Podcast, Getting Started, Guide

How to Come Up With an Idea for Your Podcast

You might be interested in podcasting, but coming up with an idea for your podcast may be a struggle. Whether you have no topics in mind, one topic, or even multiple topics, it is beneficial to go through a process for coming up with an idea and evaluating it. Going through a process to decide on an idea will be helpful with developing your podcast and brand, but the process will also ensure that you have covered all of your bases and thought through any challenges that an idea may pose in the future. Below, we've come up with a process for developing an idea and evaluating it that you can use on your podcast journey.

1. Brainstorm

Your first step is to brainstorm. Think about what you're passionate about. Also, think about where your expertise lies. Both of these considerations may bring up a few different ideas. Perhaps the most optimal idea may be at the intersection of your passion and expertise. How can you create a podcast that nicely incorporates your biggest passion as well as your main expertise? Now, your passions and expertise should be vital to your idea, but there are other considerations that may spring more ideas or develop out some ideas that you may already have. Some of these considerations include, "Why do you want to podcast?," "What benefit do you want to provide (entertainment, help, motivation, education, inspiration, etc.)?," "Is your podcast idea relevant and to whom?," and "What sparked your interest in podcasting?"

You might have a topic(s) that you want your podcast to be about, but you may not necessarily have an idea. Think through some of the considerations discussed to pin down the other aspects of your podcast idea aside from the topic(s). Ideally, your full podcast idea should include topic(s), your purpose for podcasting (your motivation, goal(s), and vision, why you want to podcast, what benefit you want to provide, and so on), and the relevancy of your topic(s).

If you come up with a few ideas during the brainstorming phase, that is great! You can evaluate all of them throughout the process to narrow down which one is best. If you only have one idea, that is great too! You can thoroughly evaluate that idea during the process and tweak it as needed. The process will simply help you hone in on that idea and develop it out for podcasting and branding.

2. Audience Research

Once you've completed some brainstorming and have 1 or more ideas, it is time to consider your audience. If you have multiple ideas that would each have different audiences, then you will have to research all of those audiences. The point of audience research is to figure out if you can distinctly identify the audience that would be interested in your idea and if that audience is a group that you feel that you can reach and resonate with.

When you are conducting audience research, you want to think about who your audience would be, so this could include gender, race, ethnicity, religion, profession, sexuality, lifestyle, and whatever other demographic information you can find out. You also want to consider what a day in their life is like, what they wonder about, what they're interested in, and what their needs, fears, concerns, and desires are. It is helpful to think about your idea and consider what you imagine a conversation with your audience would be like as well. Compiling all of this information about your audience will help you hone in on your idea and even potentially discard extra ideas that maybe don't make sense for you now that you know audience information.

3. Evaluate the Market

The next step in the process is to evaluate the market. Evaluating the market means that you check to see if there are any other podcasts out there that are similar to your idea, specifically your topic(s). Checking out any competition will help you develop your podcast so it is unique and has something special to offer your target audience. Also, checking out any competition will help you deliver interesting content and may even spark some new ideas for you.

If there are podcasts out there that are like the one you want to create, you want to ensure that you then develop your podcast so that it stands out against the similar ones. On the other hand, if there are no podcasts around your idea, you may want to consider whether that may be because the idea has failed for others who wanted to create a podcast like yours, or if it is simply because no one has thought of the idea. While you can not specifically find out the answer to this question, it is a good idea to think about the reason no podcast exists around your idea. This way, you can ensure that you cover all of your bases and are prepared to work through any challenges that your idea may pose.

Here, you may begin to think about the format of the podcast that you want to create. If there are other podcasts around your idea, you can differentiate your podcast using the formatting. Some formats include monologues, commentary, interviews, storytelling (fiction or non-fiction), banter, freestyle, conversational, educational, and Q&As. You can stick to one single format or you can do a mix. You can also create unique segments for your podcast or develop your own style in terms of format to differentiate your podcast.

Aside from checking out podcasts that are similar to the podcast that you want to create, you may also want to explore the blog space around your idea and check out any companies that offer products or services related to your idea. Doing so will potentially help you with creativity as well as future business endeavors, such as finding sponsors and other monetization efforts.

4. Create a List of Content

Now, your audience research will come in handy for when you start to create a list of content for you idea(s). This may be one of the steps in the process that brings the most clarity for you if you still have multiple podcast ideas. Get your computer out or a pen and paper and give yourself 1-2 minutes to write down everything that immediately comes to your mind related to your podcast idea. During this time, also think about your audience and the things that they may be interested in or wondering about regarding your podcast idea. What you anticipate your audience enjoying should influence the content that you create. Create a list like this for each podcast idea you still have. This list should be of things that you could make podcast episodes about (aka the content of your podcast).

After you create this list, you can continue to add to it as time goes on. If you don't have much on a list for one of your ideas, you can confidently eliminate that idea. If you still have a few ideas with lists that are pretty robust, keep adding to them throughout the process and see which one ends up the longest. The idea with the longest list may be the idea to go with. And, the list will serve as a document that you can refer to when planning out podcast episodes as well as add to throughout the life of your podcast.

5. Evaluate the Pros and Cons

If you still have multiple podcast ideas, then this step will be where you narrow it down to one. Get a pen and paper and split it into 2 columns. List the "Pros" on the left side and "Cons" on the right side. If you have multiple podcast ideas, do this for each one.

Think about your audience research, market evaluation, and the list of content that you've created. If you've determined that an audience is hard to reach, the market is saturated, or if you had difficulty developing a list of content, then list those as cons. On the other hand, if you've determined that an audience is easily reachable, the market is pretty open, you have a distinct vision and value that is unique, or if you have a huge list of content, then list those as pros. If you foresee any challenges or complications, list those as cons. If you have connections in the industry related to your idea, list that as a pro. Anything that you can think of related to your idea, consider whether it is a positive or negative aspect and jot it down.

If you find that you are having difficulty listing things for either of the columns, think on it for several days and maybe even ask a friend for their input on your idea. The more that you think on the pros and cons, the more you will be able to hone in on your idea and the more informed you will be, which will help you avoid any challenges and complications in the future.

If you started with multiple ideas during this step, look at the lists that you created and compare them. Does one clearly have more pros than any of the others? That may be the right idea. Does one clearly have more cons than any of the others? You can confidently eliminate that idea. Weigh the pros and cons of each idea against those of the other ideas and decide which idea will lead you on a path of the most success and ease in podcasting.

6. Sit on Your Idea

The last step of the process is to simply sit on your podcast idea for a little bit of time. Starting a podcast is a big commitment, so your decision on an idea should be something that you've thoroughly thought out. The last thing that you want to do is rush your podcast along and later face challenges that you weren't expecting or even complications with your idea. Take a week or 2 to sit on your idea. This will allow you time to potentially hone in on your idea further and you may even develop new thoughts about the idea or your podcast generally. It is also a good practice to pitch your idea to friends and family members to see their reaction and get input. After a week or 2, you can be sure that you are totally confident in your idea and move forward with it.

Extra Step: Do a Test Run

After you decide on a podcast idea, it may be a good plan to record a pilot podcast episode to see if the idea translates to good podcast content. Also, this can help you get a feel for podcasting to see if the medium is right for you before investing time, money, and effort into really starting your podcast. Simply record an episode using any microphone you have lying around, such as the microphone that comes on most headphones, a recorder, or your phone. No editing or special equipment is needed, this test run is just for you to have something you can listen back to and show to trusted friends and/or family members to see if the idea and podcasting are worth pursuing.

Moving through this process of coming up with a podcast idea should provide you with a lot of clarity with your idea as well as information that will be beneficial with branding and development of your podcast. While this process may take a good bit of work and time, everything that you will compile will help you moving forward. And, this process will ensure that you don't waste any time and effort in the future with a podcast idea that simply doesn't work for you. So, invest the time and effort now to help yourself out and to help ensure that your podcast will be the best that it can possibly be. Happy podcasting!

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Article Image: A chalkboard background, with a speech bubble drawn around a light bulb. (TeroVesalainen via Pixabay.)

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania