So you’ve done all the difficult work to start a podcast. You’ve come up with a concept and a hook. You’ve come up with a simple, memorable title that will attract attention. You’ve invested in a specific microphone for podcasts to help achieve professional quality. You’ve worked out how and where you are going to publish your completed audio. Maybe you’ve even done your diligence and sat down to write out a mission statement for the show, and maybe you’ve even recorded a couple of test episodes just to prove that the concept is feasible and you have a gauge for how you sound on mic. You are ready to go. Except there’s one nagging question you haven’t gotten around to resolving yet: How are you going to get someone else to be on your show with you?
Why Guests Are Important
Not every podcast necessarily demands a guest on every episode, or even any episodes. Some podcasts function almost like audio documentaries, or as mixed media audiobooks. They will have a host/narrator doing the majority of the speaking and use pre-existing clips to pepper throughout. Think about Serial, for one example. Every episode of that show’s legendary first season was comprised primarily of host Sarah Koening narrating her investigation of the central murder mystery, interspersed with interviews she’d already conducted or soundbites from other sources, like courtroom recordings or local news stories.
Other podcasts might get away with just having a couple hosts or a panel of hosts kicking around various talking points from episode to episode. If the topics are compelling and there is a strong sense of repartee between the hosts, there is no reason why a show can’t be successful with this set-up.
But the vast majority of podcasts all but require a guest of some kind. Besides the immediate creative demands, there’s a simple pragmatic reason for this: Guests have their own audience, their own followings, their own social media presence. The simplest way to spread the word of your show far and wide is to have your guest bring your show to their corner of the outside world and encourage people to listen.
Speaking as a podcast listener, I rarely set out in search of a new podcast, but if a writer/comedian/celebrity/media figure that I enjoy or find interesting announces an appearance on a show, I’ll more than likely check it out. And if the show/hosts make for an entertaining listen, I might start combing through previous episodes for more.
Podcast guests keep the show fresh week in and week out. Guests bring unique perspectives and interesting ideas, and guests provide the space for you to explore your core theme or topic to its fullest extent.
Who Do I Get, and How Do I Get Them?
When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to reach into your immediate circle of friends and colleagues. You want people who you feel comfortable with, and who feel comfortable talking to you. Plus, if your show is brand new and doesn’t yet have a reputation or sample shows to draw on, people who already know you and enjoy your company will be much easier to schedule a recording with, rather than a more distant connection.
All the same, you will not want to recruit just anyone. Try to identify individuals who can speak clearly, who have a base of knowledge that they can draw on for your show’s subject matter, and who you know can carry on a conversation.
Once you have your feet on the ground and feel comfortable going out to people beyond your immediate circle, there are any number of ways you can find and contact guests. Social media is always an option, or even just the Internet in general. One thing you can say about the Internet, it makes it pretty easy to find people with an interest in any given topic, no matter how obscure or seemingly specialized.
And don’t be afraid to source guest ideas from your audience, or even from other guests. Every industry and area of interest brings with it a robust network of experts and professionals, ready to be heard as soon as someone is ready to listen.
Be Our Guest
At ModPod, we can’t book your guests for you, but we can be a supportive partner for you all throughout your podcast development, production, and deployment. We’re ready whenever you are.