WPwatercooler: The origin story

The main folks that make it happen each week, our Regulars

The main folks that make it happen each week, our Regulars

Back in October of 2012 I wrote this blog post when I was deciding to start WPwatercooler and I thought I’d share it’s origin story here. It’s crazy how far we’ve come with the show at the bottom I’ve recapped how things have changed and what the process is currently.


WPwatercooler – back in the day

So I’ve been thinking about self promotion a bit lately. As a developer it’s hard to showcase what you know and how well you know it. Showing someone a portfolio of code isn’t going to do much for you and showing a website design doesn’t help with conveying you are a developer on that pretty website. In thinking about this I came to the realization that unless you know the developer already or you’ve had a conversation with them you really don’t know them or how well they know their craft. What better way to see how much a person knows then just listening to them speak with others about a given subject.

I’ve been jonesin’ to doing a new podcast, it’s been a while since I did GeekFit with my buddy Steve and TuckerTales with my wife Jen and I wanted to do something that REALLY interests me and is something I have some deep knowledge about. As much as I loved recording GeekFit I really wasn’t into health and fitness all that much, mind you I’d do well to lose a few pounds but I wasn’t much of an authority in that space. I do Web Development using a CMS called WordPress and I love it, all of my sites run on it and I’ve been using it for years. Earlier this year I started my own web dev company called Tucker.Pro and I’ve been looking for a way to market it.

Looking for a name was fun, you cant use “WordPress” in a name of anything but you can use WP so I dug around a bit and searched for a suitable name for the show. With the help of my local WordPress group OCWP and some combined efforts I settled on WPwatercooler. Back in June I setup this “Uncompany Picnic” for all the OCWP friends, I had a lot of help from a few people in locating the area, securing the event space and bringing all of the food and such we had a day in the sun and played some traditional Company Picnic games and such. I saw some camaraderie in this group and it made me think that bringing them together in some other form other than a meetup could be something I could do. So I combined my two passions WordPress and podcasting and WPwartercooler was born.

So what is WPwatercooler?

Quite simply its a way for me and a rotating cast of 9 others to showcase our knowledge when it relates to building websites using WordPress. Lots of funny banter and such is encouraged and typically it occurs naturally.

Why only 30 minutes?

There are plenty of shows that talk about various topics relating to WordPress that are quite long. I wanted to cut out all the extra and strip it down to 30 mins. We record on Mondays with a hard start at 11:00am and hard stop at 11:30am. No “are we recording this week?” or “was there a schedule changes regarding the time?” My goal is to be consistent when it comes to the time/day and length of the show and not waste anyone’s time. I attribute to my previous shows not being so popular due to the lack of frequent release dates, obscure recording times and just not putting in 150%.

Audio and video? Why both and why not do video as a podcast?

Audio only for the podcast version because the show is only 30 mins and I can make the audio file size pretty small so it’s streamable in the Podcast app on the iPhone and any other podcast player for the various phones out there. Why not a video podcast? There is something to be said for what Google is doing with YouTube. YouTube for the most part is a very awesomely built Video podcast player. Google can monetize it to their liking and it just works. The ability to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT and UNSUBSCRIBE are all in the hands of the user. Liking and subscribing are all exposed to the other users of the network so users act as curators for others. iTunes just doesn’t have that and most likely never will. I’ll stick with audio for iTunes Podcasts and Video on YouTube.

How are you recording the show?

Google+ Hangout. It does all that I need it to do in order to get 9 other people together with me and allows me to essentially record directly to YouTube AND allow people to watch as the show is recording in real time. They can watch it from WPwatercooler.com on the homepage or on the shows post, they can also watch the show on YouTube directly. Paying for that sort of infrastructure would be costly and YouTube just does an awesome job this when coupled with Google+. My only gripe is it isn’t recorded in HD nor are the video streams sent to Hangout in HD only SD. I’d imagine this will happen soon since they recently added higher bitrate audio.

I’m a WordPress professional, why should I be on the show?

Promotional value is the biggest takeaway from this. I allow all my panelists to use the videos they are on as a way of promoting their knowledge on a subject. Sure they are promoting others as well but there has to be a give and a take. The WordPress community is all about sharing. All of my web developer friends are my competitors yet we share all of our secrets and all of our special techniques. Why? Because we’re all good people and we know that what comes around goes around. Each one of the people on the panel could collaborate on a project with little to no problem because they all follow the same sharing is caring mantra. With that said a potential customer could be sent a link to an episode and watch their future developer interact with others talking about a particular subject matter and can see just how much that person knows about design or development.

I’m scared to be on video

I was scared to do this too, I have over 300 videos on my personal YouTube account most of them of me talking to myself about various subjects. I think being on video is hard but its something you can overcome, it can also help you a bit with public speaking. The thing is developers don’t get on video much and talk about what they do. They want nothing more than to be in a cold dark room with the glow of a screen and a few sodas/coffee and some food brought in while coding away. Ok, that is kind of extreme but almost true. To be honest I think that showcasing people talking about their craft is very important and I hope it brings in more jobs for myself and the 9 others on the show.

If I’m on the show do you promote me in any other ways?

Of course! The show notes have links that go to the WPwatercooler website and on that page there is a sidebar that lists all of the people that were on that episode. Those little bios go off to the author page on the website where all your info is listed there. I also request that all of the panelists share the link to the website where the live stream is playing so people can come and watch the show. There is promoting going on all around.

Does it cost me anything to participate?

No, it doesn’t cost YOU anything really, just 45 mins of your time (15 in prep and 30 mins in recording) and a few keystrokes to share that you are on the show… social currency if you will.

It costs me some the host some time in prepping for the show and pushing data to and from as well as hosting with blubrry for the podcast per month. I offset that by running ads on the YouTube channel and on the podcast but never any spoken ads during the show. Chris Lema has offered to pay for the hosting of the site on WPengine. CodyL.com has pitched in and designed our awesome logo, thanks Cody!

What are you getting out of this?

Money wise? Most likely a few bucks in ads, I’ve spent some money in promoting the site and YouTube channel but nothing I won’t recoup back from the ads. I will gain some knowledge in knowing how to produce a show like this and hopefully use that in other projects for customers. I’ll also, like the rest of the panelists gain some additional clients from this experience. I’ve been streaming OCWP’s meetings live for quite some time now, never asked for a dime from them and because like everyone else, I’d rather be watching and learning then taking notes during the talks. I skipped the note taking and just record the videos and make them available to watch on my YouTube channel. With those recordings I welcome people to save and archive their presentations to be used as promotional material on their own business websites.

Thanks for reading this, you can find WPwatercooler at the WPwatercooler website, on youtube and in iTunes. Subscribe, link, share and enjoy and hire one of us to do your next project let the developer or designer know WPwatercooler sent you!

WPwatercooler – How are things are going now

WPwatercooler has been going very well. At eighty-five episodes and millions of views I think that WPwatercooler so far has been a great success. The vast majority of views come from YouTube and most of them on mobile devices it seems that people want to take us on the go which is where the audio podcast comes into play. Our “regulars” have been awesome sticking with us and I hope have learned more, shared more and have got more business from the show.

What has changed since the start?

Plenty. I tried to do too much myself without leaning on some of the folks that are regulars on the show. I still take care of the day to day promotion of the show, execution of the recording and generation of end-cards, podcast files and such but the regulars on the show help me the most with promoting the show. Having more than just me tweeting and facebooking allows for a bigger reach. I’ve been working on processes to make the job easier and I hope to make those available to other shows in the future.

What is the one thing people ask to have changed on the show?

We get emails, comments, texts, tweets, instagrams and even a few owls asking us to change a few things about the show. One of them is funny enough, our regulars! Why would we change something that draws in the crowds like we do now? We’ve had people ask if we can get rid of one regular because they talk too much, another because they don’t talk enough (me) and a few because they self promote. We’ve also had people ask us to have a moderator because we talk over one another. So mainly, we’ve had people ask us to change the show to fit their needs but they still watch. Chris Lema and I call this the Seinfeld effect. People love the show and they hate some of the characters on the show. Chris compares us to the combination of Seinfeld and The View. One being a show about nothing and the other a show where you love most of the cast but there is that one of two people you just can’t stand. We hate the idea of a train wreck but we still want to see the aftermath. Welcome to WPwatercooler.

Where do the topics come from?

Chris Lema. 98% of the topics come from him right off the top of his head. Every once in a while I’ll ping him at the wrong time of day and it takes him a few more minutes to end up on a topic idea but yeah, most of them are from that  crazy mastermind. Suzette, Sé and Steve has contributed ideas that we’ve ran with but for the most part it’s Chris.

How do you find your guests?

They find us mainly. I’ll put the word out there that we have a topic we’re running with and they just come to us. I think they see the show as a promotional piece at first and while on the show realize that they REALLY needed that interaction with other developers, designers and whatever Steve is. I also think that is what brings them back. Running a company on your own can be a lonely business but luckily we have meetups, WordCamps and now plenty of WordPress podcasts and hangouts.

What’s next?

We can only get bigger from here. Our next big change is a new website and tightening the overall process of getting the word out there about the show, recording it and then distributing it. I’ve been working on processes to make that happen. I want to showcase our Regulars more which is somethig

Also I’m starting up another podcasts, rather I’m rebooting one I use to do called GeekFit. Using the same formula as WPwatercooler but applying it to a health and fitness show for geeks. You can find more about it at http://www.geekfit.com

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