Friday, November 11, 2016

Create thumbnails for youtube videos with paintnet and pixabay for free

This video shows how to quickly & easily make thumbnails for your Youtube videos.
The top advantage of a decent Youtube thumbnail image is that it catches the visitor's eye and lures them towards the video. A video with a well designed thumbnail simply stands out of the crow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Thoughts on side-gigs

The seed:
A side-gig is meant to be a low gain, low stress thing. It should be something you can easily outsource/automate. In fact, being easy should be the highest priority. If anything doesn’t meet first criteria, the second shouldn’t be bothered. I crank up a lot of source code on my full time job, don’t want to do that for my side gig.

Having a different type of side-gig means a different part of your brain gets activated when you’re working from your home office. It also means you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Transcription and video editing for example, pretty much fit the bill. You can start the biz on your own. At first you’ll be slow but you’ll get familiar with various English accents and the overall process of transcription/close captioning. Once you have a reasonable income you can reinvest (after paying you a 15% of your full time salary), you can start putting cash aside to hire virtual assistant(s) to automate parts of the process.

I believe that the transcription expert should be a separately dedicated person. S/he would provide the transcription which would be then used by the video editor to add subtitles to videos. We do need better software tools for the closed captioning though. Techsmith Camtasia is not good enough IMO.

I being a software developer will have an opportunity to software products tailored to the needs of transcription people and video editors who add closed captions to videos on regular basis. Although, that’s a very far-fetched possibility and I don’t want it to be on the list. Smells like a short sighted office rat.

Instead, I would love to get a VA who could work as a BD and find work our little business machine.

Family matters:
Begum(my wife) doesn’t have to play a role in this plan. But, I do believe she needs to be able to support herself and the family even if I’m not there. She also needs to do something beyond the household, it will comfort her mind. She will have a purpose of life other than bearing and raising children. It’s going to come with a decent income as well, which will give her some freedom of choice.

Office or no office?
In the end, I believe I don't need an office where people could come to work. Instead, everything can be outsourced to guys & guls who can work from home(or anywhere else they can get the work done for that matter). If Wordpress do it, why can't a small video editing shop? Instead of spending money on buying the computers & air conditioning, I think we should pay them well and invest in collaboration tools(work software, company website, file sharing services, get together, project management software). Maybe we could facilitate a few people through co-working spaces sometime in future. Like, when the power cuts get worst in summer.
I will get myself a couple gigantic screens though and setup a home office for myself. 

PS: The author has been there, done that. I used to work through freelance portals like ODesk(now Upwork), Elance, and Freelancer for developing Android apps and Windows desktop software. Took a start in video editing through Fiverr. 

PS2: This is not a morning journal entry. Just putting it there so that it will be easily traceable in the future.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Morning Journal # 2 - On Udemy, evil affiliates, and a producing more courses

I feel like my Udemy courses have run out of juice. Present month I'm afraid will be a 2 digit month.
[Most] Part of this happened due to Udemy's pricing policy. Both of my courses (this and this)are the less shiny objects anyone would buy for $10 I believe, $20 is too high.

Udemy affiliates are doing good business while the instructors are (largely) starving of organic students and loosing faith in Udemy.


I believe if I could put out a high value course i.e. $508ish thing, then my revenue will bounce back for a while. But, if an attempt to put out a $50 course fails, well I will test another (lower) price point. Shoot for the stars, you'll hit the moon at least. This is a true win-win.

Evil affiliates:

Affiliates only create fancy websites & build mailing lists, giving them the lion's share is bull crap on Udemy's part. The downside of unjustly rewarding the affiliates is that when genuine instructors will find another way to monetize their courses, the affiliates will also run away. They won't create content for Udemy.

Poor instructors:

We're the real content producers. Nobody should get a share higher than the original content producer. They way Udemy's been playing with instructor revenues lately is pure evil.

Advise for Udemy:

Udemy needs to bring affiliate rewards to a 25%. The rest should be split between the instructor and Udemy. This will give Udemy some extra cash and relax the instructor community which is so disturbed right now.

Dumping the crutch:

Udemy(and any other platform like it) is just crutch for your online business, don't let it become the leg of your business. It is said that we should be focused on building our own long term biz, which is one hell of a task I think. Not every engineer or accountant is good at building mailing lists or promoting things.

So, I am seriously considering the idea to finish my 3rd Udemy course ASAP and rush to PS. They don't offer competing courses and I have a couple ideas they'd love to get courses built for. I will also get a chance to work with a different breed of professional course planners & editors by doing this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How to fold a portable greenscreen background like a pro, easily


This video is intended to be a help for folks like myself who don't have much experience with photography equipment. 
I bought a portable greenscreen last year for recording my online courses.
When I bought it I asked the tailor on Nisbet Road, Lahore to show me how to fold it because it appeared to be tricky.

The man was kind enough to show me how to do it and he didn't mind me recording the video on my mobile phone.

For anybody interested in video editing part, I will be putting out another video showing how did I make the video look the way it does using Camtasia Studio. You see, it was a portrait when I shot it from my cell phone.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How to start a mailing list in 4 days

My First Try at a Sales Funnel - by Emile Ackbarali

There are lecturers on Udemy who really really know how to go about marketing and selling. Then there is me. An amateur-apprentice-water boy-in training. So what I will briefly describe here now is my first try at a sales funnel.
My very first course is the most popular. So I took a subset of it and created a "1-Hour ... " course. A version of the course with the basics of the subject but still valuable. I priced it at $20. Then I took most of the videos from this new small course and placed it on YouTube. Each YouTube video has a pop-up on it that informs the viewer that they can do the course for FREE by clicking on a link below.
The link goes to a landing page (LeadPages) and then prompts them to sign up to my mailing list (Convertkit). Once they do, they get a "free-coupon" link to the course, so that they can do the $20 course for free.
I arranged all of this 4 days ago. So far, 6 people have signed up to my mailing list. At the end of the $20 course, there is a Bonus Lecture that offers the full larger course at 20% off. And believe it or not, 1 of the 6 people who signed up to do the free course, actually bought the larger full course.
I know this is minuscule but I needed to test this for myself to see if this "sh*t" actually works. And it did. Can't believe it did. So I have my first email list and am going to gradually try and do more and more to build it and sell more.
There are lecturers much much better than me at this stuff. I am such a novice. But whatever I learn, I will keep on sharing with you all, even if it might be old news to some.

Jason Short added:
That is building the funnel and it will take time. Now also find some blogs or sites that attract your target student and write a guest blog about your topic, and offer their readers the same pipeline.

It takes SO MUCH TIME to do all these activities, but that is how you build.

Friday, July 15, 2016

How to get better audio, tips by Udemy instrutor Scott Duffy

Scott Duffy said

I just got done recording a new course, and have been continuing to struggle to get the audio just right. Today I thought I would summarize my best tips for recording audio for your courses, in the hopes that it would help someone.

  1. One of the keys to good audio is having a quiet place to record. If your house is in a quiet part of town, that's a good start. We all sometimes have to deal with construction or one time events. But if you live in an extremely noisy part of the city, you will find yourself being only able to record late at night.
  2. Another key is the type of room you are recording in. In order to avoid echo, it needs to have lots of soft surfaces like furniture and carpeting. Some people record sitting inside a clothes closet because the clothes absorbs all the sound. Others record with blankets hanging around them. Think about how sound bounces around, and you want more things that absorb sound and less things that reflect sound around you as you record.
  3. If you have both of the above, it almost doesn't matter what microphone you have - expensive, cheap, condenser, dynamic. Microphones pick up sound, and so if there are no other sounds other than your voice, that's the ideal state.
  4. If you make a mistake during recording - say something incorrect, or find yourself making an error - stop recording and start the lesson again. I have seen programming courses on Udemy where the instructors code wouldn't compile and then spent 5 minutes searching around to find the error. I do every lesson 2 or 3 times, and my delivery of the material gets better each time. It's worth it to re-record when you catch yourself making a big mistake.
  5. You can't take echo out in editing. If your sound comes back with too much echo, you can play with the levels, add some soft music to the background to disguise it, but ultimately it's not easy to remove.
  6. Clean your audio using a tool like Audacity. Do noise removal, boost the volume, and clean up the ums, ahs, long pauses, stutters and mistakes if you can. Students will appreciate a mistake-free lesson and not an instructor that says "uhhh, uhhh, uhhh" a lot. My recent course had 120+ lessons. Every one was cleaned manually in Audacity, and yes it's a lot of work.
  7. In general, don't have music playing constantly behind your talking. I use this for my promo video and my introduction lesson only to inject some energy, but 99% of the course does not have music playing throughout.

Sam Chifley added the following

  • Tip 1 - Without stating the obvious. You need to go ahead and run a few tests with your microphone before hand in order to make sure you can actually remove the sound from your audio. Don't record the whole course and then find out that your audio doesn't cut it. All audio can be repaired but the time it will take to repair will likely make it worthwhile recording again with different settings. (You can remove echo just it isn't worth your time and effort! Your not on a film set)
  • Tip 2 - Know your microphone! Don't talk into a condenser microphone directly (The opposite is true for dynamics get as close and personal as you can and use a pop filter) Likewise know if it an end-address microphone or not. 
  • Tip 3 - Avoid increasing the volume in editing as you will learning fairly quickly that your microphone has these limits for a reason (Background noise and clipping) 
  • Tip 4 - Sound is a funny thing and you can not hear noise and it can exist it is just outside of the range of your computer aside from paying a few hundred dollars for a sound card zoom in and look at the recording.  
  • Like wise them $2 earbuds don't cut it! Get some studio headphones (Sony and Bose are personal favorites of mine!)

My two cents

  • I sit in a corner facing towards the intersection of walls. Right now my corner has got a wooden closet. The sound goes through the TV first & then the plywood before hitting the wall.
  • About background noise or birds chirping outside, I think if the sound wave produced through your mouth is significantly stronger than the noise; the microphone will vibrate to your sound and effectively cancel the noise.
  • Plus, I use an entry level dynamic microphone(Samson Q1U) with a pop filter.

David Winegar Said

My suggestion for audio would be

  • To pick up a good mic, it saves tons of time in messing about if you have good quality to start with.
  • I bought from ebay a BM-800 mic for about $20 and it is very high quality, USB mic. Don't plug into the mic input on your computer, but use a USB adapter - it make a huge difference.
  • Then use a program like WavePad sound editor (Windows) to fix your audio a bit more. You can reduce background and hum and also cut out those "ummms" from your audio without having to re-record.

Roma Connie Waterman said

  • I will add this from my experience- you don't need a program like audacity if you have a good mic to start work- it will eliminate a lot of issues just to start with a good quality mic (obviously if a noisy venue is an issue you are going to have trouble regardless tho). You will also find the sound of breathing is normal and often editing is not needed as its not as noticeable. Pop screens and filters go a long way in helping with this.
  • The other thing I do at the beginning of every lecture is I say the title of the lecture then Count from 5 backwards, making the 2 and the 1 silent- why? Because in editing I know what I'm editing if I have a lot of audio and video to edit, and also the countdown helps me know where to start the editing process (I talk really fast and often there's no gaps!)
  • I've also found editing is actually quicker if I make a mistake somewhere to keep going but do the Count again so I know there is an edit when I come back to it- I'm finding I'm recording less and editing more- but it's much better content than trying to do a whole lecture again.

Enough horsing around, I must get back to work.