Curious: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to create their own podcast, and is there anything that you know now, that you wish you had known when you started?
Drinkingcocoa: I do have some advice and this works for us beautifully. If you have a group of people and a lot of stuff is really onerous and has to get done, if someone doesn’t want to do something they will procrastinate, or make excuses, or just sort of disappear. You can’t make someone do something they don’t love for no money, for no reason at all. But if you get to do something that you do love, then nothing can keep you from it — not sleep, not food, not your job.
So I made what I called “The Task Chart of Awesomeness.” The entire team listed every single thing we could think of that we do for the podcast and I organized it into different pages on a Google spreadsheet, and broke the tasks down into the tiniest steps. You might like to do one task but there might be one part of the task you just loathe and so you won’t want to do that. But if somebody could just do that part you don’t like for you, you would cry out of gratitude because you just hate it so much that you won’t do it.
It turned out that every single thing I hated to do was somebody else’s absolute favorite thing in the world. This was true for everything and everyone, but we hadn’t allocated it correctly.
So this document was enormous and everyone filled it out, number one being “I won’t do it at all,” and number five being, “This is the thing that makes my life happy.” So we filled that out and reallocated the tasks according to the chart.
I had a second spreadsheet called “The Task Chart Shuffle.” The first category I called, “You don’t understand the pain of it, the horror.” Like Mycroft with Les Miz. This one was, “Is there a task that you do currently that you would love to stop doing, or a task that you put off because you dislike it.” So people filled that out so they could get moved off of that task.
The second category was called “Not my division.” This was, “What should we as a podcast do better but you’re afraid to suggest it because you don’t want to get stuck doing it.” Because this happens. I will have ideas and just sit on them because I don’t want to do it.
The third category was called “You can have me,” or things you would always be happy to do for other people.
The last category I called “I learned it on YouTube,” which was something that you don’t know how to do, but you would love to learn, although you cannot guarantee that you would like it.
We established this before our first year was out because we noticed that there were some things people wouldn’t do and wouldn’t communicate about it. I would definitely recommend this for people who work together on a large scale volunteer project.
Emma Grant: I think the other thing that I would add is that for a podcast to be successful you just have to have enough people with enough energy to keep it going. I’ve been on a small staffed podcast and we just burned out so fast. But also, when you have that many people you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen and so what Drinkingcocoa did was give us a way to communicate about what parts we liked doing and what parts we didn’t like doing. Also it established that communication was important in this group and that we were going to communicate. If you have an issue, just say it.
I really think Drinkingcocoa trained us to do this because someone would say, “Guys, I’m really struggling with this thing,” and Drinkingcocoa would come immediately and say, “You’re struggling with that thing. I can understand that you’re struggling with that, because you have so much going on right now. What can we do to help you?” She modelled that so many times that everyone else started doing it. Literally no one is mean to each other on this list because we were so well-trained. Communication became so important and I think that’s why we all became really close friends.
Drinkingcocoa: It’s so much work.
Emma Grant: It’s so much work, and it’s so easy to start to resent people when you feel like you’re doing more than someone else, but what you just have to do is communicate. That’s all you have to do.
Caroline: Drinkingcocoa said, “You know we’re not getting paid,” but it’s quite the opposite: we’re paying out-of-pocket. We are different compared to some podcasts because we don’t have advertisers or sponsors and we’re not looking for that sort of thing.
Drinkingcocoa: It’s because we’re too porny.
Emma Grant: Another thing I would tell people is that running a podcast is very expensive because you have to pay for hosting, and the more successful you get the more you have to pay. It’s almost like if your podcast becomes a hit or really successful — it’s not like you wrote a great fic and you get a lot of comments and kudos on AO3, it’s not like that at all. If you’re successful you suddenly you have to pay a lot more money. This isn’t everyone’s model though; many podcast hosting services charge a flat fee for the amount uploaded monthly, while downloads are unlimited.
Caroline: I explained this to my husband the other day because he didn’t know that iTunes doesn’t host the data. iTunes acts like an RSS feed; you still have to upload the data somewhere. That MP3 file that we upload every month, that’s so big that you have to delete things on your phone to download it, has to live somewhere like MediaFire or RapidShare, and that costs. That money is not insignificant. Our Greek episode had four times the downloads in the first two weeks than all of other downloads. We were like, “What the hell happened?”
I think Fox Estacado pulled it up and was like, “Guys, our Greek episode has 20,000 downloads and we’re only a week or two into July.” I produced that episode and I had no idea why it was so huge because the Greek episode was so randomly put together. We had an Omegaverse roundtable, a beta roundtable, lots of things having to do with the Greek alphabet and we interviewed a Mycroft cosplayer because Mycroft goes to the Diogenes Club in his first appearance in the ACD books, The Greek Interpreter. So we named the episode The Greek Interpreted.
Emma Grant: So it was a very expensive episode.
Caroline: Our best guess as to why The Greek Interpreted episode was so massively downloaded was because this was around the time of the Greek economic crisis.
Emma Grant: It’s the only thing that made sense to us.
Drinkingcocoa: So now they know all about Omegaverse!
Emma Grant: Those poor people who were looking to get information about the Greek economic crisis were listening to an Omegaverse podcast!
Curious: They probably learned more than they expected! My final question is kind of a two-part: What is inspiring you these days, and what in fandom are you excited about?
Emma Grant: I think the Special goes without saying. I think for me, I feel like I’ve just been treading water in the fandom for a while now. A lot of the really ugly stuff that happened last spring really made it hard for me to enjoy the fandom in the way that I enjoyed it in the past, so I’m waiting for this injection of new canon that can energize everybody. Maybe we will at least change the discussions that we’re having around things like Mary and everything else. I’m looking forward to that very much.
Curious: Is there anything outside of Sherlock that you’re into these days?
Caroline: Yeah, I was sure Emma’s first answer was gonna be OMG Check, Please!
Emma Grant: I’ve dragged so many people down with me.
Caroline: I don’t understand all the hockey that’s happening in my life.
Emma Grant: You don’t have to understand the hockey, you just have to accept it. You just have to look at their asses, they’re so cute!
Drinkingcocoa: I had to go read Check, Please! because sometimes I beta fic for Emma in a fandom that I’m not familiar with.
Emma Grant: Which shows you what a good beta she is!
Drinkingcocoa: So Emma said, “No really, you would love Check, Please!”, so I read it. It just shows you how different it is to get into the heads of the characters from different universes.
By this point it’s not even conscious to write Sherlock, it’s all cerebral, even when his body is doing something he thinks of it in terms of the chemical responses in his brain that create this body reaction in him. With John you know that if he’s clenching his fists and if he smiles, you’re dead. This is just stuff that we all know because it’s been a few years, and then when you start in a new fandom you can’t use those signals for those characters anymore. It makes you realize that we’ve gotten so used to Sherlock and John and Mycroft’s idiosyncrasies, and it reminds me of why they were so shocking and lovable. It makes me remember that I used to not know them either.
Emma Grant: One of the things that relates back to Sherlock, that I’m really excited about in Check, Please! is that they are canonically gay characters and the creator has made it very clear that these characters are going to end up together. It’s just a matter of how they’re going to get there and when. Not only does she support and encourage fanfic that ships whoever else you want to ship together, she has put out a couple of zines where she and her friends have drawn all these other ships. She really really supports the fandom. After all the TJLC stuff it’s such a relief to be in a fandom where nobody questions it, everybody knows that Eric and Jack are going to end up together, it’s just a matter of how that’s gonna happen. It’s such a relief.
Curious: It sounds refreshing!
Emma Grant: Refreshing, that’s it! But it sort of makes the Johnlock stuff a little harder to go back and deal with sometimes because I’m like, “Oh it could be like this. That could be us.”
Caroline: I’m not multi-fandom. I’m not multi-shipping. I’m here for Johnlock. I am like the bullet train into hell. I mean I’m here for canon so I can have more fandom if that makes any sense. I’m actually very agnostic about TJLC, like I’m not a true believer, I’m not gonna go with the first wave in the rapture is what I usually say. I’ll go in the second wave. I mean that’s the whole point, you can always go in the second wave. That’s what happened to me because I don’t want to rage quit out of the fandom, that’s my main thing. I don’t want to feel really entitled to having a canon ship. I feel like that’s not necessarily an unpopular opinion. I mean I’ll read all the meta and all, I support Johnlock, obviously, but the canon part of it, I’m not quite there.
I really enjoy the creativity of this fandom, I love the challenges and exchanges that are going on, I love that there is a Sherlock NANOWRIMO during November, I love that there is this Fall Fusion TV calendar that I’m part of, but I’m being delinquent on, which is where you fuse the characters on Sherlock with a pre-2000 TV show. I’m doing Remington Steele and I am not the only one doing Remington Steele. Other people are doing Magnum PI and Gargoyles the cartoon. Some people may think it’s crack but I love it, I don’t care. It’s a really creative amazing fandom and I’m here for that. I mean I’m kind of here for Moftiss too, but they can kind of do whatever they want and I’m still going to have his other thing that’s gonna make me really happy, like Gargoyles and Magnum PI and Bat!John and whatever. I’m here for the stupid, and I’m here for the smart, and I’m here for everything.
Curious: I completely agree, Sherlock was my first fandom and I’m always blown away with how perpetually creative and interesting and crazy the fandom is.
Emma Grant: In desperation!
Caroline: It is desperation, but I like it. We’re a fandom that’s in hiatus constantly. If you watch the latest panel that Moffat and Gatiss and Sue Vertue did at London Comic Con when they announced the date of the special, the way that Steven Moffat said it was, “We will be in hiatus again on January 1, 2016.” I was like, that was perfect. As soon as we have new canon we’re going right back into the hellhole and I’m completely fine with that.
Emma Grant: It was like that in the Harry Potter fandom because we also had a book come out every two years or every four years, but the books are so dense that it literally took months and months and months to go through them. In Sherlock there’s like ninety minutes and you can screengrab every frame, but there’s only so much you can do with that material.
Caroline: It was only two-and-half weeks, because last time it started on January 1, and then it went January 5 and then January 12, so all of Series 3 happened between the first and the 12th.
Drinkingcocoa: And then we slept.
Caroline: Yes, and then we all were destroyed. I get kind of hysterical thinking about the past, so I just like to think about the Gargoyles thing in front of me.
Drinkingcocoa: I love writers, and the special is going to be the first time that we see Moffat and Gatiss team writing as opposed to individually. “Many Happy Returns” was written by both of them and I can tell which writer had done which line. For this one they have a whole new way of working and they have said that they’re happy with it and they’re going to be writing Series 4 together this way. I’m not sure where that leaves Steve Thompson, but I really want to see what difference it makes. I also know no one in Three Patch is fighting me for the affections of Steven Moffat, but I love him so much and so that’s what I can’t wait for.
Curious: I can’t wait for the Special too! Thank you so much for chatting with me! It was such a pleasure!
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All Three Patch Podcast art was created by the brilliant Fox Estacado, you can find her at http://foxestacado.tumblr.com/.