Seriously considering starting a podcast? You may already have a topic or a few podcast ideas in mind, and you just wait for the right moment to start. Nowadays, starting a podcast is easier than ever, and it has really become super available to everyone in the past few years. Some people are waiting for the perfect idea that may get you tons of listeners, but that’s not always the best idea. In this article, we’ll try and help you with the process of finding great podcast ideas, so let’s get started!
Starting a podcast
Before you even start recording your very first episode, you must have a certain type of vision for your podcast. We strongly recommend to plan some basic topics or ideas for your podcast episodes in advance. The format of your podcast is also important – will you be a single host or have multiple hosts? Invite guest speakers or interview other people? It’s always best to plan that in advance, although you can always change and modify it along the way.
Once you have this sort out, you can learn more about the other parts of the process of starting a podcast.
Podcast ideas – how to find a solid topic for your podcast?
So you want to start a podcast, but not sure which topics you really want to cover? If you need more podcast ideas, a good way to find one would be to look at your own areas of interest and choose something you can talk about for hours. You should have enough content even after recording several episodes.
To choose a good podcast idea, you’ll need to check two boxes – first, ensure you have enough content to work with to create several meaningful episodes, and second, that there’s at least a minimal level of interest from audience about that topic.
Below we’ll provide multiple podcast ideas and help you find the one that could work best for you. We don’t provide specific ideas, but more of a general guideline/method that would help you choose the topic that is right for you.
An investigative podcast is somewhat like a TV series or an audiobook. You can handpick a well-known event in history, and make your entire podcast about that event. This can really be about anything – it can be around true crime, where you discuss a specific criminal case, it could be about the history of the sports team you like the most, musicians, wars or other historical/political events and much more.
If you have the resources, it’s such a compelling theme that people just can’t get enough of. The idea is to take a story and investigate or narrate throughout a season. With the possibility to change the story each season, your potential topic ideas list is endless.
Honorable mentions: Serial, White nice parents, In the dark, WWII Podcast, and Fadeaway: the Baseball History Podcast.
Podcast as a marketing channel
If you’re planning to leverage your podcast for marketing purposes around your day job or professional occupation, you’re not alone. Tons of podcasters are using podcasting to grow their businesses and/or promote their own websites or services. This type of podcast is used by both companies and individuals as a marketing tool. You can, for example, share your own professional experience that’s relevant to your clients or employees. It can help you establish a brand around your name or company in a specific industry.
A lot of VCs, marketing executives and startups are using podcasting successfully for years now.
Examples: YC podcast, Basecamp, Shopify.
Daily/weekly/monthly podcasts that bring news or updates around a certain topic or industry are also quite popular. People get news updates all the time; via push notifications, on Twitter or on one of the news media website/channel. But this one is not just about sharing the news, it’s about analyzing and explaining the news and how it’s relevant to your audience.
You can curate certain topics for each episode. The best thing about this podcast idea is that the content is almost unlimited – you can always find more news and headlines in almost any industry or topic.
If you’re doing a daily podcast, it doesn’t have to be a full-length podcast each and every time. You can do a quick run down of 5-10 minutes so you don’t get too overwhelmed with creating and recoding the podcast. A great example of such a podcast is the Today in Digital Marketing podcast.
These podcasts are exploring news updates: A16Z podcast, Motely Fool Money.
Many people use podcasts to learn new skills, learn a language or simply learn more about topics they know little about. Use your podcast to teach others what you know.
The most well known success story of learning by doing and then teaching through a podcast is the podcast “Startup“. It’s a podcast about starting a business which is a podcast. This startup was later on acquired by Spotify for $230M.
Niche podcast ideas
You’d be amazed with the number of podcasts dealing with a specific niche or hobby as the main topic. There are great podcast that are dedicated to a certain book, TV series, movie, board games, and so much more. You’re a passionate barista in your spare time? Love gardening or painting? There’s a topic!
Specializing in a niche is a great way to build an audience, but just try to anticipate the level of interest and the potential number of listeners you can bring. It will be easier to find potential listeners if they have something in common.
Two podcasts that come in mind are: A ready player two podcast, and Talking Sopranos.
Some statistics about podcast ideas
According to Statista, the most popular genre in 2019 was comedy with 36% of weekly listeners tuning in. Right after that come up news, and society & culture, each with about 22% of the weekly listeners. Finally, sports and true crime complete the 5 most listened genres.
How to choose a format for your podcast?
There is a lot of room to innovate with the format of your podcast. While you don’t have to keep up with the same format throughout your show, it does help retain listeners, when they know what to expect and they get it.
So it is important to come up with a format that you are comfortable with for the long run. Here are the popular podcast formats for 2020:
Just like late night show hosts, you can bring your favorite guests and record a “traditional” interview with a different guest for each episode. You can also have your guest lead the direction of the episode or have a more of a conversation-like episode rather than just questions and answers.
Pros for interview podcasts:
- Endless content ideas – you don’t need to come up with the content for the entire episode.
- You can leverage your guest brand and audience, tapping into new audience that would not have listened to your podcast otherwise – great for increasing your listener base!
- Beyond the actual podcast, it’s a great way to build your professional or personal network and connect with new people from all around the world. (read more about recording podcasts remotely)
Cons for interview podcasts:
- Overhead – you need to find guests, schedule a time to record the episode, prepare content ideas and send some guidelines if it’s their first time on a podcast.
- It’s all about chemistry, if you don’t hit it off with the guest, it could be hard to enjoy the episode.
Most podcasts consists of just a single host speaking throughout all episodes. There are obviously also several types of podcasts you can do on your own – you can host it as a storyteller, bring your own perspective on things, or just share the information as-is to your listeners. It’s always easier if you’re enthusiastic about the podcast topic and it would obviously help if people enjoy listening to you.
- Fairly easy to produce – you don’t need to schedule a recording with someone else, you just need to have enough to talk about.
- It’s all about you – one host, one main focus. You can get your name out there and gain popularity and sometimes build a personal brand around your podcast.
- It’s all on you – when you record the podcast, you have to plan, talk and (sometimes) edit everything yourself. Adding another host can help you share the workload.
- If you’re not charismatic, or don’t have an interesting message to bring forward, your audience might get tired after a little while.
- You need to be consistent, release a lot of content and do everything yourself.
There are tons of podcasts with more than one regular host. This can really be around any topic.
- You have a partner, it’s not all on you.
- For your audience, it’s sometimes refreshing to hear more than just one voice/opinion.
- If one of you is not available, sick or on vacation at some point, the other one can fill in and continue the podcast.
- This can potentially help in growing your audience – you’re not the only one pushing and sharing the podcast, and your followers along with your co-host(s) followers could all listen to the podcast.
- It’s like any relationship, you need to work together and be on the same page to make it work. You need to share the same expectations, more or less, to avoid any clashes between the hosts.
- Sometimes when there are 4-5 hosts or more, it can become a bit hard to schedule, edit (due to all the different audio channels), and sometimes it may become a bit noisy if you all argue or talk at the same time.
Storytelling podcasts / Audio Drama
Podcasting is not limited to just talking about random subjects. It can be much more than that. Just like movies or TV series, you can create a fictional story or narrate a real one. There are tons of entertaining podcasts with hosts that are practically actors in a way.
This one is a more creative format than all the rest. You’ll need to be able to act or at least know how to tell a story in an interesting way. A great example is the Myths, Folklore and Fairytales Podcast.
- Very unique and creative.
- It’s harder to copy this format.
- If you are passionate about stories and acting, it’s so much fun to create the show.
- It requires a bit more planning and preparations for each episode. You may need to rehearse some parts, write down a full script or record different takes.
- This is not for everyone – you’ll need to be comfortable with recording a podcast using this format.
Podcast ideas – what are you waiting for?
We’ve listed a bunch ways to find good podcast ideas above. The most important part is to plan what you can in advance, and try to have some kind of a vision in terms of the podcast topics content you’re going to cover during your episodes.
You may think you have a great idea for a podcast right now, but if there’s really just enough material to record an hour or two of audio, it may not be enough.
Try to think if your audience can be interested in such a podcast. Try to ask people you trust or in certain online communities and see if you can find potential listeners.
Whatever you decide, the only way to know if it will work is just to start. Test the ground with an episode or two and try to get feedback. Once you get started, one of the best podcast marketing ideas is to create a website. We’re here to help with that whenever you’re ready!