Are you looking to attract podcast guests to your brand new show, but not sure how to nab those first few interviews? In this post I’ll share some tactics to attract great guests to your show even if you haven’t published your first episode.
Interview-style podcasts are popular these days for a number of reasons:
- The give and take of an interview makes for interesting listening. Of course, this is dependent on the interviewer and interviewee, but it can be more dynamic than just listening to one person read from a script.
- It takes a lot of the pressure off you. If you’re asking open-ended questions, your guests will be doing most of the speaking.
- You can learn a lot. Experts may charge hundreds of dollars an hour for consulting, but they’re sharing all their best content with you for free!
- You can extend your reach. Most interviewees will share your podcast with their audience as it helps build their own authority.
However, getting guests when you’re just starting out can be a difficult hurdle, based on an email I recently received from a client:
I need some advice. For someone who is new in the podcast world, how do you market yourself for new interviews…before you have an audience or a big email list to offer in exchange?
Podcasting in Portland
Here are a few tactics that have worked for me to get some big name guests on The Agents of Change podcast.
1. Build your initial guest list from friends and connections.
If you’ve been in your industry for any length of time, chances are you’ve gotten to know and befriend some of the movers and shakers. Get them on board first. After you interview them, ask them if they’ll make some introductions to other experts you’re interested in interviewing but may not have a direct connection to.
2. Leverage people you have—or are about to—interview.
People love to be associated with famous or influential people because it helps make them look more important. If some of your friends or their connections are well-known, you can send an email to a desired guest listing the “famous” people who have been on your podcast. If your podcast hasn’t launched yet, you can still say they’ve been interviewed for your podcast.
3. Attend industry events.
I landed a few big name guests because I met them at conferences. When you make a face-to-face connection with someone they are much more likely to come on your show. Someone once told me that they got Pat Flynn to come on her podcast because she met him at an event. He told her that he almost always agrees to podcast interviews when they’re made in person.
Important note: please don’t stalk Pat Flynn. Or, if you do, don’t mention this post.
4. Find authors of upcoming books on Amazon.
Authors with books coming out want to get in front of as many people as possible, so even a small, nascent podcast can help.
To find authors of upcoming books, do an Amazon search on a topic you want to cover on your podcast, like “workplace stress”. Then change the search from “relevance” to “publication date”. Although now not all the top results will be as relevant, you’ll be able to find people who are interested in getting in front of a mic.
5. Search iTunes for related podcasts.
The hosts of these shows, as well as their guests, can make for great interviews. Podcast hosts already have high-quality equipment, so you don’t need to worry about poor audio. Podcasters also like getting on other shows, because they know they’re getting in front of an audience that already listens and subscribes to podcasts.
The guests on these shows are also great opportunities. They have something of value to share and they are familiar with the podcast format. You also get to hear what they sound like, and if they’re someone you’d want on your show.
You can also use this research to get guest spots on some of these podcasts. There have been many times when I’ve reached out to a podcasters about coming on my show only to receive a reciprocal invite. This can help grow your audience down the road.
6. Scour blogs in your industry.
Some of my guests have been featured on Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, or Moz. If they’re experts in an area I feel my guests want to learn more about, I reach out to them. Regardless of your industry, there are influential, multi-author blogs where you can find great potential interviewees.
7. Try and make a connection or get noticed by them online.
Read their blog and leave (intelligent, valuable) comments. Reply to posts on social media. Not just likes, but comments, so they see your name and get acquainted with you. Answer questions that they may be posing. The goal here is to get noticed and seem familiar, so your request won’t come from a complete stranger.
Pro tip: don’t be creepy.
8. Use a podcast guest service.
This is a matchmaking service where they connect podcasters with potential guests. I haven't used any of these services, but occasionally they send me emails telling me how great they are. A quick Google search on “podcast guest service” will bring up a few that you can check out.
9. Make the benefits obvious.
Most guests are interested in a few things:
- Your audience size or the number of downloads you get per episode. Obviously, if you’re new or haven’t even launched, this can be a deterrent. However, be honest and let them know this. If you have an audience somewhere else, such as an email list or on a social media platform, let them know that as well.
- The size of your email list. Again, if you’re just getting started, this may not be helpful, either. If you have a small, or God forbid, no list, then focus on your social media reach and other promotional activities you may be using.
- Links back to their website. Mention that you’ll link to their website, landing page, or other online resource. Remind them that this will help with their search engine optimization, as well as drive more traffic to their site.
- Your social promotion of the show. Let them know you’ll promote the episode on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and anywhere else you plan on sharing this. If you’ve got good numbers in any of these areas, let them know. If you’re planning on creating some eye-catching graphics that are easy to share on social, let them know. If you’re planning on doing any paid advertising on social to get the word out, let them know. (It’s uncommon, and let’s them know you’re serious about promoting them.)
Whenever possible, I try and see if a potential guest and I have any common connections. If not, I try and find their email or use a website contact form to connect with them.
Below is a typical email I might send out to a guest with whom I have no other connections. Please feel free to use it as a template for finding and securing your own guests.
I just finished reading your blog post on 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make in Local SEO. I thought it was great, especially the section on getting reviews from customers.
Instead of a blog post, you could mention a podcast interview, upcoming book, YouTube video, or something else that shows you’re paying attention. Make sure they know you ACTUALLY listened, read, or watched by referencing something that you couldn’t know otherwise.
I have a podcast where I interview marketing experts on how small businesses can reach more of their ideal customers through search, social, and mobile marketing. A lot of our audience has no idea about local search, and could really benefit from your expertise.
I specify who our audience is, (hopefully it matches up with theirs,) and what they could bring to the table.
We’ve had a number of SEO experts on in the past, including Andrew Shotland, Brian Dean, and Larry Kim. Besides our built-in podcast subscriber base, we’ll promote your interview to our email list, through our social channels, and through some targeted Facebook ads. We also create some eye-catching graphics that are easy to share through social. Finally, we’ll link back to your website or any other online resource you may want to drive traffic to.
Here I list some related guests who they should know, and who they hopefully want to be associated with. I also share how I’m going to get more people to listen to the show, and therefore their episode. If you have good numbers, share them. If you’re just getting started, keep it vague. Remind them that you’ll create some search engine friendly links back to their website.
The interview will last about 20 – 25 minutes and is done via Skype. It’s audio only, so you don’t need to be having a good hair day! If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send you a calendar invite.
If you’d like to check out the podcast and see some of our other guests, please visit http://www.theagentsofchange.com
Here I reduce any risk they may be wondering about. It’s less than 30 minutes of their time and they don’t need to look good to do it. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to get someone to agree to a podcast interview than a guest blog post.
If you do have some shows under your belt, share your URL. If you don’t have anything yet, you can skip this part.
Getting your first few guests for your podcast can seem daunting. But if you put the focus on what they’ll get out of the interview—links, visibility, association with influencers, and traffic—you can greatly increase your chances of landing those prized guests.
Finally, remember that your guests don’t owe you anything! It’s not their job to promote the episode for you, even though it’s a nice gesture. Rather than even asking them for the share, why not send them a link once it’s over so they can check it out.
If they’re interested, they’ll be happy to share it with their audience.
Have you used these or other tactics to score a great guest? If so, be sure to share it in the comments below.