In the days before Christmas in 2013, I was getting a lot of requests and pressure from friends and colleagues. Some thought I show go out on my own, while others thought I should team up with someone else. But everyone agreed on that one point:
I needed to host my own Google+ Hangout On Air.
It was a decision that I literally agonized over, but ultimately decided it was not in my best interests to host a show. And now I’ve broken that promise to myself.
What Is A Google+ Hangout On Air?
For those of you who have never watched or participated in a Hangout On Air (known as HOAs, and yes I know, that’s terribly confusing), let’s quickly review some background so that you can understand my reluctance.
An HOA is a live broadcast. Think television. You can have anywhere from one to ten participants, with the first person always serving as “host” of the show. While the uses of HOAs vary wildly, the most common is for a recurring broadcast featuring one or two set hosts and a revolving number of guests. Just like, say, The Tonight Show.
The HOA is streamed live to both a Google+ Event Page and to a YouTube Channel. Once finished, the recorded video is then available for replay for as long as the show host and owner wishes.
There’s no limit to how many people can watch a live show. And, during the broadcast, they’re encouraged to leave comments on the Google+ Event Page or YouTube video that the show participants can see and may choose to respond to.
For a more detailed discussion of HOAs, I wrote a series for you.
Why Didn’t I Want To Be A Host?
There’s no doubt that HOAs, particularly those that are in the format of an ongoing series with a panel of guests, have been extremely popular and successful. My friend Mia Voss broadcast hundreds of shows. Jeff Sieh has turned his popular show into a hugely successful podcast on iTunes.
So why wouldn’t I want to jump on that bandwagon?
First, it’s an incredible amount of work to create, organize, schedule, promote, host, and repurpose a Google+ Hangout On Air.
Create – You need to come up with an overall concept and theme, and then set about producing a number of graphics, descriptions, show notes, style and more.
Organize – A successful HOA will follow a process that you define in advance, so that you are able to keep on top of all the little details that can go into it, and be easily missed. Like building one or more circles on Google+ of people to invite to each new show.
Schedule – If you’re going to do a show every week, that means you need to constantly be working on finding new guests and topics for future shows. Television and radio broadcasts have full time employees doing this, but you get to juggle this along with your other HOA responsibilities, not to mention whatever it is you do to actually earn money.
Promote – Depending on your purpose for doing an HOA, you might not care much about live viewers. The video content is so valuable in and of itself, having that video on YouTube and a transcript on your blog may hit all your goals. But, the fact is, live viewers add an exciting dynamic to the event. And the promotion of the event provides incredible branding opportunities, so put that back on your To Do list.
Host – As the show host, it’s your responsibility to create the Event in advance, and then “open” the hangout 15 – 30 minutes before the scheduled broadcast time. This is essentially a ‘Green Room’ where you and the other guests have a chance to get connected, test your video and audio, and prepare for the show. Of course during the show, as host, it’s your responsibility to lead the discussion, so it’s a good idea to have questions and topics prepared in advance (show notes). And at the conclusion of the broadcast, there’ll be chatting among the guests afterwards (b-roll), as well as follow-up comments to any questions posed by the audience that weren’t answered live. In short, expect a 30-minute broadcast to take at least an hour and half of your time on show day.
Repurpose – While technically, you could leave it at that and have a nice Google+ Event and YouTube video out there, you’d be “leaving money on the table” as they say. That video should be transcribed or at least summarized and embedded into a blog post. You can strip the audio and turn it into a podcast. And you can take quotes and clips from the show and use those for social media or additional spin-off blog posts. One 40 minute HOA can net you a 7,000 word blog post, but expect to devote some time to creating that transcription and all of the ancillary content.
Yet there are countless people and businesses who are doing this week in and week out. They’ve put together a repeatable process that allows them to get through these steps in a reasonable amount of time. And the result is an incredibly effective content marketing machine.
Which brings me to my second and more critical set of reasons for not wanting to host HOAs.
I didn’t want to.
That may sound trite, but it’s the truth. I am an ambivert – someone who is generally an introvert yet can pull on the robes of an extrovert for a limited amount of time. To me, a successful HOA Host has to be extremely outgoing, not just during the broadcast, but for a much more extended amount of time before and after.
I’m much more comfortable writing. I love to blog. I can sit in the peacefulness of my loft and compose my thoughts. Video is a bit of a waking nightmare for me.
Now, some of you may be saying, “Hey, hold on Mike, I’ve seen you on countless HOAs.” And that’s true. I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to be a guest on some incredible HOAs over the past two years.
It was something I definitely had to get used to, and even then, it’s a much-watered down experience when compared to hosting. I had none of the first set of responsibilities I enumerated above, and on most HOAs I had simply to respond to questions and engage with the other guests.
As long as I made sure to only accept invitations for shows where the topic was something on which I could speak intelligently, it worked out fine.
Which brings me back to Christmas, 2013. At that time, I’d only appeared on a few HOAs but was starting to get the hang of it. Dustin W. Stout had interviewed me on his show, and that led to a series of appearances including one on David Oldenberg’s Friday morning broadcast.
David is a long-time broadcaster. He’d been doing radio and now Google+ Hangouts On Air for decades. We spent over an hour talking on the phone prior to the show, and then the show itself was a full hour with just him and I, and his co-host Nicole.
Apparently I made an impression, because a few weeks later, just two days before Christmas, he called me and invited me to be his new co-host, as Nicole was moving on to other things.
I was overwhelmed.
It was an honor to have been asked, but I was terrified at the notion of taking on that level of responsibility and commitment.
At virtually the same time, many of my peers and colleagues were coming up with show concepts of their own. There was an underlying fear among some that the HOA “wave” would come and go, and they’d miss their opportunity.
As I continued to leverage my blogging and social media knowledge for more show appearances, the question kept coming up, “So Mike, when are you going to start your own show?”
My friend Jeff even went so far as to call me and tell me exactly why he thought I would make an excellent show host. We discussed show concepts and considered how we might collaborate on the project.
And then I hit the brakes.
I politely declined David’s offer, and Jeff and I started working on a different project. I came to the conclusion that hosting an HOA series just wasn’t a good fit for me. I would continue to blog and guest on other people’s shows, leaving the responsibility of maintaining and perpetuating a show to them.
Why Did I Break My Promise?
And now here I am, 18 months later, one show into a four-part series, and I’m an HOA host.
What the happened?
While there are some differences and extenuating circumstances, the bottom line is that I changed my mind.
I decided that it was time I took full advantage of everything an HOA series has to offer: fantastic branding, incredible video content, and an amazing amount of additional content after the show.
I took on the responsibility of Chief Marketing Offer for SiteSell late 2014. If you’re not familiar with SiteSell, it’s a company that is focused on helping entrepreneurs to get started with their online business. So doing some HOAs on business and marketing topics has always been part of our longterm plans.
While I still had little interest in being an HOA host, I recognized a couple of truths:
#1 – If I limited the HOA series to a very specific number of shows, it would allow me to put everything I had into those shows and not worry about trying to build a sustained concept.
#2 – I’d been blessed to have been able to form great relationships with a number of experts in a variety of fields… relationships that I didn’t have two years ago. It seemed far more likely that I’d be able to put together a short series packed with outstanding guests.
So in May, I decided to put aside my performance anxieties and begin planning a short series of HOAs for July.
What Is #SiteSellPresents?
Let me tell you a bit more about this show that I’m doing.
SiteSell Presents is a four part series, as I mentioned. Each show is devoted to a specific topic: Entrepreneurship, Writing / Blogging, Social Media, and Search. For each of these topics, I’ve brought in some incredible guests – some of the best and brightest in their respective fields.
For Entrepreneurship, I invited Guy Kawasaki, Mia Voss and Kenneth Manesse Sr. (7/6 @ 12pm ET)
For Writing / Blogging, I invited Demian Farnworth and Kevan Lee. (7/13 @ 12pm ET)
For Social Media, I invited Jeff Sieh, Dustin W. Stout and Rebekah Radice. (7/20 @ 12pm ET)
For Search, I invited David Amerland, Martin Shervington and Mark Traphagen. (7/27 @ 12pm ET)
Each show is 30 – 45 minutes packed with great information and entertaining dialogue. I’ve linked each of them to their respective Google+ Event Pages so that if you’re interested, you can RSVP or watch the replay if they’ve already happened.
After each show, the transcript and embedded video gets published to the SiteSell blog, and next month all four will be packaged as a podcast series on iTunes.
Each of the links above will take you to that episode’s Event Page where you can RSVP if the show hasn’t happened yet, or you can watch the replay right there if you’ve missed it.
I think this has been an incredible journey and opportunity for me, and I hope you’ll agree that the folks who have agreed to join me on these shows are fantastic.
And I hope you’ll forgive me for breaking that promise.