One of the ways to give your show a diverse perspective, unique expertise, or simply make it different from other podcasts in your niche is inviting an interesting guest. But how to find them and then—choose the right person who will give your podcast episode exactly what you’re looking for and what your audience craves?
For this post, we sat down with the Waveroom in-house podcast creation expert Ann, who hosted interview podcasts for different brands. Ann is sharing some tips on how she looks for podcast guests, which criteria she leverages to pick them, and what insights she's dug in when doing so.
Why might your podcast need a guest?
There are different podcast formats; interview shows are one of those. If you’ve settled for a solo show, you still might want to make your podcast more diverse with various voices and opinions. That’s what you need guests for.
Here are the reasons why you should invite someone to your show to record an interview or a captivating conversational show:
- Guests can bring new energy to your podcast. Conversations between the host and guest are more dynamic and interactive than a solo show, making the content more engaging for listeners.
- Your guests often attract their own followers and fan base to your podcast.
- When listeners see that you are featuring knowledgeable and reputable individuals, it increases trust in your podcast and its content.
- Guests often bring personal stories and experiences to the table, making your podcast more relatable and human. These stories can create emotional connections with your audience.
I always gave thought to the guest's potential for appeal and resonance with my audience. Did they have compelling stories to tell? Could their experiences or insights spark interest or stir emotions in my audience? Answers to these questions strongly informed my decisions.
- Albeit solo episodes can be valuable, having guests means you don't always have to create all the content yourself. Guests provide valuable information and insights, giving you more breathing room for other podcast-related tasks.
- As a podcaster, you might have expertise in a particular area, but you may not be knowledgeable about everything related to your podcast's theme. Guests allow you to cover a broader range of topics and offer in-depth discussions on subjects outside your expertise.
How to find podcast guests
So, you’re thinking about inviting an expert or an influencer to your podcast. Try these strategies to broaden your choice and give your audience something absolutely unique.
🔴 Network within your niche
In any industry, there are high-profile figures who are difficult to connect with. Connect with these people on LinkedIn, Twitter, attend their online and offline events, and be active in their comments section on different platforms.
When networking within your niche, focus on providing value first. Offer help, share insights, and genuinely engage with others. Building meaningful connections is about fostering relationships, not just self-promotion.
🔴 Attend industry events & conferences
Look out for webinars, virtual conferences, and online networking events related to your niche. These events provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, experts in your field, provide opportunities to meet potential guests in person, and build meaningful connections.
🔴 Engage on social media & forums
Social media can be a powerful tool for finding and attracting guests for your podcast.
'I kept an observant eye on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms are teeming with professionals who are experts in their fields. Many of these individuals are looking for opportunities to share their knowledge, and your podcast could be the perfect outlet.'
To get the most pit of social media, be active on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Reddit. Follow influencers, experts, and other podcasters in your niche and interact with their content, share valuable information, and comment on their posts to build relationships.
Here are some effective ways to utilise social media platforms:
- Follow hashtags related to your podcast's topic to discover people who are discussing relevant subjects. Engage with posts and comments to build relationships with potential guests.
- Comment on posts, reply to tweets, and participate in discussions with potential guests. Show genuine interest in their content and ideas to establish rapport.
- Once you've identified potential guests and built some rapport, send a direct message or private message expressing your admiration for their work and inviting them to be a guest on your podcast. Keep the message concise, personalised, and professional.
- Regularly share snippets or highlights from your podcast episodes on your social media profiles. Tag guests you've already featured, and mention upcoming guests to create interest and buzz.
- Use live sessions on platforms like Instagram Live, Facebook Live, or Twitter Spaces to interact with your audience and potential guests. Invite them to participate in these sessions and showcase your podcast's value.
🔴 Leverage your existing connections
Reach out to friends, colleagues, and contacts who might be suitable guests for your podcast. Personal connections can be an excellent starting point for finding guests who are willing to participate.
I wanted to be personal and direct. Therefore, I reached out to potential guests with a tailored message, discussing my podcast, explaining why I think they'd be a perfect fit, and expressing genuine interest in their work. This approach wasn't without its share of misses, but when it hit, the results were phenomenal!
🔴 Invite authors, experts, and influencers
Identify authors, subject matter experts, or influencers in your niche and reach out to them with a personalised invitation to be a guest on your podcast. Mention why you think their insights would be valuable to your audience.
If you come across someone who you believe would be a fantastic guest for your podcast, don't hesitate to send a well-crafted email or direct message. Be clear about why you'd like to have them on your show and what value they can bring to your audience.
An essential life hack is to draw upon the collective intellect of your audience. After all, it is them that you serve. Build such an atmosphere so that they can propose what kind of guests they would like to hear from or topics they want to be discussed.
🔴 Create a guest application form
Design a guest application form on your website where interested people can apply to be on your podcast. Ask for their background, expertise, and topics they can speak on to ensure they align with your podcast's theme.
Here are some fields you may want to include in the application form:
- Email address
- Website/LinkedIn profile
- Brief bio
- Social media handles
- Interview availability
- Interview format (audio-only interview, video interview, or in-person interview)
- Media kit/press materials
- Agreement to recording (checkbox where they acknowledge and agree to being recorded for the podcast episode)
You can use online form-building tools like Google Forms, Typeform, or JotForm to create the guest application form, making it easy for potential guests to submit their information electronically.
Choosing guests for a podcast can be both an art and a science - you need to strike the right balance. The driving factor for me was the passion that potential guests displayed. Independent of the topic, a passionate speaker can make the audience latch on to their every word. Next, I considered their level of expertise and the unique perspective they could offer.
🔴 Cross-promote with other podcasters
Collaborate with other podcasters who have similar themes or audiences. You can feature each other as guests on your respective shows, expanding both of your reach.
🔴 Use the power of AI
AI-powered tools can scour the web and social media platforms to identify potential guests based on specific criteria such as expertise, niche, or popularity.
AI can draft personalised guest invitation emails based on the podcaster's requirements and the information it gathers about potential guests.
🔴 Ask your listeners or current guest to help you find more podcast guests
After conducting an interview, it's a good idea to ask the interviewee if they know anyone who would be a good fit for the show. It's best to do this while still on the call with them, as you'll have just had a conversation and can receive an immediate response. This will also give you added credibility when approaching potential guests, as you can mention the interviewee who recommended them. For example, "I recently spoke with [guest] on my podcast, and they recommended I reach out to you to see if you'd like to come on the show too." This establishes common ground, and most people will be receptive. If the initial chat went well, you might even get a direct introduction to their contact.
Use tools & services to find podcast guests
It'd be surprising if, in the age of tech evolution, we didn't have tools that automate or at least streamline podcast guest hunt. And they do exist!
Some of the popular ones include:
MatchMaker.fm is a platform that connects podcasters with potential guests. It allows podcasters to search for guests based on their expertise and interests and facilitates direct communication.
Near the top of my list was matchmaker.fm, a veritable bedrock for interesting potential guests. This website is like an online hangout spot for podcasters and people looking to be guests. You can narrow down your search using categories, helping to find guests that fit your podcast's niche. This site was indispensable in honing my search and simplifying the process.
PodcastsGuests.com platform helps podcasters find guests for their shows and allows guests to pitch themselves to podcasters. It offers a database of potential guests and a streamlined process for connecting hosts and guests.
Interview Guests Directory
Similar to PodcastGuests.com, this platform serves as a directory for podcast guests and allows podcasters to discover and connect with potential guests.
Guestio is another platform that connects podcasters with guests and vice versa. It offers features like guest booking, scheduling, and profile customisation for both podcasters and guests.
How to motivate a potential guest to join your podcast
Motivation can be a tricky beast to navigate. It's a mixture of enticing and reassuring. With my potential guests, I emphasized the mutual benefits that would accrue from participating in the podcast. Although my podcast may not have been very well-known, I presented it as an opportunity for potential guests to widen their audience reach and share their insights. I also presented it as an open space for them to discuss their passion and projects extensively.
Motivating existing connections, let alone high-profile experts, to become podcast guests, especially when your podcast isn't well-known, can be challenging but not impossible. Here are some strategies to encourage them to participate:
- Emphasise their expertise and let them know that their insights are valuable and will be appreciated by your audience.
- Reach out to them with a personalised and sincere invitation. Explain why you specifically want them as a guest and how their unique perspective will benefit your listeners.
In cases where the podcast's relatively unknown status proved to be a hurdle, I found that honesty and vision could dissolve the barrier. I discussed the growth potential and the excitement of being part of an emerging project. Moreover, I asserted that their involvement could actively contribute to the growth of the podcast, making it an engaging partnership.
- Clearly communicate the mutual benefits of being a guest on your podcast.
- Express your dedication to growing the podcast and your commitment to promoting each episode effectively. Assure them that you'll make every effort to increase visibility and listenership over time.
- If you have already recorded a few episodes, share some of the positive feedback or reviews you've received from listeners. Demonstrating that your podcast has provided value to others may encourage them to participate.
- Show your willingness to promote their work or projects in return for their appearance on your podcast. It could be mentioning their website, book, or any other relevant content during the episode or in the show notes. Remember: value over promotion.
How to find podcast guests: The bottom line
Instead of a proper bottom line, let us share the main insight that our expert Ann can give you:
Remember that you are not just a voice behind the mic, you are also the ears. Being a good active listener to your guests will not only encourage more insightful conversations but also leave your guests feeling appreciated and heard, making your podcast a desired destination for guests.