How to discover endless podcast topic ideas

There are unlimited choices for podcast topics, but coming up with an idea is the hardest part. Here's how I pick my podcast topic ideas.

Matthew James Oxlade
Updated on

Let’s pretend that you have a podcast themed around cooking. Maybe you’re a good cook. I don’t know or care (really), I just care that you feel the same as me sometimes in that it’s hard to keep coming up with podcast topic ideas.

It feels like you need to have unlimited ideas to keep up with that podcasting frequency. Plus, podcasting takes a long time as it is. You need to create unique content for various social media channels to be everywhere at once, and even the most useful podcasting tools won’t create podcasts on autopilot.

I want to show you how I create podcast topic ideas when I feel like I’m all out of them but need to create an episode. To better demonstrate how I discover the ideas, I will use a hypothetical podcast niche of cooking.

The free way for generating podcast topic ideas

You don’t need money to create an endless stream of podcast topic ideas. Throw your term in Google! But don’t hit search just yet. Wait for Google’s auto-complete to do the work for you.

Google auto complete

A good start, but needs more work

I’m a firm believer of the saying, “you get what you pay for”, and you didn’t pay anything for this technique so you’re going to need to do a little more work to get some quality results. You could add different terms and make a list of all the different results auto complete returns. Or, you could use KeywordShitter.

Throw the word “cooking” into the ugly-looking text box, click “Shit Keywords!” and watch the (figurative) toilet populate with keywords that actually aren’t shit.

Keyword tool for podcast ideas

I let this run for two minutes and got a total of 741 results.

Keyword tool for podcast ideas

Not bad, but we have the opposite problem to the Google Search auto complete. We have too many unsorted results. KeywordShitter basically does an endless amount of Google auto-complete pulls until you stop it. So it’s better than doing them manually, but sometimes it leaves you with too many ideas.

Filter the raw podcast topic ideas

If we know what we roughly want to talk about within the niche of cooking, we can add them to the ‘Positive Keywords’ list to quickly display any phrases that use that keyword. Similarly, if we know what we don’t want to talk about, we can add words to ‘Negative Keywords’ to remove any matching phrases from the list.

Let’s say we want to do a podcast episode around kids, because we know parents are probably stuck at home with them during the pandemic. I add the word “kids” to the ‘Positive Keywords’ list and it shows the five results from the total of 741.

Positive keyword filter

Much better. Immediately I could start to imagine how you could build a podcast episode around cooking ideas for kids.

The somewhat free/paid way for discovering podcast topic ideas

If I know what I want to talk about, but I don’t know what people would want to know about that sub-topic, I turn to AnswerThePublic.

Throw in “cooking” into AnswerThePublic and within seconds, you get this.

How to generate podcast topic ideas

Okay, that is a lot of results. But didn’t we say that it feels like we need an endless amount of podcast topic ideas? Yeah, well, be careful what you wish for.

Segmenting the ideas

You’ll notice that all of those results branch out from the standard who, what, when, where, why – meaning they are all questions that lead you to being able to answer it on your podcast. I’m hoping you’ll know how to answer the question you pick, otherwise you might want to change your podcasting niche.

Some of the topics that leap out at me as topics that could be used to have a deeper discussion are:

  • Cooking can tuna: Three restaurant-grade recipes for canned tuna
  • Cooking with greens: How to keep your vegetables fresh
  • Cooking for one: How to save money
  • Cooking without electricity: Creative ways to cook in a blackout (weird but it’s an idea)

If you feel like those questions still don’t give you the content idea you’re looking for, you can use the comparisons segment.

How to create podcast topic ideas

From those results, some that could create a good discussion topic to dissect on your cooking podcast might be:

  • Cooking versus baking: What’s the difference?
  • Cooking and mental health: Are home cooked meals the best medicine?
  • Cooking like a chef: The top 5 knives chefs use
  • Cooking vs fast food: How much money can you save each year?
  • Table salt vs cooking salt: They’re not the same

Rinse and repeat

That’s ten episodes worth of content, and I only picked one idea from each topic strand for the keyword “cooking”. Need more? Throw in the words “food preparation” and here we go again…

Podcast topic ideas that are easy

Ask your listeners for what they want to hear

If you have a podcast that is already established and you have an audience, let the listeners decide.

You already know your listeners like what you have to say, so ask them at the end of the podcast to contact you by email or on social media to suggest topics you’d like them to hear you discuss. You’d be surprised how many topics that seem so obvious were unthought of before they were suggested.

I did this successfully on my Filter Photography Podcast. I asked listeners to send me suggestions of what they want to learn, and was upfront that if I didn’t know the answer, I wanted to learn along with them and report back with what I learned. Transparency is always great and it’s even better when you know that the podcast topic is of interest to the listeners.