This week on Profitcast, The Real Brian recruites Rich from the Armchair Ninja Podcast to learn how his extreme hustle turned into fast profit. Careful research helped Rich target a niche that lacked a podcast community and fill a need. Through an anthropological immersion into that culture, Rich has found untapped potential nearly everywhere he looks.
Once again, I will leave Rich and Brian to relate the story of Armchair Ninja’s origin and development. It’s the anthropological immersion that I want to target in my blog post. Where anthropology is the study of humanity, cultural anthropology is a focused discipline studying the cultural variations among humans. We can only understand, sympathize, aide and learn from cultures other than our own when we’ve totally immersed ourselves in that culture. From the outside looking in, we interpret rituals incorrectly; we misunderstand language or colloquialisms; we offend, insult, or dishonor by the insensitivity of offering inadequate, uneducated assistance. Without knowing the culture into which we enter, we run the risk of being rejected and failing at our aims.
Knowing and loving podcasts, Rich knew this to be true. He knew it’d be hard to break into a realm that was already saturated with podcasts. So he took some time to examine his options, his capabilities, and his interests, then immersed himself. It was, as they say, an excellent use of the participant observation methodology.
Based largely on Rich’s approach, I’ve compiled a series of areas that are worth understanding before crashing a niche and starting a podcast.
Classification of Interest
Rather than just identifying the genre of your topic, get to know the interest surrounding that topic will also be of valuable aide as you develop a podcast. Consider the process of classifying: elements become metals and nonmetals; crimes become infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies; biological organisms are organized into kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
Just because your topic might be a television show or a hobby doesn’t mean it’s isolate to that genre. Rich freely admits that he’s not athletic, and yet American Ninja Warrior is an action-packed athletic competition. He isn’t able to offer a personal expertise in training and nutrition, but because of the range of interests that are available under the platform of a television competition he doesn’t need to rely on personal expertise.
So classify the interest and develop a driving purpose for your podcast.
One of my favorite board games is Settlers of Catan. Briefly: the basic objective of the game is to gather the resources required for building roads, cities and settlements. This is accomplished by purchasing building materials through resource cards collected on each turn based on the roll of the dice and the placement of roads, cities and settlements. Every game is unique because the board can be laid out in hundreds of different patterns, which makes certain resources more valuable in one game over another, certain resources more abundant in one game over another.
The diversity of play makes Catan fun, but more to my point in describing this game, the diversity is what makes each round of the game actually a game and not, for example, a puzzle. A puzzle has a picture, a set amount of pieces, and pieces that remain the same size and shape each time they’re dumped out of their box. Catan is fun because you need to observe, strategize, and execute decisions based on a fluctuating set of variables within a given paradigm.
The ongoing challenge of every podcaster is to understand what their resources are at any given point in time. I started thinking about each topic that a podcaster could target, like Arrow, for example, as it’s own unique Catan layout. Depending on the angle that podcast takes, they require a variety of resources in order to build their roads and cities… or, to translate, a variety of resources in order to cater to their audience. As an Arrow podcast, we could choose to do a podcast about the show only, about the relevant comic stories or characters that each episode is centered around, about the production style or make-up and costume design, etc. Each of these angles requires a different set of resources because each angle targets a different sub-genre. One angle might acquire resources like actors; one angle might acquire comic book collectors, artists and writers; one might acquire resources like a production team.
What doesn’t help in Catan is collecting resources that will do you no good. Having an abundance of one resource doesn’t make you wealthy; having a good balance of what you need at any given point in time will enable you to steadily build your settlement.
Each week we hear from a podcaster who has a very unique experience in community development. While there are exceptions, loyal listenership is often a direct result of community building. The exceptions usually come in the form of an existing community, either an established individual launching a podcast or something of the like, but as it is a rare occurrence, and unlikely that if you are reading this that you fall into that category, I am not speaking to those exceptions.
Find your people. When you don’t have a pre-existing listener base, it’s hard to know where to begin, right? “Find your people” is easier said than done. Rich didn’t just go after Twitter followers, he sought out multiple types of communities based on the context of his interest. For Arrow Squad, Brian and I have attended different conventions in addition to social media because we’ve both experienced how awesome it is to meet fellow podcast listeners in person. I, for one, attended Golden Spiral Media’s Fringe party in Oklahoma City a couple years ago and have been tremendously blessed by the community that has developed and endured, in spite of Fringe’s end.
Community development is not unlike Catan either! We are in a perpetual state of development, sometimes doing it ourselves, sometimes having the benefit of an enthusiastic listener base who is eager to promote our podcast. Look for community in unconventional places, as well, because like Brian has been saying… there is still a very large subset of Earth’s population who have no idea what podcasts are or what entertainment/education they can provide!
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