While some generalist podcasts are successful, they are few and far between. Almost every single podcast out there falls into a niche, and for good reason.
Think of your own podcast habits. When searching for a new show to download, you probably already have an idea of what you’re looking for. Maybe it's true crime, sports news, or a show about the latest innovations in tech. Most listeners already have a general idea of the content they’re after.
Having a niche means that potential listeners know where to find you and that you have a better chance of becoming a thought leader and getting on the charts in that segment since, of course, there’s less content you’re competing with.
According to CoHost’s State of Branded Podcasts 2022 Report, the top-rated categories for branded podcasts are:
So, how do you find your niche and subsequently develop it so that you’re branded podcast is primed for success?
According to Merriam-Webster, a niche is a ‘specialized market.’ When applied to marketing, a niche is an area of the market with its own unique needs, preferences, and desires.
This holds true when thinking about your podcast niche. While your podcast is not meant to be selling a product, it should be addressing the needs and expectations of the people within your specified target audience. After all, that’s why listeners tune in and engage with your content.
Niches fall within larger categories. Let’s use ‘Tech’ as an example. This category makes up a large number of podcasts, making it too big to be considered a niche. There are simply too many smaller topics that fall into it. A niche within tech would be ‘The history of tech.’ This is a specific topic that only a small subset of shows would fall into, designed to reach a specific listener.
Now you might have the urge to think “well the history of tech is too specific, if I just focus on tech then I’ll relate to a wider audience”. And it’s a fair thought, but we’ve found that trying to relate to too wide of an audience means that you relate to no one. It comes down to the age-old debate of quality over quantity. In this case, we urge you to focus on the quality of listeners rather than the quantity.
The first step to finding your niche is to ensure it’s something that your brand (or your client) is genuinely interested in, passionate about, and likely has subject matter expertise on. Nothing is worse than locking yourself into producing a podcast you don’t care about. You and your audience will both know it, and your show will suffer.
Being knowledgeable about your niche is also crucial. Why should the people in this niche care or listen to you? Maybe you're a wellness brand, so you have authority in the space. Perhaps your client is a lifelong soccer fan, and their vast knowledge makes them trustworthy to audiences. Authority and trust come from a variety of places, but you do need to ensure it's there.
Finally, you need to measure how saturated the niche is, and if your show will be able to differentiate itself. This is called competitive research, and it’s key when it comes to finding your niche. It's great if you have the perfect idea, but if a popular show with the same premise already exists you will struggle to find an audience. You can still create a show in the same niche, you may just need to carve out a niche within a niche!
Ask yourself these questions about your potential niche: Are there questions that are still going unanswered? Can you provide insight that the other shows can’t? If the answer is yes, this is a great jumping-off point to carve out your segment.
Now that you’ve found your niche, how do you develop it? It’s important to keep in mind that niche development is an ongoing process and it’s alright (and normal) to do some readjusting once your show launches.
Like you did when you were finding your niche, you need to continue to do competitive research. What do the other shows in your niche do well, and where do you see room for improvement? This will help inform the decisions you make when creating your own content.
Quick Tip: It’s not always about competition. Other creators in your area can also be assets. Being a guest on shows and inviting other hosts onto yours is a great way to gain authority in the space.
Keyword research is a great tool to employ when developing a niche. There’s great software out there that will show you how popular a keyword is. Some of our favorites include:
If a keyword is saturated, research similar niche-specific keywords that are not as popular so that you can use them in your content to stand out.
Another important step is to create listener personas that help you flesh out the unmet needs of your target audience. If you find that the niche you originally developed doesn't effectively target your ideal listener, you should take your development in a different direction.
Now it’s time to measure your show’s performance. If you’re not getting the results you set for your podcast, you need to re-evaluate.
Maybe there simply isn’t enough interest from audiences, or maybe you aren’t reaching your ideal listener. Continually tracking these data points using both quantitative (data) and qualitative (reviews and feedback) metrics will allow you to continue to develop your segment in a way that will allow you to grow.
Typically, the podcast hosting platform you use will provide most of the data you need to measure performance. For example, CoHost users get access to metrics like Show Consumption Rate, episode comparisons, downloads over time, and dashboards on downloads, unique listeners, and audience profiles.
Ultimately every podcasting niche is different (that’s the whole point!) and the audiences within those spaces have different expectations. It’s up to you to do your research and listen to your audience so that your podcast can stand out and become a go-to for your audience.
A recent graduate from the University of Cambridge, Quincy is passionate about the content creation space and was heavily involved in student radio and journalism. She aspires to create content to engage and inform, and is passionate about the power of audio media!