There’s a lot of discussion about what your show needs before launching and how/why some creators are unable to provide certain items. I want to weigh in on this, but I also want to be really clear: I am one person, with one opinion. I do not know everything. I am in no way trying to police you or tell you that your show isn’t a “real” podcast if you don’t have something on this list. I’m also not trying to pick a fight with anyone who has different thoughts than me. You are entitled to your own opinion, just the same as me.
“Do I need a website?”
The main reason folks give for being unable to make a website is money. Having a domain name and a professional looking website costs money, something that a lot of folks in this industry are lacking in, particularly marginalized creators. My suggestion to get around this is to have a tumblr account with a page of cast & crew names. Or a Google Doc with said info that you link to on Twitter. Having a place where people can find who plays who or who did what (and the spelling of their names!) means that it’s easier for press to write pieces on you (which we want to do!).
If you can have a nice fancy website with a domain name? Good for you! If you can’t? That’s fine! Just have somewhere I can find your cast & crew! (Let me love and appreciate them! They’re doing a great job.)
“Do I need social media?”
Nope! It makes interacting with your fans and the community easier, and you can use it to remind people of new shows, but if it would be too much stress for you, you absolutely do not need it!
“Do I need a press kit?”
I like press kits as much as any reviewer, but I also recognize that they take a lot of time and energy to pull together, and not everyone has those. They’re great to have, particularly if you want reviewers to talk about your show, but you don’t need one. I know, that’s a scandalous thing for a reviewer to say.
“Do I need to pay my actors?”
I’m going to say something super controversial here, but: you don’t need to be able to pay your actors before launch. That’s not possible for everyone, and the suggestions that come from the larger community (Patreon! Indiegogo campaign!) don’t always reap the needed results, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as you’re a new creator and don’t have the platform to get fully funded. And sometimes you’re a marginalized creator and people are less likely to give you money (this goes doubly if you’re a person of colour with another marginalization). Running indigogo campaigns also isn’t possible for everyone because it takes a lot of time and energy, and often you need to spend more money on some higher tier rewards. Same deal with Patreon: you need rewards for those who support you, and not everyone has the ability to keep up with that.
I will say though that while paying your actors immediately (or ever) may not be possible, you should at least have a plan to try to. Are you going to run an indiegogo campaign and hope for the best? Open a Patreon? Have a kofi where people can donate? I recommend the latter for folks who don’t have the time/energy for a long campaign or regular Patreon perks.
“Do I need transcripts?”
This is a hard one for me, because I feel very strongly that if one has the ability to provide transcripts, they should. They help with accessibility for D/deaf and hard of hearing folk, folk with audio processing disorders, and are generally very useful to refer back to. But they also take a lot of time/energy if your show isn’t scripted. You can hire someone to transcribe for you, but that costs money that not everyone has.
HOWEVER. I want to be really clear here. Not everyone can provide transcripts, but if you can, you should. I’m tired of scripted podcasts making thousands of dollars on Patreon claiming they can’t afford to get transcripts made and keeping their scripts behind paywalls while shows making $13 are getting transcripts made. If you can afford a transcript? Get it. If you can’t and your show’s scripted? Putting your scripts up is something. Unscripted and can’t afford transcripts? Have a plan to get transcripts made once you can afford them.
I think it’s really important for those of us with privilege in the podcasting community acknowledge the various forms that it comes in. Whether that’s disposable income, platform, energy, or folks being more likely to give you money because of your race, it’s crucial that we begin acknowledging that not everyone has the same tools.
While I can’t do much to help as I currently am unable to help fund shows, I do have a platform that I can use to promote kickstarters. So: if you are a marginalized podcast creator (POC, queer, trans, disabled, etc.), send me a link to your crowdfunding campaign or Patreon and I will promote it in The Podcast Dragon. If you send me a Patreon link, I will rotate through whichever ones I have. If you send me a crowdfunding campaign, I will promote it for the entirety of its campaign. As per usual, I have the right to decline if I feel your show does harm.