We have spent some time together talking about podcasting. We started the conversation addressing the first obvious question, which is understanding whether or not podcasting is right for you. Next we broke down the basics of podcasting and demystified some of the terms surrounding it that often, keep potential hosts stuck. Today I wanted to dig in with you about how to find guests for your podcast.
Before we dig into the many lessons I have learned from successfully (and unsuccessfully) recruiting guests for my show I want to mention the obvious. You do not have to have guests.
Depending on the structure of your show (and topic) this conversation may not even be relevant for you. You may have a fictional podcast, or decide to host solo, which are fantastic options.
If you are however, interested in interviewing expert guests for your show but do not know where to begin, please read on.
Begin where you are
I am shocked how many new hosts start knocking on the door of huge celebrities in their field asking for an interview for their show that hasn’t even reached ten episodes yet.
There is something to be said for bravery and persistence but let’s think about this a little more strategically.
If you do not have strong connections with these people already it may be (probably will be) more beneficial to work your way up a bit and build a little “street cred” before going for the “bigger” names.
Think about it from the perspective of the potential guest. You are probably getting countless requests a day and when you have limited time are you going to choose a show that hasn’t been around that long and you have no prior relationship or connection with the host?
Think about it realistically. You do not want to burn bridges before you invest the time to build them.
Instead, as a host, think about slowly building your credibility and slowly building out your network. The person you want to interview is not going anywhere. Also, interviewing is a skill.
Develop the voice for your show and interview style before you go all-in with a heavy hitter.
Don’t interview just anyone
Now with that being said, please don’t just interview anyone. Someone may be an incredible human but not be the best guest for your show. Think about your audience and the kind of value that you want to bring to them.
Are you creating content just to create content or are you truly investing time, energy, and finding the right guests who will provide the value that your audience deserves?
Now you might be thinking, “Heather, I’ll just take who I can get!”
I want to challenge that instinct and call it out as fear. Just because you are “new” doesn’t mean you cannot land great guests. Your show and audience deserves better than that.
Go for guests that you think are slightly out of your realm. As you grow and develop work up to the harder asks.
Get good at saying no
Something REALLY interesting happened to me when I started podcasting. At first, it was challenging getting guests. I remember asking specific people and them saying a flat out, “no”.
Now that I have grown my audience and brand those same people are coming back and wanting to be interviewed. I have interviewed some, but not everyone is the right fit anymore. I have had to say no to even friends.
You will also start getting cold outreach emails from potential guests. Sometimes they are a GREAT fit. Most often they are not. At first, it’s weird saying no (especially when its friend of a friend and they assume you will say yes) but it does get easier.
The only tip I have to get better at this is to expect to have to do it. It doesn’t make you a bad guy, it makes you caring.
You care about your audience, about the message you want to deliver and care enough to say no.
Treat your guests like gold
One of my biggest goals and something I am proud of with our show is that we work super hard to honor our guests. I don’t want guests to feel like I am “using” them so they might share my show with their audience or I can use their name as clickbait.
I genuinely want to connect with them as a human and make their experience one of the best they have ever had.
You can do this in a few ways. First make sure that you are respectful of their time by thinking of ways to SAVE them time and energy by them agreeing to come on your show.
Have a strong booking process in place where you aren’t having to send them 45 emails to gather their bio, pics, and figure out a time to conduct the interview. That should all be set up through a simple calendar that you have in place.
Also RESPECT the time that you told them. If you asked for thirty minutes keep it at thirty minutes. These small little things add up and will actually result in your guests connecting you with people in THEIR network because of the positive experience they have had with you.
Be a professional.
Take pride in your show, the message, and its guests and treat everyone with wholehearted respect. Keep your head down, work hard, and know that things will pay off.
Podcasting is not for the faint at heart so be encouraged that things just take time. You will be interviewing your hero sooner than you know and your show will impact more lives than you could even imagine.