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Finding Podcast Guests

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As we explained in our post on how to start a podcast, featuring guests on your episodes is a great way to give your show some added gusto by providing that back and forth conversation with a knowledgeable expert. Not all experts are great for podcast interviews, though. This article will help you find potential guests and determine if they’re a good fit for a podcast interview.

Find Podcast Guests – Consideration to Make When Deciding What Kinds of Guests to Invite

Jon Nastor, podcast host of Hack the Entrepreneur and The Showrunner, imparted some of his wisdom on how he achieves a balance of guests, alongside scheduling them out to maximize the impact that each episode will have on his show’s revenue.  

“[We pay attention to] parameters like male and female entrepreneurs, people from tech backgrounds and people who are offline-ish, as well as people from startups, and people who are one-man teams working on their own laptops. I try to keep a really wide variety of guests. It’s really about looking at the last two months, looking two months ahead, outlining what we’re trying to accomplish, and then vetting [potential new guests] from there.

“[Booking guests] is based on our promotion calendar of courses or products that we have coming up. For instance, if a new course is coming out around website creation or optimization, we’ll schedule a guest or two around that topic so that the course can come up organically in the conversation.”

Prioritizing Variety in All its Forms

Paying attention to the professional profile and background of the guest you’re reaching out to will help you host a variety of guests. When you prioritize variety and diversity amongst your guests, the perspectives and philosophies that your show will uncover is sure to please your listeners and provide food for thought – exactly what you’re hoping to achieve with a podcast!

Another consideration to keep in mind, is the title or position of person you’re reaching out to.

Brian Peters, co-host of Buffer’s podcast, The Science of Social Media, said that his team benefited from shifting their perspective on who would be a valuable guest. Although they had started out by targeting influencers as interviewees, it didn’t take long for their guest list to dwindle down. Here’s how they proceeded:

“What we did when we started running out of influencers, is we started looking at brands. We went to National Geographic, Bustle, NASA, etc. and just tried to get their social media managers on the show. What we found is that a lot of times, you’ll have the big name influencers that speak at high levels. So they’re not really giving the tactical answers. But they have a well known name and they’re popular, so it’s good for the show.

“But, we [also] found that the social media managers that are actually doing the work at these companies are not that great at speaking on podcasts, but they had better answers. We had to mix the two kinds of guests!”

Vetting Podcast Guests

Brian explained the next step in his process is to evaluate the appropriateness of the potential guest, before reaching out.

“We want to make sure that the person is on-brand for us, of course. So, we go to their social media accounts and get a sense of what they talk about, what they’re known for, and what their engagement rates are like. A lot of times with influencers, their profile shows 80,000 followers, but they only get 100 likes on a post, meaning that they don’t really have an engaged audience. So, we go for a mix of influencers with the big names, but we also want the people who have a super engaged audience as well, [regardless of size].”

5 Ways to Find Podcast Guests

You have an idea of the kinds of guests you might invite to the podcast, but in terms of the actual outreach, you’re not sure where to start. Two years ago, Brian was in the same position. To help you move forward in your process of booking guests, here’s what Brian’s team does in order to identify potential podcast guests:

1 – Publications

“You have all these Entrepreneur and Forbes lists, that are like ‘50 top influencers in the Social Media Marketing space.’ For us, it was easy to identify potential guests because of those lists.”

Publications like these are a gold mine of shining stars from a variety of industries!

2 – LinkedIn Connect

You can also use LinkedIn to search for professionals from any industry as well. Do a quick search of your industry of interest, and browse the people listings. Once you find a candidate to reach out to, use LinkedIn’s connect and messaging feature to introduce yourself and let them know of the opportunity to be featured on your podcast.

3 – Networking Events

If your podcast relies on guests pretty heavily, you have to constantly be looking for the opportunity to network and strategically think about who would bring forth interesting conversation on your show. Joining local or online communities within your industry is one way to broaden your professional social circle and can prove useful in finding new guests.

4 – Your Own Clients

If you’re running a podcast for a brand, like Brian does for Buffer, don’t overlook your own customer base. Your clients can be brought forth as guests on your show to talk, not in a testimonial fashion, but rather to speak about their unique experiences relating to your podcast show topic.

5 – Email

So obvious, right? Personal emails typically get better responses than generic contact form submissions from a website. But what if you’re without the email address of the person you want to connect with?

Use this nifty tool – Email Hunter – to find every email address for contacts at any given business. It scours the internet for every instance of the email domain and compiles them all into a neat little list for your to browse and select from. What’s better is that Email Hunter offers a Google Chrome extension that rounds up those emails for you automatically – making you even more efficient in your outreach process.

Getting Requests From Others to be Featured on Your Podcast

At some point, your podcast may begin to receive an influx of requests from people wanting to come onto your podcast for an episode.

The evaluation and vetting process for these types of requests should be very similar to the process you take when conducting your own guest brainstorming.

Both Brian and Jon have experienced this stage in their growth of their podcasts. Brian explained that, in his experience, there’s a fine balance to incorporating these types of guests with the guests they have in mind for the show.

“What we found is that the people who are reaching out to us are typically the ones who are very self-promoter focused. And so, the people who were reaching out to us, didn’t quite fit into our vetting process.

“I don’t want to take away from people who do reach out and get placements that way. Because one great podcast promotion strategy is to get onto other podcasts, right? I think it’s great if you’re a podcast host and can get onto another podcast. It’s just that we’ve experienced a lot of people that reach out to us saying, ‘Hey, I just wrote a book, can I come on your podcast and promote it?’

“It’s tough because we have our own agenda, and we’re looking for people to fit that narrative, you know? I’m not saying anything against trying to get onto other podcasts because I think it’s actually a very relevant and good strategy.”

Brian went on to explain that the success in this sort of outreach strategy is found by being less self-promotional in your request. So, if you’re looking to reach out to other podcasts with the hopes of joining them on one of their episodes, re-read your outreach message to ensure it doesn’t have a ‘what you can do for me’ vibe to it.

Managing the Inbound Requests

At Hack the Entrepreneur, Jon said they receive so many requests that sometimes, they have to update their contact page with a message stating, “We’re not able to accept anymore podcast guest requests at this time,” to allow themselves a catch up period to process the existing requests.

When the show has so many inquiries, they have to work together as a team to see if there’s a fit between the potential guest(s) and Hack the Entrepreneur.

Another way that Jon’s show is able to manage the inbound requests that come through the website, is to use an email management software or plugin. They’ve created a list of dropdown subject lines on the contact forms that helps to sort what each email pertains to.

The limited subject lines act as filters to help you see at a glance what the email is about. They also help you prioritize which category of email needs your attention most. Simple tricks like this will help make the email management of your podcast more efficient.  

Now You’re Ready for the Guest Outreach Phase of Managing Your Podcast

We’ve covered a lot of ground here – what to consider when brainstorming guests, where to find them, ways to reach out to them, and more! All containing advice from successful podcast hosts.

Put as much of this into practice as you can, and you’ll find yourself booking guests with the rich insights your listeners are craving. But, in order to really tap into guests’ knowledge and have an entertaining conversation, you have to be a good interviewer first.

If you’re not sure what the art of interviewing really entails, check out our interview excerpt with long time broadcast interviewer and podcast host, Larry Jordan, on how to be a good podcast interviewer

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