Before diving into the wonderful world of podcast interviews, you’re first going to have to reach out and make contact with potential guests.
There’s no denying it. This can feel super scary. What if they say no?
Of course, this can happen but – let me just say – in all the time I’ve been podcasting, very rarely have I received a no. More often than not, your potential guest will get back to you with a big, excited YES! This is because podcasts are really a win win for everyone involved. You get to chat to a guru about a passion topic of your choosing, your tribe gets to listen in and your guest gets free promotion and access to a whole new group of potential clients.
When we first started interviewing guests for She Makes Magic, we began by contacting women who we felt naturally drawn to or with who we had an existing personal connection. We did not worry about how popular they were in the online world or whether they had big audience numbers. In fact, we actively chose to stay away from women who were really popular or who had already done the podcast circuit, simply because we wanted to share stories that hadn’t been told before.
What we noticed was that the most potent interviews were with women who we felt we had or already did have a strong connection to.
One of my most popular interviews was with Nicole Mathieson, my kinesiologist. I had been privately working with Nicole for two years prior to the interview. When we came together to explore her story, a special magic happened because we felt safe and comfortable in each other’s presence. We relaxed easily into the conversation, which then naturally flowed through into the interview and touched the hearts of our audience.
At the time, Nicole did not have a large following and neither did She Makes Magic but the emails and comments rolled in and Nicole’s client list grew.
SELECTING THE BEST GUESTS
1. Who do you know personally that might be knowledgeable or skilled in a particular topic of interest?
When you’re first starting out interviewing a friend, personal acquaintance or someone that you already feel comfortable around can really help to settle the nerves and build your confidence, plus the already existing connection will create a special spark that you just can’t fake.
2. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better.
While it’s tempting to select guests that have large followings in an attempt to reach a wider audience, if this is your motivation, the energy by which you approach the guest is going to be misaligned. This will – 100 per cent guaranteed – either result in an immediate ‘no’ from the guest (because they will feel the inauthenticity of your approach) or, if they do say yes, the misaligned energy will flow into the interview and it won’t be as powerful as it could be. There’s nothing wrong with interviewing guests with a large following, if you’re doing so genuinely. Before approaching a guest, check in with yourself around your underlying motivation. If there’s a niggling doubt or feeling that something isn’t quite right, perhaps this one is best left for another time.
3. Think a little bit left-of-centre.
Your audience gets tired of hearing the same stories from the same people over and over again. You don’t have to do what every other podcaster is doing. Source out guests who haven’t yet done the podcast circuit. Can you find an expert who has a quirky, unexpected or radical twist on your podcast topic? Is there someone who is AWESOME at what they do but isn’t getting the limelight they deserve? You’re creating a platform which you can use to lift up and promote ANY. ONE. YOU. CHOOSE. Why not use it to its full advantage?
4. Ask for a referral.
Looking for that next special guest? Do a shout-out on social media and ask your audience to tag someone who they would like to hear from next. This shows potential guests that you have an audience who wants to hear from them. Pop a post into a Facebook group related to your topic of choice and see what interesting ideas come back. Ask previous guests who they admire and would recommend for an upcoming interview. I often do this at the end of an interview session just before we sign off. Don’t be afraid to ask for a personal referral and introduction via email if your previous guest personally knows the suggested guest. I’ve got some great gems of ideas from doing this.
5. Do your research. Take a dive into a potential guest’s online home. Spend time reading her blog and social media posts, listen to her interviews, look at the work that she’s offering, get a feel for who she is and what’s going on for her right now. Then ask yourself: is this who I should interview next? FEEL it. And then trust that feeling. If your intuition says yes, do it!
6. Save the big fish until last.
Save the guests with the larger followings until you’ve had a chance to find your podcasting grove and build momentum. Guests with larger followings get invitations to be interviewed all the time. You’ll have a higher chance of receiving a yes if you can show that your podcast is already established and well received by your audience. On the flip side, if you’re feeling called strongly to approach a big personality now, go for it! You never know if you don’t ask. And, if the feeling is aligned, more often than not, you’ll receive that yes you desire.
COMMUNICATING WITH GUESTS
One of the common questions I often get asked is whether you have to “sell” your podcast when first contacting potential guests. The answer to this one is, on most occasions, nope! But it certainly helps to send professionally written, stand-out communication emails which contain pre-emptive answers to all your guest’s questions.
Let’s work together now to craft your invitation emails.
EMAIL 1: INVITATION
Contact your guest at least four weeks out from your desired episode date. This gives enough time and space to find a suitable date that will work for you both. Your invitation email will likely include information such as:
- Who you are and what your podcast series is about.
- Who your audience is and why they would benefit hearing from your guest.
- The topic of discussion.
- The interview style, format and time investment required.
- One or two suggested dates and times for the interview.
- As an additional selling factor, some podcasters like to include audience statistics (for example social media, email list, podcast subscriber numbers). More popular guest personalities sometimes do ask for this information before they agree to be interviewed. I personally don’t send out statistics but am happy to oblige if I am asked.
If you don’t get a response initially, wait about a week and then approach again with a gentle reminder email. Your guest is busy and sometimes they will miss your first email or accidentally forget to write you back. In almost all cases, a quick reminder will open up the communication pathway again.
EMAIL 2: CONFIRMATION + PREPARATION
Once your guest has agreed to the interview and you’ve scheduled in a suitable date and time, follow up with a confirmation and preparation email. This email should include information such as:
- The agreed date and time of the interview and how long you’ll need your guest for.
- Details to connect. i.e. skype names or phone details.
- Information required from your guest. i.e. written bio, links to their website and social media, bio photographs. I also ask for a postal address so I can send a thank you card after the interview.
- A list of preparation questions (if applicable).
- A request to sign the podcast guest release agreement (see below).
EMAIL 3: PODCAST GUEST RELEASE AGREEMENT
You may like to ask your guest to sign a Podcast Guest Release agreement which should include information such as: the podcast name and your name, your guest’s name and date of the interview. And it might cover terms such as the topic to be discussed, the length of the interview, how the interview will be conducted, and compensation, intellectual property, copyright, publicity, adaption and circulation clauses. I am not a lawyer and therefore cannot provide specific details on writing a podcast guest release agreement. However, here is an example of a guest release template that might get you started.
When we first started podcasting we created a simple “terms and agreements” email which we sent out separately to our guest after we had scheduled in a date and time for the interview. Once the guest had responded yes to the email, we then archived it for our records.
EMAIL 4: THANK YOU
A couple of days before or on the day your guest’s interview goes live send her a thank you email. This email might include:
- A BIG thank you and a sharing of one or two of the messages you personally took away from the discussion.
- The date and time the interview will be published.
- A link to the episode show notes on your website.
- A direct link to the podcast audio if your guest wishes to embed this into their own blog post or somewhere on their website.
- Your social media details so she can tag you if she shares her interview.
- Episode artwork and quote artwork she can use to share across social media.
Time saving tip: Once you’re happy with your email copy, set your emails up as templates or ‘canned email responses’ in your mailing system. This way, you’ll have your emails formatted and ready to go at the click of a button. To create canned responses in outlook or gmail, check out this post here. To create canned responses in Mail on your Mac, check out this post here.
Interviewing is a fantastic way to form friendships and connections with people you admire and respect. Your guests are giving up their valuable time to participate on your show and they are openly sharing their knowledge and insight free of charge. So use this as an opportunity to really shower your guest in love and gratitude for all they are doing.
Here are a few simple tips I use to amplify the connection and illustrate my gratitude:
+ Allow a short amount of time (about five minutes) at the start of every interview to chat and genuinely form a connection with your guest. This also helps to settle nerves before you begin.
+ Be respectful of time. Be clear on how much time you’ll need for the interview and stick to it. I normally let my guest know I’ll need her for an additional 10-minutes either side of “official recording time”. This gives enough space for a friendly chat, sound checks and tests, and a small allowance in case we go slightly overtime.
+ Ask your guest if there’s anything she would prefer not to talk about during the interview and steer clear of these areas.
+ After the interview has gone live, share it across social media and tag your guest for maximum coverage.
+ A week or two after the interview has been published and your audience has had time to digest the interview, screen capture and collate together all the beautiful comments and emails that flowed in from your audience and then send them to your guest in one big thank you email.
+ Ask your guest for her postal address and send her a thank you card or, if you have the budget, a thank you gift.
And there you have it! I really hope this information was useful.
The information shared in this post is a snippet from my podcasting guidebook series – Ignite: Podcasting for Changemakers – step by step guidebooks to help you create and launch a podcast that is all heart. Find out more about Ignite here.