Jaclyn Mellone Jessica Stansberry
12 min read
Starting your show can be the most exciting thing on Earth, but when it comes to lining up guests for the next month, the nerves roll in.
Oh friend, we’ve been there. The process of getting guests is fine tuned after doing it again and again and again. Eventually, you’ll learn what really works to get amazing people on your podcast and what just totally flops.
In our almost-two-years of podcasting with All Up in Your Lady Business, we’ve had some AMAZING guests, so we’d love to pass a little bit of our “booking amazing people” knowledge to you. We hope to give you some of our best tips so you can fast track your podcast guest success.
So let’s jump in!
Getting people excited about being on your show is the very first step and people just don’t talk about this enough. Brand new podcasters don’t often think about how they can design their show to attract the kind of guests they want to interview and that’s something you don’t want to miss out on.
Here are a few ways even a new podcaster can start building the right reputation as a host to draw the perfect guests:
You want to attract a certain type of guest, right? For some this might mean having guests who like to joke around, but others may be looking for a more formal presentation. In the end, there are no good or bad formats, you just need to own whatever your podcast personality is.
If you are the podcast that’s giving formal presentations and citing all different sources of information, do that. Just because you have a podcast that’s very structured doesn’t mean people don’t want to be on it. You attract people who are like you.
Personally, we want guests who will come on and go on a crazy tangent of funny childhood stories, but when we started out, we had a very structured set of questions. That translated into a formal style we didn’t want! Now, we own the fact that we’re edutainers and we giggle a lot because that’s what attracts our listeners and our guests.
You need to give your guests the opportunity to shine; let them come on your show and share what they’ve got going on beyond their latest freebie. When you let your guests share the current promos and even paid products, of course they will want to grace a podcast that lets them promote all of their amazingness.
This is something we do with each and every guest and we encourage them to promote in a non-sleezy way and some of our guests have actually come back to us and gushed over how many referrals they’ve gotten since being on the podcast. THAT is what you want.
Collectively, we give our guests the opportunity to share who they are and build trust based on the value they give. They have the chance to make our audience fall in love with them.
This isn’t the format for everyone– that’s a given. Our format used to be one interview each week and then chit chat in a second episode that week about the interview. As much as the podcast is about you and your audience, think about ways you can tie in your guest more. If you randomly throw out an episode with one guest and then a different one the next day, it can feel really disconnected.
Consider going easy on your guests when it comes to the questions you ask. Throwing random or super challenging questions at them might scare away some of your most amazing guests! Asking questions they can answer easily takes a lot of the prep work out for them and makes it easier for them to come on and have a good time.
We like to ask every guest pretty similar questions that are customized to their business. We aren’t throwing any kind of crazy curveballs because we like that it ends up being just like a conversation with your girlfriends.
You could even have a signature question as a fun way to brand who you are and draws in your people. For example, we ask, “What did you want to be when you were a little girl?” People think about how they would answer this question before they’re even on the podcast and any time they see a post about this in a group, they’ll tag us. You could easily come up with a unique question to ask your guests and give your audience a way to connect with your show.
It’s not always easy to find the right podcast guests, especially when you’re first starting out. What constitutes a good guest? How will you know there will be a good vibe between the two of you? Sometimes you might not automatically have the answers to these questions and you’ll need to start from square-one. If this is you, here are a couple ways to start making lists of your dream podcast guests.
Look really hard at your network from all points of your life, and we really mean all of them. You could have friends from high school, college, and other IRL (in real life!) peeps on your podcast and have a fantastic experience with someone you wouldn’t have originally thought of coming on your show.
When you’ve gone through everyone you know, the cycle of networking and meeting people starts out all over again. In-person networking is not a dead art; it’s just done differently than in corporate America.
You can actually use conferences to reach out to guests who are hard to connect with. If you connect with a fellow podcaster, it’s great to network with other podcasters because you can send people back and forth. Dana Malstaff and Adrienne Dorison are good examples of this for us. They give us referrals of who to have on the podcast and we trust them. When they come across someone who would be a good fit, it’s not a cold pitch, it’s a warm lead.
Put on your curator hat and take a really good look at your life and business life. Who could be a great podcast guest?
Are you listening to a podcast and really like a guest? Are you in a Facebook group and someone’s showing up in a really great way? Do you love someone’s stuff on Youtube? Then get them on your show!
Two of our personal favorite guests were Emily and Kathleen from Being Boss. We didn’t have a personal connection with them at all, but we loved their podcast so we reached out to have them on our show and it was a blast.
Focus on getting people on your show who your audience will resonate with, but also think about putting new people in front of your audience.
One of the funniest instances of this for us was with a woman who was featured in the paper for her business. Jaclyn placed an order with her and chatted with her when she went to the store to pick it up. Years later, we had her on the show and she was a great guest!
There are so many little things like that where someone who isn’t known in the online world can get a lot of great feedback from your audience.
You don’t want just anybody on your podcast. If someone’s been on every other show, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be right for your show. Instead of looking to have to the biggest guests on your show, find the mindset of the guests you’d like to have on. You want the person who wants to be influential to your audience in some way.
When we’re looking for guests, we ask ourselves if they are going to teach our audience, inspire them to take action, and have fun. All three of those elements make the right fit for us, but you get to decide what makes up the right fit for you.
For a while, we said no men on the show, although now there have been a few exceptions to the rule. We’ve had Todd Hermann, whose audience is actually over 70% female. Even though he isn’t a woman, he’s built a business supporting women. Sean Cannell came on one of our roundup episodes because he has really valuable information that no one else we knew had. These times, it was worth it to include men. We’re not just going to let any man on the podcast, but we do let in exceptions when it’s the right fit. This just goes to show that sometimes you need to stick to your guns and other times it’s okay to make exceptions.
The final step to getting the podcast guests of your dreams is to actually ask them. There are many different ways you can do this and each one will be specific to the person you’re asking based on your previous relationship/contact with them. But if you haven’t had much interaction with them before, instead of sending a cold email, there is a smart path to make yourself known and get your name in front of them. These three steps will help you do just that.
Any way you can warm up a cold relationship helps. If you’re connected with them on a social platform, start genuinely engaging with their content. Comment on their Instagram story, Facebook post, Youtube video, or Twitter. Obviously, you don’t want to be a stalker, but if you do this in an authentic way, these people will come to know your name and that’s podcast gold.
If your potential guest has a podcast or a blog and you genuinely like what they’re doing, share it. That will stand out more than any comment will because you notice who shares your stuff.
We love building relationships– we’re ENFPs, what can we say? There are a lot of people we’ve met at conferences and such that would be great for the podcast, but we just haven’t gotten around to asking them yet. We’re keeping up those relationships in the meantime because it’s not just about reaching out and making the connection. The real secret is in nurturing relationships.
It can be fun to really hand-pick your guests. When you know stuff about them on a personal and professional level, that makes you a better interviewer. You can share a story that happened to them that they might not even think to bring up. This just takes your interviews to incredibly fun places.
When you’re ready to get serious about reaching out to someone, it’s time to connect. Seeing if you can find their email is a good place to start, but you can have a surprising amount of success on Facebook Messenger and Instagram Stories. The reality is, most people don’t have their stories flooded like they do their inbox.
If that doesn’t work, you can still reach out in email, but see if there’s a creative way you could get their attention. You’ve gotta work around the gatekeepers, so see if you have a mutual connection and have them introduce you first. That will get you in the door and closer to setting up that interview so much faster.
Hopefully, you have a warm relationship by this point. You should at least know a lot about your potential guests if you’ve done your homework. It is crucially important here to make the person you’re asking feel like they’re the only person you’re asking. You want to really personalize this email so they know that you want them specifically on your show because you admire them and think they’d be good for your audience.
Don’t send out a canned message to 20 people because your conversion rate will be straight up terrible. Even if it’s a totally cold email, you want to make it as personal as you possibly can. If you want a quick way to get their attention, name drop any of their friends you’ve had on your show or even just people you think they’d admire.
Make it an easy yes, friends. All your future guests should have to do is reply back and say yes! Do this before any forms because it’s more about getting the commitment and creating that connection.
These people are busy, so give them a break and just ask for their yes. And, even if you get a “no”, remember that a no isn’t a no forever; just give them time and follow up. We’ve had really good success on the follow up by putting the link to schedule straight in that email.
That’s it! We hope this really helped you and if you’re ready to start reaching out to guests for your podcast, make those connections to warm people up.
While you are feeling inspired, we encourage you to go send a message to someone you admire right now! You can shoot them an email, or even reach out through Instagram Stories or Facebook Messenger.
Not sure what to say? We’ve totally got your back!