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 readily available and accessible to everyone in the past few years. Some people are waiting for the perfect or unique podcast idea that may get you tons of listeners, but that’s not always the easiest nut to crack. In this article, we’ll provide information about the process of finding great podcast ideas, we’ll guide you through the different podcast formats that you can use for your show, and share insights about podcast topics and examples you can learn from. Let’s get started!
Starting a podcast
Before you even start recording your very first episode, you must have a certain vision for your podcast or a general idea about how it’d be like. We strongly recommend to plan some basic topics or ideas for your podcast episodes in advance – before you start contacting guests, potential co-hosts or record your first episode.
Choosing the right idea is key, especially at the beginning. It’s true that you can always change course and use different ideas or topics as you go, but you may also lose some audience this way. If your initial idea is broad and popular enough, you’ll have a real chance of creating a successful show.
The format you choose for your podcast is also important – will you be a single host or have multiple hosts for each episode? 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’ve wrapped your head around your general podcast topic, and you think you’re ready to move ahead and actually start your show, you can learn more about the next steps of the process of starting a podcast.
Podcast ideas – how to find a great topic for your podcast?
So you have your own show, or 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 planned even after recording several episodes.
To choose a good podcast idea or topic, 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.
It’s important to enjoy the process. A topic you’re passionate about will mean that you can put your efforts of researching, planning, recording and coming up with new ideas all around a topic you love. This always helps for the success of the show in the long run, and in many cases the audience could tell and appreciate the fact that you’re really passionate about a certain topic.
Below we’ll provide multiple podcast ideas and genres to help you find the one that could work best for you. We obviously don’t provide specific “finalized” ideas, but more of a general guideline/method that would help you choose the topic that is right for your show.
Investigative podcasts (i.e. – True Crime)
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.
Professional / business oriented podcasts
Many shows circle around business topics and professional or career-related areas. These types of podcasts often feature guests that can share and talk about their experience in the business world. This can go anywhere from talking about schools and first steps of your career, all the way into C-level decision making, entrepreneurship, bootstrapped businesses and more.
We see hundreds of shows that are just about sales, or just about marketing. Each show can be specific for a sub-category within sales or marketing, and this obviously even goes much further – you can discuss coding, investments, writing, production and more.
These types of shows can also vary between a ton of different subjects. Any podcast that aims to cover topics like self-improvement, mental health, spirituality, psychology and other topics can be considered part of this segment. A lot of these podcasts can bring valuable insights around these specific topics.
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 podcast format that you are comfortable with for the long run. Here are the some of the most popular podcast formats:
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 host is unavailable, sick or on vacation, the other 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. Your own 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 etc. It can also 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.
- 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. Try to have 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. Long-term planning is important and a really great podcast should always have enough content for dozens of future episodes. Your podcast can be successful with any idea, really, but execution and high-quality production and content is also important.
Try to think if your audience can be interested in a certain 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!