Not sure how to get people to care about your podcast above everyone else’s? Podcast niches might just be your answer. Having a podcast that’s too general or broad is a common mistake. Very few people have the skill and ability to replicate the eclectic Joe Rogan format (but that doesn’t stop them trying!).
On the other hand, if you’re catering to a specific niche, the people who your podcast is meant for will immediately fall in love with it. Niching down is now the most effective way to stand out from the crowd and give your show the best possible chance of success.
So how do podcast niches work? Why do they matter so much? And where do you even begin trying to figure out what yours is?
What is a Niche?
Finding a niche is all about narrowing down your podcast topic for a specific audience. Basically, you don’t want a podcast that’s so general, no one quite knows what it’s about or who it’s for. For example, a podcast about the history of the gay rights movement in the UK is much more niche than a general history podcast. It has a specific focus, so appeals to a specific group of people.
A podcast niche is essentially a narrowly-defined topic, of interest to a specific group of people.
Why Having a Podcast Niche Matters
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible. But that’s actually not the best way to build a following. If you’re not targeting specific people with your podcast, it’s not going to suck anyone in. Lij Shaw from Podcast Professors explained it this way:
By trying to market to everyone out there, you'll end up marketing to no one at all, because you simply won’t reach anyone through all the noise on the internet.
There’s so many podcasts out there these days, you’ll probably face a lot of competition no matter what your topic is. So you’ve got to find a way to stand out. The easiest way to do that is to make your podcast perfect for a certain type of listener.
Another Mother Runner is a podcast which does this brilliantly. There are so many health and fitness podcasts out there, so you might want to pick a specific sport or activity to focus on. But even within the subtopic of running, there’s still so many podcasts to choose from. Another Mother Runner cuts through this competition by making a show specifically for people who have to fit running around the responsibilities of raising kids.
You might think the podcast is cutting off lots of potential listeners by focusing exclusively on mothers who run. But if you want any chance of building an audience, that level of granularity can be a big help. Sure, runners who aren’t parents will scroll on by. But those who are parents will immediately stop and think, ‘this show was made for me!’ Just like that, you’ve already got them interested in your podcast.
The exception to this rule of niching down is if you have a dedicated audience already. Celebrities like David Tennant can get away with making a general podcast because they already have an audience excited to hear basically anything they have to say. But if you haven’t built up an audience yet, you need to get people to really care about your topic if you want them to give you a listen. That means making it clear your podcast topic suits them perfectly.
If you’re not a celebrity, you NEED to find a podcast niche.
How to Find Your Niche
So how do you actually find what your niche is? You’ve got to think of a topic narrow enough that you’ll draw listeners in, but broad enough that you’ll still have lots to say about it. That can feel difficult if you don’t know where to start. So here are some tips to guide you through the process:
1. Start with a general list
If you’re only just starting to think about your podcast topic, you might want to have a brainstorm first. List down anything and everything you think of - no idea is too big or too small at the moment. Don’t worry too much about whether your topic is niche enough at this stage, you can narrow it down later. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, here are some things to think about:
- What are your interests and hobbies?
- What are you comfortable talking about at length?
- What do you care most about?
- What are you an expert on?
- What do people come to you for advice on?
Feel free to have a look at what podcasts are already out there too, and take inspiration from them.
2. Pick favourites & narrow them down into niches
Now you’ve got a list of topics, choose the ones that seem most promising. Which ones get you most excited? Which ones can you already picture a few episodes for?
Once you’ve figured out your favourite topics, it’s time to narrow them down into niches. Think about subtopics within your idea - the more specific, the better.
Or think about whether you can come at the topic from a unique perspective. Maybe you’ve got certain experiences or expertise that help you see something from a different angle. A podcast about Indian history from someone who lived in India for a few years, or a podcast about gay rights from someone who actually has experience in activism, are much more appealing because they’re specific to the host. Think about what insights you can bring to your podcast that no one else can. That’s what will make your show unique.
3. Think about what makes you different
If you’re still struggling to niche your topics, you might find it helpful to do some brainstorming about you. Yes, that’s right, you. Spend some time thinking about what makes you different to everyone else making a podcast about your topic.
The Psychology of Video Games could be just another video games podcast. But the host Jamie Madigan makes it different, by using his PhD in psychology to bring a whole new angle to talking about gaming.
You don’t need a PhD to have a niche though. Anything unique about you and your past experience can give you a new angle to play on. Whatever it is, the more specific your niche is to you as the host, the better - it gives people a reason to listen to your show over anyone else’s on the same topic.
4. You can always branch out later
If you’re worried about whether your niche is too specific, keep in mind it’s not meant to be a prison. It’s supposed to help you, not restrict you unnecessarily. So you can always branch out or shift your niche later on. Once you’ve experimented a bit with your topic, you’ll probably have more of an idea of exactly what you have to add, and you can change your niche accordingly.
Once you have a dedicated audience, you can afford to broaden out your podcast a bit more too. If you’ve already got loyal listeners, they won’t mind if you go a bit off topic occasionally. But if you’re still trying to build your audience, having a specific niche will really help bring people in to begin with. So try to make sure your podcast is narrow enough to begin with.
Find Your Niche & Fill It
Finding a niche is the easiest way to stand out from the crowd, and actually get people to take notice when they see your podcast. All you’ve got to do is decide what you can bring to a podcast that’s different from everyone else. That can come from anywhere - whether you’ve personal experience with the topic, a unique angle to come at it with, or you’re interested in a particular subtopic.
Your niche doesn’t have to be a straitjacket - you can always experiment with it a bit until you find one that fits you. But having an idea of what it is from the outset will help you build up an audience. Your target audience will stop when they spot your show in the crowd, and think it was just made for them.