Starting a Podcast - Day 1
So you've decided to take the plunge. Your business needs audio on demand... a podcast, an audiobook, or maybe even a commercial or infomercial.
Where the heck do you start?
Planning your show and its concept is task number one.
Unless you choose to do a limited run series, which can work for certain firms, an ongoing topic is likely your best bet for creating an engaging series.
Take Westport Studios' own show, Recruiting Hell. Before recording a single episode, you need to create a framework for your show to exist in.
What is your topic?
Podcasting is so broad that it can really cover anything. It's like YouTube. There's literally a channel for everything out there. Podcasting is the same way.
Your number one goal of Day one is to get your topic and format of the show locked in by creating a treatment for the show.
This is almost a pilot episode, but it's more of a proto-pilot episode, as it's likely not one you'll fully flesh out and record.
Many podcasts start out as a person saying "I'm just going to talk about whatever." This may work if you're particularly funny, have a great network, or an approachable circle of friends to guest on your show. It's also fairly unusual for this to work because the reality is that the average person isn't terribly funny, has a small network, and has too many inside jokes with their buddies to be appealing to a broader audience.
When running a podcast for or as a business, finding your niche is key.
So what is a Niche?
A niche is a topic that is generally very narrow or has a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.
Niches can be broad, or narrow, and shallow or deep.
You want to try to find a niche that is somewhat broad for your show.
A great example is from another one of our articles, where we talked about Home Building Hero, a podcast about remodeling and construction.
Home Construction is a somewhat narrow topic, we're not talking about industrial or commercial construction, we're simply talking residential, and single family residential most likely as well as a renter can't often change the layout of their home.
So narrow-ish topic, which will draw the very specific audience that show is looking for.
However despite being a much narrower topic than just general construction, home building and residential construction are incredibly DEEP topics. We could talk for months about all the aspects of building a new home or remodeling an existing one.
And that's EXACTLY what you want for your show. A fairly narrow niche that can be drilled into for near eternity.
What's the show look like.
Once you've defined your niche, the next step is to begin creating the feel of your show and the format.
Do you have guests? Multiple Hosts? What existing show does it sound a bit like.
That last one is important.
There are more than 1.4 million podcasts in existence out there right now, and whether they are actively producing episodes is irrelevant. It's very unlikely that there will be an idea for a truly original show format and concept. It's most likely been done a few hundred times in the industry.
This thankfully gives you ample opportunities to find other shows that have the sound and feel that you want for your project. Find 5-6 other podcasts that have some aspect of the tone and mood you want for your podcast, jot down the show name and what you like about it. Maybe it's the host's voice, the intro music, the lightning round questions they do, you get the picture.
It's then time to take all these pieces and stitch them together as neatly as possible to create the initial feel of your show.
Remember, this is simply the prototype, and your show/project will likely take anywhere from three to 12 episodes to really find this feel, which of course, will also continue to evolve over the whole show.
This is the concept for episode zero, which is no longer than 90 seconds.
The goal of writing out episode zero is to create a trailer for your show, and release it in conjunction with your first three or more episodes.
The trailer episode takes the work we've done in defining your niche and feel and distills it into a short, easily consumable piece of content that is just like a movie trailer. It gives you an idea of what the show is about, likely introduces the main characters, and encourages interested parties to go and take a further listen.
Your trailer should be roughly 200 words or less and include music, any essential sound effects or snippets of the show, and of course the "where you can find it" closing.
This can be a challenge to write, because it needs to be both short, but heavily engaging.
This is why it's a part of our Podcast Rapid Launch program. Writing copy for short form is difficult and the experience at Westport Studios can help you make Day 1 of your show faster and easier by taking the hassle out of defining your niche, show feel, and getting your trailer episode ready to be recorded.
We'll be back with more articles on the podcast and content creation journey in the future, until then, happy creating.