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Finding the Perfect Podcast Idea: What makes a good podcast or episode?

"I have an idea for a podcast".

Your potential or current co-host might have come to you with something like that, before they outline their idea for an episode or an idea for a whole new podcast entirely.

"Sounds cool", you think. But how on earth do I know if it's going to work or not?

So many folks have this weird emphasis on coming up with an idea for a podcast. "I have an idea for a podcast" has become the "idea for a book" for the 21st century. But much like writing a book, the coming up with the idea is actually the easy part, even though it's the part that a lot of folks get stuck on.

Truth is, it's far easier to come up with an idea than it is to make a really great podcast. Hell, it's 2023, bung "come up with some great podcast (or episode) ideas" into ChatGPT and you'll have at least 10, plus a few more that were "suggested" by your "friends" when they were trying to be helpful when you mentioned the word podcast at your last pub night!

All those ideas could probably, in the right environment, be viable.

Where the difference lies is discerning the good ideas from the bad ones. Because while every podcast idea could be viable, not every podcast idea is one you should make. And this goes for episode ideas as well: how do you decide which podcast ideas should make it into your feed and which ones should be scrunched up and chucked in the bin with the butchers' paper they were scrawled on during a Monster Energy-fuelled 3am brainstorm session?

Well, as with many things, I tend to take my wisdom from British comedy: the Bridge of Death in Monty Python's Holy Grail states you must answer me these questions three before ye proceed (lest you be launched off the bridge!). And in the same fashion, I have three questions you should ask yourself before you decide to commit to that podcast idea you received in a flash of inspiration:

Is your podcast or episode achievable?

Some ideas should really be left to the experts. Sure, you COULD do a three-hour long sonic extravaganza involving a full symphony orchestra, live gunfire and a beatboxing elephant (not all together!). But can you, achievably?!

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have the knowledge and expertise to do my topic justice? Or if I don't have the knowledge, can I make my finding out entertaining for the audience?!

  • Can I source cool guests (if necessary) that my audience will want to listen to?

  • Do I have the time for guest wrangling, research, editing social media content creation... or can I get people to help me?

  • If your idea is for a whole podcast: Will this work long-term? Is it deep enough for an ongoing podcast? Are there enough angles and things to investigate to keep it interesting?

Is your podcast or episode engaging?

You would think, wouldn't you, that a podcast should be interesting? I would like to think that everything's interesting if you present it in the right way (if you can, see point 1!), but an absolutely crucial part of deciding if this is an idea you'd like to pursue is to ask yourself: will my audience find this interesting?

Ask yourself:

  • Am I interested enough in the topic (or can I find an interesting angle?)

  • Will my audience be interested in this topic? Is it new, is it something they don't know, is it funny, or is it relatable?

  • Are my guests fun to listen to?

  • What other elements (interviews, guest appearances, live discussions...) could I incorporate to make my topic even more interesting?

  • Has this topic been covered in the same way on another podcast, or can I find a unique and interesting angle?

Have a think about conducting audience research to understand what topics resonate with and interest your target listeners. Don't ask your friends, ask people in the audience you actually want to reach whether or not they would listen. A landing page or an email subscribe list works really well for this- it shows people are ready to take action.

Will your podcast or episode help you achieve your goals?

Finally, and most importantly, is this the podcast or episode that you actually want to make? Will making this podcast get you closer to achieving your podcasting goals, whether that's for fun, for business, or for world domination.

Ask yourself:

  • Does this fit my (or my business's, or my podcast's) brand? Is talking about this topic in this way portraying the things I want to portray about myself?

  • Will this idea help grow my audience (if that's what you want).

  • Will this podcast or episode allow me to connect and collaborate with the people I want to connect with? (Perhaps industry experts or high-profile people).

  • Will this idea perhaps contribute to some professional or skill development for me? (Perhaps public speaking, research, storytelling, or interviewing?)

Sort the good ideas from the bad!

If you're getting more no's than yesses, it might be time for that idea to be left to someone else. And that doesn't mean you can't come back to it later on: what's unachievable or unsuitable now not be later on.

Need help?

Do you need a hand sifting through the podcast and episode ideas to find a good one? I can help! Get in touch today to discuss your podcast idea, and let's bring your ideas to life!


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