Choosing the right topic for your podcast can seem difficult. Here are five questions to ask yourself with picking the right ideas for your future podcasting.
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For this discussion, let's make up four characters who are each struggling with what their podcast should be.
- Alex is a businessman and fiction-writer
- Betsy is a stay-at-home mom with two kids
- Charles is an employee at a dead-end job
- Donna is high-school student
1. Why do you want to podcast?
Always start with “why?” It's what your potential audience will be asking: “Why should I subscribe?” or “Why should I trust you?”
Your “why” is your deepest, specific motivation. “I want to make more money” is not a good enough why. A good “why” can follow the pattern, “I want to [desire] so that I can [action] in order to [SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goal].”
- Alex wants to promote his business so he can sell more products and services in order to increase his income by 25% this year and have more time for writing.
- Betsy wants to meet others so that she can have someone to talk to in order to make he days less stressful.
- Charles wants to quit his job so that he can find a better employer in order to afford more things and enjoy what he does.
- Donna wants to help people understand political issues so that she can inspire them to take action in order to make the world a better place.
2. What would be helpful or entertaining?
There are many labels for the desires of mankind. I'm only a part-time philosopher, and I see that most people want to either be helped or entertained.
Helping someone could mean building a relationship, giving them answers, or inspiring them.
Entertaining someone could mean making them laugh, fueling their imaginations, or feeding their interests.
- Alex could talk about his business industry, give writing and self-publishing tips, review novels and short stories in his genre, or tell more stories with the characters from his novels.
- Betsy could talk about saving money shopping for groceries, or she could share funny and touching stories from being a mother.
- Charles could share ideas for avoiding burnout, discover tips for finding a new job, or he could talk all about his hobby that is his one joy in life.
- Donna could interview politicians and citizens, share political news, or review government policies and issues.
3. What are you passionate about?
Your passion for your topic is what will keep you podcasting even when no one is watching or listening. (This is the truth for most people when they first start.) You keep going to your job because it pays the bills, but you go to your hobbies because you enjoy them.
While you may be greatly skilled in something, you may not enjoy it enough to talk much about it. Picking an area of passion makes it easy to express with enthusiasm, find inspiration when you're feeling down, and fulfillment after completing milestones.
- Alex is most passionate about his book and the world of its genre.
- Betsy loves to brag about how she got the “you saved” amount so high on her receipts and she loves to tell stories.
- Charles enjoys video games, action movies, and collecting memorabilia for these interests; and he utterly hates his job.
- Donna could talk about politics all day and she eagerly looks forward to when she's old enough to vote.
4. What is relevant?
It's time to connect your passions with your “why.” You may find yourself adjusting them as you go through this process, and that's good!
Look for what is relevant to your “why,” relevant to your audience (or potential audience), and relevant to what you want to promote (if anything).
- Alex can assume his potential readers would probably also read other fiction in the same genre as his book. But he's met others trying to write a book while working a full-time job.
- Betsy knows other moms also want to save money and need some adult conversation sometimes.
- Charles knows other gamers like to have icons from their favorite titles. But he's also trying to read through a book about changing careers and getting over his procrastination.
- Donna sees all politics as relevant to everyone, even though they don't realize it.
5. Are you skilled in this topic?
Having the audacity to podcast™ is more about your boldness than your actual skill. You should still have great content, the ability to present that content well, and the knowledge to produce it effectively. But you don't have to start as an expert in your field. You may be learning along with your audience, sharing your journey with them.
To lead, you only have to be one step ahead of your followers. This may mean you know just a little more or care just a little more than those you're trying to reach.
- Alex has read many books in his genre and watched many shows and movies—some were great, some were horrible. His book is about to be self-published.
- Betsy has figured out how to make shopping easier and her kids are good so far!
- Charles is consistently in the top three in each gaming match, but he doesn't have a clue of how to get a better job.
- Donna can't even vote yet, but she cares about political issues a lot more than everyone around her, so she studies a lot more.
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*four characters 😉
[…] As most of you know, I’m an avid audio podcast consumer as my means of lifelong learning for many interests, both vocational and avocational (aka, hobbies and crafts). I had a chance to catch up on one of my favorite podcasts on podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast with Daniel J. Lewis, where Daniel did an episode on “5 steps to pick what you should podcast about – TAP168“. […]
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