Starting From Scratch: Building Star Wars 7×7 #sw7x7

by Allen Voivod

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We started Epiphanies, Inc. more than 10 years ago, and I must say, I’d forgotten what it was like to start from the beginning. Oh sure, you get a sense of it when, for example, you set up new social media profiles and have to build from zero. That’s one thing. Kicking off a whole brand and content empire from zero? Whole new ballgame entirely.

The Combustion of the Idea

Here’s how the combustion happened:

1. I’ve been nursing a deep desire to do something creative for some time now.

2. We (Lani and I) spent a good part of May and June at Epiphanies, Inc. talking about content leverage and amplification to workshop audiences in New Hampshire and Vermont.

3. We joined John Lee DumasPodcasters Paradise late last year, and had been talking about launching a podcast since January of last year. As in 2013!

When we tell people we know what it’s like to have an idea you love and not have the time to pursue it, we really mean it. :-) Oh, and there’s one other (big) thing:

4. Disney and Lucasfilm are working on a new Star Wars trilogy, with additional stand-alone films in between the trilogy releases.

Allen Voivod, your Star Wars 7x7 host I’m a HUGE fan of the movies, though I’d given up hope that there’d be more after Revenge of the Sith. Lucas had long said there were nine movies in his story cycle, but in recent years had backed away from that, and claimed that six were all he had in him. So with those four things slammed together in my head, and with a lot of insight and support from Lani, Star Wars 7×7 began to take shape.

The Star Wars 7×7 Podcast

In one month, here’s what we did together, with branded visuals from the inestimable Kevin Skarritt of Flock Marketing:

* Launched a new website

* Opened channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

* Set up accounts on Libsyn (to store and syndicate the podcast MP3 files), iTunes and Stitcher (to make the podcast easily available to the world)

* Chose sound clips and music to use within the podcast

* Scripted 3 intros and outros for the podcast

* Scripted three versions of advertisements for the :15 and :30 ad placement spots

* Ordered up 3 different professional voiceover intros to give some variety to the opening of the podcast

* Designed a template for the content of the podcast

* Built a profile on Patreon, with customized rewards for people who choose to support the podcast

Those last two items are particularly important. When we were thinking about the content, one thing kept popping up. A lot of the podcasts I enjoy (in the Star Wars world, and outside of it) run for 1-2 hours, and lots of them come out weekly at best. We thought there was a market and a need to do something shorter, and to do it more often. That’s when the sevens started coming together.

The 7s

I can’t remember whether it was Lani’s idea or mine (probably hers), but we came up with the idea of doing a 7-minute podcast, 7 days a week. We targeted a launch date of 7/7/14 at the suggestion of our good friend the artist Kate Lemay, who happens to paint stunning works based on the 7 chakras. And the fact that I first saw Star Wars in ’77, the year I turned 7…well, by that point it all seemed like destiny. (Heck, in what’s possibly the one crazy impulsive thing I’ve done in my life, I got a tattoo on my upper arm while on a business trip in Florida many years ago. The tattoo? A playing card… the 7 of Hearts.)

The one trick: As I started to talk publicly about 7/7 being the launch, I had to contend with the fact that 7/7 was the Monday after Independence Day (on the previous Friday), and I had submitted the podcast for approval by iTunes on July 4th. Would they review it in time and make it available by the 7th?

Yes. Yes they did. And so did Stitcher, which was the recommended solution for Android podcast listeners. So that took care of the podcast itself. And then there was that other important item.

Patreon

Seems like people have become generally familiar with the idea of crowdfunding, via services like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and the like. Well, Patreon is a little different. It’s definitely focused on creative types, and it’s meant to fund ongoing creations. You can support people per creation (like a new short video release, or a new podcast episode), or you can support the creators on a per-month basis. You can set up entirely customized levels of support as well. This is what I did for #SW7X7.

Some levels for Star Wars 7×7 on Patreon may get you a shoutout on the podcast itself, or reward you with a Vine video or a personalized haiku. Others grant behind-the-scenes access, exclusive Google+ Hangouts, and more options that let supporters get closer to the creative process.

My hope is that the daily content I share is appreciated by other fun-loving Star Wars fans like me. My goal is to give a daily dose of intergalactic joy to everyone who tunes in. Also, I’ve made the podcast kid-friendly, so other dads (like me) can listen to the podcast with their own children, and share their passion for the films with a new generation of fans.

Star Wars 7x7

Yes, I’m definitely hoping for benevolent patrons who don’t mind throwing a few bucks in the busker’s case, so to speak, every month.

Counting on the fiscal kindness of strangers is something new for me, and I’ll be honest: I’m not the kind of guy who’s wildly comfortable putting myself out there like this!

But I truly hope that this podcast will matter to lightsaber- and blaster-carrying kindred. Considering the millions of Star Wars fans around the world – ranging from maniacal to casual and everything in between – even a small fraction of supportive listeners would mean the world to me. After all, “I’m nice men.” :-)

I did mention the fact that there are advertisement spots within the podcast, too. We’re welcoming Founding Sponsors to get involved for three-month stints. The cool thing is, the rate gets locked in, and the podcast keeps growing consistently. In other words, the sooner sponsors get in the game, the sooner they get to take advantage of the rapidly increasing audience explosion.

On the Air!

So that’s it – it’s alive! The Star Wars 7×7 Podcast: Rebel-rousing fun for everyday Jedi, 7 minutes a day, 7 days a week. Destiny unleashed! I’m coming up on my 50th episode already, and the podcast has been downloaded thousands of times in 27 countries. Our active Facebook page is nearing 600 Likers, and our breaking news Twitter feed is about to cross the 1,000-tweet threshold. We’ve hit #1 in iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” list for Performing Arts, #1 in Hobbies, #9 in TV & Film, and in the Top 50 overall (#49).

And it’s just me! (With support from Lani, of course. :-) ) No podcast network to support it. No brand established on another channel that could catapult it, the way the Daily Show’s podcast launched from zero to #1 in no time. Yes, I’m a little jealous of that, and more so, I’m super grateful for the fact that I’m just one guy with passion, and an idea that’s catching on in greater numbers, day after day.

We’ll be sharing updates about this new entrepreneurial adventure as we go and grow. In the meantime, please check out the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and the website itself. We’d love to hear what you think!

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