Here’s your guide to creating an Alexa skill with Shoutworks.
This guide will help you start using Shoutworks to grow and monetize your audience. We will show you:
- How to install the Shoutworks WordPress plugin
- How to create your Alexa skill with Shoutworks
- How to test and publish it in just a few minutes.
Let’s get started!
Some inspiration before we start
There are over 200 million Alexa devices out there, in almost 100 million homes. Now you can make those Alexa smart speaker devices your personal loudspeakers.
With your Alexa skill created through Shoutworks you’ll be able to:
- Send unlimited notifications to your audience through Amazon Alexa. These get 90%+ open rates in our testing, which means that 90% of people will listen to your notification when they receive it. For reference, when you send an email newsletter, only about 20 or 30% of people will read it on average – so 90% is really, really good. Use it wisely!
- Get featured by Amazon and distribute your content to millions of new people (we’ll show you how). People report getting 6,000+ new users per day.
- Get paid every month from Amazon through their “Alexa Developer Rewards” program, which rewards the top-performing skills in certain categories. People report making $10,000+ per month from this. You don’t need to be a developer to get it anymore.
- Drive short-term spikes in sales through the “flash voice promotion” method – pioneered by Nike, we teach you how to replicate it as well.
Before we start, play around with the Shoutworks Alexa skill to get a sense of the features and functionality we are working with.
Okay, assuming you have signed up for Shoutworks, let’s get started!
Step 1: Install the Shoutworks plugin on your WordPress site
When you sign up for Shoutworks you receive an email including your License Key. It looks like this:
Highlight the whole thing and copy it. You’ll need it in a second.
Next, go to your WordPress site’s admin dashboard. You should be able to access it by typing “yourdomain.com/wp-admin” and logging in.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see your WordPress admin dashboard. Great! On the left-hand side, click on “Plugins” and then “Add New”.
Search “Shoutworks” in the search bar on the right. When you see the Shoutworks plugin, click “Install” and when that’s done, click “Activate”.
Great job, just one step left!
Click on the new “Shoutworks” option on the left-hand side of your WordPress admin panel.
And we’re in! Inside the plugin, click on the “License” tab…
…Then Paste in the License Key you received via email, and click “Activate License.”
There you go! Your Shoutworks plugin is installed and activated. You are now ready to move on to creating your Alexa skill!
PS: If you haven’t yet signed up for Shoutworks, you can do so using the form provided right there in the License tab.
PPS: Signed up, but didn’t receive your License Key? Request another email here.
Step 2: Create your Alexa skill
How it works
Alexa is like an actor. She is lovely and charismatic, and has already won the audience’s trust – but she doesn’t know what to say next. She needs the script. That’s where you come in.
Inside the Shoutworks plugin is where you give her the script she’ll say when someone opens up your Alexa skill. She will say whatever script you put into the plugin – whether you write it yourself or copy it from somewhere else.
First things first, what will your Alexa skill sound like? It will go something like this:
User: “Alexa, open [Science Daily].”
Alexa: “Welcome to [Science Daily]. [This Alexa skill is here to help you learn science]. You can select any of the following options:
1) [Science Facts]
2) [Bird of the Month]
3) [Trees Weekly]
4) [Science Rules Podcast]
Or, you can just say ‘send an email’ to send us a message. Which one would you like to hear?”
User: “Science Facts.”
Alexa: “Item 1: [Here’s your science fact for today…]”
The words in [Brackets] are the ones you can edit!
Your Alexa skill will have this exact same general structure as the above.
There is a menu of categories that your Alexa skill’s user can choose from, and you decide the content that goes inside each category.
You can customize the name of each category, and how many categories your skill will have.
One of the categories can be a podcast. For the other categories, you create the script that Alexa delivers in her own voice.
By clicking on the Engage tab, you can start editing your categories (Deal of the day, Flash Briefing, etc.) and the content that goes inside each one.
But first, let’s start with the way Alexa will introduce you – in the Inform tab!
Inform tab: Tell Alexa how to introduce you
Now you’re ready to really start creating your new Alexa skill. The first step is to click on the Inform tab.
Here is where you type in the script you want Alexa to say when she introduces your skill. After she says “Welcome to [your skill name],” Alexa will say the text you type in here.
Keep in mind, Alexa will say this every single time someone opens your Alexa skill—so keep it short and sweet!
Click Update and your changes will be saved. Don’t worry, your Alexa skill isn’t published yet—and you can always come back and edit this!
Engage tab: Edit the categories your Alexa skill will have
Click on the Engage tab to start editing the categories your Alexa skill will have.
You’ll see that we have 5 categories here—3 “scripted” categories (where Alexa reads your script), 1 Podcast category, and 1 Notifications category. We’ll come back to the Podcast and Notifications categories in a second since they’re a little easier. Let’s start with the 3 “scripted” categories at the top.
You’ll see that by default, the top 3 sections have the titles:
- “Blog Content Reader”;
- “Quote of the Day”;
- “Flash Briefing”.
You can change these! These ones you see are just placeholders. Here’s how to edit the category titles.
Click the pencil icon next to each category title to edit it.
Type in your new title, then click the check icon to save it.
You’ll see that you can change any of the category titles throughout your Alexa skill to make it fully yours.
How to edit the content of each category
Now here’s how to edit the content of each category. You’ll see that each category has two buttons, “View Posts” and “Add New”.
Click “View Posts” to see all the posts that are currently in this category. When you do, you’ll see a page like this.
This is a list of the posts that are included in this category. There’s only one right now called “Hello world!”, but you can add as many new posts as you want (and you can delete “Hello world!” of course).
Inside that post is where you will write the script you want Alexa to say!
Here’s generally how your Alexa skill is structured:
Alexa will always say the most recent post from your list.
Sell tab: Add a section dedicated to promotions
Now click on the Sell tab. Want to include a Deal of the Day in your Skill? Leave the checkbox checked, and edit the Deals included the same way you edited the Quotes included in your Quotes of the Day. If you don’t want to include a Deal of the Day, just uncheck the box and press Update.
Next, click on the Support tab.
This feature lets your users dictate a message that is AI-transcribed and sent to your support email address. Feel free to edit the email address found here. If you don’t want this feature to be included in your Skill, just delete the email address found there and leave the field blank.
Please note that once you press Update, you’ll receive an email in your inbox to validate this email address—if you don’t validate it, your user messages won’t come through!
Testing your Skill
Once you’ve made all the changes you want to the Inform, Engage, Sell and Support tabs, you can try out your new Skill before publishing. To start testing, click on the Create Alexa Skill tab.
Here’s where you enter your Skill Name (how your Skill will be listed in the Amazon Skill Store) and your Skill Invocation Name (what users will say to call up your Skill on their Alexa device). For the Invocation Name, try to keep it to three words or less, with no special characters. It can be the same as the Skill Name, but it can be different, too.
Next, input the email address you want to use to test your Skill. This should be the email associated with your Alexa account. If you don’t have an Alexa account, no worries—you will be prompted to create a new Alexa account for that email address. Click Preview Alexa Skill, then check your email and follow the instructions to test your Skill!
For more on how to test your Skill even if you don’t have an Alexa device, check out Amazon’s compendium of guides to using Alexa on just about any device.
And remember: You can make any changes you want after you test your Skill, before publishing!
Publishing your Skill
Finally, when you’re ready to publish your Skill, just hit the Publish button and Shoutworks will magically publish your Skill for you. It can take up to 2 minutes to submit your Skill to Amazon, so be patient and don’t refresh the page.
Your Skill is almost live!
Once you’ve pressed Publish, Amazon needs to review your Skill. This can take anywhere from a few hours on weekdays to 3-4 days if you submit on a Friday night. In addition to the automated testing they do, an actual person will review your Skill before it goes live. Once it’s approved and published, you’ll receive an email telling you the good news!
What if my Skill is rejected by Amazon?
This happens from time to time, and it’s completely normal. The Shoutworks team will work with you to figure out what the reason for rejection is, fix it, and resubmit as quickly as possible.
Skill published! Now tell the world
Now you know how to customize, test, and publish an Alexa Skill with Shoutworks. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start informing, engaging, selling, and supporting your people today—all with the power of voice!
Tell the world about your new Alexa Skill by putting the official Shoutworks Alexa Skill button on your homepage. There’s no better way to tell people that your website is now also accessible via voice!
To download the “Live on the Alexa” button in several different formats, go to your Shoutworks Downloads page and scroll down to number 5. Click on the button to download the “Live on the Alexa” image set. These are buttons you can put on your website to let visitors know you have an Alexa Skill! Be sure to put it somewhere everyone can see. Here’s how it looks:
Making changes after your Skill is published
That’s right: You can change the content of your Skill any time after publishing, and it will update within seconds! So you can change things as you go, no worries about getting everything just right the first time.
Just bear in mind that in the current version of Shoutworks, you can’t add or subtract entire features. For example, if you published your Skill without a Deal of the Day, you won’t be able to add one later. We’re working on it for future versions!
However, if you published your Skill with Flash Briefings, you can change and edit any of the individual Flash Briefings to your heart’s content, and hear Alexa deliver your updated content seconds after you’ve made your changes.
This way, you can tweak the content you deliver based on feedback you get from real users, and use Shoutworks to make your Skill better and better over time.
Now get out there and inform, engage, sell, and support like never before—with the power of voice!