by Dan Blank
Today I want to discuss a powerful way for you to grow your author platform, reach potential readers, and make a meaningful connection with a like-minded creator. This is all about pitching yourself as a guest on podcasts.
First things first: The most powerful time for you to establish connections with podcasters and readers is not the moment you desperately need their help to promote your book. It is long before that time, when you can discuss themes and topics that may be a part of what you write, but not directly promotional of it.
You might think, “I haven’t even published a book yet. Why on earth would someone want to have me on as a guest?” Forget that!
Podcasters want to engage with passionate creators who can share stories that are engaging and enlightening. As a writer, this is what you were born to do.
Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are far reaching and regularly book famous guests. But others are incredibly specific to single topic, and actively seek out new voices to connect with. Every writer has a powerful story to tell, so if you see one that fits with your own niche—say, the historical research you’ve been doing for that novel, or the photos from your garden that have been a surprise hit on Instagram, or the humorous parenting essay you finally placed in that magazine—don’t worry about credentials or accolades.
Focus on the only thing that matters: your ability to connect with one person (the podcast host) and having a conversation they would love to be a part of.
Of course, if you have already been actively publishing books—or if you’re an essayist or feature writer with a proven track record of knowing your stuff—this is all the more reason to dive into the thriving world of podcasts.
Why are podcasts a great opportunity for writers of any sort, at any stage? For one, podcasts are a clear way to connect with niche audiences. Podcasts are thriving in places where blogs are languishing, Facebook Groups feel overcrowded, and traditional media feels distracted by the news of the day.
Podcast interviews are deep one-on-one conversations that draw the listener in. They help us focus and do a deep dive into what matters. This could be a topic, teaching, or story. Often a good interview does all three.
Podcast hosts have developed a trusting relationship with their listeners. This is an amazing opportunity for writers. It’s akin to showing up to dinner with a book club that has met every week for years. These are people who know and care about each other. Trust is just oozing from the room. I mean, isn’t that the kind of place you want to have conversations around what you write and why?
Especially now, during this time of social distancing, podcasts offer so much of what we want as human beings: to discover new ideas and people, to relate to them on a level that feels real. Imagine someone having your voice in their ear for 20 or 40 or 60 minutes. That is what podcasts do.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Your New Podcast Strategy
- Buy wireless headphones and familiarize yourself with podcasts by listening to them. Don’t have time? Neither does anyone else—which is exactly what makes podcasts so popular. Listen while folding laundry, doing the dishes, driving, jogging, or doing yard work.
- To find podcasts you may like go to your podcast player of choice (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, there are so many! All are good, just pick one), and search the names of authors you know or like. Search for topics that interest you. Don’t worry about finding podcasts that are 100 percent aligned to exactly what you write. Start with your passion in order to find joy in listening.
- When you find a podcast you like, see what else is recommended on that page. Most podcast players will have sections with suggestions such as: “Listeners who listened to this also like…” as well as links to other podcasts in the same category.
- Don’t just focus on the most successful podcasts, pay attention to those with a smaller audience as well. A small podcast with a single host focused on meaningful conversations could turn out to be your favorite.
- As you listen, make a note of what types of podcasts you prefer, what types of guests, what the hosts tend to focus on. This is all critical marketplace research to help you understand how you can not only be on podcasts, use them as part of a larger strategy to later promote your writing and books.
- Brainstorm what you can talk about. Don’t just have it be about your book-in-progress, or your articles, or your poetry—consider anything you can talk about to any audience. The big lesson of why social media is such a big part of an author platform is that people want to engage with real people. Those who have interests, hobbies, and a voice. Use yours. Don’t treat a podcast pitch as just a promotional vehicle. Consider it as you would show up to a dinner party, book club, or writing retreat.
- Do sample interviews to build your confidence. Repetition will build comfort with the process, and open up new ideas for what you can share.
- Pitch yourself! Keep the email ridiculously simple. Ask if you can be on their show. Tell them what you love about their show. Share a line or two of what stories you can tell, and what you could talk about that would interest them and their listeners.
- Of course, if you do have a book to promote, absolutely work to identify podcasts that focus on related genres or topics. Turn your book into a powerful conversation, and consider how podcast interviews can become a robust part of a book tour.
- Create a spreadsheet or keep a notebook to keep track of podcasts you’ve approached, wish lists for the future, and insights you pick up along the way.
If you have no idea where to begin with podcasts, well, start with mine. Each week I interview writers and artists about their careers. It’s called The Creative Shift with Dan Blank: https://wegrowmedia.com/thepodcast/
Or check out these other amazing podcasts for writers:
- Write-Minded Podcast https://podcast.shewrites.com
- #amwriting Podcast http://amwritingpodcast.com
- The Mom Writes podcast: https://www.authoraccelerator.com/momwrites
I’m curious: What’s your favorite podcast about writing or publishing? Share and trade your favorite recommendations over on the Career Authors Facebook page.
Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers develop a human-centered approach to marketing and reaching their audience. He is the author of the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. He has worked with thousands of writers, and amazing organizations who support creative people such as Penguin Random House, Sesame Workshop, Hachette Book Group, Workman Publishing, J. Walter Thompson, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others.