What should I talk about?

This is one of the most common questions I hear would-be podcasters ask—and a big sticking point for many of them.

But coming up with podcast content ideas doesn’t have to be a Herculean task.

There are plenty of topics out there that will keep listeners coming back week after week.

In this article, you’ll find some of the most popular and well-received show ideas I’ve seen over my years of working with podcasters, as well as what you can do to come up with even more.

First things first

It’s just as important to get your introductory content right as it is to figure out what you’ll talk about in the future.

So before you start planning out the next month’s worth of shows, let’s talk about your first one.

Your opening episode should do three main things:

1. Share your background

Before listeners will buy into anything you say, they need to know that you know your stuff.

Start your podcast off by explaining who you are, why you’ve created the podcast, and your credentials for speaking on the subject matter.

Make it 100% clear WHO your podcast is for and what PROBLEM you will be helping your listeners solve.

2. Set expectations

You’ll also want to make sure listeners know what to anticipate from your show.

How often will you publish new content? What day(s) and time(s) will new episodes release? What kinds of topics will you discuss later on down the line? 

Lay out everything your audience should expect moving forward and let them know exactly where, when, and how to access your podcast. 

3. Teach a fundamental concept

You want to prove early on that you are someone who can help listeners with their problem.

So in your first episode, it’s best to teach a quick and simple central principle that your target listeners need to understand in order to achieve their goal.

This is crucial if you want to hook listeners and ensure they will tune in for future episodes.

For example, one of our clients is the host of the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast.

Her first episode teaches the fundamental principle that to lose weight in a healthy way, it’s necessary to change how you interact with your emotions. 

Without this understanding, women can try again and again to lose weight, but it’s often a temporary solution.

And this key lesson lays the groundwork for the rest of her episodes.

Consider what concept could serve a similar purpose for your show.

Then get started planning out your first episode!

Example Show Topics

Once your listeners understand who you are, who will benefit from what you offer, and the key concept from your first episode, you want to continue offering guidance with each subsequent show.

This can be in the form of education, practical advice, Q&A sessions, or anything in between.

The key thing to remember is that each of your episodes must offer value to listeners.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some topics that I’ve seen work well in the first handful of episodes for podcasters:

1. Common pitfalls

Think about the biggest mistake you see people make in your field.

What advice can you give your listeners to help them avoid it?

Better yet, what kinds of mistakes have you made that your audience can learn from?

This is the kind of helpful, relevant content that people want to hear.

Not only does it help them make sure they don’t make the same mistakes, but sharing your own failures humanizes you and makes you more relatable.

For example, a client of ours released an episode called “5 Facebook Ad Mistakes to Avoid” that shared his experience and mess-ups in an engaging and informative way.

Take a moment to reflect on your own experiences or what you’ve seen go wrong for other people in your field and base an episode around that.

Your listeners will thank you.

2. Misconceptions and misinformation

You can also consider all the inaccurate information that might be out there in or about your industry.

If you see that people typically have the wrong idea about your field or what you do, set the record straight.

Something like “14 Myths About Online Courses Debunked” is a great way to intrigue listeners and educate them at the same time.

3. “How to” guides

Is there something you see people struggling to do or figure out in your field?

Address it in your show!

Share the steps that listeners can take to get it right.

For example, “How To Have A Stress Free Holiday” offers simple and straightforward advice that people can apply right away.

Whether it’s complete, step-by-step instructions or small changes that will make all the difference, use your knowledge to guide your audience toward their goal.

4. Address those burning questions

Another great way to educate your audience is by addressing their burning questions.

Sometimes you can find these by simply digging through emails and online communications with clients.

See if you can find questions that people regularly ask, or a few that you know listeners would benefit from if you shared the answers on your podcast.

Another option is considering the kinds of questions you know members of your audience commonly ask themselves when they’re trying to solve the problem you can help them with.

For example, a client of ours hosts a podcast for financial advisors looking to leave their job at a larger firm to start their own advisory firm.

He knows that their burning questions are:

  • How do I go about getting my first clients when I launch my own firm?
  • Can I do it while I work at my current firm or do I need to quit first?
  • What’s the best way to structure my pricing?
  • How long can I expect it to take before I’m able to take a paycheck?
  • What are the common hurdles to starting an advisory firm, and how have others overcome or addressed these hurdles?
  • How many clients do I need to support myself and my family?

All of these make great podcast content ideas.

5. Lessons learned

In the time you’ve spent building up your expertise and creating your offer, you’ve undoubtedly picked up some key nuggets of wisdom.

That hard-earned knowledge is perfect for an episode (or several!).

Another of our clients recently released an episode called “Five Key Lessons I’ve Learned” to share the important realizations he came to as he worked to build a successful business.

This kind of advice is great for listeners who want to follow a similar path.

Reflect on your own journey to where you are today, and you’ll likely find that the lessons you’ve learned can benefit your audience, as well.

How to Get More Podcast Content Ideas

After the first handful of shows, the best way I’ve found to come up with new podcast content ideas is by asking yourself three things:

  1. What questions do I regularly get that I can educate my listeners on?
  2. What concepts do my listeners need to understand?
  3. What actions can my listeners take to make progress toward their goals?

This kind of reflection will help you come up with episode topics and talking points that your audience will find helpful.

You can also look through posts on social media and emails you’ve gotten from clients or prospects for inspiration.

And don’t underestimate the power of “stealing like an artist.”

That means checking out other podcasts and blogs within your field to see what other thought leaders are talking about and how you can do your version of it.

The key is to put your own spin on it to make it your own and to tailor it to your particular audience’s needs.

That’s how to put out podcast content that offers value.

A Word About Planning Ahead

We’ve all heard of content calendars that plan out what you’ll release and when for months at a time.

If that works for you, go for it!

But I’ve found that you don’t need to get crazy planning it all out.

Instead, I recommend making sure you have a handful of episode ideas ready to go at any time.

That way, when you’re ready to record, you’re not scrambling to come up with a topic, but you’re also not so stressed about what you’ll be recording in six months that you don’t ever get started.

Also, if you decide you want to record more than one episode at a time, you can knock ’em out pretty easily.

I do, however, recommend planning ahead in a different way when it comes to your podcast content.

Before you record anything (or anything else, as the case may be), do some reflecting to make sure that the content you plan to record will provide value for listeners.

I can’t stress this enough.

You don’t want your podcast to be one big promotion for you or your offering; you want it to be a resource for your audience.

For more on how to create valuable content, check out How to Prepare For a Podcast Episode: What To Do BEFORE You Hit Record and How To Be An Amazing Podcast Host: 5 Tips To Turn Listeners Into Clients.

And if you have more suggestions for how to come up with podcast content ideas, share them in the comments below!