brainstorming word cloud on blackboard

Your podcast needs a plan if you hope to reach any success. I often suggest making a list of topics for podcasting, and here are 4 ways to plan your upcoming podcast topics—whether you're already podcasting or just launching your podcast.

For the sake of having a specific example, let's imagine you are passionate about baking and decorating cakes. You know you want to podcast about cakes, but you do not know what your topics will be.

1. Brainstorm for your own ideas

Spend some focused time to record every possible idea you can imagine. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What would you want to know about the subject?
  • What things do you think no one else is saying?
  • What can you cover better than or differently from someone else?
  • What are the smaller pieces of the subject?
  • Whom can you interview or invite to guest-cohost about the subject?
  • What are your likes about the subject?
  • What are your dislikes about the subject?
  • What can make the subject better?
  • What have your referenced in short but not covered in detail?

Tools for brainstorming

The particular tool you use doesn't matter as much as how easy and accessible that tool is for you. Make sure the tool doesn't distract you from the task.


Tools: Mind42, MindMeister, pencil and paper

Mind-mapping is great for brainstorming, because it doesn't require any linear thinking (which usually doesn't happen in brainstorming sessions anyway). Start with your core subject in the middle and start branching out with your ideas. When if one of those branches gives you another idea, make a new branch.

You don't have to complete anything on this mind-map, and nothing has to make sense yet. It's better to record every idea than to spend this time sorting, filtering, and planning.

Linear documents

Tools: Google Drive documents, Workflowy, Evernote, pencil and paper

You may prefer something more organized and easier to build than moving things around. Consider a linear format like a document.

How you format this document doesn't matter much, but I generally recommend bullet points and subbullet points. Workflowy is especially great for those kinds of lists.

Collection bins

Tool: Evernote

You may also be at the point of just collecting ideas. I think the best tool for collecting any kind of idea is Evernote. You can create a notebook or use a specific tag for dumping all of your ideas into the same places. It could be a photo, a URL, a video, some text, an audio recording, or almost anything else.

2. Find questions you can answer

No matter the subject, someone is asking questions about it online. Find these questions to give you ideas of what other people want to know.

The titles for your content could be the actual questions others are asking. This is great for search-engine optimization (SEO).

This can also help you actively promote and grow your podcast by creating targeted, relevant, and helpful or entertaining content that you may be able to share with the original person who asked the question.

Here are the top places I recommend for finding questions to answer.

  • Your own inboxes
  • Twitter search
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • YouTube comments
  • Google+ Communities
  • Facebook Pages and Groups
  • Forums
  • Other social networks

3. Ask for questions

If you know anyone else who shares your interest, ask them questions to uncover topics for you.

  • “What do you want to know about ___?”
  • “What do you love about ___?”
  • “What do you hate about ___?”

Even if you don't have any audience yet, you can ask these questions in appropriate niche communities. If you don't know of any communities, then simply mention the subject to a friend and ask them, “If you were interested in ___, what do you think you'd want to know about it?”

4. Look for inspiration in other places

Read or watch other information and specifically look for ideas that can relate with your subject. We tend to find what we're looking for when we keep that thing in our focus.

  • News items
  • Books
  • Movies and TV shows
  • Presentations
  • Messages from influencers and achievers


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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Bryan Entzminger
9 years ago

:disqus, the way you went through the news and were able to tie potential ideas to unrelated topics was great! I’ll see if I can do the same.

Steve Wilkinson • cgWerks

Wow, that was amazing how you worked it from so many different angles and tactics. I’ve just been keeping a list in Dropbox that I add to every time I get an idea (for blog or future podcast), or get inspired by a topic I hear on a podcast, or think of something based on a news article. You added a lot of other great ways. I’m going to add THIS podcast to the top of my list to listen to again if I ever get stuck. Thanks!

Re: tools and Evernote – I’ve gone to a system of plain text documents (I use some markup now and then) in Dropbox, as over the decades I’ve used a number of different systems and always hit limitations or the product ends up going away, and then I’m stuck trying to get all of my data out to some other system. So, as alluring as Evernote has been, I’ve resisted. 🙂

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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