Asking a stranger, especially one that is well-regarded in the industry, to join you on your podcast can be a little nerve-wracking. Imposter syndrome is real, and especially if you haven’t been podcasting very long, it can feel like a big, high-risk ask.
Most people, most of the time, however, are perfectly willing to join you for a podcast episode, and it’s always flattering to be asked, as long as a little research has been done, and the ask is well-constructed. That’s exactly what we’re talking about today, on the Business Podcast Blueprints Show.
While not every podcast has or needs guests, a whole lot of them do. Guests can be part of the strategy for any of the Business Podcast Blueprints, and we’re going to go into some detail about how to select guests for each type.
(Although a fun little strategy for promotion that can double as networking is to send specific episodes to specific people you think will find it valuable and use that as a relationship-building touchpoint!)
For Audience Building shows, where you want to be bringing new insight, ideas, and information to your existing audience, and there are lots of experts out there excited to share what they know.
Thought leadership shows can have guests where you and a fellow expert are talking about your areas of expertise. Remember, it’s not creating thought leadership if you’re not including your own IP!
Relationship Building Shows absolutely have to have guests, or you’re not really achieving the purpose, and content shows, of course, can b any and everything, guests included.
Let’s look at what type of guest you might want for each of the blueprints.
Who should you have as a guest?
Relationship Building Podcasts
The main goal of Relationship building podcasts is to build relationships, and that means you will almost always have guests. A perfect guest for this kind of podcast is someone who meets one or more of the following criteria:
- They would make a good client
- They are a colleague you would like to know better
- They work in a complementary industry or have an audience that is similar to yours
- They’re someone you would like to make referrals to (ie: they are great at something your clients also need)
- They are a thought leader in your space
- They are popular with your audience
- They are someone you think deserves more interest and attention
Audience Engagement Podcasts
The main goal of an Audience building podcast is to connect with an audience you already have. This is a podcast type where you’re not always going to have a guest, sometimes your audience just needs YOU. If you do have guests, you will want someone who:
- Has information your audience needs that you can’t provide
- In a complementary business likely to be valuable to your audience
- Is someone you have a collaborative relationship with (you help them, they help you!)
Thought Leadership Podcasts
Thought Leadership podcasts are shows that are designed to establish you as a thought leader. Like Audience Engagement Podcasts, you don’t always need guests! If you do have them, they should be:
- At your professional level or higher
- Someone with whom you can have an equal conversation
- Someone who can provide new insight and nuance to your shared topic area
Content podcasts are really and truly any podcast, but there are some shows that exist primarily to develop content, and those can have guests or not as you choose! Guests on a content podcast can be:
- Anyone interesting to you and your audience!
There are really no limits with a content podcast since the ultimate goal is to generate material for your company, blog, socials, etc.
Finding Your Guests
If you don’t already have a mental list of guests, figuring out how to find people who meet your criteria can be a little challenging. Here are a few strategies you can try:
- Shake your network tree! Ask your colleagues, friends, family, and everyone who might be a good guest for your podcast.
- Ask your audience who they would like to hear from
- Listen to other podcasts in your niche and mine their guest list for people who would be a good fit for yours.
- Check out your bookshelf. Authors are often enthusiastic podcast guests, and a book that is valuable to your audience almost certainly has an author that will be.
- Look at your social media feeds – who is creating content you like and find valuable?
How to Invite Them
Now that you have a general idea of who you want to talk to, and ideally a starter list of potential guests, it’s time to get in touch!
The first and most important thing you need to remember is that there is never any harm in asking. Dream big! Sure, you’ll run into the occasional famous person’s about page that says some variation of “don’t bother even breathing near me if you don’t have at least 250 reviews on Apple.” I’m sure those people have their reasons, but you don’t need to trouble yourself with them. I’ve found that the vast, vast majority of people are delighted to receive an invitation to a podcast. Even a new, or a small one, and even if they have to decline. It’s always nice to be asked, it’s never rude or an imposition. If someone can’t or doesn’t want to, they can just say so.
So when you’ve got a list of people to invite to your show, you need to determine the best way to reach out to them. The easiest to contact will be anyone you’ve met before. If you already have a connection, even if it’s a brief meeting from the last conference you were both at, then you can just go ahead and send an email, reminding them of when you met, and asking them if they’d like to join you for a conversation.
If you haven’t met your ideal guest in person, try to find out if you have any mutual connections who could make an introduction for you – after already knowing someone – that is the easiest way to get a guest to say yes!
The first place you should look is their website to see if they have any specific instructions on how they like to be reached out to. If those instructions exist: follow them. There might be a specific contact form or email address they like to use for this kind of communication.
If there isn’t, then you have some options:
You can always use a contact form on someone’s website – that’s what they’re there for! If you’re sending your invitation to a contact form, keep in mind that they might not be the human answering email, so you might want to make note of that in your greeting, but I would call that as optional.
Some people keep an email address in their about pages as well, so that is worth a look!
Some people are most active on social media, and you can very easily open up a conversation through their direct messages.
If you are feeling a little brave – and someone’s DMs are not open, then a message to them on social media, through a comment or reply, can start the conversation. “Hi – this is a great concept; I would love to have you on my podcast!” is a nice opener and fairly low stakes. If they ignore it, they ignore it; no harm, no foul.
Similarly, you can also leave a comment on a blog post they have created, or on an episode of their own podcast if they have one.
An Invitation Email
So, what goes into an invitation email or direct message? You want to be short and to the point. Explain:
- Who you are (and how they know you, or how you found them)
- What your show is, and who listens to it
- Why you want them on your show
- What to do next.
Here is an example of how that might sound:
Hi, I’m Megan Doughtery, and I host the Business Podcast Blueprint Show. I loved your recent article about how widgets can be used to enhance and extend the reach of your whatzits, and I think my audience would find it valuable as well. Would you be interested in joining me for a conversation about widgets and how you recommend people get the most out of them? If so, please let me know, and I will send over a booking link!
Quick, simple, and to the point. If you have a connection in common, or you’ve met before, make sure to mention that at the outset. For example:
I’m Megan Dougherty, and we met briefly at the last Widget convention in Nevada…
I’m Megan Dougherty, host of the Business Podcast Blueprint Show, where I talk to widget users about widget maintenance. I was chatting with my friend Luke Skywalker, and he mentioned you were an expert in widget manufacturing – I’d love to invite you…
Basically, you want to very quickly give your potential guest context for who you are, why they should connect with you, and how to move forward.
If someone doesn’t reply to your message within a few days, one follow-up is perfectly appropriate, but if they don’t respond after that, it is probably best to assume they are either too busy, or not interested.
I think you’ll find that many people are extremely interested in being interviewed, however!
Being a Good Host
The steps you take after someone says yes are important ones. This is where you really take on the mantle of ‘host’ and need to start acting like one. This means making things easy, clear, and efficient.
Most of us are familiar with calendar software now, and you should have a specific booking link for your podcast that collects more than just a name and email address.
There is information you will need from your guest in order to properly introduce and promote them, and you want to collect this material in as few steps with as little manual oversight as possible. The best way to do this is in your booking system.
Many calendars allow you to request additional information at the time of booking, like bios, links, social media handles, logos, headshots, and any information your guest wants to share with your audience. If your calendar has this functionality, use it!
If it doesn’t, but you can direct someone to a specific page after booking, you can point them to a form that collects all of the information you need.
If you use a project management system like teamwork or Notion, or a communication platform like slack, you can often integrate your calendar or booking form to put the information about the guest right where you need it!
Reminders and Confirmations
It can be a good idea to set your calendar to send a confirmation email with all of the details your guest shared immediately after booking (along with a calendar link so the information goes right where your guest needs it to be! As well as a reminder email for the day before. We all get busy, and you want to make sure your guest has adequate time to prepare!
A question many people ask at this stage is, should I send my guests a list of the questions I will be asking or topics we’ll be covering?
This is up to you, but I personally like sending the topics and questions in advance. It gives both me and the guest time to reflect on what we want to share in the conversation.
As the host, you want to be up to speed on your guest’s business, offers, and community to make sure you are talking about something you are both going to enjoy, and you also want to make sure that you are talking about things your audience is really going to be invested in.
From the guest’s perspective, being prepared in advance for what the conversation s going to contain means they can also think about how to share their ideas in the best way possible.
You don’t want to sound robotic, or like you’re reading a script while you’re having the conversation, you can deviate based on what you and your guest say or think of in the moment, but I find the preparation really helpful.
There are other people who swear by going in without sharing the questions in advance, believing it leads to a more interesting and dynamic conversation, with more raw responses. This can work out perfectly fine a lot of the time, it really depends on the type of show you have, and setting expectations with your guest. Some people are perfectly happy to go in without any prep! Others find that nerve-wracking. Remember that you are a host, and that means trying to make your guest as comfortable as possible, and creating content for your audience that is as valuable as you can make it
Experimenting with both methods can be a good learning experience, and as you develop your interviewing skills, you’ll probably find that one or the other style suits you best.
In some cases you will want to have a prep call. It can be useful to have a pre-conversation to make sure that you and your guest are on the same page, to hash out topics that will be the best for all involved, and to make sure everyone’s technology is working as planned! This is an optional step, but for some podcasts, especially those where you curate the content you share very, very carefully, or you are not sure if your guests recording setup will be appropriate, it can be a good idea!
After the Conversation
Hosting doesn’t stop when you stop recording. Someone just gave of their time and knowledge to help you and your audience. Send a thank you note.
And critically, absolutely critically, tell them when the episode is live! I discussed the importance of post-interview follow-up on an episode of the Business Podcast Blueprint show called Don’t Leave Your Guests guessing. Please give it a listen if you’d like to dig into the details of why follow-up is so important!
Will my guest share their episode?
I’ve talked about this at length before, so I’m not going to belabor it now. The answer is maybe, but you should not expect it. You can make it easy and pleasant to do so if your guest chooses by sending links, copy, and graphics to share, but consider it a bonus, not an obligation.
There are some podcasters that require their guests share a podcast episode they appear on. I tend to think this is overstepping, and makes it seem like you are only interested in the guest because they have an audience you want to access. This is not a good relationship builder in my opinion, although there are others who think differently. You’ll have to decide what you think is most appropriate for your own business goals.
And that about covers finding and inviting guests! Choose people appropriate to your show blueprint, use the most personal connection method you can, be a good host, and don’t sweat it if they can’t share the episode.
Question of the Week
Should I transcribe my podcast episodes?
Yes, you probably should for a couple of reasons.
- A transcribed version of your podcast, especially an edited one, is a great way to make your podcast accessible to more people. Not everyone is able to, or prefers listening to audio, so making your podcast available in another format means more people are going to be able to benefit from it.
- Audio is still mostly not searchable, although there are some interesting companies trying to change that, but text absolutely is. If you have transcribed versions of your content available on your website, they are more likely to help your show show up when people use search terms relevant to your content.
- It’s just handy to have them for future reference!
Thank you for joining me today! As always, I’m your host, Megan Dougherty, and this show was created by the whole team at One Stone Creative. If you’re feeling podcurious and want to explore if a podcast – with or without guests! Is a good fit for your business, check out our free ebook: Will a Podcast Work For Your Business? You can find it at OneStone Creative.net/Work