You want to start hosting guests on your podcast but you’re worried about finding the right guests for the right interviews. It’s a valid concern, especially if you’re relying on people who are pitching you.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with pitching to be on a podcast or accepting pitches as guests. But you have to look for quality. You owe it to your listeners.
This week on the podcast, I’m sharing some secrets to finding the best guests for your podcast–what to look for and how to determine if they’re a good fit. (A big audience does NOT make a good guest.) And I’m also sharing how to make sure you make the process as easy as possible for yourself and your guests.
If you’re feeling nervous about what happens once the interview starts, I’ve got tips for you there too!
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Podcast Ease Q&A Sessions
- Episode 181: How to Be a Better Podcast Host
Welcome to episode 196 of the Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast for podcasters that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business, and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it all right, all of the time.
This is the fifth episode of a 10+ series all around bringing more ease into your podcast. Podcasting CAN be time consuming and it can feel really challenging, especially if you’re DIYing most or all of it.
I had some help when I started this podcast, and that allowed me to launch with some confidence. But it was the weeks and months early on where I really struggled. I didn’t feel like I had a go-to resource to help navigate some of the early challenges. Thankfully, I have a background in content marketing so I was able to work through a lot of the challenges with ease…but I know not everyone is in the same situation.
So I wanted to bring you this series to help, leading up to the three-year anniversary of the podcast AND the 200th episode.
But there’s only so much I can cover on a single podcast episode. AND I know that your business and your podcast are unique. You might have more questions after listening. So I’m inviting you to my weekly Podcast Ease Q&A sessions. We got started on July 28 but it’s not too late to join us because we’ll continue through late September. We get on a Zoom call and you can ask me any questions you have about podcasting for the next hour. All calls will be held at 8 a.m. Pacific and they’ll be recorded if you can’t make the call life or want to go back and re-listen.
Are you in? Want to make your podcast feel a little easier? Join me for only $99 for the entire 10-week series at thecontentexperiment.com/ease and you’ll get access to the recordings of previous sessions too.
This week, in the sixth episode of the series, we’re going to talk about guest episodes. How do ou find guests? How should you structure those episodes? What are some best practices?
I talked about being a better podcast host in episode 181, which included how to host guests on your podcast. I’ll include a link to that one in the show notes but I’m going to cover some additional information here so keep on listening.
First thing – finding quality guests
This is huge, because your podcast is YOUR platform and you owe it to your audience to bring value
The guests you bring on need to align with your overarching goals and vision for your podcast – this isn’t about bringing someone on because they’re a big name or because you don’t want to say no to a pitch
You don’t want to bring on a guest to talk about something that’s completely outside your industry. So a bookkeeper isn’t going to bring on someone to talk about flower arrangements. That’s an extreme example, but you get the picture.
I recommend developing your content strategy (which I talked about in episode 195), mapping out all the possible topics you’d like to share with your audience, deciding which topics are ones that you can cover in a solo episode, then designate the other episodes as guest episodes.
From there, start scouring other podcasts, social media, your email list, your contacts, and so on for a great fit. Here’s what I like to look for in a good guest:
Someone who has a very specific expertise
Someone who is visible on social media (they’ve been around a bit and they’re not afraid to put themselves out there)
Someone who has shared other podcast episodes they’ve been on
Someone who maybe hasn’t gotten a ton of attention
Someone whose values seem to align with my own
The list could go on, but notice I did NOT say that I look for a big following. I think there’s so much emphasis on getting big names on podcasts and while there’s value in that, I’ll tell you:
Big names will NOT share their interview
Big names won’t necessarily bring out loads of new listeners because you already have your subscribers and people who see your posts. You might get a few more downloads on a big name interview but they won’t stick around
What’s the harm in bringing a NEW voice into the mix? New voices mean new ideas, which means more value for your listeners.
Once you’ve found a prospective guest, invite them to the podcast and include what you’d like to talk about in that invitation. You can even reference a social media post that got your attention. I like to include key takeaways that I’d like listeners to get out of the interview
This helps the prospective guest understand what you’re looking for and it requires you to do a little bit of research…which is essential before the interview anyway. You’re already a step ahead!
When you send the invitation, be sure to include a link to your scheduler to make it easier for them to get on your calendar. This is huge for me personally because the last thing I want to do is play email tag to schedule an appointment. Make. It. Easy
Episode 181 talks more about some of the logistics around guest episodes. I’ll let you listen in to that episode for more.
But let’s talk about structuring your guest episodes:
Make sure you state their first and last name and organization or what they do. You’d be surprised at how many hosts don’t do that
Feel free to edit their bios. I’ve received bios that are ridiculously long, with lots of credentials and experience that isn’t really relevant. It’s okay to edit this down! It’s your platform!
You know what value you want to share with your audience; the questions you ask your guest should be aligned with that.
If the guest owns an organization or business that might support your listeners, don’t let the guest go on a sales pitch. Instead, ask questions like
Why is this important
How do you see the industry changing
What do people need to know about (whatever the expertise is)
Give us an example of… (and not necessarily how a client succeeded; that usually leads to a sales pitch)
A lot of hosts like to go into the interview as more of a conversation, which I think is great. What’s not great is to not have an idea of what you want to talk about. This results in some awkward silences or you and your guest talking over each other. I highly recommend having questions and a plan!
Having questions written out ahead of time helps with a lot of the rambling conversation that sometimes happens with guests. Even if you’re interviewing your BFF, your listeners are there for the value. Does it give them value to hear side conversations? This is one of the things I typically dislike about podcasts with more than one host. It gets difficult to follow the conversations. Be aware of that.
When I started this podcast, I knew that I didn’t want guests to share their own stories of success. Do I think there’s a place for that? Absolutely. But at the time, there were already a ton of podcasts out there that did that. I wanted to share actionable tips. I think I’ve done a really good job at that. Focus on the value.
Something else I see is guest episodes including some personal information about the guest – the last book they read, their pet peeves, their favorite place to visit. I don’t believe that people really care about that. I could be wrong, maybe it’s just me, but stick to the topic of the podcast
So the overall structure of your guest episodes could look like this:
Your regular intro
Introducing your guest and reading their (short) bio
Welcoming your guest and asking them to share in their own words what they do and who they do it for
Getting into the questions – I like having a standard question (How does what you do help you to live the lifestyle you want)
Use your questions to guide the conversation but ask follow up questions when needed
Ask one final question – again, I like a standard “If listeners could only take action on one or two things we talked about, what do you think that should be”
Include an outro where you share your takeaways – good to help listeners remember what you talked about and to focus on something
Another note about guests, or prospective guests:
You do not have to accept every pitch you receive. People pitch podcasts because they want to get in front of your audience. Some want to deliver value. Others want to sell. If a pitch doesn’t spotlight the value they’re going to deliver, you have permission to say no or to simply ignore the pitch. I do this ALL THE TIME. I have a really clear message I want to deliver, often in a specific order, and if someone doesn’t align, that’s okay!
Feel like you need help creating a strategy for your podcast or getting your systems down? I can help! I’m currently helping two clients launch brand new podcasts and another one relaunch one she put on hold for a while. We’re starting with all the little minute details that are important in a podcast, then moving on to strategy. There’s a lot of moving parts and it helps to have help!
If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.