What are good podcast ideas? Are there good topics and bad topics for podcasts? Will people listen if I started a podcast about my weird hobby? Can I find a good podcast topic without wasting time?
In this post, I help podcasters like you answer these questions. I will help you find a good topic for your podcast by helping you shape your podcast ideas from scratch.
Podcasting has seen a significant interest in the last two years–thanks to the pandemic. It all started with Spotify in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the number of podcasts has doubled. The number is ~2 million today.
Starting a podcast today is not the same as in 2016 when I created my first podcast. This post is updated based on my recent experience launching my 7th podcast, The Launch Plan.
Earlier, I had written in detail on how to outline your podcast. Please read it, if you haven’t already. But if you have read it and still feel stuck saying, “I don’t have podcast ideas,” this post (and this other one) is for you. In this post, I will help you develop podcast ideas that are unique to you.
An aspiring podcaster asked me this question recently
“I want to start a podcast on gadgets. But there are already so many podcasts on gadgets. Should I look for some other topic?”
The above question is a classic one I’ve seen many early entrepreneurs ask too. “Should I think of a business in food tech, or should I explore another idea I have in sports tech?”.
In other words, should I change my topic or idea just because there is stiff competition or the space appears to be over-saturated?
Here’s my answer.
Did the Backstreet Boys stop singing because of Boyzone?
Or, did Michelangelo stop painting because of Leonardo Da Vinci?
Do you get the point? Like painting or music, Podcasting is a form of expression of thoughts. And like any artistic expression, everyone is unique.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail. Shall we?
Take a notebook or your diary and get ready to do some exercises.
Table of Contents
- Start with your voice.
- Start with an audience.
- What’s a conversation you would enjoy having with your listener?
- What kind of podcast works best?
- Ten podcast ideas from Top 50 podcasts.
- Next Steps – Articles, Training, Courses
You are unique in a lot of different ways. Not just fingerprints or retina scans, but your perspectives of the world and everything inside or outside it are unique.
Let’s do a simple exercise now. Pull out a notebook, and on a new page, write down:
1.1 Questions for which you are looking for an answer.
If you have any podcast topic ideas, forget them for a moment. As people, we see and have opinions on many things around us. And, we have a lot of questions too.
For example, I believe that people who get lost chasing careers and money should take time to do something they are interested in–perhaps practice a hobby or play a sport.
I may also have so many questions about how super successful people keep their health and family goals intact.
You may have questions like these inside you too. It’s time you made a list of these questions. What are the questions for which you are looking for an answer?
Please make a list of at least ten different questions without judging or filtering them.
1.2 What do you care about deeply?
We are living in a distracted world today. But still, are there times when you realize yourself connecting deeply with an issue, a subject, or a topic?
Maybe it is pollution or climate change, or child trafficking. Are there topics or issues you connect with deeply? When you read something about it or someone talks about it, you feel like speaking up. Is there something like that?
Write down topics, issues, or subjects you deeply care about in your notebook.
1.3 What made you think of starting a podcast?
This is the third and final question to help you find your voice. Why did you think of starting a podcast in the first place?
Maybe it’s because you like the idea of speaking into a microphone and broadcasting it to the world. Or, perhaps it’s because you think it’s the right way to connect to new customers for your business. Or maybe you are comfortable speaking than writing a thousand words on a blog.
Whatever it is, write the answer to this question. If you feel like you don’t have a clear answer, it’s okay. Write down a long winding sentence? Sure, do it.
Don’t look for perfection in the process. Let the idea evolve through this process.
Another great perspective that will help you find your uniqueness is starting with your ideal podcast listener in mind. I know you don’t have an audience yet, but you probably know who would be interested in your podcast topic.
2.1 Who are they?
Imagine you had a chance to speak to a bunch of those people. Where would you find them? What would they be doing?
Are they students? Maybe retired people? Or perhaps musicians? Who are they?
Imagine one person who fits the description above and give the person a name so that you can refer to them easily. Let’s say we call him John.
2.2 What do their typical days look like?
If you were ever to meet John and get to see his life from close quarters, what would you see him do through the day?
Who does he live with? How does he commute to work? Does he have pets? How do his mornings look?
Write down all of this in your notebook.
2.3 What questions are haunting their minds?
Now imagine you got to speak to John for some time. He’s got comfortable with you. What is he thinking about?
Is he thinking about work all the time? Is he struggling with productivity? Or, balancing work and family? Is he always thinking about his Sunday golf lessons?
Write down whatever it may be.
2.4 What are their needs, fears, desires, and concerns?
Finally, write down everything you think, John needs. Does he secretly wish he had something? What are his biggest fears?
Great. Write them all down because these answers will help you discover your podcast audience.
Now that you understand your ideal podcast listener and yourself well. Think about the best way you’d like to spend your time every week or every fortnight recording a podcast.
What conversations or topics would you enjoy talking about? Would John enjoy listening to them? Even better, would John be patiently waiting for your episodes every week?
Are ideas starting to pop up?
One of the ways creativity happens is when you fuse or combine different ideas. In the activity so far, you tried to do precisely that. You tried to connect relevant ideas meaningfully.
I discuss this process in more detail in this article on unlocking podcast ideas. In that, I explain how to create composite podcast topic ideas. I even made a podcast topics generator spreadsheet to go along with that article.
The more time you spend doing this exercise, the better your ideas. (I love this book, Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Edward De Bono, to get more tips on creative thinking.)
Now let’s add two more perspectives to the mix.
You can spend the time inside your podcast listeners’ ears in multiple meaningful ways. Of the many podcasts out there, below are the most common podcast types I recommend:
Monologues / Commentary
Now you can choose to go solo on a topic that John cares about. This is the Monologue style. There is no one else talking to you in these episodes.
It could be a commentary about something you care about, a news style, or a how-to style episode. If this fits your personality and that of your audience (John), you will find this a lot interesting.
This is one of the most common kinds of podcasts. You typically have another person joining you on the show, to whom you ask questions.
It can turn into a conversation, but essentially it’s you who is steering the conversation with your style of inquiry.
If you are interested in starting an interview-based podcast, I strongly suggest you read this article where I talk about the 6 kinds of interview-based podcasts you must consider. After you did, I suggest you follow up with another article I recently wrote on the 5 key ingredients that the best interview-based shows have. These will help you further refine your podcast idea.
Many podcasts have taken the storytelling approach. These podcasts have a lot of soundscaping and attempt to bring a story out in full or part in every episode.
You attempt to immerse the listener (John, in your case) through a story with highly descriptive talking accompanied by sound.
Banter / Freestyle / Conversation
Finally, it’s the freestyle conversation. This is just like the interview style, except that the conversation takes place between the hosts.
There are no guests (largely), and the show’s strength lies in the chemistry between the hosts in conversation.
Are you still stuck? Let me try and add some inspiration. I reviewed the Top 50 podcasts on Apple Podcasts in Business to reveal the types of podcasts people are creating. Here’s a list of the kinds of shows you will see in the Top 50 List on Apple Podcasts (United States):
- Simplification / Breaking down complex ideas (Planet Money)
- Deeper / Diverse Insights (Exchanges at Goldman Sachs)
- Interviews (How I Built This with Guy Raz)
- Reality Show (The Pitch)
- Coaching (AskPat 2.0)
- Discussion (Jocko Podcast)
- Thought Leadership (HBR Ideacast)
- Storytelling (Startup Podcast)
- News (This Morning with Gordon Deal)
- Education (The $100 MBA Show)
These are 10 different kinds of podcasts you’ll see in the top 50 podcasts listed under business on Apple Podcasts. I’ve mentioned one show for each podcast type in brackets. Do visit Apple Podcasts and check some more podcasts to get more podcast ideas.
I recently started The Launch Plan Podcast, an education-based podcast for entrepreneurs. The idea of that podcast is to cover a particular topic in seasons. For example, we cover online courses as the central topic in season one.
Were you able to come up with a few ideas for your podcast?
Yes, I’ve got a few ideas now.
That’s awesome! I suggest you read my post on getting started with planning your podcast. In that post, I walk you through some of the most critical aspects of your podcast, including naming your podcast, schedule, length of each episode, tools, website, etc.
Use this Podcast Topic Generator.
If you are still a little lost and missed my cue earlier, I suggest you read this post. In that, I explain step-by-step how to find your podcast topic, podcast listeners, and narrative. I have also created a podcast topic generator spreadsheet that will help you rapidly develop podcast ideas.
Then outline your podcast.
Once you have nailed your podcast idea, I highly recommend you read my post on how to outline your podcast. In that, I help you think through your podcast in greater detail. Between both this article and the one on outlining your podcast, it is sure to help you get the much-needed clarity to help you start a podcast.
Some podcasting courses and training.
Here are three options for you to get started:
Option 1: When I started podcasting, there was no resource except some YouTube videos from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. He later launched Power-Up Podcasting that I wished was available when I started. I strongly recommend the course if you’re serious about podcasting.
Option 2: However, if you want to try launching your podcast in two days, I invite you to join PODIENCE, my two-day podcasting workshop. It’s not as extensive as Pat’s Power-Up Podcasting, but it gets you started. Best part? It’s free.
Option 3: I recently also wrote detailed reviews on some paid podcasting courses from the world’s best podcasters. Do check if they interest you.
Last word: Be genuinely You.
If there is one thing I want you to remember from this article, it’s this – You are unique. Make sure your podcast topic reflects your uniqueness. That’s what will help your podcast stand out amongst an ocean of so many podcasts out there.
What is one thing you learned about in this post?
Was it about podcast ideas, or audience, or was it something else? Please leave a comment and let me know. If this post helped you pick a good podcast topic, please leave a comment and let me know the topic of your podcast. If you have questions, leave them too. I will answer them personally.
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