Booking Guests for your Podcast

Level Up Human guests at the Barbican
Level Up Human live at the Barbican. Helen Scales, Vanessa Lowe, Cerys Bradley, Simon Watt, Rachel Wheeley, Robert Hindges and Barbican Life Rewired curator, Jamie Upton

So you’ve spoken to everyone you personally know in your niche. Where do we go from here?

The good news is that the guests you’ve already spoken to can be the keys to your future guests.

It’s a good idea to stay in touch with them, and nurture the relationship you extended by inviting them onto your show.

Help them to share the ideas they’re excited about, and ask them one key question.

“Who in your field of expertise should be famous, but isn’t?”

If they can give you a few names, these are the people it might be worth investigating next.

Use online book sites to research the market

Who’s written a book in your niche? Many online book sites have ‘Customers also viewed/bought’ sections. Start with a book in your niche that you know, and then see what else has been published in the area.

You can go down some fascinating rabbit holes doing this research!

Apps like Blinkist can help you get the gist of entire books in around 10 minutes, so you can make a shortlist of which authors to contact.

Explore creator spaces: bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers

Do some market analysis of everyone talking about your niche. Writers, podcasters and YouTubers might be good to invite onto your show, or they may have a laundry list of episodes with relevant guests guesting for you to explore.

You don’t want the exact same guest list as everyone else, but if you do book a guest from another podcast, listen to the episode. Work out what angles haven’t been covered.

Contacting authors, and other experts in your field

Having used up all the personal connections you can, it is sometimes useful to contact an author, or another expert in your field who you have not yet met.

But how to do this? What do you say to entice them onto your show?

Advice from my co-host on Level Up Human, Simon Watt, is:

“Everyone has a website nowadays. Make first contacts friendly but very brief. Be up front about time and budget if you have one.”

Simon Watt

Your email or DM, or whatever you deem the most appropriate way to contact the potential guest, should get straight to the point.

Hi [their name],

I’m [your name] from [podcast name]. I’d love to get you on the show for a chat about [topic]. I think it would be really beneficial for our audience who are interested in [subject].

[Let them know where you discovered them.] I just read your book [Name of book] and it helped me personally to understand more about [angle].

If you’d be interested, here’s a Calendly link where you can book a slot that works for you.

Calendly is great, because it eliminates all that back and forth you can get with guests for arranging dates.

Make an email signature with your podcast details and a link to your show for these emails, so your guest can click through and have a look at the work you’ve already done.

Contacting high profile guests

I listened to a podcast episode called ‘How to Get Super High Profile Guests’, with Jordan Harbinger on the Pat Flynn podcast, Smart Passive Income. Here are the key tips.

Be prepared to build your show before you can get a guest to say yes

Seth Godin reportedly says yes to podcast appearances, once the podcast has published its 100th episode. So it’s worth proving to your prospective guests that you’re in this for the long haul. And that you yourself have committed to your show.

Maintain relationships with publicists

If a publicist offers you a guest, chances are that guest won’t be a great fit for your podcast.

But Jordan usually replies to them to say that this guest isn’t great right now, but that he is interested in speaking to… and then he’ll outline the guests he wants for his show.

He says he generally gets a surprised response from the publicists, who I guess are used to getting nothing back from 80% of people they contact.

He’s been offered some guests by publicists who actively try to find people on their books who might suit him better using this method.

“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.

So when you’re polite to them, and you make it easier for them to pitch you, you get more pitches. And yes, you end up passing on more stuff… but you also end up with the occasional Malcolm Gladwell, Kobe Bryant, Chelsea Handler.

Because they like you, they know you’re going to respond, and they know you respond quickly.”

“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.”

Jordan Harbinger

And one final tip:

Be polite and persistent

The ‘father of advertising’, David Ogilvy, has this to say on persistence:

“The good salesman combines the tenacity of a bull dog with the manners of a spaniel.”

David Ogilvy

If you’ve made initial contact and they can’t do it, keep in touch with them, it might be possible to ask again later on, perhaps when they’ve a project to plug.

Send them an email every once in a while. Interact with them on social media. Keep asking. Within reason, obv.

You never know when your request might coincide with something they’ve got coming up to talk about. And in the meantime, your audience will have grown.

What have you found particularly helpful for finding guests for your podcast? Drop me a comment and let me know.

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