Choosing a podcast niche is one of the first steps in starting a podcast. There’s little you can do until you make this decision.
Many podcasters know right away what they want to produce a show about. In fact, the niche often comes first before they decide to start a show. They think, “I want to create content for small business marketers. Hey, maybe a podcast is best!”
But for some podcasters, choosing a niche is tough, especially if they are an expert on many subjects or have many interests. It can be a surprisingly difficult decision.
If you’re struggling to choose a podcast niche, this article is for you. We’ll help you choose an enjoyable and lucrative niche that suits your needs.
What is a Podcast Niche?
Before we get too deep into the selection process, let’s first define “podcast niche.”
A podcast niche is a narrowly-defined topic that interests a specific audience. It helps listeners understand who you are and what your show is about. If your topic is too general, potential listeners won’t quite know what it’s about and skip over your show.
Think of a podcast niche like a subcategory. For example, “health” is a category, but a podcast niche would be more like “healthy eating for weight loss.” “History” is a category, but a niche might be “history of jazz music.” The scope is much narrower.
For instance, Another Mother Runner is a podcast about exercise, but specifically for moms trying to fit running around their family responsibilities. Parents see this kind of show and immediately think, “Wow, this is exactly for me.”
Do you need a podcast niche? Technically no, but general interest shows tend to only work for celebrities who already have big followings. In most cases, niching down is the most effective way to stand out, especially if there aren’t any other shows who serve your niche.
Lij Shaw from Podcast Professors explains it perfectly: “By trying to market to everyone out there, you’ll end up marketing to no one at all, because you simply won’t reach anyone through all the noise on the internet.”
How to Choose Your Podcast Niche
Your podcast niche is an intensely personal decision, so we can’t tell you exactly what’s right for you. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide for yourself. But we can offer some guidance to choose a niche that’s right for you.
1. Start with a general list
Your first step is to put all of your ideas on paper. Write down everything, no matter how silly. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t worry about whether your ideas are niche enough or marketable at this point. You’ll end up crossing most of them off your list soon.
Here are some questions to help you come up with ideas:
- What do people come to you for advice for?
- What are you comfortable talking about at length?
- What hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
- What makes you excited every day?
- What do you feel passionate about?
- What would other people call you an expert about?
It may also help to browse through podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify for ideas. You don’t need to copy another show, but these might get your brain turning.
2. Think about subjects you love
Frankly, this is our most important tip. A lot of new podcasters start off focusing on the income they can generate with their show. While it’s tempting to dive into a successful niche with big audiences and lucrative sponsorship opportunities, you probably won’t make it to those benefits if you don’t enjoy the topic.
It’s important to choose a podcast niche that you truly enjoy. Podcasting can be hard, so in order to stick with it and avoid podfading, it’s best to work on a subject that genuinely makes you happy. Otherwise you’ll eventually get bored, frustrated, and unmotivated.
Furthermore, consider what other people will enjoy. You may have a topic that you love to talk about, but if everyone else finds it uninteresting, you’ll never build an audience around it.
If there’s a specific goal or purpose that drove you to start a podcast, that will probably dictate your podcast niche. For example, if you want to start a show to support environmental efforts around the world, you’ve pretty much chosen your niche already.
2. Consider what makes you different
If you want your show to stand out, it helps to have something different that no other host can offer. This is a key way to be competitive in a saturated podcast niche. It gives people a reason to listen to your show over all of the others.
Do you have any unique experiences? An interesting story that gives you a special perspective? Can you apply your expertise to something unusual? Do you have connections to unique guests?
Say Why to Drugs is a great example of this. They take a deeper, more scientific look into drugs, including why people take them, positive and negative effects, and the myths around them. Even their title is unique!
3. Consider your strengths and expertise
Ideally, your podcast should focus on a topic that you understand well. If you know the subject, you’ll have an easy time talking about it. Plus, the content will be better than if you were learning it from scratch.
That said, you don’t have to know everything about the topic. You will always need to do some research. But you need to start with a strong foundation of knowledge.
4. Think about what’s relevant in the world
What’s going on in your industry? What’s changing about the world? What is on the top of everyone’s mind right now that people are looking to learn more about? Consider whether any of these trending topics could be your podcast niche.
Furthermore, focus on evergreen topics that are attractive all year. While it’s possible to produce a show that’s only relevant at specific points in the year (like a Black Friday marketing show), you’ll struggle to grow an audience. (This doesn’t mean that a seasonal podcast can’t be successful, but you’ll have to adjust your production and marketing to fit the trend.)
5. Consider the competition
Take a few moments to evaluate the competition in any podcast niche that appeals to you. Who are the major players? What are their show formats? What makes them popular? Pull up any category you’re interested in and browse for a bit.
We recommend avoiding markets that are saturated with shows. It may be hard to establish yourself in categories like weight loss, true crime, or comedy (not impossible, but you need a built-in audience and stellar content).
That said, it’s okay to have some competition. Existing shows in your podcast niche is actually a good sign. It means there is a market to be served.
6. Drill down into subcategories
Like we said earlier, we recommend niching down so you aren’t competing with celebrities and big-budget media studios. You may think this limits your growth, but it actually helps your show stand out.
For instance, if you want to produce journalistic monologues of human interest stories (a popular genre), consider focusing on stories of people helping one another, or perhaps stories of people causing great harm.
Here are some ways to drill down:
- Appeal to a specific audience or sub-audience (e.g. instead of “parents,” create a show for “parents of special needs children”).
- Focus on one aspect of a broader topic (e.g. instead of “paid ads,” make a show about “Facebook paid ads”).
- Add an adjective to a topic (e.g. instead of “small business marketing,” make a show about “nontraditional small business marketing”).
Keep in mind that your podcast niche isn’t a prison. It’s possible to broaden or narrow your topic later as you learn more about your audience and what you like to talk about. In fact, many shows make slight adjustments during their first year as they experiment with the topic and speak to their fans.
For instance, if you start a podcast niche about debt relief, you might find that your audience cares about other personal finance topics as well, such as mortgages and auto financing. This kind of transition happens all the time. In fact, some shows even successfully change their podcasts’ name.
7. Compare ideas with your co-host
If you have a co-host, you’ll need to choose a podcast niche that suits both of you. Once you both put some ideas on paper, compare notes. Where do you overlap? What can you both do well? What would you both enjoy working on together?
Yes, this means you’ll have to compromise on a podcast niche. But you knew going into this arrangement that there would be some compromise. It’s important that both parties enjoy the topic, otherwise there’s a chance that one of you will abandon the project.
8. Think about monetization
If you hope to monetize your podcast at some point, it’s smart to think about this when you choose your podcast niche. Almost any show can be monetized because there are tons of ways to monetize a podcast, but you’ll want to consider which strategies are right for you.
For instance, like most shows, you’ll probably sell ads. But you could also offer private coaching, sell courses, collect donations, sell merchandise, etc. Consider whether the podcast niches on your list lend themselves to one kind of monetization over another.
Choose a Podcast Niche That You Enjoy
What’s most important is that you choose a podcast niche that you enjoy and can work with for the foreseeable future. Everything else is secondary. If you hate the topic, you’ll be miserable and find reasons to slack off and eventually quit. So focus on niches that make you excited, invested, and eager to talk.