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How to Pick a Popular History Podcast Topic

Jordan Harbour April 3, 2014



How to Pick a Popular History Podcast Topic

So you want to create a history podcast, but aren’t sure what topic to pick. It’s no secret we want our shows to be popular, but not all show topics are going to be. It’s perfectly alright to pick a niche show with a loyal but small fan base. This article is more for those who wish for a larger audience that might be a little less niche.


Biographies are an excellent way for new podcasters to get their feet wet. They can be immensely popular. A properly done Life of Napoleon could expect 10-20,000 downloads per episode. They can also be wrapped up in 20-30 episodes (longer if desired). If you don’t feel ready to tackle the massive history of a country or empire, a biography would be an excellent place to start. At the time of writing, very few people have done biographies. That means there are plenty of opportunities and you can snag up a big name.

Here are some examples of biographies that would be popular:

Genghis Khan
Al Capone

There isn’t a developed naming convention for biography podcasts, so you could be the trend setter. I’d suggest either ‘Life of Napoleon’ or ‘Biography of Napoleon’.  One of the more popular biographies at the moment is ‘Life of Caesar’, so you may wish to copy that name convention. On the other hand, ‘biography’ is a keyword people search for, while ‘life’ is not. Something to consider.

As a tip, if you’re planning on doing a big podcast one day on Germany, start with a biography on a popular German figure, such as Hitler or Bismark. Because the two podcasts share similar subject matter, your biography will help build an audience and ‘buzz’ for your big show.

History of … (State or Empire Name)

This is the standard title for a history show. However, there is great variation between the popularity of different subject matter. Here are some show ideas that could be hits:

History of Germany
History of America
History of Spain

Here are some show ideas that might not be that popular with a wider audience:

History of Uzbekistan
History of the Olmec
History of Chad

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do a niche topic. If that’s your passion, go for it. Just make sure to manage your expectations. A popular history topic might give the podcast 20,000 downloads per episode, while a more niche topic will max out around 2,000 downloads, if done well.

History of… (Topic)

You could also pick a broadly popular topic rather than a state.  For example:

History of Sex
History of Warfare
History of the Nazis

Picking something more niche could result in a loyal, but smaller fan base:

History of the Edwardians
History of Naturalism
History of Corporations

How do you know if a topic is popular? There is a tool within Google Adwords called ‘Keyword Planner’ that is very helpful. Type in topics and it will tell you the search volume. More searches means its more popular. The example below shows the search volume for the keyword ‘Nazis’ using the Google Adword’s keyword planner. There were an estimated 9,900 searches in America for this term. Contrast this with a keyword search for ‘Edwardian’ which only turned up 50 results:

Search volume for the keyword 'Nazis' using Google Adword's keyword planner. There were an estimated 9,900 searches in America for this term.



Learn from my mistakes…

You don’t have to keep strictly to the ‘History of’ or ‘Life of’ format. You can break the mold and be hugely popular.

That said, here’s a caveat. I created a show called ‘Twilight Histories‘. The name has not helped me one bit in the search engines. People often find my podcast thinking it has something to do with vampires, when really it was inspired by the Twilight Zone.

Because I took no consideration when it came to search engines, the show relies on word of mouth. It took years to build an audience. Meanwhile, other podcasters dove straight in with a popular topic such as ‘Napoleon’ and cleaned up.

If you really want to create a podcast that will knock it out of the park in popularity, ask yourself these two questions:

1) Is the subject sexy or violent?
2) Can the topic be found in search engines by people who have never heard about my show?

It may seem crude, but that’s the way it works. Here are some potential history show titles that don’t follow any naming conventions, but that would be almost impossible for the general public not to click on:

Nazi Secret Weapons
Modern Warfare
Strange Weapons
Ancient Sex

Now those titles may not seem regal, but they will be clicked on. Heck, I would click on them.

I hope this help! History podcasting is a great hobby and my advice is to get started. Good luck and I hope to welcome you into the podcasting community!





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