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Podcast Guests: How to Recruit Them for Your Show

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert and advocate. Author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. Former trade newspaper editor.

Hosting guests on your podcast can bring variety, alternate perspectives, and entertainment. However, booking podcast guests can be quite an effort. What should you consider?

Why Your Friends May Be Horrible Podcast Guests

It’s very tempting to reach out to your friends, even family, when considering adding guests to your podcast. Why? Because they’re likely to be willing and available. But that doesn’t mean they’re qualified.

If you are truly uneasy with hosting guests and want to practice with friendlies before you go live with your actual show, that’s fine. Just don’t automatically include them as actual guests unless they add value to your audience.

Luckily, I have a few amazing friends who had great insight into my topic area which made them ideal for a few episodes years back. But I evaluated their qualifications even before inviting them.

Podcast Guests Wanted! What to Look When Booking

Expertise

In your topic area or industry, is this person recognized as an expert or have significant experience? Choose those that can talk the language of your audience and speak to your audience’s needs.

Speaking Ability

Some people are experts at what they do, but not necessarily experts at speaking. Often they clam up or don’t know when to shut up. This can be extremely challenging for you as a podcast host. If you suspect this may be a problem, providing show questions in advance and possibly doing a test run in advance of the actual recording are recommended.

Availability

If your target guest is very popular or busy, they may not have time to do your podcast. Invite them anyway. If they decline and you’re still interested in having them on, try again in the future. But don’t hound potential guests!

Following

Does the podcast guest you’re considering have what you consider to be a significant following on either social media or email marketing?

I was once invited to apply as a guest for a business podcast that required me to have at least 5,000 on my email list... but didn’t tell me when she invited me. That’s a significant following for a solopreneur business and I didn’t have that. So the host cut me off immediately during our getting-to-know-you conversation, almost mid-sentence. Interestingly, she didn’t have that level of following herself. But I gathered she was trying to build her own email list by soliciting subscribers of her higher profile guests. If she would have made that clear in her invitation, she wouldn’t have wasted my time or hers.

While it’s not inappropriate to have following expectations for your guests, be upfront with them in your invitation so you can both avoid pursuing an arrangement that doesn’t work.

An additional issue regarding your guests’ following is to be clear about what you expect them to do in terms of tweets, social media posts, emails, photos, etc. To simply say, “promote the podcast to your followers” is too vague. They may think that sending one measly tweet covers it, even though you were expecting a full blown promo blitz including multiple tweets, a special email, and multiple Facebook posts. In return, you should also confirm what you will do to promote their appearance on your show.

Then you should monitor their promotions activity to see if they performed as agreed. If not, a polite and gentle reminder would be appropriate. You can be sure that they’re going to be watching your promotional activity. So do what you say you’ll do, too.

Technologically Capable

I’ve worked with a number of clients and colleagues over the years who are technologically challenged to say the least. People like this are usually not comfortable with the various audio recording programs or methods and need a lot of help with the technology. Or they don’t have what’s required to make a decent online recording.

You have two choices with these folks. One, you can record with the simplest possible method, such as with phone conference call recording. However, that could mean more work or expense for you. So their participation better be worth the efforts. Two, you can filter out those who are unable to deal with the technology by including a qualifying question in your invitation and/or making it a requirement. For example, I was invited to a podcast that required me to use a certain type of microphone headset. If I wasn’t able or willing to do that, I would have had to decline.

Scrutinize Potential Guests That Approach You

Be especially wary of people who approach you and appear to be a little too anxious to be a guest on your show. They either want to use your influence or might end up trying to oversell their products and services at your show’s expense. There’s nothing technically wrong with them wanting to be associated with you. Just do your due diligence so that you don’t promote the wrong person to your audience.

Also, watch for guests who are making the rounds of podcasts as part of their personal media blitz. For example, in a short period of time, I noticed one particular guest on a variety of popular, but very similar, podcasts within the business arena. I ended up skipping over a number of the shows because I had already heard him and his story on another show. So having someone like this on your show could actually hurt your listening stats.

You are not obligated to have any guests on your show unless they add value and fit in with your podcasting calendar. Remember, since you're probably paying for hosting and definitely investing in building your podcast, these people are using your “real estate” when they’re guests.

Who Do YOU Have to Be to Attract the Best Podcast Guests?

While you may want to tap into your guests’ following by hosting them on your podcast, you will have to also offer them a meaningful return in terms of audience size or connections.

For example, if your guest has thousands upon thousands of subscribers and millions of downloads, and you’re just starting out with only a handful of confirmed subscribers and mere hundreds of downloads, your invitation is probably not going to be accepted unless you’re someone who’s super special or a celebrity yourself. For the hosts who are regular folks, you have to earn your podcast street cred before approaching top guests, and you may not have enough to offer them yet.

You better be ready to prove why a top podcaster should be on your show with podcast analytics from your podcast hosting provider or distribution channels (iTunes, Stitcher, etc.) which could include listener demographics, number of downloads, number of subscribers, how long they listen, etc.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 25, 2018:

Hi Larry! Thanks for the kind words and stopping by. Hope you're enjoying your summer. Cheers!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on June 25, 2018:

Great tips!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 21, 2018:

Hi Adrienne! Speaking, online or in person, is a skill that does get better the more you do it. So I do hope that you'll keep going with it. You have so much knowledge to share and I'm sure there are lots of people who could benefit from your expertise.

Thanks so much for stopping by and take care!

Adrienne Farricelli on June 21, 2018:

I think I would fall under the "Some people are experts at what they do, but not necessarily experts at speaking." I have never been that great of a speaker although, I think I am getting a tad bit better at using technology. Matching up great speaking skills with expertise can be a challenge at times. Your tips are going to be very helpful to those interested in recruiting others for podcasts.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 20, 2018:

Yes, I can understand that this could cause some major problems, which might be humorous to the casual onlooker, but serious to the professional podcaster.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 20, 2018:

Hi, Liz! No worries if you do. :) As long as both you and your podcast host are aware of each other's challenges, it becomes less of an issue. The problem is when these details aren't discussed in advance.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great day!

Liz Westwood from UK on June 20, 2018:

I think I fall into the 'technologically challenged' category of guest! This is a very interesting and informative article.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 16, 2018:

You're welcome, Linda! Just sharing what I'm learning as I go along. Thanks for taking a moment to stop by and have a beautiful weekend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 16, 2018:

Mary, some podcasters are doing video broadcasts with instead of, or in addition to, audio. Some even originate it as video and then just rip the audio from it to create the audio version. Podcasts are a very flexible genre. So keep experimenting!

Let us know if you do a podcast so we can check it out.

Thanks for stopping by and have a terrific weekend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 16, 2018:

Flourish, I know! It was the weirdest experience. But at least it made for good blog post fodder. :) And, yes, the whole prescreening process is so important.

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a beautiful weekend!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on June 16, 2018:

Bill, I wish you had time to do podcasts, too. I still think the podcast version of the Mailbag would be awesome. That way you can repurpose your work here. Maybe during the winter?

Thanks for taking a moment to stop by during busy farming season. Have a great weekend!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 15, 2018:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, Heidi. Your articles are always helpful. I hope you have a great weekend.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 15, 2018:

Heidi, these are great trips. I used to ask consultants we work with to do a video for me on some topics but these are only direct speaking. I am still learning the ropes of creating much better video. I do like podcasts and now with your tips, I might try doing one.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 15, 2018:

It’s shocking that someone would treat you, a potential guest, like that, cutting you off because of the lack of 5,000 followers when she didn’t have that herself. Prescreening, like you said.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2018:

God I wish I had the time to do podcasts. That is something that I think I could do well at...so many things to do right now. I'm afraid this is going to remain on the back burner until the fates change my life. lol Have a great weekend!

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