by Colleen M. Story
As an author, one of the best ways you can reach new audiences is through podcasts.
According to Edison Research and Triton Digital, there are now 62 million Americans listening to podcasts each week, up from 19 million in 2013. We have about 800,000 active podcasts available to listen to, with a record 192,000 new ones launched in 2019.
It’s a huge market for writers, and hosts are always looking for entertaining and interesting guests—like you!
Once you’re invited to speak on a podcast, it may be tempting to just show up and chat. But for most authors, that would be a mistake for two reasons:
- Your goal is to attract new readers/subscribers to your platform.
- Those readers are going to be listening to your conversation!
To increase your odds that you’ll make a good impression on your listeners—and perhaps convince some of them to read your work—keep the following tips in mind.
5 Tips to Help You Win New Readers on a Podcast Interview
1. Remember your job is to help the listener.
This is the number-one mistake most authors make when appearing on a podcast. They arrive unprepared and spend their time chatting about whatever subject happens to come up. This is dangerous because:
- You may fail to give the listeners anything of value, missing your opportunity to connect with them.
- Listeners may get bored!
Of course, it’s important to have fun and enjoy the conversation, but remember that you’re there to help the host’s listeners however you can. Usually, that involves sharing some of your expertise or experiences that will benefit others.
2. Ask your host what their audience is looking for.
Speaking of listeners, it’s important to understand what your host’s listeners are looking for. Why do they come to this particular podcast? What problems do they need to be solved?
You can address this question in a couple of ways. First, check out the podcast and listen to a few episodes before your scheduled appearance. Familiarize yourself with the type of issues they address and then figure out how your message can help those listeners.
Second, simply ask your host: “What do most of your listeners need help with? What are they looking for on your podcast?” Most hosts will be happy to tell you about their audiences, and you can use that information to come up with a few key points that you know will help those people.
3. Prepare a few talking points beforehand.
Part of the fun of podcasts is enjoying the spontaneity of the conversation, but your host and your listeners will appreciate it if you prepare a few talking points ahead of time. Even if you know your stuff cold, after you’ve found out what the podcast audience is looking for, go back and prepare a few nuggets of wisdom you can pass onto them, and then do your best to get those into the conversation.
To a group of readers, for instance, you may talk about what your new book has to offer in terms of excitement, characters, and plotline, or even what themes it addresses that you think are pertinent to those readers’ interests.
To a group of writers, on the other hand, you may talk about the struggles you experienced writing the book and how you got past them, or offer some tips on the publishing or marketing process.
You can even supply talking points to your host if you like. This tends to focus the conversation and make it much more useful to listeners than if you both just wing it. Many hosts love it, too, as it reduces their workload.
4. Be professional.
It seems this would go without saying, but some authors forget that yowling cats, barking dogs, or hollering children aren’t welcome in everyone’s ears. On podcast day, make sure you are in a quiet space and that you won’t be disturbed while you’re talking.
Check all your equipment—your computer, earphones or headphones, and your microphone, if you have one—to be sure everything is ready to go and fully charged. If your podcast is going to have a video component, consider dressing for the part. You may be used to wearing sweats at home, but if you’re going to be presenting yourself to an audience, prepare as you would for an in-person group to give yourself the best chance of winning them over.
Finally, be gracious to the host. It’s easy to forget in the middle of the conversation that this is a conversation. Writers can get so wrapped up in coming across well that they may talk too much, making the podcast more of a speech than a chat.
You want to get your points across, but you also want to respect the other person you’re talking to. Relax, exhale, and stay aware of the balance between you and your host. Though it’s the host’s job to interview you, don’t be afraid to turn around and ask the host a question now and then too.
5. Give listeners every chance to find you.
At the end of the day, there’s one main reason you’re appearing on a podcast: to grow your author platform. That means you want to give listeners every chance to find you after the talk is over.
Ask your host beforehand if it’s okay if you mention that you have a free item on your website that listeners can download after the talk is over. Maybe that’s a free book, chapter, report, or another goodie you have available for new subscribers.
Also, make sure you send your host all the material he or she asks for beforehand. These typically include your bio, headshot, website, and social media links. You can also feel free to mention your website at the end of the chat, and encourage listeners to go check it out for their free item.
Many authors forget this critical step, and it results in a huge lost opportunity. Take advantage of the opportunity a podcast presents and you’re likely to find that you can grow your audience while having fun at the same time.
Note: For more information on building your author platform, get your FREE chapters of Writer Get Noticed! here.
Have you guested on a podcast & have tips to share? Let me know in the comments!
Colleen M. Story
Resident Writing Coach
Colleen inspires writers to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment in their work. Her latest release, Writer Get Noticed!, was a gold-medal winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards. Overwhelmed Writer Rescue was named Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book in 2018. Colleen frequently serves as a workshop leader and motivational speaker.
Writing and Wellness | Author Site | Twitter
Leon Stevens says
I was approached to do a podcast. I’m not a great speaker and find it difficult to talk and make it feel natural without to many pauses to allow me to think about what the best way to say something. I do agree that you should be prepared with the questions beforehand.
We did come to an arrangement that I would record my answers for the host to insert between her questions. This allowed me to craft what I would say. Maybe not the most natural sound, but better than nothing.
I had previously recorded some humorous interviews that I had written where I interviewed myself. At least with that, I could read the script and re-record when I stumbled.
Thanks for this post.
Lissa Johnston says
I just listened to a podcast where the host’s dogs barked intermittently throughout and I guess they thought this was part of their brand/charm? IDK. I found it a little distracting.
Speaking of which, FYI I am not capitalizing these words on purpose. They are appearing this way automatically, in spite of my attempts to correct them. Weird!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I am sorry about the comments capitalizing everything. WP is doing this and I’m trying to troubleshoot how to get it to stop because it’s super weird!
I hate that, Lissa! It’s definitely distracting. Always best to make sure the pets are safely out of earshot!
Tracy Perkins says
Colleen, thanks for the lessons about the do’s and Don’t of podcasting as someone who is just starting out this helps.
so glad to hear that, Tracy! Good luck if you do any in the future! (Sorry for the weird caps–something is wiggy on the comment machine here!) :O)