When it comes to any form of content creation, growing an audience has a lot to do with consistency.
This is especially true in the podcasting space. When you create consistent content (that’s valuable, too), your listeners know what to expect, and they start to make listening to your podcast a part of their routine.
The first step to being able to create consistent and valuable content?
Looking at the various podcast types and deciding which one is best for you (also known as your podcast format). There are several other podcasting setup steps you’ll want to focus on, too — but here we’ll focus on podcast types.
Why Consistency and Your Podcast Format is Important
Why is consistency and deciding on a podcast format so important?
Well it not only gives your listeners valuable content they can depend on (listeners like to know what to expect!), it also gives you the opportunity to more easily batch and create great content. And more great content = momentum and audience growth.
Great content also means more free time for you to work on other areas of your podcast, business — or more free time for all the fun personal things in life! (Insert family, friends, hobbies, your dog, long walks on the beach, traveling… you get the point.)
So this post will break down the most common podcast types and what the pros and cons of each type are.
Podcast Types (Your Podcast Format)
1. The Interview Podcast
One of the most common podcast types is the interview podcast. This is typically the host of the podcast interviewing a guest and sharing tips and advice that can help the listeners expand and grow in a specific niche.
Think Entrepreneurs On Fire, How I built This, My First Million, or Online Marketing Made Easy. These are all business podcast examples, but interview podcasts can work great for any industry or niche!
Here are some of the pros of an interview podcast
- Allows you to bring on industry experts and share their knowledge with your audience
- Having industry experts on your show boosts your credibility — guilty by association!
- Guests are sometimes willing to share the episode with their audience, which means more exposure for you and your podcast
- You don’t have to come up with a lesson or topic on your own — your guest helps you create the content!
Here are some of the cons of an interview podcast
- You have to continually be booking guests — and scheduling isn’t always easy
- Finding great guests might not always come easy (although there are some great tools to help, like Guestio.com)
- You’re relying on someone else to help you create your content — and that means they’re representing your brand — so you’re placing a lot of trust in your guests’ hands
2. The Conversational Podcast
The conversational podcast is becoming more popular. It might sometimes be considered similar to an interview-style podcast, but it might also include chats with a co-host or even guests who make a regular appearance.
The whole idea of a conversational podcast is to have the listener feel as though they’re a fly on the wall, listening in to a conversation with friends.
Here are some of the pros of a conversational podcast
- Having a co-host or multiple repeat guests on the mic allows for a deeper convo since you’re regularly having conversations with this person
- Allows your audience to hear different insights from individuals they’re getting to know/like/trust on a single topic
- It creates more content naturally
- You don’t have to create a full script or questions; just brainstorm some talking points and hit record!
Here are some of the cons of a conversation podcast
- It might be tough to keep everyone focused and on topic
- If you have too many people chiming in, the conversation could get messy or confusing — especially if people start to talk over one another
- Recording and editing can get tricky when you have more than 2 people on the mic
3. The Solo or Topic-based Podcast
The solo or topic-based podcast is just what it sounds like: a podcast with just one host — and no one else.
This is my personal favorite, and I’ll share why right now.
Here are some of the pros of a topic-based podcast
- You’re in charge! No one else to run things by or get approval from
- No scheduling mishaps or cancellations — this is on your schedule and yours alone
- No guest research!
- Allows your listeners to really get to know you.
Here are some of the cons of a topic-based podcast
- The content is 100% your responsibility, so you can’t rely on anyone else for help
- There’s no one to brainstorm or to have a convo with — just you and the mic
- Some people think it’s tough to come up with new topic ideas, but I’ve never found this to be the case — something to consider, anyway!
4. The Storytelling (Narrative, Docuseries, or Fiction) Podcast
Storytelling podcasts are so fun to listen to, but I can imagine they’re not so easy to produce — not the really good ones anyway.
Storytelling podcasts are usually fiction-based (like Welcome to Night Vale), but they don’t have to be.
More and more you’re seeing docuseries type podcasts (more narrative) making big waves, like Bad Blood: The Final Chapter (about Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos), The Dream (about the world of MLMs), the Making Oprah podcast (about Oprah’s rise to fame), and Guru (about the dark side of enlightenment).
Here are some of the pros of a storytelling podcast
- Your content is presumably easier to plan out since you have a start, middle, and end point to the story
- It’s engaging and easy for listeners to become hooked
- You can get really creative with guest clips and weaving different audio clips in and out of your episodes
- It’s possible to have guests on to help you tell some of the story
Here are some of the cons of a storytelling podcast
- You have to be a really good storyteller for this to work! It’s not easy to keep people interested over a period of time
- The production — recording and editing — can be strenuous depending on how high-quality you want to go
- If you do have guests or additional audio clips you want to work into the story, it could be difficult keeping track of everything
5. The Q&A Podcast
The Q&A podcast is great for educational-based content, and it’s really not as difficult technically as it may seem.
All you need is an audience and a tool like SpeakPipe to accept voice messages.
Here are some of the pros of a Q&A podcast
- Your listeners have a chance to actively be a part of your show, which is really cool!
- Your listeners are giving you your content, so it doesn’t take a ton of preparation or planning (as long as you know your stuff!)
- Q&A podcasts can offer quick-hitting episodes — just a couple of minutes is all it takes to answer a question (or you can extend the episode if you want to answer multiple questions per episode)
- They’re fun and always different!
Here are some of the cons of a Q&A podcast
- You have to know your stuff, otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time researching answers
- You have to have an audience who is willing to “call in” and leave you questions (although you can always start out with questions you know your audience has, and just read the questions versus playing a voice message)
6. The Variety Podcast
Finally, there’s the variety podcast, and this is just what it sounds like! You choose any variety of formats you like and rotate!
We’ve already talked about consistency and why that’s so important, and this holds true even if you decide to do a variety podcast format.
So how do you stay consistent with a variety of formats?
Choose a set day for each format. For example, maybe you always publish an interview on Mondays, a topic-based episode on Wednesdays, and a Q&A on Fridays.
The combinations are endless, and the pros and cons really depend on which variety of formats you choose (see above for all the pros and cons for each format).
Choosing Your Podcast Type
As you can see, there are a lot of podcast types — and this isn’t even all of them!
What’s most important when you’re choosing your podcast format is this: you can always pivot!
Don’t over-stress your podcast format and think that once you choose one, you can never change. You can change as many times as you’d like, as long as you communicate with your audience.
Always make it abundantly clear what your audience can expect from your show (remember, listeners want to know what to expect!), and if you decide to make a change, record an episode and let your listeners know why, and what they can expect moving forward!
We hope this post was helpful for you and that you’re feeling more confident already about the different podcast types and which one is right for you! …at least for now. :)
Ready to start your podcasting journey right now? Join our FREE Podcast Course and we’ll show you how to create and launch your podcast the right way!