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Be a great podcast guest

We live in an age of information and “how-to do anything” tutorials lay at our fingertips.

If you’re looking to start a business online, there’s a massive amount of self-teaching content for you to consume produced by “teachers” that created said content, through the same means. To the point where, literally, anyone from any background might label themselves a “teacher.” We are disrupting the traditional educational system and creating our own economies through digital infoproducts. That said, when it comes to online business building, there’s a lot of bad advice out there.

Let me repeat: a lot of bad advice.

When you combine that with someone (a student) who is simply trying to get results as fast as possible with no regard to refining the skill they’re learning, bad things happen. Imagine if you went skydiving, would you stop at learning how to put on the parachute and then take to the skies? No. No, you wouldn’t.

But when we think about the marketing and business development required to grow our own brands, we throw care and craftsmanship to the wind. We no longer want to wait and learn our craft. We just want the results we believe are owed to us. So, we tune into podcasts every morning before the drive to work or during the 3-mile jog to get that “FIRED UP!” quick fix of success motivation.

“They did it, I’ll just do the same!” we shout to the Bluetooth speaker as we shower off the morning suds.

Gaining traction through podcast interviews.

It’s no secret that podcasting drives serious results. Through really hard work and countless hours of recording audio/video, you can build a recognizable brand and a strong list of followers. You can create connections you otherwise would not have made by simply tweeting at your desk.

Is there a good ROI on podcasting?

One of the most common questions I receive when someone is curious about my business is: “Does podcasting have a good return on investment?” Yes, for me, it does. Podcasting does two things really well:

  1. It connects you with other motivated and engaging business builders.
  2. It helps you grow an audience.

My business consists of products and services, with services being my dominate revenue stream. Folks often think that I’ve worked on building an audience to sell WordPress products. While that’s somewhat true, I’ve created more revenue for my company by selling to past guests of the Matt Report than one-off digital download sales.

A few years ago, I met John Nemo, who now runs a successful LinkedIN marketing consultancy. John was a guest here to discuss the intricacies of focusing on a niche offering, which he was doing at the time. More recently, I interviewed Andrew Youderian of the eCommerceFuel podcast and we riffed on the world of online selling outside of the WordPress world. Both became clients of mine and created well into the five-figures of dollars in revenue.

Don’t treat this as a growth hack

As the podcasting medium continues to rise in popularity, so does the advice to “become a guest on a popular podcast to grow your business.”

I am exposed to this on a weekly basis and that’s why I’ve spent the last few paragraphs validating the business of podcasting. Yes, we know that real money can be made and yes we know it’s a great way to reach an audience at a very low cost.

Well, unless you’re applying to be a guest on my podcast, that is.

See, I didn’t spend years dedicated to this craft just to have you come on because your product is a great fit for my audience. I didn’t spend thousands of dollars in hosting, equipment, and editors for you to get 45 minutes of air time for free. There are only a handful of things I do really well, and one of them is having a conversation with another person. One reason is because I’m always learning and willing to learn more even when I think I’ve leveled-up all the way. The second is, I love to help others do the same.

Podcasting is my art and something I take very seriously. It’s a constant practice of audio engineering, great content, and good conversation. With all of this, I can ensure that I am delivering something of value to my listener. A touch of education and a touch of entertainment. Podcasting is not a growth hack to me, so I don’t expect my guests to treat it as one either.

How-to be a great podcast guest

Now that we’ve set the expectations for the kind of podcaster worth her time and dedication to the space receiving outreach e-mails, here’s my tips for becoming a better podcast guest:

Understand what the host values.

Here’s an example: I’m a WordPress expert.

If you do WordPress, like I do WordPress, you’ll totally get that line. There’s some tongue in cheek, but it is to say, I care first and foremost about who and what I recommend on the air. From the plugins to the services I discuss, it matters to me that all aspects of the business do it right. Unfortunately, I see a lot more companies who “do it wrong,” creating much more profitable businesses (at least short-term) than folks that do real good work and haven’t created their first dent in the universe.

The WordPress ecosystem is a reputation economy. If our values don’t align, I’m losing more than you (the guest) in the long run.

So, even if you’re not applying to be on my show, do you understand the core value of the host you want to speak with?

Listen to their shows!

This is probably why I don’t do much outreach myself, because I don’t have enough time for more podcasts on my playlist. That said, when I’m a guest on a show I’ve never listened to, I always take the time to download a few episodes. It’s important to understand the host, the format of the show, and what’s expected for content. There’s nothing worse than listening to a guest who isn’t prepared for the style of the show they’re a part of.

I’m not saying you have to listen to the entire archive, but in my opinion, if you care to speak to an audience, you should care enough to listen to a few in the back catalog.

Understand the audience

This is a no-brainer, but one that is often overlooked.

I’ll fall back to the WordPress expert example from earlier. If you just launched a shiny new info product and you’ve never updated a WordPress website before, chances are, you’re not going to do so well with my audience. It goes deeper to areas like WordCamps, WordPress.org and understanding the community that runs it all. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be willing to listen and understand.

Spending time understanding the audience is no different than the marketing you do for your own business. The better the connection you make with the listeners, the higher chances you of converting them.

Present a solid discussion (and deliver)

Remember, this isn’t about promoting your product or service, it’s about having a conversation that provides value for the time a listener invests. A good host should remind you about this, so I won’t dwell on it. Take what you’ve learned from discovering who the host is and what her audience desires and create an actionable (but short) presentation.

Provide this outline to the host you’re contacting as a way to show that you care about this engagement. Because you do.

The second part of this tip: don’t be a dud. Plain and simple. No one is interested in a yawn-fest, so be as engaging and lively as possible during the show.

Don’t send a messenger

The fastest way to get me to say no is when you send your virtual assistant to schedule a conversation. The only way that would fly is if you were POTUS. If you don’t have a few minutes to ask me yourself, you probably don’t really care about this hour we’ll spend together.

Pro-tip: If you send your VA, have them send it under your alias, signed in your name at the very least.

Be aware of audio and video

Again, we’re not asking you to become experts, but think to the episodes you’ve cringed at with bad audio. The scratching sound of the Apple earbuds microphone against a wool sweater is a sure sign that neither the host nor the guest prepared for a good audio session. Trust me, I’m not saying each of my episodes are of NPR quality, but I do care that my audience can hear everything clearly whether they are in their cars or at home. A solid microphone is well under a hundred bucks and if this is going to be an important part of your businesses growth, invest in it.

Don’t forget to promote it

As a host, nothing stings more than when you don’t retweet our episode. Like you just wanted my audience, you didn’t care enough to even RT one stinking link. Not fair.

Go the extra mile for your host, and why not? It’s your content too! Setup your Buffer accounts, send it to your e-mail list, and add it to your about page. If you did a knock-out job on the show (like we’ve prepared you for) this is evergreen content for your own brand. Take the time to promote it for months to come.

Concluding

In the end, podcasting is a huge investment for the host that cares about producing a quality track.

When guests treat it as a throwaway marketing effort, it creates a ripple effect across the sound waves for our listeners. Often, we’ll find guests reaching out to similar shows making the same pitch, talking about the same stuff and it all gets old fast.

Take the time to prepare yourself and your content as if you were booked to speak at a conference. You’ll feel better about your performance when you make the effort to provide strong actionable advice for those listening.

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