How not to solicit a podcast guest appearance (or anything else)

I occasionally hear from people who want me to appear on their podcasts. I usually say yes. But there’s a right and wrong way to do this. A recent lame-o invitation I received made so many mistakes that I think it’s a good illustration how not to succeed in podcasting — or any other venture in which you have to make a good impression on people.

1 Generate generic invitations

The email invitation I received looked like this:

You’re invited to be our Podcast guest!

Hi Josh,

I hope this finds you well! I’m [name redacted], the producer of the [name redacted] Podcast. We’re all about sparking conversations that inspire personal growth and fuel leadership. We love featuring guests who’ve not only made a difference but also have unique insights and compelling stories to share about their journey.

I’ve been closely following your work in supporting nonfiction authors, and I am deeply inspired by your comprehensive approach. Your services serve a profound purpose: you help nonfiction authors succeed. Furthermore, you provide guidance, resources, and expertise to assist authors in crafting compelling narratives, reaching wider audiences, and achieving their publishing goals. This focus on empowering authors and enhancing their ability to effectively share knowledge and stories is truly commendable.

Considering your unique approach and depth of expertise, I firmly believe our audience would derive immense benefit from your insights and support.

That’s why I thought I’d reach out to see if you might be interested in being a guest on our show. It’s a relaxed and insightful conversation with our host, [name redacted], where we dive deep into the experiences, challenges, and victories that shape great leaders.

Of course, I’m here to answer any questions you might have and provide more details if you’re interested. Just drop me a reply, and we can find a time to chat further.

Looking forward to potentially working with you. 

Keep up the incredible work you’re doing!

All the best,

Of course, my first question here is, “Do you actually know who I am?” It’s obvious that the paragraph starting “I’ve been closely following your work” is clipped directly from my website. Anyone who is actually “closely following” me or “deeply inspired” by me would be able to write something more personal. The rest of it is fully generic (including the part about my “unique approach and depth of expertise,” which I’m sure was in the other 137 pitches this producer sent). A generic pitch is already doomed to fail. Lying about being interested in my work makes it worse.

2 Look as unimpressive as possible on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of dogs sniffing each other’s butts to check them out. So I sniffed the host’s LinkedIn. Here’s what I saw:

Nov 2016 to Present
Producer [Redacted] Podcasting · Self-employed

[Redacted] is my full catalog of work, as well as a means to conduct other podcast related business. [Redacted] is my full catalog of work, as well as a means to conduct other podcast related business.

Jul 2014 – Present

Jul 2012 – Present
Creative Writer: [Redacted] Comic

I write and publish the website and all it’s content. I manage freelance illustrators, and provide content to each one based on their individual strengths.

Jul 2020 – Feb 2022
Multimedia Lead and Host of [Redacted]: [Redacted company name]

Hosted [Redacted] Podcast that meets with the sharpest minds throughout the ecommerce space. Also worked behind the scenes at [Redacted Company Name] building and leading the MultiMedia department.

Jun 2014 – Dec 2018
Editor / Post Manager: [Redacted company name]
Chief editor of audio broadcast (podcast) content and publisher.


2007 – 2009
[Redacted college name]
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Comedy: Writing and Performance

Here’s the message of this profile: the host worked on and off for podcast companies between 2014 and 2020, but otherwise, has been freelancing and working on his own podcast. His writer job description has a typo (“it’s”). And he apparently finished his B.A. in two years — either that, or he didn’t finish it at all. Not very impressive.

3 Don’t check your website before sending invitations

Here’s what I saw when I checked out the podcast website link in the email:

Dude, your certificate is expired. Oops!

Perhaps unwisely, I checked out the site anyway, despite the browser warnings. What I saw was the host’s stubbly, disheveled face in a wrinkled t-shirt. Comb your hair before you get your head shot taken.

The list of podcasts ranged from substance abuse to raising teenagers, along with “Clearing the Karmic Circle.” I didn’t recognize any of the interview subjects’ names. Not a crew I’d like to join.

4 Don’t respond to emails

I emailed back to tell the producer that the web site wasn’t working.

I got no response at all.

Why bother people if you won’t respond to their messages?

Don’t be this guy

It’s not that hard.

First, don’t go into podcasting until you’ve got some actual work experience.

Second, make your LinkedIn actually reflect your accomplishments (once you have a few).

Third, don’t send generic invitations. If you put in the work to learn about someone significant, they might actually respond. If you don’t, only losers will respond.

Fourth, make sure your website is working and your hair is combed in your headshot.

And fifth, if you get a response to your email, respond, don’t ignore it.

It’s not easy to do this right, but if you put in the effort, you can.

It’s also not easy to screw up so badly that you become an object example of incompetence. That’s some publicity you’d be better off avoiding.

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