How to Choose a Topic that Will Make Your Show a Success

In one of our previous posts, we covered the basics of starting a new online show. In today’s post, we’ll go in depth on a topic of immense importance and one that all new radio hosts can relate to – choosing a topic for your show or podcast.

To say the least, picking the right topic should not to be taken lightly. A recent article by USA Today discussing the re-emergence of podcasting argued that “the most popular categories for podcasts are news, politics and sports“, and it’s true that these topics attract significant listeners numbers. But if you are truly serious about getting off to a great start, you should give some serious to what you’re best suited to talk about over the next few months (or years).

Here’s how to ensure you pick a topic that’s right for you:

Option #1. Focus on A “Meta Niche” (If Your Goal is to Create a Business)

If you’ve been an astute observer of some of the longstanding trends in online for-profit content creation, you may have noticed that the lion’s share of money is made in three niches:

1. Health and Wellness
2. Business & How to make money
3. Relationships & Dating advice

If you think about some of the most fundamental needs that humans have, it may come as no surprise to you that these categories help people fulfill those universal wants. What’s more, the problems and frustrations that individuals experience and as they try to get fit and healthy, make more money or start a business, and attract a mate or find a spouse are enduring. In other words, the three niches deal with issues that listeners tend to grapple with for years (if not their whole lives). This is one the reasons why an abundance of content producers and formats (books, blogs, radio shows, podcats etc.) not only mutually co-exist, but also thrive. The tendency of podcast/show listeners to subscribe to more than one source of content is especially common in these topic categories.

If you decide to structure your show or podcast around one these subject areas, it’s recommended that you narrow down your topic as much as possible. There are a lot of reasons why “niching down” is a pre-requisite for finding success in today’s crowded space, but ensuring that you find an audience and get noticed in the first place are among the most pressing ones.

Here are a couple of additional resources that show you how to pick the right niche:

How to avoid picking a topic that is too general

How to narrow down your topic

What to Do When “All of the Good Ideas are Already Taken – Tips to Help You Pick a Niche

Option #2. Choose a Hobby, Passion, or Interest (If Generating a Direct Income is Secondary)

When selecting a topic for your show or podcast, your second option is to cover a personal hobby, passion, or interest.

The obvious benefit of going down this route is that you’ll simply have more fun hosting a show on something that you already enjoy engaging with on your free time. The potential drawback, however, is the impossibility of knowing ahead of time whether the potential audience is large enough to warrant starting a show or podcast in the first place.

At the same time, the likely smaller audience size of a show or podcast devoted to an obscure passion may not be a problem at all considering your motivation for running such a show or podcast. Audience size would be a minor concern if your objective is to become a better communicator, use the podcast as a stepping stone for a career in traditional broadcasting, or learn the ropes of stand up comedy.

Despite the inherent uncertainty that comes with talking about a personal passion, you should do some market research and try to answer the following two questions:

1. Can you find any additional resources devoted to your topic of interest? (other sites, fan pages, similar podcasts or shows)? If the answer is yes, then that’s a good sign.

2. Is your show tied to popular culture in some way (for example, a broadcast devoted to the the Hunger Games book series)? If so, then you’re on the right track as well.

That said, you may be surprised to find out that shows/podcasts on such peculiars topics as boating, beekeeping, and tarot cards have been successful. The bottom line is that there are no hard and fast rules with regards to choosing the right topic, but if you have a passion, chances are that there are many other who share your interest.

Bonus Tips – How to Find Even More Ideas

Both Stitcher and iTunes are ideal for browsing through most of the podcasts in existence. For example, Stitcher has a Popular & Trending section and lists lists podcasts and shows under various categories, such as Comedy, Business & Industry, Education and many others. Just head over to one of these resources and take note of all existing categories and podcast names. Afterwards, it’s time to choose your own topic!

Finally, here are two additional resources worth checking out:

Finding an Audience in a Small Niche and Competition in Your Niche – both are roundtable discussions by a group of seasoned podcast and radio show host pros who’ve been in the game for a long time.


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