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Almost everyone gets to a point where they run out of things to talk about. For podcasters, this seems to happen sometime before the 20th episode.

I’ve seen it happen many times; podcasters will start their show with 10-20 great topics, things that they know a lot about and can talk about without having to put any effort in.

But what happens when you’ve exhausted all your original topics and it’s time to record another show?

That’s the question I’m answering in today’s episode. I’m going to share ways you can break through the paralyzing fear that you don’t have anything valuable to talk about on your show.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins:

  • It’s ok to take a break, but be careful about endless procrastination. Put something on the calendar and work on the problem.
  • Schedule time to brainstorm. The problem isn’t going to go away on it’s own. You have to take action.
  • Capture topic ideas when they come to you. Put them in a notebook or an app. It doesn’t matter where, just pick a place and stick with it.
  • Examine all the topics you’ve already covered. Could you revisit one of them?
  • Don’t worry about repeating yourself. People need to hear things multiple times and there are always new people finding your show or blog.
  • Check out Sean McCabe’s “62 Topic Ideas” list. Download that PDF and refer to it anytime you feel writer’s block.
  • Spending time with someone new to your profession or industry will show you how many things you could be writing about and explaining in more detail.
  • Follow your “competition”. Listen to the other popular podcasts in your niche.
  • Read books or listen to audiobooks about your topic. Be ready to write down topic ideas as they come to you.

Show Notes:

  • 2:20 I got the idea for this episode after I realized last week that I didn’t know what I was going to talk about for my next episode. It freaked me out a little. I started thinking about it and thought that it would be a really interesting thing to explore and talk about on my show.

It’s Ok to Take a Break and Do Something Else Creative

  • 3:16 Terrence Tang said, When I get stuck, I go create something, but in a completely different medium/mindset. If I’m stuck with lettering, then I pick up my camera and go out and do some creative photography. It usually gets the creative juices flowing again and I can come back to the lettering.
  • 3:36 This is great advice, but I think you should also schedule time to brainstorm. The worst thing you can do is let the fear of the unknown keep you from starting. If a topic to talk about doesn’t come easily, it’s tempting to put it off until something magically shows up.

It’s ok to take a break, but be careful about endless procrastination. Put something on the calendar and work on the problem.

Schedule a Time on Your Calendar to Write/Brainstorm

  • 3:58 Instead of endlessly procrastinating, schedule an hour on the calendar to work on this problem. Once it’s on the calendar, your mind will relax a little, knowing that you’ve took the first step towards solving the problem. Once the time comes and you sit down, start doing the research. Turn on some relaxing music. Dim the lights. Light a candle. Make it a comfortable situation.

Schedule time to brainstorm. The problem isn’t going to go away on it’s own. You have to take action.

  • 4:27 Florian said; I like taking a piece of paper and brainstorming just before going to bed. Sometimes in the morning something new will come. Then I put the idea in an organization tool, then detail each point as much as possible and see if there is something that is worthy enough to work on further.
  • 4:55 Florian also shared a great post from James Altucher called How to Become an Idea Machine. Check that out, it’s a great read.

Set Up a System for Capturing New Ideas

  • 5:40 You need a system for collecting and storing possible topic ideas. Carry around a small notebook, or use an app like Reminders (that’s what I use). Be on the lookout for new topics all the time and have a place to store them. Be careful not to put them in too many different places; you need to know where they are whenever you sit down to brainstorm.

Capture topic ideas when they come to you. It doesn’t matter where, just pick a place and stick with it.

  • 6:13 Something I did recently was start a mind map of everything I know. This will serve as both something to help me brainstorm and also as a reference document that I can use whenever people ask me questions.

Don’t Worry About Repeating Yourself

  • 7:31 You shouldn’t do the same episode twice in a row or in the same month, but you’d be amazed at how fast people move on and forget what they’ve seen or listened to. People need to hear things multiple times before it sinks in; this is something Sean calls The Magic of 7.

Examine all the topics you’ve already done. Could you revisit one of them?

  • 8:19 Garrett Mickley said, My advice for those with creative block: look through your old stuff and see if there’s anything you mention that could be expanded upon in its own post.

Don’t worry about repeating yourself. People need to hear things multiple times and there are always new people finding your show or blog.

Repurpose Content From Other Mediums

  • 8:45 You should also be looking at content to see if it can be repurposed for other mediums. For example, as I was writing show notes for episode 15, I realized that there were 5-6 things about post production that I need to do screencasts about. I opened the Reminders app and created a new list called, “Screencast Ideas”.
  • 9:09 If you’re creating content for a medium that isn’t podcasting, see if there are topics that you could use in your podcast. Remember, some people prefer listening to podcasts instead of watching videos or reading blog posts, so repurpose your content.

Check Out Sean McCabe’s “62 Topic Ideas” List For Writing Inspiration

  • 9:31 In episode 117 of the seanwes podcast, Sean McCabe shared a PDF with 62 ideas of things to fuel your writing (or podcasting). It’s a great episode, so go listen to that after you’re done listening to this.
  • 10:04 It’s a fantastic list that I’ve referenced many times. There are six main sections with a total of 62 topic ideas, and I’m just going to share a couple of the ones I found stood out to me most.
1. Stories
  • 10:22 Tell a story about mistake that you made. Talk about a mistake that a friend or company you know made. What’s been going on in your life lately? What do you care most about right now?
2. Process
  • 10:42 How do you work? Where do you start? What’s your daily routine? How do you decide what to work on?
3. Tools
  • 10:59 What tools do you use? What apps do you use to get your work done?
4. Teaching
  • 11:09 What’s the first thing someone needs to know before they get into X?
  • 11:23 Think about overall topic of your show. Now think about what you could share the people who are brand new to it. What about folks with intermediate level knowledge? What about the experts? What can you share with people in those three different groups?
5. Journal
  • 13:09 What’s been happening in your life lately? What’s been happening with your business lately?
6. News
  • 13:18 What’s been happening in your industry? What’s been happening with your competitors? Are there things happening in a different industry that affect your industry?

Download Sean’s “62 Topics Ideas” PDF and refer to it anytime you feel writer’s block.

Reach Out to Other People for Ideas

  • 14:02 Talk to your biggest fans. Ask them how they are doing and what they’re struggling with or excited about. If you don’t have any fans yet, just talk to your friends. This is why you need a network of smart people in your niche. If you don’t have that, check out the seanwes Community. Seriously.
  • 14:26 I was talking with Garrett in the chat earlier. I asked him a question about something he said, and he jokingly said that I should go to his website and sign up for his newsletter if I wanted the answer.
  • 14:38 I did because I like Garrett and he says smart things. Once I got to his website and signed up for his newsletter, I was presented with the option to download something called a GDD Template. I didn’t know what it was, so I asked him.
  • 14:58 Garrett said, New advice for creative block: send people outside of your industry/creative field to your website/podcast and ask them if they don’t understand anything. Then clarify on that.
  • 15:15 This highlights something important. If you’ve been working in a profession or industry for awhile, there are many things that you know that you take for granted. We forget how many little things we’ve learned along the way.

Spending time with someone new to your profession or industry will show you how many things you could be writing about and explaining in more detail.

Follow Your “Competition”

  • 15:45 Look at the other popular podcasts or writers in your niche. What are they talking about? Do you have thoughts about those topics?
  • 16:02 The truth is these people aren’t really your competition. You should think of them as peers or friends, even if you don’t have a personal relationship with them. Other podcasters can be a great source of topic ideas.

Follow your “competition”. Listen to the other popular podcasts in your niche.

Read Books or Listen to Audiobooks

  • 16:19 Books are a great source of new knowledge. Go buy some of the best books written about your topic and study them. Take notes as you go, write down any topic ideas as they come to you. If you don’t enjoy reading, get a subscription to Audible and listen to audiobooks instead.

Read books or listen to audiobooks about your topic. Be ready to write down topic ideas as they come to you.

Check out BuzzSumo

  • 16:46 I found BuzzSumo.com the other day when I was doing research for this episode. Go to BuzzSumo.com, enter a keyword or phrase in (podcasting or web design, for example), and it will show you the most popular posts related to that keyword or phrase. Boom. Inspiration for topics galore, and you can see what is resonating on the web.

Q&A:

  • 25:11 Tim McGrath shared a link for HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator.
  • 25:43 Garrett Mickley asked, Can you explain cold fusion to the audience? Great question, Garrett. The answer is no. I’m a podcaster, not a webmaster.
  • 25:57 Garrett has jokes. We were talking in the chat before the show and he said my recent blog post, 30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years, inspired him to quit drinking soda and drink tea instead. Awesome! I’m proud of that post. You can find it over on aarondowd.com. Check it out, it’s good stuff.
  • 26:46 I saw a question on Twitter from a guy named Phil. He asked, How do you find good music for bumpers, intros and outros? Free, Creative Commons, etc?
  • 27:01 Something you need to think about when choosing music is the mood. It’s important to choose a song that matches the feel and energy level of your podcast.
  • 27:55 Check out Audio Jungle. They offer affordable, royalty-free music. Most tracks sound good and prices range between $12 and $20 on average. You have to be careful because the more popular tracks and used on more than a few podcasts. It’s better to go with something a little less popular. You can see popularity and download stats right on the audio jungle site.
  • 28:55 I’ve got a few other options here, thanks to the seanwes Community members for sharing these.