My name is Greg Tilton, I am a filmmaker and podcast producer. The two hosts are Mike Durette and Davis Callais, who work together in shipping at MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) here in New Orleans. Daniel Desimone, an engineer at Fluence Analytics, handles the bulk of the edits and helps me with the recording process as well. All 4 of us are old friends based here in New Orleans, LA.
Our show is called "Jacks of Trades." On Jacks of Trades we read, review, and rate comics and graphic novels by both indie and major publishers. We are not experts by any means, we just love hanging out and talking comics. (That's basically Mike's opening spiel word for word haha). Basically: take your monthly book club or English class and make it comics. We deep-dive into the works, often going page by page discussing the art, story, the publisher(s) and creator(s), the context for publication, anything you could imagine. We love comics and we love discussing them in-depth.
Mike and Davis have their routine runs to their local comic book shops. They have their pull lists, use libraries when possible, and have been discussing what they've been reading for literally years now. They approached me after they saw my work with a few other shows I used to produce and currently produce and asked me to produce their show. We built a site, grabbed our social media handles, tested a few episodes out and decided a format. We've been at it for a little over a year now and do not plan on stopping!
Our initial goals were to produce a quality show, not just content-wise (which Mike and Davis excel at), but production-wise as well. We cannot stand poor audio (not throwing stones here, Daniel and I just come from audio backgrounds, Mike and Davis can find it grating haha). We also wanted to bring a different take to the comic/graphic novel/nerd world of podcasting. There are many shows we enjoy but we felt many dealt with current events/new issues more than anything else. We value those shows but wanted to have something that went more in-depth than most, so we decided to make our own. While we do have ongoing current issues (the "Drinking Issues" series), we love diving into new and old works, ones that stood the test of time, get a bad rap, or simply piqued our interest.
We began on October 19th, 2016, with "Saga" Vol. 1 (for those of you who know comics, we like to think that's a strong first choice! Saga is amazing). It took us about...2-3 months before we launched?
I'm going to digress some here and do some bragging on myself and the team, if that's alright. I pride myself on laying strong groundwork for podcasts before launch. I made sure we were on every platform, had our logo (and theme song, generously done by Joshua Leblanc), social media accounts uniform and clean, website built, etc. To me, when it comes to content creation, nothing is worse than coming out the gate looking unprepared. You waste your time, you waste your audiences' time, and most importantly, you waste the time of everyone who helped create it. In the age of web content creation you HAVE to know how to get the word out effectively and professionally in addition to producing high quality content.
With that in mind: Mike and Davis provided everything we needed in a timely fashion. They knew what they wanted to build, gave me a great roadmap for implementation, were always (and continue to be) prepared, and understood the value of that from day 1. Daniel came on a little after we started (but still early in the show) and has maintained that same level of quality and professionalism we expect in our show - his edits are top-notch, timely, and demanding. I'll step down from my soapbox/back-patting session now!
We do it all out of pocket, as a labor of love. Division of labor is key for this to avoid burnout to be honest. Daniel and I both record/edit with me handling the recordings more frequently and him handling the edits more frequently, but we mix it up as needed. Mike and Davis have worked on their pacing and mic discipline like crazy to make our jobs a lot easier. They also come in knowing the material very well so we don't bottleneck during the recording or spin our wheels too much. Each episode doesn't take much longer to record than the actual length - a 30 min episode probably takes 45min, a 60 min episode probably take 70-80. Editing is pretty variable but generally 2-8hrs an episode, sometimes longer if we have guests.
Finding time is very challenging given 3 out of 4 of us have a "standard" day job. I personally run a film production company so the flexibility helps as I am able to respond to things or complete tasks at odd hours throughout the work week. As a result, I usually handle emails, website, social media, etc. The general administrative tasks. Mike, Davis, and Daniel work very hard to carve out time to record. We usually end up recording on Sundays. It's not easy, but we make it happen. Unsolicited tip: We always have a few "vault" episodes, as we call them. These are episodes we record when we have a good lead on our release schedule or if we have a good 4-6 hours to record, so we do an additional one. These cover "timeless" trades or graphic novels and we release them if we are ever pressed for time on a release, if something technical ruins an episode, or if an episode just isn't good enough for our standards and ends up being dumped.
The beauty of podcasting is that it's actually very affordable by most "startup" standards. We pay a little over $100 a year for website hosting (which also hosts our feed), Daniel and I owned the gear for the most part so that helped with the initial overhead as well.
At present we are still a "volunteer" operation, but we plan on monetizing either by donations or sponsorships (or both). I've done it for other shows and it definitely helps keep the lights on. Most sponsors will MAYBE start talking to you around 5,000 downloads per episode over 30 days, most want to see 10,000-15,000. This is a very loose rule of thumb though - many have more success with local sponsors if they fit a niche or have a local focus. There's more to it but that's an entirely new post haha.
Podcasting can fulfill SO many purposes. For companies it can be a great source of marketing/branding. For individuals it can build your personal brand, solidify your role as a leader in an industry, be used to promote your book or art, be a great place for audio dramas or reading your creative writing...honestly the possibilities are endless. It's you and a microphone, make it what you want!
I will say, part of the fun is the friends and colleagues you make. Podcasting is a very positive environment - many podcasters are easy to help out people taking the dive. They'll guest on your show, have you on, give you tips and tricks, help with technical issues...it's pretty amazing.
We have quite the hybrid set up haha. Our main recorder is a Zoom H6n, we have many microphones to draw on depending on the situation, but we tend to favor cardiod pattern mics. I won't even try to explain my editing system because it's super unusual and will most likely just lead to confusion, suffice to say I use video editing software haha. Daniel works on a linux based system he built.
If you want some reccommendations, audacity is a powerful (but sometimes unstable) tool which a lot of people use. I use it for certain effects, filters, removal tools, etc. Just save often! Reaper is very popular but I have not personally used it. Adobe Audition is also pretty popular but I personally don't like using creative cloud so I don't mess with it.
We have guests in person and over the internet. If online, we often run a line out from the computer to the mixer and record a backup while they record on their end for us to sync later. Google Hangouts > Skype, trust me. Audio quality is more consistent by far. In-person, we simply set up another mic (we can have up to 6). Zencastr is also a great tool that's affordable (free for a limited usage per month) and the developer is VERY responsive/active on reddit. That's been great for when we have online guests who can't handle the technical aspects.
I've covered prepping for the show I think probably a bit TOO much already, but the short answer is: Set a date, the comics are chosen pretty well in advance so Mike and Davis have time to read them at least twice and take detailed notes, and we make sure to give us at least a week to edit barring special circumstances.
We are on virtually every podcast platform. If we aren't on it, it's probably obscure and we missed it haha. iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, you name it. I'd say roughly 50% of our listeners are on iTunes, which is pretty standard for the podcast world.
We use all social media. Twitter is great for funny posts/interacting with other shows, facebook is good for announcements/getting your friends and family on board, instagram is good for showing off what we are reading/photos and videos at events we go to (such as comic con), and we use Google Plus for SEO purposes. Our website is our "hub" we run it all out of, so we make sure to promote those links a lot. We have a blog as well (currently on hiatus, we are revamping that) with lots of pieces on what we are reading, industry trends, and more.
Quality comes first, but at the end of the day, "if you build it they will come" does not work with web content. You are NOT above social media - you need to learn twitter, instagram, facebook, and beyond. If people can't find your show, who cares how good it is? Don't ever sacrifice quality, but it doesn't work in a vacuum. Also, for the love of god get your show on iTunes! I've seen a lot of shows that aren't on it, which cuts them off from over half the podcast audience.
Also, see my rant above about laying the groundwork haha. I encourage you to reach out to me there if you have any questions on producing your own show! I love helping shows however I can. We are also always looking to collaborate with shows, so if you have any ideas holler at us!