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August 23, 2021

Creative Podcast Ideas for 2020/2021

Choosing a format (a.k.a. an idea) for your show can be pretty challenging and time consuming. Considering that there are over two million active podcasts and more than 48 million podcast episodes, the market might seem a little crowded. Which can lead to doubts and endless hours of trying to come up with an original idea. To save you from that, we gathered some ideas that can help you host an interesting and successful show.

Interview podcasts

Interview podcasts are one of the most common and popular formats of podcasting. The host of the show consistently interviews guests on different topics they’re related to. Podcasters usually book certain people with valuable opinions on a certain topic ahead of time and later dedicate the entire episode to the conversation. As every podcast format, it comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

PROS

  • One episode of an interview podcast can open up your show to a completely new audience. While interviewing your guest you not only attract your existing audience that's interested in your show, but also completely new listeners that stumble across your show because of the guest or the topic of the episode. This way you can access hundreds of highly targeted listeners that might expand your audience further on.
  • If you think about it, the interview that you host for your show is very similar to a casual conversation with another person. The guest and the host have each other’s undivided attention from about 20 to 40 minutes and that can be a great start of a new friendship. You learn new things about your guest and tell some about yourself, ask some interesting questions and get new perspectives on it. It is very likely that you will keep in touch with each other after the interview as well. It is useful in the future, when in need of advice or promotion.
  • When you invite guests over you naturally have to switch between different topics that match your guest’s interest or profession. On one hand it’s great, because you don’t have to make up the topics yourself. If your show would be solo, then every last detail, opinion and topic for each episode would be your responsibility. While interviewing your guests you also get a variation of different perspectives, thoughts, ideas on a single topic. That stimulates discussion and adds value for the audience. On the other hand you have to do a lot of research with each topic to be actually able to keep a conversation going, but more about that on the cons list.
  • When you invite guests over you naturally have to switch between different topics that match your guest’s interest or profession. On one hand it’s great, because you don’t have to make up the topics yourself. If your show would be solo, then every last detail, opinion and topic for each episode would be your responsibility. While interviewing your guests you also get a variation of different perspectives, thoughts, ideas on a single topic. That stimulates discussion and adds value for the audience. On the other hand you have to do a lot of research with each topic to be actually able to keep a conversation going, but more about that on the cons list.

CONS

  • One of the biggest disadvantages of interview podcast format is that many things start to depend on your guest rather than you. First of all the topics of the episode depend on your guest’s passions, profession. It is likely that you will know very little or nothing at all about most of them, so it will take a lot of preparation on every subject to ask logical questions and keep the conversation going. Second of all you will have to work around other people’s schedules. Finding time to record new episodes, edit your recent ones and consistently release new content is already pretty hard and if alongside all that you also have to fit in your guest’s busy schedule it can make things even more difficult.
  • Each episode will need a new guest and that can be pretty complicated considering that not all of them will match your show’s niche. It is also likely that some of them will refuse to be part of the interview and the ones that agree are usually pretty busy so you might have to book them in advance.
  • The more co-hosts join the show the more -umms and brief pauses end up in the recording. Since you are having a real conversation they are pretty much unavoidable and later on have to be cut out.

Solo podcasts

This type of format is fairly common, especially among new podcasters, because it is pretty simple. You don’t have to look for guests or tell stories, you just talk about a certain topic that matches your show’s niche the entire episode. It is usually hosted by people who are experts in a certain field.

PROS

  • Choosing the monologue format means that you no longer have to edit two different tracks, the things you say can also be scripted and the conversation topics depend just on you. It is also easier to record since you can always record the episode or a part of it again if you fail or forget what to say.
  • When hosting a monologue podcast you get to express yourself in a more authentic, intimate way. You also get the chance to establish yourself as an expert and share your expertise in a certain field. That is extremely useful if you want to build a community or a brand.
  • If you host the show alone you get the advantage of choosing the time to record based on your own schedule.

CONS

  • When you host the show alone no one's there to bounce off ideas for the show. You also have less perspectives to share on certain topics if you choose the monologue format. It is also worth mentioning that sometimes it can be pretty difficult to keep on talking the entire episode. Most episodes are about 30-45 minutes long and that’s only if you get it right the first time.
  • If you have a time booked with a guest, you must show up and begin recording the episode. However when you host the show alone no one is there to motivate you to start. It is also necessary to prepare ideas for what you are going to talk about. Even though some people only need a couple of notes on what they want to mention, most of us are going to need more than that.

Investigative/ storytelling podcasts

Everybody loves a great investigative story, right? So why not make a podcast all about it? It takes one or two people to host the show and you can either take up one long investigative story or tell a few shorter ones. The idea is to consistently release new episodes with each of them telling the story. Almost like an audiobook, just better, because anytime you can give a report on what you think so far and pretty much improvise from time to time. When hosting a show of such a format you can either tell real life stories or fiction. The most enjoyed ones seem to be the ones that tell something about our society while providing an intriguing narrative of a true crime. Here are the advantages and the drawbacks of such format:

PROS

  • You already have the story and the chapters all written down, all that’s left is some editing and the rest just improvise!
  • You are most likely not going to need to invest in a lot of things. Basically if you have the right equipment then there will be no need to buy anything else. No need for editors or a script, since you already have the content.
  • When you are hosting a story telling podcast you don’t need to make sure to interview or have guests over in every episode. That means that you can record the episode whenever you can without having to worry about anyone’s schedule. Of course, if you decide to, you can always invite a guest to one or two episodes to help you investigate or tell more about the story (if it’s non-fiction). That might be a good way to expand your audience or spice things up in the show.

CONS

  • Investigative stories are easy to find in a lot of places. Say, for example you can always find a true crime book, movie or an audiobook.
  • Since this type of content isn’t exactly made for podcasts it might feel like there’s something off. This podcast format will not allow you to interact with the audience, see their reactions.

The panel show

The panel show is meant to be kind of like a group conversation between a couple of friends. It is very similar to interview podcasts except that it involves more guests. It’s a great choice if your niche is news or recent events, trends in any field. While hosting such a show you should make sure that your guests are experts in the topic of each episode, the number of guests varies from 3 to up to 10 or more.

PROS

  • The panel show as mentioned before includes a lot of guests. That means that the majority of the talking will be done by them as well. You also don’t have to worry about the script or things to say, you will only need to find topics to discuss and edit the recordings.
  • Thing is, the more interesting guests you have over in your show the more listeners you target. That expands your audience while keeping things fun and engaging with different opinions and perspectives from different people.

CONS

  • Inviting one guest for an interview in each episode is already pretty hard, but think about how many times harder it is to invite 4 or 5 new guests in every episode. Before hosting a panel show I recommend writing down a list of people you’d like to invite to the show for the upcoming months or maybe even the whole year.
  • When you have a couple of people on the show you have to make sure that they do not stay silent for a longer time, but also that they are not talking all at the same time.

Hybrid podcasts

This type of podcast is very flexible and fun to host. You get to mix and match all of the ideas above depending on what feels right for each episode. Let’s say, you start off as a monologue, but then decide to interview an expert in a field that you were recently discussing. The interview goes a little bit south and you get hooked on a recent event that you could investigate. If it’s related to the show's niche, then let’s go! Here you are now investigating a story, you come up with several theories and not sure which makes most sense? Let’s have a group discussion! You invite a couple of experts that are already familiar with the story and discuss the theory. Hybrid podcasts can be really exciting to listen to, because you never know what will happen in the next episode. It is also very flexible, since you don’t need to have guests over in every episode or script your speech every week.

Popularity stats among genres

The formats listed above are always open for different genres. For example you could be hosting a news and politics solo podcast or a comedy panel show. Below are listed the most popular primary genres on iTunes. According to Current.org the most popular genre at the moment is comedy.

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