Are you interested in starting a new podcast? Or, do you have an established podcast, but need to boost your traffic with some fresh ideas and loyal listeners?
The podcasting platform has grown exponentially over the past decade. In fact, recent data shows there are over 850,000 different podcasts worldwide—which have collectively generated more than 30 million unique, individual episodes—for listeners to choose from.
So, in the face of a highly saturated market, an important question needs to be asked: How can you make your podcast stand out?
Designing an interesting logo is one way of standing out in the discovery phase. Choosing the right technology and leveraging interesting music will help you stand out from a quality perspective once you actually have listeners. But how do you keep your listeners engaged and coming back for more of your content week after week?
The simple solution: Choose topics that align with your business and match your podcast format, but are also interesting to your listener.
Because your podcast’s format will influence the kinds of topics you pursue, we recommend that you first start by ironing out exactly what kind of format you want your podcast to follow. To determine the proper format, ask the following questions:
- How will episodes flow?
- What segments will it include?
- And, just as important, what segments will it exclude?
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8 Standard Podcast Formats
Interviewing guests in studio or via phone is a great way to generate topics. Not sure how to interview a guest? Try letting them co-host a show with you. You’ll be surprised how easy topics flow by simply having a conversation with a guest.
Example: In the Studio with Pepperland
Check out this example from Pepperland CEO and Founder Sean Henri and Marketing Research Specialist Kelsey Miller. This interview style discussion focuses on student persona creation, but the format is a great example of a conversation that’s informative and helpful to listeners.
2. Round Table
A round table format can generate topics in an effective way because it allows multiple people to share their opinions during a recording. Find a subject, bring in 3 or 4 guests, and enhance your recording with an open discussion. This not only allows you to gain new perspectives on a topic(s), but also increases your network and outreach overall.
Example: The Stack
Pepperland’s weekly podcast featured a round-table discussion on the latest news and updates regarding the world of marketing. Tim, Ryan, and Kelsey discussed these topics during each episode and answered questions from listeners via social media and email.
Check out this episode where the group talks about a Google algorithm update and the impact it has for marketers.
3. Topical News
The news never stops, which is why topical news podcasts rarely struggle to find new topics. Look at the latest news regarding your industry. Chances are, you’ll find a relevant story that impacts both you and your audience.
NPR | Up First, The New York Times | The Daily, BBC | Global News Podcast, Guardian | Today in Focus
There are countless podcasts that singularly focus on giving reviews. This format provides insight into a specific topic, usually concerning the entertainment industry (movies, music, TVs shows, video games, etc.). When it comes to industry focused podcasts, try reviewing the latest products or services. This not only generates topics, but also establishes your podcast as a valuable industry resource.
5. Call-In Show
With modern technology, there are several ways to connect with an audience during a live recording. Software, such as video calling through Skype or Apple’s Facetime, requires minimal setup and connects you with countless listeners around the world. Start by informing your audience when the recording will take place and connect with listeners/viewers to keep the conversation flowing.
6. Fact/Quote of the Day
Provide a fact of the day during each recording to generate topic ideas or mention a quote of the day to inspire your audience. This format not only drives a podcast’s discussion, but also builds structure and routine with an audience.
Example: The Quote of the Day Show
7. Live Event Commentary
Does your industry have a big upcoming event? Then adopting a format that provides live commentary may be a valuable option. Events, such as trade shows or conferences offer excellent opportunities for podcasters to speak with countless industry experts about exciting new products. Try live streaming a recording during an event to share new ideas in real-time.
8. How-to Guide
If your podcast is industry-focused with a goal to ultimately expand your organization’s reach, then a “how-to guide” is a great topic to use for your podcasting efforts. Are you an expert on any technologies or practices in your field? Focus on what you know and offer insights through step-by-step guides. This can not only solidify trust with your current audience, but it can also help reach new listeners by providing solutions to their challenges as well.
How do you create a podcast topic?
Now that you have an idea of what format your podcast should use, it’s time to find relevant topics. Follow these four tips and tricks to get the creative juices flowing.
1. Start by picking something you want to talk about.
Your podcast should engage listeners and/or viewers in a compelling, informative way. Unsurprisingly, if your topic includes something you have little interest in, it’s likely that your lack of energy will show during your recording—and that’s no good for anyone involved
Captivating an audience early and often is especially important in the modern age where the average attention span has significantly decreased. Simply put, if you aren’t engaged in a topic of discussion, how can you expect your audience to be interested?
2. Ask yourself: Why does this topic matter?
The quickest way to increase a podcast’s popularity is by discussing meaningful topics that influence a large audience. When asking if your proposed topic is meaningful, it’s helpful to go back to your audience demographics and find out which issues, topics, and pain points they consider important.
Considering that nearly 75 percent of consumers listen to podcasts to learn something new, it’s important to discuss topics that answer the questions your audience is asking.
Having trouble understanding if your proposed topic is meaningful? Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it timely? Does this topic speak to an issue currently impacting your listeners?
- Is it actionable? Will this topic influence listeners to take action after listening to one of your recordings?
- Is it informative? Does your proposed topic address a common challenge for listeners? If so, does it provide a helpful solution?
3. Is this topic sustainable?
Research shows that podcasts are growing, which is a positive for the industry. However, when it comes to separating your podcast from the rest, proper organization and structure are the keys to sustainability.
And, the best way to stay organized is by following a podcast campaign. Podcast campaigns help identify goals and topics while listing out important information such as upcoming recording dates, future guests, and their contact information. Essentially, podcast campaigns establish sustainability by moving your ideas into actionable, easy to follow steps for each recording session.
If you don’t think your podcast is something that can be sustainable indefinitely, that’s fine too. Some of the most popular podcasts out there are those that cover a topic in a single season or in just a handful of episodes. The key is to understand what makes sense for your topic, your business, and your listener.
4. Are you a subject expert? If not, can you find one?
If you’re planning to start a podcast for your business, chances are you’ve established yourself as an industry expert. However, it’s important to seek insight from other experts when discussing the latest industry trends.
The benefits here include giving your audience a new perspective and learning from a new voice. Ultimately, this helps keep your podcast compelling, fresh and informative.
Also, by reaching out to other subject experts, you can boost their platform while simultaneously driving traffic to your own website. This is a basic SEO, link building practice, but it helps cement your podcast as a valuable industry resource.
Asking your audience for feedback: 3 methods for success.
As previously mentioned, understanding your audience demographics can be extremely helpful when brainstorming ideas. Specifically, what does your audience want to know? What’s currently peaking their interest?
How and where should you ask these questions? Try these 3 methods:
Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and generate ideas for topics. Especially for industry-focused podcasts, social media can be a great asset for discovering the latest trends, topics, and news surrounding your industry. Try using social media tools like Twitter polls or Facebook surveys to gather information for an upcoming recording. Or, use these materials for audience feedback and enhance your podcast.
If you have the capacity to do so, you can interact with your audience directly through mailing lists. For instance, if users sign up to receive updates every time a new episode is uploaded, that could be a great way to find new topics.
These messages could include an online survey or form asking for feedback. Information from these resources could even lead you to interview a listener directly to help fuel potential topics and ideas.
This practice can be extremely helpful, but what if you’re a newer podcast without an established audience? How do you learn about your audience without directly interacting with them?
A listener persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal listener, or member of your audience is based on market research and data.
Need help creating a persona? Download our Template!
You can also utilize several online tools to conduct research virtually every aspect of your podcast. Some of these resources include:
- Online forums: Quora, Reddit, Tumblr
- Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
- Feedback online: Youtube comments, personal inbox, blog forms and comments
- Online surveys: Survey Monkey, Google Surveys, SurveyGizmo
Also, don’t forget to use these tools to research your competition as well. Competitors may have information or materials that can help fill the gaps in your podcasting campaign.
Get your podcast started today!
Creating a great podcast, regardless of the format or topic, is ultimately about sharing your message with the world. Whether you plan to release a podcast for personal gain, or for the benefit of increasing a business’ reach, regular feedback and research is needed for consistent, sustainable growth.
Remember, your topic should highlight something you’re interested in, feature a subject expert to expand upon the topic, and ultimately, convey to listeners why that specific topic matters.
Have an interesting topic or podcast idea, but aren’t sure where to start?
Fortunately, there are resources available to help grow your podcasting ideas. From choosing the right equipment, to equipment set up, and even uploading your podcast to the right host—help is readily available to guide your podcasting campaign from start to finish.
By outsourcing services to help promote your topics and ideas, you can grow your audience and develop a successful podcast that resonates with listeners worldwide.
Have an interesting idea for a podcasting topic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!