This year a Lot of you are hard charging into 2016 with a goal to START a Podcast! I think that is really awesome, and I applaud you for making it happen for yourself! So, as you start to plan the launch of your first epiosde, I wanted to offer you four questions you should ask yourself, before you start your podcast!
First off, we should discuss what we will not discuss! I am not going to ask you a question like, “Are you sure you want to do this?” or “Do you know how much work goes into a Podcast?” Here is why! I do not want to discourage you from making anything. I believe the value for the creator is the act of creating. When you make something or create something like a Podcast, you will learn things about yourself and your medium that are important. Whether your project is a success or failure is irrelevant. Making something IS relevant. Make that Podcast.
Second, if you are here for tips on recording software or hosting plans for media, I will cover those on separate articles throughout the next few weeks. There are tons of videos and reference sites already out there for you. Go check those out if you cannot wait for me to publish a blog about it. If you have a question about what you have read or watched on YouTubeiversity feel free to hit me up on twitter!
Now we can begin.
First off, Podcasting as a medium is divided into two parts. The first is the Technical specifics for recording and producing a podcast. Like I said, I am not focusing on that in this blog. What I am focusing on is the second part of what you really need to focus on, creating, writing and producing a show. I think a lot of podcasters tend to focus on #1 over #2. That is huge mistake. You can have the BEST sounding podcast available on all the different distribution channels on the planet, but if the show sucks or it does not speak to an audience, you will have wasted a ton of time and energy and money. In fact, I would go so far as to say, answer these four questions before you buy any equipment or register for any services.
Also, let me talk about YOUR idea for a show. You may have the BEST idea ever, a real winner! Your idea maybe super innovative and awesome. Guess what, I have a TON of those too. I have them all the time. An idea pops into my head and I think, that could be an awesome podcast! This is why I have four of them. However, what I have learned is that when I think I should spend the time effort and money producing a podcast, I should REALLY check my idea against these four questions first, because they are a basic check guide that tells me if I am on the right track. I like these questions so much, they have become the cornerstone of our development philosophy at Spazbot Studios. If we cannot answer YES to all of these questions, we shelve the project and move on to another idea. You ready? Here we go.
Question #1: Is there a Good Story? This is really important, because good podcasts are not just people talking into microphones. They are not about statistics or information. They are not about great theme music or awesome sound effects. These are all just components of one single thing, a good story. Great Podcasts are about Great Stories and essentially this is what you are doing when you podcasting, even if your podcast is you taking to a microphone or chatting with a co-host via skype. Your dialogue, your topic has to tell a story.
For example, I cover video games. What is the story there? Let us pretend that a Video Game Studio that makes the Game I cover decides to create a new Patch, and that new Patch has a bunch adds a bunch of changes to the game. The story here is a) They are changing the Game and b) Players feelings about these changes. Here is another example. Let’s say I have as show where I talk to people in the mental health industry. The story for each interview is the journey of the person I am speaking with. How did they get into Mental Health? What keeps them invested? That kind of thing. Each episode I tell a story. If the Topic does not have an interesting story, or continues to produce interesting stories or It may, I just cannot find it, then there is not a story for me to tell. I should move on because ultimately, this is the most important part about crafting a podcast, the idea that you can tell a great story.
Question #2: Am I Passionate about this Topic? Are you dead set in love with this topic? Would you talk about this topic with a friend even if you were not doing a Podcast about it? Do you think about this topic as you drive to work or commute in on the train? Do you visit websites about it? Read blogs about it? Watch YouTubers or buy products related to the topic? If you answered yes to some of these, then you are Passionate about your topic.
Why is this important? Podcasting is a marathon not a spring in most cases. What I mean by this is that you will spend a lot of time producing episodes about your topic. If your interest in the topic is mild, then you will lose interest quickly or burn out from the pressure of producing weekly even monthly episodes. If you are really passionate, you would talk about the topic with anyone at any time, so producing a show about it feels easy. This is key because often times Podcasts are not immediate hits. They take some time to find traction, and your LOVE of your show topic will give you the fuel you need to carry on as you build up an audience.
Also, if you are a host on the show and you do not have a real passion and understanding of your topic, your listeners will smell it and they will make you pay for it. This will translate into low download numbers and poor reviews where the reviews count, like iTunes. If you are not passionate about your topic, you should move on to something you are passionate about. Passion and Podcasting go hand in hand like Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Question #3: Is there a Vibrant Community already discussing this Topic? You really want the answer here to be YES! If there is a vibrant community that mans there is an audience. What does a Vibrant look like? It means there could already be content created around your topic like blogs, videos, or even other podcasts. It could mean that there are active Forums, Facebook pages or Google Plus Groups about your topic. Do Hashtags about the topic exist on Twitter? Have they ever trended? Do you see articles written on major news sites about your topic? Do you watch TV and you see stories on news outlets about your topic? If your topic is local or regional, what local outlets cover the topic. Are there local events based around your regional topic? Who are the people tweeting, visiting pages, etc.?
Vibrant communities want content. They also want to support the content creators that make things about the stuff they are passionate about. This is the audience you want to initially embrace. If you are not a member known in the community, it would a great idea to start participating even before you kick off your podcast, because that will help you be a known person within your space before you even begin publishing content. The Community will more than likely see you as one of their own and want to support your show.
Also, ask your self, “Who are the people tweeting, visiting pages, etc.?” How are old are they? Are they male or female? When you know who you are speaking to, you can tailor your podcast to that individual more specifically. Launches and community outreach is something I want to discuss more in a later post. However, hopefully you understand how important it is to have a vibrant community attached to your podcast.
Question #4: Do I have a unique Point of View about this Topic? This one can be tricky. I almost did not put it in here, because it often drives me nuts when I am evaluating a topic for a podcast. However, it is important especially if you want to cover a well known or popular topic. Let’ say there are 15 different podcasts covering your topic already. What makes your show SO unique that a listener would want to ADD another show to their rotation of podcasts about that topic? When we first started podcasting we picked a very popular podcast topic, the video game World of Warcraft. At the time, there were perhaps 40 different podcasts covering World of Warcraft. However, there was not a single Podcast covering World of Warcraft from the perspective on a new or casual player. So, we decided to structure our show for that NEW PLAYER within the Warcraft Community and it definitely worked. We had a ton of downloads in our first few episodes because we were unique and we offered something other people did not offer on their shows. This is called finding a niche.
What makes your show unique? this question can drive you crazy if you cannot answer it, so let me say this, sometimes your voice, your style provides the uniqueness you are looking for. Sometimes the chemistry with a co-host provides the twinkle that sets you apart from others. However, if you combine that with a theme or perhaps you speak to specific niche within your topic of choice, you are on the right track.
Now before I offer any concluding thoughts, there are some of you reading this blog post who already have a podcast. You came here, because you were perhaps curious about what I had to say. You might struggle with this post because maybe you did not do anything like this when you launched your show. You may feel like you did something wrong. So, if you are feeling that way, ask yourself this question. Is your show drawing the numbers you had hoped. If the answer is yes, then do not worry about these four questions. If your answer is no, try going through the exercise of asking the four questions and see it spurs and idea as to how you might tweak your show a bit and start finding that niche you need to build up your audience even further.
I hope you found these four questions helpful. If you are working with a producing partner or co-host on the launch of your podcast. I encourage you to review these four questions together and see how it changes and hopefully improves your approach. Perhaps, these four questions will function as confirmation you are on the right track with your podcast!
I would love to hear some feedback on this blog. Is there a question you ask yourself that I did not include here? Did running through the questions help you gather your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter!