3 Player Co-Op is a gaming podcast recorded from Atlantic Canada. It is hosted by husband and wife duo, Brian Langille and Susan Langille, as well as their good friend, Dave Taylor. As we mention at the start of the show, "We talk about video games and gaming and all that good stuff." Our listeners are an audience who have an interest in video games and gaming news, but appreciate the banter and discussion between us as much, if not more than just the news.
We do the podcast because we love it and appreciate the audience and community that it has built. We do the show because it gives us a night of laughs a week as we enjoy doing the show, it's work, but it's a work that we enjoy, so we look forward to setting the gear up and doing the show as much as we can, which for the most part is every week.
I myself, (Brian) listen to a lot of podcasts, ("Something to Wrestle", "Joe Rogan Experience", "We Need to Talk", "Under the Influence" are some of the shows I listen to frequently.) Susan and Dave do sometimes, but not as frequently as I do, but in their defense, they are busier than I am a lot of the time.
Our motivation to do the show came from our evenings spent gaming and talking on Xbox Live. We used to spend a lot of time playing co-op games like Borderlands 2 and Diablo 3, and we'd spend the evening playing the game but also just laughing at our conversations, and we had the idea that "this would make a great podcast" so we decided to put the wheels in motion, and launch TPC (named after the fact we play co-op games) as a podcast.
We didn't really have any goals or expectations as far as listenership went, we were way more concerned with the quality of the audio than we were of what the numbers would be like. The goal was to have quality recording equipment and we contacted an illustrator to do caricatures of us so that we'd have a professional looking album art image for iTunes. We figured if we were having fun and people tuned in, the numbers would increase, but it has never been about the numbers with TPC, it's been build a community organically, we focused on production to make sure that when people did listen to us, it sounded as good as possible and had a professional looking presentation.
We launched TPC back in June of 2013, our anniversary corresponds with E3 every year, so that the kick off show for that season is always jam packed full of gaming news.
From the decision to launch a show to launching our first show was about a month, we spent time to buy hardware, give the artist time to complete the artwork so we could build the album art, and we decided to wait until E3 to make sure we had big topics to talk about.
We do a show every week unless there is a storm (We are on the east coast of Canada, so that happens) and have kept that pace up now for 5 years, going on 6. We take a week off at Christmas, but other than that, it's theoretically 51 shows a year.
For production, we've narrowed that time down over time, now we record the show for an hour to 2 hours, and then attach the pre recorded opening theme, closing theme and ads. We export the show and upload it roughly 20 minutes after we stop recording.
The album art is templated, the show theme music and ads are all attached audio files we import and drop where they need to be, and we export. It's a well oiled machine at this point, but it took time to get to that point.
We find time to do the show because it's only one night a week, we collect news stories during the week and place them in a google doc that populates our run sheet of topics, so by the time we are ready to record, we get together on Friday, set up, and hit record.
We bought our original mics at 125.00 a piece, and a 16 port TASCAM, those purchases came out of pocket. We pay approx 200.00 a year for an unlimited hosting plan. Originally that was coming out of pocket (divided by 3) because we figured it was an entertaining hobby, so we paid for it ourselves. Now, our funding comes from sponsors.
We do have sponsors for the show, we charge $65 USD a month to have their ads play on our show. We also have an agreement with another company that we will promote them on our show, and in return, they promote us on their show.
We were a few years into the show before we picked up any sponsors, I would say 3 years. By the time we had sponsors, we were doing somewhere in the range of 500-650 downloads an episode.
We haven't actively pursued any additional sponsors recently, and the numbers are in a similar range, we are around 650-750 downloads an episode at this point.
Podcasting benefits my job as I work at a college in the IT department, so when issues come up with mics, sound, etc, I am able to assist in that. As for learning, I had to learn software like Logic and then Audition, I had to learn timing and pacing for a podcast to sound right, it's always about improving and getting better, so it's always learning about new, better, faster ways to do things related to the show, and I've met a number of podcasters and listeners alike because of this show, so it's built a community, all because of doing the show.
That community is the best thing that has come out of the podcasting experience for TPC. I can't put a price or a value on that.
We record using a TASCAM 1800, and 3 XLR mics. We connect that to a MacBook Pro and record via Adobe Audition. Our theme music was designed in Garageband, so it's royalty free, our announcer is a good friend of ours who used to work in radio and our hosting is provided by godaddy. The album art is updated for every show and is edited in Adobe Illustrator.
For the most part, we have not had a lot of guests on TPC, as it's more of a news show with discussion, but we have had guests on, and we normally find them via connections from the show, or we reach out to people and ask them via twitter or social media if they would like to appear on the show. We've had journalists from ScrewAttack.com, we've had game developers from Rabbit Hole Studios, we've had service providers from xboxDVR.com, we've had other gaming podcast hosts join us on the show. Having more guests is something we'd like to do more of in the future. It is a goal for Season 6.
Prep for each episode takes place during the week, we collect news stories that are gaming related and we all have access to a google doc that we post the headline and a link to the article. Some news comes from reddit, others come from reading gaming news websites, some comes from articles found on flip book. We pick the best stories (in our opinion) for the week, put the show notes in order, sometimes we move things around so 1 person isn't talking the whole show, and other times, it's the importance of the story in reference to the show. We try to start big and end bigger.
We have interviewed guests both locally as they join us in person for the show, and other times we have had guests join us via google hangout, Skype, FaceTime, what ever is best and most convenient for the guest. The same way as we work around their schedule, if Friday night does not work for them, we will move the recording night, or we will record their segment separately and splice it into the show.
We promote the show by facebook, twitter and discord. We do not currently have a budget for promotion outside of that, we rely on word of mouth and hope that if people like us, they will tell their friends about us.
We find that Facebook used to work well, but not as much any more (keeping in mind, we aren't paying for advertising, so it only goes as far as the free posting takes us) Twitter seems to be a strong way to promote the show, Discord is great for that initial burst in downloads as we post there the same time that we upload the xml file, so the listeners on our discord will grab it from there, or use that info to go refresh their podcast app feed to download the show.
Things that we have learned that I can share include, don't go for free hosting, it never works out. When we first launched, we were on a friend's web server who offered to host us, but we did 100GB a month in our first 2 months, and we were told we'd have to relocate, so, not knowing much about podcasting and hosting, we decided to host it via google drive and point the xml file there. It worked, at first, but then Google would invalidate the link, most likely for the number of hits a file would get, and nobody could listen to us, we'd have to reset the link repeatedly, and it was a pain, we lost listeners with that.
My advice, go with an unlimited hosting package, whether it be at godaddy or wherever you get your hosting. Pay for it and forget about it.
Also, people will forgive bad video (ie: youtube, etc) but they won't forgive bad audio. Make sure that your mics sound good, there isn't a TV on in the background, your windows aren't open if you live next to a train track or airport. People will tune out if the audio isn't good. We made that decision before we ever started recording, and people have complimented us on that, we've had listeners join us in the 150 episode range of the show and go back and listen from the beginning, and comment about how the quality has always been there audio wise.
Be passionate about what you are doing your show about, if you aren't really interested in it, the audience can tell, they can hear it in your voice. If I did a show about horse jumping, instead of video gaming, people would be able to tell right off the bat that I'm calling it in. That said, if you want the audience to care about you and care about your show, you have to care about it. If you come off as fake, people will stop listening, so don't do that. If you aren't excited for your material, you can't expect the audience to be.
Be consistent, don't launch a podcast and decide to put up episodes "When you feel like it", set a schedule, whether it be once a week, once a month, etc, stick to whatever schedule you decide. The audience will grow faster when they know when and were to get your show. Recording for 2 weeks, then taking 6 weeks off is not going to help, you need to be consistent.
Those are my points of experience. As for help with podcasting, where to get help, you can learn a lot from listening to other people's shows, you can learn what works and doesn't work, even based on your opinion after listening. Never copy the gimmick other people use, but learn from some things they do, and try to improve it for your show.
What I mean there is don't steal someone's ideas, but learn from what they've done that you like, or their audience likes, and see if you can use something similar in your show. The more shows you listen to, not necessarily only as in the number of episodes, but a variety of different shows, the more you will learn on what works and what doesn't and help you improve.
Resources I'd recommend other than osmosis, are sites like reddit.com/r/podcasting , there is an active community there that ask a lot of questions and also offer a lot of opinions and answers to help.