Like all questions in podcasting the answer is “it depends”. But there’s a good reason for this. It all depends on your podcast and what the point of your podcast is.
Let’s start with what you want to achieve with your podcast?
This goes back to our planning days when you hopefully came up with a mission statement for your podcast.
I want you to think again about what it is you want to happen when you sit down each time to record your podcast?
Is your podcast a way of building up your reputation, your authority and to show off your knowledge? If so then you need to think hard about whether a guest will help you achieve that.
A guest will take attention away from you, your voice won’t be heard as much in the podcast and you’ll be showing off somebody else’s knowledge, authority and boosting their reputation.
But that’s not to say don’t have a guest. Just make sure it’s the right guest!
If the point of your podcast is to showcase new talent or chat around your industry then having guests is worthwhile and I’d go so far as to say a core part of your podcast. I host the Purple Rainbow Pancreatic Cancer Podcast and every episode we have a different guest connected to Pancreatic Cancer. This podcast is not about me, it’s about increasing awareness and knowledge of the disease. I am not an expert in Pancreatic Cancer so the podcast would fail without the guests we have on.
There are two types of guests - The Expert and The Case Study
There are others who can appear on your show - listener questions or comments but they are contributors, not guests.
The expert is the guest who knows more than you about a particular subject. Ideally not the subject you’re an expert in, but one connected to it. So for example on my podcast Turn Up The Volume On Your Voice I’ve spoken to Rob and Kennedy from the Email Marketing Show about using email to promote your podcast (we also chatted about their podcast so they were case studies too.)
Coming up I’ve been speaking to Laura Pearman about personal branding and how podcasting fits in to that and fingers crossed I’ve got an expert coming on to talk about your voice.
These are all areas that will benefit my audience (and me!) but ones that I am not an expert in. But importantly it’s ok that I’m not an expert here. I don’t have to be because it’s supplementary to my core mission statement of being a podcast to help people podcast.
The Case Study is somebody who has gone through or experienced what you talk about.
You would have a case study guest on your show when you want to illustrate a point. Or find out more about how they did something, what they’ve experienced. I’ll talk to people on Turn Up The Volume On Your Voice about their podcasts to find out their secrets, tips and hints.
On Purple Rainbow Pancreatic Cancer Podcast I talk to patients and families of patients about what they’re going through.
Case study guests are a great way to bring a point to life, to make something that can be dry sound more real.
How often should I have a guest on my podcast?
I’m running out of ways to say this... It’s up to you (stop groaning). There’s no right or wrong answer to this, especially if you answer it using the framework of your podcast mission statement.
Rob and Kennedy who I mentioned earlier told me in the chat we had that they have guests on every other episode. Their reasoning is that they give plenty of themselves in guest-less episodes but still get the benefit of having a guest in the others. Their method works for them.
I personally have a more sporadic way of doing things. If I’m touching on a subject that I’m not the expert in then I’ll get a guest on. Or if I meet somebody and think - YES they’d offer great value to my audience I must get them on - then I’ll ask.
When you are planning your podcasts - using the framework I gave you - then you’ll see where you want a guest to come on. I’ll talk about how to approach guests next week.
Things to bear in mind when it comes to guests
Getting pitched - It might feel great that your podcast is being noticed and people want to be on it. But ask yourself if they belong on your podcast. You are allowed to say no to people (politely). I get pitches from people who have no place whatsoever on a podcast about podcasting and it’s quite clearly a mass email to anybody who has ever said the word podcast in a LinkedIn post or headline.
You might have snagged the biggest name ever for your podcast but if they don’t add value for your listener then there’s no point having them on.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll go all out and promote your podcast to their audience. If they’ve got a big following they really don’t need to. So they more than likely won’t.
Also if it’s a guest that’s doing the rounds or has been on lots of podcasts you need to think about whether that guest is going to bring anything new to your podcast.
I hope I haven’t put you off having guests on your podcast, I just want you to have the best guests for your podcast and not just have people on for the sake of it.
It can be quite hard work getting guests on your podcast - I’ll talk about that process next week. And I’ll also talk a bit more about getting the best out of your guests the following week too.
Don't forget you can get on Podcast Planning Tool Kit waitlist here