There are many good reasons to be a guest on a podcast. You may want to promote your business, make some noise about your creative work, or raise money for a passion project.
Back in the old days, it was hard to find the right podcast to appear on. When I did this kind of podcast search for clients who wanted to guest, I had to scour podcast directories, figure out who the producers were, and write a compelling pitch email. It involved a lot of “cold emails,” because there was no way to know whether a podcast was looking for guests until you reached out.
Now, finding the right podcast to guest on has become easier than ever thanks to a few platforms that connect podcasts and guests.
Recently, I was a guest on the Understanding Politics podcast to promote my new book, Surrender, a science fiction novel that will be released next month. (But as you’ll read below, if all I did was to promote the book, they probably wouldn’t have had me on the show.)
The producers of Understanding Politics found me because I’d posted a profile on Podmatch. Podmatch is a smart site that connects podcast producers and podcast guests. On the guest side, after you sign up, write up your profile, and pay a nominal fee, the site’s AI goes to work. Every few days, I get an email from Podmatch with some suggested podcasts I can pitch to see if they’d like to have me as a guest. It works in the other direction for shows. As a producer, you can list your show so that guests can find you.
As a potential podcast guest, I’ve found the site easy to use. The Podmatch founder, Alex Sanfilippo, has posted ten videos on Podmatch about how to pitch yourself to podcast producers and how to navigate the Podmatch site. I’ve been producing podcasts for a decade, and Alex has helped remind me of a few key pathways to success. An example: In your pitch email to producers, it’s a good idea to propose questions you’d like to answer. This gives producers a quick snapshot of the kind of guest you’d be.
Another podcast guest matching site I’ve tried is Matchmaker.fm. Unlike Podmatch, Matchmaker.fm can be used for free, with no monthly fee. That makes it a good “toe-in-the-water” choice for experimenting with podcast discovery and pitching yourself as a guest. Like Podmatch, Matchmaker.fm emails me every few days with suggestions for podcasts that might like me as a guest.
As a guest, you’ll need credibility, a sense of what part of your story you want to tell, and a willingness to give more than you get. When I book guests for the podcasts I produce, I stay away from potential guests who are purely promotional. The promotional kind of guest uses the interview to recite their LinkedIn profile, or give a PowerPoint on the merits of their startup. That’s not the person I’m looking for. The guest I want has a story to tell.
Podcasts thrive on storytelling. So, as a guest, it’s your responsibility to bring along a narrative. You should be able to tell a story about a life lesson, or a time your career changed direction, or when you found yourself directionless and needed a new solution. Yes, there’s risk in that because you have to be vulnerable, but that’s what listeners really want. You must choose the part of your story you want to tell for any given podcast. We all contain multitudes. No podcast can contain them all.
To be a good guest, you’ll need to be clear about why you’re appearing on the podcast. To take myself as an example, if a producer evaluating me as a guest thought that all I would say during the interview was, “Buy my book,” they wouldn’t book me.
Instead, I try to be more interesting by talking about what I learned writing the book. My favorite topics include online privacy, the dangers and benefits of AI, and how we might handle our anxiety about climate change or social media. I cover all of those things in the book, but in a podcast interview, I want them to be woven into a story.
At Red Cup, we’re celebrating the start of 2023 by launching season four of The Glo Podcast. We’re continuing production on two internal podcasts that Fortune 500 companies will release on their networks. I’m prepping a new consulting program to help podcast hosts hone their craft and become better hosts. In a few months, we’ll be in pre-production on the FutureX Podcast, a podcast about futurism that will start by exploring how to create positive online communities.
I hope 2023 will be a great New Year for you.
Thanks for reading,