You have a grand vision for a podcast but analysis paralysis has you by the short and curlies and won’t let go. “I need a ton of equipment!” “I don’t know how to edit!” “And even if I figured out all of that, how would I find enough good guests?” Blah, blah, blah!
First of all, excuses get you nowhere so let’s drop that right now.
There are tons of opinions and other articles about equipment and we at Streamlined have you covered on the editing side. However, the biggest problem you still face is how to get a lineup of amazing guests to bring your content and message to life.
Thats where I come in. I’m Hans Struzyna, host of Another Way To Play and co-founder of Streamlined Podcast. The reason I’m slamming away on my keyboard right now is because I was in that exact same place as you just under a year ago.
As I write this, I currently have over three months of episodes recorded and another three weeks on the books set to record. I have also been getting guest recommendations from several of my former guests. Needless to say, I have a new problem on my hands but thats for another blog post.
I know, you are thinking “Sweet humble brag, bro. How the heck can I do that?” Well, keep reading and I’ll tell you.
When I first decided to start a podcast, I hired a coach. I ponied up the $$$ to hire Travis Chappell. I can say that it was absolutely worth it as he really got my butt in gear. The name, structure and calls to action (and much more) all came from his coaching. Though, I still had to white knuckle this thing and figure out how to fill my calendar with great guests.
A quick note about coaches. I am a total believer in coaching. In fact, you should consider hiring one. Though, many of them will try to up sell you into their masterminds or some high ticket done-for-you program. There is nothing inherently bad with this. In fact, this company was born out of one of those masterminds. You just have to expect it’s coming and know what you are trying to get out of that relationship before getting into it.
Back to my guest booking advice.
There are some really simple things you can do in order to increase your ability to get guests. If you do all these things, I promise you will have more than you expected. Here we go.
1. Have a clear ask.
It starts with you. No, I’m not suggesting you have to do some deep soul searching or an ayahuasca ceremony to have a robust guest lineup. But you do have to craft a clear message when you reach out. That message should include:
Less than two sentences about your show
A list of as many people who you both know and ideally who have already been on your show (or have agreed to come on)
Spend time on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook to see what connections you have in common. List everyone!
Answers how you will record (what platform), how long it will take (choose an odd number like 27 or range like 32-41) and how to book a time
Get a Calendly account and use it. Trust me!
Finish by assuming the sale. I always sign these emails off with “Thanks in advance. I’m really looking forward to recording with you.”
2. Make the booking process easy
I’ve touched on this already but it’s a really critical point. I bet you, along with nearly ever sane human being on the planet, hates scheduling purgatory that is email. In fact, I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that someone has said no to you in the last 90 days solely to avoid that mind numbing frustration.
Personally, when booking processes are too complex and I don’t know the person well, I usually don’t respond or say I’m busy. It’s human nature to avoid pain. How do you avoid this?
Well the first part is to have a clear ask that someone can understand in less than 30 seconds. The next step is a booking link. I said it before but if you invest in a Calendly account (or some other booking software), your life will be changed forever. Seriously, you can use it for things other than podcast bookings.
Whether they do it themselves or send it to their assistant, you just made it really easy for them to say yes to you. Congrats!
3. Make a list of people in your phone/social media. Minimum of 50 people and reach out to each one.
Duh! Thank you captain obvious. I already did this, Hans.
Well if you did, you wouldn’t be reading this. So, here’s the deal. Everyone knows people who are worth interviewing. If you are starting a podcast about a topic it either means you have an expertise in an area or you have a passion for it. Either way, you know people who share that expertise and passion.
It’s great to know people but until you have a targeted listed of potential guests, you are simply pretending to podcast.
Righteous burn, bro!
Ok, take a deep breath and calm down. I’m not here to insult you. I’m here to explain that sometimes the most obvious (and simple) advice is the best advice. In fact, because it’s obvious and simple, it’s just as easy to skip over it and not do it.
Here is what you need to do. Open a word doc or number 1-50 on a piece of paper. Set the timer on your iPhone for 45 minutes and close your email, silence your notifications and open up your phone contacts. Jot down every name you would want to have on your show. If you only have seven people in there, shift over to Facebook or Instagram.
Don’t get distracted by a cat video or NFL meme. Seriously, thats what the timer is for. FOCUS!
Start going through your friends list and keep adding to your list. Don’t stop until you have 50 names or your timer goes off.
If the timer wins, stand up, walk to the bathroom, look in the mirror and give yourself a pep-talk (or google one). Then sit back down and reset the timer and get after it. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Now that you have your list of 50, it’s a numbers game. Let’s say you are a mediocre friend and roughly half of the people on your list will never give you the time of day. Well, that still leaves 25 guest who are layup yesses and now you have your first (or next) several months of interviews.
Couple that with a clear reach out and easy booking process and you may even convert a few of the others.
Side note: If you are a mediocre friend, having a podcast will definitely improve your social stock. Just sayin’!
4. Use tools/databases like PodcastGuest.com or FB groups
In an effort to keep you from coming across as a MLM salesperson to your entire network, there are other tools and groups where willing podcast guests hang out.
Though, since you have little to no connection with these people, I would recommend you not start with them. Work on your interview skills with the people you are already comfortable with then start to ping these resources.
Once you have a few under your belt though, fire away!
5. Ask every guest For a referral.
As anyone in sales will tell you a warm lead is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp sick. So when an interview goes well, ask that person who they know that would be a good fit for the show.
If it doesn’t go well, you can always pretend the audio file didn’t download correctly and ask them to rerecord. Though, I would just let it be. It’s likely not as bad as you thought it was.
All things being equal, people like to help people they like. All things not so equal, the same is still true.
If your booking process was smooth, you asked good questions, made the guest feel like a winner and then ask for a measly referral in return, you will get it 10/10 times.
That said, when someone refers you a guest, they are putting their neck on the line. They are essentially saying “I’ve done the due diligence and this guy has it together and you should know him.” Don’t take that for granted and be the person who gets sloppy after a few months into a new relationship.
Remember, they want to date the version of you that you presented early on. Not the one who gains 10 lbs and has Cheeto stains on their green Kirkland Signature sweat pants that they have worn for six days straight. No one cares how “comfortable” they are. Wash them!
So, in an effort to not be that person, make sure you give the same effort and respect to the referral as you gave the original guest. It’s easy because you have already done it. But because it’s easy to do, it’s also easy not to do. So just do it.
Pro Tip: Set a follow up email in your booking stoneware that goes out an hour or so after you record the interview. Make sure it thanks the guest for their time and asks them to review your show. PROVIDE THE LINK! This will help boost your reviews as the person who was just interviewed now has a vested interest in your podcast being great.
Easy right? Actually it is. People like to talk about themselves and if yo give them a platform to do that, they will. All you are doing is removing physical barriers and helping them to realize you aren’t a total psycho.
Seriously, it’s that easy. Have a plan (list). Have a process (clear ask and booking process) and make sure you kill it in your interview (then ask for a referral). If we can help you with any of your podcast needs, don’t hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, get out there and load up your schedule!
Here’s to all your success!