No matter the platform of your show, there may come a time when you desperately desire to interview or include fantastic guests. That’s easier said than done. There are a lot of challenges you need to first overcome before you are able to land top-notch podcast guests. These include
Defining Your Show
Before you can go ahead and get guests, you need to know what it is your show is about. If you haven’t done this yet, it’s time for you to reevaluate. There’s a great book out there I would recommend. It’s called Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling, by Eric Nuzum. Eric helps you dial in on what your show is about, focusing on defining a show that people want to listen to. This is the first biggest hurtle to overcome before you can get guests because in order to sell guests on your show, you need to tell them what it is all about.
Defining Your Podcast Guests
It doesn’t end there. Once you have clearly defined your show, know what it is about, its purpose and its audience, you are now ready to figure out the right kind of guests for the show. How you do this is up to you — there’s no right or wrong answer. You can create a master strategy outlining every show for the next two years and every type of guest you want. Or you can make your way through the darkness like a car with high beams on in the fog — just taking it one show at a time. Either way, you need to know what kind of guest is the right fit for your show. What are you looking for? Are you looking for a dinosaur expert? A friend to just chat with? A social media influencer to champion your cause?
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. But once you’ve figured out the kind of guest, you still have to go about actually getting that guest. And the hard thing is there’s no law or rule out there that says the people you ask to be on your podcast have to say yes. Expect an attrition rate to your guest’s acceptance — rejection is a healthy slice of pie to take.
Avoiding the Bland Podcast Guest
Nuzum also talks about avoiding the bland, regular, run-of-the-mill podcast guest. And that type of guest is not necessarily what you think. The best guest to avoid is the guest who is everywhere. He or she talks on every single podcast, is eager to always speak on any platform. He or she is the ultimate expert, the high-status internet celebrity that everybody wants on their show in order to validate them. Nuzum gives the example of Richard Branson as the ultimately boring, bland, and safe podcast guest. So don’t have Branson on your podcast.
I totally agree with Nuzum’s point here. Don’t be in the game of looking for the highest profile people all the time because you feel like somehow having them on your show will validate you as a maker. It won’t. In fact, what will validate you and your show and make you stand out is instead staying true to your authentic self. It’s staying true to the vision of your show, and giving your viewers something new and exciting, someone, a story, a character, that they can relate to — someone they haven’t heard before.
Ultimately, your show is a story — running over the span of many episodes or several seasons. Your podcast guests are characters in that story. Don’t make them bland. Make them exciting.
Show Time — Reaching Out
Now is the hard part. Actually landing the podcast guest. There’s no sure-fire way to do this. Especially not for podcasts that are just starting out. But the cool thing is, a lot of people are just as excited as you are to get their message out there, and reach new audiences. Ultimately, you are offering your guests something of equal value — sharing your audience with theirs. So don’t be shy to reach out. Let people know that you are a fan of theirs. Also, let them know that you will promote their work not only your show, but via social media, as well. We’re all makers, and we’re all in this together.
I find that some of the best people to reach out to are not the people who are ALWAYS on podcasts, but who show obvious passion for the work they do, as well as for sharing it with others. These are my absolute favorite people to interview and have on my show, and they’ve helped make the first 8 episodes (and counting) of my new podcast a sheer joy to create and listen back on.
These kinds of guests are total gems, but that also means finding them is not easy to do. You can’t find these kinds of folks on directory sites. There’s no social network for them. They’re just hardworking, passionate people doing the things that anyone like us does. Sharing work on social media, writing blog posts, working day jobs. How you find them will be up to you, but once you find them, it will totally be worth the effort.
And That’s About It
I’ve found some amazing guests implementing these strategies, and for an interview/conversation podcast, your show is only as good as the amazing guests/characters you introduce to your audience. If you are eager to start podcasting but feel like you don’t know where to start, why not join our Facebook Group? Podcast Meets Guest is all about introducing makers with guests who fit the bill for their show.
Originally published at https://www.josephwriteranderson.com on March 15, 2020.