Evaluating videos on crystal healing for animals

For my video project this week, I decided I’d like to create an introductory video to the topic of crystal healing for animals. In order to research what other videos are already available on the subject, I visited YouTube and searched for “crystal healing for animals.”

I was really excited by the first video that I found, called “How Can Crystals Work for Pets – Basics of Crystal Healing for Animals and Pets“. Perfect title, I thought, that’s exactly what I had in mind. When I saw that the video was 11:03 minutes long, I hesitated. I decided to give it a try, thinking it might be an excerpt from a workshop with lots of great information.

If I had to sum this video up in one word, it would be “horrible!” I know how harsh that sounds, but let me explain. First of all, there was only one picture used, and although it was a cute one the video quickly got boring. Also, the voice did not sound human; it sounded like a robot with a British accent! If you think I’m exaggerating, please follow the link and listen yourself. It sounds as if someone wrote up an article, entered the text into a program, and the computer converted the text into a synthesized voice. For real. The inflection is sometimes totally wrong and the words echo. I also disliked the music and found it distracting.

crystal cat 1As someone with a keen interest in the topic, I was bored by 1.5 minutes and painfully continued until about 5 minutes when even I gave up because my mind kept wandering. It’s a shame because if I went back and forced myself to listen while pausing it to take notes, there is actually a lot of information packed in there. Too much information! I realized about 4 minutes in that the video had subheadings like “crystals for depressed animals”. These portions could all have been broken out into smaller 2 minute videos and it would have been better–at least I might have made it through the entire video.

The first video led me to a second one simply titled “Crystals for Pets“. This was a live video with two women who are crystal healers having a conversation. It soon became clear to me that it was pretty much unscripted. They had a few crystal specimens on the table in front of them, so obviously they intended to discuss these stones; however in the 4:39 minute video I felt that they didn’t really share a lot of useful information. They were both very expressive, gesturing lots, bobbing their heads, exclaiming loudly, and sometimes speaking over one another. I found this very distracting, and at the end of the video I couldn’t really remember much about the crystals they discussed. When I watched it again I noticed that they listed specific crystals as being “good for pets” but didn’t always explain what the properties of the stone were or exactly why it was beneficial. For example, they said rose quartz is about love and you should use it “because if you’ve got a pet, you love your pet”. In my opinion, it would be better to discuss how rose quartz could help a rescue animal feel loved and secure while bonding to a new family and adjusting to their new home.

The third video I watched was called “Crystal Healing for Cats – Ralphie’s Session for Courage“. This was a demonstration video where the healer was gently stroking a cat using a couple of different stones. What I liked was that you could clearly see the calming effect on the cat and how much he was enjoying it. His story was briefly shared, along with a explanation of what crystals were being used and why, as well as how they had helped him. It was 3:20 minutes long, short and to the point. It provided a specific example rather than acting as a general introduction to the topic of crystal healing for animals, but it interested me and made me want to learn more. This lady has several other videos on her channel about crystals and animals, and I am definitely interested in watching the others. It was a little quirky and cute how she spoke in a soothing voice to help calm the cat, but sort of had this “baby voice” throughout the video. It made it very real and I felt a connection to both her and the cat. Of the videos I watched, this was by far the most effective.

There are several other videos on this subject that appeared in the sidebar and I will be sure to check out some more of these soon. I noticed that they all seem to be “live action” videos, so maybe it would be a fresh angle for me to make a PowerPoint video presentation instead using photos and text with voice over, just to offer something different than the rest. I look forward to coming up with my own version of a video on the topic of crystal healing for animals.

Exploring how podcasting could be used effectively in my work context

Now that I have begun to explore the world of podcasting, I can appreciate the effectiveness of this media as a business tool. While some people love to spend hours reading their favourite blogs online, others prefer to listen to a podcast when exercising, commuting to or from work, or simply unwinding at home. I think a successful website should accommodate both visual and audio learning styles and provide customers with various modes of information, including articles, podcasts, and videos.

In my own professional area, I have been studying and developing my skills in energy healing and modalities such as Reiki, flower essences, crystal healing, and aromatherapy. I am getting ready to launch a business providing holistic health services for pets (and people, but my focus is on animals). Although holistic and alternative healing is growing in popularity, many people are still unfamiliar with many of these methods of healing, so creating podcasts that introduce them and explain their benefits is one way that I can help educate people. Having a regular show that entertains and informs is one way to attract consumers and customers.

When I looked for podcast shows about energy healing for animals specifically, I found very little outstart-a-podcast-tbbo there. Two of the shows I came across took an interview-style approach, drawing on experts to talk about a wide range of topics related to animal health and wellness. I liked listening to these shows and certainly see the value of interviewing a guest about a subject that it not my personal are of expertise. At the same time, I can also see myself turning a list of FAQ about holistiic healing for animals into a series of short podcasts that briefly answer people’s most common questions about this topic.

Once I have established a solid customer base, I think it would also be great to record some customer testimonials in the form of audio files. I often see written testimonials on websites, and while these are valuable I believe a recorded testimonial might be even more effective because you can hear the person’s enthusiasm and sincerity conveyed in their voice.

I am sure that once I get going I will come up with many more ways that I can incorporate podcasting into my business and use it as an effective social media marketing tool.

My thoughts on creating and publishing a podcast

Creating my first podcast was a rather daunting task for this perfectionist, one that justified several days of angst and procrastination. I love to write, but for some reason the thought of taking an idea, writing an outline, and then recording myself presenting it seemed intimidating at first. When I finally resigned myself to the task, I discovered that the microphone I had borrowed didn’t work. After making a trip to the mall to purchase one of my own, there were no excuses left.

In order to give my podcast the feel of a “real” show, I decided it should have an introduction. Since my work is about holistic healing, I felt it was appropriate to use nature sounds instead of music for my background. After poking around on several websites looking for the perfect free audio clip, I found a selection with a stream and some birdsong that I felt would work well. I recorded myself doing my intro speech of 25 seconds or so, and then the challenge really began. I had to learn how to select 30 seconds from the 17 minutes of nature sounds, and cut that file to size. Then I had to experiment with the sound levels so that the nature sounds faded into the background when I was speaking, returned to a louder volume when I was done, and then gently faded out at the end. Thank goodness for YouTube and various how-to guides on Audacity!

podcastAfter spending probably 3 hours on my 30-second introduction, I was ready for the actual podcast. I decided to draft an outline instead of creating a full-on script, although the outline was very detailed. I found myself reading it verbatim at some points, but tried to make my voice natural and conversational. I actually only recorded myself once! A great deal of editing needed to be done though, since unfortunately I am suffering from a cold right now. I learned how to cut out those annoying parts where you could hear me wheeze between sentences or sniff delicately. When I listened through the final version I thought I had sewn it together rather nicely, but when I listened to it again after posting it to PodOmatic a couple parts seemed a little choppy. 😦 Live and learn, right? I managed to resist the urge to figure out how to insert a second or two into those parts where it seemed to jump from one sentence right to the next.

Once the recording was done (and my husband had reassured me several times that it sounded good and that nature sounds were fine) I went to the PodOmatic website to upload it. Creating a profile, adding a picture of myself, adding a cover picture for the podcast, and finally uploading the file took another chunk of time, but in the end I felt really proud of my creation!

The whole process turned out to be very valuable for me. First of all, it exposed me to some new hardware and software, and  now that I know the basics of using Audacity and have got everything set up on PodOmatic I am sure my next podcast will be a lot less time-consuming to create and post. Second, it gave me confidence in my speaking abilities. Surprisingly, by the time I posted the final product online, I had gone from feeling terrified that people I know would actually listen to my podcast, to deciding to share it on Facebook and asking my friends to check it out! Finally, it got me thinking about how I could use podcasting as an effective tool in promoting my business (more on that in another post).

My First Podcast: An Introduction to Animal Reiki

I just finished creating my very first podcast, an introduction to animal Reiki. Please check it out at PodOmatic!

Podcast 1

In this episode, I introduce my listeners to the Japanese energy healing system of Reiki, discussing how it works and the many ways that it can benefit our animal companions. It is a gentle, non-invasive holistic healing modality that can help your animal friend return to a state of balance and wellness physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Whether you would like to help your pet maintain a state of health and well being, provide comfort to a traumatized or ill animal, or help a beloved animal friend to transition peacefully at the end of their lifetime, Reiki can help! Have a listen and find out what animal Reiki is all about.

http://healingwithnature.podomatic.com/

Finding my pod: exploring podcasts about animals

Pod of spinner dolphins

Pod of spinner dolphins

The social media marketing class I am currently taking encouraged me to take the plunge into something entirely new, the world of podcasts. I had heard the term before and had the notion that podcasts were something like a radio show that you could download and listen to on your MP3 player or computer. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge. So when I began to explore this new (to me) aspect of social media I was amazed to discover the diversity of topics out there, from home brewing to knitting to encounters with angels.

As someone passionate about holistic healing for animals, I wondered what podcasts might be available on this subject. My search turned up three that I decided to delve into.

The podcast Animal Instinct with host, Celia Kutcher, really excited me.  Celia conducts weekly interviews with animal experts on a wide range of subjects ranging from natural remedies for pets, training, adoption, and animal communication to raising goats in your back yard and coping with pet loss & grief. The shows typically range between 30 and 45 minutes and aim to educate pet owners on how they can help their animals to live happier, healthier lives.42060

I listened to the episodes about Reiki, Bach flower remedies, and crystal healing, and found the experts interviewed to be knowledgeable and passionate about their work. I love the fact that this show is increasing awareness of these alternative healing modalities for pets that combine well with traditional allopathic medicine. The types of treatment have been very popular in the UK for decades, especially for horses, but are not as commonly known in Canada and the US. I hope that more podcasting shows such as Animal Instinct will emerge to educate and inform listeners, dispelling so of the mystery that surrounds holistic healing.

cover170x170Another podcast show that I checked out was Animal Talk: The Real Dr. Doolittle Show  with Val Heart, which also follows an interview style format. Val is an animal communicator who interviews animal experts and authors. Her show has a really fantastic range of topics. I was fascinated to listen to a talk about animal souls and reincarnation, and touched by another regarding animal abuse and ways that we can help shelter animals to heal and transition in to loving homes. Finally, I learned a lot of animal nutrition and healthy diets for companion animals in a show with Dr. Harvey Cohen. In fact, I had a hard time deciding which podcasts to check out first, and  would love to listen to all of the podcasts in the Animal Talk series. The only downside is that there haven’t been any new shows since April 2014 and it seems that it might have come to an end.

Finally, since these two podcasts were so similar in their format of interviewing experts, I decided kathleen pto listen to Animal Reiki Talk as well. Unlike the other two, this podcast show is not geared towards the public. Kathleen Prasad is a leader in the field of animal Reiki, and this show is a monthly forum for animal Reiki practitioners “to come together: connect and share stories, hear the wonderful animal Reiki work going on around the world, support each other, and ask questions. It is also a time for people interested in learning more about animal Reiki to join in and listen.” I only listened to a couple of episodes, but it seems that Kathleen usually begins the podcast by making some announcements and then the listeners are invited to ask questions and share stories about their experiences. Finally the podcast closes with an animal healing circle where Kathleen leads the listeners through a guided relaxation and everyone sends healing energy to animals in need.

In my opinion, these three podcasts are effective in educating and inspiring people, and getting the word out about the many natural and gentle ways that we can help animals to live healthier and happier lives. At the same time, it took some searching for me to track these shows down, so clearly there is a lot of room for others to add their voices and their ideas to the mix.

Using social media to ACT on my goals

In “The Zen of Social Media Marketing,” Shama Kabani presents the ACT model to describe the process of successful online marketing. The three components are:

  • Attract – to get attention or stand out and attract traffic to your website
  • Convert – to turn a stranger into a consumer or a customer
  • Transform – to transform past & present successes into magnetic forces of attraction

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As someone preparing to start up a small business, I feel that social media will be an essential tool for building my customer base. I see the value in creating and maintaining a Facebook fan page and building a following there. The page module allows me to easily share pictures, videos, and links that can all point people towards my website and blog.  I am less familiar with Google+ but discovered recently that it is also easy to set up a very similar page on there. You can choose between whether it is a store page, a brand page, or a community page. It has a slightly different layout than a Facebook page, but all of the same features from what I can see.

One advantage that Facebook currently has over Google+ for me personally is that I have already established many relationships with people on that site who would most likely “like” my page and support me as I get started. I don’t have as many connections on Google+, and some of the ones I do currently have are not very active users. Having said that, many of the people I know on Facebook are people that I “met” online and gradually developed real friendships with, so given enough time I am sure that I can do the same on Google+.

By maintaining pages on both of these social media platforms I can attract people to my website and blog, convert them into consumers and customers that utilize my services, and then transform those successes by sharing stories of satisfied customers that attract more people to my business.

best-social-media-platformAnother site that I have been getting to know a bit better recently is LinkedIn. I believe this site also has the potential to attract, convert, and transform, but in a different way. To me, LinkedIn is not about fancy layouts and eye-catching graphics and headlines, like Facebook or Google+ pages.  If a potential customer viewed my page on LinkedIn they would see my skills, education, and experience, which might attract them to my website to learn more about me. Or a person who visited LinkedIn from my website might view my profile, feel confident about my background after reading about me, and decide to try my services and become a customer. In the same way, if customers or colleagues post recommendations on my LinkedIn page, then that might transform my past successes into opportunities to attract new ones.

While I originally viewed LinkedIn as a place for job seekers to find employment opportunities, I have since realized the advantages it has for someone who is self-employed. The connections I make on LinkedIn are opportunities to network and to meet potential customers, collaborators, and mentors. I might connect with someone whom I can refer my customers to for certain services, and they can refer their customers to me for others. By joining groups on LinkedIn I can meet people in my line of work and gain knowledge about how they create success for themselves.

I am someone who loves to continually learn, grow, and educate myself. By viewing some profiles of people in my area of work, I have already found a few courses that sound really interesting to me, so by looking at the education that others have taken I am gaining ideas for additional training that I might like to pursue. This has got me feeling very excited!

I am grateful for what I have recently learned through exploring Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, and feel that all three social media platforms have much potential to help me to meet my goals and develop myself both personally and professionally.