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Podcast Idea Formula: How to Pick Your Podcast Idea In Under 60 Seconds?

You’re starting a podcast and you’ve been breaking your head about the podcast topic. If this is the case, let me break the suspense and give you the secret to every great podcast idea:

If it doesn’t sound right, chances are that it’s a bad idea.

I’m tempted to end this article right here.

But that would make you think the title was a clickbait. So in the rest of this article, I’m going to use every single word to tell you how important it is to have your podcast ‘sound right’.

In the second half, I’ll share a simple podcast topic formula that you can use to fine-tune your podcast or possibly start a new one.

This article is not about coming up with new podcast ideas, but identifying winning ideas from a pile of ideas. Read this article if you’d like to come up with new podcast ideas.

The Sound of Your Podcast Idea

Do you remember a time when someone told you something and you felt it didn’t sound right?

If you have, then you perhaps get what I’m about to discuss in the rest of this article. But if you haven’t felt that way before, no worries. Let me give you this example. Read the paragraph below and tell me how it feels:

“Terry was a very poor cobbler. He struggled to make ends meet. His family oftentimes ended up having just one meal a day. He started a podcast on how to get rich.”

How does this sound?

Does it sound right? Or, does it sound like something’s amiss? Does it sound authentic? Or, does it sound like a story you’ve heard before?

Podcast ideas are no different.

Podcast Pitches That Don’t Sound Right

It either sounds right, or it doesn’t. There could be many reasons why an idea doesn’t sound right. Some reasons could be:

  1. It feels very familiar to something you’ve already heard.
  2. The show feels unrealistic.
  3. The podcast topic isn’t that interesting.
  4. People on the show aren’t adding much value.

These are just some examples based on my experience listening to show pitches. I hope you get the drift.

And that brings us to the question:

What Makes a Podcast Idea Sound Right?

Ultimately, the answer to this question decides if people are going to be listening to a podcast or not. So it is worth your time trying to get this right before you start focusing on the other aspects of starting a podcast.

In this section, I’d like to introduce you to a handful of elements that have the power of making your podcast idea a hit with your listeners.

I first heard this from Alex Blumberg, the co-founder of Gimlet Media in the context of pitching stories for podcast episodes. But ever since, I have used this to shortlist ideas. So here are the elements:

  1. Topic
  2. Characters
  3. Distinctive Details
  4. Compulsive Reason to Listen

Let’s look at each of them in greater detail in the below section.

1. Topic

No matter what the idea for a podcast is, it should be around a central topic. It’s important you know what this central topic is, and what the supporting topics are.

The central topic is usually aligned to the category of your podcast in Apple Podcasts.

2. Characters

Who are the main characters that are involved in telling the story? Usually this is a combination of the host and the people they interview on the show. Sometimes, these characters are fictional too.

3. Distinctive Details

These are the details that you will need and use for your show and its episodes to stand-out. These details can sometimes be rendered through a combination of multiple elements.

4. Compulsive Reason to Listen

Why is your podcast worth your audience’ time and attention? Does your podcast topic, characters and the distinctive details make it compelling enough for listeners to listen and subscribe to your podcast?

And that brings us to the Podcast Topic Formula. Now that you have been able to find the 4 key elements of your podcast, it’s time we put them together to see if it ‘sounds’ right.

The Podcast Topic Formula

The formula can also be treated as the perfect syntax of a podcast pitch. Here’s the podcast topic formula:

My show is about <Some Topic> 

where <Character does something>.

It’s unique because <Distinctive Details>

and it’s interesting because <Compulsive Reason to Listen>.

The formula is pretty much that. If all the elements are carefully selected, your show should sound right.

Example Pitch

Let’s try and craft a pitch for a show that you are perhaps familiar with: The $100MBA Show. What would have the pitch looked like if Omar Zenhome attempted at making one? Let’s take a look:

My show is about Business Education

where Busy Entrepreneurs Use High-Quality Business Education. In 30-60 Minutes to Make Business Decisions at less than $100 / year.

It’s unique because These Entrepreneurs Are Learning to Make These Decisions While Driving, While Commuting and In The Gym. 

and it’s interesting because Entrepreneurs Usually Need to Rely on Expensive Business Gurus or a High-Ticket Business Education to make such decisions.

And that brings us to the end of this article.

The Pitch Is Just The Start

The podcast topic formula is a great way to prune out bad ideas and pick the good ones. That said, an idea needs more work before you start to invest time and effort into the podcast itself.

If your podcast idea passed this test by ‘sounding right’, leave a comment and let us know what that idea is. As a next step, outline your podcast. Don’t forget to access training, courses, and more by signing up for the LIVE Pass, and do check out our complete article on starting a podcast.