Podcasting Smarter Podcast Episode 1: The Magic of Turning Your Podcast Audience Into A Community with Mike Rahlmann

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Podcasting Smarter is the podcast for for podcasters, by podcasters. Each episode a podcaster comes on to share with us their podcasting journey and lessons learned. The podcast is a personal glimpse into the world of podcasting, from all different perspectives. We have guests in all topic areas with many different paths. Some are small niche shows, some are podcasting as an integral part of their business, others have built huge audiences or gained a lot of influence (and income in some cases) through their podcast…but they’re all having fun!

Episode 1:

Joining us on this episode is Mike Rahlmann, host of the Be Our Guest (WDW) Podcast. With over 5.5 million downloads and more than 1,000 episodes, the Be Our Guest Podcast is a trusted resource for anyone wanting to squeeze all the fun they can out of their Walt Disney World experience.

Mike generously shares his eight-year podcasting odyssey. His enthusiasm for the platform has only grown over the years. He credits the community that grew around his podcast for him finding a new career as a WDW travel agent, running marathons, travelling and conquering his fear of flying.

Listen via the player above or click here to listen on Podbean.

Mike shares his podcasting smarter tips on this episode, including:

  • Mike recommends aligning your podcast with a charity to see the power that your podcast has to make a difference. They’ve done podcasting marathons for Give Kids The World. In 2015, their audience helped them raise over $20,000.
  • The key to Mike’s podcasting success has been community. He encourages podcasters to connect with our listeners on a deeper level, both online and off. His show has done this by organizing a running team, having annual cruises, being active on social media, and incorporating listeners into the show.
  • Mike shares how adding a live show into his podcasting schedule his team opened up a different kind of engagement with their audience. He uses a combination of Mixlr and Skype to make that magic happen.

You can listen to the Be Our Guest Podcast on PodbeaniTunesStitcher, and Google Play. You can also connect with their incredible community on Facebook and Twitter.

For more great Podcasting Smarter podcasts, visit the podcast page and subscribe on iTunes or the Podbean app. We also invite you to join us on the Podcasting Smarter Facebook group, a great community of supportive podcasters!

How to Link Directly to Your Podcast in iTunes

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Since many podcast listeners use iTunes and iOS devices, you may want to provide the direct link to your podcast there. Here’s how to share an iTunes link to your podcast that will automatically launch iTunes:

  1. Go to your podcast in the iTunes store, right click on the title and “copy link” (you can also find “copy link” under the subscribe button). Each episode also has copy link and social share options.
    Here’s an example of what the link looks like for our Podcasting Smarter podcast:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podcasting-smarter/id1130834513?mt=2
  2. Add “&ls=1” to the end of that link. The URL would then look like this:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podcasting-smarter/id1130834513?mt=2&ls=1
  3. Another great option is to join the iTunes affiliate program. They offer a link maker,widget builders, etc. With the help of the link maker, you can create a link for your podcast. And, of course, the bonus is that you can earn referral fees for things that people purchase from iTunes after using your link. Read more and apply for the  iTunes affiliate program.

Making it easy for potential listeners to get your podcast is so important. We hope this helps you offer another convenient option for your listening audience.

Podbean provides great tools for podcasters to connect with their audience, including embeddable players, social sharing tools and apps for Android and iOS. Using the Podbean app, podcasters can engage with listeners via the commenting function. Make sure your listeners can find you wherever they go for podcasts! Check out Podbean’s hosting options and directory (open to all podcasters) at www.podbean.com.

Understanding Podcast Advertising

advertising-picThe Growing Opportunity in Podcast Advertising

The opportunity has never been better for podcast advertising. Brands are becoming aware of the benefits of podcast advertising and increasingly seeking out podcasts to sponsor. Podcast audiences tend to be educated, engaged, and connected. A brand can seek a good match with a target audience for its product or service.

In a study from Westwood One in partnership with Advertiser Perceptions, 21% of marketers and agencies surveyed reported advertising in podcasts, up from 15% in a similar study conducted 9 months earlier. Bridge Ratings forecasts $207 million in podcast ad revenue for 2017, up from $167 million in 2016.

How Podcast Advertising Works

Traditionally, the podcast host reads the ads during the episode. This has proven to be particularly effective because it personalizes the advertising and builds listener affinity with the brand. The ads are woven right into the content and the podcaster speaks in his own voice, often with some flexibility in what is being said and sharing personal experience.

Ad slots are broken down into pre-roll (before the episode content), mid-roll (at some point about midway through the content), and post-roll (after the primary content). Another standard feature of most podcast advertising is the use of direct response urls/coupon codes. This allows advertisers to directly measure ROI (return on investment) on sales, in addition to branding and other benefits.

Typically, advertising fees have been based on projected impressions (from average download statistics). The term you will often hear is CPM (cost per mille, or cost per one thousand impressions). However, podcast advertising also represents a unique opportunity for brands to build familiarity and improve results by being exposed to the audience through multiple channels. Often, a podcaster can offer website, newsletter or social media ads and sometimes even sponsored content to extend the value for the advertiser.

CPM and download #s will likely remain a focus for advertisers, but increasingly podcasters sell packages and flat rate advertising based on the value being offered.

How can my podcast attract advertising?

There is no “one size fits all” for podcast advertising. Big advertising agencies and companies have usually focused on shows with large download numbers. Most agencies have only considered shows with at least 10,000 downloads/episode (usually more like 50,000). However, many smaller shows have attracted advertisers. They may have found their own sponsors based on products and services they (or their audience) use, or by making connections in their niche. Some podcasters work with agents who can do the leg work for them, but in most of those cases the numbers still need to be pretty significant.

Today, platforms like Podbean’s Podcast Sponsorship Marketplace are making it possible for smaller podcasts to connect with companies of all sizes. Podbean’s Advertising Marketplace is an online platform for podcasters and advertisers to connect and easily create and manage advertising campaigns/deals. It is free to join and open to any podcast with 1,000 or more downloads/episode. It’s likely more options like this and different methods of podcast advertising (such as dynamic insertion) become more widespread.

Generally, it is important to focus on your show’s quality and audience first. With sufficient downloads and audience engagement, you can attract advertisers. You can likely do so even with a smaller audience if you are in a certain niche or attract an audience that precisely fits the brand’s target.

Some podcasters even attract advertisers before they start their show or very early on. Typically, these podcasters have already established networks, proven success with other platforms/shows, or a niche and solid marketing plan. Most importantly, you need to be able to show advertisers what you can offer. They need to see the value they will get and how the partnership will offer them good ROI. Getting even a small advertising deal can often help you build more/future sponsors.

Join us in the Podcasting Smarter Facebook group for more discussions on advertising and other methods of monetizing your podcast.

The Art of Producing Great Podcasts

Interview with a Pro Podcast Producer: Corey Coates from Podfly

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Tell us how you got into podcasting and the Podfly origin story.

I was a professional musician, playing guitar for various rock bands. I realized it was time to make a transition in life and set up a small project recording studio. I learned audio engineering from the ground up. I saw the future business opportunities but also wanted to try something different. So, I packed up and moved to Costa Rica where I had a successful career in teaching and managing language schools.

In 2004 I had started an independent music podcast with a friend which I continued doing during this time, along with a little bit of audio editing on the side. I was approached by the Overseas Radio Network to do a weekly call in show, “This Week in Costa Rica”, which eventually led to a program director position. More people were asking for help producing podcasts and I realized how much I missed this work, so it was the right time to start Podfly. And, here we are 3 ½ years later with a staff of 25 people providing a range of services to many podcasters and organizations.

What advice would you give to someone considering starting a podcast?

  1. Ask yourself: why me? What do you think you can offer that’s different? Be able to state clearly “I’m doing this podcast because _____”.
  2. Niche down in content. Don’t be broad. Be something special.
  3. Manage expectations. What will success look like to you? What is your objective? The way you approach the process needs to match your expectations and goals.

What are the biggest mistakes you see podcasters make?

Setting initial expectations too high can be problematic because you don’t allow time to grow through the mistakes. Allow yourself space to make mistakes early on if you’re new to this. Don’t shoot to release 10 perfect episodes immediately or book “A list” guests when you’re just getting started. Be realistic; give yourself room to learn from mistakes and get better.

What should a podcaster think about when considering outsourcing production?

Decide whether you need an engineer or a producer. An engineer takes what you make and simply sweetens it by making it sound better. A producer, on the other hand, helps you craft the show.

What’s in store for Podfly in the coming year?

We’ve expanded out into full podcast production, which ranges from podcast set-up (equipment, show format, hosting) to audio engineering and post-production support such as copywriting for show notes. We’re working with more organizations, including broadcast media networks who want to move into podcasting. We see future growth in helping people with promotion so we plan on creating marketing tools and kits for podcasters in 2017. There should be many exciting things coming in the years ahead!

Corey Coates is the founder of Podfly Productions, a boutique podcast production company. Podfly offers a full range of services from podcast planning to post production (audio engineering, copywriting and feed management)…they do all the heavy lifting and technical work so you can focus on creating great content and growing your audience.

Podcast Advertising: Podcast Monetization Part 2

In our second video about podcast monetization, we share more details about podcast advertising (i.e. getting a sponsor for your show). Watch the video to understand more about how podcast advertising works and how you might find sponsors for your podcast as a monetization strategy.

This video (Part 2 of the podcast monetization series, view Part 1 here) covers:

  1. The growing opportunity in podcast advertising
  2. What can you do to make your podcast attractive to advertisers? (How many downloads do you need to get a sponsor?)
  3. How podcast advertising works
  4. Podcast advertising terms defined
  5. Podbean’s Podcast Advertising Marketplace: how it works

To join the advertising marketplace to connect with potential sponsors for your show, visit https://sponsorship.podbean.com/podcasters. It is free to join, no matter where you host your podcast. Podcasts must have 1000 downloads/episode.

We also invite you to join our Facebook group, Podcasting Smarter, for discussions about podcasting tools and resources, growing an audience, podcast monetization and more!

Monetizing a Podcast

Ever thought about how to make money from your podcast? Think you have a great show and want to figure out a way to pay for expenses and maybe even build a great income from podcasting?

Watch our presentation about monetizing a podcast for tips, resources and success stories so you can monetize your podcast the right way.

This video (Part 1) covers:

  • Things to consider about monetizing a podcast: should you monetize and when, what you should think about, concerns and priorities
  • Ways to monetize a podcast:

           a. Advertising

           b. Listener support (donations, patron programs)

           c. Premium content (paid content and subscriptions)

           d. Selling products (courses, show swag, affiliate programs, etc.)

           e. Indirect (influence, marketing→increased sales or success in your business,                              developing a side hustle, getting hired as a coach, speaker, etc.)

  • How to monetize via listener donations

           a. Some common misconceptions/getting past your fear

           b. Logistics/tools

           c. Tips: rewards and donation levels

           d. Tips: goals, story, video, etc.

The second part of our series on monetizing a podcast will get more into depth about advertising (or obtaining sponsors). We’ll explain how podcast advertising generally works, break down the terminology, and show a demo of Podbean’s Advertising Marketplace.

For more on Podbean’s patron program (open to all podcasters, free to join) visit patron.podbean.com. To join the advertising marketplace to connect with potential sponsors for your show, visit https://sponsorship.podbean.com/podcasters.

We also welcome you to join our Facebook group, Podcasting Smarter, for discussions about podcasting tools and resources, growing an audience, podcast monetization and more!

Podcasting Basics: What is a RSS feed?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication or Real-time Simple Syndication. It is a way to get frequently changing information from websites (blog posts, audio and video, podcasts!). RSS feeds enable publishers to syndicate data automatically. In the case of podcasts, your RSS feed is what you need to submit to iTunes and other podcatchers/directories. These sites do not actually host your content, but instead use your RSS feed to get your latest content.

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Podcast hosting platforms such as Podbean can provide a working RSS feed for your podcast and provide you simple tools for pushing your content out to iTunes and other destinations. You can also create your own RSS feed if you self-host. Before submitting to iTunes, make sure to check your feed with a feed validation service to make sure you don’t run into any problems.

Read more about how to get your podcast on iTunes.

How Do I Get My Podcast Listed on iTunes?

Most likely if you’re looking at this article you already know you want your podcast listed on iTunes. Though there are more and more places for people to find and stream/download podcasts, iTunes is still where most people find podcasts and also serves as the source for many other directories and apps.

It is important to be listed in iTunes, but you shouldn’t count on it as your sole means of promotion. Being in iTunes New & Noteworthy or rated high in your category can be great exposure for your podcast. However, it isn’t the only way (or even the best way) to build an engaged audience. Join our Podcasting Smarter group on Facebook for resources and conversations about building an audience and growing your podcast.podcastingsmarter1

Steps for getting your podcast published in iTunes:

  1. Before you get ready to submit to iTunes there are many steps in setting up your podcast. This includes deciding on topic/content/format, purchasing equipment and getting editing software/assistance, creating your artwork and choosing where you will host your podcast media files (as well as whether you also want a dedicated website or section of your current website to house your podcast).
  2. Publish a podcast episode (or a few if you wish to launch with a certain number already available). Podcasts must be in M4A, MP3, MOV, MP4, M4V, PDF, or EPUB file formats for iTunes.
  3. Get a RSS feed for your podcast. Most people do this by hosting their files with a podcast hosting company, like Podbean. The hosting company will generate a RSS feed for your podcast and make it easy to follow the steps for automatic iTunes publishing. You can also self-host and create your own RSS feed. To check if your feed is valid before submitting to iTunes, you can use a service like Feed Validator. Correct any errors in the feed before submitting to iTunes.
    feedva*Make sure your podcast feed and artwork match iTunes requirements. You can also find out about the types of content iTunes prohibits here. In the iOS podcast app, your podcast will be shown with a background color which is derived from the elements of your podcast logo. Sometimes this results in a color you don’t like. You can consider modifying your logo accordingly to get the background color you’d prefer.
  4. In the iTunes store, find “Podcasts” and on the right sidebar and you will see a list of items including “Submit a Podcast”. Click there and you will be redirected to Podcasts Connect (or go directly to https://podcastsconnect.apple.com/), Apple’s podcast management area. You will need to login with your Apple ID (or create an account if you don’t already have one).
  5. Click on the “+” button to submit a new podcast feed. Validate and submit. You can check the status of your iTunes submission in Podcasts Connect. Approval times can vary.
  6. Once you register your podcast with iTunes, you will get an iTunes feed ID which you can input in your Feed/iTunes settings of your source. Your podcast will then be automatically updated by iTunes.

*You can view and manage all the podcasts you’ve submitted by logging into Podcasts Connect. Please note that there are sometimes delays with iTunes updating. If you have subscribers in iTunes, they will get your latest podcast but there may be slight delays in it showing up in iTunes.

Now that you’ve submitted your podcast to iTunes, it’s time to continue producing great content and building an audience! Check out the Podcasting Smarter podcast to hear podcasters share their stories about how they’ve grown their audience and what’s worked for them, along with challenges, resources and tips.

Recap of Podcast Movement 2016: Inspiration, Connections, Resources

The Podbean team sponsored Podcast Movement (PM16) for the 2nd time this year and we were truly honored to be part of such a great event. Over 1500 podcasters attended the three-day event in Chicago just after Independence Day.

The event was filled with big headliners, information-packed sessions and lots of great networking. The Academy of Podcasters awards kicked off the first night with a big celebration of all the quality podcasts in different categories. Our Director of Communications, Shannon Martin, got to present the award for the “Family and Kids” category. We all filled up our playlists with many new podcasts after the awards (you can find the winners from this and other podcast awards in the “Awards” category on your Podbean app).

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It’s All About the Podcasters

We all agreed our favorite part of the event was networking and chatting with old friends, new friends and potential partners. Hanging out with our Podbean customers was by far the part that energized and excited us most! Most of them were even nice enough to pose for selfies with us or do testimonial videos (check them out on the Podbean Facebook page).

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Our team member, Jennifer Crawford, had the chance to record a new episode of our Podcasting Smarter podcast on-site with our friends from Language of Bromance. She used the Podbean app and her newly acquired Samson mic to record the episode, so check it out to get an idea of how easy it can be to podcast on the go (and for some great inspiration from our interviewees)!

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Words of Wisdom

We spent most of our time at our table talking to podcasters but we got the chance to pop in on a few sessions. Many agreed that the keynote from Kevin Smith was quite inspiring, as he shared his creative story. He remarked on what he sees as “the new American dream”: do something you love and then figure out how to make money doing it.
For most podcasters, it is that love that comes first. The podcast may be tied into a business or you may have ideas for monetizing, but most people start with something they love with little thought to the money (or plans to focus on that later). Kevin was a perfect example…he only sought out sponsors when his business manager told him how much it was costing to produce the podcast (and he reacted, “What, I thought this was free!?!”—with slightly more colorful language). This is a big part of why Podbean has been adding easy, integrated monetization options (premium, crowdfunding and now our ads marketplace) to help podcasters continue to focus on their passion while helping them get paid/offset costs.

Tracy and Heben from Another Round reminded us to seek out work by people who are different from us, to try to gain more understanding. Wise words in today’s world especially. If you haven’t listened to them, they do an amazing job interviewing a wide range of guests, and have a lot of fun doing it.

There were sessions on a wide range of topics. We picked up some great tips and resources in a social media presentation by Carole Sanek and caught a bit about monetizing and podcast metrics. We’ll be taking full advantage of our virtual ticket to review all the sessions we missed, and we’ll be sure to pass along valuable insights.

Resources

The exhibit area was packed with cool resources for podcasters. We picked up a Samson mic and talked to the folks at Ringr, the software we’ve been using to record Podcasting Smarter. BSW (Broadcast Supply Worldwide) was also there showing off some cool gear.
There are a number of companies that can help you with podcast production…editing, show notes, securing guests and more. We’ve gotten to know the folks at Podfly over the past couple years. They offer high quality production when you’re looking to outsource, specializing in audio editing and show notes. Darrell Darnell runs Pro Podcast Solutions, providing a full range of services (and a lot of great information on his site). We also chatted briefly with the guys behind Hindenburg, multitrack audio editing that offers a lot of functionality.

There was a brand new offering that is just getting ready to launch, Podcaster’s Toolbox, designed to help you manage and promote your show (we got a sneak peak at the cool software). We also got to say hello to some of the people behind the great Facebook groups dedicated to podcasting, such as Dave Mooring who runs Podcast Marketing, and resources like My Podcast Reviews and Podcasters Society from Daniel J. Lewis.

There are too many great resources to cover, so keep an eye out for more information and guest posts from some of the experts themselves. We also hope to have more great partnerships and features to offer you from the connections we made and podcaster feedback we received.

We hope to see you next year at PM17 in Anaheim, CA! Happy podcasting!

Podcasting Hurdles: Overcoming Your “Support” System

Thanks to Bulldog Milenko (of the Bulldog Unchained Podcast) for this guest post, sharing his thoughts about his journey of podcasting. He offers some of the challenges he’s experienced, lessons learned and goals he hopes to achieve. We hope you enjoy his story and gain some ideas from his experiences.

Let me begin by saying I run a NSFW (not safe for work) podcast, which means the language and content sometimes displayed on my show narrows the spectrum of my potential audience. That being said, there is something about running a podcast which you know provides a good entertainment factor, and is also informative and engaging. I have been doing this show for over four months now, since February 2016, and I have met my fair share of roadblocks and hurdles. One of the largest being that of trying to get my “friends” to not only listen to my show, but share it, because let’s face it…the only way to grow your audience with next to no advertising budget is by word of mouth, which in the 21st century translates to “Share this on social media”.

I have approximately 800-900 followers on Facebook, as well as close to 700 subscribers to my actual podcast. My downloads and plays, however, do not reflect this, as I’m averaging 316 plays/downloads per episode. This is a combination of my Podbean stats and my RSS Feed stats. This is a pretty decent average, in my opinion, for a show that is only four months old with no advertising budget. However, I feel that it should be closer to the 500 play per episode mark at this point. Alas, without having money to advertise, I’m left to my own creativity to attempt to get the masses to share my show.

One thing I have learned from this venture is that you absolutely CANNOT count on your “friends” to wholly support you in your endeavors unless it somehow benefits them. I literally have approximately 20 people out of almost 900 who share my show for me. That is 2% of my Facebook network. Now, to be fair, Facebook has become very shady in their distribution of your status updates and content to your friends list. It is approximated now that when you post something on Facebook, only 35% of your friends and followers can see said post. This creates an automatic disadvantage for anyone, but more so for those of us who are content creators and distributors, which is why it is IMPERATIVE for others to share your posts. Otherwise, next to no one is seeing them.

Now for the real reason I’m writing this article. Some harsh lessons I have learned from doing my show are these:

1. People want to see you do well…just not better than them: If you do anything in life and do it well, you will start to gain a modicum of momentum and success. This is actually a turn off to even those consider your closest of friends. Whether it just be jealousy, indifference or a contemptuous malice and will to see you fail…people don’t want to see someone they know having more success than themselves.

2. People will scoff at your plans, dreams and goals: When I first started this show, I had a lot of “support”. Friends and acquaintances alike telling me “This is awesome!” or “Wow, you’re really onto something!”. As time has progressed, however, I find that fewer and fewer of my “friends” are listening to my show, and even fewer actually share it. And now that I’ve made it known that my ultimate goal is for my show to become my actual career and livelihood, there have even been those who flat out say “You can’t make money doing that”. Well, as of right now, I have 3 paying supporters who donate a whopping $16/month to my show. Now, while this doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t…it does now pay for my monthly hosting fee, which is actually a financial burden that has been lifted from my shoulders. My goal, however, is to reach that 1,000-2,000 listener per episode mark, and if I could average just $1/month in support from those numbers…I could feasibly make this my daily job. I know it’s a lofty goal, but it is a real one, and one which I feel is absolutely attainable. And, there’s also the issue of potential business and corporate sponsors in the near future.

3. You can’t count on the majority of your “friends” to support you: No matter how much people say they support you, or they love you, or they believe in what you’re doing…the proof is always in the end results of their actions. And when there are no actions taken on their parts, it becomes apparent that you are, in fact, obviously on your own to make your show a success. Now, I have actually made some new “friends” through Podbean, and their “Podcasting Smarter” Facebook community. The guys from “Watch Talk Wrestling” podcast and I have teamed up to do heavy cross-promotion and support of each other. We have recorded promos (or stingers) to be played on each other’s shows, as well as promoting each other on our various social media channels. This is a highly beneficial and cost-free marketing and advertising strategy. It’s important when pursuing this to keep in mind that you want to find shows which are mutually beneficial to yours, and vice-versa.

4. When you gain success and notoriety, the vultures will circle: This may sound harsh, but it’s true. I have just recently experienced this as I am gaining access to better interviews and guests on my show. I have advertised a few said guests, and was instantly bombarded by “friends” who don’t listen to my show, let alone share it, about seeing if they could come be on said show with said guest. This, in my opinion, shows a complete lack of respect for me and the brand that I’m building. It would be the equivalent of building your own house…with very little help…and once you’re finished, people show up knocking on your door asking if they can live there. And even worse, once people realize that you’re actually gaining some notoriety with your show, they will try to tell you how you should run your show. My attitude is along the lines of “Thanks, but I did all of this without you thus far, you don’t get to ride along now”. And yes, it absolutely takes that kind of attitude and disposition to stay the course and maintain the integrity of the show that YOU’RE trying to create.

5. You must stay true to and have faith in only YOURSELF: You cannot count on anyone to make you a success. It is absolutely up to you to persevere and press on through any potential setbacks, roadblocks and/or hurdles. There WILL always be those who truly support and help you in your endeavor, but they are extremely few and far between. Stay true to yourself and your content. Most importantly…stick with it…don’t give up! I have seen quite a few podcasts fizzle out within a few months because people became discouraged when they didn’t reach those thousands of listeners immediately. This is most definitely a marathon, it’s not a sprint. Keep plugging away and sharing your content, and asking for help from your “friends”. If they share it, awesome! If they don’t, try not to get to discouraged by it, as you’ll find, they’re not really your target audience.

About the author: Bulldog Milenko is the creator of Bulldog Unchained Podcast (http://bulldogunchained.podbean.com). You can also find them on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/bulldogunchained.