Follow Networks has gone through a lot of changes since launching. As part of our goals, and to further our company culture, I want to do everything I can to be transparent, pull back the curtain, and let you all know more about what we are doing here at Follow Networks.
I started Follow Networks for a couple of reasons. I have always longed to create. Whether it be music, stories, video, etc, I have always been both blessed and haunted by the constant feeling to create and express. The things I have created have always been under a name:
When I lost my day job in 2011, I spent an insane amount of time thinking about “what I wanted to do.” Unemployment is a funny thing. It can be both depressing and uplifting, painful and life-affirming. It made me realize that my heart lies in creation, and that my lifelong dream to start, develop, and run my own business focused on creation. Around the same time I started having discussions with Matt about starting MadChat. It became clear to me that I could focus this sense of creation and my loves and interests under a single umbrella. After a couple iterations and from funneling through literally hundreds of notebook pages to see what I had scribbled in margins and drawn, I found my answer. Follow Networks.
We launched MadChat along with a series of YouTube shows that actually gained some good traction, with one video topping out at around 1000 views. We have obviously made some changes, done an incredible amount of work, and put together more of a team behind the scenes. Today I want to tell you about what is coming from us, and what other changes you can look forward to.
The main thing that is going to be happening in the coming months is that we are really going to tighten up the “network” side of Follow Networks. The original plan was to do this by launching vlog style videos and a Podcast Network, thinking we could get that fat Nerdist money. That was silly. We have also come to realize that while it is extremely important to our brand and our personalities, the podcasts are only an extension of what we do here. They will continue to grow as we go forward, and we are going to be adding a few more shows. They will serve as an opportunity to entertain, inform, and foster our community as we build out some other properties within the network.
As we tighten up the network, we are going to focus on producing original content. We are very lucky to be a close group who understand each other very well. What this has led to is the foundation for writing and creating a number of original projects. This will be the new focus of Follow Networks. You have already seen the first major step in this direction, and I would like to take this chance to explain a little about how and why we landed on Horrible Prequels.
Horrible Prequels was the end result of a series of small conversations and thoughts about where to take Follow Networks. It was an idea hiding in the back of a notebook that I took to Matt to see just how funny it really way. What happened from there was amazing. Matt and Mark jumped in to lend ideas, stories, structures, and general thoughts into the ideas that I had given them, which allowed me the freedom to focus on writing great, short, funny scripts. It became very clear that what we were working on had the opportunity to be the start of the new direction that we had discussed taking the company in. We also decided that we needed a whole hell-of-a-lot more money to produce this project the way we wanted to. This led to the creation of the Kickstarter. To be perfectly honest the Kickstarter also allowed us an opportunity to spread the word and create some early hype behind the project, and it worked very well in that regard. I’ve received a lot of notes from folks about the concept, and we are extremely excited to present it to you. I’ll be posting an update about the status on Monday. The current plan is to release the first six episodes of Horrible Prequels in the summer. This will be Season 1.0 of the show. You’ll see more about why we pushed the date back in the update on Monday. We’ve also already begun work on the next group of episodes. The plan is currently this: Release Season 1.0. Take a couple weeks off. Release Season 1.5. We’ll then give you the opportunity to download all the episodes with some special add-ons. More on this soon.
Horrible Prequels is just the start of our original content. We love the idea of animation, and we are planning to keep at it. We are also going to start producing some live-action originals as well. We’ll fill you in more on that in the coming months. Another big part of what we have been doing lately has been our TV Review series. Stalking Dead and Stalking Mad Men have both been a lot of fun. They have also both been elaborate tests. Our original content is going to be focused on the things we love, so within the walls of the original content it seems important that we also provide commentary on the best of these things. So we are going to put in a lot of time to make these commentary shows something special going forward. Production quality is going up, concepts are being refined, and we are going to have a lot of fun doing it. We’ll let you know when more is coming. In the current configuration, we are going to finish off this season of Mad Men, and we’ll begin an in-depth watch-along commentary for Battlestar Galactica in the coming weeks. It’s going to be awesome.
Podcasts have been and will continue to be a big part of what we do here. We have focused the formula a little bit, and we are going to be giving you better podcasts week after week. Here is an in-depth look at the shows we have currently and what you can expect from them.
MadChat – MadChat will continue to be the same fun show you expect and love, but it will also serve as the hub of the network. We’ll put out details and information about what we are doing during MadChat episodes. You’ll want to be sure you are subscribed in iTunes to get the episodes as soon as they are available.
Rancor’s Brothel – Our new Tuesday show has been a real treat to watch grow. We are going to keep it doing exactly what it is doing: Growing, nerding out, and generally creating fun and silly commentary on hobby and nerd culture. Lots of great looks into specific TV and Movie topics, characters, games. This show has already doubled its audience and continues to do well. If you haven’t please head to iTunes and review the show. That helps it grow even more.
iFILMr – I’ll be honest. This was a show that I thought would plateau and end as we worked on building other projects. Instead, it’s audience has grown (monthly) and the show has really fallen into a great rhythm and style that has made it into one of our mainstays. The past 6 weeks of Marvel Phase 1 episodes have been wonderful, and if you haven’t subscribed, now is the time as we begin to push and focus on building this into a major player at Follow Networks.
Follow Sports – Follow Sports has seen its ups and downs. It started strong, and despite all the efforts in the world it never picked up an audience. So we shelved it for a couple months as we restructured to see how it would fit in to the network. The relaunch of the show did very well, but the show also lost some direction. It is incredibly challenging to work a sports concept into our network scheme. Sports are extremely important to us, and we want to continue to pursue this idea, but now isn’t the time. So, officially, Follow Sports is going away. Could be for a month, could be for two. We are going to be working on fitting it in with what we do while still giving listeners a straight sports show.
Hey Kickstart This – As we have focused the network, it’s become clear that HKT didn’t fit with what we were doing, and so I made the decision to take a “seasonal” approach to the show. Season 1 was strong, and continues to produce downloads and numbers without any additional updates. Originally I thought the right thing to do was to go city to city and host meet-ups to foster a local culture and shed light on local creators. The tour was scrapped at the last minute. To give you an idea of how last minute this was, for the 10 city tour we had confirmed and lined up venues, speakers, groups, and beer for each city. It was incredibly difficult to make this decision, but it wasn’t right for the project. We will be launching a Season 2 of HKT, and there will be some changes. There is a possibility that this show will transition away from Follow Networks control and move somewhere else, but that isn’t locked down just yet.
We are also in discussions to procure a couple more Podcasts to fill out the network. More on that later. In meantime, head to iTunes, search Follow Networks, and review all of our shows. You have no idea how much that helps us.
The Next Step
We are going forward full-steam. This started as a solo project to put a face to the work that my friends were doing. I am personally taking on the task of developing the network into a team. You can’t take on major projects by yourself. We are looking for a few more people who believe in what we are doing. What are we doing?
Follow Networks is building a new model for internet entertainment, featuring all original content, written and produced in house and distributed directly to our community of Followers.
If you know a video editor and a web designer, please tell them to email me at chad (at) followthe.tv.
We’ll be making some announcements of who is who and who is doing what at the network in the coming weeks and months. Be sure to sign up for the email list to get that information first. Second on MadChat. Third on the site. You get the idea.
We Need Your Help!
We can’t do it without you. The earliest listeners and Followers are who I am going to lean on to help us foster growth. You’ll be part of the team. And you’ll be rewarded. Please, tell your friends to subscribe to shows and join the email list, as well as like the Facebook page.
I am working on getting stickers to help people promote our shows to their friends. If you want stickers, please visit the sticker site.
After that, we have some cool things coming. Big giveaways, T-Shirts, and a monster giveaway to the 1000th Facebook like. Tell your friends. If you can get us that 100th Like, there will be something in it for you to.
You’ll see a lot of posts like this from me going forward. We are building a vibrant, active, badass community who love free, fun shit. We are also a growing company, and businesses need to make money. We are going to start releasing some products that you’ll love that will cost slightly more than free. You’ll see the first product from Follow Networks this summer.
Thanks for being a part of our community. Thanks for listening. Email me if you have ideas for projects. Tell us what you love, tell us what you hate. We want to know. We want to make this your network as much as possible. Did you get 5 friends to like the Facebook site? I want to know. On Twitter, use #KeepFollowing to show your support.
We have a lot of great stuff coming your way, and we are going to be pumping out some great stuff this year. Can’t wait to share it with you.