  Define your audience.  It was something that was continuously impressed on me when I was at Vanderbilt as an English Major.  Define who you are writing towards.  Often that was the professor, often it was the Vanderbilt student body itself.  Regardless, knowing who the writing is meant for makes a difference in the outcome of the writing itself.

I could go into detail but I think it would contain sentences similar to this: Some professors expected quality over thought-process, others did not, I wrote to the professor.  Instead, let me suggest that this isn’t just about online content and potential sales but about life and other work as well.  Knowing your audience before you send your emails, tell a specific joke, or discuss sensitive business topics is a valuable lesson.  It’s something I have taught both my boys as they entered their pre-teens.  “You can say things to your friends that you should never say in front of your Mom…”

For this blog, I’m too late.  I started the blog, with a goal, and I haven’t solidified who I’m even writing to…  That makes this a journal, not a directed blog.  I’m obviously going to revisit this and define the audience I’m trying to reach for one simple reason:

  1. When a decision about a direction that the blog needs to take comes up the audience will give you the answer…

I’m not suggesting that you ask your readers/consumers what path you should take on any given decision.  “Should my podcasts be 30 or 45 minutes long?”  Although, if you get a following that is responsive to you, you might take that approach.  I’m suggesting that you determine the ideal person for your media and define aspects of that person’s life.  Once determined, answers to questions for your content will be readily available with little thought.  What would my audience do?

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As an example, I’m going to be writing a cookbook soon.  I have a passion for cooking and a passion for writing (and getting published).  But what kind of cookbook?  I need to define my audience.  Let’s go through two potential audiences.

  1. Newly graduated college student.
    • Renting their first place
    • Owns a microwave, has a stove to store the cookie sheets for the oven
    • Owns an all in one kitchen set (two pots, two pans)
    • Doesn’t own a dishwasher
    • Has four actual plates but uses plastic dinnerware mostly
    • Eats out with friends as often as possible because they never learned how to cook or depended on cafeterias and Mom.
    • Really likes microwaveable ready meals, tube cookies and hot dogs.
    • Spends most of their money on student loans, furntiure and their pets
  2. Newly divorced Dad.
    • Moved into a condo unit
    • Owns a microwave, stove, oven and grill
    • Never had to cook because his ex-wife cooked everything
      • Although he does like to grill
    • Owns a dishwasher
    • Has actual plates and bowls and can afford kitchen utensils
    • Eats out often, especially when he has the kids over
    • Eats microwave ready meals and hot dogs often, but would rather have home cooked meals
    • Spends most of his money on his kids, alimony, child support and his condo
      • Still has plenty of money left over

These are pretty specific audiences…  I could flesh them out even more if necessary and the more I podcast or write the more i would.  A cookbook for a recently divorced Dad would be MUCH different than one for a recently graduated college student.  That should be pretty obvious.  As I begin looking into what a book like that would be (and I’m thinking I might blog the writing of that book with a defined audience of new writers), I’m easily able to answer some of the questions that immediately arise.

  1. Should I include “basics of cooking”?
    • The answer for both is a yes
  2. Should I include a section for cooking for kids?
    • For the college grad, no…  But for the dad, yes…

Having defined the audience will help to determine what content needs to be discussed/created as well.  As you plan your content you have to ask yourself WWMAW; “What Would My Audience Want?”

As a caution for going this route, other’s might have had the same idea as you.  For example:

Divorced Dad’s Cookbook“>Divorced Dad’s Cookbook

Don’t worry about this at all…  You have your own personality, your own thoughts and your own specific audience.  All that means is that someone else has already identified a viable source of money.  Read the reviews on their products and determine how you can make yours better…

How can we monetize?

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I’m struggling with several things in my life.

From government programs taking away my son’s liberty, to how I’m going to spend my weekend (spoiler: I’m going to be working around the house).  What’s at the top of my struggles right now?  How to monetize an online presence…  I am hopeful that this blog will help me to advance in that direction for instance.  But hope, is not substantial…  My Grandmother had a phrase, “Want in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up faster.”  Same thing applies to hope.

So, what should I do outside of just hoping to monetize the blog and other online initiatives?  Currently, I’m looking into affiliate sales, podcasting (still working on how best to monetize that), utilizing this blog, andonline dropshipping sites.  There is nothing more liberating for a citizen than to become economically independent.  Capitalism is the golden bar for liberty.  Anybody who tells you otherwise is inexperienced or power hungry.

I’ll use this blog to document them and my successes and failures.  In the long run, even the documentation of them might serve to help with monetizing.  I’m going to improve my writing as I continue (feedback welcome) and the successes AND failures can find their way into a book.  Even a What NOT to do book would be helpful (actually that would be helpful to me right now).  I’m shooting for at least three posts a week on what I’ve been working on/researching.

I would appreciate your help with this as well…  Tell me what I’m doing wrong.  Sign up to follow this blog, comment, share.  I absolutely need to gather people who are interested in adding supplemental income and are also willing to follow and share their journeys with me.  When I am going down the wrong path, I would LOVE to hear WHY.

Share your stories with me…

You can also follow me on twitter @IamGreeneye

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