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Jun 2
How to Pick a Topic

So you want to podcast, but aren't sure of the topic? Here's an article I recently wrote on how to do just that.

Pick a topic: This may seem obvious, but there are many, many podcasts out there that have no topic. The podcasters simply ramble on about whatever subjects they desire. Shows like this are not only difficult to listen to, they aren't attractive to listeners who are searching for specific themes or to advertisers.

Don't to the "general" podcast thing. It's a non-starter.

Make "The Big Fish Decision": There are some podcast markets that are already very well covered. Technology and music are two such topic areas. If you opt to do a show on one of these topics then you're opting to be a small fish in a big pond.

Citizen-media has proven that niche topics can attract a surprising amount of listeners. If you chose to go with a niche topic such as "cloud formations in the sky" you may be the only person in that space. That makes you a big fish in a small pond.

Assess your knowledge: You don't need to be a professional in any area to podcast about it. If that were true, the only podcasts on the market would be law and accounting shows. However, you do have to know something about your topic or you'll very quickly run out of things to say.

Hobbies make great podcasts. If you've been fishing or model building for a while then you likely have the knowledge to produce an interesting and informative show.

Assess sustainability: If you intend to produce a series of shows, you'll need to ensure that you can sustain the topic.

While knowledge certainly plays a part in the assessment of sustainabilty, the show model or format is also important. If you're thinking of doing a tutorial type show then you'll need to ensure that you have the several hours a week that such a show requires. In contrast, if you're thinking of doing off-the-cuff weather reports, then the time commitment is much less.

Assess your resources: Depending on the topic of your show, you may require resources. A hardware or software review show requires a never-ending flow of products to review. Interview-based shows face the same issue in that they require a non-stop flow of interviewees.

Bottom line: Where are your resources going to come from? Unless you're willing to foot the bill for all your games and books yourself, you'll need to find a source.

Assess other podcasters: Who else is working in your intended space and what can they do for you? Other podcasters that are producing like shows can be either a competitor or a compatriot.

  1. A business-software review podcast, for example, can be conducted in different ways. One podcaster may review applications by installing and running them while another podcaster may interview the vendor's product managers. Both podcasters are operating in the same space, but in very different ways.

Stick to the decision:. Once you decide on a topic, stick to it. If you find out down the road that you you've picked something that isn't sustainable, then shut down the show and start a new one. Changing the topic of a show will confuse listerners and dilute your "expert power"

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