For school teacher and itinerant Third Culture Kid Eleanor Nicolás, creating an audio tour of The Hague helped her reclaim her fragmented childhood. The picture above is of a map at Paris’ Gare du Nord train station, taken before Eleanor relocated to her current home in the Netherlands. The airplane from Schiphol is taking off in the direction of the UK, where her family will settle permanently within a year or so.
When I was a girl, especially when very young, I didn’t think much about where I was. Everything was about the now. That changed as I got older, though I was largely focused on my education at school and university. I gave birth to my daughter when I was 33 in France. It was my 12th international relocation. It was then that a huge wave of unresolved and delayed grief hit me.
This grief is characteristic of high mobility third culture kids, who don’t have the time to process the erasure of their worlds and the disruption of a developing identity. I can only describe it as having long carried a broken heart, and finally letting it break. I heard all these bygone radios from my past. I held my daughter and asked myself if I would give her the same upbringing as I had. When the answer was no, I had to ask myself hard questions about what it was that I hadn’t had. One way I did that was to write down what was coming to me in a personal blog and in my first novel. I’ve just finished the first draft.
I love London. I’ve loved London ever since the first time I visited. I don’t remember exactly when or why that was, but my earliest memory of London was a trip around Buckingham Palace. As someone who lives in a town that isn’t the most exciting place on Earth, London managed to offer me a place where everything was happening. I’m a child of the internet generation and I can remember using dial-up when I was as young as 5, so I’ve always had the ability to access more than I lived with, which drove me to want even more.
I think that day at Buckingham Palace has stuck with me all this time because it was a clear reminder that there is life outside the small circle of my hometown, and London is the hub of a lot of it. Inside, Buckingham Palace really is as stunning as people say it is, and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I can vividly remember listening to the audio walking tour my Grandma bought me, getting to learn even more details about the ornate carvings and beautiful paintings I was looking at. Social history has fascinated me from a very young age – it comes hand in hand with a love of everything that the Arts has to offer – and getting to explore it in such an aural and practical way amazed me. I didn’t have all too many other memorable trips to London though, until I saw my first West End show, Hairspray, about 8 years ago.
The devil lives here. Or at least that is what people believed, when the district was nothing more than fields, woods and the odd farm building – all to the west of the Gesundbrunnen district, where a spa existed in 1760. But once Berliners left the safe area of pools and beer gardens behind, they felt they were out in the wild. Since the Middle Ages, Wedding had been referred to as a ‘desert’, a wild place for demons. And there were witnesses (or accomplices). Dorothea Steffin, a miller’s daughter who had been imprisoned for her ‘negligent moral conduct’ in 1728 confessed to having met Satan in Wedding, looking like a ‘well-shaped gentleman’.
There are a few things you can do to maximise the effectiveness of a link to your audio tour so that it helps bring in search traffic from Google. Think of this post as a very brief beginners guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Keywords are key
The text that you use to link to your audio tour in an article, blog post, or press release influences how easily people find your tour in a Google search. Using a plain URL (www.voicemap.me, for instance) or the word “here” does very little to help people find your tour using Google. Instead, try and identify the most effective link text.
There are plenty of different types of promotional content that will help you boost your audio tour’s sales. Read on for four that are effective and easy to create.
Q&As are a great way to communicate a bit about who you are, why you created your audio tour, and what people will get out of the experience. They’re also quick to put together, and often easier to get published elsewhere than press releases.
We’ve come up with a handful of questions to save you time (and spare you the awkwardness of having a Q&A session with yourself!) Answer the questions that appeal most, add an introductory sentence or two, and you’re ready to send the finished product to blogs or publications that may like to publish it. Don’t forget to add a link to your tour on appropriate keywords.
In Cape Town, the locations along several of our city centre routes are intriguingly marked with geotag-shaped stickers, and it really gets people talking. The stickers invite passers-by to “listen to stories from the District Six Museum” – or The Book Lounge, or Mogalakwena Gallery – and list a couple of the audio walks that feature this particular location, with instructions for downloading them.
The businesses and organisations we approach are generally thrilled to hear that they are already included (at no cost) in the commentary of a walk that passes right by their door. In those cases, placing a custom-made sticker in their window is a win-win situation – assuming that the commentary is flattering, of course.
Location-aware audio connects a voice to a place. The real trick is finding ways to inform people that the voice – and the story – exists. Stickers, posters and signage are among the most effective ways of doing that.
Audio tour apps are exciting and new, so getting websites and other publications to run a press release or article about yours shouldn’t be difficult. Press releases are a great way of communicating to specific audiences, and editors are often happy to have the work taken out of writing something themselves.
We’ve done our best to take some of the work out of the process for you, too. Read on to find plenty of examples from press releases – which you can reword to reflect your own personality – along with the four essential questions that a press release promoting your audio tour should answer.
If you’ve ever shared something you created online, you’ll probably have experienced the positive network effects for yourself. But how do you go beyond your personal sphere of influence, and into the world? VoiceMap’s major sources of both visitors and customers are Facebook and Twitter, and here we give you a few tips on how to optimize your interactions on social media.
Creating a VoiceMap audio tour is easy, intuitive and a great way to tell your stories, but there are also a few new things to be learned. Recording the best possible quality audio for your tour will mean more people enjoying and sharing it. It’s your voice that will be giving directions and telling stories, so this tutorial will help you to create the best possible audio using your Android device.
“Location-aware audio walk” doesn’t trip off the tongue, does it? It’s a phrase for a technical medium, with lots of moving parts, and sometimes VoiceMap’s storytellers get bogged down by all of our publishing tool’s many mechanics.
The result is a list of facts instead of stories, with the things that are physically most obvious at the forefront – the monuments, buildings, and landmarks that get mapped out right at the beginning of the process – instead of the stories that made the walk compelling in the first place.