From Host of Badass Digital Nomads Podcast, Kristin Wilson
I receive cold emails every day from people looking to book themselves or their clients on my podcast. But ultimately, less than 1% of those who inquire ever make it onto the show. Why so few?
My podcast may be small compared to someone like Joe Rogan or Tim Ferriss, but podcasting is more intimate than other forms of digital media. Downloads, demographics, and subscriber counts don’t matter as much as the quality of the content and the bond between the audience and the host.
My listeners trust me to deliver value to them each week, and I don’t want to let them down. I’d rather record solo episodes for life than waste their time (and mine) with a lousy guest.
Likewise, no self-respecting podcast host will compromise this sacred relationship so you can score a new backlink from their show notes. So if you want to get booked on podcasts, here are the biggest mistakes to avoid and what to do instead.
Mistake #1: Sending a Generic Copy-and-Paste Email
The single most effective thing you can do to increase your chance of getting booked on a podcast is to send a customized email to the host that communicates two things:
That you’ve listened to the podcast before.
That you’re a good fit for the show (and why).
If you only change one thing in your approach to getting on podcasts, stop sending cut-and-paste emails. Write something thoughtful and personalized instead.
If you send an email that looks like it belongs in the spam folder, that’s where it will go. I’ll go over one example below as a case study, but you know spam when you see it (or send it).
Mistake #2: Hiring a Podcast Booking Agent
Podcast booking agents charge upwards of $350 per episode or $15,000 per quarter to get you booked on podcasts. While they may have some success, I don’t recommend going this route.
When a podcast booking agent emails me, it’s a sure sign that the guest doesn’t care which podcasts he or she ends up on — it’s a numbers game to them. That almost guarantees that my audience and I will have to suffer through ho-hum, uninspired talking points, and packaged stories. There’s also a good chance that my listeners have already heard them before on a different podcast.
Take the example of an actual email I received from a podcast booking agent. I’ll dissect why it didn’t work.
What’s “bad” about it? It was a cut-and-paste email that was probably auto-sent with software. The only fields that appear customized are the recipient name and podcast name.
Even the title was generic: “Hi Kristin, I’d like to introduce you to someone.” Then, there are other problems:
It’s too long. No one wants to read a block of text this long from anyone — let alone in a cold email.
It’s too general. Advice on “networking” and “self-care” is too vague. And what does going “all-in” mean?
It puts the burden on the podcast host. To move forward with booking this person, I would have to research and vet him, then come up with a way to align his message with what my audience cares about. That’s way too much work when there are plenty of people I already know I want to talk to. She also sent me his calendar link rather than asking about my availability.
Lack of original stories. The agent refers to her “favorite anecdote,” which leads me to believe that her client uses the same stories and talking points on every podcast. Yawn.
If you have the financial resources to hire a booking agent, that money would be better spent hiring an in-house freelancer or VA and giving them a company email address. You could also delegate podcast outreach to an existing employee who knows you and your company well. That’s the strategy that Bonjoro, a video email marketing company, used to successfully get their CEO on my show.
What makes Bonjoro’s email unique? First, it was short, polite, and to-the-point. It also came from their in-house growth manager, who took the time to find common ground with my show while displaying a general understanding of my content and audience. She then suggested topics we could talk about that were timely in the context of current events (the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic). She also chose an appropriate email subject line, which gets the point across without being presumptuous: “Possible Podcast Guest — Badass Digital Nomads.”
Bonjoro probably sent some version of this email to multiple podcast hosts, but they seemed genuine. After chatting with the CEO and his team over email, I had him on the show. It went great.
Mistake #3: Making It All About You
If you’re cold pitching someone to be on their show, talking about how great you are is not the best way to make your case. Instead, try to find common ground with the host and audience. Use specific examples to portray how your experience and accolades can provide value or entertainment for listeners.
Rather than thinking of a podcast guesting opportunity as a promotion or sales pitch, consider how your journey can inspire and educate others. What is the outcome or transformation someone will experience after listening to your interview? It should be more than building your email list.
Case Study: How to Write Your Podcast Pitch
Medium writer, Anthony Moore, did a great job of communicating his value as a podcast guest in an email he sent me.
His message is brief, personalized, and to-the-point:
“I’m writing to you because I would love to be considered as a guest on your show.”
He conveyed that he has listened to the podcast — referencing a specific episode that he found valuable.
He found common ground in his productivity struggles as a traveling digital nomad.
He explained how he overcame his struggles as an entrepreneur with numbers, facts, and measurable outcomes.
He suggested topics that make sense for us to talk about and relate to my audience.
He vetted himself with links to media and his one-page media kit/bio.
He was cognizant and respectful of my time.
Podcast Booking Tips From Experts
“We have to recognize it is a huge privilege to show up in front of someone else’s audience” — Tarzan Kay
Copywriting queen and “mother of emails,” Tarzan Kay, knows a thing or two about getting booked on podcasts. She’s scored guest spots on shows like EO Fire and Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield. Her two top tips include:
Go out of your way to stand out. Do something untraditional like sending the host some funny socks in the mail or making a custom GIF.
Make it a win for the host. Research the show you want to appear on and then get creative. Build a custom freebie around the host and his or her audience.
Liam Martin, the founder of Running Remote conference, has been on hundreds of podcasts (including mine). I asked his assistant, Vaishali Badgujar, how she’s so successful in booking him. She said:
Chase quality over quantity. Reach out only to podcasts where you can provide and get value. Study the podcast and learn about the audience to discover how you can contribute.
Make a strong pitch. Suggest a couple of topics and explain how they add value to the podcast’s audience. Also, include a one-page podcast resume or press kit.
Follow up if you don’t hear back. Include more details about how you can contribute.
A Few More Words of Advice
When it comes to booking yourself (or others) on podcasts, strive for quality over quantity, and give more than you take. If you treat podcast interviews like one-night stands, you’ll be left equally unsatisfied.
Instead, show respect for the amount of time and money (lots of money) it takes for hosts to research, plan, prepare, record, produce, edit, polish, distribute, and promote a single podcast episode. Show good faith and do your homework.
Also, consider what you can do to build a long-term relationship with the host. Follow and engage with them on social media. Share their work on your profile or endorse them on LinkedIn. Think about how you can add value, communicate how you’ll do it, then deliver when the time comes.
Make the most of the opportunity to speak to someone and their audience for upwards of 90 minutes — for free. Podcast guesting allows you to amplify your brand, share your message, build your business, and spread goodwill at the same time.