For aspiring creators, choosing the right podcast topic is a big part of attracting an audience and staying inspired to create content—but it can be tricky. How will you know when you’ve found the right subject? And how can you be sure people are interested in it?
There’s a virtually infinite number of podcast topics to explore, so rather than telling you what to talk about, we asked creators to share how they chose their show topics.
Here’s who you’ll learn from:
- Casey Adams, host of “The Casey Adams Show” which features conversations with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world
- Christine Chen and Regina Fang, hosts of “Perfectly Imperfect,” a show that explores mental health, friendship, and life lessons through the lens of two Asian-American women
- Sapphire Sandalo, host of “Stories with Sapphire“ where she shares the supernatural stories that shape our world
These creators' insights are useful if you’re looking to launch a new show, but they work just as well for your existing show if you feel like your content needs a boost.
Find your “why”
When you brainstorm podcast topic ideas, you might be concerned with choosing an episode format and attracting listeners. But in the early stages, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Why do I want to start a podcast in the first place? You might be surprised how far a little bit of self reflection goes while taking big creative leaps.
“Take a moment to evaluate what makes your perspective unique and write it down on a piece of paper,” says Casey. “Get clear on why you want to start a podcast. Is it to connect with people? To have great conversations? To express your ideas?”
If you can’t pinpoint your “why” right away, Christine and Regina suggest thinking back to a piece of content that inspired you and using that as a jumping-off point.
“Seek out what clicks for you from other podcasts, videos, and books and hone in on the specifics of why it spoke to you,” they say. “Was it centered around career, activism, dating, or health? What are some questions or thoughts you have around those topics? Start there, and you’ll find your own voice; let that guide you when you create content.”
Don’t worry if your podcast topic idea feels quirky or super niche—in fact, the more you can differentiate your show, the better. The odds are very good that someone else wishes that show existed, and they’ll want to listen to you.
“Don’t get caught up on how you’ll get listeners,” says Sapphire. “If you make a show that you love, the audience will find you.”
Tell the story only you can
No matter who you are or what your background is, you have a perspective that few other people on earth have. Lean into this. Maybe you have access to people or data that makes you the right fit to tell a story. Or maybe your life experience gives you a unique vantage point, like Christine and Regina.
“When we started our podcast in 2017, we hadn’t listened to many podcast conversations around sensitive topics, especially as women of color,” says Christine. “We wanted to create a space where we could be vulnerable and authentic in our experiences and hopefully connect to others out there who might feel alone in their own thoughts.”
Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh point of view on a popular subject for a podcast to resonate with listeners. There was no shortage of entrepreneurship podcasts when Casey decided to launch his show at age 17—but instead of shying away from the subject, he committed to exploring entrepreneurship through his perspective as a member of Generation Z.
The takeaway: Don’t get discouraged if someone else is covering the topic you’re interested in—you just need to put your stamp on it.
“There are plenty of other ghost story and paranormal podcasts out there, but I make sure that mine has my DNA all over it, that no one else could host this particular show,” says Sapphire. “When you listen to my podcast, you’re listening to my own spiritual journey as I share what I learn.”
Pick a topic you can talk about long-term
When a big news story makes headlines or something goes viral on social media, you may be tempted to spin the topic into a podcast. Recording an individual podcast episode about a time-sensitive topic can be a smart way to attract listeners. However, if you want to create a show that’s relevant for an extended period of time, the creators we spoke to encourage aspiring podcasters to choose a topic they can sustain for multiple seasons.
For example, if a celebrity feud piques your interest, you might record an episode to tap into the momentum. But when that feud fizzles out, there won’t be much left to discuss.
When your podcast topic has built-in longevity, you’ll always have something to talk about, and new listeners can get value out of any episode they tune into. “We lean towards evergreen topics so that any person at any time who stumbles onto one of our episodes can relate to what we're talking about,” says Regina. “We receive so many messages from first-time listeners who just listened to our first episode.”
Whether the topic you like has 10 fans or 10 million, your audience can tell when you care about it. Not only that, but you’ll be relying on yourself to drive the narrative of your show, ask questions, and dive deep into topics without direction from anyone, so don't be afraid to pick something you want to learn more about.
“If you absolutely love a popular topic, then, by all means, do a show on that,” says Sapphire. “But people can smell inauthenticity from a mile away.”
Seek feedback on your podcast topic ideas
Feedback of any sort is a crucial ingredient for zeroing in on your podcast topic. It refines your thoughts and increases your chance of making a show people want to listen to (or watch).
Consider asking your social media followers for their input. Many social media platforms make it easy to share polls, so you’ll know exactly what your fans want. Or, you can reach out to people you trust directly and collect more detailed feedback on your podcast topic idea.
“We shared our idea for ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ with our close friends and family,” says Christine. “Regina and I had been having in-depth conversations for years, so the people who knew us best knew the sisterly, sassy, real, and open vibes we would be sharing through our episodes.”
Feedback doesn’t stop at the topic ideation phase, though. “The Casey Adams Show” is an interview-based podcast, so he invites listeners to suggest future guests and subject matter.
Once your podcast is live, Anchor’s Q&A and Polls feature makes it easy to bring your audience into the mix. This allows you to field comments and questions from fans directly within episodes to shape the content and trajectory of your show.
Along those same lines, Anchor’s Voice Messages feature lets fans send short audio clips so you can field comments or feedback from anyone, anywhere. You can even add Voice Messages as segments in your Episode Builder.
Keep your podcast topic and format flexible
The beauty of podcasting is that you can let your show evolve over time. It’s okay if you don’t hit your stride in the first couple of episodes.
“You may not find the perfect podcast format or topic right away,” says Casey. “It's important to keep trying different things to figure out what works best for you.”
Maybe you wanted to start a podcast about the history of a subject, but your audience would rather receive how-to advice—why not try it out? Or maybe you find a better way to hook listeners with your content. For instance, Sapphire tweaked her intro in the early stages of her show.
“I was writing original poetry for every episode in the beginning, and I quickly learned that wasn’t sustainable,” she says. “Once you’re a few episodes down the line, you’ll find your groove.”
Take the leap and turn on the mic
There’s only one way to test your podcast topic: press “record” and release that first episode. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you just need a baseline to work from.
“I’ve seen a lot of creators overthink their podcast and never actually launch their show,” says Casey. “Once you get clear on what makes you excited, turn on the microphone and start recording. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll grow as a podcaster as soon as you start recording.”
No matter what podcast topic you pursue, stick with it for a handful of episodes. This will give you enough data to identify areas for improvement and what your listeners love.
Note: This blog post was updated on February 22, 2022. It was originally published on September 19, 2019.