written by
David Hooper

Why Podcasters Miss Out on Great Guests

Podcast Hosting Skills Podcast Interviewing Skills Mindset 5 min read

One of the biggest problems new podcasters (and even some experienced podcasters) face is booking guests that aren’t a right match for their podcasts. And if you’ve got an interview-format podcasts, there’s nothing that will kill it faster than having a guest who isn’t a match.

Never Book These People On Your Podcast

  • people who are not qualified to speak on the topic/focus of your podcast
  • people who are not skilled in communicating a message
  • people care more about their needs than the needs of your podcast’s listeners
  • people who don’t have the proper audio equipment for you to get a quality recording
  • people aren’t willing to do what you need them to do to get a great interview (for example, people who refuse to do a pre-interview)

Saying “no” to people can be difficult. Also, new podcasters often times don’t have the awareness and experience to differentiate a quality guest from a mismatch or know the amount of vetting it takes to make sure guests show up in the way that is needed to get something good on tape.

The Podcast Guest Backlash

Interviewing a “bad podcast guest” can be exhausting and most people find their tolerance for these guests to be short-lived. Because of this, it’s common to see podcasters go from an attitude of “I’m willing to interview anybody” to just the opposite, making potential podcast guests go through a gauntlet of questions and tasks in order to be interviewed.

RELATED: “There is a $250 marketing fee for all guests...”

7 Common Potential Guest Requests

Here are some “common guest requests” you’ll see from podcasters who are burnt out on interviewing low-quality guests :

  1. Listen to the podcast
  2. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts
  3. Follow the podcast host on Instagram
  4. How many social media followers do you have?
  5. How big is your email list?
  6. What is your favorite episode of my podcast?
  7. Are you interested in an interview swap?

Here are my thoughts on each:

Listen To The Podcast

It’s not bad to ask this, but it’s not necessary. Smart guests will listen to a podcast before an appearance and smart booking agents and publicists will review a podcast before pitching a guest regardless of whether a host requests it.

Leave A Review On Apple Podcasts

Reviews are helpful for social proof, but not so helpful that it’s worth asking potential guests to write one. You’ll likely miss out on great guests because of this request, since it makes you look desperate at best and, at worst, manipulative. Also, great guests have interview and appearance options beyond your podcast and don’t have to jump through unrelated hoops to get booked.

Before asking this or any question of a guest, ask yourself, “Is this a request from the kind of host I’d want to work with?” If the answer is “No,” don’t ask it.

Will this request get you more reviews? Yes. But even if a potential guest decides to jump through this hoop, unless he’s already familiar with your podcast, you’ll get a generic review that’s not really helpful.

Follow The Podcast Host On Instagram

This also seems manipulative and desperate. If you’re trying to impress a potential guest with how popular you are, this kills that.

If you want somebody to follow you on social media, post things that people find of value and want more of.

How Many Social Media Followers Do You Have?

Imagine you’re on a first day and the person you’re with asks, “How much money do you make?” Asking a potential guest how many social media followers he has is the same thing.

Are you looking for a quality guest for your podcast or somebody with a big megaphone? There’s nothing wrong with looking at the social media profiles of potential guests during your vetting process, and follower-count is part of that, but asking for a number on a guest application makes it seem like you’re more interested in people for their followers rather than their ability to make a great podcast episode with you.

How Big Is Your Email List?

Again, it seems like you care more about “size” than substance. A quality guest, even somebody with a huge social media platform, doesn’t want to be interviewed simply because he has a big following.

How would you know the size of an email list anyway? List size isn’t something that can be verified. Because of this, low-quality guests are likely to lie to you about this number in an effort to get your attention.

What Is Your Favorite Episode Of My Podcast?

Are you looking for a quality guest or an ego stroke?

Not all quality guests will be listeners of your podcast. And only low-quality guests will play the “favorite episode” game if they’re not.

Are You Interested In An Interview Swap?

Do you think Marc Maron or Dax Shepard ask potential guests this question?

If you require (or even inquire about) an “interview swap,” you’re missing quality guests who would be great for your podcast simply because they’re not interested in having you as a guest on their podcasts.

The Most Common Potential Guest Request

Never ask a potential guest to agree to “promote” your show. Only low-quality guests will agree to this as quality guests know that not all episodes turn out great and are worth being promoted.

If you do the necessary work and create a great episode, people who are part of it will let other people know. And if you gave a great podcast in general, people who are part of it will let other people know.

When your podcast has clout and credibility, you don’t need to ask guests to promote you because they do that automatically.

Final Thoughts

Every single one of these requests shows that you don’t trust people or you’re more concerned what you’ll get out of an interview than what the interview will mean to the people who hear it. And if you don’t treat your listeners well, they won’t be listeners for very long.

Podcasting is a long game. If you want to build a big audience, focus on the foundation of creating and delivering great content. If you shortcut this, you are not a match for the people who actually built their audiences in this way, so any effort to “attach” yourself to those people will not work.

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