Podcasting is well on its way to being “the new frontier” of media and entertainment, with even the biggest names in film and television getting in on the action. Netflix, for example, recently announced that they’re joining the podcasting game and have just launched episode one of their first scripted podcast.
With players like these, you may be wondering how you are going to find your space in this industry? Well, as with all great things in life, the first step is a great idea, and more specifically, a great topic for your podcast.
But just how do you conjure up this “great topic”? How do you find what your podcast should be about? And just as importantly, how do you find a topic that people are interested in? There’s no hard and fast rule for this. Some great ideas come in the middle of the night with no prior thoughts, some take a little more refining before they become “the one”. But to help with this process, we’ve come up with five questions you can ask to help you narrow down and hone your podcast topic. We’ve even come up with some unique podcast topics to spur on your creativity or set you on the right path.
But let’s start with our 5 questions. Get out your notebook, your tablet, or whatever works best for your brainstorming process. Find yourself a comfy, quiet space and let’s help you find your perfect podcast topic!
1. What Are Your Passions?
This first question may seem a little obvious, but it’s a critical first step in the discovery of the podcast topic you’re after. Start by making a list of your passions. Ask yourself, “What do I enjoy?” and list everything that comes to mind. Think about your hobbies, your pet topics — those subjects that if someone gets you started, you just can’t stop. Write these all down.
This list may be extensive, but it also may be a little limited. If the latter is the case, try thinking about passions from another angle. What are you curious about? What questions do you wish you had answers for? What topic always gets a reaction (good or bad) out of you? These could be passions you just haven’t discovered yet!
Now that you’ve got your pool of potential subjects, you can move on to the next question.
2. Who Is Your Audience?
This is a multi-faceted question. You may have many potential audiences, depending on the topic you choose. List them all! Take each passion you listed, and think about any defining feature that could be used to describe your audience if that passion was the topic of your podcast. For instance, if you stated that one of your passions is teaching high-schoolers, you might list high school students, other teachers, or parents home-schooling their teenagers as your potential audience.
Answering this question helps give you some ideas about the amount of reach your podcast could potentially have. It may also help eliminate some of your passions as possible podcast topics. For instance, you may have listed the painting of cute little pet rocks as one of your passions. While no one can deny the joy these igneous creations bring you, it may just be too narrow a topic for your podcast.
3. What Problem Does Your Audience Have?
So you’ve thought about who your potential audience could be, now you need to think about what problems they may have or what issues they may be facing. You then need to think about how your podcast can help them solve these problems. The answers to this question can help mold your approach to your podcast topic. Would your audience want guidance in relation to your topic? Do they want to learn something new? Do they want to be entertained? By asking these questions, you can position your podcast to be an answer, thus also helping you narrow down your potential topic.
4. What Makes You Different?
The answer to this question is particularly important if the topic you’re leaning towards is one that is quite crowded with similar podcasts. You will need to be able to distinguish yourself from the rest of the podcasts in your niche. This question is simultaneously both simple and complex to answer. It’s simple in that the ‘thing’ that will make your podcast different from other similar podcasts is you. Your views, opinions, and thoughts are uniquely yours, distinguishing you from your competition. But effectively answering this question can also be complex, on the other hand, in that you will need other, more tangible, ways to distinguish your podcast from all the rest. You may need to spend a fair amount of time brainstorming ways to differentiate your podcast topic.
5. What Type of Podcast Should Yours Be?
What type of podcast do you envision yourself having? What sort of podcast do your potential topics lend themselves to? Finding the overlap of these questions will further assist you in narrowing down your options and finding your podcast topic. Look at your list of passions again, now jot down what type of podcast each specific passion would lend itself to. Would [insert podcast idea] work best as a scripted, story-telling-type podcast? Could it be an unscripted commentary on issues pertaining to the topic? Would it work best in a monologue format or should you conduct interviews? Answering these questions can help you find your topic by aligning your goals and vision of your podcast format to your passion and potential audience. These answers could also help eliminate options that may be good ideas on paper, but not so practical in the podcasting format.
Looking at the answers to the above 5 questions should help give you insight into what topic you should pick for your podcast. You may need to go over your list a few more times, narrowing down topics each time around, until you have made your decision. You should notice, as you work through your list for a second or third (or seventh!) time, that many of the answers are interlinked and dependent on one another — as one idea evolves or develops, you will find that the answers to the other questions change along with it. Applying these questions to your ideas is, therefore, a dynamic process and one that can take time, as you’re looking for that magical intersection of what you love and what people want to listen to. If you imagine a Venn diagram, you’re looking for that podcasting idea that lies in the sweet spot where all the circles overlap. This is no mean feat, but when you find “the one”, the rest, as they say, will be history!
Related read: The 10 Must Do’s For Successful Podcasting
Unique Podcasting Ideas
And now, to get your mental cogs turning, take a look at some unique podcast ideas we think may just make for a great podcast. Take one of the ideas and run with it, adapt one and turn it into your own, or just use these as a way to get your creative juices flowing freely!
1. Bullet Journaling
Bullet journaling as a way to plan activities, track habits, and achieve goals has become a craze the world over. If you’re part of the phenomenon, or always wanted to hop onto this trend, why not center your podcast on your bullet journaling process? You could give tips and tricks, give advice and how-to’s, and you could even invite your listeners to journal with along with you via the podcast. You could consider creating printables of your own bullet journal designs and spreads, making these available as downloads for a small fee as a means to monetize your podcast.
2. Sustainable Living
Sustainable living is a hot topic (no pun intended!) at the moment, with many people wanting to adapt their lifestyles, but perhaps not knowing where to start or what this looks like in practice. Maybe you don’t either, but you want to find out. Or you’ve been on this journey for a while and have gleaned some valuable nuggets of wisdom. Your podcast could be about sharing these, as well as all you’ve learned and discovered along the way.
3. Your Home Improvements or DIY Projects
Perhaps you consider yourself a bit of an amateur handyman or woman! You’re inspired by all the crazy home improvement or DIY project videos you see on social media. Maybe you’ve tried them for yourself with varying levels of success. Why not chronicle your DIY endeavors with a podcast? Whether they are amazing successes or terrible failures, you’ll find an engaging audience who will admire your construction triumphs or get a good laugh from your building blunders.
4. Baking and Books
How about a podcast that links two of your passions? Perhaps you want to improve your culinary skills (or lack thereof!), and you also love reading. What about a podcast where you find and make the recipes of treats mentioned in some of your favorite books? Think butterbeer from Harry Potter or Turkish delight from The Chronicles of Narnia. By combining two passions, you’re effectively combining two audiences and so doubling your potential reach!
Top Tip: This idea could lend itself to any two passions or hobbies you may have. Look at your list of passions and try to see if there’s a way to combine some of these in such a way as to create a unique podcasting topic.
5. Urban Farming
Urban farming is another unique podcasting topic. Again, it’s something we hear a lot about, but in general, perhaps lack the knowledge to get started, or think it’s not something we can attain. Whether it’s already a passion or something you want to try, the potential is ripe for the picking in terms of a unique podcast topic.
6. Meeting People and Making Friends
You may be an introvert and putting yourself out there is terrifying! Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and are looking to make new friends. Whatever your situation, why not turn your dilemma into a way to help other people struggling with similar issues? You could try a new activity for each episode and report back to your audience how it went, if you’re going to go again, or if it was the most awkward experience ever! You may just give others the courage they’re needing to get out there, meet new people, or try something new.
7. Nostalgia Book Club
Was there a book series you loved growing up? Chances are, you’re not the only one! Why not revisit these as the topic of your podcast? Not only will it give you an excuse to read and love those books again, but you’ll get to connect and engage with people from all over the world who feel the same way you do, which is a considerable contributing factor as to why podcasting is so popular.
8. Tales From Your Town
Podcasts like Multi-Story and This American Life are giants in the industry when it comes to telling stories about people and places. And while you can’t expect to compete with these (yet!), you could find your own audience by telling stories about the history, people, and places of your town or city. You would have a natural, “home-grown” group of listeners — those who live in the place in question — and which could expand to others who grew up there or have traveled there, as well as the many people who enjoy anthropology-focused stories and tales.
Whatever your passions, if you have the desire to podcast, your topic is out there somewhere! Using these five questions we’ve outlined, and along with defining your goals and a bit of research, you’ll be well on your way to finding that sweet spot — your very own niche in the wonderful world of podcasts!
Related reads: 8 Reasons Why Starting a Podcast is Good for Business