When I conduct interviews with sources, I generally use my Apple IPhone 4S and record the conversation over a mobile app that converts the call into an MP3 audio file. When I'm done talking to a source, I generally upload the resulting MP3 audio file to a website that transcribes the call, sending me a full transcript by email within 24 hours. The transcription website is called IScribed.com (highly-recommended), and it's cheap and easy to use.
Lately, I've also been turning those same MP3 audio files into podcasts for one of my clients. I do these podcasts when I interview business authors about their books. You can listen to my first two podcasts here. I recorded my first podcast by hooking a USB Microphone (called the "Blue Snowball" -- highly-recommended) into my Chromebook and then recording the live interview directly into my open SoundCloud account page. For the second podcast, I used my smartphone and voice recording app, combining it with earbuds that had a microphone attached to them so I could do it hands-free with good sound quality. I then uploaded the MP3 file to my SoundCloud account.
Podcasting has taught me a lot about sound quality and audio technology. My approach has been "one and done" -- I record one take and don't mix in music or edit the audio file. Why? Because I tried to do this (using a software program called Audacity) and discovered that mixing and editing sound using audio software is difficult and slow. I may learn how to mix and edit in the future, but for now I'm doing "quick and dirty" podcasts in one take, trying to get as much sound quality as I can with the (limited) resources I have.
Now that I know the basics of podcasting, much of it learned by trial-and-error and watching countless YouTube videos (not to mention talking to a generous podcast producer named David Klass by phone and later visiting a podcast studio in Cambridge, MA), I can say that it's been fun learning about a new technology (audio) my clients may want more of. I do enjoy learning, but learning new technologies is also part of what makes a writer marketable.
Does learning about sound quality and audio hardware take time away from my "core competency" of writing? Of course it does, but creativity can occur in different media other than writing. As a podcast host, I need to not only understand the topic under discussion, but I need to sound "conversational" for my listeners and put the guest at ease. These skills take time to develop, and with practice, I know I'll keep getting better.
Being open to learning and asking others for help are key drivers of success for all of us as professionals and as people. Learning about new technologies is an ongoing and often-challenging task, but it can and will support our professional development, making us more marketable and capable. I'll always see myself as a writer first, but who says a writer can't excel in the world of audio, video, and multimedia too?
What have been your recent experiences with learning new technologies, my reader friend? Feel free to share in the comments below . . . .