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Beyond the Audience: Phone a Friend

Beyond the Audience: Phone a Friend

Last article, we chatted about creating teams in the world of our games, but this time, we’re pulling the camera back to discuss the benefits of working with other content creators.

So let’s get started!

There are a lot of people creating RPG content these days. Seriously, it’s a lot. You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone launching an actual-play podcast or stream. Tabletop gaming has exploded in the last few years, and demand for associated media is growing right alongside it. So in an atmosphere saturated with media, how do we grab our slice of attention? In this article, I’m going to talk about two ways to embrace other content creators to make your own show stronger. First off, I’ll discuss the power of cross-promotion, and then I’ll touch on incorporating guest players into your games.

I’m going to share something I’ve come to realize in the past few years as part of the podcast community, something that totally shifted the way I marketed Venture Maidens and the other RPG content I create: the biggest podcast fans you will ever have are podcasters. It’s such a simple observation, but taking it to heart smashed open a lot of doors. All of a sudden, I wasn’t in competition with everyone else making actual-play podcasts; I was instead making my show for them. And that certainly tracks, doesn’t it? Almost every actual-play stream or podcast out there probably tracks back to someone loving a content titan like Critical Role, Greetings Adventurers, or The Adventure Zone. We all heard these shows, fell in love, and decided we wanted to make something like them. Right from the beginning, all of us who set out to create these gaming experiences for audiences share an origin story. And with so much in common, we intricately understand what kind of support our endeavors need. Reaching out to other content creators, engaging in dialogue with them, recommending shows outside your own is the best possible way to garner the same attention for your own project. The key to building successful cross-promotion is to give (and to give a lot). Creators and their audiences take notice when you are a champion for others. Support opens up doors to friendship that open a snowball of other doors. There inevitably comes a time where a big project is born, and another show is needed for the roster—or perhaps a show has to turn down an opportunity and recommend someone else. In these moments, how you have engaged with the content creators around you makes or breaks your show. With so much visibility on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms, the way we cross-promote (or don’t) is always noticed. If you take that lesson to heart, cross-promotion can be the most valuable gift you give to your show.

The second powerful tool you can utilize by working with other content creators is the “guest spot.” I’m sure if you’ve followed any RPG show, you have observed at least one instance where a guest is brought on to star beside the regular cast. There are a hundred different ways to incorporate a fresh face into your show, but the bottom line is featuring guests is an absurdly healthy way to boost the quality of your creation. I have two main examples of shows that utilize the guest spot in very different yet effective ways. The first I’ll chat about is the Wizard’s of the Coast stream Tales from the Mists. Tales from the Mists features a unique format where there are four core cast members and there are always two guests. These two guests stick around for four entire episodes before another set of guests are brought in and the process repeats. Since the guests get so much time on the show, their energy shapes the narrative in continually new and exciting ways. Every four episodes feels like a fresh season that keeps Tales from the Mists constantly new. The cycle of guests has contributed to the core cast becoming much more solid in their roleplaying choices and relationships to each other. In this way, Tales from the Mists has utilized guests to enhance the experience of their storytelling. Bringing in a guest player can charge your game with new energy that affects your regular players and audience in exciting ways. My other example of a show successfully enlisting the power of guest potential is the D&D actual-play podcast The Broadswords. The Broadswords features a huge catalog of guest players. Episode after episode stars guest spots from celebrities in the D&D Community. Featuring guests from a wide variety of other shows is an incredible way to draw audiences from fandoms in line with your own. By welcoming guests into your show, you also welcome their supporters. Casting a wide net for crossovers is an excellent strategy to getting your show on the map. No matter how small a show may seem, there are always dedicated consumers, and adding their might to your own, piece by piece, is the way to grow your creative empire.

The bottom line is this: you must collaborate. Working with others, supporting others, and inviting others to participate is the way to make your show stand out amidst the sea of projects popping up every day. When you choose to take your game to an audience, you are opening it to belong to many people. So lead by example, phone some friends, and engage with the community!

See you next time adventurers.



Greetings travelers! And welcome to Beyond the Audience where we take a look at tips and tricks for building an RPG show that is loved by both your players and the larger audience beyond your table.

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