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How to Come Up with Great Video Podcast Topics

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How to Come Up with Great Video Podcast Topics

You probably already know the many benefits of video podcasting, regardless if you are an aspiring podcaster or are experienced and are looking to grow your following.

If not, have no fear! Part 1 of our Video Podcasting 101 series will bring you up to speed on why video podcasting will be a brilliant idea for you.

For those of you who are ready to take the plunge with this creative and fulfilling endeavor, we will help you answer the million-dollar question:

How do you come up with topics for your video podcast?


Get your pen and paper or favorite note-taking app ready and let’s get started!

Video podcast concept and topic

First, you will need a podcast concept and topic.

The magic formula

This is the formula that we propose to help you choose your podcast concept and topic:

Ikigai + Scope + Target Audience = Your Podcast Concept & Topic

What is your Ikigai?

(Also turns out to be a great way to find your life passion)

The Japanese have a concept called Ikigai. It refers to “a reason for being”. It is a reason for you to hop out of bed each morning. It is finding the intersection between four things:

  1. What you love,
  2. What you are good at,
  3. What the world needs,
  4. What you can be paid for
ikigai visual for video podcast topics
Source

Coming up with a successful podcast concept is not much different. Apart from the prompt about “What you can be paid for”, we want you to start by considering the following:


(1) What do you love?

List down topics and things that you are interested in. Do you like dogs? International cuisines? Harry Potter? Racing cars? The psychology behind human interactions? Self-improvement books? Monochromatic design? Talking to people? Entrepreneurship? Productivity hacks?


(2) What do you know?

List down things that you know relatively well. What do you have experience in? What skills have you developed from past jobs/school? In what areas do you have knowledge? What have you read a lot about? What have you learned from the videos that you have watched, the things you have done, and/or from the people that you have met?


(3) What does the world need?

List down things that you believe the world needs. Does it need more messages of strength and positivity? Does it need an alternate voice? Does it need people who are more empathetic? Does more light to be shed on the artistic talents of Hayao Miyazaki or Claude Monet?

Now, look at the intersection of all three. Where do they intersect?
This should give you an indication of the area(s) where you can provide value and follow-through with your podcast, over the following months and (hopefully) years.

But that’s not it! Let’s scope your concept towards a proper topic.

Scope your video podcast topic

You will need to look at your podcast’s scope. Here we are looking at two things: Breadth and Depth.

You want to choose a topic that is specific, ideally within a particular niche. For one, creativity requires some boundaries. Thus having a niche would (ironically) allow you to be more creative with the content that you feed your podcast with.

Further, focusing on a particular niche would ensure that your podcast is not diluted with random content that your target audience is not interested in.

You also want to make sure that your topic, while specific, has enough depth. Depth here refers to the amount of content that can be covered within the confines of the podcast topic.

For instance, a podcast that shares about people’s side hustles (e.g. Side Hustle School) arguably has a lot more depth than a podcast that only shares about people who started a side hustles within the medical sphere before the age of 20. 

Make sure to balance breadth and depth, ideally going for something specific that also has a lot of depth for you to flesh out in your episodes.

Some additional resources for you to research on topics: Quora, Reddit, Soovle, Answer The Public, and YouTube.

Who is your target audience? Who is your video podcast for?

Next, you need to be crystal clear on who your target audience is. Not many podcasters talk about this. Not many how-to podcasting guides talk about this. But we will. Because knowing your target audience is important (marketers out there - unite!)

While you need to love what you produce, remember that you are not just putting out a podcast for yourself. A podcast for yourself is a non-cast in our humble opinion (who listens to a non-cast? That’s right, nobody.).

A theatre cannot exist without an audience. Your podcast cannot and should not exist without an audience - especially because of the value it can bring to the world. Remember too that if you target everybody, you target nobody.

Ask yourself the following questions and write all of the answers to the questions down:

  • What is your target audience like?
  • Where are they from?
  • What are their preferences?
  • How do they like to spend their time?
  • What do they work as?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do they want to learn about?
  • What are they looking for when they put on a podcast to watch?


Now look for a specific target audience.

Understanding your target audience will also help you create content that your target audience will like and want to listen to. This will also help to increase your retention rate - crucial in gaining and maintaining a loyal following.

In summary, Ikigai + Scope + Target Audience = Your Podcast Concept & Topic.


Pull all that we have mentioned together, and you will be able to zoom into the essence of your first video podcast. Congratulations!

One podcast ideation hack
- if you are an avid podcast listener, make a list of the podcasts that you regularly listen to and enjoy:

  • What do you like about them?
  • Why do you subscribe to them?
  • What if you took what you enjoyed about each of your favorite shows and melded them together (kind of like a Frankenpodcast) - what would it look like?

This should put you in the right direction and give you more inspiration to create your very own podcast.

Style

There are three things related to style you need to decide:

  1. Podcast style,
  2. Live or non-live, and
  3. Video style

Your decisions are contingent on your intention with the podcast (e.g. its goals), target audience, and your available time. Each has its unique features and has its pros and cons. 

Let’s break it down!

Podcast style

(a) Pure interview

A host or multiple hosts interviews guest(s). This is simple and straightforward and is also fairly common. While podcast hosts can steer the direction of the conversation, the guests (e.g. their stories, enthusiasm, and tone of voice) can make or break each episode.


(b) Group discussion

Multiple hosts and/or guests interact in the same episode. This is also rather simple, and group discussions are generally more energetic, organically bringing an episode to life. However, the flow can be somewhat confusing for the audience, and the content can also be more disorganized than the other styles.


(c) Narrated storytelling

A well-crafted plot/story drives each episode. It relies on heavy editing, often drawing from interviews, sounds effects, music, and bits of narration. It also commonly features music beds and transition music between segments - exuding high production quality.

The host/producer takes the reigns of the final output. Guests may also be more relaxed given that they are under less pressure to execute a flawless end-to-end conversation compared to a pure interview. Post-production however takes a great deal of time and is more expensive to produce.


(d) Solo-cast (lightly scripted/planned)

A host records himself/herself speaking into a microphone. This is often lightly scripted or roughly planned to give each episode direction. It is comparatively easy to execute. The production quality, such as the extent to which music beds and sound effects are added, depends on the individual podcaster.


(e) Solo-cast (stream of consciousness)

A host records himself/herself speaking into a microphone. With stream of consciousness solo-casts, the host quite literally turns on his/her recording equipment and starts talking. The podcast thus features the host’s thoughts and conscious reactions recorded as a continuous flow. This is by far the easiest to execute.

However, it can be somewhat messy and disorganized for the audience to listen to. If the host is laser-focused with his/her thoughts, or already has a wealth of experience speaking about the topic, this should not be too much of a problem for him/her.

Live or non-live

You will need to decide whether you want to air your podcast live, or have it recorded and later uploaded.

Generally, a live podcast can be suitable for all of the above podcast styles, apart from the narrated storytelling podcast style, which relies on heavy post-production (non-live) work.

What you need for a live video podcast
: A software tool that captures multiple webcams and allows the content to be live-streamed to live streaming-compatible platforms.

Love to try your hands at a live podcast but not too sure how? riverside.fm will show you how to stream a live podcast hassle-free. Yes, hassle-free! You can live stream your podcast to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch with a click of a button. Try it out now at riverside.fm/start

Video style

Lastly, you need to decide on your video style or the method to which video is used and integrated into your podcast. There are four video styles:

(i) Static image recording

A static image or a series of images are the visual(s) of the video podcast. This is simply an audio podcast with an image or a couple of images to make up a video.


(ii) On-premise recording

The podcast is recorded on-premise, for instance in a home or studio. A video of the podcast, capturing the participant(s) and the discussion, is recorded on-premise.

(iii) Remote recording

The podcast is recorded remotely, with podcast participants located in different locations. A video of the podcast, capturing the participant(s) and the discussion, is recorded online. Each participant uses his/her camera, microphone, and computer to participate.


(iv) Remote interactive recording

The podcast is recorded remotely, with podcast participants and viewers calling in from different locations. A video of the podcast, capturing the participant(s) and the discussion, is recorded online. Each participant uses his/her camera, microphone, and computer to participate.

Choosing a video podcast title

It’s time to decide your title. And we have one rule for you…

The GOLDEN title rule - LESS is more

What do all of these podcast titles have in common?

podcast title examples
Crime Junkie, The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, Business Wars & The Dave Ramsey Show

They are simple, concise, and descriptive.

Without listening to the show, you could either guess the content or format of each podcast.

Why is this important?

1. A simple, concise, and descriptive title makes it easy for people to find your podcast.

2. A descriptive title gives the audience a teaser of what content or format your podcast features. This reduces the uncertainty that a person may have when deciding whether to listen to your podcast and increases the likelihood that the person chooses to give your podcast a shot.

3. Titles that are too long may be clipped when displayed on the screen. You want a short title that people can read in full regardless of the device and screen size (unless the font size on the screen is insanely large). Again, you want to immediately communicate the value that your podcast will bring with your title.

99% invisible podcast cover

Can you have a creative podcast title?

Wait - how about podcasts like 99% Invisible? Some popular podcasts have titles that are simple but are not at all descriptive and are more creative and abstract.

For instance, unless you’ve listened to 99% Invisible, you would probably not immediately guess that “99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

While 99% Invisible is an incredibly successful podcast, we recommend that if you are just starting out, stick to a title that is simple and clear first.

If your audience is not searching for the words that you’re thinking of including in your creative title (e.g. “cr3at1ve t!tL3”), you’ll do better at this stage to stick to our Golden Title Rule - LESS is more.

The bottom line is, keep it simple!

The art of a video podcast artwork

If your podcast is your product, your artwork is the face of your brand. Some may argue that given the visual nature of a video podcast, a podcast artwork is inherently less important for video podcasting compared to audio podcasting. Yet we want to emphasize that your artwork is still important!

Why so?

It is in your best interest to care about your artwork because the best podcast artwork attracts the right target audience

If you are looking to grow your podcast (which we believe that if you are reading this, there is a burning desire deep within you to do so), you will have to promote and share your podcast on multiple channels.

It is possible that on those channels, the first interaction that your potential audience has with your brand is with your artwork, rather than the actual content.

Remember, if your podcast is your product, your artwork is the FACE of your brand.

(When you think of Nike, do you think of its distinctive logo or how comfortable the shoes are?)


Okay, so what should your artwork look like?

The best podcast artwork does several things:

  1. Grabs your attention,
  2. Cleverly hints at what the podcast is about, and
  3. Allows somebody to go away from watching/listening to multiple episodes of your podcast, and have one clear image in their mind that unifies your episodes.

Alright, how can you design an artwork, especially if you don’t have that much experience with graphic design?

Glad you asked!

Here are some of our favorite artwork design resources:

  • Try your hand at it by using Canva. There you can find plenty of professional-looking templates for free.
  • Utilize a freelancing platform and hire a professional designer. Platforms where you can find designers include fiverr.com and upwork.com.
  • Secret tip: If you already design slides with Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote, you can easily use them too to design your artwork (in a 1:1 aspect ratio), and export them as a PNG or JPG file to be used.

Next… What should you use to record your podcast?

Need some help with figuring out what kind of podcast recording equipment you need?

Once again, we’ve got you covered!

Read our Essentials of Video Podcasting Equipment, Part 3 of our Video Podcasting 101 series.

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