Last week on the Write Business Results blog, I shared my thoughts on the five best formats for an effective podcast. This week, I’m continuing this theme and answering the question “How do I know what topics will be valuable to my listeners?”
This is something that is important to plan ahead. Improvising when you sit down to record is rarely going to work well. What I generally recommend is having a nice, neat schedule that takes you at least three months into the future with some kind of continuity between episodes.
When it comes to identifying the topics you need to cover, I believe there are four main options:
Ask the Audience
The first, and perhaps most obvious, is to ask your audience directly. You want to provide value with your content, so interacting with your audience to discover what they would value and want to know is a good place to start.
You do this by proactively going out and asking. This might look different depending on where your audience can be found or the platforms you use to reach them.
You might go into mastermind groups or ask your clients directly. Social media platforms are useful here, thanks to the fact that most support polls these days. You can create a list of potential topics, and have your audience vote on their favourites! Another benefit to this is that you can also use the popularity of the topics to help you plan the order in which you release episodes.
If – as I imagine most of my readers are – you are already active in business and creating content on some level, you might already be getting interactions like this on a regular basis naturally. Sometimes you might notice a pattern to which questions or requests get asked a lot. In this case, we can move onto the next source of topics for discussion – the FAQ.
Last week, I touched on this format. While it might be difficult to source enough frequently asked questions to run an entire season of episodes with this format, having an episode of this style at least once per season can be effective. It also is an effective way to ensure that your content is valuable to your audience – you know that they are all dying for the answer.
In addition to being asked the question directly, keep an ear out for questions that keep coming up around you. This means that whether you’re on a sales call with clients, running a webinar or training session, or in a mastermind session with peers, pay attention and make a note of the questions getting asked.
Even if the question was answered at the time, other people might be interested in your answer as well. Having a blog post or podcast episode also means that you have a pre-made answer available if you come across the same question in the future.
Not everyone prefers to consume their content in the same way. Some people read blog posts over their lunch break, others listen to podcasts during their commute, and others prefer to sit down with a book at the weekend.
This means that, even if you have already written a blog or have an FAQ section on your website, don’t be afraid to cover the same topic in a podcast. It might be that a spoken discussion is what allows your listener to understand it in a way that having it written down never would have!
So, what if you have already compiled your lists of questions or information that you think will be valuable to your listeners, but you want to add even more to that information? The next step is to consider how your information is chunked up and presented in digestible pieces.
To give an example: the main theme that I and Write Business Results works with is content creation, so how can I break that down further into smaller “key themes”? The first step might be different formats of content – the main examples we work with being books, blogs, and podcasts. You can then go further, investigating specific aspects of or details around podcasting, blogging, or book writing.
This little trilogy of blogs that we are halfway through is a great example of this. We are looking at three specific aspects of planning a podcast – choosing the format, the topics, and next week I’ll talk about promoting it.
Again, this advice is absolutely not exclusive to podcasting! The same thing applies to blogs and even book writing! We use a similar approach to support authors who are unsure where to begin with structuring and planning their chapters for example.
The only limit here is time and the needs of your audience. You want to make sure that the level of detail you go into provides value, while fitting within the amount of time you want your episode to last.
Bear in mind that, generally, it is better to keep the duration of each episode relatively consistent. If an episode is dramatically longer than the others in your series, consider chunking it down further. You also need to remember that different people benefit from different levels of detail or complexity.
If you know that your audience enjoys in-depth analysis and asks many detailed questions, then this limits the amount of content you can cover in one episode. Alternatively, those who prefer a broader overview might not mind foregoing the fine detail as long as their main questions are answered clearly.
Online Tools and Websites
The final way of finding topics is using online research tools. These allow you to see the general data and statistics around topics that might be of interest to cover. What’s more, they allow you to look at things from a wider perspective than just your current followers, potentially allowing you to expand your listenership.
I find three tools in particular to be useful.
1. Similarweb – This allows you to analyse a website’s performance and where its traffic is coming from. This has a free version and a paid version that offers more detailed information.
If you can understand how traffic is reaching your websites and those of your competitors, you can start to adjust and tweak the content you are offering. For example, if you are aware that certain keywords are bringing in traffic to competitors, you can make sure that your podcasts also address the same topics.
2. Answerthepublic – This allows you to drill deeper into keywords and their popularity. You can use this tool to search specific keywords and uncover how people are searching for those topics – including questions they are asking.
This means that you could potentially compile years worth of episode topics from one website alone! All you need to do is search the keywords associated with the content you wish to provide, and look at the related information that people are also searching for.
If you wanted to do further research, then you could of course return to method one – polling your audience directly on which of the topics you have identified interest them directly.
3. Ubersuggest – This is free to use and incredibly in-depth. This again helps with keywords and analysing the traffic and SEO of both your website and those of your competitors.
If you type in a domain name, it returns an analysis of how its SEO, marketing, and traffic are functioning, sorted by a traffic light system. This allows you to see quickly and easily what is working, and what is not – allowing you to avoid wasting time on producing content that nobody will engage with.
Using these three tools (and others) allows you to get a much better idea of the data behind what people on the internet are looking for. Based on this information, you can create a podcast that offers genuine value to your audience.
Has this inspired you and helped you decide where you want to start with your own podcast? Are you still struggling to work out how to turn your expertise and experience into valuable content? At Write Business Results, we are here to support you by identifying the best way for you to put your content out there.
Why not book a clarity call if you’d like to learn more about how to build your personal brand using content like podcasts and create a community that is excited to work with you.