20 Great Podcast Topics to Keep Your Listeners Engaged
New and seasoned podcasters alike struggle with content ideation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out with podcast production or if you already have a podcast you’re trying to grow. Coming up with consistently good podcast topics is one of the hardest challenges you’ll face.
For aspiring podcasters, this is a crucial step on the road to success. You can’t start a podcast out of thin air, you need good ideas to drive the content of your show and draw in listeners who are interested in your niche.
For established hosts, it’s about keeping content fresh and interesting. Yes, there is no lack of topics to choose from, but choosing topics that engage with your existing audience and increase your followers is easier said than done.
It can be confusing trying to figure out what will work and what won’t. Taking risks and doing something out of the norm may be a way to keep your show fresh, but you don’t want to waste your time and efforts on topics that don’t connect with your listeners.
So, what is a podcaster to do?
Whether you’re a total novice or have made a few episodes already and are looking for new topics, we’ve got your back.
Read on for a comprehensive guide on what makes a good podcast topic and how to pick the right ones to talk about on your show. We'll end off with a list of topics to get the ball rolling. No matter what your niche is, you'll find something that will resonate with your audience.
What Makes a Good Podcast Topic?
If you look at the top podcasts on any platform, you’ll notice that they cater to very specific genres, like true crime, journalism, current affairs, or comedy. By looking at the top contenders, it might seem like the only way to make a successful podcast is to create one in one of these niches. Trust us, this is not the case.
The niche is not what makes a podcast popular, it is the way that the host is able to grip the listener’s attention and maintain it long enough to say their piece.
There’s a fair amount of storytelling involved, even if you are working in a niche like tech or finance. The information needs to be conveyed in a way that the audience can connect with you and recognize the benefit in what you’re saying; whether that is for enjoyment and entertainment, education, or personal development.
The bottom line is that most topics can be either good or bad, based on how you present them. If you’re a good podcast host who brings in energy, passion, and emotion, almost anything can be entertaining. Finding topics that can help you accomplish these goals is key for growing your podcast.
3 Tips for Picking a Podcast Topic
As any experienced podcaster can attest, picking the overall theme of your content, as well as topics for each episode, is harder than it seems. The limits, scope, and eventual success or failure of the podcast all depend on what you choose—and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
As daunting as it may seem, you shouldn’t procrastinate on making a decision. Whether your head is full of ideas or you are blanking and can’t think of anything, considering the following points will help you choose a good topic for your podcast.
And be sure to check out our post How to Brainstorm Podcast Topics for more tips!
1. Think About Your Listeners
This is the first question you should ask yourself while picking a topic. Think of the audience you are targeting and what would be useful to them. How can you add value to their lives through your podcast? You could be sharing insights and experiences from which they can learn, helping them solve a problem, entertaining them for a while, or giving them insider information on a topic they are interested in.
If you are operating in a very specific niche, or already have an existing following or loyal customer base, consider reaching out to your target audience and asking them directly. Find them on social media and see what they are interested in, and join online groups and communities on Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook. Email your customers, conduct polls, or talk to people one-on-one about what they’d like to hear.
Once you have a good idea of who your audience is and what they are interested in, you will be able to narrow down on some topics that will work well, and rule out ones that won’t.
2. Stick to What You Know
This is advice that you will hear no matter which creative field you are in. It is important to be knowledgeable about a topic if you are going to speak about it.
If you have your heart set on a topic but don’t know much about it, you should first research it as much as you can and gain a solid understanding of the key concepts before you start a podcast about it.
Unless, of course, that is the premise of your show. If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a subject matter expert on a particular topic, and think others would be interested in it too, you can create a podcast that documents your learning journey.
3. What Makes Your Podcast Unique?
There is one thing in common among all successful podcasts—they have something unique about them. Whatever niche or genre you are in, there are probably many podcasts covering the same topic already.
What sets you apart from them? You need to have something new to offer to your listeners. It might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. There is something unique about everyone, you just need to find it and use it to your advantage.
It can be something as simple as taking a new approach to the presentation of a topic, or offering a different perspective on an old concept. This will make your podcast more enjoyable and listeners will keep tuning in because no one else is offering what you have.
20 Great Podcast Topics to Keep Listeners Coming Back
If you’ve considered all of the above but you’re still running dry on podcast content ideas, don’t panic—we’re here to help. We've got a bunch of topics for podcasts to help you create authentic, interesting content that will keep your ideal podcast listeners hooked.
Whether you're interested in teaching your audience something related to your niche, aspire to be a thought-leader in your industry, or just want to be a source of entertainment, you'll find inspiration here.
Behind the Scenes
A Day in Your Life
Make a List
Your Worst and Best Experiences
How and Why You Created the Podcast
Throwback to When
Cover an Event or Convention
Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse
Technology and Innovation
Inject Some Humor
Make a Difference
1. Behind the Scenes
No matter what industry you’re talking about, the audience always loves getting the inside scoop. Leverage your industry experience to produce an amazing behind-the-scenes episode. Let your audience in on all the little details and industry secrets, speak candidly about the realities of your niche, and share with listeners what goes on behind closed doors.
You don’t even have to be the source of information. Invite a guest on your show to share their experience in your industry, and be sure to ask the hard-hitting questions that get them to really open up about what it’s like.
2. Your Journey
Everyone has a story about how they got to where they are today. This makes for interesting listening, as audiences enjoy learning about how people got to where they are, the steps taken, the circumstances, and the events that took place.
Narrating your journey is a great idea because you get to take your listeners through your personal story—of which no one is more of an expert on than you. You can speak from the heart and bond with your listeners in the process, as they share in your challenges and celebrations.
Personal journey podcasts work because they provide hosts with the opportunity to evoke emotion. Provided you are a skilled storyteller, real-life experiences trump fiction when it comes to connecting with an audience. Authentic stories have a degree of truth that make them that much more meaningful, emotive, and at times, relatable.
They also help your listeners gain insight into the kind of person you are, while giving your brand a more human side.
Interviewing guests for your podcast is great for two reasons:
It brings in a fresh perspective and gives the audience something new to look forward to
If you’ve been hosting alone so far, it breaks the monotony and takes some of the pressure off you
If you are struggling with content ideas, doing an interview episode (or series of episodes) is a great way to inject new life and talking points into your show.
Interviews can be conducted between you and an expert in your niche, or you can invite listeners to send in questions for your guest—providing another way for your audience to connect with you and your show.
If you don’t have access to suitable guests, hit the pavement and speak with the public. Asking the opinions of everyday people and adding commentary around their quoted clips can make for great content that is fresh, relevant, and engaging.
Further reading: How to Interview Someone for a Podcast: Insider Secrets
4. A Day in Your Life
Creating a podcast about a day in your life is a simple, yet effective way to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
There is very little you need to do, just go about your day as usual and list down everything you do and why. It brings out a different side of you to your listeners and invites them into your life.
Opening up to your listeners and showing them your daily struggles makes you more relatable. By showing your audience that you’re a person just like them—not just a voice on their speakers, you’ll create a more loyal, active fan base.
5. Offer Advice
Starting an advice column is an amazing way to interact with your listeners. They get to talk to you one-on-one and you get to add value to their lives in a very real way—offering help to overcome their challenges.
Unlike most podcasts, where the host just puts out information for the listeners to take in, you get an engaging back and forth between you and your audience. By solving real-world problems you’ll have a chance to prove your expertise and provide even more value to your listeners.
You’ll be surprised by the situations that come up. You might even find yourself doing research to provide an answer, which expands your pool of knowledge, as well as the scope of the podcast.
Also, people are more likely to listen if there is a possibility that you have answered their query. You develop a bond with the people you give advice to and they will likely turn into loyal listeners.
6. Make a List
Listicles and “best of” style content has been popular for years now, and shows no signs of slowing down. Usually starting with a bold, intriguing headline, this kind of content draws people in, while also letting them know exactly what they’re getting into.
Consider an example from one of the best business podcasts, The 10-Minute Entrepreneur, in the episode: 9 Ways to Work Smarter NOT Harder.
This episode works because potential listeners know exactly what the episode is about, and will probably be itching to find out how they measure up. Even better, the host can use the opportunity to showcase his expertise on the subject.
The great thing about list-type content is that if you’re already an expert, they take little to no research beforehand. In fact, you might be able to put together an outline for an episode in just a few minutes.
Are there any books, movies, TV shows, games, or other content related to your niche? If yes, you can review them for an episode of your podcast.
Whether you are sharing your thoughts on something popular or introducing your listeners to lesser-known works on the topic, you can provide value for your fans by discussing the content and letting them know why they should or shouldn’t check it out for themselves.
For reviews of TV shows or movies, you can also do a separate section on fan theories, and invite your listeners to send in their own fan theories.
8. Teach Something
If you’ve accumulated valuable skills throughout your career, consider teaching others. You won’t just be building an audience, you’ll also establish yourself as an authority in the field and bring extra attention to your business.
Keep in mind that teaching is not for everyone. Mastery over a given subject is not enough, you also need to be didactic enough to explain it to your listeners. Luckily, educational content is evergreen, so your episodes will keep attracting listeners long after being published.
9. Industry Profiles
Industry profiles are another hot format for podcasts, just take a look at BBC Radio 4's Profile. This kind of podcast can very easily become a series where you present the profile of a different industry leader every week or every month.
Make a list of the key players in your niche and create a complete profile of them and their stories. Try to find out how they got started, their motivations, and how they struggled. Take a look at their business model and figure out what key factors made them successful.
To ensure you’re really covering the content your audience wants to hear, you can invite them to suggest people they’d like to learn about. Create profile episodes on these names, making sure you talk to all the points that your listeners want to know.
10. Your Worst and Best Experiences
If you have worked in your niche for even a short while, you are bound to have a treasure trove of stories from your time in the industry. Anyone who’s remotely interested will jump at the chance of getting a first-hand account from someone in the trenches.
Talk about your worst and best experiences within the niche. Owing to the nature of the topic, there is bound to be drama, juicy details, or heartwarming moments in your stories. Make sure you craft your narrative carefully to keep listeners engaged and make the most of each moment.
You’re not just providing valuable information, you’re also providing entertainment—and that’s what keeps people coming back.
11. How and Why You Created the Podcast
This is your chance to share your origin story. Share the story of how your podcast came to be and what prompted you to create it.
It will be nice for your listeners to get a little backstory into the intent and purpose of the podcast. If you have shared your journey with them before, it will tie in nicely with this episode, and allow your audience to trace your entire journey so far.
Keep it as real as possible. This is an opportunity to share your passion and enthusiasm for your niche in a very organic way with your audience.
Further reading: How to Start a Podcast for Your Business
12. Throwback to When
Take your audience through an important or interesting event that happened some time ago. It could be anything relevant to you, your business, or the industry, such as critical turning points in your journey, or significant changes that shaped the future of your niche.
This is another opportunity to tell a story, so make sure you grab it with both hands. Go into as much detail as possible. You can interview others who were involved to share their perspectives of the time as well.
Similar to other podcast ideas that bring up the past, a throwback episode allows you to discuss the state of how things were—either in your life, your business, or the industry. It gives listeners insight into the past and how things have since changed. If you're a successful entrepreneur or business, it can also serve as a reminder to up-and-comers that things weren't always easy, and the road to success can be filled with challenges.
13. Hypothetical Situations
Come up with hypothetical situations and talk about how you would respond to them. You can really let your creative juices flow on this one and discuss quirky, interesting, and novel ideas.
You’ll see this kind of episode often in investment or business podcasts. Hosts will dive into what to do with X amount of money, or what to do if you receive a large financial windfall. Just take a listen to the episode 'What to Do With a Large Lump Sum Of Cash or an Inheritance (How to Invest a Big Bank Roll!)' from The Personal Finance Podcast.
The host dives into exactly what to do if you receive a large sum of money in order to make the most of it. From keeping a safety fund in case of emergencies, to investments, and other ventures.
Going through how you would respond to these situations will be very telling of your experience and mastery over the subject, so craft your responses carefully.
You can add commentary, create hypotheses, and ask your listeners to weigh in on what they think is possible. This can be a very entertaining and enlightening episode if you play it right.
14. Cover an Event or Convention
If there is an event or convention happening that your listeners will be interested in, make sure you get down there and attend it. This can make for great content, as many people who don’t have access to the event will be eagerly waiting to hear about it.
Conduct as many interviews as you can with event presenters and attendees. Turn these into a series of episodes around the event, as you highlight the different aspects of what took place and which guests spoke about what.
Record plenty of soundbites from the event itself. Not only will you be able to intersperse this between your commentary of the event, but you'll also have exclusive content for your listeners.
15. Topical News
Topical news always grabs eyeballs. Or ears, in your case. Take relevant topical news and make an episode about it. Talk about all the information that is available and offer your take on the situation.
Again, you can invite responses from your listeners and listen to what they think.
You may find that there is more engagement on topical episodes. This is because people start looking for content on it as soon as it gains traction. Timing is critical here. If you’re too late you will miss your window and your episode will be less likely to attract listeners.
16. Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse
Go through the archives for this one. If you have written any articles or blog posts, take all that content and go through it. Find the most relevant piece and make a podcast about it.
Other than digging through everything you've ever created, you don’t have to do much because all the legwork is already done. Just change the information to make it palatable as a podcast and start recording.
You might even find something that could become a series with multiple episodes. We often forget about things we’ve created or fail to recognize their potential. Making this podcast will make you take a second look at everything you’ve created.
This also works the other way around. If you have other marketing channels you need content for, you can repurpose podcast content too.
If you think this topic is past its sell-by date, think again. Amazon's search results for self-improvement books currently exceeds 60 000. People are always on the lookout for ways to improve their lives, so creating content that offers tips and advice on topics such as relationships, productivity, health, and personal finance will very likely be well-received.
18. Technology and Innovation
Given the rapid pace at which technology is evolving, this topic will always offer up something new, interesting, thought-provoking, or even controversial, to talk about. The majority of people are interested in learning about the latest developments, especially within the context of their own lives. You could very easily delve into everything from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), to Elon Musk's obsession with Mars.
19. Inject Some Humor
Laughter is a universal language. It's pretty much guaranteed that a podcast that makes listeners laugh and smile will be both popular and well-received. Done right, humor can connect us, draw us closer together. With so much negativity in the media nowadays, a little humor and satire can provide some welcome relief to your audience.
20. Make a Difference
Giving back in some way is always a popular topic. People love helping one another and hearing stories of others who've made a difference in their community. You could create a show that showcases the everyday heroes among us, or use it as an opportunity to raise funds or awareness for a cause you're passionate about. An episode like this could be seasonal (e.g. Christmas) or focused on a specific day, such as World Wildlife Day.
Best Topic for Your Podcast? It Depends
Only you can really know what will work for your audience. It depends on the niche you're in, your listener demographic, your expertise, and more. But...
We also get that producing a podcast is no easy feat. If you have one already, you'll know what a pain it can be to continually come up with new ideas all the time. Hopefully, our list of podcast topics will help you find direction for your show, or at very least, the next episode.
If you are looking to truly grow your podcast, investing in professional editing or promotional tools can help you a lot. Our podcast production services can help new and existing podcasts skip the awkward years and launch a great show straight off the bat. Get in touch to learn more.