Podcast Ideas: How to Find a Podcast Theme
Updated: Mar 4, 2022
Before you can become a podcaster, you need to pinpoint your series’ focus. Learn how to come up with podcast ideas and keep episodes streaming long-term.
What Is a Podcast?
A podcast is a collection or series of digital audio files available for downloading or listening via the internet. Each individual audio recording is a podcast episode, created by a person called a podcaster. Typically, podcast content features one person or a group of people who lead a conversation, share stories, or report the news, and subsequently edit the episode and hosts it on a streaming application like Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts. A podcaster may release their content regularly as a monthly or weekly podcast.
The history of podcasting began with the creation of the iPod. In fact, the word “podcast” is a portmanteau—a combination of the word “iPod” and “broadcast.”
How to Come Up With Podcast Ideas
Whether you’re a first-time podcaster or someone with more experience, you may struggle to develop the best podcast ideas. Here are four steps you can follow starting a podcast:
Establish your goal. There are many different reasons someone would want to make a podcast—from pure entertainment to keeping people informed on a particular topic. You can co-host a podcast as a way to keep in touch with a friend or use podcasting as a way to interview interesting people. Some podcasters begin their series with the ultimate goal of monetizing their podcast and quitting their day jobs. Consider these scenarios to identify your reason for wanting to become a podcaster, and it may influence the topic you choose.
Think about your passions. As a podcaster, you’ll need to produce regular content on your chosen topic—so ideally, you’ll be passionate about your topic to remain invested and interested. You don’t want to have to create new episodes about a topic idea you find tedious or frustrating. Brainstorm a list of your interests, passions, and hobbies to see if something pops out as a possible podcast topic.
Research. Once you have a list of some of your interests, it’s time to research. See if any of those topics have an exciting story, compelling history, a juicy mystery, or a burning unanswered question that you could further explore. Consider related topics that would allow you to expand the focus of your podcast for future episodes. While you’re researching, also see what other kinds of podcasts already exist on the topic. You might identify a new podcast niche that you can fill for the first time.
Make it new. It’s not enough to have a great podcast idea because it’s likely there’s already at least one other established podcast out there on your topic. Don’t worry about picking a topic that nobody else has covered yet—instead, focus on what makes yours unique. Maybe there’s a new angle or format that would make your podcast fresh. You can mix things up by talking about different book series but make the podcast sound like a sports commentary. A news podcast host could narrate the stories like fiction. Or a true-crime podcast could use a panel interview format. Think of what audiences would expect when they hear about a podcast on a particular topic, and see if there are ways you can surpass their expectations.
4 Ways to Make Your Podcast Stand Out
“Be original, show off your style, and tell your story.”
Choose a surprising tone: The tone of your podcast has a significant influence on your target demographic. Some podcasts follow conventions to establish their style—for instance, many popular podcasts about true crime have a serious or clinical tone. But a surprising tone can make you stand out from the crowd and attract different listeners—that’s why some true-crime podcasters use a funny tone to create a hybrid true-crime-comedy podcast. In that sense, the subject matter and the tone don’t feel like an obvious fit, making the podcast unique and surprising.
Approach from a unique point-of-view: Stories with a unique angle, background, or life experience can capture an audience’s attention—an intriguing point-of-view may be all you need to turn a good podcast into a great one. For example, a podcast that discusses real estate might be interesting, but it would stand out if a former ghost hunter or someone happily living in their RV hosted the series. Many high-level interview podcasts speak to entrepreneurs or CEOs of companies but consider different angles of the story, such as the perspective you’d give from interviewing the interns or customers of the company instead.
Consider a peculiar theme: It can be helpful when brainstorming podcast ideas to think outside of the box. As an audio-only medium, podcasts often feature audio-friendly subject matter, like interviews or musical performances. Choose a topic that’s more visual as a way to intrigue your listeners. Comic strips, graphic novels, visual art, and DIY crafts are all topics that are more popular in visual presentations than they are in podcasting—with the power of words, you can harness that niche and adapt it in a podcast-friendly way.
Record in a different venue: When you think of a traditionally successful podcast, you probably think of a person sitting in a quiet room speaking into a microphone or recording remotely. Perhaps this expectation is the one you can break to intrigue your target audience and encourage them to keep listening. Mix things up by recording your podcast in a different location with relevant white noise, or take it a step further and interview people during a live event. This sort of setting might help you generate new content ideas and intrigue new audience members.
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