How to Land Extraordinary Guests for Your Podcast

How can you stop producing yawn-inducing podcast episodes?

Answer: Find passionate people who can deliver their story in a fascinating way.

You likely started searching for guests in the same way I did: email people, ask for an interview and wait for the opportunities to pour in! And you likely discovered the same lackluster results, unless you had a targeted list or needed to fill a really small guest list.

Given the challenges which led you to discover this blog post, I’m sure this hill you started climbing feels more like a mountain right now. Thankfully, it’s not an insurmountable task. You just need the right tools for the ascent. That’s where I come in.

In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the journey from struggling storyteller to thriving as a creative curator of impressive interviews.

Step 1: Define Your Ideal Guest

Elon Musk is an extraordinary human being. However, if you’re hosting a New Motherhood podcast, he’s probably not the best guest. Likewise, Oprah does many remarkable things, but an Internet of Things podcast probably wouldn’t be a good fit for her.

It’s important to understand what kinds of people will bring the most value to your audience.

By doing this, you become a host who helps everyone involved. After all, a guest doesn’t want to share their story to an irrelevant audience. And your audience won’t want to listen to a story which feels irrelevant to them.

To get an idea of your ideal interview, consider these questions:

  • What is the ultimate goal/message you want to share with the world?
  • What types of people are spreading a similar message?
  • What types of people need to hear the message you’re sharing?

When you answer these questions, you’ll have a better understanding of what extraordinary means to your audience. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who really matter.

Step 2: Setup a Google Spreadsheet

Before you start identifying remarkable people, you need an organization system. I like to use Google Spreadsheets for this. At Red Cup Agency we use SalesforceIQ and we have also used Trello.

You’ll need – at the very least – the following information for each potential guest:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Website
  • Notes

Social Media URLs and Professional Role are other data points I like to include. Being a bit more thorough upfront tends to save time later in the process.

Here’s what my template looks like:

If you’d like a copy, click here. Then select File > Make a Copy to save to your Google Drive.

PRO TIP: How to Gather This Information

After going through Step #3, you’ll begin filling out the spreadsheet. I’m going to be honest, this part is quite time-consuming and a bit advanced – but I’ll outline the basic steps.

Put Their Name + Brand Into Google:

Get Social Networks From Website:

Use Their Name + URL to Guess and Email Address:

But you won’t always get an email right away. What about when your results look like this?

In this case, you may need to try a few variations. Using the name John Doe as an example, here are some common email variations:

  • johndoe@hisdomain.com
  • john@hisdomain.com
  • john.doe@hisdomain.com
  • jdoe@hisdomain.com

Don’t forget to use “quotations” around the email address to pull in exact results.

Want help with finding all this information? Red Cup Agency is built for tasks just like this!

We have access to sophisticated search tools like Meltwater and email discovery tools built into apps like Reply.io.

Step 3: Find People Who Want Press

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

In the copywriting world, there’s a concept which states you should always try to sell people on the benefits instead of simply listing the features. When it comes to landing great guests, you need to find the Venn diagram overlap between people who have compelling ideas and people who are actively seeking places to share that information.

A great place to start finding this overlap is with people who need press attention. Some examples of people who fall into this category include: other podcasters, authors and startup founders.

I’ll briefly walk through how to find each of these individuals.

Connect With Other Podcasters

In the beginning, connecting with your peers is an easy way to build a reputation. There are several podcast directories out there, but iTunes is the most comprehensive.

Visit the homepage and select a category similar to your podcast:

Recently launched podcasts generating buzz will appear under the New & Noteworthy section:

The simple act of making it to this list means the host is doing something well. These are the types of people you want to know.

Discover Authors on Amazon Books

Authors who just released books are a gold mine of potential in-depth interviews. To find them, head over to the Amazon New Releases section.

From there, you can use the left navigation to narrow down your topic. A podcast for new parents, for example, could narrow results like this:

Books > Parenting & Relationships > Parenting > Early Childhood

Use the author’s name and book title to fill in your Step #2 spreadsheet.

Scour Angel.co for Founders

Using the Angel.co Companies directory, you can discover potential startups by keywords. Continuing with our Parenting Podcast example, here are a few results:

Individual company pages provide a list of the team:

You can then use this information to fill out your Potential Guests spreadsheet.

Step 4: Turn Your Cold List Into Warm Leads

Once you have your potential guests, along with their information, it’s time to start warming up the leads. Most people will jump right to the ask, but I like to take a more relationship-centric approach.

GrooveHQ used this engagement strategy to reach 1,000 subscribers in 24 hours:

Whether it’s promoting a blog post, booking podcast guests or landing clients, engagement works. Create reasons to interact with your interviewee before ever asking them to appear on the show. The more you invest in an authentic relationship, the more likely you are to book the guest.

Step 5: Pitch Your Podcast Idea

After you’ve laid the foundation through engagement, it’s time for the ask.

A strong pitch focuses on how this benefits them, not you. When writing your email, keep that truth in mind. The worst thing you can do is make the pitch all about your brand. Here are a few ways to convince the potential guest of how your podcast adds value (in order from most to least compelling):

  • # of Monthly Downloads
  • Impressive Past Guests
  • Reviews from Listeners
  • Your Mission & Vision

When you’re just starting out, you may not have any enticing statistics. That’s okay. Instead, determine how their vision aligns with yours, then focus on the commonality.

Here’s what a pitch might look like if you don’t have any social proof to share:

Hi {Name},

Just read your latest book, {Book Title}, and I really enjoyed it! Thanks for all the hard work you put into it! A few things which really stood out to me:

{Takeaway #1}

{Takeaway #2}

{Takeaway #3}

I host an up-and-coming podcast where I’m trying to {Podcast Mission Statement}. My audience loves learning about {Book Topic}, and I know they’d love to learn more about you and this book you just released.

Would you be willing to sit down with me and do a 30-minute audio interview?

Thanks in advance for your response!

– {Your Name}
{Link to Your Podcast}

If you don’t receive a response, make sure to send a follow-up email. In sales, 80% of sales require five follow-ups. While you aren’t selling a product, the same principles apply. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask a couple more times.

Conclusion

You must toil if you want to feature exceptional guests on your podcast, but you’ll reap a bountiful harvest of impressive interviews if you do. And, more importantly, you’ll book people who can deliver an immense amount of value for your audience.

This strategy is a starting point for anyone who wants to land guests for podcast episodes. But if you want extraordinary results then you need to make an extraordinary investment.

So, let’s get out there and make things happen!