217: The Alexa Show (Ep 135)

The Content Creator’s Guide to Amazon Alexa

EP135: THE ALEXA SHOW

Topics Covered:

  1. What is Amazon Alexa and how does it work?
  2. What can Alexa do?
  3. What are Amazon Skills & Flash Briefings?
  4. How do you get your podcast on Alexa devices?

Subscribe to Podcast:

View Show Notes on Website:

Pro Tip for Podcasters & Livestreamers:

On Top of the Amazon Echo & Dot is a little microphone icon. Click the button and the ring around your device will go red. This mutes Alexa and she will not respond to anything. Add muting Alexa to your pre-show checklist!

Note:
This is particularly handy if you are recording a podcast about Alexa as she would start talking every time her name is used.😀

1. WHAT IS AMAZON ALEXA & HOW DOES IT WORK?

Amazon Echo & Dot

The Echo is $99 taller and shaped like a cylinder.
Buy on Amazon

The Echo Dot is $50 and shaped like a hockey puck
Buy on Amazon

Basic Operation: How to use Alexa devices:

You control the settings using an iOS or Android App.

Control Alexa with iOS or Android App

Origin of Alexa Name:
Alexa got her because X is a hard consonant and could be recognized more accurately.

Her name is also reminiscent of the ancient Library of Alexandria and apparently inspired by the computer-voice system on Star Trek.

Wake Name: If your name or someone in your household is named Alexa, you can change the ‘wake name’ as it’s called to anything you want and she will respond only to the new wake name.

2. WHAT CAN ALEXA DO?

  1. Media & Entertainment: Stream radio stations, music from Amazon Prime, Spotify, play podcasts and even tell your kids bedtime stories.
  2. Productivity & Tasks: Set alarms and timers, make to-do lists, check your calendar and help you in the kitchen with measurements, etc.
  3. Information & News: She can keep you informed with the weather, news and sports scores
  4. Calling and message device if you want to call your friends and family who also have an Alexa device
  5. Smart Home Devices: Alexa will control your smart home devices such as turning on/off lights, thermostats, and any compatible device. One of my favorite things to do is tell Alexa to turn on my studio light. It’s so simple but really handy.
  6. Fun & Games: Alexa has a good sense of humor so ask her to tell you a joke or to sing or one of my favorites is to ask her to tell me a pun. Alexa can play jeopardy and other games.
  7. Shopping: Tell Alexa to buy things from Amazon. Shopping is not going to be restricted to Amazon either as there are areas where you can order Dominos, call for an Uber and order Starbucks for pickup. And don’t worry, there are restrictions you can put on shopping so not anyone in your house can order stuff.
  8. Amazon Skills: Amazon Skills are like Smartphone apps and open up endless possibilities. #tipoftheiceberg

3. WHAT ARE AMAZON SKILLS & FLASH BRIEFINGS?

Amazon Skills

Browse Skills on Amazon:
Check out Skills on Amazon:

Amazon skills range from games to controlling your Sonos speaker system or playing music from Spotify.

What are Flash Briefings:

My Podcast as Flash Briefing

For me to call up my flash briefing:
Alexa, Play my Flash Briefing’

Click here to check out Mike Murphy Unplugged Flash Briefing

Just like any other skill, you can simply ask Alexa to enable Flash Briefings and when you wake up in the morning you can simply Ask Alexa to serve up your flash briefing and you can also put briefings in what is called Routines.

How to make Flash Briefings?

You can create a Flash Briefing without any coding knowledge and if you are a podcaster already, it should be very easy as you can create a Flash Briefing with your podcast RSS feed or create a new show and use the RSS feed generated from your media host.

All you really need to do is sign up for an Amazon Developer account: and Amazon has tutorials and will walk you through the process. Flash Briefings are the easiest of skills to create. Your RSS feed must be valid and secure (https://) (see issues with RSS Below)

  1. Create Account Amazon Developer Link: https://developer.amazon.com
  2. Support & Help Tutorials:
    https://developer.amazon.com/support
  3. Create a New Skill (Flash Briefing)

RSS Feed Issues & Fixes:

  1. Your RSS feed must be valid and secure (https://) or it will get rejected. The ‘s’ at the end of https:// is required.
    https://www.yourfeed/feed/podcast/
  2. Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificates will not work for Amazon Flash Briefings. Let’s Encrypt is free and popular way to make your Wordpress site have https://. I use it, but as of now, it is not on Amazon’s list of accepted SSL Certificates.

Workaround Powerpress Users using Let’s Encrypt:
Create a mirror feed of your RSS Feed using Blubrry’s new service PodcastMirror.com
Tip: Ask Blubrry Customer Support for help as their instructions will leave you confused and hanging. It’s not difficult, but it is not immediately clear what is going on, so I went to Plan B

3. Libsyn RSS Feed: I host my media files on Libsyn so I used the Libsyn RSS Feed even though it does not have the ‘s’ at the end of http://

The Trick:
1. Copy Libsyn Feed http://www.yourfeed/feed/podcast/
2. Paste Feed in Amazon Flash Briefing Application: http://www.yourfeed/feed/podcast/
3. Add an ‘s’ manually: https://www.yourfeed/feed/podcast/

Summary:
My RSS Feed Problem & Fix in a Nutshell:
My RSS from Wordpress using Let’s Encrypt was rejected.
I used the feed from Libsyn and simply added an ‘s’ after http:// and it worked just fine and my Flash Briefing went live.

4. HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS ON ALEXA?

You can rewind and fast forward and pause, etc.
You can also search for your favorite podcasts and music and more on your Alexa app and play it right from your phone (I find using the Alexa app on my iPhone easier to browse for podcasts and then just tap play)

What is TuneIn?
TuneIn is the default podcast directory on Alexa for now, so you just have to make sure your podcast is in the TuneIn Directory if you want your audience to listen to your podcast on Alexa devices.

TuneIn is a free internet radio station and podcast directory just like iTunes or Stitcher or Spreaker, but just happens to be one of the default stations on the Alexa app that has podcasts. Spotify and iHeart Radio also serve up podcasts.

TuneIn.com

How To Get Your Podcast in the TuneIn Directory?

To make sure your listeners can hear your podcast on TuneIn, you simply have to fill out this short form and submit your RSS feed to TuneIn. Real humans process your request, so give it a day or two before you start getting worried.

Fill out the TuneIn Form and paste your RSS Feed:

Fill Out The TuneIn Form

Podcast Promo Video

Curious about what gear I use?
http://www.mikemurphy.co/podgear

Can I Help You?

I make podcasts and videos that teach people how to make better content.

Check out my YouTube Channel

My name is Mike Murphy, I’m a one man band and podcaster.
Learn. Create. Move Forward.
@mikeunplugged on Twitter or Instagram

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Podcast & Tech Handyman. I make tutorials and help people figure things out. Email: mike@mikemurphy.co

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Mike Murphy

Podcast & Tech Handyman. I make tutorials and help people figure things out. Email: mike@mikemurphy.co