Your niche helps define what your show is, so you can better understand who you serve. Not having one is a quick way to overwhelm yourself. You may end up abandoning your podcast before it's even had a chance to flourish.
But what exactly is a niche, and how do you find yours? That's what I'm here to tell you, so let's dig in:
What Is a Podcast Niche?
Before we get too far into this, it’s pertinent to stop and briefly chat about what a podcast niche is.
Simply put, it’s the narrow subcategory that your podcast falls into. Instead of having a podcast that talks about business, your niche might be digital marketing for startups. History is a big topic, perhaps you cover feminist history.
Your niche is the narrowly-defined topic that helps listeners easily determine what your show is about and who it’s for.
Fine, But Why Do I Really Need One?
Unless you are Joe Rogan or Anna Ferris, a general interest podcast probably won’t work for you. The good news is, you don't have to be a celebrity. According to our Discoverability survey, podcast listeners care more about the description and titles. So, you need a hook for your audience.
When I sit down with a filmmaker to build a marketing plan for their latest cinematic masterpiece, we start with one simple but loaded question—someone is searching through [insert streaming platform here] on Saturday night. Why should they watch your movie?
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The same question applies to you. There are over 2-million podcasts out there that have put out over 48-million episodes, why should someone listen to yours? And “because it’s good” is not an option. They don’t know that yet.
Picking your podcast niche is one of the first steps you’ll take in your marketing. It comes before securing a name or designing your podcast art. It’s the backbone of your podcast, determining what it’s going to be, and who it’s there for.
So, How Do You Find Your Podcast Niche?
I’m not going to tell you that finding your podcast niche is going to be a piece of cake. It could take some time.
If you have a lot of areas of interest and aren’t quite sure what you want to do beyond start a podcast, then you’ll have to do some considerable soul searching before you land on the perfect niche.
But while it can be time consuming and maybe a little frustrating (because you should really only pick one), it’s a simple process.
Figure Out What You Like and Know
The perfect podcast niche is a mash-up between what you already know and what you love.
If you’re entering the podcast game and thinking about monetization, you might lean towards something profitable for other podcasters. But the most profitable niche for you, is a topic that you can bring your own special sauce to.
Now, I’m no economist or money expert. But, a podcast about knitting has the same potential for profit as something business focused, provided it’s really your jam. While the audience might be smaller, passion topics can rake in some pretty hefty cash, if the audience is engaged.
In fact, a specific, narrow audience is much more valuable to prospective sponsors and advertisers than a generalized audience. The key here isn’t to throw out the biggest net you can find and catch whatever swims in. Instead, you want to head to the coldest, rockiest part of the ocean, where you know all the lobsters are hanging out. Clearly, in this case, “lobsters” are your listeners.
So, grab out a pen and notepad—or, if you’re paperless like yours truly, open a new document—and make two lists. The first is everything that you love. These are subjects that you'd enjoy spending time researching, writing and talking about.
The second is everything that you’re an expert in, or even just fairly knowledgeable. This list can include pretty much anything that you could sit down with someone for a coffee about and explain or talk about, without having to do too much Googling.
Once you have those two lists, figure out which areas match and narrow that bad boy down. Which is your favorite? What could you see yourself podcasting about? Remember, you don’t have to make this decision in one sitting. Podcasting is a big commitment, you need to make sure you like your topic.
Check Out The Competition
With your podcast niche idea in-hand, it’s time to take a look at what’s already out there for listeners in this particular area. If you’re struggling to pick just one, do this exercise with all of your prospective niches. This way, you have an idea of where you might fit best.
You want to branch out beyond the handful of podcasts that you regularly listen to. Take a real hard look at what’s being offered to listeners out there. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few notes about what you like and what you want to avoid.
But don’t just listen to their podcasts, dig a little deeper. Check out their websites. Scroll through their social media feeds. Download their freebies (if they have any). Heck, even get on their mailing list.
This isn’t a one hour and you’re done activity. You really want to dig into the niche space, and see what’s out there. The time you invest now will not only make it easier for you to create your show, but also give you a better sense of what you’re going for.
Determine What You Can Do Differently
Knowing what everyone else is doing is important when it comes to figuring out your podcast niche. But what’s more important is figuring out how you can add to what's already available.
Podcasting is about carving your own space within a larger topic, so you can deliver your unique brand of content. This is where I can confidently add that it doesn’t matter if there are a bazillion other podcasts in the niche you want. It just guarantees there’s an audience for it.
You will probably never be as good as your favorite show in your own eyes. But, to someone else, you might end up as the standard by which they judge other podcasts. There is space for you in popular niches, don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the case.
So, take everything that you’ve learned about yourself, what you know, and what you’re passionate about. Combine it with what you’ve discovered by checking out other shows. Use all of that to shape your show’s elevator pitch. This is a quick one to two-line description of your show that you could theoretically share with someone during an elevator ride that would convince them to listen in.
Picking Your Podcast Niche
Picking a niche is different for everyone. Some of us know exactly what we want to podcast about. Others need to do a little digging to figure out the best niche topic for them. Both are OK.
If you’re seriously struggling to define your niche, remind yourself that you can always expand it. And if it helps, make yourself a little niche expansion plan that you can work towards so you don’t feel confined by being so specific. But you’ll find out how much easier it is to make and market a niche show in no time.Not sure where to start with your podcast? Check out the Podcast Host Academy—podcasting is a little easier if you have someone shining a light down the tunnel for you!