Finding interesting and engaging guests is one of the hardest parts of running a podcast. If you're new it's tough to know where to start, and if you're an established podcast the challenge is consistently finding guests with fresh perspectives.
While it isn't easy, booking well known guests is one of the best ways to improve and grow your podcast. In this article you'll learn 10 proven strategies to help you find, contact, and book, influential guests for your podcast.
- Invite guests with recent or upcoming publications
- Cross-promote with other content creators
- Meet potential guests in real life
- Connect with guests in online communities
- Reach out via email or social media
- Ask your guests for referrals
- Allow guests to request to be on your show
- Use a matchmaking service
- Ask your audience for guest ideas
- Connect with offline experts
1. Invite guests with recent or upcoming publications
When an author releases a new book, or a band puts out a new album, their publicists will try to land them interviews to get their new project as much publicity as possible. These are typically with newspapers, tv shows, or radio stations, but more are looking to podcasts to spread the word.
You can see how podcasts like Freakonomics and Song Exploder use this strategy by skimming through their archives. Nearly all of their guests recently launched a new project and this provides something great to talk about.
If you don’t have publicists pitching you guests, you can reach out to people who just published a new book or album and ask them to be on your show. Chances are they are interested in the publicity and have already set aside time to promote their new book or album.
One of the best places to start is Amazon.
On Amazon you can head to Books and filter by Coming Soon and by your podcast’s category. In this example, I’m filtering by travel in an attempt to spot some authors who might come on my fictional travel podcast. Once you’ve found a handful of authors you’d be interested in interviewing you can start emailing them to see if they’d be interested in your podcast.
The best part about this tactic is that there is a clear benefit to the person you're interviewing—they get in front of your audience to talk about they just released. While you, and your podcast listeners, get access to an expert in your field who is excited to be interviewed.
2. Cross-promote with other content creators
If there are already a handful of podcasts in your niche, there are probably lots of other people creating similar types of content on other platforms. You can create valuable partnerships with the host of YouTube channels or popular blogs.
Let’s say you partner with a popular blogger who writes about European travel—the same topic as your podcast. By inviting her onto your podcast you’ll be gaining access to their blog readers who would probably love your podcast, while they will get access to your podcast listeners.
The best way to find popular blogs in your space is with a standard Google search. Start as specific as possible, and then broaden as necessary. From there you can read some of their posts and invite them onto your podcast.
Once you’ve found a few blogs, you should head over to the second largest search-engine, YouTube. Search for your specific niche, then filter by Channel and relevance. Using my European Travel podcast idea, there are a handful of promising prospects right at the top.
3. Meet potential guests in real life
Two of the themes throughout this list are to (1) provide real value to your guests, and (2) make a genuine connection with them. The best way to do this is to meet people in person—you can connect with them and better understand how you can provide real value to them before you make your pitch.
If you’re already plugged in with lots of the influencers in your space, then it will be easy for you to find ways to work together. But if you have a new podcast, or haven’t connected with many people yet, there are at least two ways you can start connecting with potential guests in real life: conferences and meetups.
Conferences provide a lot of value because they bring people together who share a lot of the same goals and interests. You’ll have the chance to meet tons of other content creators and leaders in your space. Start by searching Google for “[your podcast topic] conference.”
There are lots of new podcasts on meditation and mindfulness, so in this example I’m searching for conferences to attend if I had a mindfulness podcast. Looks like a ton of great leads.
If you don’t have the time or money to travel for a conference, consider searching for local Meetups in your area. The best place to start is at Meetup.com where you can find something related to your podcast.
Be sure to take business cards with your podcast name on them to share at the Meetup. Just be sure to talk to people before you give them your business card. Nobody likes being given a card before they’ve even shook your hand. If you meet somebody that would be a great interview, invite them onto your podcast.
4. Connect with guests in online communities
Another way to find great guests is in online communities. These are both great sources for potential guests and new listeners. Two places to start are Facebook groups and Reddit.
You can find great Facebook groups by heading to Facebook search, and then filtering by Groups. This will allow you to search a variety of search terms to find a group that matches your interest.
In this example, I’m trying to find a good Facebook Group for a Jacksonville Jaguars podcast. There are quite a few active groups that each have thousands of members. These will be great places to meet potential guests and promote your podcast.
Reddit is one of the best places for online communities on the web. You can find groups dedicated to every sports team, hobby, and even a great community of podcasters.
Reddit doesn’t have the best search capability, so start by searching in Google for “[your topic] reddit sub.” You should find at least a few great communities discussing your topic.
Start by signing up for a free account and joining the conversation before you start promoting your podcast. Reddit communities are notoriously skeptical of people just using the message boards to push their own product or services.
Once you’ve been on the board for a while, start by asking if any of the frequent posters would like to join your podcast. They can talk about something they are really interested in, while you get a really knowledgeable guest.
After you publish your episode, post a link on the subreddit you joined and thank the user who was a guest on your show.
5. Reach out via email or social media
Once you’ve built a list of potential guests you found via conferences, message boards, and Amazon, it’s time to start contacting them. The best thing to do is start a spreadsheet with their name, email address, social media profiles, and where you found them.
Finding and Sending an Email
If you don’t already know their email, use this great post from Moz on how to find anybodies email address. Once you’ve built your spreadsheet, you need to start drafting emails asking them to be a guest on your podcast.
How to best ask for a podcast interview via email is a huge topic deserving of it’s own post. Podcast Motor has some tips on how to ask a guest for an interview, and this Medium post outlines how to get a busy person to respond to your email.
Tips to writing a good pitch:
- Communicate the value to the person you’re emailing,
- make a specific request,
- keep your email short, and
- don’t be afraid of rejection.
If you can’t find an email address for your potential guest, then you can always ask them via social media. This can be hard if they are out of your network, and just sending template tweets and Facebook messages comes across as spammy.
The best thing to do is to follow them for a while, read the posts they are sharing, and then ask them in a comment or response to something they wrote or created. If they recently published a blog post, let me them know what you thought about it. Once you’ve established a rapport, you can ask them if they’d be willing to do a short interview for your podcast.
It’s hard to come across as genuine on social media, so this is often a last ditch effort to connect if you absolutely cannot connect in person or via email.
6. Ask your guests for referrals
Tim Ferriss, the host of one of the top podcasts, the Tim Ferriss Show, often tells a story of how he networks at events like South by SouthWest. When he meets somebody interesting, he’ll often finish the conversation by asking “is there anyone here that you think I should talk to?” Then he’ll continue connecting with people and repeating that question.
This is an excellent method to expand your connections and meet interesting new guests. Once you’ve finished a podcast interview be sure to thank your guest, but finish your time with them by asking something similar. “Thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show, I really appreciate it. Now that you have a good feel for the things our audience is interested in, do you know anybody you think I should interview?”
Do your best to not ask for a blanket “who would be a good guest” which might elicit a lot of good ideas, but not a connection. By asking for somebody they know you’re much more likely to get a connection to another top podcast guest.
7. Allow guests to request to be on your show
How frustrating would it be to find out that a great guest was looking to be on a podcast, but couldn’t find any way to reach you? It’s not uncommon that a lot of guests would love to be interviewed, while lots of podcasts are looking for guests. There are lots of matchmaking services (more on this below) that help with this, but you can actually do something about this yourself.
Start by building a page on your website where potential guests can request to be on your show. You don’t have to give out your email address to potential spammers, but can setup a really simple questionnaire to see if somebody is a good fit. Check out the simple form creation tool, Typeform. You can quickly create an embeddable form for free that you can place on your website so that potential guests can request to be on your show.
8. Use a matchmaking service
If you’re having trouble landing some guests, or don’t feel like you have the time to track down good leads, then a matchmaking service might make sense.
Don’t think it will work? Just remember that thousands of people have used online matchmaking services like eHarmony to find their spouse, so you can feel comfortable using a podcast guest matchmaking services.
Here are three of the best podcast matchmaking services on the web. Just sign up for an account as a podcaster and then you can review potential guests.
- Podcast Guests
- Interview Connections
- Interview Valet
9. Ask your audience for guest ideas
Once you’ve established an podcast audience, you’ll have a great opportunity to ask them for ideas. At the end of your episodes start asking your audience if they have any ideas of people that they would like you to bring on the show.
You can use the Typeform you set up for guests to request to be on your show to collect recommendations from your guests as well. The real benefit of this strategy is that your listeners will know who they are interested in hearing about, so the episode is sure to be a hit.
10. Connect with offline experts
The more an expert has an online presence, the more likely they are already inundated with requests to be on blogs, videos, and podcasts. But there are tons of great subject matter experts that aren’t necessarily online like professors and traditional journalists.
Professors are commonly invited onto radio and tv shows to discuss issues within their area of expertise. They are often delighted to share their knowledge and opinions, and are great candidates for podcast guests, especially podcasts that focus on current events.
Start your search on Google for “Professor of [your topic]” to find the names of some good leads. In this example, let’s imagine we have a sports podcast and we want to do an episode about the implications of an NFL player’s recent legal issues. By searching Professor of Sports Law, we instantly find a handful of great candidates who would make a great guest for our podcast.
We hope this article helps you land some great podcast guests. Here are some additional resources with additional ideas and tips to perfect your pitches.