We just finished up the first season of the MAD Potential Podcast (with Ben Mehl). It was our first run at the whole podcasting thing, and although I can’t speak for Ben (but I’m sure he’d agree with me) I learned a ton. In the last episode, he gave out some advice on starting your own podcast. I figured I should do the same, except from the production side of things.
It was surprising how quickly our podcast took off. We didn’t have epic download numbers, we barely topped 400 downloads in the first month, but the outpouring of support from the community, mostly in the form of positive ratings and reviews, skyrocketed the podcast up the Self-Help charts on iTunes. The first time I saw MAD Potential on the charts, I was ecstatic! I took a screenshot, partly because I couldn’t believe and partly because I thought nobody would ever believe that we broke the top 20 Self-Help podcasts. It became like a drug, this little burst of endorphins and adrenaline every time I saw it move up the charts. Breaking the Top 15? Screenshot. We broke the Top 10? Screenshot! At one point, MAD Potential was the #4 Self-Help podcast on all of iTunes! Motherfucking SCREENSHOT! Our success was flattering, and I knew it was because of the hard work, dedication and endless promoting we were doing. All this effort was amounting to something after all!
I wasn’t the one in front of the microphone, not for MAD Potential at least, but that didn’t mean I was chilling out and reading the “potential interview” e-mails that started streaming in. Ben and I worked out a system to get the show out every week (he also touches on this in the last episode, but I figured I could go into it a little bit more on my side of things).
Our interviews came out on Monday mornings, “MAD Potential Mondays” we wanted to dub it. This meant that we needed to have the podcast ready for people to listen to on the East Coast on their way to work. Over the weekend, Ben would send me the recording of the interview and I would spend Sunday evening (commonly into early Monday morning) editing the podcast together. I’d download the audio, add the intro and outro track, as well as go in and make any fine tuning edits that needed to be made. In addition to the sound editing, I needed to insert chapters and album art, post the episode to The Mystery Tin Podcast Network page, and provide all the necessary data, meaning episode notes, links, photographs, and anything else Ben casually mentioned in the interview. By the end this was a smooth process, but in the very beginning, this occasionally meant all nighters. It’s all good though!
We ran into a few issues with recording along the way. Interviewing people face-to-face is easy enough, just point the microphone and make sure that you are both “somewhat” audible. Doing remote interviews is a little harder. You have to set up the “double ender,” making sure both sides are recording their own audio tracks so the sound isn’t too muddy. Unfortunately, we ran into this issue more than once, and although it isn’t a total tragedy, it wasn’t our best performance. This offseason, we’ll be working on streamlining and perfecting that process, vastly opening the pool of potential interviewees. There are a number of other podcasters knocking at our door, and soon enough, we’ll let them in.
In July, we added the “short form” content to MAD Potential. Since most of the interviews were between 45-60 minutes, that required a significant amount of time for people to invest into a podcast. We decided to try short, motivational pieces, less than 8 minutes in length, posted on Thursday mornings, to help people power through the end of their work week. I wanted these episodes to be more structured than the interviews, so I asked Ben to write himself out a kind of “script” to help keep his message focused and succinct. This meant adding an extra step of editing his script before he recorded it, and meant that Wednesday nights also required burning a little midnight oil. It turns out, it was exactly what we needed to build a bigger audience. Not only do these provide quick listening opportunities, these episodes were often the stepping stone to drawing in new listeners for the full hour interviews. Of the top 5 downloaded episodes, four of them are the short forms!
We’re taking two months off so that we can prepare for Season 2 of the MAD Potential Podcast (you can still follow Ben’s Blog and we may still post an occasional short form). We’re going to be working out the obvious kinks, building a backlog of interviews (so that I’m not spending Sunday nights editing) and hopefully lining up a sponsor or two. Also, if I had my “druthers,” we’d recruit a sound designer (maybe a college kid?) to edit the episodes for us. There were too many times when I was just editing by the seat of my pants, and I’d rather be helping Ben spread the word and pick up sponsors. We’ll see how those play out in November.
This morning was the launch of my podcast, The Modern Artrepreneur. The format is significantly different from that of MAD Potential. There are still interviews, but this one takes on much more of a documentary style approach to my art and business endeavors. I’ll be interviewing people, but also giving an honest look into my process, the projects I’m working on now, and what it looks (or sounds?) like to be a strugglig “artrepreneur” in the 21st century. The format has already presented issues and problems, mostly in the form of editing, but ultimately, I think it will provide a unique, insightful experience, and I can’t wait to share it with you! You can find a direct link to the first episode here.