Podcast guesting is a fabulous way to grow your business or your show. But a lot of things can go wrong as you go about pitching yourself to the shows you want to be a guest on. In this episode of Feed Your Brand, Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard share some of the worst podcast guest pitches that they have ever received and explain what they did wrong. If you’re trying to guest on other people’s podcasts, you have to respect the host the way you want to be respected in return. So how do you pitch yourself to guest on a show. Or, more importantly, how do you not pitch yourself? Tune in to get some pointers from two of the most seasoned podcast hosts anywhere.
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Top Mistakes To Avoid: The Worst Podcast Guest Pitches Ever Received
We have something fun in store for you. I have been looking forward to this one since we put it on our calendar Top Mistakes to Avoid: The Worst Podcast Guest Pitches Ever Received. We have received our fair share of guest pitches over the year. I’m sure a lot of you podcasters, who have been podcasting more than probably 25 episodes, have received guest pitches either from PR agencies or maybe individuals who would like to be a guest on your show. You can tell good ones from bad ones. People who did their homework listened to your show, and are making, I would say, a legitimate heartfelt pitch or a generic pitch. That’s what we are going to talk about. Mistakes to avoid and share some of the worst ones we have ever gotten.
The worst ones I have ever gotten, I probably outright deleted. I’m finding some that are bad, but they are not probably the worst that I remember. Here are a couple of things that I want to say. Sometimes it’s what you don’t say, it’s who you are presenting yourself as that comes through, that is the problem to begin with.
I love it when people come through and say they are a $1 million podcast guest. They have made $1 million off podcast guesting, which is in my email right now in my LinkedIn direct message. They put the title of their LinkedIn title that they have made $1 million from podcast guesting. Pass. You are going to make money on me, but you are not going to pay me.
Not only that. The reality is if they are saying, “I’m the guest, I am all that and I have made $1 million by being a guest on shows,” it is talking all about them, not what’s in it for you to have them as a guest.
It’s saying they are going to sell on your show. Why would you invite them to your show? Right there, that’s the hard pass. Also, if they say anything about broadcasting or Emmy Award winners or any of those things, I don’t have the show that I want to listen to. For me, that’s a screener. You might have something in your industry too. Maybe you just don’t want to have CPAs on your show. No offense to all the CPAs out there, but you don’t want that.
That’s a screener right there. Just keep in mind that how you title yourself and your outreach makes a difference to begin with. I saw your name on LinkedIn and your title before I ever even got to your message. That’s the number one screener right there. If you are doing cold outreach that way, that’s the biggest problem right there.
The next one I see is those that tell me that they have a show. They have their show and it’s X number on the charts. That’s a no for me. Immediately, when you tell me you have made it to this point in Listen Notes like you are in the top 10% in any category, I just want to laugh. You don’t know what you are doing in podcasting.
This one is a pet peeve of mine. Everybody who says, “My show is in the top 5% of Listen Notes.” Kudos to Listen Notes because they have done a good job at making people think that is something that matters and something that makes their show special. Let me tell you something, the top 5% on Listen Notes, pretty much any show that is breathing, meaning that’s posting new episodes is in the top 5% on Listen Notes. Here’s why.
I know this is going to burst a lot of people’s bubbles. I’m not saying your show is not good if it’s in the top 5% on Listen Notes, I’m just saying whether it’s good or not has nothing to do with that. There are almost 3 million shows now in the entire podcast ecosystem, but there are only about 300,000. It depends on how you measure it, but 300,000 and 350,000 are actively publishing new episodes that are not dormant. Their 5% number is on the entire podcast ecosystem. Guess what? 5% is the top 150,000, I believe. That’s pretty good. You can get in that top 150,000 and have a couple thousand plays a month or not even.
A lot of that 300,000 are seasonal and/or posted once a month and not every single week. You can get into the top 5% by posting every single week. That’s the only requirement which is good. I do want an active show. It’s not a bad thing, but it means that it tells me that you don’t know what you are talking about in terms of podcasts. If you reach out to me and say, “I see that you are at the top of this charter, you are at the top of this.” It shows me what you want out of a show and not what I want out of a guest. That to me is also a red flag.
Those right there, just want to let you know that how you frame and how you start these emails or these direct messages, it matters more than what you say when you get into it. Although, I’m going to dive into some of those now. I’m going to say this is not exclusive to email, direct message, or PodMatch. I even get those messages in PodMatch that are badly done. Mostly, I find that they are done by agencies. I find the guests and hosts are a little lazier and they will write shorter things. If an agency is pitching you within PodMatch or on LinkedIn, they are the ones who feel that they need to write this whole diatribe about you and it’s hurting you. The longer it is, the worse it is and the less I want to read, especially if you don’t capture me in the first sentence.
That’s the thing. The PR agencies that are pitching people and trying to phone it in and not do much hard work are just sending these blanket generic messages to every podcast. They are not doing their homework. I have had more than one show that I have done that has no guests ever. Do not have guests ever. They are pitching me as a guest to be on my show. I don’t think you have done your homework because you know that I don’t have guests. That’s the thing you get from those agencies.
I have a feed called Tracy Hazzard Getting Interviewed. It is a feed of where I have been a guest on somebody else’s show and I get pitches for that one every single day. It says that all they did was pull a list in Listen Notes and then send the same email out to everyone. This is where you get men pitching shows that are exclusively for women and you get shows that exclusively have no guests and are exclusively topic. You get the mismatch. That is the shotgun blanket approach that they think that if they hire an assistant and say, “Send the same email out to everybody,” then it’s going to work or send the same direct message out to everyone. It doesn’t work.
That means that 99% of the message is all about them and not about your show. Although, they do tend to customize it. They will say something like, “I just love your show. It’s so great what you have done,” and then it’s the show name. That’s the trigger right there when they put the full formal name of your show.
Especially, when all they are doing is auto-filling it from a spreadsheet or a list because they haven’t bothered to adjust the context. Let’s take the podcast we produced for Popular Mechanics magazine, The Most Useful Podcast Ever. If you were pitching them, it’s like, “I believe I’m an ideal guest for your show, for The Most Useful Podcast Ever podcast.” That last podcast is a part of their email template and the word podcast being in your title, makes no sense. You can set up emails to go in an automated way, but you want to take the time to look at that context and adjust each one so that it doesn’t look stupid, honestly.
I get The Binge Factor Podcast, I get that one all the time. It’s the number one and then it’s an immediate delete. You didn’t even get to your message, I don’t know who you are, and I never saw it. That’s what I want you to understand. Doing these things is more harmful because podcasters are sick of reading them. We get them all the time. If you cannot take the time to reach out to me directly, then you don’t deserve to be on my show. You are not going to make a great guest. That’s what I found time and time again. That is the number one tip that we want to go to.
Some of the things that I have got going on here, and I want to read you some of them, it’s like too salesy. It starts salesy and says, “Would you enjoy a convo with a Facebook ads crusader on the savviest Facebook ad strategy that will be working in Q4? I’m the head of performance at this agency and I have profitably spent this. This is what I want to talk about.” It’s a webinar. At the end of the day, you are trying to do a webinar on my show. Why would I even agree to that? Those are the worst. I immediately unfriend those people.
They don’t even even just get deleted in terms of the message. If they friend me on LinkedIn, they are gone. I don’t want to see what they have to post. They are too pushy. They don’t know anything about my show because I’d never talked about Facebook ads on my show. That’s a good example there. Do you have any that you have got going on that you want to share?
I have one that I want to contrast that’s not the worst, but one of the best ones I got. Admittedly, this is not a cheap one. Whoever did this had a serious marketing budget. They had a book that they had published from a publisher. The publisher is trying to promote the book and get it pitched. I got a phone call. This is somebody who had to do their homework because our phone number is nowhere listed on anything having to do with our podcast. Whoever did this, found our show, it was Feed Your Brand, and it was a marketing-related book and guest. I got a phone call and said, “We have got a client of ours who’s this author who’s written this book, do you think that might be a fit for your show?”
I thought, “Maybe. We don’t always have guests on Feed Your Brand. We rarely have guests, but that sounds interesting.” They sent the book to me to read, to review the book, and to check it out and see if it was a good fit before even getting the guest on the show. At least that was a legitimate good guest pitch that was personal and wasn’t generic. I still could make the judgment if it was a good fit or not. Ultimately, I thought it was not a good fit for our show and we did not interview that person.
Yet it was a good pitch because while it was an agency and not the guests themselves, it wasn’t super pushy. They were giving me the choice and information and they took the time and money to reach out via phone. That’s pretty good. I don’t expect most of us are going to do that. We are probably going to use a tool like PodMatch and get matched up with what at least are compatible shows if you do your profile rate on PodMatch or you get a referral from somebody.
What I find is that it’s very obvious over there when somebody has checked out my profile, like they understand my show and they will say the number one thing. Here’s a typical one I get on LinkedIn and this one’s better because it’s shorter. It at least starts the conversation. It says, “I’m a fan of your podcast. I could relate to it significantly being that I was once $1 million in debt and now I stand here today. I would love to connect and explore being a guest.” He doesn’t know anything about my show or he would know that topic has no resonating value with any of my six podcasts, of which he mentioned, “I love your podcast,” but I have six of them and they are all listed in my one profile. Which one are you talking about?
The issue is that there’s a mismatch right there. Instead, someone who comes back and says, “Listen to The Binge Factor. I have a show. I have 50 episodes or more, and this is the tip I’d love to share.” Done. My favorite is when somebody comes in and says, “I have an audience on LinkedIn of 10,000 people who are in the digital marketing space and I think they’d be a good match for your audience.” Awesome, I’m done. That’s what’s in it for me. You just did it. Few people do that. They go with themselves first. That’s where every mismatch goes wrong from that point forward.
My favorite ones that are bad are when they are pitching me for a show that I have not published an episode of in several years. They are just taking a list of podcasts. They do not even bother to look up. Are you actively publishing? For WTFFF?!, which was our first podcast on 3D printing, still get pitches now for people that want to be a guest on that. We haven’t published a new episode of that since 2020. We have lots of active podcasts, that’s just not one of them. If you are pitching to be a guest on a show that isn’t even active, you are taking a shotgun approach. Why am I going to give you the time of day and even let you know I have another show that you might be a fit for?
Maybe people who are desperate for guests might do that, but I don’t waste my time. It’s like all of these different solicitations we all get in direct email marketing for all sorts of things. In the United States, the Employee Retention Credit for tax. I get CPS pitching me this all day long every week. I don’t understand what’s going on there, but I’m sick of them and I don’t look at any of them. First of all, I have known about that for years. If I needed that help, it wasn’t now but it’s just you have irrelevant pitches it’s never going to achieve your goal.
Here’s our big advice. Do it yourself. Pick your shows. I can tell you that I have never reached out to a show that refused me. If I reached out, said why I thought we were compatible. No one has ever refused me. It’s never happened. You are going to have maybe 100% history show. Maybe you will still at least get 8 out of 10 because I can’t imagine you getting less than that. It is not going to be any better odds using an assistant, using someone else, or having your assistant do that part and then do the final. Send yourself double-check what they wrote. Save them in the draft, double check everything. Make sure it’s what you want to do. Say at the end of the day, have them do the research on the shows. Click through them.
That’s why I like PodMatch because I can just simply click through and check their website quickly. It takes me one minute to go and see if someone’s compatible. I can see it instantly. I know whether it’s worth the time for me to draft a quick little message, three sentences maximum. Why I’m reaching out to your show? This show is great and why we are matched and what I’m going to bring to your show, not me bringing it.
What I’m going to bring value to give you on the other side of it. I’m going to promote you by doing this. I’m going to bring you exposure to the same style audience, cross-promote you, and do an Instagram co-op model. We are going to do something great together because we are matched. That’s what you have to get across. That’s it. If you do that, you will not fail. If you give me all about you or all about your client, it is never going to work.
The only thing that does work that’s about you is if you have a huge email list, newsletter subscription, or a huge social media following and you are guaranteeing you are going to share your guest appearance on my show with that large audience. There could be some things about you that are relevant that would be helpful. If it’s all about you and your resume and trying to convince me that I should be standing in a long line to be able to get a chance to interview you or something. That’s just silly.
Here’s the other thing. I have never opened a one-sheet ever. I have created them for a lot of people, but I never opened them. I’m not going to download anything off the internet.
Through an email?
I’m not going to do it.
I’m not going to download anything. Not going to happen. You are cold. I don’t know you.
What we have done for some of our customers, because of doing production for them and working on their websites, has created a digital one-sheet page on their website. That’s a link to a webpage.
I highly recommend that it will be on your About page. If I don’t want to click a link, which can happen still, I still get worried or it went into spam so it could get flagged. I am nervous about whether or not I should click it. If I go to your website, which I can do, I can find TomHazzard.com, go to that, and your About. There’s your one-sheet right there if I want to take a look at it. Great. I can do it right there in that whole space. Perfect. That gave me what I needed. You still got it across, but one sheet is self-serving. They are all about you. It is not something that you would use.If you cannot take the time to reach out to the podcast host directly, then you don't deserve to be on their show. You're not going to make a great guest. Click To Tweet
Most average podcasters do not want to. We want to have a great conversation, not a pitch fest. You are starting the relationship wrong. If you are pitching me wrong in the first contact that you make for my show, what are you going to do to my audience? That’s what’s going through my head every time. Get your ego out of there. Think more about what’s in it for the podcaster because they are struggling to keep their show alive. They are struggling to make time for this. They are likely doing it for free. They are barely getting paid enough for it. If you want something from them and you want them to support and promote you, then you better do something for them. You better start that relationship with a give.
I do think the Law of Reciprocity goes a long way here.
If you want the first give, subscribe to my show and show me you did it. Write me a rate and review. Have you ever decided to start a pitch with that? Say, “I just subscribed to your show, downloaded twenty episodes, and rated and reviewed your show.” I’d probably open that email. You gave first. Now, most of what I do is I only invite other podcast hosts on my show. It is the structure of my show, but it’s all of our shows we do that with. We only invite other podcast hosts because at least they get it. They know how hard it is and what it takes.
One thing we should mention completely respect people bootstrapping it and doing this themselves. If you don’t have the time of day in your business to make a lot of these, do the research and make a lot of appeals to podcast hosts but you can get support. There are agencies that will place you on other shows. If they are good agencies will do a good job doing that research, and make an appropriate heartfelt pitch.
The reason I bring this up is not so much to pitch these other agencies, but there are agencies that will only pitch podcast hosts to be a guest on other podcasts. Some take anybody who is not a podcast host who has a book or has a reason they want to go on other shows and they will make that pitch. Some of them will only do other podcast hosts. Tracy, I believe you told me, and you have the most experience on odd PodMatch among us here. You find that because you are both a podcast guest and a podcast host, the AI within PodMatch does a better job of matching you up.
It does a better job of matching me up because I do have both sides filled out. There’s a lot more information for it to utilize. That’s part of it. I also think it’s because I have also done a lot of no and yes, pass, keep. Since I have done it, it’s been years, I have trained it so well that I can do it once a month and get great results on both sides.
I thought you had also mentioned to me you had experience with some people who were not a host and only filled out the guest side. Don’t get as many offers.
They don’t. It takes them a lot longer to go through and filter offers to get it to be a better matching system because they don’t get as many, you are not getting as much volume of it. It takes longer to get the AI to learn enough about you as it goes forward. It’s the case here, that podcast guesting is a great model. You can make $1 million off of it. We did. I made a $1,200 investment to find 12 shows and made $120,000 immediately within the first 6 months of those shows. We made $1 million in royalty off of products that we designed because of some of the shows we went on. We ended up with a large long-term client.
It all worked out for us. I did twelve very specific shows that were a perfect match for what I could share with them. I gave them something when I went on it, which was a guarantee that I would give them things that they never heard before, an article, a promotion in my social profile, and a LinkedIn post. I was giving them a promotion for their show in return that they weren’t going to get anywhere else. It’s why they wanted me on the show. That’s the crux of it. If you have nothing to give, why should I invite you on?
You have to think of the value you are going to bring to the show. I will tell you another thing, why the pitch is so important and why these bad pitches that people haven’t done their homework are just not going to work for many shows. We have a relatively new customer at Podetize, a fantastic show, that has guests already booked out for a year. I have told them, “That’s too far because new guests aren’t going to love that they get interviewed with you in September or October this year, and won’t come out until August or September next year, which is where they were.” I recommend maybe we publish a few more, maybe 2 per week instead of 1, and get that through sooner.
Ironically, it’d get you in the top 1% in Listen Notes.
“More episodes you publish, I know you will get up there.” The point is, if you provide what value is, guess what? The other thing I have counseled this customer on is you get a good one, accelerate them, move them up, publish an additional episode, a bonus one. Don’t wait until a year from now. There are many things you can do in that scenario.
The risk is that if you are going to get them, if they are going to send out an email about you or they are going to promote you on LinkedIn, the sooner they do that, the more listeners you have for your show. It is a teaser that can get you in and get you guesting faster on a show that you wouldn’t be able to get on otherwise. If you have something significant to give that is going to help the host promote their show, we are all in it. That’s what the hosts are looking for. Present that first. It’s more valuable than what you have to say on the show.
This has become a little bit more about what to do as much as what not to do in some of the worst pitches, but hopefully, we are giving you some perspective. What are the worst pitches? The ones that have no context, do not provide value, all about you, the guest, are not about the value to the listener.If you're pitching the host wrong in the first contact that you make for their show, what are you going to do to their audience? Click To Tweet
The value to the host.
When you think about it, it’s common sense.
It should be, but it’s not. The top mistakes to avoid are what we were talking about. It’s like the top of the thing is. Look carefully at how you are titling yourself. If you are doing chat outreach, customize the messaging that you are sending and show that you have listened to the show. Show it. Don’t just say it because it’s not true and we know it. Make sure that you have something significant of value to give to a host. If you want them to read on and read about you.
There still is always the case that it might not be a fit, but we also know a ton of other podcasters, and if you sent a good pitch to me and you weren’t a fit for my show, I guarantee you I’d probably send you to somebody who you would be a fit for if you impressed me. The podcasting community is small. Those of us who are active, we do know each other and we are happy to forward it. I probably get most of my guests that don’t come from PodMatch because the way that I use it comes from a previous guest who refers somebody. That’s how it happens.
Referrals are fantastic. That’s great. There’s a personal connection there somehow. This is the cold guest pitch that is so often done, so wrong, and it just doesn’t work. If you don’t get my attention somehow quickly in the subject line of that email or that preview line or first sentence, it’s done.
I’m not even going to read it. I don’t have the time for that. Hope this helps you so that you can, because guesting is honestly a fabulous way to grow your business. To grow your show if you are trying to guest on other people’s podcasts. Show respect to other hosts. You are a host. You know how hard it is. Show them the respect that you deserve in return. Let’s not model bad behavior to begin with.
Sounds great. Hope you got some good value out of this and had some fun. Thanks so much for reading. We will be back next time with another great episode.