Every week I visit roughly thirty sound fx Web shops. I keep an eye on Twitter and audio forums to learn about the cool new sound clip libraries field recordists and sound designers are releasing. That provides a good bird’s-eye-view of the state of indie sound fx libraries. It’s quite inspiring to see what everyone is working on and sharing with others.
In the process, I’ve been able to spot trends and patterns in sound fx publishing. I mentioned a few observations in earlier articles. They examined sound library stats, and how to improve your Web shop.
Capturing great audio is a formidable accomplishment in itself. Sharing field recordings is an entirely separate task. It takes time, diligence, and a bit of flair.
We are editors, sound designers, and field recordists. We are not publishing tycoons or marketing mavens. It’s understandable to show our expertise more in the audio we create than how it is shared.
This article is meant to help. So, this post is for the sound publishers. It will share quick fixes that instantly improve your sound library.
I’ll return to sharing new sound fx library releases soon.
The Skill of Sharing Sound
Sharing sound well is essential. It guarantees that your creations spread widely, inspire others, and join many projects. The sharing aspect of capturing sound deserves just as much attention as recording audio.
I shared 11 Ways to Improve Your Sound Effects Web Shop earlier this year. Today’s post adds ten more tips. They’re quick fixes. Each of them take no more than a minute to complete.
Don’t be mistaken, though. While swift, they have a powerful effect on how your sound library is perceived, and how well it spreads. And here’s the interesting thing: none of them have to do with audio at all. Every one of them enhances your sound library in other ways. So, don’t worry about revising your edits.
Let’s get right to it. Here are 10 1-minute tips to improve your sound library.
These fixes are the easiest in the list. They involve formatting and moving text around.
Complete Sound Specs.
The most common problem I see in sound library listings is missing information. Yes, the sample rate may be listed. The number of clips may be present. However, the size in gigabytes is nowhere to be found. Is the library mono, stereo, or a mix?
Visitors won’t buy a sound library if they don’t know what they’re getting. Sure, the audio preview gives a sense of the collection. However, your visitors want to know what they are buying. Are they getting their money’s worth? Simply omitting the number of channels or file type can scare away a downloader. List the following for your sound library on its product page:
- Number of sounds files.
- Number of sound effects (i.e., multiple sounds per file).
- Size in gigabytes.
- Sampling rate.
- File format.
Detailing those specs will take no more than one minute to complete. It has a drastic effect on reassuring visitors their money will be well spent.
Use Bullet Points.
Break up your sound library page by using bullet points. That helps readers digest text more easily, and breaks up blocks of text. Use bullet points to highlight the most important details about your sound library, such as sound specifications, price, and so on.
The majority of sound libraries have a SoundCloud audio preview. Unfortunately, I’ve visited many previews on the SoundCloud home site that do not include links to a Web shop. Sure, you probably uploaded your SoundCloud preview just to embed the audio on your site. But what about people who randomly find your demo on SoundCloud? They’ll hear your cool preview montage but have no easy way to learn more.
Include the link to your product page in the SoundCloud description. Don’t simply link to your shop’s home page. Instead, link directly to the precise product page of your sound library. Test the link, too. I’ve found many broken links on SoundCloud pages.
I know. We’re not copy editors. We’re audio editors. Just the same, a little work invested in writing sound library descriptions will have a huge impact on your sound library. These text tweaks improve your sound library’s “product page.” They’re some of the most important tips. Why?
Search engines put a lot emphasis on text when indexing your website. Better text means they rank your shop more favourably.
These 4 tweaks will improve your copy in under five minutes.
Many sound library pages greet visitors with a huge wall of text. That’s a lot to absorb. Given the attention span on the Internet, people won’t stick around to let it sink in. It’s just too much. When this is paired with a lack of paragraphs or indentation, it scares visitors away.
This happens naturally. Often we’re excited when describing our creations and tend to ramble. To get around this, try this one-minute exercise: describe the library in one sentence. No more, no less. Describe exactly what it is using facts. Here’s an example:
A 30-minute library of soothing rainfall captured from the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.
Don’t worry about the stats. They’ll see that elsewhere. Focus on a single accurate, evocative description.
Bonus: want to go further? Write two more isolated sentences about the library. Expand to a paragraph. The single-sentence method is good if you want to build a larger description further down the page. Use the first sentence as your core, then build upon it, like a snowball gathering size as it rolls downhill.
In most cases, though, a single, thoughtful sentence is all visitors need to know. Take a minute and write a fresh, gripping sentence that describes your sound library and use that instead.
Many sound libraries include language such as “ideal for multimedia productions,” “perfect for game audio,” and so on. Your library may indeed be well-suited for those things. However, describing a library that way doesn’t help it.
Doubtful? Try removing those phrases and read your description again. You’ll notice that the meaning of the description doesn’t change once they’re gone. In fact, the description will be tighter and leaner. Those phrases are so over-used that they’ve lost their meaning, anyway. It’s filler. And corporate-speak doesn’t connect with visitors. Instead, it pushes them away.
In the same way, it’s a good idea to avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. Avoid terms like “the best ambience library” or “the biggest collection.” You get the idea. Who says it’s the best library? It may indeed be the case. However, the terms are vague and seem as if they’re grasping for credibility.
Take a minute to slash extraneous words from your descriptions. The result? Your description will get its message across more quickly and accurately.
Tell a Story.
Wait. After you’ve trimmed your wall of text down to a sentence, removed corporate-speak, and trimmed out hyperbole and exaggeration, what do you have left? Won’t your sound library description be boring?
Well, you want to avoid a descriptions such as “A library of household sounds.” That doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t learn from the library title. Avoid this by telling a story. This can be a second sentence added after the first. How does this help?
Sound editors rely on imagination to inspire them. Including a story adds more life to a sound library beyond the audio itself. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace. Instead, share your intention for creating your sound library. Why did you record those sounds? That is what intrigues your Web shop visitors. It adds personality. Some examples:
Frank Bry of The Recordist has written often about his efforts capturing thunder in Northern Idaho. The result of a few lines of text in his product pages conveys the thought behind the collections, his authority capturing that sound subject, and the moodiness of the audio. Click the link above and read the details under “Some tidbits” to get a sense of how telling a story draws a visitor into a sound library.
Tonsturm’s Massive Explosions sound bundle chose a more concise approach:
These lethal detonations were recorded at a restricted military training area in a beautiful-sounding abandoned valley in southern Germany.
That’s the second sentence (the first is an good one-sentence description from suggestion 4, above). That pulls a reader into the library and creates an evocative sense of what the library is about.
Brandon Seyboth Audio’s Empty House Impulse Responses page shared a brief story of why Seyboth produced the library, and how it was captured:
Some friends of mine began some work on their house, which involved removing everything to paint and re-do carpet and electricity, etc. So, while it was empty, I made impulse responses of each room, the hallways, and some of the ventilation system.
That conveys a story as well as an evocative description of the library material, too.
Sound pros feed on imagination to create evocative projects. Give them the stats, sure. But feed their creativity with a story. Take a minute to write a short sentence that describes why you recorded your library, or how it was done.
Did you describe your library on your home website and on SoundCloud, too? Planning to list your library on forums? Write a new description for each location. Why?
Search engines will penalize websites with text that is copied from elsewhere. Often rewording or rephrasing is enough. So, rewrite your description from tip #4 every time you post it.
These tips include working with files other than your collection’s sound clips.
Add a File List.
Include a list of your files on your product page. That helps visitors know precisely which sounds they will be receiving, how they are organized, named, and so on.
You can list this in a bullet point list at the base of your page. Some publishers offer a PDF or XLS file list that can be downloaded and browsed offline. You can also use Google Drive to embed a spreadsheet within the page, or embed a linked file using WordPress’s Embed PDF plug-in.
Do you have thousands of clips? Dreading typing each one? No problem. Drag your clips into an iTunes playlist, export it, clean it up with “find-and-replace,” then save it as a PDF. Many metadata apps such as Soundminer are able to do this more simply. Or you can simply take a screenshot of the file listing and include it on your Web page.
I was quite impressed to open NoiseCreation’s Free sound library recently and see it was packed with not only audio files, but bonus documents as well. What are bonus documents?
Bonus documents are helper files that inform and assist a sound pro. They portray a sense of the sound publisher, and help connect with them. That’s a huge benefit. Why?
It’s easy to sever the link between the publisher and the people that use their sound libraries. These are audio files, after all. They may moved and reorganized. The bonus documents help ground a sound library.
Take a moment to include these files with your sound library zip file:
- ReadMe.txt. A file that welcomes downloaders, provides contact info, and helps them use the sound library. Think of it as welcoming downloaders to your store.
- The license agreement. Essential for helping downloaders understand how they may use the sound files.
- Album art. This puts a face to the sound library, and is helpful to organize the audio in metadata apps.
- An Internet Link file. Opening this file will launch a Web browser and load the Web shop’s home page. Learn how to create a URL file.
- Company logo.
- Company vCard.
The last three are not simply for vanity. They help a downloader get help when they need it.
Sound pros love metadata. It helps them find sound effects more quickly and accurately. Metadata can take days to complete. How much can you complete in a minute to make a significant difference to your sound library?
It’s true that the best metadata relies on diverse, accurate text. Instead, take a minute to fill out the fields that have the same information.
- Library name.
- Album art.
There’s a good chance that info will be the same for the entire library. Take a minute and complete it.
Will this info be valuable to people if it is the same for everything in your library? Metadata is only useful when it is diverse, right? There’s a point to that. So why would I suggest this?
Think about these metadata fields in the context of a visitor’s entire sound library. They may have hundreds of thousands of clips. While adding similar information may not help within your sound library, it will help between your visitor’s libraries.
In that context, adding even basic information helps. Take a minute to populate the fields mentioned above.
Improving Your Sound FX Bundles
You’ve likely spent weeks or even months creating your sound library and sharing it with sound fx pros worldwide. While this article has been detailed, you only need to invest around ten minutes more to add almost a dozen improvements to the way your sound collection is shared.
Want to learn more about sharing sound libraries? I’ve written two books about sharing sound, Selling Creative Sound and Sharing Sound Online. If you like, you can check them out to learn how to share your sound library wisely to eager listeners, worldwide.
Do you have a question about sharing sound? Email me or leave a comment below.
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