Choosing the right podcast topic is a key step to making sure your podcast is interesting enough that people will want to tune in and is on brand. There are a lot of vital moving parts to a podcast, from marketing essentials such as cover art and description to the more methodical details such as episode duration and hosting platform, they can be endless. Everything about a podcast has to be deliberately designed, especially the most substantial components, the content, and the podcast topic.
Through brainstorming, research and value assessments, podcasters are responsible for masterminding the concept and intent behind their product. Deciding on what they’d most like to communicate, how they’d like to get the message across, and what the most advantageous avenue for that is, are all considerations of a podcaster.
So how exactly, do the most successful podcasters go about designing their talk shows, and if we were to break it down into steps, what might that look like in action? Following is a beginning to end walkthrough of the podcasting creative process, and a breakdown of the methodology behind high-performing podcast episodes.
It’s challenging to get a message across when you are unclear about what that message is. The delivery of your words is a direct product of the objectives you set forth when you begin speaking, as is the interpretation of the listener. So to best harmonize the intention of your podcast and the way it is received and perceived, it’s necessary to have clear cut goals for the direction of your creation.
This includes asking yourself and your team about both immediate broadcasting desires and long-term goals, making sure that everyone involved is on the same page and satisfied with the conclusions. Some questions you may want to pose are:
- Who is your ideal audience, and what value do you have to offer them? How are you impacting and benefiting their lives?
- Do you have clarity on the logistics of your podcast? Such as duration, the number of episodes or seasons, intros and outros.
- Are there certain conversations you’re intending to spark amongst your audience?
- Is there a time-sensitive nature to the podcast or any specific deadlines you’re hoping to meet?
- What kinds of milestones or achievements are you hoping to reach down the line, and what can be done along the way to better ensure success?
- Are you looking for podcast sponsors? If so, who might fit the role and how can you get in contact with them?
With clarity on these things and more, you can begin to watch your podcast take shape. Once you have a general, but the concise idea of what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and what you hope to accomplish through it all, you can start to get into the details of what that looks like in action.
Conduct Data-Oriented Research
Just as is true with anything else on the internet, research relevant to podcasts has been conducted since their very first introduction to the world. Nobody wants to pour their time, energy and resources into a passion project or business opportunity, only to watch it come to its demise. I think it’s safe to say most everyone would prefer to watch the things they are a part of succeeding, rather than failing.
That said, it’s important to not only gauge your interests and intentions regarding your podcast but also to survey what’s proven to work. If you can get a good read on high performing niche and topics, podcast marketing, hosting platforms, logistics, demographics, etc. you provide yourself a much wider opportunity to do well. Not only that, but you have a better idea of the playing field you’re on, too.
Identify Niche Where You Can Be Heard
It’s no argument that there are certain spaces, industries, niches and conversations that are highly over-saturated. This carries over solidly into the podcasting industry more each day, making it increasingly difficult to stand out. In a medium where everyone’s opinions are being consistently spouted at listeners, how do you best identify your voice and why it matters?
There’s really no set, guaranteed, or proven process to this, and it can easily begin to feel like making blind guesses. However, one thing is true, there is something about your content which is unlike anyone else’s. And if you can properly understand what that thing is, you can leverage it for success. Again, it’s a process of asking yourself and your team pertinent questions, as well as now balancing your knowledge of the industry and what’s performing best.
Study Podcasters in that Niche (Determine where you’ll fit in)
Once you’ve got a solid grasp on what makes you special, and you’ve begun to develop a strategy through your newfound understanding of the podcasting world, you may want to zoom out and purvey the competition. Because podcasting becomes more interesting, and thus more crowded each day, there are plenty of examples in your niche community of what to do (and what not to do.)
By peering into the process and production of those similar to you, you can identify both your competitive edge and your true community and placement amongst podcasters. This certainty and self-awareness can be the delivery you need to make better choices for your podcast, and ultimately, better content, too.
Don’t be afraid to listen intently, dive deep into your peer’s creations, and even reach out when necessary or relevant. You may be surprised at what you find, and the creators you meet along the way.
Survey the Community You Intend to Create Content For
In the same way, you can become familiar with what your peers are doing, it’s also endlessly helpful to get acquainted with what your target audience is interested in. You can create content all day long, but if you’re not truly speaking to what your listeners want to hear, your podcast will fall flat and lifeless.
There are a number of ways to come to know your community wants and needs, and the route you take is truly dependent on the kind of community you’re interested in understanding better. You can peruse online forums or social media, read articles, or even simply ask people questions, yourself.
For a more indirect approach, you can also pay attention to what others in your niche are offering their audience. By reverse-engineering your competitor’s relationship with their listeners, you can begin to see the roots behind what makes the audience stick around… which brings us to the next tip.
Identify a Unique Audience Proposition
You may now understand what your podcast is about, who you’re speaking to, and even how your target audience is connecting with other leaders in your niche, but do you know what you are uniquely offering to your listeners? Many podcasts are good, but not great, and this is a huge component of why that is. Even with the best content, the most refined research, and a tuned-in understanding of who your audience is, if you’re not providing obvious value to listeners, it can quickly cause disinterest.
By crafting and delivering an audience proposition that directly communicates your value and the value of your audience, you make it abundantly clear that what you have to offer is beneficial.
Ensure You Are Knowledgeable in the Area
At this point, you’ve gathered all of the information you need to make your podcast unique, concise, impactful and successful. Now, you are responsible for delivering that value. Ensuring that you’re both knowledgable about the topics you’re speaking about, (able to share confidently,) and that you’re entertaining on top of it all, is an entirely new ballpark.
Whether you are already aware of and passionate about your podcast niche, or you’re new to and curious about the topic, you can become knowledgable with time. The tools to learn are easily accessible through the internet, It just takes a commitment to your craft. The willingness to consistently do the research required for you to not only understand the value yourself but communicate it to your audience as well is what will ultimately set you apart from the others in your niche.
Additionally, again, you can take to the podcasting community to source information, opinions, and feedback. You are never alone in such a saturated market, and advice is often given freely from both your peers and your audience.
Be Willing to Adjust Along the Way
If ever there were one final step to being informed and ready to enter the podcasting industry, it would be this. No matter how connected to your content you are, how tight your community is, or how skilled and successful you become, your content is never truly done shifting. Every seasoned podcaster knows this, and the ones who have longevity actively work with it to become better.
Don’t be afraid of not doing everything right in the beginning, because with time, change is inevitable, and if you’re truly invested in podcast success, that change can only be good in the end.
There are many moving parts to a podcast in both the creation and production processes. From start to end, it seems, there is a never-ending list of clarifications and adjustments to be made. But with proper guidance and a one-moment-at-a-time mentality, you can slowly but surely watch your podcast take shape.