►Tell us about you and your podcast
My name is Sam Tang, and I'm the host of Kitchen Table Magic, a storytelling and interview style podcast featuring Magic: The Gathering players. Fans of the show are people who like gaming, most of my listeners play Magic: The Gathering.
►Why & how did you start this podcast?
I started KTM because I had the urge to create something that connected my community. I wanted to become a professional MTG player a few years ago, but I was really down on myself because being a pro takes a lot of time and dedication. I began to lose connection with why I loved playing Magic. One day, I hit a tipping point where I said, "Enough is enough! I'm going to create a podcast about the game I love."
In April 2016, I committed myself to interview guests and learn how to edit. I had no prior experience with audio anything! I binge watched every podcast tutorial on YouTube and read every article. I bought a mic, an audio interface, and downloaded Audacity. Five weeks and seven interviews later, I was ready to launch Season 1 of Kitchen Table Magic.
Even coming up with the name of the show was community focused. I polled several large MTG Facebook groups and asked the players there what name they would give the show. I was nervous about creating the perfect podcast, so it took me 5 weeks to edit my first episode. I made about four different edits on it. Eventually, I felt it was good enough, and on June 20 2016, my first three episodes went live. In one week I got over 150 downloads on each episode. Every week after that, my listenership grew double digit %'s month over month.
►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?
I didn't have any funding for my podcast. So, like a true Magic player, I sold some of my rare and valuable Magic cards to fund buying my equipment. I think I sold a few cards for about $75. I even kept a spreadsheet to track my expenses and my income from selling cards. I told myself early on that I was going to keep selling my Magic cards for as long as I needed to fund the podcast.
I release an episode once a week. At first, it would take me around 15 hours to produce an episode. It would take me an additional 6 hours to book and record an interview with my guest. Since I was editing constantly, my skill and proficiency improved and now it takes me around 5 hours to edit an episode. Since I have a day job, I edit and record my podcast exclusively at night and on weekends. I record in my closet for great acoustics LOL.
KTM is completely self-funded. I spend $15 a month on Soundcloud hosting and $99 a year hosting with WordPress. I started using Audacity, since it was free, and I got by using it for about one and a half years. Only after I got Patreon support and sponsors did I subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, which has Audition. Now I use both Audacity and Audition to edit and mix my episodes.
►What do you gain from podcasting?
At this point, the podcast generates between $300 to $600 a month from sponsorships. I put all of that money back into the podcast in terms of audio equipment, software, and server costs. Whatever is left over goes to purchasing Patreon Supporters gifts and postage. I'm proud that this podcast has generated enough funding to continue to grow and give back to the fans that listen each week. I got my first sponsor by asking them. I knew that it was a sponsor that fit the vibe of the show and it wouldn't cost the sponsor too much. Even if it was $100 a month for a small audience of a growing podcast, having that sponsor meant I could promote the show more and give out more Patreon Supporters rewards. They grew hand in hand.
These days, KTM is well known in the community, and it's easy to go out and ask for sponsors. They already know about the show so adding a new sponsor is easy. However, I don't want to cram the show full of sponsors. So I continually work with my existing sponsors to do more creative things with the show. It helps to grow revenue for the show and my sponsors get more content. After two years, KTM has about 7k downloads a month. Podcasting has strengthened my connection with the Magic community. I've made so many new friends, and I've learned a lot about what it means to be a creator and an influencer.
►How does your podcasting process look like?
I use Audacity on my PC to edit the raw audio, removing awkward pauses, noise and speech that doesn't make it into the final cut.
Then I use Adobe Audition to make the vocal sound more robust with dynamics compression and EQ. I then mix music and my narrations in with the interview.
As for equipment, I use a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 USB audio interface. It's great for using XLR microphones. I like using XLR connections rather than a USB microphone. I think it produces better raw audio, and you can use better microphones down the road when you have more money to spend.
For my microphones, I started off using a dynamic microphone (you know, those stage mics at concerts, weird huh?). I had a Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Cardioid. I have to get real close to it when I speak, but it produces really nice bass in my vocals. I recently switched to an Audio Technical Condenser microphone, the AT2020. It's a condenser mic so it's much more sensitive (I'm a real podcaster now). Then I have a boom arm for my desk that holds it all together.
When I book guests for my show, I look at people who are making waves in my community. I interview pro Magic players, the game's designers, and other prominent community members with large YouTube subscribers. Since the show is about the community, I always look to interview people that the community wants to know more about. I interview my guests over Skype, and on rare occasions, in person. In person interviews are the best. I'm able to sit in front of my guest and read their body language. I can tell if I can pursue a line of questioning to get better answers. I do a lot of homework and prep when it comes to my interview questions. The majority of my guests walk away from my interview feeling that I did their story justice. And they often tweet out that they just had a great interview with me.
►How do you market your show?
My listeners find me on Twitter and Facebook. I engage with my community heavily on social media. It's because I'm part of the daily conversation that people find my show. They also get recommended to listen to my show from their friends. Soundcloud shows that 10% of all listens come from social media embeds. Another 80% are directly from Apple Podcasts and my RSS feed. Which means the majority of my listeners are subscribing to my podcast and listening regularly.
Because every community is different, I find that whatever social platform your community is part of is the best avenue to market your show. The Magic community is mostly on Twitter and Facebook. Not so much Insta, Snapchat, or Tumblr. So I tweet out announcements with my new episodes a lot. And I have conversations with people on Twitter. I've booked about 80% of my guests via Twitter. The other 15% via FB. Reddit is a bit different. The Magic subreddit has serious community rules about what to post. So I'm not at the point where Reddit is driving a lot of traffic.
►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?
The best advice I can give is to produce a great product, be consistent with your releases, and go big. If you're going to demand time, attention, and money from people on the internet, you'd better be giving them something of value in return. If it makes you cringe, then it will make someone else cringe 10x harder and they'll never come back.
That's why when I started my show, I spent 5 weeks editing the first three episodes (and they still suck compared to what I release now). I released an episode every week for a year. And that level of consistency trained my community that I was going to release something every Tuesday, and it was going to be from their favorite pro and it was going to tell a compelling story about how they lived out of a garbage bag and eventually became the World Champion
Last, go big. Do not limit yourself. Think of the biggest guests you can get, then call them up, book them for your show. Think of the most creative ideas for your community, then do it. Keep asking for help, keep asking for partnerships, keep asking for the space to be a part of your community. I've kept on asking people to guest on KTM and in the past 3 years, I've gotten the creator of Magic, the head designer, countless pros, the biggest content creators, and more. So always go big; don't limit yourself.
The best podcasting resource is YouTube. YouTube is a great place to learn things. There's tons of tutorials. Watch them all. And practice along side the YouTube videos. Be hands on with your podcasting.