Hey you 👋
We’ve broken it down for all you curious creators. Feel free to skip to the parts you’re interested in (or read it all, if you're the type).
Listen to the entire blog audio here, podcast style:
Audio is rising
- How it all started
- Research on audio
- How audio benefits creators
- How audio benefits listeners
- The future of audio learning
Why create an information product?
- The "expert" myth
- The fresher, the better
- Teaching is the best way to learn
- Share a different perspective
You become less insecure as a creator
- Removing the visual
- You're more genuine
- Less production costs
It's a great way to to make money online
- Should I start a side hustle?
- Video course vs podcast vs audio series
- Side hustle > online business
- Audio series: the ultimate side hustle
About our lingo: We use" audio series" instead of course simply cause it sounds cooler - kind of gives off the vibes of a newly released Netflix series. And it just seems less intimidating!
Audio is rising
Alright, quick story time
The story dates back to when I was 12, in an English class I wasn’t meant to be attending.
Somehow, my parents threw me into a summer course intended for kids who’ve done a year of English at school. I, on the other hand, didn’t know my A, B, from C’s.
The internet was not a thing (yet) and no one I knew could help. But (and it’s a big but) I had these cassette tapes that came with the textbook. Since reading the book wasn’t going to do anything, I just listened to the tapes repeatedly.
Then, something magical happened.
Because I marinated my mind with the content, I ended up memorizing a lot of vocab.
In a week, I was responding to teachers without really knowing what I was doing and before I knew it, I finished at the top of the class in just 3 weeks (it was a short course)!
I applied the same technique when I learned Japanese, and even coding.
With coding, audio didn’t come intuitively. I used audio out of sheer frustration.
The information just wasn’t sticking, and I was fed up watching videos — and when you’re frustrated, you stop learning. So again, I used audio and bam. Finally, it stuck!
That’s why audio is brilliant. Because of the medium, information just sticks to your brain — allowing you to build a mental map of knowledge! Once you have that, learning almost becomes second nature.
Let’s go through some research
Let’s be real: most of us start an online course but don’t finish it, and all of us at one point fall into this category.
Additionally, they struggle to find the time even if there’s the intention to learn. If you look at a working professional’s day, there is simply no time to watch a video. And when they do, it’s in a passive manner.
That’s why the same demographic of people spend on average 6 hrs a week listening to podcasts since they can learn while doing activities that don't engage with their brain (or ‘multi-modal multitasking’ in psychology).
In layman’s terms, people learn better while moving but not actively thinking.
Here’s another statistic: it’s hard to apply your learnings after watching a video because learning requires time.
Firstly, you need to pass through the phase of knowledge transfer before we can even talk about practicing it. That takes a lot of repetition which video doesn’t have time for.
Audio is both to the creators and learner’s advantage. Imagine a world where creators can skip the hassle of filming, and listeners can learn more intuitively...that’s what audio learning can provide.
How audio benefits creators
No creative blocks
It’s no secret that creators struggle with perfectionism, which is why writers struggle to finish their books.
The beauty with audio is that it’s the best way to stop self-censorship. How? By speaking out loud.
There are many authors and writers who have turned to the method of dictation. Modern technology makes transcribing recordings much easier, but the major benefits of dictation touch mostly on increased creativity, faster writing process, and a healthier writing practice.
Not only can you get 5000 words down in an hour compared to the usual 1500 through typing, but without the constant desire for perfection that comes with writing that first draft, creativity and idea generation flows quickly in more abundance speaking out loud.
No recording difficulties
When you’re creating an audio course, the kind of flow we encourage creators to embrace is to have improvised talking points.
It’s important to really highlight the gold nuggets of information. Learners want the content to be easily digestible, so make sure you know what’s your core message.
You can start with a bullet point list (or just free flow) but you do want to reach a point where you end up with a list of topics.
With that list, you can then just….speak your mind. A pro tip is to record bullet points in chunks, so you don’t end up babbling. This flow would minimise any editing.
There needs to be this emotional build up for something to digest with listeners.
People want to understand why something makes sense, so tell them your story.
Audio lends itself well to storytelling, so you can even include more examples (without worrying about things getting too long).
God knows the amount of time we unconsciously waste through the constant editing.
Thinking of your ideas, breaking down your ideas to words, typing out each letter to perfection, and running through the entire thing several times can be a pain on your backside.
If someone makes a mistake in a conversation, don’t feel like you need to edit it out. Authenticity sounds better than forced editing anyway.
How audio benefits listeners
Why do busy professionals struggle with time? It’s because they have competing priorities in their lives — work, family, social obligations and the like. We've all been there and realised...there's just no time to sit and watch an 8-hr video course.
Not to mention, it's bad for our health — we’ve already been sitting all day in our office chair. If we allow listeners to engage their body (which hardly happens in a classroom), the mind is more agile, more alive. If you learn better by being active, why not engage using a medium you’ll have better results with?
One of the people who understood the power of learning through audio was Michel Thomas— the go-to language teacher for all celebrities because of his ‘unique method’ to learning (basically an audio-first approach). He encouraged natural learning by relaxing and engaging with your mind and ears. He specifically reminded the learners to not even try thinking about remembering.
What his method highlighted is that your mind will be so focused on listening to self-criticize once you start learning with audio. There is a reason why you meditate with your eyes closed. If you’ve ever looked at learning theory, you’ll know that the moment people start to feel frustrated, they stop learning.
An audio-first approach removes a lot of the frustration in learning by limiting that dialogue in your head between what you can or can’t understand. So no negative self-talk, and more time to learn.
The future of audio learning
The answer isn’t straightforward.
Audio had its time with cassette tapes. But when the internet got faster, multimedia content just grew rapidly. Video killed the radio star and all that jazz.
With multiple ways to consume content, who wouldn’t want to be spoiled for choice, especially if you’ve been deprived of it for so long?
However, we’ve now become oversaturated, especially with visual content. With video, we expect it to constantly be entertaining, which has made creating in-depth video content much harder.
Behaviours have been shifting among busy working professionals who have been gravitating towards podcasts.
This has been brought about by different innovations coming into play in the audio ecosystem such as AirPods.
AirPods brought the audio experience to the next level. With features like noise cancellation and voice activation, it’s clear that companies are adapting rapidly to fit audio content around their consumer’s busy lifestyle.
In many ways, AirPods can be seen as a more realistic mode of AR (but less intrusive). Google Glass failed because it was intruding but AirPods are the opposite — it gives you that space for imagination, something that AR goggles don’t provide. In fact, audio can almost be seen as a revolution against visual stimulation.
And let’s not forget what smart speakers have done to the audio space — making the audio consumption both accessible and instantaneous.
The possibility of audio learning is endless as people are adopting to a hands-free and on the go lifestyle.
More needs to be done to fit learning around the modern working professional’s lifestyle, and audio learning could be the possible solution to interact with educational content without having to engage their hands or eyes.
People are reaching a tipping point where they're tired of being spoon-fed with video, and the time for audio learning has arrived.
Why create an information product?
The "expert" myth
We’re here to say that you don’t have to be an “expert” to teach an online course and engage in knowledge commerce.
Why? Well, A good report card doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a good job after graduation now does it?
Being an “expert” isn’t the only thing that matters when building credibility. To build credibility, you need to gain the trust of your audience. A lot of this trust comes strongly from sharing your personal experiences and expressing vulnerability.
People relate to you once they know more about you. Knowing your own pain points in your journey to learning whatever skill you desire to teach gives them the hope that one day they’ll be able to get to where you are now and your success.
No one truly is an “expert”, and even “experts” learn new things as they progress through life. Everybody is on the learning journey, and it’s a journey that never stops.
The fresher the knowledge, the better
You truly don’t need to be an “expert” to teach an online course because everybody is on the learning journey, and it’s a journey that never stops.
Another misconception is the thought that one must be working on a subject for “x” amount of time before they could teach an online course.
To that we say, F that, why wait?
When the knowledge is fresh, it allows you to empathize better with others. You WERE them after all not too long ago, you know their pain points at that stage better than anyone else.
You know how to do the thing. Now tell others how you did the thing.
Teaching is the best way to learn
You read that right, one of the best ways to learn and gain a deeper understanding of a topic is to teach it to someone else.
Why? Well according to Richard Feynman’s Technique, pretending to teach a topic to a child is one of the best ways to understand a topic.
One way we trick ourselves is the use of complicated jargon/vocabulary, which masks our lack of understanding. But when we break our topics down to simple explanations, we force ourselves to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify connections between ideas.
Share a different perspective
What if there are already countless courses on the topic you’d like to cover?
Learners benefit from hearing various perspectives. Don’t stress over there being creators teaching the same thing as you, not all those people are gonna cater to everyone.
People learn differently from different people, and it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. You offer a unique and different approach, wisdom, and teaching style from others.
We live in a time where this is so easily done with the internet. If you think you can help someone out there in the world learn something new, then by all means, do it.
You become less insecure as a creator
Removing the visual
We live in a visual world, one where we value what we see over everything else. The first platform that pops into creators’ minds for modes of teaching is usually video.
And while this still remains successful, some can’t help the frustration that comes with fixing the awkward camera angles and lighting.
It centers around looks, and people often find themselves paying more attention to what they see rather than what the person is saying.
While visual aids are important, people tend to remember things a lot better when they intensely listen to what you have to say.
Audio helps remove the visual fuss, and the stress that comes with creating perfect visuals.
Creators don’t have to worry about the perfect camera angle, the perfect ring light, using the right camera, and constantly showing their best side. Or making beautiful looking decks, we all know how long that takes.
It’s not worth the unnecessary stress for something that ultimately won’t matter that much. At the end of the day, your audience is there to listen and learn from what you have to say.
They don’t really care about how you look, that doesn’t help them and their issues, and that’s not why they’re there in the first place.
Audio removes the need for perfect visuals. When creators aren’t so concerned with the visual fuss and worrying about how they look, they can focus 100% of their energy on the content they’re giving, what they’re saying, and how they’re saying it.
No visual fuss, less judgement.
Audio is a medium that helps creators to feel more comfortable just being themselves.
Creators don’t have to spend time doing their hair and makeup, don’t have to act a certain way and feel self conscious in front of a camera. Audio helps your audience focus on what you have to say instead of just YOU (physically anyways).
It frees creators from the fear of being judged or scrutinized for their looks.
Opportunity to get more personal
When we try to stress an important point, or need our audience to pay close attention, we say “listen”.
And that’s exactly what they do, they listen intently to remember and understand the important things you’re trying to stress.
With audio, your audience can more intimately understand whatever it is you have to say. Though they can’t see you, you’ll be surprised at just how much information audio can give out.
Your voice has the power to allow your audience to perceive emotion, feeling, and deep understanding.
With audio, creators are free to express more vulnerability without the worry of how they may come across physically. It’s a great opportunity that allows what you have on the inside to shine through.
You're more genuine
Audio has the power to allow creators to be their more authentic selves.
When creators are more genuine, it tends to build a credibility not many realize they can build.
People often think that having certifications makes you more credible, others use professional studio equipment, setup, lighting, and editing to appear more credible. And although these things are important, they aren’t everything, and alone they certainly won’t build audience trust.
Perhaps the most important way to build credibility is by sharing your experiences and relating to your audience by being genuine.
Showing authenticity and building trust is something that is made easily done through audio. When you talk to your audiences like you’re speaking to a best friend, it allows others to empathize with your words and emotions.
The intimacy that comes with audio allows your audience to understand you better. And when they understand you better, they’re more inclined to trust in what you have to say, because you’re being a real and genuine person.
Think about the success of many thought leaders on Twitter. They did not get as many followers and likes as they do by simply putting their credentials on their bio. It’s when they show their personality and thoughts through their tweets that get people hooked!
Audio is a great platform to be your most genuine self without all the fuss in worrying about how you’d look and appear to be. It’s all about the message you give, and really allows your personality to shine through. And this makes it so different compared to everything else.
Less production costs
Let's face it - we all want our content to be perfect. But in order to achieve this, most believe it’s necessary to spend thousands of dollars on camera, lighting, and recording equipment, and not to mention editing software and your computer itself. Then there's the process of setting it all up, making sure everything looks perfect… and ACTION!
But what if you don’t have the resources for "perfect" content?
What if you don’t have the best quality camera, the best equipment, shitty lighting, and your video ends up being scrutinized rather than them taking in the valuable content in it?
Creating with audio can not only help lower production cost, but even the “imperfect” bits of it come off as genuine.
When it comes to recording audio, pretty much all you need is your mobile phone and a quiet room. If you live in a busy household, just purchasing a good condenser/dynamic microphone should be fine.
Even when you mess up, it’s not exactly a part you’ll have to cut out in post production. When people stutter, it’s not a bad thing because it shows that they’re more real, as if you’re actually speaking to someone.
When you speak to someone in real life, they aren’t perfect when they speak. Real people stutter, sniffle, and giggle. And this is the charming aspect of audio content.
Did someone say less production efforts?
You all probably know this by now but with audio, there’s way less cutting, editing the saturation, adding effects, etc.
All you need is an audio trimmer or editing app (if you’re feeling fancy, Garageband, Anchor, or Audacity works great) to edit out unwanted parts, and that’s pretty much all the work put into post-production. Background music can be distracting, but having intro & outro or occasional transitional music can be a nice touch!
Minimum input, maximum output!
For most of our course creators out there, we know this is your side hustle.
Some may be doing this alongside their 9-5 jobs, writing books, freelancing, etc. Whatever your main hustle in life may be we can all agree: Not everyone has the time to plan, film, and edit.
For the people who can’t afford the time to create an online course, audio is a great platform because it doesn’t take very long to make, you find yourself not fussing over retakes, and you’re more at ease in this talking-to-yourself-but-not-really dynamic. I know some people may be squeamish in front of a camera, and this often takes some time getting used to.
When it’s just you and your mic and no one else, it’s much easier to get things flowing. You ease into yourself more, and once you get comfortable, it’s sometimes hard to stop talking! But you get every bit of content you need without stressing about post-production and missing something out.
That would be a pain to have to wear the same clothes and mimic the same environment should you misrecord anything!
It's a great way to to make money online
Should I side hustle?
The pandemic has shown that nothing is permanent in life. You need a fallback when things turn to sh*t. If you don’t have your 9-5, you’ll know that something else will sustain you.
Having a side hustle is taking that power back from your 9-5. It’s social proof that if you lose your job, you can still pay the bills. Start living a comfortable and anxiety-free life — side hustling and making passive income makes that possible.
A side hustle could even be a transition to setting up your own business.
A lot of people say, ‘don't quit your nine to five yet unless you're making “x” amount of money from your side hustle.’ And there’s a lot of truth in that. Side hustling is a great transition to see if you’d want to dedicate 10+ years of your life to building a business.
Often, people think side hustling is about selling those red velvet cupcakes you perfected baking. But there’s something most people don’t consider as a side hustle — creating a course (or in this case, an audio series).
In fact, it’s the easiest way to make a decent side income since everyone has learned something (the hard way) but no one talks about how they overcame it. Knowledge Commerce, people. It's a great way to make money online.
If you have a story, why not share it?
Maybe you think you need to be this ex. Amazon sales rep with an MBA from Oxford to share something, but you don’t. An audio series can be simple. You could share how to rent out your spare room. Or how to freelance. Or how to give your cat a bath.
As long as you have something to share, you have a side hustle and an option to make passive income. The closer to the pain points, the better. If you have a niche, or something you’ve experienced that’s unique, you have a course.
Think about it this way: if you’d pay for this advice, wouldn’t others?
You’d be surprised how many people are going through the exact same thing. And they can’t find the solution on Google since their problem is so unique. They don’t want to scour the web either cause there are just too many opinions (talk about information overload).
But you’ve done the hard work...don’t act like you didn’t scan those forums before! If your process works, charge for it. You’ll filter what the web is saying and what you’ve experienced to be true.
In short? An audio series = your ticket to financial freedom. Screw that 9-5 (only keep it if you like it. 😆
Video course vs. podcast vs. audio series
Having analysis paralysis? Here’s the break down:
- Cheaper to create
- Fast to launch
- Fairly priced
No hate but audio reigns supreme. Need I say more?
Side hustle > online business
Is your business idea something you want to commit to the long run?
Let’s say you want to become a full-time course creator. Would you really want to risk your financial stability? You don’t even know how the market will respond to your content. If you’re unsure, side hustling is a great way to figure that sh*t out.
That’s where an audio series come in. An audio series is fast to create, quick to churn out. If you’re looking to quit ASAP, seeing how the market responds to your audio series will help you make that decision to either go full-time or keep it as a side income project.
What if you don’t want to quit your 9-5? With setting up a whole business, you have to think about marketing, sales, and all these other moving pieces. Not everyone has the energy to put those systems in place.
Maybe you like the fact things are set up and want to use side hustling as a safety net in case you’re let go. That doesn’t just go for young businesses or startups either: you can lose your job at a corporate or startup setting as we’ve seen with this pandemic.
That’s the beauty with an audio series — you set it up once and you don’t have to think about it again, plus you make money out of it. Maybe record a few times and do a little social media promotion. Then boom. You have a side hustle.
A side hustle is non-committal. No one is depending on you financially except yourself. Do it well, and you can make a business out of it. Or just keep it as an extra stream of income — the choice is yours.
Whether or not you get a return on investment, it doesn't matter since it's only a side hustle. It's not like your landlord’s depending on it. All it costs to make an audio series is a few GB’s on your phone and believe me, it’s worth it.