One of the best ways to create valuable content for your listeners is to invite influential and insightful guests on to your show. The right influencer can impress your podcast community, give your podcast a powerful boost, and make you some money. But podcasts guests won’t volunteer on their own, which is why it’s important to know how to invite someone to an interview.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get in touch with anyone these days. Getting their attention and convincing them to join you on an episode is a bit harder, however.
Whether your potential guest is someone from your existing network, someone you just met (in person or online), a friend-of-a-friend, or a cold target, you’ll have to email them a pitch.
How to Invite Someone to an Interview in 6 Steps
Here’s how to invite someone to an interview on your podcast.
Step 1: Research your target
To invite someone to an interview, your first step is to perform a bit of research. If you target someone who isn’t right for your podcast, there’s a good chance they’ll just ignore your email.
Your potential guest’s audience is your biggest concern. Your audience and their audience should overlap so the content you produce together is relevant. If the potential guest doesn’t think they’ll extend their brand by coming on your podcast, they won’t bother.
Next, take a few minutes to examine the potential guest’s content. Have they created anything similar to the topic you plan? If so, how do their opinions align or differ? If they haven’t, would it be worth changing your topic to something more suitable?
Consider their preferred format, too. If they like to dive deep into heavy topics with lots of nuance, they’ll probably resist your listicle “top 10 things” format.
Finally, take note of anything unique about them or their online presence. If you want to invite someone to an interview, you have to know something about them. You can gain a lot of respect by pointing out something special. For instance, if your target holds a unique or controversial view about a particular subject, mention it and invite them to talk about it on your podcast.
Step 2: Craft an intriguing subject line
Other than your name, the subject line of your email is the only information your target has to decide whether they’ll open your message. So you have to make it good.
A proper subject line is direct, yet intriguing. You don’t have mention your podcast, but it’s important to find a way to connect with your potential guest.
Bad subject line: Please come on my podcast
That subject line isn’t just boring. It asks a favor without offering anything in return. It would be easy for a potential guest to decide they don’t want to help, especially if they’ve never heard of your podcast before.
Good subject line: Let’s help new entrepreneurs start their businesses
That’s a good subject line because it’s interesting and relevant (assuming your potential helps people build businesses). It also signifies a shared goal and specifically mentions the target’s customer demographic (new entrepreneurs).
Step 3: Write a compelling outreach email
After your subject line, the next step to invite someone to an interview is to write a smart pitch.
Some influential people get dozens of pitches to appear on podcasts every day. Your pitch has to be unique and exciting if you expect to get their attention. This is especially true for big-name personalities who can add a lot of value to your podcast.
Whatever you do, don’t send the same generalized pitch to every potential guest. They’ll will notice and they’ll feel like they aren’t worth your time.
Here’s an example of a boring, uninteresting pitch:
Here’s one that’s more warm and personal, even though it’s a cold email.
We know you want to send out a lot of pitches in order to get a few bites (which is smart if you’re a new podcast host), but it’s critical that you customize each message to your target. It seems like a lot of work, but fewer, well-written emails are more effective than a lot of template emails.
If you use a template for your pitch, make sure to customize it thoroughly for each potential guest.
Keep your pitch brief. You might be tempted to pack as much information in your email as possible to make your case, but that’s rarely helpful. Keep your message to these facts:
- Who you are
- Why you’re contacting them
- What you can offer (the benefit to them)
- What you might talk about together (potential topics and structure)
- Where you’ll repurpose your podcast
- A few sample episodes they can listen to learn more about your podcast
- What you’ll need from them (e.g., 25 minutes over Skype)
Step 4: Provide lots of value
As your potential guests read your pitch, the first thing they’ll wonder is “What’s in it for me?” So if you want to invite someone to an interview, you have to speak in terms of what you can do for them.
What value can you offer? How would the potential host benefit from appearing on your podcast?
Unless you can pay for their time (and most podcasts don’t), the best thing you can offer is exposure. If you’re still a small podcast and can’t offer much exposure, you’ll have to target guests who aren’t in-demand by larger shows and media outlets.
If you’ve had some well-known people on your podcast before, tell your potential guest, especially if you’ve had them on your show before. Name-dropping is a fantastic use of social proof.
It also helps to drop some numbers, like the size of your email list, social media following, and (of course) they number of people who listen to each of your podcast episodes. These metrics indicate your popularity and speak to how much exposure they can gain.
Step 5: Give them an easy call-to-action
Your call-to-action is the next step you want your potential guest to take. It should be simple, easy, and require little commitment.
For instance, asking a person who’s never heard of you before to schedule a time on your calendar tool may be simple and easy, but it asks a lot. They may want to ask some questions over email before they commit to recording an episode with you.
In your first email, your goal is to get potential guests to say “yes.” You want them to take a tiny step forward so you have an excuse to email them again, this time with more information about the episode you plan, how they will participate, and how you’ll both promote it.
You could end your email with something as simple as this: “If you’d like to go forward to hear more, just reply with ‘yes.’”
Once you’ve gone back and forth a bit (or you get the impression the guest is ready to move forward quickly), then you can hit them with a link to your calendar software to schedule a planning call or record the episode. Calendly, YouCanBook.me, and ScheduleHopper are great tools.
Step 6: Don’t forget to follow up
If you don’t get a response to your pitch, it’s important to follow up.
It is remarkable how many people don’t bother to follow up. If you want to invite someone to an interview, you have to be persistent.
If a potential guest doesn’t reply to your pitch in seven days, send them a quick follow up. It’s super easy:
“Hi [name], I’m just following up with my last email. I’d love to have you on my podcast. Let me know if we can work together. Thanks!”
If they don’t reply to your follow up, try reaching out to them a different way. They may not check their email often or may have someone else filter their messages. Send them a message on Twitter or whatever social media platform they prefer. If you really want them on your show, send a handwritten letter to their office.
If you still don’t get through, cut your losses and move on. It’s best not to become a nuisance.
Don’t let self-doubt stop you from reaching out to new people. Just because they’re a big name or a powerful influencer in your niche doesn’t mean they’re unwilling to work with someone smaller. They may not respond, or they may say no, but you never know unless you ask.