Obstacle Blaster was started as a blog in the spring of 2011. The name came from a friend who told me that the fresh and encouraging way that I write has helped her overcome a number of life obstacles. She said it directly: “You should start a blog called Obstacle Blaster.” I was intrigued. I checked to see if the URL was available. It was. I bought it and Obstacle Blaster was born.

As the reader will learn from the My Why page, a passion rose up inside of me to help others when I realized I was an “ok” writer and that I had made a lot of mistakes and missteps that others could benefit from. But this page is about taking a behind-the-scenes look at all the components of this blog. I figure that perhaps there are some soon-to-be-friends out there who want to build their own blog. This page is to be helpful to those folks and to anyone who is wired to want to know how things came ot be, technically speaking. Either way, if you are anywhere in that spectrum, you may be able to benefit by learning from my mistakes and missteps in the website building part of this endeavor as well. Want to create your own blog? Here’s how I made Obstacle Blaster.

THE PLATFORM

Obstacle Blaster is built on the WordPress platform. What you are looking at is the premium version of the Pinnacle theme.

Trial and Error / Spend Money vs Save Money

For most of the time I have operated Obstacle Blaster, I have tried to get the most for the least; create the best quality presentation for the lowest investment possible. That has garnered mixed results. My advice to anyone with a desire to create an information based website that will ultimately sell products – things like e-books and audio books – I do not recommend going about it the way I have.

The name of the game when you are selling information – heck, even when you are giving it away for free – is credibility. And frankly, when your website’s overall presentation looks anywhere between crappy and passable, trust me: it is not passable. The credibility level of your site, in terms of how it is viewed by your prospective customers is low when it is clear that the quality level is low. By trial and error I have learned that there is no getting around this.

One really good barometer for how credible you and your website is believed to be by the public: how many readers are discovering you, finding that the information you offer is truly awesome, and deciding to subscribe? This is also an unbiased indicator of the effectiveness of your online marketing and whatever search engine optimization you have brought to bear and how successfully you have done your part to optimize. [I will leave lessons on how that is done to the real experts who provide a lot of free resources to beginners]. And finally, if you have nailed down the SEO side of things, and if the information you offer truly is awesome, you will be better off investing in the relatively small extra amount of money it will take to get your presentation looking like a million bucks. And that starts with choosing the right theme.

Now, just because I have found the Pinnacle theme to be right for me, and just because you might really like it, it still may not be right for you, especially if you are just starting out. One thing I cannot show you is the dashboard area of the site. It is simply too complicated. That said, if you are a beginner and if you really want to “go for it” with a cool blogging theme, DO NOT do so without first availing yourself of at least four free YouTube videos that, in detail, describe the themes you like the most. These tutorials will teach you the dashboard and you will begin to get an idea of the hundreds – even thousands – of big and little decisions you will have to make in the course of getting your site just so… to your liking.

Again, don’t go cheap. Once you have gotten your feet wet and researched all the elements you want in your site (including examples of sites that have close to the look and functionality you would like to achieve at your site), you need to invest in whatever it takes to get it done. I advise against doing it piecemeal as I have done. It will take you longer to get where you want to get and the journey will be unnecessarily frustrating. Again, that’s been my experience and therefore that is my advice.

How much should you expect to spend if you’re going with a premium theme, subscribing to monthly hosting, purchasing stock photos here and there, doing videos that have quality sound and a teleprompter, podcasts with no hollow background echo (a quality microphone and sound-proofed room), and so on, and so on? To be honest, only a few hundred bucks.

 

PODCASTING

I am just beginning to get started with podcasting. After researching the many options, I have decided to go with Blubrry. If you are a blogger and ready to branch out into podcasting, or ready to podcast without a blog presence, here is the lowdown on how you can do what I am jumping into.

I have copied and pasted some of the following directly from the folks at Blubrry…

Blubrry Hosting (at Blubrry.com or with WordPress)

  • Unlimited downloads
  • No contracts, cancel anytime
  • Optimized for iTunes and podcasting
  • Audio, audiobook, video, ePub and PDF supported
  • Media hosted on our top-tier content delivery network (CDN) with more than 35 data centers throughout the world to provide the lowest latency (response time in seconds) possible
  • Upload using HTML5 technology, no special uploading tools or software required
  • Automated ID3 tagging (both artwork and textual metadata written to your mp3s)
  • Episodes hosted until you cancel service
  • Media validation (make sure your media will play on all podcast platforms)
  • Premium Podcast Statistics included ($5-a-month value)
  • Free technical support by email
  • FTP access is available upon request
  • American owned-and-operated in the United States, their primary business is for podcasting!

I’ve made a couple handy buttons for you to check out Blubrry now if you’d like. They open to new windows, so you won’t lose this page if you do so:

Blubrry Podcast Hosting: 

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Blubrry Professional Statistics:

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All Accounts Include Membership to Blubrry Podcast Community, Which Includes

  • Distribution on the Blubrry Podcast Network
  • Get featured in Blubrry, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Google TV
  • Android apps
  • Blubrry MyCast podcast subscription service
  • Advertising opportunities (make money by placing audio/video ads in your podcast)

Blubrry Hosting at Blubrry.com

  • Audio and video players (HTML5-based with Flash fallback for maximum browser compatibility)
  • Your own podcast Web pages on blubrry.com/your-podcast
  • iTunes compliant podcast (RSS) feed for syndication
  • Weblog API support for cross posting to blog enabled sites (such as blogger.com)
  • Schedule posting support

Blubrry Hosting with WordPress

  • Upload and publish on one screen from your WordPress website
  • Take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) hosting your podcast on your own website
  • You are in control
  • Your syndication (podcast RSS feed) resides on your own website
    • All podcast links point back to your website
    • Your podcast content can take advantage of all WordPress has to offer (more than 29,000 plugins to pick from to add the functionality you want)

Blubrry Podcast Hosting: 

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Blubrry Professional Statistics:

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Blubrry hosting is highly optimized for using WordPress with PowerPress. If you do not know what PowerPress is, research it. It is basically a dashboard within a dashboard, but if I go into more detail than that, it starts to get far too far into the weeds. Publishing my podcast is a simple 3 step system from within my WordPress dashboard! …But it is simple because I have taken the time to learn as much as possible about everything related to podcasting… which the folks at Blubrry will also help you do FOR FREE. Anyway, here is the simple process I now follow…

  1. I produce my podcast
  2. I write my blog post, and then…
  3. I publish!

Think of the process as a recipe…

WordPress + PowerPress + Blubrry Hosting = Success

  • No third-party sites to log into
  • Never leave your own website
  • You remain in control
  • Own your RSS feed

Scenario: A podcaster records their show, edits and finalizes their media. They then log into WordPress and start a new blog post. As soon as the podcaster logs in, the pop-out uploader can be used to start the upload process. Meanwhile, the podcaster can work on their blog post. By the time they are done writing, the media is uploaded and ready to publish and the process is finished.

Support for all platforms (if you are not a WordPress user)

  • Blubrry on-site publishing
    • You can have a single point of presence at Blubrry.com/yourshow
    • All standard blog posting features
    • Schedule posting support
    • ID3 tag writing support
    • Optimized for iTunes
  • Weblog API support for cross-posting to non-WordPress sites (if needed)
  • Direct media link that can be used on other CMS platforms
  • Distribution in Apps
  • Android, Samsung Smart TV, Roku, Google TV
  • Yes, I already said all this, but it might not have registered the first time. This is a big deal

If you give it a try, they’ll give you a month of service for free. That’s kind of a big deal too. If you have a product or service to sell, imagine using this platform FOR FREE to connect with your market. With a compelling enough message, you could generate the revenues needed to pay for the service AND make a living. It starts with that first FREE month of service.

Blubrry Podcast Hosting: 

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Blubrry Professional Statistics:

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Next time, I will add detail about stock photos, fonts and blog post length.

Jim Aitkins