For months now I’ve been thinking about what kind of podcast I’d like to do. It’s a fantastic additional platform to add to the mix of everything else. Plus a good niche podcast can open you up to a new audience that didn’t know you existed.
There will be a Big Whiz Bang podcast at some point, but I haven’t yet settled on what I want that to be. Instead, I’ve started a podcast that hopefully will hit a cool little niche, is something that interests me, and gives me an opportunity to practice putting out a weekly podcast.
If you’ve followed my creative work at all, you might know that I’m a bit of a pirate geek. My office is plastered with Captain Hook and Pirates of the Caribbean stuff. Have been ever since I was a kid. And yes, that picture is of an adult’s office. 🙂
And yes, that Pirates of the Caribbean poster is signed by X Atencio… Just sayin’…
So, when I saw the commercial for NBC’s new show Crossbones, I set my DVR immediately. Then I remembered my friend Myles Weber telling me about the Dr Who podcast he’s been having a lot of fun with.
I figured that would a great topic to start a podcast for. We’ll be early to market with it which is great if the show takes off. And if the thing gets cancelled in three months, well… I got some practice putting out a podcast. So I gathered my friends Tony Dijamco and Rich Dreyling and we got to work on the Being Blackbeard Podcast. John Malkovich plays Blackbeard on the show, hence the riff on his other movie title.
Why not a Comedy Podcast?
I didn’t want to start a “comedy podcast”. Most of them are terrible. Just 3 dudes sitting around a mic talking about stuff that isn’t really funny and doesn’t really interest anyone else. Unless there’s a real angle to the thing, The Nerdist has probably already done it.
But I’ve never much introduced myself or my work the pirate fan community and this could be a good chance to do that.
How we started recording the podcast
To start, I went through Pat Flynn’s Step-by-Step on starting a podcast. It’s brilliantly concise and informative, so no need for me to take you through the steps I used since they’re already there.
The only difference so far is we’re recording using Google Hangouts On Air. Here’s a good tutorial on getting those started. The basic is that that video feed broadcasts in real time on your YouTube channel. So if people happen to be wandering by your channel they can watch it stream live. We’ve been doing audio only, so it’s not super interesting to watch. 🙂
Afterward you can download the mp4 video from your YouTube account, drop into the audio editor of choice and create the finished podcast. It took us a little while to figure out the first time for some reason. And Tony ended up accidentally calling my girlfriend 4 times because here phone is also linked to my Google account. Awkward since she doesn’t know Tony…
I’m not super excited about the audio quality doing it this way and I think we can do better with Skype. Figuring out the Pamela Call Recorder for Skype is on my to-do list. That will allow me to split the voices onto different tracks for editing and I think we’ll just get an overall better sound from Skype.
Launching and Promoting the Podcast
I recently listened to Internet Business Mastery’s Podcast episode #230 about how to successfully launch a podcast. Some very valuable information in there too.
Two key take aways from that that we’re using on our podcast:
– Wait to submit to iTunes and other podcast sites until you have at least 3 episodes.
– Do whatever you can to get 5-10 reviews in the first week to hit the “New and Notable” section, which will drive new listeners your way.
Our third episode will be out in another week. We’re at the mercy of a traditional TV schedule, so we have to wait for each episode to air. As soon as it’s up, I’ll be submitting to iTunes, Stitcher, et al. We’ve started promoting the site just a little bit this week.
The fact that the show airs on Friday nights makes it a little tough for three comedians to record a podcast. We’re usually on stage somewhere all weekend. So we’re recording late Sunday nights and releasing the episodes on Tuesday mornings.
Our initial promo push will be on Twitter. The #Crossbones hashtag is getting some action and the show has just over 5000 followers on its account. I’m following those people and setting tweets in Buffer to go out on Friday night during the show (and online discussion).
The ultimate goal of this is, of course, to bring people back to my (and Tony and Rich’s) artist website to involve them in those communities. I’ll update here regularly on how that’s going.
We’re four episodes in now and things are going well. We’re listed on iTunes, Stitcher, and the Windows podcast store (which must be a ghost town..) As mentioned earlier, we waited until we had three episodes in the can before submitting to the stores so listeners would have more to engage with.
Just today we hit the “New and Notable” list on iTunes in the TV and Film section. It took all of 9 reviews to get us there. We’ll need about 20 more to hit the same list on the main page. That’s really not an overwhelming amount.
To get our reviews, we did some run-up promotion that we’d be on iTunes soon. Twitter, Facebook, and all that. Then, once we got in the store, we personally contacted anyone who liked or favorited those run-up posts and asked them to do a review for us. Many of them did.
I’ve been mostly watching iTunes as we just got added to Stitcher recently and I haven’t checked out their stats system yet. Pre-iTunes we were getting 3-5 downloads per day. iTunes is netting us 16-22 and rising. So it’s effective. We’re no Adam Corolla yet, but it’s a start.
We’ve also been able to improve the sound quality of your shows. Due to Tony’s “Amish laptop” that doesn’t run Skype very well, we’re still using Google Hangouts. But I figured out a way to record me and them on separate channels using Reaper’s Loop Back function. It’s still not perfect due to the differing qualities of mics in use, but it’s an improvement.
With the first season of Crossbones ending and not looking like it’ll be back for a second, that brings and end to the Being Blackbeard Podcast. If the show does come back, so will the pod.
So, here’s some results…
– We remained on the iTunes New and Notable list for three weeks. I thought maybe our downloads would drop off after we left the list, but they didn’t. Our biggest download day was the day we released the final episode (#9).
– We were able to arrange a great interview with a cast member from the show, Ezra Buzzington. We spent a great half hour talking to him and getting insights into the show. And fighting a flimsy Skype signal.
– As of this writing, we got 766 downloads over the 9 episodes. Our best day was 53 downloads.
My goals were met…
I got exactly what I wanted out doing this. I learned how to deliver a weekly podcast around hectic schedules. Got a little practice interviewing other people. And I got a pretty good work flow going. I knew we weren’t on this track long term, but I was happy to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time.
What I’ll do different next time…
– Be closer to a wi-fi source or hard wired in with ethernet. The wifi signal to my studio is apparently pretty flimsy and was having trouble hanging on. So I’ll be investing in some wi-fi amplification of some sort.
– More push to niche specific websites for coverage. Knowing this show was probably going to be short lived, I didn’t go whole hog promoting it to, say, other TV show or pirate websites. Our traffic was organic from iTunes plus posts on facebook and twitter. I would certainly do more promotion for a longer project.
For now I’m going to keep the podcast episodes live on Libsyn for as long as the downloads keep going. If they slack off for more than a week or two, I’ll cancel my account there so I’m not paying for it for nothing.
I’ve got a couple ideas in my head for my next podcast, but haven’t launched anything yet. At the moment my plate is full with plans for my next song/video release, Super Dan, as well as filming my next comedy special in the fall.
So, I chalk this one up to a win. Yay!