How to Connect with audiences from a "respectable distance" 😎
This page focuses on tools to help you stay connected with your audiences, build your fan base, or take your work online in different ways.
What you'll find on this page
Zoom can be used for FREE, even for large groups of people (up to 100!). Some limitations are that a max of 40 minute meeting length for more than 3 people.
Getting set up is not rocket science, so don’t be afraid! If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, it’s as easy as downloading the Zoom App… on your laptop or desktop, just go to zoom.us and click “start a meeting!” So easy.
If you are going to need to get a bit more sophisticated – like hosting your own multi-person meetings, webinars or classes – it’s just $20/m for lots of extra features.
Set aside a few minutes to watch these videos to easily grasp the basics. Steve Dotto is a canadian tech teacher who makes tech super easy for the non-technical.
We researched and tested some other platforms, but honestly… Zoom is the best, with the best price(s), and the best features, and the simplest to use. So we just recommend going with it. 🙂
Not in love with Zoom? Here are some other options that offer free plans:
WhereBy – Whereby is a flexible tool providing you with video meetings in the browser – no downloads & no logins for guests
Microsoft Teams – Invite everyone you work with to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where you are.
Jitsi – Open Source & free video conferencing
Tech guru Steve Dotto offers some great, simple hacks for a better Zoom experience. Including how to use your smartphone or tablet for great results.
Livestreaming, recording and/or editing video for distribution
First – you can livestream from Zoom (above) with a Pro account. This might be the most straightforward and simple way to go, especially if you’re only livestreaming yourself. Less fuss & muss, but of course, some limitation.
You can also RECORD from Zoom for editing later.
If you want to take your videos to the next level, without a crazy-steep learning curve, we recommend Filmora9. It’s inexpensive, powerful, and packed with tons of built in features and stock clips to enhance your videos. Get pro results on a beginner budget.
Livestream on Instagram from OBS!
FREE. It can be a little complicated to set up, but once you’ve got it done, you’re done.
If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a special box that will allow you to add more cameras to your feed, too.
If you’re an Apple user, you probably already have this tool. Explore it! It’s easy to use, and FREE. It’s also only available for Apple products.
Just want to do quick updates for your fans and followers? Go with instagram right on your device.
Not free, but not too expensive. Easier set up process. Fewer add-on features than OBS. Particularly great if you’re gaming or capturing other things on your screen.
For multi-streaming – livestream to Facebook and Youtube (and others) at the same time for maximum audience. You can have up to 6 guests join your livestream, too.
Another multi-streaming platform. Integrated with OBS and XSplit (among others). Free and paid versions available. (Main limit on free account is no streaming to a facebook page, only personal profile)
Using LOOM to create lessons/tutorials
Hardware you may need
Don’t let that old “i don’t have the right equipment” chestnut get in the way of your progress into this new virtual reality!
Use what you’ve got! On your smartphone/tablet or laptop you have built in condenser mics. (unless your laptop is exceedingly old!). These will totally do the job, in a pinch. They might be tinny or a bit scratchy sounding, but you’ll be able to get your message across.
Get a headset for your laptop/desktop. These days a quality USB or Bluetooth headset can be purchased for $30-80, and that will improve your voice pickup for clearer communication. On you mobile device, simply plug in the headset that came with, or your fancy wireless earbuds.
If you’re doing more than attending the occasional meeting – eg. hosting lots of meetings, or planning to livestream your own content, it’s worthwhile investing in a good microphone.
Here’s a great list of mic reviews. We use an Audio Technica 2100, a Sony WCS999 Wireless Camcorder Microphone, and a Zoom H6 Portable Recorder for the various things we do… as well as just the built in mics on devices.
Again, use what you’ve got! The camera that’s built into you laptop, or on your phone or tablet, are probably “good enough” for any meeting.
Newer smartphones have better cameras than ever. If you’ve recently invested in an iPhone 8+ or a Samsung Note, or Google Pixel phone, you don’t really need anything else. Get a tripod so you can get it up to eye level (and your arms don’t get tired), and off you go!
For your computer, consider investing in an after-market webcam. We’re partial to Logitech webcams… they are reliable and decent quality without breaking the bank. Here’s a list of webcam reviews to help.
If you’re planning to go pro with Livestreaming or hosting high-end meetings where quality really will have an impact, you can easily spend a couple thousand dollars on a high quality video camera. If you’re doing that, you probably don’t need this tool kit 😊
Not up for putting your face online? How about podcasting?
Here’s the thing about podcasting… the audience is HUGE. And just about any topic will find listeners. So don’t dismiss an idea with “who’d listen to that??” – if you’ve got a subject that you’re passionate about and want to share, there is 100% chance you’ll find an audience.
Audacity is a FREE easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.
Another default Apple app… if you’ve got an Apple product, you probably have it already. It’s not just for garage bands, either! Check it out and mess around.
You need somewhere to store & distribute your podcast files from. We recommend Acast. They have a FREE version which is perfect for just starting out, and their upgraded plans are not crazy expensive. It’s easy to use and pushes your content out to all the major platforms.
FREE Music Publishing Workshop, plus support with licensing, publishing and royalty collection
Promote your livestreamed shows, connect with fans, organize your self.
Dear musicians: here's how to successfully host a live music event from home (good tips!)
NINJAM is open source (GPL) software to allow people to make real music together via the Internet. Every participant can hear every other participant. Each user can also tweak their personal mix to his or her liking. NINJAM is cross-platform, with clients available for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows.
Play music live and in sync with others from different locations. Rehearse without travel or space. Co-write and produce music live. Join open sessions to jam with others. Record and live broadcast sessions. Connect with other musicians and bands.
Creative Juice podcast from Full Stack Creative.
Practical, entertaining, solid advice for building your career and reach as a musical artist.
A comprehensive training & support program for musicians intent on a successful career.
Here’s a giant resource of graphic design tools, including some free illustration & photo editing software.
Krita is a professional FREE and open source painting program. It is made by artists that want to see affordable art tools for everyone
Cloud-based tools you can use in your browser or on your tablet:
Super easy cloud-design platform. Lots of templates for all your social media, print and other graphic needs. Free version is very robust.
Online design tool - logos, video intros, merch mock-ups, instagram & FB post templates, literally 1000s of options. (low monthly subscription for unlimited use)
A virtual gallery for all your work. Build a 3D model gallery - walls, doors, landscaping an dall - and put your work up! Also available for mobile devices.
Figma helps teams create, test, and ship better designs from start to finish.
Other helpful tools, tricks & hacks
Track, catalogue, collect and organize your stuff. We use airtable for a LOT of different things, maybe even this directory soon! The free version allows for a LOT of data & storage for the average solopreneur.
Build a more dynamic website. If you're getting your nerd on during this shutdown, and want to add some zing to your website, try this! We used it to build the CentralIslandArtsGuide.ca website (with WordPress & Elementor) to achieve great results!
If you build your website with WordPress, you NEED elementor. It will redefine your relationship with your website. The free version is very robust, and there are other free companion plugins that add more function. If you're building sites for other people, invest in the pro version for max flexibility.