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If you've ever started a podcast, you know how important choosing your podcast name can be. Done well, it can quickly communicate many things to your potential listeners, such as:

  • The topic of your show
  • The audience you serve
  • The tone of the show
A podcast name should communicate the topic, audience, and tone of your show.

However, as important as it is, choosing a name for your podcast is not easy. In truth, it's never been easy to choose a powerful podcast name. However, with over 1.7 million podcasts available at this writing, it's only getting more difficult.

As it becomes more challenging, it can be tempting to take a shortcut, ignore the question of availability, and choose a name that's already out there, but I'd advise against that. While doing so might not set you up for a copyright challenge, it will almost certainly create confusion.

Consider what happens when people are searching for your show name in their favorite podcast app. How will they know which is yours?

So, what to do?

It's true. It's getting harder and harder to come up with a great podcast name (more on that in a second) but that doesn't mean it's impossible. I'ts just going to take some insight, some time, and help from a few tools that can make it a little easier when you're naming your podcast.

But first, let's look at what makes for a great podcast name.

What makes a great podcast name?

Like almost everything in podcasting, there are almost as many opinions of what makes a great podcast name as there are podcasters. However, there are a few things that many will agree help make a podcast stand out and serve you (and your audience) well.

But, first, let's consider the places you're going to want to have your show stand out.

  • Word of mouth sharing from one friend or colleague to another
  • Online search engines such as Google
  • Podcast directories and in-app search such as Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Pocket Cast
  • In-home smart devices and voice commands on mobile devices

Podcast Discovery is Changing

For the longest time, new podcast discovery was primarily person-to-person or word of mouth. And while that's still a huge way we're seeing podcasts shared, the trend is starting to move towards in-app and online search.

What that means is that people are starting to intentionally search out podcasts. And that means that it's all-the-more important that your show name will stand out in those search results and clearly connect with your ideal listeners.

The Gold (Star) Standard

In the end, you'll be aiming to give yourself a gold star on as many of these as possible. Your podcast should be:

  • Unique (as in, the only show out there with the same title)
  • Short (ideally, 2-5 words long)
  • Memorable and easy to say (it should stick in your memory and “roll off the tongue”)
  • Clear and descriptive, rather than cute or clever
  • Identifies your topic, market, ideal listener, business, or brand
  • Convey the tone or emotion of the show
  • Easy to search (contains SEO keywords and uses only dictionary words)
  • Easy to share verbally (easy to talk about, contains no homophones, hyphens, abbreviations, or word vs. number substitutions)

NOTE: Only include the word “podcast” in your show title if it's actually relevant to the audience you're serving or your topic. If you podcast about podcasting for podcasters, then it's relevant. If your show is about knitting mittens, it's not relevant.

Of course, it's a pretty tall order to accomplish all of that – to find a descriptive, unique, clear, searchable and shareable title in 2-5 words that conveys the tone of the show. It's not impossible, but it will almost certainly be a challenge. However, when you come upon the best name for your show, it will be worth it.

Set your sights on 100% and get as close as you possibly can.

Let's get started

With that foundation in place, we're ready to get started. Be prepared, because this could take a while – especially if there are already a number of shows out there serving your ideal listener or covering the topic you plan to cover.

However, it's worth it.

So…let's get into it. We're going to start with our old friends, brainstorming.

Step 1: Assisted Brainstorming

This is a creative process – a project where you're going to need to compile and assimilate your resources to then create something brand new. Much like a painter choosing what colors to put on a palette and what size canvas to stretch, you're going to have to start by collecting your building blocks.

For us, that's brainstorming.

However, we're going to use some tools to help us brainstorm more effectively. So, let's get to it.

As you get started, I recommend that you put together a document to help you keep your thoughts together. This could be a simple text document, but I like to use a tool like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to hold your ideas.

Write down your ideas

The first part of this process will be to capture ALL the ideas that you can think of related to your podcast. So, open up that document and start typing out every word or phrase you can think of that describes one or more of the following:

  • Your show's topic
  • Your show's ideal listener
  • You or your company
  • The market or industry you serve
  • The tone or emotional foundation of your show
  • The transformation you want to see in your listeners or the world

While you want your name to communicate clearly, write down EVERY idea at this point. Don't forget about things like jargon, slang terms, “insider” language, adjectives, proper nouns, and more.

Keep writing until you're out of ideas. Then, we'll expand our horizons.

Expand with synonyms

Go through the list of words and phrases you've written down and find any powerful synonyms you might be able to use. If there are any that really grab your attention, add them to the list.

Engage your cyborg assistants

Now that we have YOUR ideas and even some synonyms written down, we can use some other online tools to help us come up with additional words or phrases, and to help begin the process of actually creating a show title (because a list of 387 words isn't a title).

Use as many of these tools as you'd like to expand your list and to begin formulating some good podcast name ideas.

After you've gone through this, you should have several ideas that sound great to you. I'd suggest you try to find at least 5-10 from both your own brainstorming and the cyborg assistants.

Make sure you note down any of them that really strike your fancy because with over 1.7 million podcasts out there, a few of them may already be taken. Take heart, though, it's still much easier than finding a perfect blog name.

That's we're going to look at next.

Do your competitor research

If you've ever done any kind of market analysis, you understand the need to know the size of the market, who are the other players in the space, and what they offer. Even as a podcaster, that's important research – but that's not the kind of research I'm talking about here.

In this case, we're looking for whether there are other shows out there that are already using the good podcast names you've come up with.

It's not just about copyright

This isn't so much about whether we're worried about trademark violation or getting a cease and desist letter from some popular podcast. It's about respecting the work that others have done and minimizing confusion when people go looking for your show.

Imagine that person whose friend just told them about your underwater basket weaving show. They want to find it because of the incredible story you told, but when they search for “The Underwater Basket Weaving Show,” they find 11 different shows, 6 of which haven't put out an episode in 8 years.

You don't want that.

The 5 critical searches

So…we're going to do 5 different searches to check evailaility and exclude any show names that are identical or similar enough to cause confusion.

  1. Google
  2. Apple Podcasts (Mac, Windows)
  3. Podcast Index
  4. Podchaser
  5. YouTube

BONUS: Go the extra mile and check for existing US trademarks or books that have been published.

Of course, this is not a definitive list of podcast and media directories. But it will go a long way towards ensuring that your hard work won't be wasted.

Yes, I realize that YouTube channels aren't technically podcasts. However, they ARE media shows and could create confusion or get you a cease and desist letter if the YouTube creator feels like you're infringing on their work with your audio content.

Hopefully, now, you have a list of a few show titles that really tickle your fancy and are unique. Make sure you note those and then let's look at the next question, “What about a website and social media?”

Website and social availability

Chances are, if your podcast name includes 4-5 different words, you may not want to have a website URL that exactly matches your show name. Sure, it's easy to remember. But it's also REALLY tough for people to type long website addresses using the tiny letters on their mobile phones.

So…spend a little time brainstorming what you might use as your website name. And remember – shorter could be better if you want to use the same name for your social media handles (Twitter limits user names to 15 characters, for example).

Make that list and then check to see if the websites and social handles are available using namecheckr.com.

Make a note of anywhere the “dot-com” (or whatever your preferred top-level domain is) and the social media handles are available. You will probably have a much smaller list at this point.

Check the trends

At this point, you may be down to a single option or you may have gone back to the drawing board several times to refine your work. If you don't have at least 2-3 options to choose from, you may want to do the work to come up with a couple more.

That notwithstanding, if you do have more than one option, you'll likely want to know whether the phrases you're using are becoming more popular or less popular in website searches. To do that, you can use Google Trends.

In this instance, you might not be as interested in the actual numbers as whether search volume for one term or phrase is increasing while another is decreasing.

Keep in mind that this is JUST a data point and will not be your defining decision maker.

Check the humans

In the end, your show name doesn't really need to appeal to search engines. None of the tools we've used will really care – because those tools won't benefit from your show.

It's all about the people.

Our final four checks are really about the people.

  1. Say the names you're considering out loud a bunch of times and pay attention to which seems the easiest to say or has the most pleasing sound (alliteration may be your friend)
  2. If you're already connected to people who could be your ideal listener, ask them which they prefer.
  3. Ask a few strangers what they think your show would be about if all they heard was the title.
  4. Ask yourself if any one of the show titles best-fits the criteria we laid out at the beginning of this article.

It's YOUR choice

In the end, remember that it's still your choice. You may have to trust your intuition. But, by going through this process, you'll have a much broader perspective that you can use. And that's INCREDIBLY important.

Yes, you can change your show name. Yes, you can move your website. But unless you decide to delete all of those old episodes, people who find your show's archives will still hear you talking about the old name or the old website.

So, let's get this as right as possible the first time.

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