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Starting Your Own Podcast #2: Bringing Concepts To Reality

Alright, let's get down to it. You've created a concept for your show - you're unique, doing something different and you have the passion to keep it going until the end. You sat down and really thought about why someone would even bother to listen to your show in the first place. Now you just have to actually start with the physicality of the show. Enough brainstorming, it's time to get real work done.

However, if you are really still stuck on what kind of show you want to make, head over to part 1 of this series for some help ( http://www.vvv-gamin...pts-and-basics/ ).

Now, obviously it's very important that once you think about a podcast and get a good idea of what you want to do, that you actually go ahead and do it. Nobody can listen to your podcast if it's solely a figment of your imagination. But creating a podcast isn't just talking into a microphone and hoping people happen to come across and listen. There's a lot of work for you to do before you get people loyal enough to wait for each and every new installment of your series. And you'll be one of the lucky ones; many podcasts rarely get off the ground and stick around long enough to develop a fanbase at all. Most fade away into the endless data streams of the internet. But I'm not working with losers here, I'm working with someone who wants to be the best...right?

Here, Take This!

There are a few things you'll need before starting up this show of yours. This list falls between concept and physicality - you'll physically need these things, but they are more conceptual than going out and buying a new headset to record audio. These next few questions should help you figure out what exactly you'll need to do a show in this stage:

-What kind of podcast is this?

-How do I talk to my audience?

-Who else gets to talk to my audience?

-How long will my podcast run for and when does it get released?

-What is my goal in doing this show?

That's a lot to think about, so let's go through it together. Feel free to stop and re-read, there's no rush.

1) What kind of podcast is this?

This should seem easy, but it's something worth thinking about. It may have come up during your conceptual brainstorming, but this is a question posed in a different way. I'm not asking if you're doing a video game podcast or a movie review podcast, as in, what kind of podcast, not what genre it finds itself in. By this, your podcast can be a talk show, a skit show, etc. Most podcasts are talk shows in which the cast members discuss topics and news in a roundtable-like manner, though others pride themselves as being interactive shows, some having skits, a few being all sorts of different kinds of things. For a beginner, doing a podcast in the manner of a talk show is not only the easiest to get into, but the easiest to master, as talk shows take less preperation and work to get off the ground.

You must also be aware of how much scripting your show has, if any at all. Many podcasts have scripted segments, more common in sketch comedy podcasts or story-telling shows, but many have barely any scripting, if any, at all. These are improv shows, ones in which the people on the show talk simply off the top of their head and do not read from a script. My podcast, Directional Influence, is completely unscripted, right down to the intro and outro segments.

However, just because you may want to do an improv show doesn't mean you don't have to prepare at all. Many shows split their episodes into segments, which are usually separated by some sort of audio transition, to organize the episode into relevant topics. For example, a video game podcast may have three segments in an episode, one in which the cast talks about recent news, the second being a group review on a newly-released video game and the third being an interview with someone from a development team. Though all these segments revolve around video games, they are distinctly different enough to be split up into different segments. This also helps the listener know what exactly they'll be listening to, as if an episode is one long segment, the listener will never know when a discussion or interview will start until the cast just starts whenever they feel like it.

2) How do I talk to my audience?

This also seems relatively simple, but there are so many ways to screw this up it's not even funny. When it comes to a podcast, the show essentially lives in its own bubble that, while doesn't necessarily always react with the outside world, can frequently acknowledge and always has to be aware of everyone outside of said bubble. Unless your podcast is only being kept to yourself or no one cares to listen, the podcast cannot function in its own bubble without being aware of everything that doesn't happen to exist just in that space.

Most talk show podcasts function in the same way actual talk shows on television and radio work - the cast talk with themselves and whomever else may be a guest on the show and have a conversation amongst themselves. However, this conversation is obviously being listened in to by the viewers, so the conversation almost works like a question and answer panel without anyone asking questions. The cast instead converses, but does so in the direction of the audience as if they were actually there.

The reason for this is because the podcast is for the audience, not for the cast. If the audience doesn't care, the podcast doesn't matter. Thus, podcasts that are riddled with inside jokes only the cast understands or shows that allow cast members to freely chat about whatever they want will simply not work. Remember, people go to Q&A panels to talk about the topic at hand, not about what a cast member's cat had for dinner.

3) Who else gets to talk to my audience?

Now this is important. Most podcasts tend to have a cast of at least two people and mainly this is because you can only have a conversation with said two or more people (unless you're having a conversation with yourself, which 99.9% of the time will never work and will never be found funny). Having a cast of many people allows for different opinions, different perspectives and different personalities. Having a podcast with a guy who likes to talk about stuffed animals is infinitely less funny and entertaining than having a cast with a guy who likes to talk about stuffed animals, a girl who likes to set stuffed animals on fire, a businessman who sells stuffed animals for profit and a conservationist who is against the production of stuffed animals entirely.

Essentially, your cast must have flavor. Just because you have more than one person doesn't mean your cast is good - you must have a rich mixture of people that aren't all the same. With that said, it's best not to have a cast that typically agrees with each other all the time and likes everything the same way as everyone else does. For a movie podcast, for example, it makes sense that everyone on the show likes movies, but it doesn't make sense to have all the cast members adore horror movies (unless the podcast is specifically only about horror movies).

Additionally, people must either care about the opinions of the cast or must be equally entertained by all the members of the show. If the show is more of a talk show, then the opinions must matter. Last segment I discussed that you don't necessarily need to be the most important person in the community to start a show. However, on the other hand, no one is going to listen to a podcast filled with random people that have no influence on whatever they're talking about unless the show is hysterically funny, in which case the opinions still don't matter, only the entertainment value does.

For example, my show Directional Influence is pretty diverse in terms of the opinions that appear on the show. When I began my show, I was not extremely knowedgeable on the competitive scene I was a part of, nor was I a top player or tournament organizer. Thus, to round out the show, I invited the two other cast spots to be filled by a top player and a tournament organizer. Currently, my show now has three distinct personalities - an amateur player who is better at analyzing the game than playing it, a top player that provides a perspective from being one of the better players in the game, and a tournament organizer who knows how the tournaments and the community function. That sounds a lot better than three randoms talking about things they know nothing about.

4) How long will my podcast run for and when does it get released?

Now we get to the personal preference part of this. There is absolutely no limit to how long or short your show can be. Likewise, there's no rule that defines when during the week and at what time and how many times you can release new installments of your show. It's all up to you. But, with that said, use logic and be reasonable.

You have to understand both yourself and your audience when thinking about these things. First off, how long your show is. A good talk show podcast can go for 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes even an hour and a half or two hours. If your cast always has a lot to talk about, there's nothing wrong with making an episode a bit longer than usual (and remember this, not every episode has to be the same length or fit a time slot like on television or radio). But, you have to be reasonable - drawing out an episode for almost three hours should make you think why it took so long and should persuade you to go back to the file and see if there's any slack you can cut out that's not necessary. 9 out of 10 times recordings have a solid amount of useless talk that can be trimmed before release, so feel free to make cuts if you need to.

You also have to realize that most people will probably not listen to a podcast that is two hours long unless they are extremely passionate about the show or the show keeps the listener glued to their headphones for the entirety of the two hours and that's extremely difficult to pull off. Thus, having a show that rounds out between 45 minutes to an hour is a good way to start out. Then you can mix things up if you feel like the show needs to be longer or shorter. Just remember, the fans always matter - never make your show too long that it bores them or too short that they feel cheated.

Then you have to decide the routine in how you release your episodes. Some podcasts use a weekly or bi-weekly formula in which each new episode is released on the same day of the week every week or two. Some shows opt for a monthly release or a "around-there" release format. The "around-there" format is essentially when a podcast releases around the same time every few weeks or month without it being a written ideal. As in, a show may release every three to four weeks, but it's never actually said when the show is scheduled to come out - avid listeners just know when to expect a new episode. As a beginner, stick to a routine before you get reckless.

Just don't burn yourself out. You will never need to release a new episode every few days, a weekly format tends to always been the minimum unless it's a special occasion. And if you feel like you're being burned out by weekly releases or that there isn't enough to talk about each week, maybe change to a bi-weekly or monthly format to let topics accumulate.

5) What is the goal in doing my show?

Finally, the million-dollar question: what's the point of doing this? What is your purpose? This should be something you know before you get into any of the above, actually. Do you want to have your show be the number one source for news and entertainment in your community? Do you want to have the show just to express your opinions on a bigger platform? Do you want to gain more recognition for your accomplishments, personality and ways of thinking?

There's not much more I can tell you than just that you have to know why you want to do this and to not lose track of your goals. Don't try to be something your not and never try to become something that's not what you want. Stick to what you believe in and just do it.

Coming Up in Part 3

Well, now you have everything ready to go. Now it's time to really start your podcast. But, before you do that, you're going to need to know what equipment you'll need, what software you'll need, and all of that. As I said, it's not simply just talking into a microphone.

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Written by Dakota "Rapture" Lasky of vVv Gaming. 8/3/2011. Do not reproduce without giving credit.

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I don't know which part this would go in.

When you start, some people will get a huge fan base, some don't. Don't always assume the best, but don't expect the worse.

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