How to Be a Guest on a Podcast
Almost as difficult as producing and hosting your own podcast is getting to be a guest on someone else's. Unless you have friends or acquaintances who are podcasters that invite you, you'll have to find podcast hosts who might want you on their shows. Here's why that's so challenging.
Too Many Podcast Directories and Platforms. The leading podcast directory and platform of them all is Apple's iTunes, but doing a Google search will bring up a number of other directories.
Not All Podcasts are Listed in Directories. Like blogs, not all podcasters list their shows in directories. They prefer to host and promote their shows on their own through avenues such as social media, email, etc. So some great fit shows may be almost invisible online.
Not All Podcasts are Promoted as Stand-Alone Shows. Some bloggers merely choose to post and present some of their material as audio or video files, but may not officially call it a podcast or list it in the directories.
Contact Info May be Difficult to Locate. Go ahead. Wander over to iTunes and pull up most any podcast, popular or not. Now, look at the episode or podcast home page and try to find contact info for the podcast. Can't find it? You're not alone. Discovering how to contact the podcast host or producer can take some digging.
What to do?
How to Find Podcasts for Guest Opportunities
Research Multiple Podcast Directories and Platforms. Scouting various directories to find appropriate shows can yield possibilities. The good news is that many podcast directories and platforms are categorized by topic and have search tools.
Get Google to Help You. Typing in "[your industry, topic or market] podcasts" in Google or other search engines may draw up some podcasts to consider.
Your search may also bring up results for blog posts such as "Top Podcasts for _______" or something similar. Those posts can even be more helpful than search results since someone has done the research and curated them for you!
The biggest challenge with the top podcast type of listings is that they list the top podcasts. Though it's worth a shot, super popular shows may not be interested in small niche market or newbie guests. However, you can get two things from checking these out:
- You can understand the type of material and guests that these top shows want by looking at what they currently offer. This can help you tailor proposals for these or similar shows.
- Usually these top shows are listed in directories such as iTunes. Often these types of directories are "Amazon-ized" with "you may also be interested in" suggestions. Check out these additional suggestions for other podcast targets.
Know and Follow Who's Hot in Your Industry or Target Markets. Top content creators and thought leaders in your industry are often guests on various podcasts. Following them could help you locate podcasts that might be a good fit for you, too. Plus, you'll know that these shows actually do accept guests (not all do). This can be a slow process, but one that can reveal relevant targets for your efforts.
Get Listed on Speaker and Guest Expert Directories. As difficult as it may be for you to find the right podcast shows to approach, hosts might have an equally difficult time recruiting appropriate guests. After hosts have burned through their network of contacts, some of them may turn to directory services for speakers and experts who want to appear on radio, television and other media outlets. These services may send out "looking for guests" and "looking for shows (or opportunities)" messages to their subscribers. Realize, though, that these services may be offered for a fee.
What Podcast Hosts Really Want
I've been lucky in that I've been invited to be a guest on many podcasts and online presentations. Most of these shows wanted to add my experience and expertise to their broadcast. But one of them wanted more... a lot more.
I was approached by a podcaster who had located me through LinkedIn. Although I was not familiar with the show, it sounded like it aligned with the work I do. The host invited me to a pre-show interview to make sure that we were a good fit.
I get on the phone and we have a good conversation about the show topic. Then it turned to details of the show. She asks me about my email list. After I responded, she tells me I don't qualify as a guest because I didn't have 5,000 email subscribers to whom I would personally send invitations. Adding to that, she said that to have me on her show would not be fair to the other guests who did qualify. Go ahead, ask me how I felt at that moment.
So I asked her about her email list and if she would be willing to add me to it to keep in touch. Her response was that she was working on her email list with her virtual assistant. So she wanted me to send invitations to my list of 5K subscribers, but her list was still in development? How would she be promoting me? I was glad I only spent a brief phone call on this opportunity.
Though my ego took a bit of a hit, I was glad that this host did a pre-broadcast interview. Whether it's a phone call, email or other communication, clarify expectations on both sides of the podcast microphone before agreeing to anything.
How to Approach Podcast Hosts
Once you've identified some appropriate podcasts, you'll want to figure out the best way to approach them with your offer to be a guest. Here are some general guidelines for working with hosts and producers.
Follow Protocol. As noted earlier, connecting with podcast hosts and producers may not be as easy as clicking a link on the show's homepage. If the procedure for guest opportunities is not obvious or included in the podcast documentation, you'll have to dig a little further to determine how the host or producer wishes to be approached. This may be included on their websites or you might have to connect via their "contact us" pages.
Establish Connection. When contacting a host or producer, mention if and how you are connected to the host or the show such as on social media, met at a conference, etc. It will seem less like cold calling if you do have an recognizable connection. (You don't want them to say, "Who the heck is this?")
Sell the Value You Will Provide by Being a Guest. Most podcast hosts and producers want to build their audience reach and provide good content. A large and relevant social media or blog following can be a huge selling point when approaching these people. In accepting you as a guest, they're hoping that you'll promote their show, website, etc. to your following. If you don't have a significant following (yet!), you'll really need to sell how you'll provide value to the audience with what you say.
Important Note about Email: If a podcast host is interested in you because of a large email subscriber base you have, make sure that YOU do the emailing so that you don't violate your subscribers' privacy! NEVER, EVER turn over your email list to a podcast show or anyone else without getting express permission from each subscriber on that list. Consult a business attorney for any questions regarding privacy policies for email lists.
Don't be Discouraged. If the hosts or producers are very busy, it may take them quite a while (maybe even months) to reply to your offer to be a guest... if they reply at all. They may also have a calendar full of guests already and may reject your offer. Don't take it as a personal judgment. If they didn't say they absolutely don't want you on their show, ask when they may be recruiting new guests and how to go about submitting a proposal.
Don't be Surprised If It Takes a Long Time to Be on the Show. In addition to the extended period of time it could take you to even get the opportunity to be on the show, many podcasts are recorded and then don't publish for months because it takes time to edit the audio files or video footage. I once was a guest on a podcast that took about eight months to actually get posted. It's their show, their schedule.
Don't Plan on Getting Paid. While certainly there may be podcasts who pay their guests, in most cases, you will be appearing on the show gratis. The host figures they're giving you exposure and access to their audience. Often you'll be given a plug on the broadcast itself and/or in the show's description or notes.
Another reason you may not be offered a fee for participating is because the show may not be making any money either (unless it has sponsors). The podcast might just be part of the host's content marketing program. As well, podcasts on iTunes are offered to listeners for free. Subscription-based podcasts are often offered as "premium" content on other platforms and cannot be offered through iTunes.
How to Be a Good Podcast Guest
Be Prepared for the Podcast Medium Used. These days, video podcasting is getting more play, even though audio still holds a dominant position. Know what medium—audio or video—the show uses and be prepared to present that way. The podcast may use a variety of methods to broadcast or record including Skype, webinars, phone conference lines, studio recording, or social media (such as Facebook Live, Google Hangouts on Air, etc.). And, if it's done live, keep it clean and watch your language! Some use delay devices, others may not. Being obnoxious or obscene could land you and the show into a lot of trouble and, needless to say, you probably won't be asked to be a guest again.
Be Prepared with a List of Interview Questions. The most difficult types of podcasts for me are those where I'm invited to speak on a topic, but there's no agenda or questions provided by the host or producer. I don't know how to prepare and I could be left struggling for an answer to an off-topic or odd question. That doesn't do much to build my reputation other than that it might demonstrate I can think on my feet. What I've also found is that those podcasts tend to ramble and are unfocused.
Not having a show agenda can often be the sign of an inexperienced podcast host. If at all possible, ask the host for a list of questions or topics to be discussed. If they don't provide one (I've had that happen) or just flat out refuse, it's worth a shot for you to propose an agenda or list of questions. If they're not interested in your agenda proposal and not having a show plan is extremely unsettling for you, consider whether you want to be on the show or not.
Be Early to the Show. Jumping on the call well before the show begins will allow you and the host to settle in and work out any technological bugs.
Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.
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© 2017 Heidi Thorne