What to Podcast About 2018
05.07.18 | Podcasting Basics | By: Jon Street
We’re still working our way through our Basics of Podcasting series to help give current & future podcasters some tools to feel like they’re equipped to podcast more effectively in 2018. Podcasting is not merely as easy as just sitting down & opening your mouth. This might be hard to hear, but not everything that pops out of your mouth is worth listening to. But that doesn’t mean you might not have something to offer that is worth talking about! As we reviewed in a previous blog, the craft of podcasting can be a reality for everyone because anyone can be an effective podcaster…so long as they grapple with some of the basics about what makes a great podcast. And nothing is more basic than figuring out what to podcast about! With that in mind, we hope to offer some thoughts that will inspire you.
At the outset let’s be clear. To have listen-worthy content, there has to be some forethought given to your idea. Just like gold is the end-result of a refining process, your podcasting gold will probably need a little bit of refinement given to it for it to become valuable to others…but it can be done! With a little critical thinking, you probably can find something worth talking about. But as we dig in I think there are two extremes you need to avoid. One extreme is the thought that just sitting down to ramble on about anything (and everything) makes good content for your listener. That’s just simply not true. Just rambling on about any old thing that comes to mind might not be the best approach. Rest assured that if that’s the approach you take, you’ll very likely not have many downloads. And while there are some more passive approaches to developing the content of podcasts, you still have to be engaging. Even loosely themed podcasts which cover evolving or broad topics like pop culture & politics still need some form of forethought to be relevant to the listener, even if the extent of that forethought is just “what’s hitting the headlines this week?”. So there has to be some time dedicated to developing the content, because not just anything will do. Now, the other extreme which we touched on in our Why topic was thinking that there is nothing worth podcasting about, so why even bother. This mindset can be just as equally unhelpful. As elementary as it may seem, if everyone thought this-we wouldn’t be writing these blogs since podcasting just wouldn’t be a thing. There are things worth talking about. There are things worth listening to. And to be honest, it’s a pretty open book. Not to rehash what’s already been discussed, but you don’t have to offer something brand new or ground-breaking in order to have something worth sharing. We all have an opinion. We all have an approach. Others might care to hear what you have to say. You don’t have to be the expert just to be a voice. The reality is, most people who are the expert are often blind to their own naiveties & are often unwilling to look at things from other perspectives since they already “have it all figured out”. While a little time & effort are required to develop your content, your thoughts are valuable & worth sharing.
So let’s unpack this a little more. While we’ve covered the need for having some structure & guidance to your content, the options are still endless. There are so many ideas to choose from & no doubt some ideas that haven’t been thought of yet. Just scroll through the categories on your favorite podcast directory & you’ll see the mind-boggling numbers of growing categories. You’ve got, comedy, nutrition/fitness, news, true-crime, sports, religion & music. But even under those umbrellas there are very specific sub-genres & topics that people are dedicating entire podcasts to. If you can think of an idea or topic, there’s nearly guaranteed to be a podcast that covers it! There are great podcasts of all types that can give you inspiration on what is worthy to podcast about. And judging by some of the stuff we’ve seen…there’s literally something for everyone! But just because other people are podcasting about so many varied things doesn’t really answer the question for you on what you should podcast about. So where do you start? I would boil it down to 3 really basic questions:
What’s your passion
This is so simple that you’ve probably already checked the box. It may seem obvious, but if you’re not passionate about something (or don’t feel like you could be), then there’s no realistic way to podcast about it! If it doesn’t intrigue you, there’s no way you are going to engage others about it. If you don’t care about something, please (PLEASE!) save us all the misery of trying to endure you talking through it. Instead, whatever your mind already gravitates towards is probably a good indicator of what you could talk about. What do you find yourself thinking about? What are your dreams or goals? What do you spend your time doing? What do you spend your money on? These are good indicators of a topic that’s brewing. If you love to cook & can’t wait to review that latest blog recipe, you probably would have a few things to say to others about the kitchen. If you love binge-watching shows & movies, maybe you have some thoughts or opinions (or perhaps criticisms) others might like to hear. If you are an entrepreneur who is looking to better yourself & see your personal goals attained, tell others about your journey, the things you’re learning & what they can do to avoid your mis-steps. Enjoy reading history & have a good sense of humor? Bring a fresh perspective to the things of the past for others to enjoy. Find something that drives you & you will probably have a great concept for a podcast. And while it seems so simplistic, the best thing is that different people are driven by different things, so the options are endless.
What do you know
While this may or may not go hand-in-hand with the previous thought, think about what you already know. Maybe what you know isn’t what you’re passionate about. But if you already know something, or are in the process of learning about it, there’s guaranteed to be someone out there who knows less than you. So maybe you should be the one to talk about it! Now again, you don’t have to have an MD or PhD to be a credible (or at the least, entertaining) source for a conversation, but it does help to know a little something about what you’re talking about. Or maybe you’re not all that knowledgeable (yet), but you’re learning. Plenty of podcasters are merely chronicling their own process of self-improvement or self-discovery for others to hear. Want to help others learn as you learn? Other people in the pod-osphere (just roll with it) can find tremendous value in learning things together. The reality is, most people are drawn to learn from & listen to other people who are open about their own limitations or weaknesses. Just because you haven’t mastered your topic doesn’t mean you can’t be a commentator about it. Just because you don’t have the experience to back your findings doesn’t mean you haven’t had an experience worth sharing about.
What do others care about
This is where things get real. Maybe you’re really passionate about something & even knowledgeable enough to have something to say. But if that topic is something obscure that nobody else cares about, it might be best to move along. But in all honesty, unless it’s something really bizarre or strange, there’s probably other people who would have enough interest in engaging about it. Not sure? Sometimes a little feedback is a necessity. If you have something that you think is podcast-worthy, ask someone you trust if they think it’s something that could engage other people. While it’s true that many podcasters are driven to talk about something that is interesting to them, they are also putting it out there for others to consume because they think it’s valuable. Be willing to get some honest feedback about your idea from people who know you & see if they think others might be willing to invest their time in listening to it. If those closest to you think it’s a bust, maybe you need a new idea. Or just some new friends.
What about the critics
It requires a lot of vulnerability to take to the airwaves & allow other people hear you talk about something. Podcasts are interesting because you’re not really able to have the back-and-forth dialogue with others to clarify what you said or meant to say, or to answer questions. And while you’re busy making your episodes perfect, others might not be so quick to receive it as gospel truth. So just a word of caution for your consideration-the comment threads are open to the fans as well as the critics. While you hope that everyone who listens is your biggest cheerleader, many podcasters become devastated that the nay-sayers seem to flock to the comment threads by the droves. Have some thick skin & be willing to receive a little criticism. Not everyone thinks the same way you do. If we did, the world would be a boring place. And unfortunately not everyone has enough tact to speak their mind respectfully, especially when they’re sitting in the basement behind a monitor. But maybe there’s something that can be gained from all the shade. Perhaps they’re showing you a way to improve something you didn’t see before or trying to criticize a blindspot in your approach or argument that needs to be sured up. Be willing to dig through the hate to get out the things that are great.
So I know we have looked at this topic from a helicopter’s view & we haven’t gotten very specific. But that’s kind of the point. I don’t know you. I can’t tell you what might be the right thing for you to talk about. The reality is, we just want you to walk away with some general guidelines to keep you from unrealistic ideas, but also give you enough guidance to get the juices flowing. Because podcasting is still gaining tremendous popularity, there will be an ever-increasing need for new & interesting content. Maybe that idea you’ve been sitting on could be something worthy of us listening to. Maybe your obscure but interesting hobby is something other people would like to hear about. Maybe that interesting summer-job that gives you some stories to tell at the party is something worth talking about. Maybe the problems you see in your community or society as a whole that just drive you crazy are worth engaging other people on because your approach is helpful. Any maybe, just maybe, the reason nobody else has decided to podcast about it yet is because nobody else has had the guts to sit down & just talk about it! What can you podcast about?
More from this series:
By: Jon Street
As the Production Coordinator at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team & ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon & his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida & now live in Simpsonville, KY.