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Which Podcast Format Should You Choose When Starting a Podcast?

7 minute read

So you want to start a podcast but don't know how to structure it and which format to follow?

In today's article we will uncover the most common podcast formats you can choose from, so keep reading below to learn about different types of podcast formats, which one suits you best and what are the pros and cons of each format.

Why is it Important to Define Your Podcast Format?

Consistency is key when it comes to growing a podcast and building a loyal audience. When you get new subscribers, they will expect to receive new episodes that follow the same format you have previously adopted.

Aside from keeping your format consistent, don't forget to use the same style of graphics, talk about topics that are related to each other or around the same niche, and keep a standard structure across your episodes.

The format you choose for your podcast defines how you organize your content and structure your episodes. Most successful podcasts tend to stick to only one format throughout their show, in order to create consistency for their listeners.

That said, this doesn't mean you can't mix it up and try out new formats while keeping the same consistency in the background.

Picking one podcast type will also make things easier for you - the creator. Planning your content, recording the episodes and structuring them will become easier and easier as you go if you stick to a preferred format.

So let's see what are the most common podcast formats out there and which one is better suited for your needs:

#1: Solo / Monologue Podcast Format

As the name suggests, this type of podcast involves the host talking about a specific topic for the entirety of the episode. There are no co-hosts or guests in the solo podcast format, and the host typically talks about a topic he or she is knowledgeable about.

The monologue format is a pretty common podcast style thanks to its simplicity and ease of production. If you are an expert in a specific topic and you want to share your knowledge by starting a podcast, this might be the easiest option to get started. On the other hand, as the host of a solo podcast show, you will need to entertain for the whole duration of the episode, so you should be comfortable talking for 20-40 minutes straight.

Let's see what the pros and cons of the solo podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • Easy to start: all you need is a mic, recording software and your expertise and you are good to go!
  • Easy to set up: you don't have to do research to invite others to your show or reach out to potential guests.
  • It's a great option to promote your business and create a personal brand, as your audience gets to know you in a more intimate way.
  • More flexibility: as you are the only one responsible for your show, you have full control and flexibility on how to structure your content, when to deliver and more.

Cons

  • It might be hard to talk for 20-40 minutes straight, even if you are passionate about the topic
  • You might run out of topics to cover since you are the only one talking
  • It can be challenging to keep your audience entertained for the whole duration of the episodes
  • You are alone in promoting the podcast and you rely solely on your audience

#2: Interview Podcast Format

In this type of podcast, a host brings on a new guest in each episode and asks them interview questions related to the guests' unique expertise. The interview podcast format requires more work compared to the solo format: as the host of the show, you will have to carry on research to find potential guests, reach out to them and ask them if they are interested in joining the podcast, do more research to draft the questions for them and set up the meeting from a technical standpoint.

This type of podcast is extremely popular as - aside from some technical work involved - you can easily deliver an entertaining show and always cover different and exciting topics in each new episode you release.

The interview show is also a great way to promote your business and podcast, as you can leverage the audience of your guest if they decide to share the episode with them.

Let's see what the pros and cons of the interview podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • It can be extremely entertaining for your audience
  • You don't have to talk for the entire time, you just introduce the guest and ask them questions
  • You don't have to be an expert in a specific topic, as long as your guests are!
  • The audience will be more forgiving of pauses and small mistakes since you are recording this on the spot and having an actual conversation
  • You get to leverage the audience of your guest and promote the podcast and your business to them
  • It is easy to find guests for your show since it is a win-win situation where both parties get to expand their audience and promote each other's businesses.

Cons

  • It is a lot of work to do guest research, reach out to potential guests and draft the right questions for them
  • You need to do some technical work to find the best setup for your interviews, and you are still depending on the guest's internet connection
  • You rely on the guest's ability to entertain and/or your ability to interview them.

#3: Conversational Podcast Format

The conversational podcast involves two people or co-hosts simply having a conversation about a specific topic in each episode. The hosts are consistent throughout the episodes and discuss topics of interest in a set niche.

This kind of podcast format is similar to the monologue one, with the difference of being run by two hosts, which makes it easier to create, entertain listeners and cover more topics.

Let's see what the pros and cons of the conversational podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • It can be very entertaining for the audience
  • You get to build a feeling of community and grow a friendly environment
  • It is easy to set up and run
  • You are only responsible for around 50% of the conversation

Cons

  • It can be difficult to find a co-host with whom you have great chemistry
  • Both the co-hosts have to be knowledgeable about the topics covered
  • It can be trickier to edit after recording
  • Since you are having a conversation, it is not scripted.

#4: Roundtable or Panel Podcast Format

Similar to the conversational format, roundtable podcasts are built around people having a conversation. The difference here is that it involves generally more than 2 people or co-hosts who are rotating throughout the episodes.

For example, it could be a podcast where each episode has a single host and a group of guests that are invited to speak about a specific issue or topic. This type of podcast can be very entertaining for the listeners, as there are more voices and opinions involved.

Let's see what the pros and cons of the panel podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • Very entertaining for the audience
  • You can achieve a great variety of topics and never run out of ideas
  • As the host, you don't have to say much except to introduce the guests and the topic of conversation.

Cons

  • Finding multiple guests for each episode is extremely challenging, together with making sure that everyone can record at the same time.
  • The technical side of running a panel podcast is also complicated, you might want to consider recording a roundtable podcast in person.
  • As a host you act as the moderator for the guests: you need to make sure that everyone has a chance to talk and doesn't stray from the main topic.

#5: Repurposed Content Podcast Format

This type of podcast format involves taking an already-made piece of content and repurposing it into a podcast episode. Depending on your business, repurposed content podcasts can cover different topics and pieces of content. Examples of this can be news readings, audiobook readings, TV shows turned into podcasts, or even turning a YouTube video or blog post into a podcast episode.

Let's see what the pros and cons of the repurposed content podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • Extremely easy to make, the content is already there!
  • You can reach a whole new audience with the same content piece

Cons

  • Some pieces of content might not adapt well to the audio version
  • Your audience can get the same content somewhere else, so it is not unique

#6: Storytelling Podcast (Fiction/Non-Fiction) Format

Storytelling podcasts, as you probably already guessed, are podcasts where the host narrates a story, fictional or non-fictional.

Certain storytelling podcasts squeeze one story per episode or span a story across an entire series.

This type of podcast is extremely entertaining, whether fictional or not, and easy to listen to. Let's see what the pros and cons of the storytelling podcast format are in more detail:

Pros

  • Entertaining for the audience
  • Easy to make: you don't necessarily have to make up stories, you can use real-life events or narrate existing fictional stories
  • You can reach a broader audience

Cons

  • Not necessarily the best podcast format to educate your customers or promote your business
  • Especially for non-fictional, real-life stories, you need to do a lot of research and validate the facts

What is the Best Podcast Format For You?

If you have read this article you know why it is important to choose a specific podcast format before you start creating your show. Today we have listed the most common podcast styles and formats, but they are not the only ones, and you don't necessarily have to stick to one of them.

Podcasting is getting more and more popular these days, but it is a relatively "new" form of content creation, so this means that you have the opportunity to experiment with different styles and topics and see what works for you!

So ask yourself what is the goal of your podcast: do you want to gain more customers, promote your product, grow an audience, or simply share your knowledge with others? Depending on your ultimate goal, a podcast style or another might suits your needs better!

If you need more inspiration, check out our own podcast, The Creator's Adventure, where our host and founder Bryan McAnulty interviews creators from all over the world to hear their stories and discover their secrets to success. Learn how these creative entrepreneurs transformed their passions into successful online businesses.

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