In the process of building a podcast, videocast, or towncast, there may be no factor more important than choosing the right topic for your content.
It may seem obvious, but many podcasters overlook the importance of this one single factor. They may focus on appearance, quantity, even advertising, without spending enough quality time with the all-important question:
What am I even going to be talking about?
Sometimes, people have a lightbulb moment. “Of course I should launch a towncast about my local sports teams!” Or, “Of course I should make a videocast showcasing my creative process from start to finish!” Or, maybe you’re creating a podcast as a networking tool for your business and the subject matter is implied by your line of work.
But sometimes, it does’t come quite so easy. Someone may be attracted to the idea of creating content, particularly a pod or towncast. The accessibility, the creative freedom, and the high-ROI potential of doing it right. Despite the fact that they know they want to launch something, they’re just not sure what to talk about.
So, if you’re in this predicament - you know you want to start something, but you’re just not sure what. Hold on to that inspiration, because in this article, we’re going to help you find the perfect topic for your podcast, videocast, or towncast.
First, I want to run over a key concept to keep in mind when you’re considering a topic for your content.
First, let’s define a niche. A niche can be defined as a “distinct segment of a market”. As an adjective, it could be thought to mean “having specific appeal.”
Finding your niche is very important. If you go too broad with your topic, you run the risk of being just another echo in a crowded room. No matter how good your content is, if you’re doing something that’s already been done a million times over, you’re going to have a very hard time standing out and finding your audience.
Having a niche means that you have focused in on a specific avenue of a particular topic. So, even if your interest is broad, you have chosen a narrow focus within that broad range. A quick aside to say: having a niche does not necessarily limit the long-term goals. Who’s the say you couldn’t go seasonal and approach one specific - one niche - at a time?
For example, let’s say you want to talk about food on your podcast. There’s so many different types of food out there - different flavors, from different places, and even different methods of cooking the same thing. There is simply no limit to the extent to which you could talk about food. So, it makes sense to, on some level, focus in on a particular aspect of the culinary world. This not only helps you to create better content, by keeping you focused, it also - along with good branding and other strategic moves - attracts the audience that you really want.
So, keeping your intentions - your topic - clear and specific is one of those things that kind of helps everyone.
The importance of the niche is really one that most experienced podcasters seem to agree on. It just seems to be a fact that your potential to reach your target audience and achieve your goals is greater if you have a clear plan from the outset, and a specific niche. If you hyper focus your subject matter, you’re also hyper-focusing your target audience. This makes advertising a bit easier because, through research, you’ve probably identified your audience to a fine degree, and you’ve been able to determine where they hang out and what kind of content they’re looking for.
A lot of people say it’s good to go for an open niche - that’s one that isn’t already being heavily covered in other content. While this is true to a degree, there’s a few things to keep in mind. First, you want to make sure that there is actually an audience for your niche. Again, do your research and make sure there’s an audience there. Chances are there is, but you might have to get creative with your marketing if you’re trying to appeal to an audience that may not even know you’re there. While you’re doing that research, look around and see what your competition looks like. Are there other people covering your topic?
And on the topic of “competition”, this bring up another point I’d like to mention. Even if there are other creators covering your topic, don’t let that stop you from covering it as well. In this age of the internet and seemingly exponential content creation, you would be hard-pressed to find a topic that isn’t being covered in some capacity nowadays. So, do that research and get a lay of a land, so to speak, but don’t expect to be the only one in your corner of the market. Take a look at what people are doing - try to determine what works, what doesn’t, and then implement that research into your strategy.
One more thing on the niche front. If you’re struggling to find a niche or understand it, here’s another quick example that might also be practically applicable. This thought experiment could open some doors that you may have not considered. Best of all, these doors - figuratively and literally - are at once easily accessible and almost a guaranteed path to a hyper-local niche. Can you guess what it is yet? Well, it’s towncasting of course. As we covered in a previous episode, towncasting is a novel form of pod or video-casting that focuses on a geo-local area, community, or audience.
As you can see, niches come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s widely agreed upon that for most podcasters that are getting started, one of the most valuable concepts to consider is that of the niche. Keep this idea in mind as we move forward - you’re already on your way to discovering that perfect topic.
Let’s say you’ve been wanting to make a podcast for a while now. You’re a highly-sociable person, you’ve always excelled at public speaking, you have a love for learning and a decent grasp of technology - but you just can’t find that perfect topic.
Instead of thinking big - macro-level, worldwide scale - think local. Start small. Take those skills, those relationships, that passion, knowledge, and network that you already have for your community, and use it to your advantage. Use it to everybody’s advantage. You’re talking to the people of your town - whoever they are and wherever that is - and you’re creating a hyperlocal, hyper niche content brand that, chances are, nobody has touched before.
It may not be your cup of tea. Maybe you don’t love the idea. But if you’re struggling with this topic, give towncasting some thought. And go back to episode 5 to hear more about towncasting and some of the possibilities with it.
Ok. Now I’d like to introduce a concept that I came up with that may be able to help you along on identifying the perfect subject for your show.
To begin, there are three different aspects of your own life that I want you to consider.
Stick around until the end of the episode to hear about my bonus takeaway which will make this exercise easy to visualize and execute.
The first thing I want you to do is, see what the first thing is that comes to your mind when I ask the following question:
What are you passionate about?
That first thing. Maybe the second thing. Maybe a few things came to mind. Chances are good that whatever you thought of is pretty interesting - obviously it is to you. Chances are also good that topic is interesting to other people. One thing is for sure: your answer or answers to that question are your own. And, they are a big step on your way to finding your perfect topic. That’s right - the first aspect of this formula is Passion.
My next question is: What is a topic that you know the most about?
It could be anything. Maybe it’s movies, maybe it’s math, maybe it’s coffee, maybe it’s the history of internet memes. Maybe it’s a topic that you’re embarrassed to admit - even to yourself! Well, don’t worry, you don’t have to share. But what I do ask is to not sell yourself short. Next time you’re able, write out a list of some of the things that you, a) already know a lot about. Or b) love to learn about.
Some people sell themselves short and say that they don’t have extensive knowledge of anything. Chances are, if you’re listening to this, you probably do know quite a bit more than most people about several things. And whatever those things are - those overlapping areas of interest, knowledge, and curiosity - those are the second set of elements that we will be using to build your perfect podcast topic. That is the area that we’ll call Knowledge.
Sure, passions and can change throughout the course of our lives. But what we’re looking for here is that undeniable passion of yours - maybe it’s music, maybe it’s food, travel, fitness, business. Maybe you just like to talk to interesting people! Whatever it is, it is an intrinsic part of who you are. And remember, this is all in the name of finding an interesting topic for you to explore along with your audience. So don’t forget to have fun with it.
Come to think of it, it might make for interesting content if you don’t already have a ton of knowledge in an area, but you’re actively learning it. That’s kind of what I’m doing here on the Towncast Podcast. I’m no podcasting expert, but I’m learning stuff all the time, relaying it to you here, and hopefully creating decent stuff in the process.
Exercise: A good exercise for this is to begin plotting out your podcast content. See how many topics you can come up with. (This list is also a useful tool that you can use to come up with episode topics later!)
One thing I’ve learned already is that, through the very nature of podcasting - coming up with new topics and finding interesting people to talk to - you’re going to constantly be learning new things about your chosen topic. Not only that, but if you so choose, you’re going to be speaking with other people who share a mutual interest.
And what happens when you meet people who share common interests? You begin building a network!
Speaking with like-minded, passionate people about a topic you love not only makes for great content, but it’s also a really great way to leverage your show in multiple ways.
- Your listeners will be engaged
- You’ll be learning from and picking the brains of experts in your field
- You’ll be having fun AND expanding your network
Of course, it would help to have a pre-existing network before you start your podcast. But, truthfully, it’s not required. As we just went over, having a podcast or other content brand is a great way to get your name out there and meet other people who are interested in the same things as you. And thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to find people who share an interest with you.
All that said, of course, if you’re starting a podcast and already have a network within your niche, that’s a great thing to have. But it’s also comforting to know that, with enough preparation, strategy, and determination, you can essentially use podcasting or content creation as leverage to meet new and interesting people who have common interests with you.
As you can see, podcasting is not only a great way to turn a passion into something more, it’s also an excellent way to continue learning about that passion, and expanding your network at the same time.