How to Choose a Niche for Your Podcast (Before You Start)
If you want your podcast to be successful, you need to treat it like a business. Just because your idea sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it has a strong chance to succeed, and without research to back up your plans, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to build an audience. Before you start recording content, you’ll need to set up your studio, establish a reliable internet connection, and create a personal brand to market around. But before any of that, you’ll need to choose a niche—and a main direction—for the podcast.
Why Your Niche Matters
Your niche will be a highly specific focus for your podcast—both in terms of the type of content you create and the audience for whom you create it. Your niche is important for several reasons:
· Content direction. Your niche will define what type of content you create, much like how a business plan informs how you’ll run a business. With a sufficiently detailed niche, you should be able to make a firm outline on how to generate and develop podcast episodes.
· Brand differentiation. A niche will also differentiate your brand. There are dozens of podcasts in high-level areas like “business development” or “improving productivity.” If you want a chance to stand out, you’ll need something more unique.
· Competition reduction. Refining your niche is also a good way to reduce the competition you face. The more specific your topic is, the smaller your audience will be, but the fewer competitors you’ll have to deal with. That means you’ll have more chances to connect with your audience, and a better opportunity to build a loyal following.
How to Choose a Niche
If you’re considering a podcast, you likely have a general idea of the type of content you’d like to create. For example, you might want to create a podcast on the topic of marketing or entrepreneurship. But how can you choose a strong, specific topic to focus on?
· Brainstorm the possibilities. Start by using the brainstorming method of your choice to expand upon your initial idea. You might, for example, use a mind map to chart out the most significant ideas connected to your initial concept, or interview people in your industry to see what topics or focal points they feel are lacking coverage. Come up with a big list of possible ideas for exploration and be prepared to generate more; that way, you can browse through them when you acquire more information about the current market.
· Look at the competition. Spend some time reviewing other podcasts in your general space. Take note of areas that already have sufficient coverage, and if there are any areas that appear to have no coverage. Listen to a few episodes of the most popular podcasts in the space. Is there a key weakness that you could capitalize on? Do viewers seem unhappy with the way things are currently run? Look for any sign that you could get a competitive edge.
· Do your market research. Next, do some high-level market research. Learn about the demographics you’re considering targeting with your podcast. Who are they? What are they like? What are their wants and needs? Most importantly, how are they currently listening to podcasts? If you have the time, consider developing “listener personas” to get a better idea of who these audience members are.
· Talk to would-be audience members. When you feel you have a good understanding of your target demographics, and a handful of possible niche ideas, start talking to some real people within those demographics. Ask them specifically what they’d like to see in a podcast, and if they’d be interested in hearing what you have to offer. This is an unparalleled opportunity to get first-hand reactions to your initial ideas.
· Experiment with outlines. By now, you probably have a loose idea of what you want your niche to be. When you’re feeling somewhat confident, start drafting outlines for possible episodes. This will help you determine how feasible it is to develop content for this niche on a regular basis.
· Consider plans for expansion. If your niche is specific, eventually, you’ll start finding it hard to come up with new content ideas. It’s, therefore, a good idea to prepare some plans for future expansion. Can you acquire another, related niche in the future? Can you “zoom out” to become more general once you establish an initial following?
Once you’ve decided on a niche for your brand, you can start creating the content that will put your podcast on the map. It’s unlikely that you’ll find success right away, but if you do your research and commit to your core idea, you should be able to start cultivating a following.