You may think that picking a podcast topic is easy. It sounds like it should be easy. Pick a topic you’re passionate about and talk about that. But don’t stop there. You’re going to need to do some analysis to be sure you’ve got a winning topic.

How to pick a winning podcast topic?

Make a list of your passions.

When you have a passion for something then you tend not only to be better at it, but you work harder at it too.

Vera Wong

These are topics that you can’t get enough of. More than just something you’re interested in. Your friends probably roll their eyes when you talk about this topic again and again.

List all of your passions no matter how strange or niche they are.

Now make a list of your interests.

If your passions are the topics you love then your interests are the topics you like.

Write down all the topics you are interested in and now you should have a decent list.

Now that you have a list of potential topics that you are excited about we need to some analysis on which one of these topics has the best chance of success.

Make a list of your SKILLS:

I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability, or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.

Dean Koontz

What are you good at? Make a list of your aptitudes.

How to do a skills inventory?

Here are some ideas that can help you with your skills list. Write down everything you have any level of skill at. If you are good at it or have some training jot it down.

What specialized training have you done?

  • Accounting
  • Management
  • Trades – plumbing, electrical, general contractor
  • Auto repair
  • Building Websites
  • Graphic Design
  • WordPress
  • Programming
  • Project Management
  • Coaching
  • Dog Training

What sports do you play at a competitive level?

  • Tennis
  • Martial Arts
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Water Polo
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Cricket
  • Rugby

Do you have a degree or designation or credential?

  • MBA
  • Science degree
  • Engineer
  • Medical Doctor
  • Nutritionist

What software or productivity tool do you know inside and out?

  • Notion
  • Evernote
  • OneNote
  • Microsoft Office
  • Camtasia
  • Reaper
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • OBS Studio

What hobbies do you have that you have experience and expertise in?

  • Model Trains
  • Toy Collecting/Trading
  • Podcasting
  • Ham Radio
  • Woodworking
  • DIY House Maintenance
  • Crafting
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Painting

Compare your skills list to your list of passions and look for overlaps. Ideally, there will be one or more topics that you are both passionate about and have some expertise or aptitude in.

What if there isn’t a topic that you are passionate about and also good at? Move on to your interests list. And you should have a few of these that you have an aptitude for.

What if I am highly interested and passionate about a topic but I don’t have a lot of experience in the topic and am not an expert?

Do you have to be an expert in order to host a podcast on the topic?

If you are an expert in your topic then you have an advantage out of the gate. You have credibility already and can attack your topic with confidence.

If you are not an expert you can still start your podcast but you may want to consider a few things first.

Brand yourself as a student of the topic and invite your listeners to learn about it along with you.

Interview experts in the field. You will benefit from your association with them in each of your episodes and over time will gain expertise in the topic.

Examples:

Eventual Millionaire – Jamie Masters interviewed millionaires about the secrets behind their success.

Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn invited his audience along for a journey of learning how to generate passive income. He called himself the crash test dummy of online marketing. He wasn’t an expert when he started. But over time he became a very credible expert.

Get yourself a co-host that is already an expert. You can be the apprentice.

There are other options too… just because you are new to a topic don’t write it off.

If you are highly passionate about nutrition or cutting-edge health technology but you have no medical degree or nutritionist designation then it is probably not the best idea to be giving people health advice on your podcast. But if you have a Co-host who is a doctor or a certified nutritionist or another type of health practitioner, then you can be the host that moderates a conversation with a leading expert in the field. Over time you will gain knowledge and if you want to you can pursue nutrition certification as you go along. You could produce episodes about your studies and talk about what you are learning. Your expert co-host would be a mentor helping you along the way.

A learning journey podcast:

As a student, you could produce a podcast for other students in the same field and brand your show as a learning journey. Each episode could feature what you have learned and you could interview other students and instructors. By the time you graduate you will have a following in your field and an asset that could help you move forward quickly in your chosen career.

If you don’t have expertise in your podcast topic and can find a way to overcome that weakness then go for it. Interviewing experts, Co-hosting with an expert, book reviews, taking courses, and inviting your audience to learn with you are potential workarounds.

Niche Down!

Before you move on you might want to double-check your topic and make sure it isn’t too general. A podcast with a general topic is more difficult to grow because it is hard to attract a large audience right out of the gate. For an indie podcaster, it is better to start with a micro-niche topic.

If you are already known in the niche, have some celebrity status, are part of a major broadcast or podcast network, or already have a large youtube or blog audience then you will have the marketing power to appeal to a mass-market general audience because you already have done the work to establish yourself.

But if you are just starting out then trying to appeal to a mass-market audience is a bad idea. You need to niche down in order to attract a small audience that isn’t being served by the big players.

You don’t need a large audience to have a successful podcast. A small audience that loves your show can be a profitable podcast. You can expand your niche as you grow but don’t start out as a general topic show. It probably won’t work.

What angle can you take on the topic? You will need something that will differentiate you from other podcasters? By combining two niches you can narrow your topic down further which will make your show more interesting for people in both niches.

Our Pick

Choose Yourself, by James Altucher

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Don’t wait to be chosen, Choose Yourself.

In the book Choose Yourself, James Altucher recommends writing down 10 ideas every day. And then looking over your idea list and doing “idea sex” to combine different ideas into new more unique ideas.

Do this with your Podcast Topic Ideas! Combine them and see what you come up with after mixing and matching different topics.

If you are a retired professional athlete that has started a business you might consider doing a show for athlete entrepreneurs. You could do an interview show that interviews athletes that have transitioned into business. You may get listeners that aren’t professional athletes but the pro-athletes that find your show will love it because it is just for them!

Is there a market that is being underserved by other podcasters? Look for things that you can do differently and bring more value to the table.

By focussing on a niche within a niche or combining two niches into a new one that you own you will be the only podcast producing a show on exactly on that topic! And if you can come up with ways of producing your content more efficiently than other shows then you have yourself a Podcast Blue Ocean Strategy!

Great! You have a topic you are passionate about and that you either have the expertise or a strategy to compensate for your lack of expertise. And you have niched down to a small unique topic that will appeal to a small but engaged group.

But that isn’t the end of the process.

There is one more exercise you need to do to pick a winning podcast topic.

Check for topic viability:

Wherever the fish are, that’s where we go!

Robert Wagner

Next, look at your shortlist (where passion and skill intersect) and see if there is a market attached to any of those topics? Are there niche-related products and services you can promote? Is there an industry you can sell sponsorships to? Are there affiliate products that you can sell to your audience?

Are there books and courses already published on your topic?

Look up your topic on Amazon Kindle and find all the books on your topic. Read the Table of Contents of the books to get more ideas on how to niche down your topic. But this will also give you ideas for episode topics.

Look up your topic on Udemy and other course marketplaces. Are there any top-selling courses in your niche? Look up the lesson and module titles and this will give you more podcast episode ideas.

Find the topics on your list that you believe have reasonable market potential and now it is time to strategize on how you can create a successful show.

Do a Google search for your podcast topic:

What kind of search competition do you have on the front page of Google. You can use tools like Ubersuggest to get some free data on the search results and the websites that are listed on the first couple of pages. How easy would it be to get on top of the search results with your topic? This is a longer-term goal but if there are some weak pages at the top it will be easier for you to get found in search by replacing these pages. Look up what related keyword phrases are being searched and check the Keyword Difficulty score to determine if you can compete for that term. Doing some keyword research will help you to pick the right topic. If nobody is searching for the topic it is a bad sign.

Do the same thing with Youtube, Bing, and other search engines. This will give you an idea of how competitive the niche is but will also inspire you with new episode ideas that can also potentially rank in search.

Make sure the topic of your show is intentionally chosen to attract the right kind of customer.

You don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy producing a podcast to realize later that you have attracted the wrong audience.

If you are providing an expensive done-for-you service and you produce content explaining how to DIY the work then you will attract people that want to Do It Themselves. DIY’ers don’t want to pay you a lot of money to do it for them. They will mess around doing it on their own using your free content. They will love you for helping them but if your goal is to monetize then you have accidentally targetted the wrong audience.

Be Yourself

Don’t forget to include YOU in your podcast! There is only one of you and you have something that gives you an unfair advantage over others. How do I know this? Because everyone does. Bring whatever that is to your podcast studio when you begin recording. And make you part of your podcast topic description.

So don’t just pick a podcast topic willy-nilly. Podcasting ain’t easy and if you don’t have the passion (or at least a strong interest), the aptitude, and/or a potential market to monetize then you are doomed before you start.

Pick your podcast topic carefully and you will have an advantage.


Andrew McGivern
Andrew McGivern

Andrew McGivern is a podcaster, blogger and mobile tech guy. Father of three awesome little ones. Interested in Social Media Marketing, New Media and Podcasting, Technology, Natural Health and Green Energy.