Shortlisting & Inviting guests

No matter the format of your show, it is always a good idea to get some guests on your podcast. Having a different voice and more importantly, a different point of view makes the episode interesting, brings out more perspectives and make it an enjoyable listening. Chances are you already have a few people in mind who you think would be great on your show. This is a long process, so once you have the plan of the show ready, immediately start shortlisting and inviting guests.

The obvious question is "How to decide who should be the guest ?" You can ask yourself a few questions:

1. Is there an affiliate angle to attract high profile guests?

Say, there is a writer who writes about stress management - and that is what your podcast is all about. If the writer has a new book coming up, chances are she will be in promotion mode and may be ready to be on your show. Even though your audience is small, it is very targeted and will continue to grow. So, they might want to come on.

Sure, you will have to promote their book a couple of times in the episodes but it a great way to attract high profile guests that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. Catch them in the promotion mode and you might score. The revenue from the affiliate links doesn’t hurt either.

2. Will the audience like them?

Always put the needs of your audience first. Even before yours. Why? We make podcasts to target and connect with a specific group of listeners and if the guest fails to connect with them, the whole point of holding the podcast fails. So find a guest who your audience can relate to and derive insights from.

3. Are they the niche expert?

The best shows have a clear niche and getting an expert in that niche is the best way to get more listeners for the episode. Her expertise in that niche is what your audience is looking for. In a few minutes, she can give tremendous value to your listeners, creating loyalty.

4. Are they Great Storytellers?

There are always people in your circle, industry or community who tell great stories. You may be friends with them, have seen them speak at a conference or heard them on other podcasts. If they are able to spark that imagination in your head, they are good storytellers. It is okay if they are not experts - they can take cues from you and jump into the conversation to make it more lively.

Now, every guest you shortlist won’t be able to make because of schedule conflicts or time constraints. So, it is necessary to have a sales approach here. Decide how many guests do you want to invite in the next quarter and reach out to at least twice the number of people. Creating a sales Funnel using a CRM software like Streak is a great idea. It works inside Gmail and has templates to create funnels. A typical funnel might look like this (a picture of the following)

Shortlist > Email > Call > Scheduling > Confirmed > Added to calendar

Once you have a guest shortlist and have added it to your CRM software, it is time to hustle and start connecting with your guests.

Build a relationship first

Concentrate more on building a relationship with the guest before approaching them in coldly. Even spending a week on building a relationship will make you better than 95% people out there who just cold email/ spam them.

Follow them on social media and engage with them through blog, FB or Twitter. You can start by liking their posts, comment or and sharing your insights. Twitter is often the best way to reach your guests. Slowly as they begin recognizing you, you should see if you can DM/email and invite them.

Approaching by email

t is only after you have built some kind of familiarity with the guest, is the right time to share an invitation through email. Be concise and use a simple template:

"Hi, I heard you on X podcast and loved how you talked about Y to do Z. I too am passionate about Y because of [ reasons].

To create more dialogue on Y, I have started ABC podcast. Our listener base is currently small, but growing and is fascinated about using Y to improve their [ ].

They would love to hear from you. Would you like to come on as a guest? Find past episodes[here] and[here]"

Let’s study the template:

1. Start with one specific sentence of how you know the guest.

2. Talk about the niche/ subject that you are working on and why you are passionate about it.

3. Talk about the niche/ subject that you are working on and why you are passionate about it.

4. Talk about your listeners and how they would benefit hearing the guest.

5. Finally, if you have them, give a few samples or demo show of your recordings for the guest to hear.

Make the email as personalised as you possibly can.

After sending them an email, be patient for their reply. Be understanding enough to know that they also have a lot on their plate. They might take a longer time to revert than you assume. If they do not reply, don't get disheartened.

Measure your email open rates and reply rates. If they are low, keep personalizing the email and adjusting the email length. You will surely start hearing back.

After you have built a good rapport with a few guests and have had them on the show, the easy mistake to make is to keep getting the same guests on your show. To avoid repeatability, build a robust referral network through existing guests. Request them to send in a good word to their colleagues, experts, and friends.

Use the same template to reach out to them. Stand out from your competitors by having new guests on your show who haven’t already shared their knowledge and expertise on similar podcasts.

Anup Gosavi

Anup Gosavi

Co-founder, Spext

Co-founder, Spext