Doing things manually takes up so much of time and leads to inconsistency in gathering all the right data. For podcasters, when it comes to booking your guests, there is a very important tool that makes it easy for you to collect all of your guests’ data that you need to create your full podcast or blog posts. We call them podcast guest schedulers. Learn some of the good tools out there that you can use such as Calendly, ScheduleOnce, and Google Calendar, and discover which one works best for you.
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Podcast Guest Schedulers
I want to go over a very important subject for podcasters. The advice I’m going to share with you is going to be very valuable for many different people. Not just podcasters but in particular for podcasters when it comes to booking your guests and trying to make it easy for yourself to collect all their data that you need to collect in order to create your full podcast, your blog posts. To be able to put all the information necessary if you use a service to help produce your episode, to gather all the things that are needed in order to create the best podcast title, the best podcast description. There is a very important tool that I wanted to talk about. I’m surprised how many podcasters I’ve encountered who are not using this tool. They’re doing things in a manual way that is taking up so much of their time and then it leads to inconsistency of gathering all the right data. They end up burning a whole lot of time.
I know many podcasters, if you’re at all like me, you don’t have a whole lot of time to burn. Sometimes it’s all you can do to figure out what topic you want to do for your next episode or what guests that you want to interview, soliciting them. Getting them to say yes and then recording the content is all you should be doing. Booking your guest and then conducting the interview, recording the episode is sometimes all you have time for. When it comes to a lot of these details, you need a good tool or you should be using a good tool. What I’m talking about is guest booking calendars or guest booking schedulers. I don’t know which term is more accurate but I’m talking about using a tool to send your potential guests to a link online, to book a time on your calendar to conduct the podcast interview. I’m sure many people are using some calendar scheduling program for appointments for sales calls, for any virtual meeting that you might have.
There are a lot of good tools out there that you can use for that. There are ones like Calendly and ScheduleOnce. Some people are using Google Calendar. There are many different tools that you could use and even if you are using them that’s great. One thing that I find that is largely overlooked, especially by many podcasters is how you can use some of those tools to gather data and to actually make your guest provide you all the information you need, to be able to provide either to your podcast producer if you’re using one or to your virtual assistant. If they’re going to be helping to coordinate things on your website or for the publication or the podcast, your show notes, blog post or maybe your long-form blog post. I thought I would share with you what we do and as an example. I would also recommend that many of you consider using a tool, not in the primary way it’s intended.
I think even a lot of times people don’t realize that a booking calendar program is not limited to finding an available time on your calendar that you have made available. You can go and there’s free time available when you want and make yourself available to book a guest. Certainly, that is its primary function and it does that very well. I’m talking about actually using your booking calendar to do more work for you and save you time in the future. I’m not going to express any recommendations or preference for one booking calendar software over another. That’s not my intent or my purpose. There are many great tools out there if you simply google booking calendar service or booking calendar program software or scheduling software. You’re going to find a lot of great tools and you’ll find some great blogs with pros and cons that take a deep dive into the tech or the capabilities of each one.Use your booking calendar to do more work for you and save you time. Click To Tweet
My point is to share with you as a podcaster in particular how you might consider using some of the more advanced capabilities of a booking calendar program to make your life easier, to help actually your guest to provide and in many ways do a lot of the work for you in terms of providing all the data and information on them that isn’t sending multiple emails and requests for information. They don’t provide it. You’ve got to chase them down for it. In the early days, that’s how I did it and it’s probably how most of you did it. Even if you had a booking calendar where you’re booking a time that you’re both available to have the interview, that’s great.
When it came to, “Can you please send me your bio, your headshot, your social media accounts and what email would you like to publish? Do you want to publish an email, have us publish it in your show notes?” I used to do it manually where I send an email and then everybody’s busy. They don’t get to it in a timely manner. I would end up chasing guests down for it even after the interview was done, having to try and catch up with them and get this information before the episode would publish. It would burn up a lot of my time, it wasn’t fun doing it and I would forget to do it sometimes. You record the interview and I’m scrambling to then, “I’ve got to get it to my producer, I’ve got to upload. I’ve got to provide all the information.” Sometimes I would get it to my producer without providing all that information, they edit the audio and they’re trying to do the show notes blog.
I get emails from my team bugging me to get the information from the guests that they need to properly identify them, either in the podcast description or in the related blog. It was driving me crazy and there had to be a better tool. Fortunately, I have Tracy on my team and she is all about systems and automation. We found a system that worked well for us. In our case, it’s a scheduling software service called ScheduleOnce. The real benefit of using a service that has some more advanced capabilities is that it can do a lot more than book the time that your guest is to meet you for the interview, whether that’s on Zoom, Skype or go to a meeting or however you’re doing it remotely. It also can require your guests to fill out a form and provide all those information that you need.
Not only can it require them to fill out a form but in order for them to actually book the appointment, it won’t book it until they complete the form with at least whatever the required fields are that you require. This is good because it’s during the honeymoon phase when you’ve got a guest who agrees to be on your show and right then they’re excited about it. You’ve sent them your booking link, they click and go there. They pick a time, “I get a time and that’ll work on my calendar.” Before it will book it and send them all the confirmation, they have to complete this form. While they’re happy and excited about it, they’re already have spent the time to go and do the booking, they will right there be prompted, “You need to provide all this information.” It’s the best time to do it.
ScheduleOnce is a pretty advanced online scheduler or booking calendar that you can do customized forms and collect all this information. I’m going to run through it here with you so you get an idea of all the additional things that we collect aside from the normal. There’s your name and your email address, your company name, that’s not a required field but your phone number, which is required, your website URL is required and your bio is important. Get them to put their bio in there. Even if they post a link to a webpage on their site that has their bio, that’s okay too. Most of them will actually go and copy that text from wherever their bio is and then paste it right into the bio field and this is a required field. Headshot or company logo, I prefer a headshot but some people though who don’t have a good headshot would at least provide a company logo. This is a required field. Then there’s a button they push, it will open up a file browser window on their computer, they can go and find their headshot and upload it. We get into social media links like their Facebook link, LinkedIn link, Pinterest link, YouTube and those are not required fields because not everybody has those same social media platforms who uses them.
There’s another field we have, which is topics for discussion. This is an opportunity for the potential guests to write in what they think that we should be talking about or what they think we should ask them about in the episode. It’s not a required field because as a good podcast host, we should all be doing a little homework and research on our guests and be ready to ask smart questions. I do put it here and honestly, most of the time I find guests do fill it out and provide what they would like to talk about or what they think we should ask them about. We put another field here that says, “Anything else we should know?” That’s not required.
This form gathers all that important information. It makes the guests do the work for you. In at least 400 podcast interviews over the years, I have never had a guest refuse to book on my calendar, book to be a guest because they had to go and fill this out. They don’t express any dissatisfaction or unhappiness with having to fill it out. The reality is they’re the ones that know all this information the best and it shouldn’t take them very long to fill it out. It saves me the time of going to try and get it from them later and have multiple emails back and forth. Also, where is all that information? Do I have to search my email inbox for a series of emails in order to gather it all? That would be nightmarish too.
There are others like Calendly and there are many other programs out there that I know other people use. They may be perfectly fine and some of them have advanced capabilities too. Using this kind of program to gather all of the information is so helpful that there’s always a record of it. Not only does it book it in your calendar and we do use Google Calendar to connect our calendars, but I tend to use iCal on the Mac in general for where I have my schedule that I’m going to look at every day. It makes a calendar entry in iCal for me with all the information on the guests, the contact information and allows all that information, the bio, their headshot, there’s a link to their headshot in my calendar entry.Make sure that you're not spinning your wheels and doing more busy work than you need to in order to do your show. Click To Tweet
My one go-to place after I’ve recorded the episode and I’m going to upload it to my producer or Dropbox or whatever. When I upload it to my producer, there’s a form that I fill out with all the information about the episode including things about the guest. Right there in my calendar is that one place where all that information is, I know where it is. I can click on it. If I click on the headshot link, it will download the headshot from ScheduleOnce to my Downloads folder on my computer and then I can upload it wherever I need to save it or store it, whatever I need for my podcast production.
The same thing with the bio. I can copy and paste it right from the calendar entry, all the website URLs, all that good information is right there. That makes it very convenient. You also have the capability to use an advanced tool like Zapier. When this form is filled out, if you have any other service or system or database that you want to save all that information or have that information copied into, you can use a tool like Zapier to copy it from there to another system. You start automating things at that point. That gets exciting. While that involves a little bit of advanced setup, it’s a onetime thing. Then when it’s done, all you have to do is give your potential guests a link to your booking calendar and then everything else is automated from there.
There’s one other critical thing that we do include in our form and it’s another thing we get a lot of questions about from especially new podcasters when they’re setting up their show and they’re wondering, “Do I need a release form from my guests because I’m recording them on video or I’m recording them on audio?” I would say, “Yes, that’s a very good idea.” Then people ask, “What kind of a form do you use? Where can you do it?” What we’ve done is we’ve integrated that right into this booking calendar form. There’s a statement here in ours that says, “I understand and accept that the interview will be recorded,” and that is a required field. It has a checkbox, “Acknowledged and accept interview recording.”
We’ve defaulted that to checked because if you’re not willing to be recorded on our show, there’s no point in you booking this appointment. Why would we allow them to submit a form without checking it? For convenience, we don’t want to annoy them when they go to submit the form and they forgot to check it that says, “You forgot to check this box.” We’ve made it convenient. It’s right near the top of the form. As they say in the world of web browsers, “It’s above the fold,” it’s not something they need to scroll down far on the page to see. It’s right upfront center, “Remember you’re being recorded.” I think that’s obvious for most people to book a podcast interview, but still, we’re getting their consent to record them right here in the form. That always works well for us.
Why Use ScheduleOnce
I want to share with you why we have decided to use ScheduleOnce. This is important if you have a cohost situation. Tracy and I are cohosts of this podcast and most often record episodes together. She would be recording with me except she’s a little under the weather. She is coughing and not in her best voice and has lost most of her voice. We have a couple of episodes that are going to be that way because I’m recording a few episodes. That’s okay, that happens. The great thing about a cohost, I love the dynamic of us having a dialogue about things, but we want to continue to produce content and it allows one of us to record when the other one’s unable to.
The critical thing is an online scheduling program, booking an appointment for a podcast interview that has both of us on it. It needs to check both of our individual calendars and not every booking scheduler program will do that. You need to make sure when you’re choosing a booking calendar service to subscribe to and some of them are free and some of them are paid, you need that capability. You have a cohost and I know there are a lot more podcasts that we’re seeing out there that have cohosts. Coordinating both of your calendars is a tricky thing and some of them will not do it. We each have our own calendars. We use Mac computers and we have iCal on our calendars, but we also use Google Calendar through a Gmail account that connects all of our calendars together. It connects them together.
In order to have a scheduling program, be smart enough to check Tracy’s calendar and see when she’s free and then check my calendar, see when I’m free, and then show only the available times when we’re both available. That’s not an elementary thing for your average and maybe free booking calendar program. It also is something though that we have to pay for. Whereas if you’re an individual and you’re a solo host on your show, you may very well be able to use one of the free programs. Some of them will have the capability to fill out forms and some may not. You certainly don’t have the complication of having to check two different calendars to find all available times in the next few weeks or month or whatever it is. In our case, we need to.
The other thing is because Tracy and I are cohosts not only on one podcast, we’re cohosts on actually a few different podcasts and then Tracy is a co-host on one podcast with somebody else and not with me. We have many different booking forms. We have one for the Feed Your Brand podcast. We have one for WTFFF?!, which is another podcast that was our first podcast. We have one for Product Launch Hazzards, which is another one related to the Amazon product selling industry. Then Tracy has a new podcast that she’s a cohost with somebody else, not me. Someone out of New York named Monika Proffitt. This podcast is called The New Trust Economy. They talk about new innovations and opportunities in the blockchain and a little bit of cryptocurrency but more of the blockchain really, tokenization and things like that, very exciting stuff.
In any case, we need a different booking calendar form for each of these podcasts. Then we have bookings for other things related to business. I have bookings that are sales related. Tracy has bookings for consultations. In ScheduleOnce, it’s a very robust system and it’s what we need because we have so many different kinds of bookings that we do for different purposes. We want each one to appear unique to what the purpose is of that meeting. It’s got to coordinate multiple calendars. We actually pay quite a bit every month. I have to admit, I’m not the financial person in the business so I don’t know. I think we pay a significant amount every month to ScheduleOnce to be able to have all those forms in customization. It works incredibly well.
I have to say we’ve used the same one for several years and we keep making changes to it and improvements to it and it is very good for our purposes. I certainly do like it. I’m not going to assume it’s perfect for everybody. I’m sure it’s not. There are lots of other good products out there I’m sure to use. I’m more talking about the capabilities for different situations that I need and that I think you may need in your situation. Clearly, there are lots of options, shopping around makes a lot of sense. Make sure it has all the capabilities that you need.
Coming back to what I said in the very beginning of this episode, my main point and purpose here is to make sure that as a podcaster, you’re not spinning your wheels and doing more busy work than you need to in order to do your show. I would much rather you spend more time concentrating on what you’re going to talk about making great content. Certainly, finding great guests. Spending time repeating some of the same tasks over and over again to book guests or to gather all the information and be able to provide it to your team, your VAs, your employees, your producer, whatever. That’s not stuff you want to be spending a lot of time on over and over again every week or maybe you batch your episodes and you record once a month, whatever it is. We always love to hear from our audience. If you have any other comments or ideas, let us know. I hope that was useful for you. Thank you so much. We’ll be back next time with another great episode. This has been Tom on Feed Your Brand.
- Google Calendar
- Product Launch Hazzards
- The New Trust Economy
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