Choosing a Unique Topic for Your Podcast - dummies

Choosing a Unique Topic for Your Podcast

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Before you can think about putting together a podcast, you need to decide what topic you want to cover. At the time of this writing, a sample of what people were podcasting (according to at the end of 2015) — listed by the top ten categories — looked like this:

Topic Number of shows (approximate)
Christian 39,000
Music 33,600
Comedy 14,200
TV and Film 12,800
Literature 10,600
News and Politics 10,200
Video Games 7,000
Sports 6,700
Management and Marketing 5,200
Personal Journals 4,300

That’s a total of 143,600 podcasts — up from 36,540 in 2008. That’s a lot of growth!

The first thing to understand about podcasts is that this activity isn’t all about being “number one” in your chosen podcast genre. Granted, some podcasts do vie for top honors on various polls, but instead of worrying about garnering ratings and awards, think about what will make your podcast uniquely worth your effort and your listeners’ time. The point in launching a podcast isn’t always “I want to do something totally new …” but more about “What do I have to say about this topic?”

Here are some ways you can create a unique podcast:

  • Study other podcasts. Before you can figure out what will make your podcast unique, check out some other podcasts. The best way to find out what makes a podcast worthwhile is to subscribe to a few feeds that pique your curiosity.

    Listen to these feeds for a few weeks (provided they’re weekly) and jot down what you like and don’t like about them. From the notes you take, you might find your angle. Keep in mind that downloading and listening to other podcasts should be educational and constructive, not a raid for fodder for your own show.

    Don’t steal content, special effects, or unique segments (like “On This Day in Tech History” or “The Loot Crate Lookie-Loo”) from another podcast. Approach others’ podcasts as you would someone’s website. It’s okay to be inspired; just don’t make your podcast a carbon copy of your inspiration’s work. When you have your podcast up, avoid criticizing another podcast in your own. Criticizing someone else’s work is no way to better yours. It is better to show support for other podcasts and the podcasting community on a whole rather than insult or trash other people’s hard work.

  • Pick a topic you know. Whether you’ve decided to take on the topic of music, religion, or technology, the best way to make your podcast unique is to find an angle you’re comfortable with (Polka: The Misunderstood Music, Great Travesties of Sports History, Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction). There’s also the possibility that your initial show may inspire an additional angle so unique that you’ll have to start another podcast specifically to address that audience.
  • Speak confidently. Don’t apologize for being “yet another podcast on …” or point out what you are doing wrong compared to others. What makes a podcast fun is the passion and the confidence you exude when the mics are hot. Address your topic with authority and energy, and enjoy your time recording. If you have a blast making a podcast, your audience will enjoy it along with you. That confidence might even inspire others to podcast themselves. That was how it happened with podcaster Joe Hogan and his first podcast, Geektitude. His confidence and passion for the geek lifestyle inspired others like the Geek Wolfpack Podcast to launch their own podcasts.
Joe Hogan’s Geektitude, from its beginning to recent episodes, maintains a confidence level that inspires others to get behind the microphone.

The content you bring — regardless of what genre it’s in — is unique because it is your podcast. It’s your voice, your angle, and your approach to whatever intent you pursue. Provided you maintain a high confidence level and genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, people will tune in and talk to other listeners about what you’re podcasting.