I'm a firm believer that anyone who has an idea for a podcast should start that podcast. You and I know that, with very few exceptions, a motivated person with means can make just about any podcast on their own.
The podcasting directories and apps are filled with what can only be described as "passion projects.” And I love that about podcasting! Many of those podcasting passion projects have a handful of passionate listeners. And will probably only ever have a handful of passionate listeners. And that's OK!
However, sometimes that passion spreads beyond the core audience, and word of the show itself reaches others, and the show becomes an overnight (or over decades) viable success.
How do you know which path your next podcasting project is likely to take?
If your next podcasting project will take serious resources in time, treasure, or talent to get off the ground, is there a litmus test you can put your idea through before you make that investment?
No, there isn't. At least, not a test in the way you might be thinking.
However, there are four questions you can ask—and carefully examine your answers to—that will help triage your idea and see if it has legs beyond just another idea.
1. Is there a benefit to this podcast, or is the podcast just a feature?
Another way to ask this is by saying, "Cool idea, bro. But what's in it for the listener?" Because all too often, I hear pitches for podcast ideas that really talk up the caliber of guests that will be invited to the program or the wealth of knowledge that the host brings to this subject.
And both of those are all great and necessary things. But they're just features. Features likely found and repeated in many other extant podcasts. Or features readily available in other mediums.
If you can't turn those features into clear, obvious, and desirable benefits for the listener, you're going to struggle to see the show take off.
2. Who will care about this podcast?
Your first and immediate answer should be, "Me! I will care about this!" Because if you don't care about it, you're going to have a hard time find finding anyone else who will.
But speaking of you for a moment longer, you need to have more than just a passing interest or an infatuation with the topic. Take me, for example. I've ridden a folding bicycle for more than two decades. I know there's a community of folding bike enthusiasts I could speak to on a podcast that targets folding bike enthusiasts.
But what's it going to be about? What needs do they have that I could fulfill with my show? I've no idea, which is why I don't host a podcast about folding bikes. I just don't care enough, so I'm the wrong person to figure out who would care.
3. How unique will this podcast be?
My inner grammarian hates the fact that it's now acceptable to put modifiers on the word unique, but we grow and adapt along with our language, don't we?
No, I don't think it's a requirement that your next podcast idea is unique. But it sure helps! So before you go too far, take some time to check out the competition. Podcasting is already pretty crowded. Do you really want to join a crowded niche where there are already 50, 500, or 5000 podcasts on the same topic?
And even if your niche is relatively blue ocean, how likely is it to remain so? Besides you, who else could make an amazing podcast on this subject? And if they did (when they do?), is it likely is that their podcast could out-compete yours?
4. How promotable will this podcast be?
It's becoming the anti-cliché, but it remains true that if you build it, they won't know it exists, so there's no way they're going to come. That holds true for your next podcasting project too.
Does this podcast idea lend itself to straightforward yet novel promotional approaches? Do you have the necessary platform to get the word out about the show? And if not, can you partner with someone and use their platform to spread the word?
Do you have the budget to launch a sizeable marketing/promotional campaign for this podcast? That's becoming more required all the time. And were the answers to the first three questions strong enough answers that justify the money you're about to spend on this promotional campaign?
So there you have it, four questions to ask yourself to help you triage your next podcasting project. Again, this is not a litmus test. Neither success nor failure is guaranteed, regardless of what your answers were.
Good luck with your next podcasting project. I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.