The Ultimate Guide for How to Be a Great Podcast Guest
Anyone can make themselves a great podcast guest.
Being a great podcast guest isn’t really much different than being a great person to have a conversation with. I guarantee that you are an expert in some topic. Maybe that’s related to your career, or a hobby, or your lifestyle. But, you know more about at least one subject than a lot of people. That makes you an expert! So, bring your expertise to podcasting!!
Why should you be a podcast guest?
Exposure to a new audience
There are over 500,000,000 blogs, but the number of podcasts just barely hit 1,000,000 in the last year. Podcast usage has increased dramatically in the last five years. Now, over 50% of people report listening to podcasts. 10 years ago, that number was under 30%. So, being a podcast guest has huge potential to get you exposure to a new and growing audience.
Very few podcasts charge guests for coming on as a guest. Think of it like being interviewed on the evening news. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. You’re offering your expertise to the podcast host to inform or entertain their audience. They’re offering you the opportunity to promote yourself and your business for free.
It positions you as a thought leader
What’s the difference between you and someone who wrote a book on a subject you know a lot about? They wrote the book! That gives them credibility as an authority. Similarly, podcast guests are naturally positioned as authorities on the subjects about which they speak. It doesn’t matter if you know only 20% more than the majority of your audience. You still know more!
If you get to be a podcast guest on a recognized or known podcast (even in a small niche), you can mention that on your website or in your promotional materials. Create an “as featured on” section of your website to show people where you’ve been on podcasts. That social proof enhances your authority and makes people more likely to trust you.
Podcasters know a lot of people, especially people who you may perceive as an authority. Getting to know podcasters can lead to other connections, either to other podcasters or additional business opportunities. I’ve gotten to know people in industries I never would have imagined just by being on podcasts.
Enhances SEO on your own site
If you have a website (main business or side hustle), it helps your site to have more backlinks. When you’re on a podcast, podcasters typically link to you in their show notes. The more sites that link back to your site, the higher your site will rank in search engines. That increases the organic traffic that comes to your site.
10 tips for selecting the right podcast
Reach out to podcasts you already listen to
If you’re thinking about being a podcast guest, you probably already have podcasts that you listen to. Start there! Start with podcasts that are smaller or have a more focused niche. You may get rejected from larger or more widely popular podcasts until you position yourself as an authority.
Most podcasts have a website, so start looking there. Many podcast websites have pages that are already available for you to suggest yourself as a podcast guest. Start with those. You may get rejected, and that’s ok! Keep trying! Just get on one podcast, and then you can tell other podcasters that you got on that one. Each time you’re a podcast guest, it enhances your credibility.
Go to Apple Podcasts and look in the section related to your niche
Apple Podcasts has a directory with all of their podcasts organized by subject. Go there and click on the subject you’re interested in being a podcast guest for. Start looking through the podcasts in that section and you’ll find a treasure trove of options.
Once you see if that podcast fits what you’re looking for, go to their website and contact them. If they don’t have a podcast guest form, send them a message through their “contact us” page. If they don’t have that, you may be able to find a valid email address using a free email finding tool like Hunter.
Determine if the podcast fits your niche or an audience you’d like to reach
If you’re doing financial coaching as a side hustle, you probably won’t get value from being on a podcast about cooking. Being a podcast guest only helps you if you can reach the right listeners. Make sure you research the podcast and determine if it’s aligned with your mission.
Does their podcast align with your values?
Not all podcasts in your niche will be the right fit for you. Some podcasts get very political and may endorse views you don’t support. Others may encourage practices that you disagree with. If you’re a podcast guest for them, people will naturally assume that you agree with the values of the podcast. Don’t compromise your values for a little free promotion.
Determine if their podcast has any audience
When you’re new to the podcasting game, beggars can’t be choosers. Any podcast that will let you be a guest is worth considering, as long as your values align. If you have limited time to devote to being a podcast guest, you want to maximize your impact. The bigger the potential audience, the greater the impact.
Personally, I’m not too discriminating when it comes to this, and I think that’s the case for most people who go on podcasts. If someone’s willing to give you a platform, you should be excited! Also, most podcasters like to work with “newbies” because they remember when they were first starting out and people gave them their first breaks.
That said, if you’re looking to maximize your impact, there are a couple of ways to do that.
- Use a tool like SEMRush or ahrefs to look up the traffic on their website. Highly engaged websites are more likely to have an engaged audience.
- Look at the number of reviews on Apple Podcasts. The more reviews a site has, the more engaged the audience, and the larger it tends to be.
- Use what you know! You are probably already aware of major podcasts in your niche. Start there!
Will the podcast allow you to promote yourself?
You may not be able to determine this beforehand. Some podcasts will have explicit language against self-promotion on their site, and I would avoid those when you’re getting started. Don’t waste your time if there’s nothing in it for you.
Don’t go overboard with this, though. I’ve had experiences where people sent requests to be on my podcast and sent a list of demands for the number of times they would be promoted and on which platforms. That’s really tacky and makes a podcaster likely to reject you outright.
Respect the podcaster and show gratitude for being offered a chance to be on their podcast. But, you should still stand up for yourself. Start by telling the host how excited you are to promote the podcast on your website and social media channels and your specific plan for promotion. Usually, they’ll immediately tell you how they intend to promote it as well.
Send a personalized email
Don’t ever send a “form letter” to a podcast host. We can tell when a suggested guest has no idea what our podcast is about. Give the host the respect of having done some research on their podcast. You can reference prior podcast guests and discuss how you’re a natural fit based on the topics they typically discuss.
Send suggested topics to the host
Podcast hosts spend a LOT of time preparing for an interview, editing the podcast, and promoting it. If you can save them some time, you provide tremendous value! You’ll also stand out because almost no one does this.
Take some of the work off their plate by writing some suggested topics. You could even go so far as to write an entire interview outline. Be careful how you present this, as it runs the risk of being presumptuous. However, if you present your ideas with grace, you’ll find podcasters really appreciate that you’re putting serious work into the interview.
Suggest yourself to a variety of podcasters
Don’t just reach out to one podcaster and call it quits. I would recommend sending at least 10 podcast requests in your first month of being a podcast guest. You should even go for the “A-listers”. You’ll be surprised how many say yes.
Cast a wide net and you’re more likely to land a good gig.
Pro podcast guest tip: put together a “one sheet”
This is an advanced technique, and almost no one does it. So, it’s a great way to stand out from among the other podcast guests that are vying for your host’s attention.
A “one sheet” is a single page pdf with your headshot, topics you are an expert on, examples of other podcasts/media where you’ve been featured, your plans to promote the podcast (with stats), and testimonials.
You won’t be able to include all of these when you’re first starting out, but you can build it up as you appear on more podcasts.
10 technical aspects of being a podcast guest
When you don’t use headphones, the audio recording software can get confused and your audio may sound garbled. Also, it tends to create a bad echo that’s very hard to edit out. Wired headphones are generally best because they won’t have a time delay the way a Bluetooth device may.
If you want to buy some really high quality Bluetooth headphones like these Bose noise cancelling ones, that’s fine too, but you’re probably just as well off with a pair of headphones you already own. (Although, I do love these Bose headphones. They’re amazing!)
Strong Wi-Fi or wired connection
Nothing is more frustrating than dropping the interview partway through due to a lost connection. Make sure you’re in a place with a great internet connection. Any of these options will work ok.
- Wired connection. If you can plug an ethernet cable into the computer you’re using, that’ll give you the most stable connection.
- Wi-Fi connection. This is ok too, but make sure you have a strong connection. Streaming audio (and especially video) takes a lot of data.
- Personal hotspot on your phone. As long as you have decent cell phone reception, this works well too. Long interviews will quickly use up the personal hotspot allowance, so watch out for that. Buying more data can get really expensive.
Good microphone with pop filter
If you’re going to do a lot of podcasting, it’s definitely worth investing in a decent microphone. This is the one I use: Audiotechnica ATR2100. It’s about $100, definitely a good investment.
It’s more important that the podcast host have great audio, but you’ll sound a lot more professional if you have high quality audio on your end too. The ATR2100 plugs directly into your USB port. No mixer or complicated XLR cables to worry about. If you decide to host your own podcast and you want a $600 microphone, that’s fine, but this one is perfect for someone just starting out.
The wind screen or “pop filter” is what dampens your “P” and “T” sounds so you don’t sound like you’re spitting into the microphone.
Advanced audio equipment: shock mount, boom arm
For little extra investment, you can get a boom arm and a shock mount. These are not critically necessary, but they really boost the quality of your audio and are worth the investment if you plan to do a lot of podcasting.
- Boom arm: This apparatus suspends the microphone in the air so that it’s close to your face and you don’t have to bend down in order to be close to it.
- Shock mount: This prevents the microphone from transmitting vibrations from the desk or table you’re sitting at.
A quiet room with no echo
Echos sound horrible on the podcast audio. If you’re in a room with a tile floor, high ceilings, and no headphones, it’ll sound really bad. If you’re in a small, carpeted room, you’re probably fine if you have a good microphone.
A clothes closet is the best place for audio because there’s essentially zero echo. You can get really fancy and buy custom wall sound dampening panels from a company like Audimute. A cheaper option is to just put blankets and towels on the floor and around your recording station to dampen the audio.
Turn off your cell phone, pager, landline phone, and mute your home security system.
Those beeps and boops are like nails on a chalkboard in someone’s ears. Even vibrate mode will sound loud. Eliminate the extraneous sounds.
Kids and pets need to be quiet
As much as I love kids and pets, I don’t want to hear them in the background of a podcast interview. Find a quiet place where you can be alone without distractions. Podcasters understand the occasional interruption, but it’s really disruptive, especially if you’re recording video. Ask your family and furry friends to give you an interruption-free period to do the interview.
Don’t click the mouse or smack your lips or thump the desk
Believe it or not, those sounds are very loud on the other end of the microphone. When I first started editing my podcast, I was amazed how many little thumps and clicks I could hear, including from my own side. Those can usually be edited, but not always if it’s while you’re speaking. Be aware of the sounds that you are making like typing, clicking a mouse, rolling in a chair, cracking your knuckles, etc.
Use a good webcam
Most computers have a decent webcam, but if you want to be on the higher end shows, then you may want to buy an external webcam. Personally, I don’t typically record video for my podcast, but some people do. Nothing looks worse than a grainy, low-quality image. If you have an old computer and an old webcam, consider an inexpensive upgrade.
Get familiar with Zoom, Skype, and Squadcast
These three platforms are common programs people use to record their podcasts. I personally use Squadcast, and I think it’s the best platform. It really makes it a lot easier during the editing phase. Also, I think their green room experience is superior.
It’s a good idea to become familiar with the different platforms so you’re not fumbling around trying to figure out how to switch your audio output to your microphone while your host is waiting on you to be ready. These platforms all have free trials or free versions of their programs. Get the free trials, register your account, and do some practice calls with your friends or spouse.
7 tips to prepare for your podcast interview
Try to get the questions beforehand and prepare
The more prepared you are for the interview, the smoother it will be. You want to project confidence, authority, and knowledge. You can ask your host for the questions ahead of time. They may not want to give you all the questions. Some hosts prefer spontaneity and don’t like to script things out. However, they should at least be able to give you a general idea of the topics to discuss.
As mentioned before, you can send your host a list of questions or topics to discuss. If they agree, then you have the opportunity to direct the interview a bit.
Familiarize yourself with the host’s work
Read the hosts’s website to familiarize yourself with the kinds of topics they like to cover. You should also listen to at least 2 prior podcast episodes to get an idea of their usual topics or common questions. Some hosts have a specific question they like to ask every guest, and you should prepare for that.
It’s also good to reference prior episodes of the podcast or prior guests. That shows your familiarity with the site. You’ll also know what topics have been covered previously so you can cover new material or put a fresh spin on old material.
Make sure you know if it’ll be just audio or audio plus video
Some podcasts like to record video as well as audio. If that’s the case, take the time to pick a good place to record video. Put yourself in front of a blank background or a nice textured surface. It should be pleasant to look at and not too distracting. Remove any stray papers, and make it look professional. Also, make sure there’s not a glare from windows or overhead lights.
Pro tip: get a microphone flag and print your logo and website on it. Then, mount that flag to the microphone so it’s visible in the video recording. That way, it’ll be recorded during the entire episode. It’s free promotion!
Find out if you’re recording on Squadcast, Zoom, Skype, or another platform. Test the software to make sure it works and that your account is properly registered. Do a test run with a friend or family member. Be aware of certain idiosyncrasies of the different platforms. For example, Squadcast only works on certain internet browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox (not Safari).
Maintain a folder in your computer for your podcasting materials
Typically, your podcast host will want to create some kind of landing page on their website to host your interview. Here are some things they’ll commonly ask for. You should keep these easily accessible in a folder in your computer for you to send on request.
- Headshot: A professional headshot is really important. You can actually achieve this with even a high quality smartphone and some decent lighting. However, if you plan on doing a lot of podcasting or writing guest articles, consider investing in a professional photo session.
- Bio: This will typically be a short paragraph to introduce you to listeners/readers. This should be written in third person and no more than 4-5 sentences. Imagine this will be read out loud at the beginning of the podcast interview. What things do you want to highlight about yourself and your business? Why should people want to listen to you? More importantly, what value do you intend to provide the listeners?
- Links: Podcast hosts will typically offer a way for listeners to connect to you. Keep a Word document with any links you might want to promote including your primary website, social media pages/handles, and any other products/services you specifically want to promote.
Read reviews of the podcast to see what people like and don’t like
If there’s something that reviewers comment routinely as being disliked, try to avoid those. Conversely, try to engage in ways that the podcast listeners say they like. You can also ask your host if they have any advice along these lines.
Prepare your “story library”
Listeners don’t remember stats, they remember stories!! You probably have a half dozen or so great stories that you enjoy telling. Write those down on Word documents and save them in your podcast folder. At the top of each Word document, write down 5 ways that those stories could connect to potential topics of conversation.
You can tell fun stories that are memorable and then tie them into a lesson or call-to-action you want to drive home to your listeners. That’s the best way to have your listeners actually remember what you told them.
Don’t be on time, be early!
Double check the date and time of your podcast interview and make sure you put it in your calendar. Set up all of your podcasting equipment the morning of the interview. You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for all of your stuff 10 minutes before the interview and run the risk of not being able to find everything.
Set an alarm or reminder to alert you 15-20 minutes ahead of the interview time. When the alert hits you, get your equipment set up, check to make sure that your audio levels are good, and check that your audio input and output are correct.
Sign into the online chat about 10 minutes ahead of time, but only once your equipment is connected. Show your host that you’re excited for the interview by being early. This also gives you time to troubleshoot any technical issues. Also, many hosts run several podcast interviews back to back, so you may have a very limited window before your host has to leave. You want to make sure you have the opportunity to record for as much time as possible.
11 tips for nailing the interview
Be the guide, not the hero
If you want listeners to tune in and pay attention, you can’t be the hero of the story. Your listener is the hero, and you are helping them on their quest to achieve something. You’re not Luke Skywalker, you’re Yoda.
The hero is the weak character in the story, whereas the guide is always the strong one. Position yourself as the guide in your listener’s story. If you position yourself as the hero, they’ll instinctively think of you as a competitor, not a helper.
For more on this concept, I recommend reading Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller. Here’s the review I wrote for the book. It’s definitely worth a read.
3 things you should do in every interview
- Encourage your listeners: If you’re just going for pure entertainment during the podcast, this isn’t as critical. In most educational or self-help podcasts, you want to find ways to encourage your audience. What’s their pain point? Figure out what they are struggling with. Give them hope that they can achieve their objectives.
- Give a plan: Offer your audience a plan to achieve a desired objective. If it’s a weight loss goal, give them a three step plan to do it. People need a plan to follow.
- Give a call to action: This is different than the plan. The plan is the “HOW.” The call to action is the “WHY.” Give them the motivation they need and give them an action step to take to get started on the plan.
Remember, only 5% of people remember statistics. >60% of people will remember stories. That’s how they form their impression of you and it’s how they commit to memory the things you want them to learn.
Stick to your areas of expertise. Don’t wing it.
Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” The last thing you want to do is pretend to be an expert on something and say something that is incorrect or inaccurate. You know a lot about your subject, but you need to have the self-awareness to admit when you don’t know. In that situation, make a suggestion of where the audience can find the answer, such as another expert in the field or a trusted resource.
You don’t have to prove that you belong on the podcast. The host already thinks you belong! So, get excited and speak boldly. You know your stuff! Just be yourself and be confident!
This is as important for audio-only podcasts as for video podcasts. Smiling changes the tenor of your voice and people can hear the difference. This should be enjoyable! Project that excitement to your audience. Don’t fake it. This should be real! It IS exciting! Just remember to smile!
Podcasting is so much fun! If you’ve never done one yet, you’re missing out. It’s a ton of fun. You get to meet such interesting people being on podcasts. This is a great opportunity for you to grow your authority and your influence, but it should also be enjoyable. Prepare well, be confident, and just relax. Have a great time!
Once you’ve answered the question, stop talking. Don’t just keep talking to fill the silence. Dead air can be edited later. Let the interviewer worry about that.
It’s ok to ask for a do-over.
If you mess up, that can usually be edited out. You shouldn’t feel the need to do this unless you just completely lose your train of thought or completely give a wrong answer. If you feel like you really need to re-answer the question, just politely ask your host if you can start again. The more prepared you are for the interview, the less likely you’ll have this happen.
Reference prior episodes or guests
This really shows the listeners that you care about them. It demonstrates that you cared enough to do some research and make yourself a more relatable guest. That will make people more likely to pay attention. It’ll position you in their minds as an authority. Your host will notice as well. They’ll appreciate it and will be more likely to ask you back.
It’s ok to take notes during the interview.
Have a small notepad and a pen handy so you can jot notes as you talk if you need to. This can be handy if you think of some point you want to emphasize later in the interview or make note of a story you think would be particularly relevant to share.
Don’t do notes on your phone or computer. It’s too loud. Just discretely jot a note down on the pad right in front of you. Try not to break eye contact for too long. Show the audience you’re still paying attention and tuned in to the interview.
8 tips for promoting the podcast
Find out when the podcast is going live
Promotions are most effective when they are done in a coordinated effort. The more engagement a post or episode gets over a short period of time, the higher the rankings. You’ll be most effective in your promotion strategy if you time it with the release of the post or podcast episode.
Most podcast hosts keep their show notes on their website and they can send you the link. Sometimes they’ll have show notes through their podcast hosting site like Buzzsprout (which is what I use and recommend). Make sure you get their link so you can promote it.
Schedule social media posts to post when the episode goes live.
You can schedule social media posts either on individual platforms or using a scheduling service like Edgar. Your host will appreciate a quick note telling them how excited you are to promote them and how you specifically plan to do so. Tag the host in your social media posts. Do several runs on social media during the week or two following the podcast episode airing.
Link to the episode on your blog/website
This is actually a win-win. You get the benefit of your readers knowing that you were featured on a podcast. That offers social proof of you as an authority and enhances your credibility with your audience. It also increases your host’s SEO rankings if you link to their site. When you do this, the host is likely to reciprocate. Win-win!!
Thank the host
Make sure to thank your host for inviting you to be a podcast guest and tell them how you’re promoting it. If you offer them more value, they’re more likely to ask you back on eventually. A written thank you note would make you stand out, but it’s not necessarily expected. A personal email or a video message to say thank you would be well received.
Offer a free resource to the podcaster’s audience
This is much more likely to land you some goodwill with the listeners and an opportunity to obtain new email subscribers for your site. Offer some free resource related to the topic you discussed that people can download off your site. Obviously, this is an example of how it helps to know the topic ahead of time.
Create a landing page and “pretty link” for the resource. Use the WordPress plugin “Pretty Links” which allows you to take insanely long (and hard-to-remember) web addresses and simplify them.
Recommend guests to the host
If you know of any good guests that you can recommend to the host, pass on those recommendations after your interview. This can be done in person after the interview or in a follow-up email. You’ll gain a lot of goodwill with the people you recommend. Your host will also massively appreciate you going the extra mile to find them good guests.
A note of caution: don’t just do this to curry favors. Make sure that your recommendations are actually likely to be good guests who provide a lot of value. A bad recommendation may sour your relationship with the podcast host.
Recommend the host to other podcasters
Podcasters love to find ways to promote their material. By suggesting the host as a podcast guest to other podcasters, you can really build serious goodwill with the podcaster. That will make them more likely to go the extra mile to help you in your own endeavors.
Ask for referrals to other podcasts
You can do this tactfully, but it’s definitely a reasonable request. Podcasters tend to know each other. Chances are, they are eager to build their own goodwill by recommending good podcast guests to their fellow podcasters. If you did a great job, feel free to ask for referrals. They may not make a referral regardless, but they definitely won’t if you don’t ask.
Like I said, podcasting is so much fun! I really enjoy the fantastic conversations I get to have with people on a regular basis. If you’ve never done it before, don’t go buy a bunch of fancy equipment and plan a crazy big strategy. Just reach out to 5-10 podcast hosts in your niche and offer yourself as a guest.
If you get a few under your belt and you really enjoy it, get a good microphone and step up your game! This is a great way to build your authority and make some phenomenal connections. You’ll find this is a great way to significantly grow your readership or your business.
Please comment and tell us your tips for being a great podcast guest!
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