Podcasting today is more popular than ever. This format, which originated in the early 2000’s, has blossomed into a creative ecosystem recently and is showing no signs of slowing down. Since its inception, podcasting has always been a format that was eminently accessible to non-professionals. Even now, all you need to get started is a microphone, some audio editing software, and a podcast topic.
Those first two prerequisites are easy enough to obtain after investing a bit of money. But finding the perfect podcast topic requires some creativity. After all, the podcasting market is very crowded today, so you really need to make your show’s premise stand out from the pack. Finding the right topic may take some time, but this guide will help you along the way.
In fact, this guide will provide you with a handful of steps that can follow while picking out your future podcast’s topic. Each of these steps is designed to spark your creativity and get you thinking about the possibilities when it comes to this exceptional audio format. These following steps need not be followed in order, either; instead, you can use them as a framework for pinning down the perfect podcast topic on your own terms.
Find A Topic You Want To Podcast About
Often, the first step in figuring out the perfect podcast topic involves finding a subject (or a thematic group of subjects) that you want to talk about. Maybe it is something you’re passionate about or maybe it is something you’ve learned a lot about through your professional line of work. Either way, if the subject in your mind is something you’ve always wanted to tell folks more about, then it may make a perfect podcast topic.
“Wanting” to talk about a topic can come in several different forms, of course. In the first instance, your prospective topic may be something that you alone want to tell your audience about. For example, if you’re an avid traveler, you might be able to spin up a podcast about the many national parks you’ve traveled to. In a similar vein, you could likely start a solo podcast discussing some specific facet of history, perhaps with a focus on a certain group or time period.
On the other hand, it is much more common for a podcast’s topic to revolve around “wanting” to talk about a specific subject with one or more people. These discussion-based podcasts are usually less scripted by nature and allows for more back-and-forth elaboration on the chosen topic. So, with that in mind, you could also choose a podcast topic that lends itself well to discussion between you and your co-host.
In any case, this step should also key you into the fact that your podcast’s eventually format must be tied to its topic in some manner. For example, a show like Vox’s “Today Explained” utilizes the classic radio news program format of bringing on subject experts to discuss a daily topic relating to that day’s news. So, in the long-run, a topic you may want to talk about may also be one that you can talk about with someone else (be they an expert in the subject or not).
Find A Podcast Topic You Know Yourself
Another important consideration when choosing the perfect podcast topic involves evaluating your own knowledge of your prospective topic. In other words, you should ideally choose a topic that you understand well from the get-go. This will allow you to continuously come up with new sub-topics for each episode without straying too far out of your depth.
In theory, finding a topic that you know yourself may be entirely tied to the topics you want to discuss (as described in the previous step). In many ways, you may benefit from choosing a topic that meets both of these criteria comfortably. After all, the passion that comes from knowing a topic may help you to grow your desire to tell others about it on successive episodes of your new podcast.
That being said, you do not need to be an expert in a subject to make it the topic of your podcast. Indeed, many podcasts focused on arts, culture, and media are hosted by fans or observers who want to put their opinions about the topical material out into the world. Should you choose it, your podcast topic could even be about your pursuit of gaining expertise in a field.
You may find, however, that some podcast topics (such as those about health, news, or religion) are better suited to expert (or at least informed) knowledge on a topic. If you’re already an expert on your topic, then you’re good to go. However, if you’re not, you may need to do some extra research prior to recording your episodes. You may even consider reaching out to outside topical experts to include their informed views and insights.
Find Podcasting Topics Other People Are Interested In
At times, this can feel like one of the most challenging steps toward finding the perfect podcast topic. That’s because, from the outside, it can be hard to know precisely what topics will interest a podcast-listening audience. But at the same time, you’d be surprised at how many differentiated audiences are accessible via podcasting today. As a result, your podcast on a specific topic or group of topics may find an audience quickly if its content is focused enough.
To that end, a podcast topic that targets a specific audience is usually the best place to start. This will allow you to keep the scale of your topics manageable while you get your podcast off the ground, in fact. A show like “Amicus” from Slate fits this bill well because its host exclusively focuses on the US’ judicial courts, the rule of law, and the US Supreme Court. This topic was focused enough to bring in a target audience while still remaining broad enough to create interesting sub-topics for each episode.
Alternatively, you have the option of choosing a topic with broad appeal. Technology, news, and education podcasts fall into this category more often than not, and usually benefit from their cross-audience exposure. However, seeking a broad audience with your podcast topic also represents a challenge. In some cases, you’ll have to modify your presentation so that no one part of your generalized audience loses interest. After all, if your audience doesn’t want to listen in, then your podcast won’t succeed.
Finding A Topic For Your Podcast That Isn’t Too Competitive
As you likely already know, there are a lot of podcasts out there today. More and more creators out there in the world are throwing their hats in the arena of this medium each month. Needless to say, competition among podcast is heating up even now. So, if at all possible, it is best to avoid that competition by finding a podcast topic that covers a novel topic or instead covers a known topic in a novel manner.
Finding a novel topic is easier said than done, of course. After all, you likely haven’t listened to every last podcast on your prospective topic (that is, if any already exist at this point). As such, you may worry that your podcast topic isn’t “new” or “original” enough. You should put this worry behind you, though, and focus on finding a topic that feels fresh to you. Chances are, you’ll be able to expand your topic down the road to make it truly unique to your podcast.
On the other hand, you could always make like a ram and charge right into a well-worn path of podcast topics. There’s nothing wrong with choosing this direction if you are passionate or knowledgeable about a topic that others have covered to some degree previously. After all, there would not be hundreds of true crime podcasts out there if it weren’t for the devotion of its growing audience. Just keep in mind that the competition in these topical fields will make it harder to standout and gain a devoted following.
Finding Evergreen Podcasting Topics
Often, one of the biggest challenges for a podcast is remaining relevant. As noted, the ongoing competition in podcasting has made it hard for a single podcast to hold the spotlight for any extended period of time. However, you can increase your chances of remaining relevant if your core topic is “evergreen.” That is to say, your podcast’s chosen topic should be interesting to a segment of your audience, regardless of changes in external factors beyond your control.
Take a show like “Sawbones” by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband, Justin McElroy, for example. This “marital tour of misguided medicine” has remained evergreen by creating episodes on topics requested by listeners. Often, this means they’ll cover some new medical trend that isn’t all it is chalked up to be. However, they also regularly put out episode about historic examples of misguided medical treatment that are interesting, regardless of when you listen to them.
If you’re not sure if your chosen topic is evergreen enough, that’s okay. If you feel passionate about covering a current event or trend, for example, you shouldn’t feel limited by the need for “evergreen-ness.” In the same vein, it is perfectly okay to use a podcast topic that is limited when it comes to subject matter worth talking about. So long as you bring something different to the table when it comes to presenting your topic, you’ll have a good chance at finding new listeners over time.
A Complete List Of Possible Podcast Topics
As you can imagine, there are a lot of potential podcast topics floating out there in the world right now. In fact, there are far more possible topics than we could ever list out at one time. As such, it would be far more productive to look at some of the broad podcasting categories and then work down to a specific topic that interests you.
The following are several largest podcasting categories recognized today. Within each of these categories, we’ve included one podcast that best exemplifies what that topical category is capable of. Consider giving our exemplar shows a listen if you want to jog your creativity for a podcast topic idea. Who knows – you may even find the perfect podcast topic waiting for you behind one of the following audio doorways:
Created and hosted by Roman Mars, this arts, design, and architecture podcast focuses in on the things most folks don’t focus in on at all. The color of money, secret staircases, Penn Station in New York, and so much more have been covered by this podcast in its quest to better highlight the built world that supports our everyday lives.
Other potential arts podcasts topics also include books, fashion & beauty, food, performing arts, and visual arts.
Known by their tagline, “the economy explained,” Planet Money from NPR has found numerous ways to explain complex facets of the US and world economy in a manner most regular listeners can enjoy. More importantly, this podcast’s content is entertaining, which is crucial to communicating important ideas about the often opaque business world.
Other potential business topics for a podcast include careers, entrepreneurship, investing, management, marketing, and non-profit work.
Being funny is hard. But for the McElroy brothers, it runs in the family. Each week, this “advice podcast for the modern era” dispenses dubious advice to listeners with wit and humor (and often some vulgarity). The McElroys also answer questions from the Yahoo Answers message board system, leading to hilarity for new and old listeners alike.
Other comedy podcast topic ideas include comedy interviews, improv, and stand up humor.
As its name suggests, this podcast covers all sorts of assorted topics for the purpose of educating a broad audience. They don’t shy away from complex topics, either, ranging from how fire “works” to the causes and effects of the Stonewall Uprising.
Other education-related podcast topics include full courses, how-to, language learning, and self-improvement.
“Turn on your radio and hide,” warns this podcast. WTNV takes on the form of a friendly local radio broadcast from a friendly desert community where “the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.” WTNV basically invented the modern concept of a sci-fi fiction podcast.
Other fiction podcast ideas could cover drama as well as comedy fiction.
This podcast from WNYC Studios digs into the fundamental process that underpins America’s democracy. In particular, this podcast teaches American listeners about how their elections are run and what issues are currently making it harder for many Americans to vote.
7. Health & Fitness
This “marital tour of misguided medicine” is hosted by a family doctor and her non-medically trained husband as they discuss the many ways humans have tried to keep themselves healthy over history. They also take on current “snake oils” to keep listeners informed on what medicines and treatments are safe and trustworthy.
Other health and fitness podcast topic ideas include conventional medicine, surgery, mental health, nutrition, and sexuality.
From the Virginia Center for the Humanities, each episode of this podcast features several historical deep dives with hosts who are experts on specific historic eras. This podcast relies heavily on primary sources, allowing them to reveal new angles on well-known historic events.
9. Kids & Family
In this podcast, both hosts (who are also both mothers) talk about the embarrassments of parenthood and support one another through new challenges. The podcast emphasizes the importance of laughing through the oddities of parenthood and judging other parents less.
Other kids and family-oriented podcast topic ideas include education for kids, stories for kids, pets, or animals.
Several current and former members of the video game journalism industry host this podcast. In it, they discuss their personal experiences with their favorite games as well as highlight the video gaming industry as a whole. All of this with a healthy serving of humor, of course.
Other leisure-related podcast topic ideas include animation, comics, manga, cars, trucks, aviation, crafts, games, hobbies, and gardening.
This podcast breaks downs songs and analyzes what makes them so memorable or iconic. In the process, they reveal the stories that exist between the lines of our favorite music.
Other music-related podcast topic ideas include music commentary, music history, and music interviews.
This daily news show from Vox Media breaks down one of the day’s most pressing new stories and puts it in context for listeners. Each episode is brief, allowing listeners to stay informed while still listening to insights and inputs from topical experts.
Other news-related podcast topics include business news, entertainment news, news commentary, political news, sports news, and tech news.
13. Religion & Spirituality
This podcast tells universal stories about living and being defined by faith. All the stories are told by people of the Muslim faith, including several noteworthy public figures.
This podcast from WNYC Studios covers current events and relates them back to the expansive fields of science. This radio show also answers listener questions about how current changes in scientific understanding effect their daily lives.
Other science-related topics for a podcast include astronomy, chemistry, earth sciences, life sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, nature, physics, and social sciences.
15. Society & Culture
This American Life has spent decades choosing weekly topics and putting together stories of human interest around those topics. The show has recently won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage, which dates back to 1995 when the show started (and continues to be) a radio show.
Other society and culture-related topics for a podcast include documentaries, personal journals, philosophy, travel, and relationships.
This podcast runs the gambit of all of the biggest stories in sports each day. Think of it like an audio version of ESPN’s flagship program, SportsCenter.
Sports-related podcasts can also cover specific topics, including Baseball, basketball, cricket, fantasy sports, football, golf, hockey, rugby, running, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball, eSports, and wrestling).
This podcast believes that every story is a tech story at its core. To show that, this show’s host talk with tech experts to show how technology has changed and continues to change the human experience, both on a small and large scale
18. True Crime
Though it is already one of the most popular true crime podcasts, this show’s hosts continue to provide an entertaining re-telling of some of history’s most gruesome crimes. This is all done with a refined sense of humor, given the dark nature of its content.
20. TV & Film
This bi-monthly podcast finds its hosts watching and reviewing some of the worst films in history. Along the way, they inject humor into sub-par cinematography and learn what actually makes a film “good.”
Other TV and film-related podcast topics include after shows, film history, film interviews, film reviews, and tv reviews.
So, do you have any ideas for your podcast topic yet? Chances are, after listening to any of the great podcasts listed above, you’ll have a whole list of ideas that you can workshop into a great audio series. While you are narrowing down your list, don’t forget the steps for choosing the perfect podcast topic described above. They won’t lead you astray as you work to bring your podcasting dreams to life.
However, if you’re still not sure if your podcast idea is interesting or original enough, then don’t let that feeling get you down. In time, you’ll find the inspiration you need to bring something new to the podcast market. Be sure to keep listening to as many podcasts as possible, though. Just like reading helps inspire writers, listening to podcasts helps inspire the next batch of podcasters – people just like you!