A Step-by-Step Look at How We Created the altBR Podcast
If you haven't heard, today I launched a podcast with a good friend of mine, Abe Felix called The altBR Podcast where we interview some of the most influential people in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to tell stories of progress, hope and goodness in this city. I've had people ask me what goes into getting a podcast off the ground but in all honesty, this is my first attempt, so rather than coming from a position of expertise, I wanted to tell our story, detailing the process that Abe and I took from inception to launch.
When Abe and I first met up to brainstorm what would eventually become the podcast, we actually just wanted to collaborate on a creative project together. We had met a few weeks earlier on set for a commercial shoot that I was directing and he was DP-ing. After finding out we had a lot in common and our creative skill sets complimented one another, we figured it would be fun to collaborate on a project that challenged us. It didn't take long for us to agree that the project should be a podcast; I had already been brainstorming one as a side project and Abe had produced a Fantasy Football podcast in the past. The problem was that every idea we wanted to pursue was either already being done by someone else or it didn't have a hook or anything to drive the show.
Our list of ideas got mulled over for about a month, we both got busy, and then finally when things slowed down, over plates of hash browns, bacon and pancakes at Cracker Barrel, we decided to produce a show with a social mission — to share the stories of people who are in the trenches, working hard to make Baton Rouge a better place. Stories of progress, of hope and of goodness that would remind us of our city's potential, inspire us toward a common goal and promote social change.
We couldn't think of a good name right away so we decided to give ourselves time to brainstorm a few options and run them by friends and family to get some feedback before reconvening. After some thought, altBR was chosen — it was short and memorable, easy to spell and spoke to the tech-savvy, podcast-loving generation who was our target audience. Most importantly, it resonated with our mission. The alt key on a keyboard is a modifier key — you hold it down to expand your other keys' functionality. That's what we want to do for Baton Rouge — be a modifier. It also implies our mission to build a better city — an alternate Baton Rouge.
Once we had nailed down our name, the real work began. We spent an evening in a Google Doc typing out everything we could think of that needed to be done before launch, essentially creating a master to-do list that we could reference individually. We share a Google Drive folder that allows us to collaborate and share progress with one another without having to meet up every day. It holds stuff like account login information, a spreadsheet to track our financial investment, a master list of guests that we want to interview, show notes, brand standards etc.
A few weekends ago I got my wisdom teeth removed. Generally I would sit on the couch shrouded in blankets eating soup and watching TV but for some reason I went hyper-productive over the weekend. Maybe it was the drugs they gave me, I don't know. Anyway, I built out a first proof of the site and designed a first proof of the altBR brand over those couple days. As I would progress, I kept texting Abe crappy pictures of my screen to get input in direction and he would sketch something out on a napkin real quick and text a picture back. Once I finally got off the pain meds and got back to semi-normal, I refined the brand's typeface and colors to simplify and tighten it up. I gave Abe a copy of the logo over coffee at CC's, he nodded his approval and we were off.
The website was going to be a big part of the altBR podcast. Even though the podcast itself would be consumed through a podcast app such as Stitcher or Overcast, we wanted a website that could act as a home base where we could publish show notes, links to resources, tell about the show and have a form for email capture.
We built our site in Webflow, a powerful drag-and-drop website builder with an intuitive, easy-to-use CMS. It allowed us to have creative control over the site, made it easy to publish shownotes and integrated with the necessary third-party applications such as Google Analytics and MailChimp. I bought our domain through GoDaddy for $12/year and hosting is provided by Webflow for $20/month.
For those of you who aren't sure how podcasts work (like me as of two months ago), you host your podcast through a company that generates an RSS feed which you then tell the various platforms such as iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher to point to. We host our podcast through Libsyn, one of the more popular hosting services out there, for $15/month.
For those wondering what we’re doing about gear, we’re using a Zoom H6 Digital Audio Recorder tethered to four microphones mounted to c-stands to reduce tabletop vibrations. We have tabletop mic stands to use when we’re not in the studio so we can carry the entire set up in a backpack.
Abe and I both knew a handful of people who we thought would be great to have on the show so we immediately began reaching out to them. What was beautiful was how these friends/guests rallied behind the show and were more than willing to introduce us to people in their networks who were doing incredible things for the city. Huge shoutout to everyone who has helped us out over the past few weeks to get this thing off the ground! Your help is so appreciated.
When it comes to podcasts, there are really only two objectives: to get subscribers and downloads. That’s how you’re going to get people to consume the content you’re creating, so most of our focus was centered around channeling people toward finding us on their podcasting platforms of choice.
We’re experimenting with a Facebook Campaign that’ll run from today until Wednesday (three days total) that targets our specific audience. We’ve also invited our friends and family to all like us on Facebook, subscribe on iTunes and rate the show in order to gain a bit of momentum on the front end of the launch.
I wrote a press release and sent that out to local press and gained some coverage from Baton Rouge Business Report which was helpful. We also sent emails out to our guests asking that they share the podcast with their audiences on launch day to help promote their personal episodes.
Interviews are a tricky thing — you have to be ready for the people who talk too much and the people who talk too little. You have to ask insightful questions and yet still cover the basics. You have to guide the interview through the familiar terrain of canned answers to get to the stuff nobody’s heard before. You have to keep track of the time and direct the flow of the show accordingly. You have to give your guests the stage and reserve yourself to just asking questions and not talking as much as you would in a regular conversation. You have to consciously eliminate verbal ticks like “um,” “you know,” “so then” and “like” while also cutting out the “mhmmm's,” “yeah, totally’s” and “that’s amazing’s” that tend to slip out when you’re engaged in good conversation.
Needless to say, it’s a juggling act and something that I’m constantly having to practice. In order to give myself as much of an upper hand as possible, I make sure to do my homework, meticulously researching and taking notes on every guest, outlining a basic flow of the conversation and pre-scripting a handful of questions that I don’t want to forget.
When we publish an episode, we want to provide as much value for as little work as possible to our audience. We do this in a few ways. First, we distribute to popular platforms — we want our listeners to be able to find us on whatever podcasting application they choose. Second, we try to jump into interesting content with our guests as quickly as possible so they’re not getting bogged down in general platitudes. Third, we take notes of any resources or interesting things that were mentioned during each episode and publish links to them in the show notes on our website so our listeners have one-stop access to the episode’s best resources. And fourth, we include head shots, social media links and a short bio of each guest in the show notes to help our listeners connect with our guests.
I hope that was helpful and provided some insight into starting a podcast. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email me using the contact link in the footer.