Have an idea
Obviously this idea came to mind before you even considered starting a show, but there is more to having an idea than just knowing what genre you want it to be. Do you like roundtable discussions? Do you know the difference between a regular show and a program? Is it you or a co-host? Understanding the flow of your show is important because it can not only prevent floppy format, but audiences like consistency. Having the concept of how you want your show to air from start to finish is the first real step in fleshing out the details.
Having a concept of the show flow will also have investors feel more comfortable investing or sponsoring your program because people invest in those who have a clear and present vision of how they wish to accomplish something.
Craft the plan
This is essentially a basic business model. If you’re like me you understood that with the time and effort you want to put in your show, it would be foolish to do this for free. Monetizing your show doesn’t just help you invest in your program, but also is a great source of pretty easy secondary income. For the Remso Republic we are constantly investing in new equipment and software, I have to be able to pay the show producer, pay for my hosting site for the show, and for effects and advertising.
Simply put, to grow a little you have to spend a little.
Here was my business plan for the show:
- 3-5 month of promotional advertising to create an audience and interest.
- develop minisode promotional content to give people a flavor of the show.
- Create a list of potential/committed guests.
- Create recording dates with each guest.
- Create the show schedule for when each episode airs.
- Have enough sponsors prior to airing so that I could cover initial costs to break even.
- Establish a good anayltics tool so that I can monitor listeners/downloads to gauge progress.
- Re-evaluate at the mid point and end of the season to understand how to make the next one better.
Because I had a business plan I stuck to, the following things happened:
- I was able to hire producer Ryan full time to help produce the program which meant I didn’t have to do all the work.
- For all the money I spent out of pocket prior to the show airing, I was able to break even sooner than I expected and was able to see a profit sooner.
- I had a immediate audience ready to listen from the moment I aired.
- Because of the immediate success of the program we extended season 1 from 21 episodes to 39 including 2 commercial free specials.
Get investors and donors involved from the beginning
I’m just a college student, so money is always tight. I was lucky that before I started my podcast I already had a decent social media following thanks to my activism and blogging, so I didn’t have to start from scratch. When I announced the show I already had some friends and fans that enjoyed the idea of me hosting a show, so when I announced my intentions, I was able to recieve funds from donors and sponsors alike. Without their financial support I would have been in dire straights.
The goal is (unless this is literally just a passion project for you) to not lose money producing a podcast. The goal is additionally to be financially compensated for your time so you can spend more time and effort improving your show.
Whether your sponsors are an organization, website, campaign, or even another show, you want you please your advertisers so that way they are getting a good return on investment and are able to come back and invest further in you.
One method I used to produce the YouTube series “Fanboys and Freedom” was to not only use sponsors who would place their logos in the video, but to also raffle off cool prizes to fans who bought tickets, and to also place their names at the end of the first episode for everyone who donated even a small amount. By getting my fans involved in the show I was able to harness their passion and turn it into giving, which allowed my producer and I to give them a show they’d love.
Social media is great but not the sole medium out there, and not always the most effective. I announced the show in February of 2016, aired the first minisodes in April, aired the pilot episode near the beginning of May, and then launched season 1 in late June. It was a long and hard process because now I had to make sure my donors weren’t just happy but I also had to please my sponsors and produce a show which could potentially gain me more.
Here were the methods I used from the initial announcement to the end of season 1 to help promote the program:
- I used my existing fan page to publish posts about the show. Along with Facebook I brought my Twitter page back from the dead and began to use that more often, including creating a Twitter account for my show producer. The third platform we used was Pinterest, which worked out surprisingly well since it’s predominetly for women and also isn’t typically for podcasts. Using free tools such as social media isn’t a recommendation, it’s mandatory.
- When I aired the minisodes I boosted them on Facebook typically for under a $10 budget for seven days, and then I invested a little but more on Google Adwords by promoting my Soundcloud and iTunes accounts.
- I took advantage of sites with already existing audiences for my show in order to maximize and earn more listeners by spreading the program across many different platforms. I used Soundcloud as the host site after purchasing a premium membership which was able to get me on iTunes, Sticher, Google Play, Tunein, Youtube, and eventually was able to broadcast my show through the Liberty.Me Studios network. Some of my platforms get high numbers and others are non-existant, but I have listeners on all nonetheless and that’s whats important.
- I bought advertisment space on other popular podcasts in order to tap into their audience which I know would be interested in my content.
- I invited on popular guests who would announce their appereance in advance in order to stirr up interest.
- I even used unconvential methods to promote the show such as having someone pass out flyers on college campuses.
Test the waters
The minisodes and the pilot episode were the best disasters that ever happend to me. Because I used the minisodes as a way to get people to learn about me while also listening to feedback, I was able to learn what does work and what doesn’t work.
It doesn’t matter if you love doing a certain thing, if the audience hates it you’re as good as dead.
This attempt at experimentation and promotion helped me create a better show because I was able to learn what my audience wanted in order to make the show grow and improve. Putting out a pilot and some sample content is the best way to get feedback to you aren’t a failure to launch.
Would you race for NASCAR in a car without tires? No, because that’s stupid. Sadly (especially for libertarians and conservatives) there are alot of podcasts out there with terrible post production work and even worse audio. It’s hard to touch people’s hearts and minds when they can’t even understand you. If you’re like me and can’t afford the most expensive mic out there, have no fear, I have you covered.
This was my first microphone, the Yeti Snowball:
It was decent to start out with but had an awkward echo editing couldn’t eliminate, it was also bad at cutting out background noise. Once I had the money to invest in a new mic, this is what I spent it on:
The Blue Yeti is my baby, it has all the features I need. It is also pretty perfect at making my voice sound clearer and more cut, along with cutting out background noise and distortions. Other professionals will rag on this microphone, but when they find out this is the one I use they are almost always surprised that it delivers the quality of sound it does.
I don’t do post production work on the show because frankly, computers aren’t my strong point. Producer Ryan uses Garageband on his Mac computer, and I know other’s will use ones like Audacity. It is really just preference and familiarity. I’m happy with what we have worked with so far and don’t see a current need to look around otherwise.
Music and effects
YouTube has lots of unlicensed music you can use free of charge. There are also millions of sites that will let you use music and effects, so just google what you want and you’ll find it. One ghetto tactic we have used for things like explosions and certain effects is finding a video of something and putting the mic against the speaker and playing it, no one knows the difference sometimes.
Photoshop and Fiverr are great, but I’ve been able to make awesome art for the show by using free apps on my Iphone such as Vintage Poster Maker and Snapseed.
Podcasting vs. Live streaming
Someone asked me “why spend all that time on a podcast that only gets X number of listens when I can live stream and get thousands more?” Here is the answer…
NO ONE MAKES MONEY FROM LIVE STREAMS
Never stop evolving
Don’t get stuck in a rut, always adapt, evolve, and focus on being the best show out there! This is fun and can easily transform your life and the ones of your listeners.