Guest Booking Forms
I want to talk about guest booking forms and share a bit of best practices for how to use a guest booking form. Not only make it easy for you to collect information from your guests but also to make it easy for your guests to provide you the information, to do it on your timeframe and not just theirs. It’s very important when you’re going to book a guest, to be a guest on your podcast that you don’t have to chase them down to gather the information that you need. Their social media handles, their headshot, their bio information, and how do they want to be represented on your show. That’s what I want to talk about, guest booking forms and share what we do and what we see as best practices.
The first thing is you want to use a calendar program. I’m sure many of you use a program to book people on your calendar for all sorts of reasons. You can do that for booking guests as well. There are many different ones out there. There are a lot of free programs like Calendly. There’s Acuity. There is what used to be called ScheduleOnce and now it’s called OnceHub. There are others as well. There are a lot of different choices you have. I’m not an expert in all those different options. You need to evaluate, vet the ones that you want to consider using and see what’s going to work for you. I am going to share with you what we use and that is OnceHub, the former ScheduleOnce. The reason we use it quite honestly is that Tracy and I have a lot of booking calendars that we share or co-host on a few podcasts. We found that OnceHub does have the best options for us for being able to go out and look at both of our calendars and find the open times where both of us are available. We each book appointments individually for different things and then we’re going to come together for podcasts. The time has to be free on both our calendars.
Booking Calendar Link
That’s the main reason we use it, but also because of the capability of the form. One of the things I want also to mention and caution you on is that some of the free programs may not allow you to collect as much detailed information and create a custom form. If you find one that does, that’s great. We haven’t found a free one that has a robust capability as we wanted. On your booking form, you want to be thorough. You want to gather all the information you need. The way this works is you give somebody your booking calendar link and then they’re going to go to their web browser or within the calendar program if they’re on their phone, however, they do it. They’re going to indicate their time zone because they’re going to book you the appointment and their times on to be a guest on your show. That’s the first thing they’ll set up. They’ll look at the available times that are on your calendar and find one that works for them.You need to evaluate and vet the calendar programs that you want to consider using and see what's going to work for you. Click To Tweet
This is the key. This is one of the most wonderful best practices to take advantage of here. Before they can book the time on your calendar, they have to fill out your form and provide the information that you need for your show. It does it right up front and if they don’t have time to do it, they won’t be able to book the appointment. This is another reason why when you create your form, you want it to be thorough, but you don’t want it to be too much work for them. If you give them twenty different things to enter and it takes a long time to fill out, they’re going to abandon the form and not do it right then. They might come back to it later, but some of them may just say, “This isn’t worth it. It’s too much information. I don’t want to have to work that hard to be a guest on your show.” Being thorough in collecting important information, but not too much. If it’s too busy, they may not do it.
Authorization To Record
I’m going to share with you on our form. Certainly, it collects their name and email address. Those are required fields. They have to do that because we’re going to email them. Obviously, you want to know their name and who has booked this appointment. They need to get an email confirmation. We’re also going to email them when the episode airs with all the links and graphics, everything they need to share with their followers. Their company name is not required. Their phone number, which is. Their website is also required. Here’s another important best practice for all you podcasters and/or videocasters out there. We have a statement here that says, “I understand and accept that the interview will be recorded.” This is a very simple way to get them to authorize you to record them and for you to use the recording. It’s not a huge legal agreement that they’re going to have all kinds of legal language. It is simply to put it right up front that you’re going to be recorded. By clicking this button and booking this appointment, you are acknowledging and accepting that you are going to be recorded. The checkbox is already checked because it’s required. If they uncheck it, they won’t be allowed to book the appointment. Just says acknowledge and accept interview recording. It’s very important.
The next thing which is also required is a big text field for their bio. You need to collect their bio information. While a lot of people might have that posted on their own website, sometimes it’s out of date. They need to update their bio. Here, they’re providing you the bio that they would like you to use on your website if you create a blog post for every episode, which you should. If you work with us with Podetize or we produce your show, we create blog posts for every episode and put it into your website for you. You need to have that bio information. This gives them an opportunity even if they’re just going to copy and paste it from their own website or some word document they have on their computer. If there’s anything they need to update, they’ll do it right then. Getting that bio is very important and that is required.
The next thing is a headshot. One of the things that I like about OnceHub, formerly ScheduleOnce with their booking calendar is that they will allow you to have on that form the ability for your guests to upload their headshot right to this form as they’re booking the appointment. We give people the option to upload their headshot or if they’re a podcaster, their podcast cover art as another option. The third option is the company logo. If they don’t have a good headshot or a current one, at least upload some graphic that you can be identified with. We have a file size limit of five megabytes and they upload it right there into the booking calendar form.
Social Media Handles
The next thing we have are their social media handles. We give them the option to give us their Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube links for their social media. We make sure that we go ahead and connect with them on social media. We want to be connected with them because we want to know if they’re sharing our stuff. We want to know when we publish the episode that they’re a guest on, are they sharing our stuff? When we share it, we want them to see it.Be thorough in collecting important information, but not too much. Click To Tweet
We create a lot of different posts and we want them to share it, so we’ve got to be connected over social media. We want to know all those places that they’re at. I’ve got a relevant question here, “What’s the name of the scheduler?” It used to be called ScheduleOnce and I believe it’s all redirected. If you still go to ScheduleOnce.com, it will redirect you to their new brand. They rebranded their company. Personally, I liked the name ScheduleOnce. I don’t know why they had to go and change it, but I’m sure there’s a reason. Companies change their brands so there it is. ScheduleOnce or OnceHub, that’s the one we use, we’ve used it for years. We use the paid version so that we can do these advanced forms. It’s very important. That’s my recommendation.
After the social media handles, we put in here some suggestions for the guest to share with us some topics for discussion. What’s important to them, what do they want to make sure that we remember or at least consider to ask them about? I’m not saying I want my guests to drive the entire conversation and dictate what we talk about. It’s my show, but I want to know what’s new and exciting. Maybe you have a new book that’s come out and that’s why we have you on as a guest. Maybe you’re just an expert in a certain field and you’re going to share some nuggets of information in a certain niche that our audience is going to be interested in. We invite our guests to share with us right in our form what are the topics for discussion that they would feel they’re experts in that they would like to talk about.
Topics For Discussion
I’m always going to do my own homework anyway about them and maybe ask some things. I don’t give my guests questions in advance. I don’t always believe in that. Maybe there are some cases where that would make sense, but basically, it’s like, “What do you want to make sure that we ask you about?” We have an open field that says, “Is there anything else we should know?” It’s an open-ended question that few people fill out. Usually, they would write in the previous one topic for discussion, but maybe there’s an event coming up where they’re giving a keynote. They want to make sure we know about that and we might mention it on our podcasts. It could be anything, but we leave it open-ended. Once they enter in all that information and they click done on the form, that enters it in and now their date on our calendar is booked. They have to enter all that information.
Here’s the other wonderful thing that I love about the scheduling software. They put it into my calendar and if it’s Tracy and I are cohost on this show, it goes into each of our calendars separately. All of the information about your guests that you’ve collected from them, not only does it get emailed to you from the scheduling program, but it’s in your calendar, which makes it easy. You now have a handy reference when you’re going to conduct the interview. It’s the appointment that’s in your calendar, but if you click and expand all the notes, all that information on the recommended topics are saying that they would want to be asked about or you might want to ask them about. That’s all in there. It’s a handy reference. I have that open and have that information there when I’m interviewing them.
The bio information is very helpful when you might be introducing the guest or to remember a few details from their bio. You have it at a glance there even while you’re recording the episode. The topics for discussion are very helpful, especially if you get off track and your mind wanders. You can come back and you have a handy reference right there in your calendar. It’s even more important after the interview is over because when you need to go and submit your episode to your producer for production, you are going to be providing the raw audio and/or video. All the detail information, but remember that headshot, the bio, the email of your guest, and the names of your guest. The names are good, especially if they have a tricky spelling of their name. If they have that tricky spelling, they’re spelling their own name. You have the actual spelling on your booking calendar so make sure you’ve got it right and they’re making sure you’ve got it right.You don't want to burden your guests before you've ever interviewed them with doing so much homework. Click To Tweet
In our form on our Podetize dashboard, when you submit your episode for production, it has these same fields. Now you can go through your calendar, just copy from there and paste in the dashboard. Your episode for production is very easy to submit. In the headshot, you have to upload to the Podetize dashboard when you make your episode request. With OnceHub, you go into your calendar entry and there’s a link. What happens is if they’ve uploaded their headshot to the form, it’s in their database at OnceHub. You’ll get a link to it on your calendar entry. Right from your calendar, you click on that link, it will open a new tab in your browser and download for you that guest headshot to your desktop. You can immediately upload it right to our form in the appropriate place for our production. Using the calendar form, I find incredibly handy and valuable not only to collect the information from your guests but also have them provide the information right there when they booked the appointment.
If you give them a regular booking calendar link to book a time on your calendar and you send them an email saying, “Can you please provide all this information before our interview?” They may forget, they may not have time or they may be just too busy, that’s why you’re doing it right up front. You get it all in the beginning before they can even book. You’ve got it. You don’t have to ever chase them down. I want to share another cautionary tale about a booking calendar. We’ve also seen some people create what more than a thorough booking calendar form, but an incredibly comprehensive form asking too many long-form questions. They’re setting themselves up for a challenge in getting your guests to be able to reasonably provide that information in a reasonable amount of time. You don’t want to burden your guests before you’ve ever interviewed them with doing so much homework. They’re going to think, “While this is too difficult, I’m not interested in doing this. I wanted to be a guest on the show.”
In some cases, high profile guests will have a PR firm they’re working with. We get PR agents coming to us soliciting guests for us to consider. If they do that, usually the PR firm will fill out the booking form for their client and it’s their job to do it. They probably would put up with more than the guest will in terms of how much information to provide. I caution you on how much information you collect and how many fields of information you have them fill out. It should be something they can do in about five minutes or ten at the absolute most. The only reason it might take them that long is if they don’t have their bio prepared and they’re writing it on the fly. It should take someone two or three minutes to fill out the form no more than five and they’re done.
Physical Mailing Address
You don’t want to drive them away. You don’t want to push them away from booking in a guest and asking too much information. The questions we ask are great. It’s not too many. The mailing address is another thing you might want to consider. We don’t collect it on our form, but you might want to collect a physical mailing address. A lot of times that can be important. If you want to send an actually written thank you card in the mail after they’d been a guest. It’s sometimes an old school nice touch when somebody gets something in the mail. You can use a service that does it. You don’t have to go and do it. You might not make that a required field, but if they’re willing to provide their physical address, then you could send them a nice follow-up either postcard or greeting card letter thanking them. The last thing I want to mention is if you’re on a budget and you only want to use a free calendar, you can do that. I would still do that better than not having a booking calendar that you’re going to use. You’re probably going to be limited in what you can do with this form and collecting this information with a free calendar.
The paid ones give you a lot more options and a lot more capabilities that are going to be useful to you. I find it invaluable. If you want to see our booking form, you can go and do that. Our booking form is FeedYourBrand.co/guest. We have two different kinds of episodes that we record. We have normal Feed Your Brand episodes and we have the Center of Influence series of episodes that Tracy is recording for part of her Authority Magazine column. That’s the other reason that we use OnceHub. Once you go to that link, there are two different forms up there you can choose from. Are you booking for Feed Your Brand? Are you booking for a Center of Influence interview? Our guests will know which one they’re supposed to be booking. They choose the one and they get into that form. That also books the right appointment that’s on Tracy calendar but not mine if it’s Center of Influence, and both of our calendars if it’s on Feed Your Brand episode.
OnceHub, I like it and I recommend it, especially if you have complicated calendars. Maybe you’re coordinating multiple calendars or if you have more than one kind of podcast interviewed at your book. Between Tracy and me, there are four or five different podcast interviews we book and we’re coordinating at least two different calendars, hers and mine. She has a cohost that is not even me on one other podcast. ScheduleOnce coordinates with that third person’s calendar. It’s complex stuff. I recommend OnceHub, but if you don’t need it and if you don’t have that level of complexity, there are plenty of other programs that may work well for you. If you have any other questions about best practices or recommendations for booking calendar or form that you may use to help gather that information from your guests, please feel free to comment here and we’ll answer all those questions. Thanks so much, everybody. I’ll talk to you next time.