Journal

A Public Personal Journal
...A Look Behind the Curtain

The year 2020 was a roller coaster ride. For most everyone I know, at least. It took me from selling cars, paid on commission, to now working an hourly overnight gig. In a period of boredom, I realized my desire to create a podcast. If I had known what level of work I was getting myself into, I probably wouldn't have done it. In retrospect, I am appreciative that I hadn't known, and am very excited with the entire process of audio drama podcast production.

I know I won't update this often., let's be honest. But, I wanted to write to myself about my journey. Hopefully, I'll look back at these and realize how stupid I had been, by comparison. The following articles are a public journal, for myself.

*Reader's discretion is advised.

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quill pen on paper

July 24, 2021: MTP Under Construction

I have my schedule for next week's PodCon, and I couldn't be more dlighted. Okay.., maybe I could be. If there were some sessions not overlapping, at my choosing. So, I have "alternative" sessions to go to, if the session I go to sucks. There are only like three overlapping ones that I would really want to go to.


Fruitikenesis just published for the rest of the world. So, MTP is officially under construction. Here's my laundry list:

Organize Files
Name Files
MTP Completed Episodes
MTP Episode Drafts
SFX

Transfer Files to External Hard Drive

Cast MTP Season 2

Write MTP Season 2
First 6 Episodes (next 5)

Write U-XXV Season 1
All

Schedule/Record Interviews and Audio Drama Episodes
(08.09) Travis Vengroff
(08.30) V**i***** *c*(?)
(09.13) V**i***** Pod Interview
(09.27) George/Kittenbetrippen
(10.11)
(10.25)
(11.08)
(11.29) Holiday(?)


Dates and episodes are not guaranteed. Remember: you're reading the thoughts as they emerge from my brain oftentimes, as well as while they're still in draft for
m. And, the dates with blanks, I get to figure out what to fill them with. I promise I will never recommend something I don't enjoy, myself. And, the Holiday episode may very well not happen.


Oh!
I also created the Press Kit page. Check it out. It's a summary of the podcast. I straight-up stole the format from the... I almost gave away who I'm interviewing tomorrow. You tricksy. But, I think the page is kind of fire. I want to get more reviews from which to choose, but the ones I have don't suck.


Good Thing 1: I am now focusing on organization, instead of feeling forced into the next episode right now.
Good Thing 2: Progress has already been made on that aforementioned list.
Learning Curve: Just because I have the time to breathe, doesn't mean it's time to sit back, and let the time fly away. I must continue to progress, but I can take a more relaxed approach.

July 26, 2021: A Rando Article

I am including a random thing I wrote. I had no idea what I would do with it, but if I'm going to write something without purpose, I will include it here. You're welcome. It reads:

I have been a man who is easily described as “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I am often the guy who is happy under any circumstance, and yet… I never found passion in life. I thought I understood passion in food when I sought and achieved a degree in culinary arts. But, I always envied the assholes in class who spoke out of class about the intricacies of food. Their whole lives consumed by… food. A substance created essentially to stave off starvation. I never understood passion, since they had that factor that I would have sworn to be falsified. It wasn’t false- I was.

It was over a year ago now, that I realized the capabilities I have to create immersive audio drama. Something listeners can sit back, and become totally consumed by simply listening to a story. A story that captivates them, yet allows their own imaginations to run rampant. Audio Drama. Actors, sound effects, and music with perfect timing will create the desired environment.

These are all aspects that I, as an amateur, realized to be at my fingertips, if only I knew how to access it. With no know-how, I became entranced by the concept of the invention of audio movies. Stories that by simply assembling sounds just the right way, could remove a listener from their current situation, allowing them to become enraptured, simply by listening. I found my passion: audio drama.

I know the feeling of waking up, thinking about audio, living my day thinking about audio, and going to sleep thinking of audio. Audio consumes me. For over a year now, I have become enslaved to the concept of transporting others and myself to other lands and times. I have passion. Passion I knew was impossible. I am in love. And, I require nothing from it in return, as long as it follows my lead.

I hope every single person finds their audio drama- whether that be running long-distances, scuba diving, video games, hockey, or anything else. I was a non-believer, but today I can attest to the very excitement a usually unexcitable person can feel in the depths of my being. If you’re not in love- if you don’t have passion for something, try something else. Eventually, you will likely find what has you excited from pillow-to-pillow. In the meantime, listen to Mercury Theatre Podcast, so you can help me reach my ultimate goal of success in my passion. Don’t let my passion cripple me!

July 24, 2021: Restructuring

Season One is closing, as of Monday. I am recording Season Two episode One today. And, I will sit on it in post for a while. I need to breathe. I need to reorganize. I need to write. I need to cast. I need to delegate. I am restructuring.

One of the restructuring measures should be in the interviews. I have been listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast. It's a great podcast, which I highly recommend. I am currently watching his Masterclass about writing, but I know there is so much that will translate into podcast interviews, since he writes many, many biographies and interviews people for books. My EXTRA interviews have simply been myself and whoever talking. Inspired by Poddecks on Instagram, I am going to try to employ a different method: storytelling. I'll take our interviews, and cut out my prompts, and then in post, I'll include transition/explanation. Less John, and more interviewee. I am cramming before my interview with **u**n *r*** T**m**** and *a* *e*r* on Tuesday. I couldn't be more stoked about these changes. Also... I have permission (and access) to one of their episodes to use at my discretion! I feel like I am in the IN group.

God... I love what I do, even if it IS for practically free.

PodCon is in less than two weeks! And, I realized while listening to Carcerem that it was created by Shane Salk... co-creator of We're Alive. A little bit of me is concerned he may have been who KC Wayland was referring to, when he said to get stuff in writing.
Carcerem includes HUGE SAG-AFTRA names like Jane Lynch, Neil Flynn, Bob Bergen, Rob Paulsen, and more. I say that to say that he'll be attending the conference AND hosting a class, and has actively sought to create connections prior to to it. Honest opinion: the writing is fine (kind of reminds me of the old time radio faux pas), but the aural tapestry is genius. I immediately knew it was superior to most productions out there.

Good Thing 1: I can breathe. I had no idea how overwhelmed I was beginning to feel, but now I can breathe.
Good Thing 2: I am connecting with huge personal inspirations of mine.
Learning Curve: I need to utilize this time I have given myself, to best reorganize, without sacrificing listenership.

July 17, 2021: This Sonuvabitch Did It

I have just created an account with Masterclass (as a student, duh). I am starting the process of learning HOW to direct, which has been a failure on my part. I am so excited- you have no idea! I'm currently watching Ron Howard's course. So, I'll be wholly consumed this way for quite some time. Taking a break from MTP will help give me this opportunity.


Good Thing 1: I finally have a subscription with Masterclass.
Good Thing 2: I am always wanting to figure out how to learn, and this is put into practice.
Learning Curve: Masterclass IS a learning curve.

July 13, 2021: The Bachelorette and the Bachelor Suck

I'm getting tired of podcasts spamming peoples' social media. I've had it, and my Twitter feed is reflecting it. Unfortunately, my suspicion is that there are some bots- but that doesn't seem right either, since there is sometimes an indefinite delay for some posts to get responses to their requests. Honestly, I sometimes feel bad when I've looked up requests for podcast recommendations, and see that some people got no replies AT ALL, within 3 entire days. Not just hidden podcast recommendations, but the post gets completely overlooked. Not even their friends will answer. My immediate thought then, is that they're likely like me, and have no friends. Like, I feel awful when I think that. For me, I prefer the smaller groups of friends, but I like to think I'm more intimate with those friends, than if I had a big mess of friends. But, I still feel bad. Not to mention that I'm not a social media kind of guy, except by podcast necessity. My friends by proxy, too, are also not very social media people. But, yeah... podcasts need to stop spamming people. End of rant.

Count: 2,765
Good Thing 1: One of the spammers just deleted their post when I called them out on it. I did it to like three spammers on a single thread.
Good Thing 2: This month has broken yet another month's record of most downloads within 30 days AND, we haven't even hit the end of the 30 days.
Learning Curve: This week's episode of Better Podcasting is going to come in tremendously helpful! It was about creating networks, as well as the cost and benefits of them. It's a really good episode. (I definitely know they brought up the topic, since I asked about it on Discord, so it really spoke to me personally)

July 11, 2021: It Could Be, but it Won't Be

Want to know something exciting/depressing? No, I'm not talking about Bo Burnham's Inside this time. I'm talking about Chapo Trap House. Ever hear about it? I never had, until today. It's a podcast. Before I go on about with it's exciting/depressing, allow me to explain everything I've learned in the last five minutes (which is all the research anyone needs, right?). I'm listening to it right now, and it very much has the vibe of a couple guys in a room with shitty mics in dire need of better plosive filters. Burst of breath in their mics in every goddam sentence. Now, why am I talking about this podcast? It is currently the most successful, visibly transparent podcast on Patreon. With an income of $162,873. Sorry... an income of $162,873 a MONTH. Fucking WHAT??? Let's break down a tiny bit of this information. They currently have 36,685 patrons at a minimum of $4.70/mo subscription. I'm going to tell you something else. True Crime Obsessed. With 44,384 subscribers at a minimum of $5/mo, grossing $221,920... a MONTH. Patreon gives creators the option to not disclose all the monetary income, but the subscribers will show, regardless (if I'm not mistaken). Why do I give a shit? That could be us. It won't be, but it COULD be. Over the last year, we at MTP have 2 subscribers, and had 3 for a minute.

Good Thing 1: If stupid podcasts can be financially successful, then we could be too!
Good Thing 2: Once this episode goes out, we can relax on the following episode, and really nail it.
Learning Curve: Just because we can, doesn't mean we will be incredibly successful. It takes patience, and motivation.

July 10, 2021: Getting Ahead

I get to thank a podcast I just started listening to, for something so stupidly simple, and yet... I need it now more than ever. Are you familiar with Linktr.ee? It's a site that consolidates all your links. Social. Websites. Whatever. It's essentially a business card, for all your sites. What a concept, since every time I give people ways to follow me, it's on EVERYthing. Twitter, Facebook Page, Facebook Group, website, LinkedIn, everything. Here's what mine looks like.

Casting call for Two Wrongs Make a Wright just posted. We'll see if we have enough VAs to justify not being a gold member on CCC.

I will not worry about the Austin Film Festival anymore. The first two episodes were submitted, and now, only time will tell how it went. Mid-September is the deadline for them to let applicants know whether they placed or not. I ultimately risked the $40. Which brings me to a concern that has been growing, as U-XXV has been developing: Intellectual Property (IP). I gave birth to the concept, and it has been growing amongst a very small group. Giving credit is of no concern whatsoever, buuuuuut... what if someone... Okay... I'm answering my own question. I need to copyright this concept. I think I know how to go about doing that, so we will see how to do that, first-hand. And, how much it'll cost. Everything costs money. I'm making no money, and yet I don't hesitate to spend it, if I think it'll help the development of my podcasts. Okay. I definitely do hesitate. It's expensive.

Good Thing 1: No more Austin Film Festival talk for quite some time, now.
Good Thing 2: Casting call for S:2 ep:1 just posted. We're now well into the future, and ahead.
Learning Curve: I said we're ahead, but I still have to record some of the lines for Fruitikenesis.

July 8, 2021: Risk the Forty Bucks?

You don't know what you have, until you have something better.

The countdown has begun for the upcoming PodCon! August 3-6, I will be in Nashville for the Podcast Movement conference, meeting with a true bunch of amazing people (or, at least people with whom I relate). The more I'm learning about the industry, and the people in it, the more I am enamored by it. I made the joke on Twitter that I doubted they'd have enough room in the conference center for all the introverts to sit in their own corners. But, you go to a ComiCon, and there are people who live in their parents' basements, associating with others who are just as anti-social as they are. It's about the element you're in. I'm an introvert by nature, but I couldn't be more excited about this conference. I posted on Facebook, asking for other PodCon attending audio drama producers to drop their podcasts, and I'd listen before going next month. I am compiling quite the list. I started putting together my list of sessions I intend on attending, and by the second day- the SECOND day, a legal pad page is full of events I plan to attend, and there's only one that overlaps another by 15 minutes. Goddam. So excited. I'll likely hate it. It'll probably be a shit time. (Gotta lower my expectations now)

When I first started this blog shit, I expected to very seldom ever include my thoughts on here. I also said that if I had known just how much work I would put into this, I never would have started it. The first one was false, and the second one, so very true.

I am currently typing this article, but I am also writing the intro/outro for the EXTRA interview I have with Morgan Blackwell, that posts tonight (for patrons), and Monday for the regular civilians. In addition to that, I am contemplating not submitting to the Austin Film Festival. But.., I think I probably should anyway. It's $40, and I'm strapped (as usual). But, maybe I COULD win. I don't know. You don't know. Shut up. If I don't submit by tomorrow, I'll miss the deadline. I have episodes one and two that I'd submit, but there is tweaking required for both. Probably a lot of tweaking! Yes. A lot, actually. But, instead of doing that, I'm writing this, and not even doing the intro/outro for tomorrow's episode. What the fuck is wrong with me? I just want someone else to read the scripts I've written, and make them amazing. I suck. Okay... I have to write other more important stuff. Also... I have some fairly big announcements in the upcoming episode, so listen to that.

Universe25 episodes! I am realizing the true potential of the episode names: I will be naming them after keywords used in Dr. Calhoun's NIMH experiments. I'm a fucking genius.

Count: 2,694
Good Thing 1: PodCon is less than a month away!
Good Thing 2: I write in this journal more often than I anticipated.
Learning Curve: I need to be better about deadlines, expecting even less of others than I currently do. Well... unpaid others, at least. I need money so I can raise my expectations.

July 3, 2021: Headliner

Headliner. My newest, favoritest thing, and I hate myself for not having made the effort until just today to figure out what the fuck it was. It's a gift from Lucifer, himself. That's what it is. For real though, it is a site that will take audio, and make a video. You've seen them, with the audio wave fluctuations. I will soon be using them to promote upcoming episodes. At the beginning of the interview episodes, I have a promo for the upcoming drama episodes. You know this already. So, I can take the promos, and upload them. But because I'm an asshole, I expect I'll wait until the week before drama publication, to post the clip that had already played in the interview episode. This will help to ensure the people who listen to the EXTRA episodes just for the promos, aren't just watching our Instagram strictly for that purpose. Why? Because I need downloads, and I don't think the IG post counts towards downloads. Oh... I forgot to mention that Headliner allows me to pull from the RSS feed, so I don't have to submit the audio, but rather, pull from audio that I'm already going to use. My god. I am so happy. And, it's free for so many videos a month (I think 5?). Which, is more than I would use. Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. All are visual mediums that can take the video. What else should I be using this for? So many opportunities.

Something entirely off-subject. I am contemplating keeping the "Press the button, and away we go, ahoy!" for every future endeavor. We'll see. We. Shall. See.

Totally forgot! I started a Facebook ad yesterday. I'm seeing good results so far. A lot of page likes, since yesterday. 17, in fact. $5/day for 7 days.

Count: 2,678
Good Thing 1: Headliner. GREAT thing.
Good Thing 2: RSS feeds. They're phenomenal.
Learning Curve: I really ought to have jumped on this Headliner sooner. Which means there's probably something out there right now, or soon, that would change my world for the better. And, I shouldn't fight it.

July 2, 2021: Year 30

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 30. It took me 29 years to find my true passion in life, and nothing, absolutely nothing will prevent me from making this an eventual career doing this. I am an artist, and I would be a starving one, if I wasn't working a job that paid. Kids would also prevent me from spending as much time as I do, on a podcast., if I was given any time at all to do this. Certainly not enough to realize that this was preferable to having kids altogether. To all who have kids: please don't think I'm bragging that I don't have kids, but different strokes and all. Also, I don't want to hear it, since everyone with kids seems to brag all the time about how wonderful their fucking shitheads are. You'll potentially have a legacy you pass on through your kids (assuming you don't fuck 'em up), and I'll only have podcasts to outlive me. Priorities have been taken into consideration, and for me personally, I believe I have chosen wisely.

Social media: I think I'm figuring it out again. I am targeting the phrases "Podcast Recs," "Podcast Recommendations," and "Podcast Suggestions" on Twitter. The latter two are 50/50 giving recommendations, while the word "Recs" is 7 out of 8 a request. I sort through them, and find <10 comments on the requests, and then respond. I target the request... Okay... I'm going to get real technical for the geeks, everyone else can skip this part... I target the request, so if they say "I need podcast recs. I have a 15 hour road trip tomorrow," I will respond like "Dude! 15 hours is such a long drive! In case audio dramas aren't yet on your radar, might I recommend @MercuryPodcast? It's created like an audio movie with sound effects, full cast, music, and everything! Drive safe!" If I didn't see the request until the next day, or two, I would respond like "I hope you drove safe! In case you're still in the market for podcast recs, might I recommend @MercuryPodcast? It's created like an audio movie with sound effects, full cast, music, and everything!" Notice, most of the text was exactly the same. That's because I copied a message I sent to someone else, added a more targeted message, and it is exactly tailored to that particular individual. Why copy/paste? You do that two days in a row, and you tell me why NOT to do that. I change my formula every day, since my phone's clipboard forgets the copy after so long. In addition to the text, I'll also include a gif, to stand out. Everyone posts the picture of their podcast cover art. Incredibly boring, and the person asking for a recommendation automatically determines it to be spam. Rightfully so. I also use my personal profile to recommend the podcast, directing them to the RIGHT one. Why? Because, again, spam. Everyone trusts a recommendation more than they do self-promotion. Having said this... not everybody will like this tactic (there will always be people who don't appreciate anything you do, but don't let their negativity bring you down). Using this method, someone responded with "Man I hate to dog on a North Carolinian esp from that general area since I spent so much of grad school working on a site near Morganton but would you be personally recommending this because you work for them? nice hustle my man but it pays to be upfront." I have not yet concocted a response to this, nor do I expect to. I could argue that I'm recommending something, since they requested it, and I only have 140 characters to work with, or I could apologize, and explain in a thread of three posts how self-promotion doesn't work, since it seems like an ad, despite the value being higher quality than the average bear. Neither of those have a high possibility of them understanding, or gaining an inkling of respect for my process, despite no ill intent. So, I leave it be. But, to-date, I have had like two of those responses, and TONS of "Thank you's" and "That sounds great! I just downloaded some episodes to listen to on my way to work today." I say tons, and that, dear reader, is because I send out TONS of replies on social media (mostly Twitter, currently).
Target social media requests.
Don't spam.
Add a gif.

And,
bonus tip: since you recommended the podcast using the personal account, you can use the other account to "like" the reply, adding another notification to the requester, bringing more attention to it.

Let's do an assessment of current social media and website engagement stuffs...
Website visits last 30 days: 151
Twitter Followers: 155
Facebook Page Likes: 45
Facebook Group Members: 52
Total Download Count: 2,655
Most downloaded Episode: Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears @240 downloads.

If I can ask you to do me a favor: would you find us on a podcast player somewhere, and
rate the podcast (reviews are even better). Preferably 5 stars, duh. This helps increase the visibility of the show to those seeking podcasts of the kind. That's my birthday request this year.

I just re-read
December 28, 2020: A New Recap Factor just for fun. I want to re-read an article every so often, just to see if/how I've progressed. So many things I was onto, so early. I'll take it. Ironically, I was fixated on social media, and the frustrations. What I wouldn't give to tell past John what I told you in this very post. You live, you learn. Or, someone else lives, and you learn from their failures. You're welcome, dear reader.

Good Thing 1: I am constantly getting likes on my social media recommendations for my podcast, resulting in a noticeably higher download number. I literally typed this not 20 seconds ago, and got yet another "like." It works.
Good Thing 2: After 29 rotations around the sun, I have found my passion. I can talk about it night and day in some capacity or another. I. Love. Podcasting.
Learning Curve: I want to find more key phrases that are requests for podcasts, so I can better shmear the podcast throughout the ether.

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