Podcasts have taken off over the past few years with more and more people consistently listening. These listeners have their favorite podcast categories, so it’s important that you understand the categories to place your own podcast correctly for optimum listenership.

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A Quick Podcast Primer

Podcasts are one of the newer mediums of media entertainment. Over the past few years, this medium has quickly grown and continues to do so with more and more people listening on a regular basis. In fact, according to SmallBizGenius.com, 51% of people over the age of 12 have listened to podcasts and 197 million people are aware of podcasts. About a third of Americans, or 90 million people in the US, listen to podcasts at least once a month. There are also those people who subscribe to more than one podcast at a time. It’s a great form of media and a way to get your entertainment or specific information. Reading takes time and focus so does sitting down to watch TV. But you can listen to a podcast just about anywhere while doing anything. This is definitely one of the most convenient forms of media right now.

Podcasts are essentially digital audio files that the listener can download and listen to on an electronic device at their convenience. They are similar to radio but in an on demand and subscription format. There are many podcast categories that make them appealing to virtually everyone. No matter interests, hobbies, political affiliation, or family dynamics, there is a podcast for everyone. Most listeners are well educated and affluent, but the numbers of people listening are growing as are the different social and economic dynamics. With more listeners and more demand, more podcast categories are available to listen to.

The Many Podcast Categories

So with all of these categories, what are some of them?

Podcast categories are becoming broader and broader and at the same time more narrow. This means that more subjects are being covered in a broad sense and then within each category, more niche podcasts are blooming. So there isn’t just news and how to’s to listen to in podcast format, but there is also gardening, travel, budgeting, decorating…and within these broad categories are specific podcasts, such as Southern Gardening or organic gardening.

The categories of podcasts cover almost any topic you can think of, but of course, there are some more popular categories. According to BuzzSprout.com, the most popular categories are fiction, true crime, and history. People also seem to enjoy arts, comedy, education, health, and religion. News is a big category with a lot of listeners, and hobbies and parenting get a lot of listeners as well.

When you are ready to publish your podcast, the category you choose is pretty important. After all, this is how people are going to find it. And though you can list more than one category on your podcast, it will only be actually categorized for search purposes by the primary one. You should ask yourself a few questions about how you want to go about this. Are you going to want it in the big category, like crime or comedy where more people look but it may get lost? Or are you going to think about listing it in a smaller category where it may not get as much traffic, but it may be easier to find once people go there?

podcast categories to follow

Categorizing Your Podcast

You have an amazing podcast that you’ve brainstormed, created, recorded and it’s ready to publish. So think about it. Where is it going to go? Your fabulous, witty, engaging podcast is on adult relationships. But you’re funny, too. Should this go under relationships which your content is about, or will you list it under comedy which is the tone you set?

It can get tricky, but here’s why it’s important according to Transistor:

  • It helps listeners find your podcast because people like to browse by category in Apple Podcasts
  • Apple Podcasts feature new podcasts from each category in the app
  • Each category on Apple has its own Top Ten list for episodes and shows

Remember, even though you can select multiple podcast categories and even subcategories, it’s only the primary ones that constitute the category your podcast will fall under for search purposes. The article from Transistor also shares that if you are trying to decide between that big category and the less populated one, go for the less populated one. Expert advice is to pick the most specific category you can.

However, an interesting point is that most people find podcasts from word of mouth. It’s pretty common to see “what podcasts are you listening to” on social media. People often go with a friend’s recommendations or even other podcaster’s connections and recommendations. But if people are going to search for a new podcast on iTunes, they’ll do a search and this is where your careful planning will pay off.

Categories, titles, and art…

Apple is going to give you the categories, you don’t have to come up with them yourself. But choosing the category isn’t the only key thing you have to do when listing it. Your title and even your cover art are important tools to help your listeners find you. The title is what will tell your listeners what your podcast is about and help with SEO while they’re searching. As far as cover art goes, it helps your podcast stand out and define its identity in a visual sense. You know they say don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, sorry to say, but podcasts are often judged by their covers, and a good one could even get you featured on iTunes.

So not only are your podcast categories important, but your title and cover art will also help win you listeners. No matter how good your podcast is, if listeners can’t find it, they can’t listen. Remember, too, your target audience is all-important. When choosing your category, think about who your target audience is. Under what category will they be searching? What title will grab them with what keywords in it? If one category stands out more than another, choose that one. You want to be where your listeners are looking.

What Are Apple Podcast Categories?

Apple podcast categories are how people discover your podcasts on iTunes. From what the Podcast Host shares, there are 16 overall categories on iTunes and 11 of these have their own subcategories. For instance, the Arts category contains design, fashion and beauty, food, literature, performing arts, and visual arts. Comedy, on the other hand, has no subcategories. Here is the full list from the Podcast Host:

  1. Arts (Contains Design, Fashion & Beauty, Food, Literature, Performing Arts, & Visual Arts)
  2. Business (Contains Business News, Careers, Investing, Management & Marketing, & Shopping)
  3. Comedy – No subcategories
  4. Education (Contains Educational Technology, Higher Education, K-12, Language Courses, & Training)
  5. Games & Hobbies (Contains Automotive, Aviation, Hobbies, Other Games, & Video Games)
  6. Government & Organizations (Contains Local, National, Non-Profit, & Regional)
  7. Health (Contains Alternative Health, Fitness & Nutrition, Self-Help, & Sexuality)
  8. Kids & Family – No subcategories
  9. Music – No subcategories
  10. News & Politics – No subcategories
  11. Religion & Spirituality (Contains Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Other, & Spirituality)
  12. Science & Medicine (Contains Medicine, Natural Sciences, & Social Sciences)
  13. Society & Culture (Contains History, Personal Journals, Philosophy, & Places & Travel)
  14. Sports & Recreation (Contains Amateur, College & High School, Outdoor, & Professional)
  15. Technology (Contains Gadgets, Podcasting, Software How-To, & Tech News)
  16. TV & Film – No subcategories

More to Consider when Planning Your Podcast

Another thing to consider when you are in the planning stages of your podcast is how it’s going to run. You will want to decide between a serial podcast or one with stand-alone episodes.

which are the best podcast categories

A serial podcast will consist of shows that continue from one to the next in chronological order. The groundbreaking podcast, Serial, is told in this way. Episodic means that the episodes stand alone. You can listen to one picked at random and will know what’s happening. Each episode is its own full show. Your topic will pretty much dictate this. If your podcast is on homework tips, it will probably be episodic where each episode has its own theme, like creating a homework station or ways to focus during the afternoon. If your topic is something like a biography, true crime, or historical event told in detail, you may want to cover one topic per season and tell it in chapters/episodes.

Another consideration is who is telling these stories and sharing the information. Is it you alone as a single host? Maybe you have a best friend or partner who you have witty banter with and great chemistry. You could have a dual host show. More than one buddy, add one more host. Do you (or you and your co-hosts) want to do most of the talking or maybe interview field experts instead? Do you like to research and share information, or do you like entertaining guest hosts? Sometimes guest hosts can be a great marketing tool, and a smart way to promote your podcast regardless of the category. These are more things to think about, and the answers also depend a lot on your topic.

Remember, think about your target audience and what they might like. Also, think about how you can deliver your podcast in the most successful way.

To Sum Up Podcast Categories

People love podcasts. Listenership is rapidly growing, and people can’t seem to get enough. We listen in the car on our commutes and we listen waiting to pick our kids up. People listen as they work or exercise or do chores around the house. Podcasts are easy to listen to, they are interesting, and they’re free. What could be better? Podcast categories seem to encompass it all, and there’s always a way to fit your podcast into an existing category. Take time to think about that category and get it in the right place. Ideally, people will find your podcast, love it, and share it with their friends and social media. Your hard work on planning, writing, researching, recording, and categorizing can all pay off.