Do Podcasts Pay Their Guests? We Find Out

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Inviting guests to chat on your podcast is a win-win scenario. And you probably already know that it’s one of the best ways to grow your audience

It gives you access to your guests’ social network and the chance to increase your listenership. Your guest will be looking for exposure, but it’s also a great excuse to chat with someone interesting. 

Podcast guests are not normally paid. An appearance on a podcast is mutually beneficial and both parties recognise that it can help to grow their audience. There are outliers though with a small number of people who do charge for an appearance. Some podcasts also charge guests to appear on their show although this is rare.

When you’re just getting started — a few respected guests can give you some great street cred and boost your momentum after launch. Listeners usually tune in because they like the topic or the host, but guests are a great way to keep them interested and provide fresh perspectives. And on the more technical side, guest appearances are an excellent way to generate some authentic backlinks and improve your SEO rankings.

So, what’s the catch? Do you need to pay a podcast guest for their time? Does it depend on how famous they are? 

These are all great questions. So let’s talk about the ins and outs of having a podcast guest on your show. 

We’re going to provide you with the industry standards for finding, pitching, and booking a guest — and then how to approach compensation when you do. There are differing opinions and approaches, but we’ll give you the run-down and some useful tips.

Where Can I Find a Podcast Guest?

The great thing about the world of podcasting is that even if you have a huge budget and a couple million followers, you still come from a scrappy, DIY industry. And luckily for newer podcasts — this mentality translates into how you get guests to come on your show. 

There’s a general attitude of humility and authenticity — so guests are usually sourced from real connections and your social network. Or they are people who lead in a field that’s relevant to your podcast.

It’s common for a host to invite a guest personally, but it can go the other way too. Some podcasts even have a guest application form. And if you have a small production team, the host might not be making the first point of contact — there’s no rigid rulebook here. 

Despite the general informal nature of it all, podcast appearances are really important. So there are tons of podcast booking services and agents. These are services that guests typically use though, not hosts. If your podcast has a high-profile, then it’s more likely to draw famous guests. 

But no matter the size and scope of your team, the dynamic stays the same. It’s really all about your network and your ability to make new connections.

Do I Need to Pay My Podcast Guest?

You and your guest both benefit from the arrangement, so the short answer is — no. Welcoming guests on podcasts old and new gives them access to a wider audience, and the guest gets great exposure. It’s as simple as that, even for high-profile guests.

This is the industry standard. Most podcasts don’t expect payment and neither do their guests. Great news for any new podcast with a low production budget!

But there are a few exceptions surrounded by an interesting debate — and you’re probably wondering if that changes for famous guests. So let’s see what some veteran podcast hosts have to say.

Celebrity Guests and Fraudcasts

If anyone is getting paid, it’s those podcast booking services, virtual assistants, or real-life assistants who do the matchmaking. It’s only natural if you are going to have a famous guest that you may not speak to them directly until they come on your show.

But it’s completely normal to have a celebrity guest who doesn’t ask for payment because they know the exposure is valuable compensation in itself.So the general podcast code is that no one pays — but there are some outliers.

The most outspoken podcaster who goes against this standard is Joe Pardo of the Super Joe Pardo Podcast — he charges guests to be on his show.  He even wrote an open letter about why he started doing it. Whether you agree with his reasons or not, he remains the exception.

And there’s a larger debate about whether paying guests or hosts compromises the content of the podcast — and converts it into a literal advertisement. Since podcasts are meant to be informative conversations, some say that there is a social responsibility to make the listener aware of any payment structure. Some have even gone as far as to call this type of podcast — a fraudcast.

Tips for Contacting Guests: Finding, Pitching, and Booking

If you’re a true podcast newbie trying to do it all, the process for finding great guests might seem overwhelming — especially if you’re hoping to land one of your heroes. But it doesn’t have to be. Remember, meeting new people to invite to your show is bound to be fun and rewarding. You’re going to make some great connections and meet some very cool people.

And just like every other aspect of podcasting — you don’t need a talent scout or a massive budget to do it. These tips will help you work smarter and faster whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking to perfect your process.

It all comes down to three important stages — finding, pitching, and booking guests. So here are some suggestions for navigating the podcast guest relationship every step.

Finding a Guest

  • Use your network. When you’re first starting out, your best guests will be people you already know.  Don’t be afraid to invite your friends and family — as long as they’re relevant and won’t hurt your credibility.
  • Cultivate authentic relationships. Do your research and start building connections with professionals and influencers in your field. If they see you popping up in their inbox or DMs, even with a simple like, or positive feedback — they are more likely to say yes to an interview in the future.
  • Join a podcast community. Find other podcasters in your niche and join their community. There are tons you can choose from.
  • Check out Amazon’s new book releases category. Because the authors will want to promote their new books.

Pitching a Guest

  • Choose wisely. Make sure you think strategically about who you reach out to. Don’t seek out big fish at the get-go because you’re setting yourself up for rejection and disappointment. Micro-influencers are a good place to start.
  • Stay relevant. Be sure to stay on brand. Don’t invite your friend with a huge following if their audience has nothing to do with your subject matter. It will actually hurt your podcast’s credibility — and it probably won’t boost your listenership since it’s the wrong audience.
  • Craft a thoughtful invitation/pitch. First impressions really do count. So you want to make sure to do your research before contacting a guest. Make sure you are knowledgable about what the person does and let them how they will benefit from coming on your show.

Booking a Guest

  • Be nice. Never hassle a potential guest to come on your show. Even though it’s a mutually beneficial agreement and there is no real money exchanged — you should always make it clear to your guests that working with you will be a pleasant experience.
  • Be flexible. If you’re trying to book any guest, but especially a high-profile one, be sure to be patient and accommodating to their busy schedule.
  • Book again. Don’t be afraid to invite a previous guest back again! Especially if it went well and a reasonable amount of time has passed since their last appearance.

Now, it goes without saying that the best way to attract guests is by producing a quality show. You should always focus on excellent sound, consistent releases, and integrity at every step. But we hope these tips will help you find, pitch, and book a guest without ever spending a dime.

It’s a great way to expand your audience, collaborate with your peers, and establish yourself as a reputable source of information and entertainment. And thanks to the spontaneous nature of the podcasting genre — you never know who you’re next guest will be!