Podcast Topics: The Simple Guide to Finding Captivating Topics in 2021
Podcasts have been around for a long time. Often free and easily available, they cover a variety of topics and help content creators to tap into every demographic or market.
Driven by technology advancements and a shift in how we consume content, podcasts have really picked up recently.
Podcasts are a handy companion for all times, be it the gym, on your commute to work or an evening in. They are your favorite blogs, topics or shows, all wrapped up in one audio bundle that you can listen to, on the go, at any time!
Podcasts are able to cover a variety of topics, mostly due to a large variety of creators.
Successful podcasts have been created not only by large and small companies, radio shows and TV networks, but also by individuals.
Storytellers, comedians and poets all run successful podcasts. A rising category of content creators are these individuals and the next successful creator could be you!
Setting up a podcast can seem daunting at first, especially considering how many already exist in the market. So how can you go about it?
Podcast Setup for Beginners
Podcasts are production offerings that sell purely based on their content. However, good production and sound quality can greatly elevate the quality of your podcast.
A large repository of resources exists for this purpose, some free and some paid.
The best podcast software focuses more on spoken audio editing as opposed to music production.
They often vary in ease of use and can differ from novice to experienced podcasters. All you need to get set up is a good Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
A popular, freely available software for this is called Audacity. Many tutorials are available online.
In the same vein, GarageBand for MacOS is quite popular too. If one is willing to shell out some money, Logic Pro X (for MacOS only) and Adobe Audition offer more functionality and ease of use.
Setting up a podcast and DAW is the easy part! The main selling point of your podcast will still be the content.
How can you consistently create excellent content for podcast?
Creating a Content Plan
- Identify your target audience: Knowing your target audience will help you tailor your content. Do you want to sell a product? Do you want to create awareness about a topic? Who is the right audience? How often would your audience enjoy new episodes?
- Create a Recording Schedule: Consistency in publishing and recording is key. Decide a schedule and commit to it. Your schedule must be executable and practical. Decide whether you want to serialize your podcast. If so, how many episodes in one go? Do you want to record multiple episodes in one go?
- Identify the Purpose of your podcast: For long term sustainability, you need to identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and the topics you are truly passionate about. Previous experience or a willingness to invest time into learning are essential. Brainstorm, research and explore to find ideas you can use. Use the following tips to help you on your way!
6 Best Topic Ideation Themes for Your Podcast
There is a standard list of topics that you can use to begin your podcast:
- Spotlights: Highlight ideas by bringing awareness to new or old topics. You can focus on obscure topics like occult symbols or trendy topics like digital marketing; audiences exist for both. In-depth research and a fresh perspective will help you create fresh and engaging content, ensuring your audience keeps on coming back for more.
- Reviews: Summaries or recaps of entertainment has found itself a niche place in the market. Audience members love building communities and discussions around their favorite TV shows or sports series. Your podcast could focus on a much awaited movie launch, create a community around book lovers or even discuss in-depth stats about the latest games. Let your creative juices flow about what constitutes entertainment!
- Tell Stories: Do you have crazy stories to tell? Or have a flair for dramatic storytelling? Audiences love to listen to stories as an external viewer, be it the time you had a paranormal encounter or came across a true crime anecdote. You can describe your travels and the interesting people you met, or the time you met an interesting stranger at a cafe!
- Interviews: Bring you audience stories from all around the world, and different domains through a variety of interview guests! You can interview local celebrities, other podcasters or just experts in your chosen domain. These new ideas and perspectives are bound to keep your audience spellbound!
- Recommendations: Your audience is always on the lookout for recommendations of new restaurants, books or tech gadgets. Building up an expertise in these areas could land you a loyal audience and multiple sponsorship deals!
- Fact/Story of the Day: This is a quite handy bucket if you have a loyal and engaging audience. Once you have struck the right communication channel with the listeners, knowing which topics are most preferred by them – you can do a fact/story of the day. It has been found to be very helpful by podcast hosts overwhelmed by the audience expectations!
Much like other creative pursuits, there are no rules here either. This standard list is by no means exhaustive.
There are multiple things you can do to create your own brand of ideas. Here are some of them:
- Perform comprehensive research: Finding out what works for your competitors but may be lacking in your podcast. Use elements from there to make your podcast more competitive. Keep track of the trending pages on social media to find topics that are fresh on your audience’s mind. Google Trends and Twitter are excellent ways to do this. If you can, find out what gets the most clicks and backlinks to get a better understanding of what works in the market. Research on your competitors’ marketing strategies, email campaigns, and content. However, this should only serve as inspiration. Take care to not lose your originality in the process!
- Brainstorm, alone or with friends: Gather participants with the same set of ideas and friends who are willing to help you out. Have experts and novices so each idea can get multiple perspectives and new looks. Get the creative juices flowing and look for ideas that attract attention and keep it engaged. Write down everything, even things you think you may not use. Use these to create fresh content, content that is different from anything else available right now.
- Create a repository of ideas: Add whatever strikes your fancy to this hub. Images, quotes, topics. Not only can this be a running list of ideas to talk about as your podcast grows but even discarded ideas from the list can be reused in new ways. You can keep your ideas in a physical file or scrapbooks, use multiple online apps like Evernote or create a vision board on Pinterest.
- Lateral thinking: Any topic, even seemingly dull ones, can be approached from multiple angles. Finding the right angle for that fresh take can be the difference between a familiar, forgotten podcast and a trailblazing, successful one. Create mind maps, graphs and tangential topics to help build your content. Previously unconnected elements, when presented together can be insightful in ways that were previously unknown!
- Difficult and boring topics: Topics from seemingly dry areas like finance and tax laws that affect our daily lives can provide a wealth of new ideas and subscribers. The audience is always on the lookout for easy to consume content on such topics and if done well, you can make that space yours.
- Discard boring ideas: Even seemingly popular ideas that are trending may not be of interest to you. If you are not passionate about the content you are producing, it will be nearly impossible to put out content that is fresh and engaging. Ideas that interest you can often turn into series and long term productions, ideas that bore you will almost always fizzle out.
- Avoid content fatigue: Market your content in a fresh and exciting way. The market is saturated with thousands of blogs and podcasts about most things and a little extra effort into making yourself stand out will go a long way. Keep your content relevant, recent and personal. Use a well balanced mix of evergreen topics and personalized content.
How to Keep Your Podcast Fresh
A large part of podcast ideation and topic creation focuses on how to prevent your content from going stale. You need to keep your audience engaged and always coming back for more. There are multiple steps of doing this:
- Create an impressive persona: Perfect your art of storytelling. Modulate your voice, use lively conversation and involve your guests and listeners. Be yourself, it will appear more natural. Always know your content to be fully prepared.
- Plan a Story Arc: Ensure that viewers who keep coming back get a payoff. Introduce the value you bring to the table in the beginning. Even if you have a podcast with disjointed content, keep some continuity or running gags to build a larger narrative. Revisit old content with callbacks as they get updated and usher audience towards the older episodes too.
- Prepare well for your guests: Give your guests’ point of view due credence and know what your audience wants. Have healthy debates and prep your guests before you start recording. Put your guest at ease with a few icebreakers to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
- Add interesting elements: Experiment with adding announcements (for an upcoming guest or a hotly awaited topic) and give-aways. You can add cliffhangers to you podcast episodes in a mini series. Break up a longer topic into part 1 and 2. Track metrics and use it to your advantage, for optimal growth.
Use Search to Boost Growth for Your Podcast
Having a successful podcast also involves the large component of growing it. Organic growth through word of mouth, and on the basis of your content, is definitely going to help.
However, as a creator, you can maximize this growth too. Here are some tips to give your podcast the push it needs to grow to its best potential:
Let’s discuss each of these in detail now:
- Title your podcast right: The title of your podcast is important to not only reel in your customers but to ensure that you reach them to begin with. Most podcast marketplaces place heavy emphasis on keywords in your title to push it to the correct audience. Short, well written, titles can really help the podcast search algorithm for optimal growth. Be weary of clickbait titles though; you will be punished not only by the consumer but also the algorithm!
- Use multiple platforms: Google is no longer the only search engine of choice. Platforms like YouTube are increasingly taking on that role in this space, acting not just as content platforms but also as search engines. Having your podcast on such platforms will help generate traffic towards your podcast. Have a look at this podcast by Naval. Since he caters to a global audience on different platforms, his podcast has seen breakneck growth over the years:
You don’t even have to re-record, there are already programs that convert your audio podcast into a YouTube video!
In this same space, Pinterest is the largest visual search engine that also brings traffic from old posts. Leverage all these platforms to drive up user engagement!
- Build Backlinks: Backlinks are a direct indicator of how high your podcast will rank on the Google Search Engine Result Page. Embed links to your podcast in other websites or ask your collaborators for backlinks. You can also build new collaborations using this to help boost your podcast. If you have your own website, which is highly recommended, you can optimize such backlinks as a very powerful tool. You can also leverage your website to have short summaries, infographics or collect leads via email subscription forms or giveaways.
- Leverage your RSS Feed: RSS feeds allows users and products to access updates to websites in a standard XML format. This is also how podcast content is distributed to most platforms, including iTunes and Google Play.
Use good practices in your titles, summaries and visuals, as well as up to date copyright information to ensure maximum and optimal distribution. Specifying the license under which the podcast is published can help too.
A list of creators and software used to create the podcast and a publication date are other aspects that can help optimize your RSS feed.
A Quick Look at Some Big-name Podcasts
Run by Naval Ravikant, this is a philosophy, business, and investing podcast with a wide reach. This reach is partly due to their far reaching presence on every platform (Apple, Breaker, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, Overcast, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube).
The short form of the podcast keeps people engaged and Naval is often a guest on a lot of popular podcasts like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris.
The main podcast is often used to drive traffic towards their second podcast on angel investing called Spearhead.
The podcast is a good balance of experienced guest interviews and Naval’s own experiences and expertise.
2. The Philosopher’s Arms
A well known philosophy podcast, it is hosted by the Oxford educated, Matthew Sweet. The podcast is present on BBC Radio 4 and can attribute its success to many factors.
The podcast takes a seemingly dry and complex topic and makes it accessible to the general public by presenting it in an engaging way.
It is set in a pub and features light hearted jokes and a natural flow of conversation with multiple guests. Often, there is a live audience.
The length of each episode is not too long and manages to keep the consumer engaged for its entirety. Marketed as an ‘abstract pub’, this is a good example of how to take difficult topics and create your niche!
3. Pessimists Archive
Created by Jason Feifer, the podcast has an interesting theme running throughout its episodes.
A masterclass in storytelling, the podcast takes you back into history to analyse the development of objects and inventions we think of as commonplace now.
The podcast is a study in the personal growth of humans, wrapped up as a history lesson and explores why we react to things the way we do.
Jason Feifer, also the Editor-in-Chief at the Entrepreneur magazine, promotes the podcast spectacularly over social media (especially Instagram).
Among other things, his handwritten posts happen to be loved by the audience. Have a look at one of them:
The team features voice actors, leading to superior qualities of production. With well researched subject matter, the podcast has been covered by many major publications.
Their entire archive of content is available and still generates traffic, hooking in new consumers via old episodes.
4. Tifo Football
Hosted by Joe Devine, Tifo Football merges in depth statistical analysis and data with an engaging delivery.
It talks about everything football, from the workings and gossip from football clubs to geopolitical breakdowns of the beautiful game.
This is run in tandem with their highly successful YouTube channel which adds an additional layer of beautiful visuals for the highest possible engagement.
With over 76,000 subscribers on YouTube alone, and a well managed presence on Twitter and even LinkedIn, Tifo Football successfully reaches a huge audience. Have a look at some of their riveting episodes and overall messaging:
Their detailed coverage for key events in the sport, across various channels such as Twitter and YouTube, are important components of their success, too. Have a look at some of their tweets:
Their exceptional storytelling and in depth analysis are only bound to grow with their merger with The Athletic.
Wrapping it up
Creating a solid content pipeline for your podcast is vital for its success in the long term.
Don’t trust your muse to deliver just-in-time, be sure to plan ahead in time.
Have any great ideas on how to come up with podcast topics? Feel free to share them in the comment box!
About the Author: Harsh Vardhan Dutta is a digital marketing consultant, currently at the helm of Italics, a content writing company in India. He spends a large part of his time exploring tech-related marketing techniques that lead to growth marketing.
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