You’ve decided having guests on your podcast will add value for your listeners - so what next?
How do you find these guests? And what are the best tactics for making sure they say yes when you ask them?
Let’s start with my top 5 ways to source your podcast guests
Friends and Family
This can be a risky choice, especially with family members for lots of reasons.
Firstly there’s a high chance you’ll go off topic easily and quickly because you’ll slip in to your “off podcast” roles.
Secondly it can equally be really awkward to ask questions to somebody you care about
Thirdly they are more likely to ask you to change stuff, add bits to the edit and maybe even mess around with recording days and times. Because that’s what family and friends do.
BUT having said that if you’ve got a friend or family member who is the absolute best in their field, the exact guest you want on your podcast then get them on.
Do you have to tell everybody they are your friend, partner, mum, dad, pet cat?
It’s up to you. Back in my radio days I only ever referred to my husband as “my husband” because there were times when I would be speaking to him on air in our radio roles. I didn’t want to muddy the waters for the audience. He did his job, I did mine and on air we were never put together as husband and wife. It helped that I have a different surname to him. (Partly feminism, partly laziness. There’s a lot of documents to change!)
If my husband was to ever come on the podcast I wouldn’t say - this is my husband either, for the same reasons.
But that’s me and my thought process. I listen to podcasts where couples work together and it absolutely sounds fine.
These are the people you meet regularly in networking meetings, facebook groups, other memberships you belong to.
You’ve probably got some great connections here and I’m sure there will be plenty of people eager to get on a podcast and talk about their area of expertise. As I said previously, make sure the area of expertise is one that will add value for your listener. Think about how it will compliment your message, your area of expertise.
I imagine this pool is where you’ll find most of your guests. And this is one of the bonuses of having guests on your podcast. It really helps form new relationships with business contacts or deepen relationships already built.
Social media connections/followers
I’ve put social media connections separate to business contacts. This is because I feel you are one step removed from social media connections than you are to your business contacts.
When I think about my LinkedIn connections and my Instagram followers I don’t know all those people the same way I know my connections in networking groups or the memberships I’m part of.
That means this is a slightly cooler relationship. But having said that - they are connections who are interested in what you do otherwise they wouldn’t be in your network.
If you’re anything like me you may have a slight skew to people in your industry, but this isn’t always a bad thing. People in your industry with different niches to you will add real value to your podcast.
Don’t be afraid to approach these connections or put a call out for guests on your channels.
People you admire from afar
These could be celebrities, industry leaders or personalities. Don’t ever be afraid to ask somebody you admire to come on your podcast. The worst they can do is ignore your request or say no. That’s it. And sometimes bigger names are easy to get hold of.
Quite often you’ll go on Twitter and Instagram and people will put the contact details for the person who deals with their press.
Other people’s connections
As a journalist I’m quite proud of my contacts book. (It’s not a real book. It used to be, but now it’s a database - all GDPR compliant before you ask.) I’ve all sorts of people in there and if I don’t know the right guest I normally have a contact who will know the right guest.
So don’t be afraid to use your network’s connections to find your guest.
Now you know the places you can find your guest it’s time to look at how you can approach your guests and improve your chances of a yes!
First of all get yourself a media kit for your podcast. This is not as daunting as it sounds and it doesn’t need to be more than a page.
A media kit is a fancy pants name for a document with all the information a guest (or sponsor) would want to know about your podcast.
You want to include podcast name, host(s) name(s), your podcast mission statement and include who your listener is too.
Put links to your last months episodes as well as a link to your podcast in general.
You also want to include your download data. Weekly, monthly and quarterly listens are a good start.
I host my podcast with Captivate and they create a media kit automatically for you on their website. If you’re not with Captivate I totally recommend them. You can sign up here (this is my affiliate link).
This media kit is going to give your potential guests an idea of your podcast’s reach. It’s also worth including your social media numbers and if you email your list about your podcast (which you should) it’s worth giving those numbers too.
Now if you are panicking that your podcast doesn’t have a million downloads a day don’t. Focus on your unique listeners, chuck in a review and include your social media following/impact.
You’re now armed with your stats so you just have to ask. And it really is as easy as that.
If you know the person well ask them out loud - via a phone call or over coffee.
If you know them less well you’ll want to email them. If you don’t know their email address ask them for it either directly, via social media or through the reception of their company.
Say you would like to contact them in connection with a podcast interview and ask for the best email address to use. That way you know it’s going to the right place.
I always suggest email over a social media messenger because it’s easier to keep a paper trail with email. And the person you want as a guest may have a VA or comms person to deal with that stuff.
Your email is essentially the same whoever you are sending it to - high profile or business connection.
Subject line - make it obvious it’s an interview request for your podcast. I tend to do simply “Interview Request for XX podcast”
Open by introducing yourself and your podcast.
Explain why you want them on your podcast - but make sure you focus on them. What is it about them that interests you, what is their “thing?” Make it obvious this email is for them and them alone. It's not a cut and paste job sent to 300 people in the hope somebody, anybody will reply. Explain how they will fit on your podcast.
Explain how the interview will take place, in person or via an online platform such as Zoom or one of the dedicated podcast remote recording websites such as cleanfeed or squadcast.
Give them an idea of how much time they should book out in their diary - I always overestimate how long they’ll be needed for. Far better to finish early than overrun. So I’ll tell guests I expect it to take 30 minutes but they should block out an hour in case there are any technical gremlins or other surprises along the way.
Point them in the direction of your media kit - an attachment is the best way.
Give them a date range for recording. Use an online scheduler such as Calendly to make this painless.
Then give them the best way to contact you if they have any questions.
And that’s you done. I hope I don’t need to add remember please and thank yous throughout.
Press send. In an ideal world you’ll hear back within 24 hours and they’re booking right on.
But we do not live in an ideal world.
If you haven’t heard back in 5 working days give them a nudge. Another email or send them a DM saying you’ve sent them an email have they received it?
Nudge a few times, but also understand they may well be ignoring you so decide when you’re going to cut your losses.
Secondly, you are more likely to get more “no thank yous” than you will get “ohhh yes please sign me up now baby!”
Please do not take this to heart.
And I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared my most embarrassing job interview to date - but it was for the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. This bit isn’t even the bit that keeps me awake at night still 14 years on. But I remember boldly saying that of course Hilary Clinton would be an easy guest to book as she began her first campaign trail to the White House. The interviewers (who worked on the programme) did their best not to laugh at my naivety. And it was in 2012 when I started working at BBC 5 Live that I understood why they were laughing. Even when I was ringing up from a national BBC radio station - I was getting more nos than yeses.
Next week I’ll go over what to do when your guest agrees to come on. You want to make sure you get the best from that guest so that’s what I’ll make happen.
Want to up your podcast planning game? Get on my podcast planning toolkit waitlist here