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How To Be a Great Podcast Guest: Pitching, Interviewing, Content Marketing, Social Media

how to be a great podcast guest

Why go on podcasts? The benefits of being a podcast guest

How to be a great podcast guest: Getting booked regularly onto podcasts can be one of the best things if you’re an author, independent professional, coach, course creator, in consulting, or a public speaker.

When you’re out on your own, you probably find that you have to do all of your marketing yourself. Social and content marketing all fall to you. Plus, certain marketing strategies are out of reach because they require a large budget or multiple people to pull off. Luckily, podcasts cost mostly time and you can often do much of the work on your own but we’ll talk about options for a paid program later in this guide.

Even if you’re an author whose publisher has promised to help with marketing, just know that most of the work will still fall onto you. Sure, the publisher may help get a few interviews but it’s your book and you have to be the one commanding the ship. Your marketing is your responsibility.

If you are the CEO of a company or the director of a nonprofit, guest podcasting can be a way to increase your brandvoice. You gain instant credibility with the show’s audience and you have a chance to spread your message to them. Think of podcasts as another outlet just as valuable as speaking at conferences and much easier to do as they don’t require any travel. Plus, you can target your brandvoice to the exact audiences that you want to reach as opposed to general mass advertising.

There is a podcast for every niche it seems. You can find a podcast (even multiple) serving your key demographic or target market persona. Plus, people tend to listen to podcasts for the majority of the episode or all the way through. Take a look at this infographic on podcast stats for more insights. By being a guest on a host’s podcast, you get to appear in front of not just their podcast audience but social and email list audiences, too. It’s one of the easiest ways to get in front of so many targeted potential customers without paying for costly ads that serve to interrupt and annoy rather than educate.

No matter who you are, guest podcasts increase your authority. They work just like any other traditional media–news articles, radio, and TV–because you have a host that is implicitly vouching for you (or else why would you be on their show). You get anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (or more, see Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris) to teach your point of view and thus build your authority. Plus, many people listen to past podcast episodes when they subscribe to a new show–which increases your ability to build authority with new members of the podcast’s audience.

But you might be wondering–how do I even approach some of these shows?

Some of them are pretty big and I can’t get onto them, is it even worth it?

Do I do this process myself or have someone help me?

How much help can I get and what will it cost?

How long do I need to do this and when will I start seeing results?

Steps for How To Be a Great Podcast Guest

This guide will answer all of those questions and more, including:

-How to find podcasts accepting guests
-How to prepare to be a guest on a podcast
-Tips for podcast guests during podcast interviews

It is going to show you how to get booked regularly onto podcasts by following the method below:

  1. Research your topic and podcast list for best fit
  2. Prepare your podcast media kit, bio, and interview topics
  3. Pitch podcasts and tracking your progress
  4. Interview well to be a great podcast guest
  5. Tell people about your show through content marketing, social, and warm relationships, after appearing on the podcast

What does a podcast host want from their podcast guests?

Luckily it’s rare that podcast hosts want money from their podcast guests. Right now, very few podcasts are “pay to play” where podcast guests appear in exchange for a sponsorship. However, these can happen and it should be your own judgment call if you go that route.

Instead, what podcast hosts want is…

-A podcast guest that teaches but doesn’t sell or promote their product (unless asked)

-A podcast guest that can inform, motivate, entertain, (or at least two out of three)

-A podcast guest that can share insights, research, or a lived experience, that can make the lives of their listeners better

-A podcast guest with a unique point of view who can articulate it and defend it well

-A podcast guest that is prompt, easy-going, and well-prepared

Step 0: Is podcast pitching something I should do on my own or hire someone for?

This guide will help you either way–you’ll either know what a great process looks like (which will help vet vendors and participate well) or you can use the steps here on your own if you cannot afford someone to help with the process.

Here are the various options:

DIY: You do everything all on your own.
Best for: People who are natural self-starters and don’t delegate well; people who love to be in control of each step of the process.
Major budget consideration: Your time–it’s in short supply and podcast pitching can take up a lot of it.

Virtual Assistant help: Here, you can get someone from Fiverr or Upwork to help do some of the pitch list research or to prewrite your pitches.
Best for: Entrepreneurs who delegate well and work in systems
Major budget consideration: Your time (still)–you have to teach someone the process you want them to follow but it will pay off if your VA is excellent.

Independent Booker: Get the assistance of a single person or super-small team to help with all steps
Best for: Those with a small to medium-sized budget and people short on time
Major budget consideration: Some time and some money–not as intensive as the options above but you’ll be expected to assist in topic generation and some research in your area of expertise

Podcast Agency: Get the entire process done for you by a professional agency
Best for: Those with only the time to show up to interviews and the budget/dedication for multiple month engagements
Major budget consideration: Financial–it’s quite common for agencies to charge $4,000-$5,000+ per month for ongoing podcast pitching (and yearlong contracts).

What to look for when hiring someone to help with podcast booking:

  1. Knowledge of the process:The person or agency should have a clear method for podcast pitching
  2. Transparency: You should be able to see every step of the process–initial pitch list, media kit drafts, pitch trackers, etc. The person or agency should also be clear about which podcasts make sense and which ones are completely out of reach
  3. Courage: You should still aim high for podcasts and so should your agency or booker. You can set stretch goals for particular podcasts or groups of them–many become easier to get after you’ve built up a reputation
  4. Flexibility: Your booker or agency should be able to change their focus month over month as needed if things shift in your industry or the media (you never know which topic is going to get hot). Setting and forgetting a plan early on is not the way to go.

If you need help with getting a referral to a booking agency or want me to help you as an independent booker, you can contact me.

Step 1 in How to Be a Great Podcast Guest: Research

The worst thing you can do is try to get on any podcast imaginable. Your goal is to find a podcast whose listeners have the problem you are trying to solve in your endeavor. Even if you’re a fiction writer, you most likely did research for your book or your book speaks to larger themes that address some ongoing issue in the world. Use those themes as the problem you’re trying to solve.

We’ll have examples later, too.

The research steps come in two parts: researching your initial target list of podcasts and researching what you want to discuss.

Researching your own topic:

You may already be an expert in your field–you wrote a book, you’ve written journal articles, you have your own podcast. That’s fantastic. However, you will still want to bring that relevant research with you when you go onto the show. Plus, in doing more research you may find surprising ways that your topic relates to various populations or demographics. This connection can be your “in” for a podcast that you want to go on.

Do Now: Start with what you know but also search relevant research articles and books in your field. Find all of the types of people that the problem you’re trying to solve affects. This could be general demographic data like age and gender or you can get specific and target particular industries, professions, and societal roles (like parents). Find ways in which the problem you are trying to solve is unique to those groups. Look for interesting statistics to later share–make a note of them, the context around them (e.g. sample size, research method), and their source.

Research Part 2: Your initial podcast list

Your podcast list, at least initially, should be around 50 to 150 podcasts. You’ll have a chance to add more but this amount can be found in a weekend and it will be enough for you to pitch enough people that you’ll get at least some hits. Pitching is a numbers game no more matter which profession.

You’ll want to find podcasts that fall into one of three categories (and we’ll get to how to find them in a moment):

Initial Podcast List Criteria:

  1. Podcasts that deal directly with your topic
  2. Podcasts that serve your target market but where you’ll be the only one on your topic
  3. Podcasts where you have a unique angle to appear

Here’s an example: A writer created a book about sailing and how to get started with the hobby. He had just learned to sail two years ago and made numerous mistakes (like purchasing fancy boat items that did very little) but now he has all of that knowledge and wants to share it with the world.

In his research, he found that more young people are starting to get into sailing along with retirees. He also found that it’s a popular hobby across both male and female demographics. He also found out the average cost for someone trying to buy their own boat (used and new) along with maintenance and other issues–the author also discovered easier and cheaper ways to sail such as being a crew member on someone else’s boat.

Armed with that knowledge, he compiled a list along the following lines:

  1. Industry/Topic-Specific: Sailing podcasts–many deal with amateur sailing and some with semi-pro and professional racing, too.
  2. Adjacent Podcasts: The author found podcasts that targeted young people, retirees, where he could preach the fun of sailing to those crowds
  3. Unique podcasts: The author found a money management podcast where he could tell his story of almost going broke in his first year of sailing–and he has tips for what new amateur sailors could do to avoid the same fate.

Here’s another: A career coach who sells training and coaching packages to people over 40 who have just been laid off from their jobs. This coach knows her area well but found some surprising statistics on age discrimination in the interviewing and hiring process. Plus, she found research pertaining to attitudes among management towards people who tend to be older in their jobs along with attitude and opinion research of those who had just been laid off from their job. She found research demonstrating higher instances of mental health issues (especially depression) with those who had been out of work more than one month.

The Career Coach’s initial podcast list search looked like this:

  1. Industry-specific: Career advice podcasts were her main target but she made sure to focus on ones that catered to mid-career professionals–those most likely to need her services soon or in the near-future. She declined to go to on ones for early-career professionals as those didn’t match up with her target market.
  2. Adjacent podcasts: The career coach looked for podcasts that catered to a more seasoned generation–ones on topics like aging, families, self-improvement, etc. She was the only career coach on these podcasts talking to the listeners that could one day become her clients.
  3. Unique podcasts: The research that she found on mental health issues gave her a unique angle to get onto podcasts discussing mental health issues in the workplace and in life.

Where to find podcasts to target for your initial list and how to vet them:

This part is more art than science as there is no single repository of podcasts. Each podcast hosting service (iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc.) requires a separate upload from a show’s producer. Not all podcasts are on all podcast hosting services.

However those services along with Google are a great place to start. The podcast hosting services often have an algorithm that says, “If you liked this, you’ll also like this…”

Step 1: Search iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher, for areas relating to your topic based on what you already know and the research you did.

Step 2: Do an internet search with “podcast your topic”–if the area is ripe enough, you’ll often find articles listing, “Best podcasts for…”

Step 3: Ask your network–you never know how people are connected–an email to trusted colleagues or to your list can provide warm leads for you.

Step 4: Vet the podcast–is this the right fit for you and is it a quality podcast?

Read the show notes for each episode–do they bring on podcast guests?

What are the typical topics?

Could you see yourself as the next guest on the show?

How large is the podcast?

This is where people typically ask about a podcast’s audience size. It’s hard to figure out unless you have a subscription to a major analytics or advertising company for that info. Most likely you don’t.

One way to gauge a podcast’s audience is by looking at its social media following–Twitter is usually a good place to start but see if it has an Instagram or Facebook page–all three numbers should be around the same unless one platform is preferred over another. I have seen too many podcast pages on LinkedIn but it’s possible.

You’ll probably see the following ranges for social media followings and those can be a rough estimate for the audience size of the podcast–go for broad strokes at this point:

Tiny/New: Under 1,000 followers

Small: Under 5,000 followers

Medium: Under 10,000 followers

Large: Under 50,000 followers

Very large: 50,000+ followers

A better set of questions to vet a podcast other than “how big is their audience?”

Size is mostly irrelevant as the really big ones (Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris) are out of reach for many but it’s still good to keep in mind with the following questions and answers, too, as you don’t want to waste your time pitching to audiences that are too small. Focus on podcasts that are regularly producing their show and whose audience would be a good fit.

Some podcasts offer advertising and their advertising or media kits can give you an idea of their audience size and demographics. You can always email the producers of the show if the information isn’t readily available on their website.

Use the following list as a holistic measure (like a magazine quiz, give the podcast a point for each “yes”)

Is the show done with quality?

Listen to an episode or two (just snippets at first)–how is the sound quality? Does it sound professional?

Does the show seem well put together or is it just one person talking with a low humming sound in the background?

How engaged is the podcast’s audience?

Look at the reviews, does there seem to be a steady stream? Are the reviews longer than 2 sentences? (2-4 sentences that all sound the same indicate someone paid for reviews)

When was the last show produced?

Some podcasts produce regularly while others batch content in seasons–investigate the release timeline for the podcast to figure out their cadence. If a podcast hasn’t put out a show within the last month (and it looks like a regularly produced one), it’s not worth your time.

Is there an email list for the podcast? Are the show’s hosts constantly creating new content and sending it out?

Vibrant podcasts are always putting out more content and this indicates often more shows per week, which means more opportunities for you to go onto their show. Sign up for their email list if they have one.

What is the caliber of podcast guests on the show?

Are the podcast guests people you’ve heard of in your industry? Are the guests knowledgeable and insightful or do they just seem like friends of the show host? The latter isn’t always bad as some people have built up an incredible network in their industry.

Step 2: How to be a great podcast guest: Prepare your podcast media kit, one sheet, bio, and interview topics

All of the work in step 1 will now help you create the necessary items to pitch your podcasts (in Step 3).

Your goal in this portion will be to create a one-pager that includes a professional headshot, a short bio, a longer bio, and up to 10 interview topics. Those topics will be gold as they will help target future podcasts and they’ll go along way in helping the podcast interviewer prepare for your show.

The easiest way to start your media kit is with a Google Doc or a Word doc. You can send it later to a designer or use a template on Canva (media kit templates).

Photos: Use a recent high-quality headshot and include the original file–you don’t want to take a screenshot of your LinkedIn profile pic as the resulting pic will lose quality when resized.

Short bio: Create a bio of yourself that’s no more than 5 sentences long. This one will be used in show notes and possible introductions.

Longer bio: This is for the show’s producer and host to read–they might post it if there’s room on a landing page for the podcast but this will give background information and shed light on possible interview topics.

One Sheet: Does your media kit need to be exactly one page? No, but you can make the first page the summary page and elaborate with later pages–you’ll get the dual bonus of a one sheet and comprehensive media kit.

Podcast Interview topics and angles: Come up with up to 10 topics you can discuss on your show. Here is a list of questions that can help you. Give each topic a headline and a short description. Each question below may generate multiple topics.

What are you passionate about?

Why is the problem you are trying to solve so important?

How do you solve that problem in a unique way that few others can claim? Why might other methods fall short?

What research backs you up? Have you found out anything intriguing or surprising?

What misconceptions do people tend to have about your problem, industry, or approach? Is there anything controversial about what you do?

Where do you “plant your flag” on particular issues? Are you outspoken when it comes to an issue (but you know you’re right)? Do you hold a contrarian viewpoint on your issue?

If listeners adopted your solution, how would their lives be better?

Does your issue or problem significantly affect a particular group of people? How?

Contact details: Give out the details that work best for you. If you don’t want to post personally identifying information on the internet, you can leave off those details and supply them when necessary. But a standard email address and social media handles are expected at minimum.

Where to store: You can create a page with your kit on your website and also save it as a pdf (have that downloadable on your website, too).

One Sheet Examples:

Here’s a set from Tom Ferry Real Estate (many included) and another from a pro speaker, David Villa

Step 3: How to get guest podcast interviews: Create a great pitch and track your show progress

Pitching podcasts is similar to the method I outlined in my op-ed series: Hook, Teach, Ask.

You can use the same method but modified for the podcast you want to pitch. Before you pitch a podcast, listen to a few of its shows to get a feeling for the podcast and to cite what you heard. Plus, leave a review as it’s good karma and show hosts notice it.

Here is how to structure your pitch–keep each section to around 1-3 sentences–you can always provide more information when requested.

Hook: Explain what interested you in this show and remark on something interesting you heard on the episode you listened to

Teach: Explain who you are and what you can teach the podcast host’s audience–how will the podcast’s audience be better off after listening?

Ask: Ask to be a guest on the show; include relevant social media and email list numbers. If you don’t have many followers, use the highest number or demonstrate that your list has a high engagement rate (small but mighty). Include a link to your media kit or offer to send it over–people are wary of attachments so a link to your website’s page with your kit on it will work better.

Let’s go back to the two examples from earlier:

Sailing Author: I loved the show on episode #56 discussing young people and their financial habits. I am an amateur sailor turned author and I want to tell you my story of almost going broke in my first year of sailing–“What’s another name for a boat? A hole in the water where you put money.”

Any listener with an amateur hobby would benefit from hearing this story as hobbies beyond sailing can get expensive–poker, online video games, to name a few.

Can I come onto your show as a guest and share my story? I can help promote afterwards as I have 5,000 email subscribers and around 2,000 followers on Twitter. Not a huge amount but they are quite engaged whenever I put on content. If you want to know more about me, you can find my media kit here: authorwebsite.com/media-kit

Career Coach: Your show on workplace burnout and mental health struck a chord with me. I’m a career coach and I see the same thing with many of my clients–except they get burnt out from the job search. A recent study from Big Name University showed that the number one reason people give up on their job search is due to feeling hopeless after so many weeks of rejection, these feelings can lead to depression and anxiety.

I want to share my tips that I have to prevent this burnout from happening in the first place. I have been a career coach for over 20 years and before that I worked as a recruiter. My coaching is geared towards people over 40 but the tips work for anyone who is out of a job and that feeling of burnout is creeping up on them.

Could I come onto your show to share my story and advice?

You can find out more about me at: careercoachwebsite.com/media-kit

Schedule for pitching:

Pitching is a numbers game

Track your Progress:

You will want to set up a tracking sheet to handle all of the pitches you send (and to make sure you don’t send the same one twice!). A spreadsheet works as does the really cool tool: Notion.so

You’ll want to track:

Name of the podcast
Contact name at the show
Date Pitched
Whether the pitch was accepted
Dates and Times for: pre-interview prep, the actual interview, the date the podcast goes live
Social media handles for the podcast to tag once you promote the episode
Any notes

What if I’m rejected?

It’s not you, it’s them–truly. You might not be a good fit or they just recently had someone on that covered the same topic.

If that’s the case, ask if the podcast can recommend you to anyone else they know–also ask this once you’ve completed the recording if you’re accepted. Warm intros are the best way to get onto a podcast.

Step 4: Podcast Interviews: Be a Great Podcast Guest by Interviewing Well

Here is a list of tips to make your interview go well:

  1. Expect video–it’s now standard for many podcasts. Ensure that you have a room with natural light, a good microphone, and a good camera. If you use your phone, you can get a 3.5mm lav mic or a headset that plugs in.
  2. Prepare for questions ahead of time–listen to an episode or two of the podcast to get a feel for how the interviews go–sketch out some questions and answers that are likely based on what you heard in the episode
  3. Keep your normal routine–standard advice for people going on job interviews and public speaking appearances but keep everything as normal as possible. If you drink coffee, go ahead and have your standard amount–no need to be extra jittery or to go through caffeine withdrawals on the show.
  4. Find a quiet place: Yes, people have used closets, garages, and cars, to record their interviews if their home environment is too noisy. Put up a “do not disturb” sign on your door and tell people in advance that you have an important interview. Do a test with your equipment ahead of time as microphones can pick up low level hums from ACs and heaters very easily.
  5. Show up on time: Be mindful of time zones and show up about 10 minutes before the interview starts–your host may ask for longer but luckily most episodes aren’t played live.
  6. Have the show’s contact information handy: Something might happen where your internet goes out or there’s a technical issue. In addition to email, make sure you have a phone number and social media handles (the latter for DMs).
  7. Talk slower than you’re used to: People tend to talk fast on interviews, so slow down a bit to explain everything. Not too slow that you sound boring but stay mindful of your speaking rate.
  8. Deep breathing and meditation can help relax you: Try breathing in for a count of 3, holding it, then exhaling for a count of 3. Go up 1 each time. Try a meditation app on your phone or do your regular practice.
  9. It’s OK to restart: If you get tripped up on an answer, restart it. The host can edit it out later.
  10. Keep your answers brief: The host will help you out but you don’t need to do page long answers. Instead, give an answer and allow the host to prompt you for the next portion.
  11. Practice! You can anticipate most of the regular questions and practice your answers. Use a timer if you feel that you are going on for too long–practice pausing to allow the host opportunities to jump in. Get someone to practice with you over the internet (like a friend or family member) or someone in your house.

Step 5: Tell people about your show through content marketing, social, and warm relationships, after your show:

Once you’ve recorded your show and it’s gone live–thank your host!

The best way to do that is by sharing and re-sharing your episode across your social media channels and email list. Many episodes are evergreen, so set up a schedule to continually reshare.

What else you can do with your podcast episode: Content Marketing and Social

Make a transcript of the audio recording (rev.com is awesome) and…

  1. Turn it into a blog post–highlight what was said and then link to it
  2. Turn it into a Twitter convo where you put portions of the interview into cascading tweets
  3. Turn key quotes into an audiogram (quote+pic+recording)
  4. Use the audio in videos or online courses
  5. Turn the research from the podcast into an infographic (or the steps you took to do something)

Of course, after you’re done with the interview and it’s gone live, you can ask the host if they know anyone else who would love to have you on their show. Podcast hosts seem to know other podcast hosts and warm introductions are always welcomed.

Conclusion: How to be a great podcast guest:

To recap, the podcast pitching process is:

  1. Research your topic and podcast list for best fit
  2. Prepare your podcast media kit, bio, and interview topics
  3. Pitch podcasts and tracking your progress
  4. Interview well to be a great podcast guest
  5. Tell people about your show through content marketing, social, and relationships after appearing on the podcast

I hope that this guide puts on you on the right path to amplifying your voice and message.

If you need help with getting a referral to a booking agency or want me to help you as an independent booker, you can contact me.

Photo by Leo Wieling on Unsplash

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