Podcasts have taken the world by storm. These episodic audio projects are highly effective ways to get your ideas out into the world—and great ones can even become films, TV shows, or books. But with so many podcasts out there, coming up with a captivating idea that hasn’t been overdone can be daunting.
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Before you come up with your topic, you should consider the amount of time and effort you’re willing to dedicate to your podcast, whether or not the concept is original, audience interest, and sustainability.
Time and effort: Podcasts require dedication. On top of the time spent recording, you’ll likely need to conduct extensive research into your topic and write and revise your script.
Originality: What do you have to say that’s unique to you? The best topics are ones that come from a place of deep love and care. You should consider your passions, hobbies, and desires. Since you might be talking about the topic for years, choose one that means something to you.
Audience interest: The best podcasts understand what their listeners want, then deliver it over and over.
Legs: Podcasts must have “legs,” or sustainability and staying power. Usually, that means the topic is highly focused and specific. For example, a great podcast idea likely isn’t just about recipes. It’s more specific, like what the best holiday recipes are. If this is your chosen topic, you likely love to cook and want to do a deep dive into the recipes that made you who you are. Ideally, your family has hundreds of recipes you can try so that the concept is able to sustain itself for multiple episodes—even multiple years. Apply this example to every topic you come up with. It can help you sort through weaker ideas and focus on more solid options.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What are you an expert on?: Is there a topic that you know so much about that you could educate others on a regular basis? Whether you’re an expert on Dungeons & Dragons, ice cream, or the metaverse, talking about something that’s your forte makes the podcast process smoother.
- What interests you? What makes you get out of bed excited to learn more each day? Is there a topic you already spend a lot of time on that you think other people might be interested in? If you’re passionate about your subject, it will show.
- Do you have access to a particular niche? If you have access to something that others don’t, such as archives or celebrity interviews, you can capitalize on that exclusivity.
- What does the audience want? Ask friends and family about topics they wish they knew more about. Scour online forums to look for hot topics that haven’t yet gotten the podcast treatment. Listen to the people around you to source ideas that might be popular among your peers
If your concept still feels too broad, try narrowing your focus instead of shallowly exploring a more general topic.
Read through these podcast topics to see if one inspires you.
- True crime
- Specific sports team
- Culture wars
- TV shows
- Historical Figures
- Famous battles
- Breaking tech
- Healthy living
- Urban farming
- Wild animals
- Relationship advice
- The military
- Day trips
These topics are broad, of course; a good exercise is to pick one that interests you, and then unpeel as many layers as possible. For example, if you’re interested in film, consider what genre would be particularly enjoyable to discuss. If it’s science fiction or fantasy, ask yourself which movie or franchise you could talk about for hours. If that ends up being “Star Wars,” how will you differentiate your podcast from the hundreds of other shows about “Star Wars”? Keep getting as granular as possible, and you’ll end up with something like Star Wars Minute, a podcast that dissects the entire franchise one minute at a time.
Another way to start is to look at your own experiences. If you’re an actor, what’s an aspect of the job that only other actors can understand? If you land on something like “the hardships of booking small roles early in your career,” then think about a singular experience in that area that is unique to you. Keep going, and you’ll create something like Dead Eyes, in which comedian Connor Ratliff devoted 31 episodes to figuring out why Tom Hanks fired him from a small part on “Band of Brothers.”
Once you’ve chosen your topic, you need to make a few critical decisions before you start working on your podcast.
Recording equipment: You’ll need a professional mic. You don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount, but you should have one that delivers quality sound. Research the best podcast mics, pick what works for you, then test it in a soundproof room.
Episode schedule: Figure out how many episodes you want to record and how often they’ll be released. Ideally, if you want to put out an episode every week, you should have at least two months of topics at the ready. This can also allow you to record episodes in advance and drop them when it’s time. Recording ahead of time allows you to passively release or even reschedule episodes in case they become topical.
Platform: Look into Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audacy, and other platforms to figure out the best place—or places—to post your content. You can put your show on a few different platforms, then focus on the one that’s most advantageous for your podcast.
From there, it’s just a matter of putting in the work to stay organized, passionate, and focused on your goal.