episodic content

The Ultimate Guide to Podcast Topics in 2021

Picking podcast topics can be tough. This is the only guide you need to learn how to create topics that are difficult for others to copy in 2020.

So you did it. You're past the "what are podcasts" and "how do I start a podcast?" questions. You took that leap of faith and decided to start your own podcast, whether for your business or your personal brand. Only one thing stands in your way of global domination: how to come up with what topics to talk about. Enter the world of podcasting topics.


Podcast topics and ideas are easier conceptualized than executed.

You need to stand out in your industry or space, but like Nas once said, "there's nothing new under the sun. It's never what you do but how it's done". If you're like us, you probably have questions about where to begin. Lucky for you, we've come up with a guide on good podcast topics in 2021, and whether you're a beginner or a pro, we've got you covered.

Can't think of a podcast topic? Download our podcast topic brainstorm tool


There’s only so much you could do that's truly new, and that's OK, because the definition of new and original has changed, and that's what a podcast is about. And while we can't tell you how to be original, frankly speaking, the podcast ideas you choose matter just as much as your stance on them, so think about them in detail before diving in. The best ideas for podcast topics come with patience and resilience, and should be focused on something you care about. 

Besides, you want to make sure you talk about podcast themes or topics that are in the public interest (of your industry) they just want your unique take on them as brand. So while you need to podcast about something, you can't just podcast about anything, so pick something you're genuinely passionate about because chances are the most popular podcast topics are already taken. Good podcasts, after all, can't come that easy - some of the most interesting podcasts are interesting for a reason.

We’ve prepared this quick guide to discovering good podcast topics, now that the world’s started listening in.


1. What’s the deal with podcast topics anyway?

It's not all style and no substance, podcasts really are here to stay, and continue soaring in popularity for a reason. Regardless of whether you use Apple Podcasts, or take a more rudimentary approach in creating a unique podcast, each podcast episode has to hit the mark. Everything from a news podcast to an interview podcast about people on social media needs the right questions, and the answers to these questions is what makes each type of podcast stand out. So while it may be easy to throw your podcasting topics against the wall and see what sticks, the best podcast topic ideas come from a problem worth solving.

According to this, 45% of podcast lovers are more likely to have upwards of $250K annual income. What's more, 80% listen to full or majority of episodes, with an average of 6 shows actively at any one time.

Podcasts are no fad. It is worth starting your own for your business, even in 2020.


I. Why businesses flock to podcasts

Businesses love podcasts because it provides a new canvas to really build up brand awareness and relatability in a way that you can't quite do in written form (the irony of writing this article... I digress). Let's jump into the reasons why. 

Podcasts are great for thought leadership

When it comes to building thought leadership, podcasts and other forms of episodic marketing are second to none - based on the topics you pick. Because here's the thing: people love stories, and actually retain information better when information is shared in a narrative style. It's also a low key way of portraying your thought leadership through your insightful and unique commentary on it.

As long as you can make the show topics and your stance on them entertaining, you're on your way to striking goal with your business. Thought leadership can also be demonstrated by using underrepresented podcast topics to your advantage. Chances are, if someone's not actively innovating in your space, you'll come up with good topic ideas, and learn how to talk about any topic.

Podcasts are classically in audio form, but you'll hear us talk about the value of filming them to create video podcasts, a quick win that helps serve two audiences in one go. 

It’s easy to both create and digest podcasts that revolve around longer than usual discussions. People don't time it that way, the same way you don't time a conversation with peers or a meeting. So long as the personalities behind them are interesting and the subject matter engaging, you could have conversations that last up to an hour and wind up with tons of content worth repurposing.

Take a look at the Marketing School podcast, a show run by two big names in digital marketing and aimed at practitioners looking to key into the latest news surrounding their industry. They took the opportunity to dispense highly relevant content to a thriving market, and they’re succeeding to the tune of over 750,000 monthly listeners.

With bite-sized episodes that allow them to cover important, practical tips and lessons for marketers who listen in, the hosts take expertise that comes naturally with being on-the-job, and use it to become virtual rockstars in their industry.

Podcasts are Great for Business Development

Let's talk about one of podcasts' best kept secrets, which could also influence your topic selection: business development. We all need to do business development. Outreach comes in two flavours, cold and warm. No one likes cold outreaches. It usually involves an asking for value, instead of providing value.

By having a show, you can reach out to people you'd like to build a relationship with by giving value first, in the form of featuring them on your podcast and providing them a platform to voice their experiences and thoughts on a common topic, like when you interview someone.

If you want to learn more about this give-first sales approach using your show, check out our video episode and guide on it here

Your basic marketing goals would count among them for sure. We’re sure their podcast drives a fair amount of traffic to their respective websites, and at least a good handful of hits to the sites of the businesses they’ve each founded.

Moreover, podcasting is great for priming leads before they reach out to you. By discussing common pain points and solutions, you can frame business problems in ways that position your services as the obvious choice for any listeners who are inclined to reach out.

Double Trouble Tip: Any two professionals can pool their expertise, resources, and most importantly, their followings in the pursuit of creating a podcast worth listening to.

They may have known each other from way back, or form a working relationship over the course of running the show. Any way you look at it, podcast shows are great for leveraging and strengthening professional connections.


II. Why personal brands also flock to podcasts

Podcasts promote personal and domain experience

For the world’s current and would-be experts, there are a lot of upsides to running a podcast. With the right pitch, domain experts can easily find themselves swimming in loyal followers (put the trunks away, we mean that figuratively).

Lots of people listen to podcasts to satisfy their curiosity or dive deeper into existing interests. As someone who might know very much about a certain field, you may find that running a podcast engages audiences better than, say, running a blog. It’s more conversations, it’s also, dare I say it, more fun. Besides, it’s easier to pick up for people who are on-the-go since it makes for a hands-free experience.

It stands to reason that any domain or topic expertise you may be hanging onto will make podcasting a cinch. If you’re the sort of person with the innate charisma to pull off a podcast, then going on at length about a subject area would be much easier for you than the next guy.

Podcasts help with career-building

Whether you’re an expert or not, podcasts draw attention. With good enough production value and an entertaining setup, it isn’t too hard to come up with a show capable of impressing people around the office based on the topics you select.

Assuming you aren’t talking in circles or floundering for words, then running a podcast demonstrates initiative, knowledge, and passion—three things that employers love to see in their candidates for promotion. 

Building a reputation for yourself in this way is also a great talking point at conferences and other venues for network expansion. With luck, you might wind up working your way to a point where those conferences turn to you for speakership roles. Pick your topics wisely, because you may get known for them.

Likewise, if you’re in a position to sell something, then a good podcast makes you a trusted advisor among potential customers. Once again, this is great promotion fodder (if you’re an employee), as well as a strong lead magnet for bringing in more business.

Whatever the case, podcasting is good for your personal brand.


III. While attention spans are decreasing, podcasts are getting more popular

Yup. This is also true of other long-form episodic content. If you’ve ever tried keeping to a strict schedule, then you know how difficult it is to avoid distractions. If we told you to browse a single page on Wikipedia, for instance, and come back to this article immediately after reading, we might just lose you entirely (please don’t leave).

Yet podcasts manage to capture listeners from start to, well, pretty much the finish. You’ve got popular shows that clock in at an average of 5 minutes per episode, and others that thrive with a 50-minute+ format, and everything in between.

Everyone leads busy lifestyles these days. It’s a hands-free experience you can take anywhere, which makes it an excellent channel for marketing and brand building once you've nailed your topics.


IV. Should you even start a podcast?

Finally, podcasts are accessible. The biggest barriers to starting are confidence and the certainty of having at least some listeners to start off with. If you’re your own harshest critic, then you’re already a few steps in the right direction.

If you’re reading an article that promises to help you figure out topics for a podcast, then you’re either exactly the kind of person we’re talking about or just highly motivated.

Here are a few final pointers to know if you’re ready to start:

A purpose-driven podcast

Successful podcasts are those that are run with a purpose. That purpose can be a strong belief, a burning passion, or just a wealth of knowledge and (no, not “or”) opinions, and that purpose will take you far. The death of most podcasts comes from the fact that people can’t sustain episode after episode without running out of ideas; with a set purpose, you’re insured from this.

Know thy audience

Likewise, most successful podcasts start out with the certainty that at least a handful of people will take the time to listen to the damn thing. Granted, it’s possible to start from obscurity and skyrocket into fame because the right people heard you—after all, that’s how Justin Bieber got his start.

But if you aren’t Justin Bieber (good for you), then you’ll have to put in the work and hit the ground with the assurance that there’s a clear market for your show.


2. Finding the right topic for your podcast

Busted myths that will save you tens of $1000s

Myth #1: Podcasts topics have to be broad to appeal to many

Hmm... not by necessity. There are 4.5 billion people on the internet (Google it) and growing. You might be doing yourself a disservice trying to appeal to many at once. You want to pick topics that will simultaneously draw people in as well as turn off others. Your target will see that this content is clearly not for everyone, which will psychologically like it even more because they can tell it was made for them and them only.

Myth #2: The best podcast topics are super niche

Hmm... not by necessity. That's not a typo, I copy pasted that from the paragraph above. Reason why is, going super niche is not necessarily the answer either. Sometimes, you can take on seemingly broad topics, but you make it refreshingly your own based on the attitude you take towards that topic. While some would argue that's a form of niche, and it is, it's also worth distinguishing from topical niches, such as home-made organic hot sauces that come out of your specific neighbourhood (hit me up if you know someone, cause I love hot sauces).


The anatomy of choosing the right podcast topic

To be truly original, you need to come up with your own hard-to-copy process of podcast topic selection.

So without further ado, we break down topic-spotting into five parts.

I. Your goal

Any venture worth your time starts with a clear goal. Having a goal keeps you centered, and makes the job of settling on a topic much easier by eliminating things that just muddle your efforts.

The goal of your show should determine the topics you decide to cover. From a business perspective, your goal can broadly sit under brand awareness, business development, or getting back at that person that said you can't do a podcast by yourself. 

If you're going after brand awareness, pick topics that are timely. Couple them with guests who have significant reach (on LinkedIn and other platforms).

If you're going after business development, pick topics and conversation starters that your target accounts would all have in common. 

Wanna get back at someone who said you couldn’t run a podcast? Okay, yeah, why not

Understanding your desired end result gives you direction. For a podcast that’s out to earn, it makes sense to feature products or find a niche that relates to a wide set of products. If you’re running a podcast to boost your esteem, then your topics should be ones that you feel confident discussing at length—the more you know about them, the better.

When you know your goals, you can sift through topics to determine whether they bring you closer to success or simply fill dead air. Think of it as your first line of defense: if you can’t justify the topic as something that’s useful to both you and your listeners, then go ahead and junk it.

2. Your Current Audience

Figure out who you currently hold the attention of right now, for better or for worse. It’s highly unlikely that you’re starting from zero. One way or another, you’ve collected a small network of people who are interested in hearing what you have to say and have the power to relay it on to others who are in their network too. This could be workmates, customers, prospects on social, and even peers in communities you're a part of online and offline.

Whoever they are, figure out the type of people who would currently opt into consuming your content and find out why. This can clue you into a set of problems you solve well, a trait that really works for you, or simply a niche that you rock as a business.

The filter here is to make sure that the topics you wind up choosing don’t alienate your current customer base (unless you're not currently getting the right attention, in which case keep reading). Keep serving them up the good stuff, and branch out in directions that you’re sure appeal to them in one way or another.

3. Your Ideal Audience

As a show producer, you are eternally trying to bridge the gap between your current audience and your ideal audience. Ideally, they are both one and the same. If you're starting out, there may naturally be a gap to bridge, which is totally ok.

Besides, if you already had your ideal audience, you wouldn’t be knees deep in a guide on picking podcast topics. Let's carry on then.

Run the same routine as step 2 for people you wish were listening: hiring managers, potential customers, potential partners—whoever can connect you to your goal. 

When it’s clear who they are and what they enjoy, find out how best to reach them through the crafting of entertaining topics. Don't worry, at the end of this article we'll give you some frameworks to navigate this. This’ll help you refine your topics into something that resonates with them.

4. Your Personality

Ah, the personality. You thought you could hide? Nope. Let your personality shine, because you're the podcast host. The more authentic you are in addressing topics the more people will gravitate to you and see themselves in you and what you're preaching or discussing.

Be relatable, not perfect.

People wouldn’t sit through hours of talking to listen to just anybody. Your personality should be a great fit for both your subject matter as well as the topics you’ve chosen.

You can opt to base your topics on things you enjoy, things you can articulate well, or things that inspire you to crack the best damn jokes you’ve ever uttered in your life. Really, there’s a lot of wiggle room for topics to mesh with personalities; the bottom line is to make sure you aren’t boring yourself or your audience with the ones you pick.

If you find yourself hesitant to commit to a topic out of a lack of understanding (or sheer boredom), then do away with it and find something that lets you and your business shine.

5. Your Genre

Genre is single-handedly one of the most powerful ways to differentiate yourself from other brands' podcasts - even if you were to tackle the same topics. A fun exercise is to think of your favourite actors and celebrities and try to impersonate them in the context of your podcast. Allow me to explain. Let's say you're trying to build a niche in the HR software space. Let's also say you also like Robert DeNiro. You may decide to imagine, how would DeNiro approach your topic? What would the vibe be like? How would he make quick work of the topic and get right down to what really matters? If you think of Morgan Freeman, how would he address the topics to make them sound grandiose and enchanting? Hopefully you catch my drift. Your selected genre or stance on a topic can be 'the topic'.


The five elements mentioned above are prime criteria for your topic selection. If one or more of your topics misalign with any of them, and you can’t fathom a way of salvaging them into conversation fodder, then go back to the drawing board

Forcing a topic that simply doesn’t work means you run the risk of losing your way and bumbling into a tangled mess of mismatched episodes.

On a closing note, generating topics for a podcast for your business isn’t rocket science. 

It’s a mindfulness exercise. 

Stay focused on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what keeps your mental gears turning. You’ll find that when you can keep all of these things in a neat row, your topics should fit together as effortlessly as mums and podcasts (apparently) do.

Now we can write 2,000 more words about podcasts, or we could get on a call to help you brainstorm further.

At the end of the day, every brand is different when it comes to selecting podcast topics. If you want contextual advice, our team will be happy to jump on a call with you.


Book a 15 min Call

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