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    How to Choose a Podcast Topic


    Choosing a topic or niche for your podcast can be one of the most challenging aspects of it, even more than running it. Choose the wrong topic and you could alienate your audience, lose money, and run out of content ideas. Identifying the right topic takes time and research, ensuring it aligns with your brand goals, it’s relevant to the audience, it has an audience, and you are interested in the topic. With roughly 504.9 million worldwide podcast listeners and a market size of 23.56 billion, you are going to want to get things right the first time around to take a piece of that pie. That’s why I am covering how to choose a podcast topic!

    Assess Your Interests and Passions

    The first and most important step for choosing a podcast topic is to assess your personal interests and passions. A podcast topic that compliments the host’s enthusiasm will naturally create more engaging and authentic content. If you are starting a podcast for yourself or co-hosting with others, this is an easy process as you should already know what your interests and passions are.

    For marketers and brands, it’s a little more complex as the topics still have to fall in line with the brand. This could mean looking into areas that align with the brand’s values or personal expertise, ensuring that the content is not only interesting to the host of the podcast but also reinforces their brand identity.

    Identifying these interests requires you to think carefully about what excites you or the core values of the brand. This could include exploring subjects, trends, or issues that the brand or individual is passionate about, and more importantly, which they feel confident discussing at length.

    It’s worth keeping note of your thought process throughout these steps, Notion is a great tool for that!

    Define Your Goals and Objectives

    Whether it’s for a brand or a personal podcast, defining goals and objectives is essential as it shapes the direction and content of the podcast. For a brand, the goals might include increasing brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, or directly engaging with a target audience. For individual podcasters, the goals might be personal branding, sharing expertise, or earning revenue. It’s worth noting your goals and objectives down as you or someone in your team will need to refer back to them at some stage.

    Once you have identified the goals and objectives, then you can start to consider which podcast topics are most suitable. For example, if your goal is to build up thought leadership, the topic is going to be more complex and educational – to demonstrate knowledge. If your goal is to educate, the topic might focus on industry trends and challenges.

    Aligning the podcast topic with your goals not only helps in creating content that is purposeful and relevant but also helps in attracting an audience that is genuinely interested in your content.

    Understand Your Target Audience

    Understanding your target audience is key to choosing a podcast topic. To be clear, understanding your audience means their interests, behavior, actions, and anything that goes deeper than the surface. The key is to get specific; so you might decide your target audience is men from the ages of 24-50, who like ocean fishing, who also own their own boats, and who live in a certain state. Of course, I just made that up, but the more specific you can get, the better. If you go too broad with your audience, the topic will reflect that, and will likely miss the mark.

    I recommend that you create a listener persona to understand and connect with your podcast audience. A listener persona involves building a detailed profile of your ideal listener based on various characteristics. You can follow these steps:

    Start with Demographic Information

    • Age Range: Consider the age group your podcast is most likely to appeal to.
    • Gender: Determine if your content skews towards a particular gender.
    • Location: Identify geographical areas where your listeners might reside.
    • Education and Occupation: Consider their level of education and type of occupation, which might influence their interests.

    Understand Psychographics

    • Interests and Hobbies: What are their hobbies or interests outside of the podcast topic?
    • Values and Beliefs: What values do they hold that align with your content?
    • Lifestyle: How does your podcast fit into their daily or weekly routine?

    Identify Listening Motivations

    • Educational: Are they listening to learn something new?
    • Entertainment: Is entertainment their primary goal?
    • Inspiration: Are they looking for motivational content?
    • Connection: Do they want to feel part of a community?

    Consider Their Challenges and Pain Points

    • Identify problems they might face that your podcast can help solve.
    • Understand the gaps in information or entertainment that your podcast can fill.

    Gather Data

    • Use surveys and questionnaires to gather information from existing or potential listeners.
    • Analyze social media and online forums where your target audience might hang out.
    • Look at listener reviews and feedback for insights.

    Create the Persona

    • Compile the gathered information into a detailed persona.
    • Give them a name and a story to make them more relatable.
    • Include quotes or statements that might represent their views or opinions.

    In the example below, ‘Emily Green’ (Fake User) represents the ideal listener for a podcast about sustainable living. Understanding Emily’s profile not only informs your podcast topic, but it allows you to tailor content to address her interests, challenges, and motivations, thereby making the podcast more engaging and relevant to listeners like her.

    Demographic Information

    • Persona Name: Emily Green
    • Age: 30 years old
    • Gender: Female
    • Location: Portland, Oregon
    • Education: Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science
    • Occupation: Sustainability Coordinator at a local non-profit

    Market Research and Gap Analysis

    Market Research and gap analysis are other important steps to consider with how to choose a podcast niche. The last thing you want to do is cover the exact same niche and exact same topics – in the same style as other podcasts. It will put you against competition from the offset and make it more difficult to succeed. Instead, you need to identify gaps and opportunities for a topic choice that will not only benefit your audience, but be authentic, honest, and effective when delivered.

    Analyzing Existing Podcasts in Your Area of Interest

    The first step is to conduct market research by analyzing existing podcasts in your chosen industry. If you are looking for a method to do this, mobile-first surveys are the top emerging method for conducting market research. This could involve listening to popular podcasts within that industry and paying close attention to their content themes, style, format, and audience engagement strategies.

    This analysis should also include understanding the audience demographics and preferences for these podcasts. This way you can gauge the strengths and weaknesses of current podcasts and understand the market standards and expectations.

    Identifying Gaps or Underserved Topics in the Market

    Once you have a clear understanding of the existing podcast landscape, the next step is to identify gaps in the market. Consider asking yourself questions like: What are these podcasts not covering? Are there audience needs and interests that are currently unmet? Perhaps there are emerging trends or niche subjects within your area of interest that haven’t been fully explored.

    It could also be that the existing podcasts cater to a general audience, and there’s an opportunity to focus on more niche topics. You could also look at the format or delivery – maybe there’s a space for a more interactive, interview-based, or storytelling approach if most existing podcasts are informative – for example.

    Expertise and Unique Perspective

    Another consideration of how to choose a podcast topic is to evaluate your expertise and unique perspective. When you have expertise or personal perspectives on a topic, it not only becomes easy to discuss – but that knowledge also portrays to the listener. A listener, even if they aren’t an expert, will always be able to tell if a host is lacking knowledge on the topic they are talking about. So when choosing a podcast topic, ensure that you have some knowledge and expertise in the area.

    Leveraging your own expertise means drawing from your personal or professional experiences, insights, and skills. So, if you are running a podcast on behalf of a brand, this can be difficult, unless there is a designated host that’s an expert. The way around this would be to run interview-style podcasts with guests who can speak on the topic. The key is to identify who has the best knowledge on that topic and how it can add value to your audience.

    However, expertise alone isn’t enough to make a podcast stand out. This is where your unique perspective comes into play. People want to see how you interpret your area of expertise differently from others. This might draw from your personal journey, challenges you’ve overcome, or an unconventional approach to the discussion. Therefore when choosing a podcast topic, think about your opinions and perspectives on different areas of that topic, write them down or talk about them to others, and try to gauge how effective your viewpoints are.

    Trend Analysis and Future Potential

    In podcasting, and marketing in general, staying ahead of the curve is key to capturing and retaining an audience. This requires understanding both current trends and the potential future trends of podcast topics. This could involve exploring popular podcast platforms, and current charts, and understanding where listeners are currently gravitating towards. The last thing you would want to do is choose a topic that is declining in listeners and the trend is dying out – of course, take this with a pinch of salt as many other factors should be considered.

    You can also pay attention to themes, formats, and styles that are gaining traction, this will help when choosing a topic. Additionally, it’s valuable to look at other media and cultural trends, as these often influence podcast popularity. You shouldn’t just stick to ‘podcast’ trends, you should look at the news, social media, websites, Google Trends, and anything that could inform your topic.

    One tip I will mention; Choose a topic that is relevant all year round and has a steady trend line. If you choose something that only comes in at certain seasons or holidays (like Christmas) you won’t have anything to talk about all year. Equally, if something trends then drops out, then trends again, this isn’t very good for an overall podcast topic. To clarify if you are finding the topic for one episode only, then absolutely go for a topic that is on the rise in terms of trending.

    Feasibility and Resource Availability

    Assessing the feasibility of your podcast topic and the availability of necessary resources is another important step. This involves looking at whether you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and technical capabilities to effectively cover the topic. For brands, it’s also important to consider whether the topic aligns with the brand’s expertise. The scope of the topic is also something that should be thought about here, is it too broad or too narrow? Can it sustain long-term interest? And more importantly, do you have the time and commitment required to research, produce, and maintain a series on this topic?

    Then there’s the availability of resources. Resources include things like recording equipment and a podcast platform, as well as content, expert knowledge, and interview subjects. For a successful podcast, you’ll need access to reliable information sources, potential guests or experts who can contribute valuable insights, and research material to ensure your content is accurate and engaging.

    You might be thinking what does this have to do with choosing a topic? Well, let’s say your topic centered around the latest news. This would require extensive research, more work hours, and more resources, compared to a generic topic. The key consideration is that the time spent planning and doing a podcast is also money spent.

    Scalability and Content Longevity

    If you’re going to get into the podcast game, it’s essential to consider the scalability and longevity of the chosen topic. This ensures that your podcast can grow and evolve over time, maintaining relevance and audience interest. The ideal podcast topic shouldn’t be too niche that it limits future content, yet it should be niche enough to attract a reasonably sized audience. To help, you can consider whether the topic has different sub-topics that could span over multiple episodes or seasons.

    A topic with multiple subtopics allows for a diverse range of content, appealing to different segments of your audience and keeping the content fresh. It also opens the door to guest contributions, special series, and cross-collaborations, which can further expand the podcast’s reach. For example, a podcast initially focusing on sustainable living practices could branch into specific areas like zero-waste lifestyles, eco-friendly travel, or green technology innovations.

    Collecting Feedback

    Feedback is an excellent way to ensure that your podcast topic will align with audience preferences. However, you will need an existing audience to collect feedback – whether it’s a social media audience an email subscriber list – or a focus group composed of people who represent your target audience, colleagues, or a group of trusted individuals who can provide honest and constructive feedback. Initial feedback can help you gauge the response to your podcast’s topic and overall concept, the clarity of your messaging, and the overall appeal of your content.

    Collecting feedback can also be done after deciding your overall podcast topic as it can help you identify other factors that might need improving. For example, if your content is too technical, you might consider simplifying complex concepts or including more introductory episodes. Alternatively, if listeners express interest in a particular subtopic, this could guide you to focus more on that area.

    Alignment with Monetization Strategies

    Most people and brands start a podcast for the extra revenue it can generate. Therefore, when choosing a podcast topic, it might be wise to align that with monetization strategies. Every topic will attract a different audience, different engagement rates, different sponsor rates, and so on. Also, let’s say for example your podcast topic was on illegal substances, some sponsors won’t go near that and it could be harder to monetize.

    Key monetization strategies include sponsorships, advertisements, and leveraging audience appeal for revenue generation. When choosing a topic, it’s important to assess its marketability: Does the topic attract a specific audience that is valuable to potential sponsors? Are there businesses or services that would benefit from advertising on your podcast due to the alignment with the topic?

    Sponsorship is a common monetization method, where companies pay to be mentioned or featured in the podcast. The suitability of sponsorships largely depends on the podcast’s ability to reach a targeted audience that aligns with the sponsor’s customer base. For example, a podcast focusing on fitness and wellness might attract health-related brands as sponsors.

    Advertisements require a larger and more engaged audience to bring in higher revenue. Understanding your audience’s preferences and behaviors can help in selecting ads that are relevant and appealing to them, increasing the likelihood of conversion. A topic that resonates with an audience can lead to higher listener numbers, making the podcast more attractive to advertisers and sponsors. It can also open doors to other forms of monetization, like product sales, paid memberships, or courses.

    Once you have everything set up and ready to go, see how to promote a podcast.

    Chad Wyatt
    Chad Wyatt
    Chad Wyatt (MBA) is a professional in the digital marketing industry, specializing in content marketing, SEO, and strategic marketing initiatives. With a track record as a 6-figure marketing entrepreneur, Chad brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and has been recognized by renowned media outlets such as CNN, Business Insider, Yahoo, MSN, Capital One, and AOL, where he has been featured for his industry insights and success stories.


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