Are you stuck with writer’s block, looking for your podcast’s next topic? It may seem difficult at first, but it becomes a simple matter if you know the tips and tricks. Knowing your niche and audience goes a long way, and in this episode, Tom Hazzard shares a few more things you need to keep in mind. Tom analyzes what guests bring to the table when choosing topics and why you should keep your focus narrow. Tune in for more podcasting tips and tricks from Tom and learn how to make your show the best it can be.
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Crafting The Best Podcast Topics That Helps Your Show Stand Out
I’m going to be very transparent as to why I chose this topic. I was struggling with what topic to talk about. A common problem a lot of podcasters have, especially new podcasters, is how do you come up with a great topic? I find that oftentimes people have issues thinking about, “How am I going to come up with enough topics to do one show a week for a whole year?” That’s 50-plus topics and then think about even beyond that. Some people are podcasting more than once a week, so maybe 100 in a year.
Tracy’s in my first show, we were pretty close to episode 600 on that. We didn’t think in the beginning that we would have enough topics to cover 600 episodes. It has been a lot of years but for a while there, we were doing five episodes a week, so how do you come up with topics for all that? It could be a daunting task at first but what I have found over the years is that actually coming up with topics is not that hard, at least in my opinion. You can disagree with me if you have a different experience or feeling about it but coming up with topics, there are a lot of different ways you can do that.
Oftentimes people tend to try to put too much into a single episode. They bite off more than they can chew in a reasonable amount of time or try to cram too many aspects of a topic. What we say is, you always want to take a very deep and narrow dive into any topic and not try to cover a whole lot of stuff. Audiences really appreciate the focus, setting out to cover a topic, covering it, being done, and then next episode, there will be another topic. I’ve got a list of different topics that I was going through before this show trying to find what’s an appropriate topic.
All these topics are the things that I have covered or I felt was not appropriate for this particular session and for the people that I’m serving through this because in all transparency, I’m recording this live and broadcasting it on Facebook as I’m doing it, and it’s only going out to my customers and clients, the ones that are working with us. They get it first.
When I record episodes like this, which I do weekly but I record additional episodes outside of that, that for this group, it’s people that are podcasting in service of their business, either already podcasting or they are in the startup or launch process of a podcast. Honestly, there are a lot of topics that would be more appropriate for people that are doing it themselves that are on that list I showed you that this group isn’t going to be very interested in, so none of those topics were interesting to me.
There was another topic we came up with that we realized she needs to be there to do that, and she couldn’t be here on this show because she has another business meeting going on as I am speaking to you live. That’s going to wait for 1 or 2 weeks, and then she’s going to do that topic. I’m not going to tease you as to what that is because we can’t talk about it on this show or at least it doesn’t make sense without her. Topics, that’s something I have a lot of experience with because I have recorded over 1,000 podcast episodes myself with all the different shows that I’m a co-host of or a host of.There's no topic too narrow. There's no topic too simple. If a topic gets complex, you may need to break them down. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about topics. There’s no topic too narrow, too simple, and too complex but if they get complex, you may need to break them down. You may have a part 1 and part 2 or a special series of them. I always say this, you want a topic that’s obviously in your niche, genre or whatever your show is about, and our shows are all over the map subject matter-wise. There’s business, real estate, investing, exercise, health, wellness and marketing. There are too many topics that I can’t even think about.
One thing is for sure, every podcast that we have launched, whenever people say, “I don’t know if I can come up with enough subjects.” We sit down, talk about their genre and all the different potential subjects and usually, they would like to, “It would be great if we could get twelve topics for the first twelves episodes.” We sit down and make a list, and before we know it, we have 100 or 150 different potential topics listed out. Some may be better at certain times than others, some may be seasonal, and some may be more of a fundamental series like somebody is doing something about investing.
If they are targeting consumers, they may need a 101, a foundational series of episodes that maybe at first are going to be a normal part of their initial episodes but after they get maybe 15 or 20 episodes published, there’s 8, 10 or 12 that could be spun off as its own show or its own listing. It’s like, “When you are new to the show, you are going to listen to the new ones we are publishing now but you may want to go back and listen to these 8, 10 or 12. It’s a special series.” They can binge through it in a day or a weekend, then they really get the fundamentals of what your show is all about.
They can then jump into what you are doing, whether that’s 6 months or 1 year later from when you originally published those episodes, and then they can get more out of your topics then. Sometimes creating this 101 or foundational series of episodes can be very helpful. It depends again on your subject matter. I break things down into small niche subjects. With a niche subject, usually, I can come up with three bullet points, no more than five. I tend to think three is perfect. An odd number works better, just in my experience. Tracy would say the same thing.
We learned a lot of business lessons from her father who’s now retired but he was in a big international business. One of his main lessons to us that we have adopted because we agree and we have experienced it enough, is that when you go into a meeting or you are going to have a phone call with somebody, a business meeting that way or you are going to prepare a talk, and a podcast topic, something to record on, is very similar in that regard as a talk, that you want three things that you are going to talk about any subject. I have stretched it to five, an odd number is best but regardless, have three things. If I’m going to talk for one of my shows podcast advertising or monetizing your podcast, I’m probably going to have three main topics that I’m going to talk about.
Certainly, there are exceptions to this but three is something you can have at bullet points on a post-it on your desk as you are recording so you can remember to cover each one of them. Don’t script it, just speak on each of those little bullet subtopics of your main topic until it feels like you have covered them and you are complete in the episode. That is if you are doing a solo cast in particular. There are many different types of podcast episodes. It could be a solo cast where you are just speaking on your subject matter.
You are an expert in your field and you are going to share some nuggets of wisdom regarding your experience with your audience with something hopefully that will be valuable to them, they can learn from, and take some action on. It would be great if there was a story associated with it so you would have a little bit of entertainment as well but definitely breaking it into 3 or 5 key things. There are exceptions to that. In one episode, we did the 21 key factors in doing something. I don’t remember exactly what it was but we went through 21 key factors in doing something, maybe writing podcasting.
I’m going to have to go look that up because I don’t even remember. That was a one-hour-long, masterclass type of thing. It was a hyper-loaded session, it was done as a live, and it went out as a podcast also, that we broke down these top 21 factors, and people like things like that. If you give them the top 10, top 7 or top 3. I did 3 Ways to Boost Your Show. Those things catch attention.
That reminds me of what Tracy’s subject is going to be coming up that she needs to be a part of, and it’s about writing the best podcast titles or headlines that are going to grab people’s attention and get them to want to click and listen. She’s more of the writer than I am. I am terrible at naming things so that’s why I’m not talking about that one but she will talk about that one coming up. There’s your little foreshadow at an upcoming topic for a future episode and coaching call here at Podetize.
Back to topics, there are so many topics. I need to pick a field. Let’s pick a real estate-related podcast because there are a ton of them. We’ve got dozens of real estate-related podcasts. There are so many niche subjects around real estate, especially if you are in real estate investing and you are wanting to teach others how to do it, build rapport with the audience, and become the authority in your niche. You use your podcast to give away a certain amount of value for free to your audience. You don’t tell them everything necessarily but you also don’t want to hold back.
My opinion about podcasting and what we do is I really don’t hold anything back because there’s nothing I say, “You have to pay me to get it.” Only because the reality is, my ideal customer is somebody that wants to pay to save time. If you want to do it yourself, if you’ve got the time and interest to do that, more power to you, go for it. I’m going to share all my knowledge and everything that we do. It’s just that most people are not going to do all those things themselves. If people try, then they usually end up coming back and becoming customers later.Write the best podcast titles or headlines that are going to grab people's attention and get them to want to click and listen. Click To Tweet
I do believe in that Law of Reciprocity, so I’m going to tend to give away all the information. In little bits and pieces though, not all in one episode. We are going to have all the details about best practices for podcasting, how to foster listener engagement, how to promote your podcast episodes, all the different things you should be doing like multicasting the content everywhere, how that’s going to lead generate for you, how you are going to monetize it, and all this stuff.
There are just tons of topics. There are tons of different things about investing in real estate, and then there are tons of different things state by state that change, whether you are residing in one state or you are investing in another state. I know from listening to some of our podcasters’ episodes that things vary tremendously state-by-state, and some of them would say, “Do not invest in real estate in California for A, B, and C reasons or at least don’t have that be the first place you invest.”
There are many other states that the laws are more favorable to an investor and dealing with certain aspects of real estate that it’s much less risky to work in other states. Just breaking down a subject like that. Is investing in real estate the same in every state? There’s a topic. Maybe that’s still too much, you can talk about that a bit but then you can break it down more. Investing in real estate in Texas could be a topic for an episode. Investing in real estate in Arkansas or investing in real estate in Massachusetts, so many different topics.
When you start breaking it down into what is your genre, what are the big topics and then breaking them down into micro topics, I’m telling you, podcasting is about the niches, and not only the niches of a whole show subject matter. My first show was on 3D printing, and that’s a huge field but there are tons of topics within that. Breaking down the big topics into little topics, and then niche topics, you would be surprised. Especially when you are very knowledgeable about what you do and passionate about what you do, you can break it down into very small niche topics.
We have a podcaster who is in the cannabis industry, and there are tons of different topics and things to be learned about that whole industry. There are different things state by state, and there are differences when you do them with consumers or you are doing business to business. There are so many different topics that you could come up with. That’s why when we sit down and come up with topics for solo casts, I’m shocked we don’t have pads of paper of legal-sized pages filled with topics to consider. Let’s go beyond solo cast and talk about interview topics.
If you are going to interview somebody, you want to think about why you are going to interview them and what value they are going to bring to your audience because you are having them on your show and there needs to be a reason for that. What information are they going to provide? What value are they going to provide your audience? You want to give them some value and something new, something that maybe you wouldn’t be able to bring to them yourself. Something that compliments your expertise or reinforces it.
There are lots of different reasons why you might have a guest. Selfishly for you as a podcaster, most of you probably know this but some of you may not. Having a guest on your show really needs to serve two main purposes. One, providing value that will be of interest to your audience because you want to continue to provide content that they appreciate and they want to keep coming back to you for more.
You don’t want to bore them, so you provide them with some good content but you also need to be selfishly thinking about yourself and what is that guest going to do for you? Are they doing the same thing as you, and it’s going to confuse your audience why you are having them on or do they compliment you in some way? More importantly, do they have a large following? Are they going to share their guest appearance on your show and give you more exposure to more people?
Selfishly for you, when you have guests, you’ve got to think about that because if they really do share it, we always incentivize people to share the episode. We provide the graphics that make them look good, make it easy for them to share it, and providing them all the links, making it super easy for them to share it but that’s selfishly for you, having guests periodically if not every episode.
Some people do nothing but interview episodes, other people do nothing but solo casts, and some people do some combination. Personally, the combination is really good. It changes things up a little bit, keeps it interesting for your audience, and at the same time, provides different value. Even their expertise can rub off on you because you are the conduit to bringing these experts to your audience, so their expertise rubs off on you and you become more valuable because of giving access to that guest but how much exposure are you going to get? How many new listeners are you going to get because you have this guest? That’s one of the huge benefits for you as a podcaster.
What are you going to talk about with that guest? Hopefully, there’s something unique about them that’s obvious and clear, and that you are going to be able to help share with your audience. It shouldn’t be too hard. If somebody pitches themselves to be a guest on your show, there’s got to be a reason why they are pitching that, and if they don’t have a reason why then don’t have that guest on because they are wanting you to do all the work.If you are thinking you want a podcast, you must have something to say. If you don't, maybe you shouldn't be podcasting. Click To Tweet
They should have a reason and some suggestions or topics they speak well on that are unique to them. They should be making it relatively easy for you, and then you decide, “What part of that do you want to focus on and provide value to your audience?” When it comes to interviewing episodes, coming up with topics can be a little easier but I do think you should be intentional and specific about it and not ask the same questions to every guest. Have some questions that are a little bit unique to them, their subject, expertise and market.
Tracy has written a whole blog post and I believe it might be even an old Feed Your Brand episode but still very relevant. It’s Structuring The Best Podcast Interview Questions, so if you haven’t read that, go to FeedYourBrand.co and make sure you check out that episode because there are a lot of great value there. Tracy has done way more interviews than I have. She’s done 2,500 or more interviews between podcasts interviews and Inc. article interviews, so asking interview questions is one of her areas of expertise. You definitely want to check that out.
I want to give you a little window into one of my topics. The other person is really the host. I’m more like the sidekick. I enjoy participating in it because I have an interest in this field, so I am a part of it and we do two episodes a week. It’s called Purchasing Truth, and it’s about language and communication. There are uses of language and communication in our daily media in this country to talk about, and talk about, which ones were successful, which ones were not, why they weren’t and how they could be.
I liked that. Language and communication, I get into that. A very niche subject. The host and I have two sessions scheduled a week. It’s just the two of us. There is no guest interviewed. This is a dialogue and a discussion between us as in every episode. That’s another format you can do but we have a running Google Doc that we keep, and when each of us comes up with an idea for a subject, we will put it in the Google Doc, and then we prioritize them. We are 126 or 127 episodes in on this show and we have never starved for topics, and oftentimes, we have our session in the first 10 or 15 minutes.
We would talk about current events, other uses of language and communication that were either very successful or we are just tragic failures, then we say, “That’s a good one. Let’s talk about that. Let’s use that as an example.” We not only talk about it but we will role play how the person could have used language differently and more successfully in whatever their goal was for their communication. We will sit down, come up with the topic together for the first 10 or 15 minutes, and record an episode for the balance of 1 hour.
Sometimes we talk so much, it ends up only being a 30-minute or 25-minute episode, other times it’s a 45-minute or 50-minute episode. It just depends. It varies. We speak on a subject until it feels complete, so that’s a little more off the cuff. There is preparation but some topics just scream out of us and are so obvious depending on the current events of the previous days.
There are lots of opportunities, especially in a political season. There are all kinds of language, messaging and communication going on. It’s pretty easy to pick off some of that as successful or not, or tragic or not. I’m not trying to be political. There are a lot of materials there. If any of you are struggling with topics, reach out to us and lets at least have an email discussion about it or we can schedule some other session because if you are struggling for topics, maybe you are not thinking about it in the right way and you just need to look at it from a different perspective.
I personally take it for granted that anybody who has thought they want to launch a podcast has something to talk about. They usually have some experience, life experience, business experience or something that they are drawing from that they either want to give back on or that they believe that others need that. Maybe there’s a market of people that would like to know that information or would like to get support in that area.
If you are thinking you want a podcast, you must have something to say, if you don’t, maybe you shouldn’t be podcasting but I really haven’t come across anybody like that in all my experience of talking with people about podcasting, so that would surprise me. Everybody sometimes gets a little writer’s block and might struggle with topics. In this show, I was struggling a little bit and I said, “I’m going to have a topic about talking about coming up with topics.” There you go. For what it’s worth, I hope that’s helpful.
Thanks for reading everybody, and stay tuned because coming up, Tracy will be doing an episode in terms of titling episodes and coming up with engaging titles or headlines that are going to grab attention, build anticipation and encourage people to click, listen, and try it out because that’s the first thing they read or see.
If they are not already a subscriber, you’ve got to grab their attention. I look forward to that. I hope I can be a part of that one because I want to learn something too and have a little discussion with Tracy. Maybe be her devil’s advocate a little bit like I like to do sometimes but she may end up doing it solo if it’s a day when I’m not available here but regardless, look forward to that one because it’s coming soon. We were just talking about it. Thanks, everybody. Until next time.
- 3 Ways to Boost Your Show – Past episode
- Structuring The Best Podcast Interview Questions – Past episode
- Purchasing Truth
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