Podcasting is a fantastic way to grow your business and share your message with those who need to hear it! But, don’t get me wrong, podcasting is so much more than pressing a record button and talking away. Being a podcast host (or podcast guest) requires thinking on your feet, tailoring your content to your listener’s needs, and staying innovative. Sounds easy, right?
In this episode, I am talking to Jessica Rhodes, founder of Interview Connections, the world’s first (circa 2013!) and leading podcast booking agency and co-host of Monetize the Mic. Jessica is passionate about helping business owners feel empowered to thrive in the role most aligned with their unique talents and strengths.
During our conversation, Jessica and I broke down the benefits of having a podcast (and being a guest on other podcasts), how to find the right podcasts to pitch to, how to get interesting people on your podcast, tips for keeping listeners engaged, and so much more!
Connect with Jessica:
Rachel: I’m so excited for this because I have stalked this woman for a while and finally said, Jessica, you have to come on my podcast. Why, you ask? She has a podcast agency and she’s been booking people since 2013. Back in the day when people didn’t really know what podcasts were. So today, Jessica and I are going to break down how to get those podcast interviews and those speaking gigs to build your visibility and so much more. I just gave you an intro. But will you tell everyone a little about yourself?
Jessica: Thank you so much for having me. Rachel. I’m super excited to be here. I was born and raised in Southeast Pennsylvania. I live in Rhode Island now. I’m married. I’ve got two kids. We live the country life. I’ve got backyard chickens. We got a couple of animals inside. So yeah, just enjoying nature while I’m not on the computer, doing podcast things all day, all night.
Rachel: So let’s talk because I know there are a lot of coaches out there that get really scared to show up and do a podcast. Tell me even the benefits of podcasting in general. I know we see them everywhere. But I would love to hear from you.
The Benefits Of Showing Up & Being On A Podcast
Jessica: I would imagine anyone listening to this podcast, I know you did an episode about funnels and now we’re here. Because we understand that we need to grow our business, we need to get leads and visibility is what you need in order to expand your list, get leads and get clients. And podcasting is an amazing way to get visibility and is super effective.
Because the listeners are hearing your story, they’re spending 30-45 minutes with you, which is not what you’re going to get just on social media. There’s obviously a time and place for all different types of marketing. But when somebody sees your social media posts, they see your ad, they’re spending maybe three seconds with you if that. And if you’ve got the right line, you can get them in.
But with a podcast, you can really build a relationship with somebody in a much deeper way. You can develop trust, you can speak specifically to their pain points, you can build a relationship with the podcast host who may be a good referral partner or may be an ideal client.
Also you can hone in on your messaging. And that’s one of the hidden benefits about being a podcast guest. Using podcasting is actually being on the court practicing, saying your message out loud over and over again so you get better and better at delivering your message, which then improves your ability to close sales once you’re on the phone with those potential clients.
How To Start Getting On Podcast Shows
Rachel: What would you say are the best places to start looking for podcasts to be on? Where do we even start?
Jessica: There’s millions of podcasts out there. Instead of spending time going through all the different directories and websites, because there are more options than I can count in terms of places to go to research. To find podcasts, the easiest way is to identify some names of experts who are similar to you. Maybe they’re a little bit more well known, they have a similar target audience, they’re clearly out there being really visible, look up their name in Apple podcasts, look up their name in Spotify and see what podcast they’ve been a guest on. That’s a really easy shortcut to immediately find shows that have your target audience that are vetted by somebody else who’s already speaking to your audience. You know they take guests because they interviewed this person.
So that’s a little hack to find a podcast to pitch. Because a lot of times you’ll find a podcast, oh, this has my target audience. This is great. And then you realize, oh, it’s a solo show. They don’t take guests or they haven’t published in a year and a half. So look at other relevant experts and see where they’re speaking.
What To Talk About As A Guest On A Podcast
Rachel: And then for the coaches saying, Okay, so I’m practicing my message. Jessica, great advice. Now, what do I actually talk about on the podcast? I would love for you to share some different types of content that can be shared.
Jessica: Yes, absolutely. The most helpful tip I can give here is to list out your clients pain points. What are the pain points that your coaching helps them to solve? So that’s number one. And then also brain dump. Open up a Google Doc, get out your pen and paper and write down the answers to this question. What do my potential clients need to learn and understand in order to know that they should invest in my coaching?
Because a lot of times that missing piece, what people need to know and understand is a blind spot. They don’t even know what they don’t know. So if you can really speak on podcast to somebody’s pain points, and then also what they need to learn in order to know that they should be working with you, that will shortcut the sales cycle that those listeners have on their way to working with you.
Coming Up With Standard Interview Topics & Thinking On Your Feet
Rachel: I love that. I know there are video podcasts and somebody could show up with PowerPoint and share a PowerPoint, but would you say generally to have this practice so that it comes out just naturally? And have a few topics in mind?
Jessica: Absolutely, yeah. You’ll want to have a podcast one sheet so that you have a PDF, it has your standard interview topics, it has some suggested interview questions, so that way, before you’re a guest on a podcast, you can send that to the host. A lot of hosts are gonna have their own questions, but by having a one sheet that will prepare the host to interview you on the topics that you want to be talking about.
I’ve been a guest on probably hundreds upon hundreds of podcasts at this point. And I’ve never been asked a question where I’m like, Oh, I don’t know the answer to that. So just know that this is also an exercise and thinking on your feet.
Rachel: I love that you said that because that’s the part that coaches are not used to. We have to think on our feet. And we always have that negative noise that says, Oh, my God, you’re gonna mess this up. But you’re not going to know enough. I love that you just shared that story.
Jessica: Don’t be afraid to take a deep breath. Because think about it this way, when we think about stress responses, if you don’t know what to say, you’re in a freeze response you’re frozen. So do something that can calm your nervous system, get you in a place where you can actually think, take deep breaths, make sure you’re well regulated, that will help you be a much more effective guest. It’s okay to take a deep breath after they ask the question and give yourself those two seconds to think about what you want to say.
Rachel: I love that advice. I know when I was looking for podcasts, I felt extremely overwhelmed. But a lot of people had reached out to me because I had a lot of videos explaining and sharing the way that I work. So that made it easy for me. But let’s switch gears and actually talk about the person who has their podcast. What are your suggestions for keeping continued listeners engaged?
How To Keep Continued Listeners Engaged
Jessica: To keep your listeners engaged week after week, you need to be tailoring the content to their needs, to their pain points to what they want to learn about. You have to innovate, you have to keep expanding your content to be unique. And not just be redundant. Because if you’re bored, they will be bored.
I’ve had my podcast since 2014. So I speak from experience. I’m not saying Oh, I’m just pointing fingers. I know that there have been seasons where I am so bored doing these topics, and we switch it up, we innovate. Let’s talk about this. Sometimes you need to talk about a topic that doesn’t fit the pillars of your show. But it’s what you’re really called to speak about, so do it. It’s your show, there are no rules other than the rules you set for yourself.
Rachel: I love that you share that because we have seasons, especially as entrepreneurs, where we’re just not feeling it. Or I went through a season where I was so burnt out, and I listened back to those podcasts. I’m like, how did anyone even follow this? But then I started actually talking about that burnout, and making it part of my show.
I almost felt there was that breakthrough, where I was like, Oh, I can be really authentic. It challenged my ego 100% Because to go on a show, your own show and say I was so burnout, I was depressed, all these different things. But I think it gives light to so many entrepreneurs out there where we have those times.
Jessica: I agree 100%. I went through something similar this past spring, where my business partner and I who co host our podcast, we just got super transparent and vulnerable. And we’re sharing all this behind the scenes stuff. And that is when our listeners were most engaged. That is when we were having our listeners DM us and say, oh my god, it’s so great that you share that because very few podcasts hosts and business experts are actually being real about what they’re going through in the moment. So being vulnerable and just being real sharing your own trials and tribulations sharing your own behind the scenes stuff. That’s what people want to hear.
Rachel: I love that you said that. It goes into my next question, how much is too much to share?
How Much Is Too Much To Share On A Podcast?
Jessica: Great question. We did an episode about this because there’s a difference between authenticity and vulnerability. And there’s a difference between therapy from the stage. I didn’t coin that term.
The rule of thumb that I have learned from experts is, if you can speak about the topic and not be emotionally triggered as you’re talking about it, then I think there’s been enough time that has passed from the actual thing.
You also have to consider because when you’re a business owner, when you’re offering a service, when you’re a coach, you’re a leader, there is a balance between being vulnerable and being open about your scars. But the other day, whether we like it or not, we do need to think about positioning.
If we’re out there saying, “I’m really struggling right now,” that might not really help you close sales. But at the same time, you want people to see your vulnerability, you want people to know that you’re human. So there’s no black and white, really, you just have to keep your finger on the pulse and really ask yourself, Am I in a place where I can be emotionally stable in sharing the lesson here? Or am I just talking about this because I need a friend to hear me?
Rachel: I love that you said that. Because I always say, share when you have a solution. Yes, in the present moment, and you’re struggling, you can say I’m struggling, but this is what I’m doing to get out of it. Because I swear I was on the autoimmune struggle bus for so long. I would just come and be this week, I had this flare, but this is what I’m doing. And I think it took so much strength for me to be honest about those you said, I love that you said the word scars. Share things that you’re going through. But how do you share in a way that’s really going to peel someone’s heart, peel their senses, but also give them a solid direction?
Jessica: I really love that you said when you have the solution. Have you completed the cycle of that situation? Have you completed the cycle of that scenario of that challenging thing that you went through? Because now in hindsight, we can look back at challenges we had six months ago, a year ago. And you can see, Oh, wow, I don’t even think about that anymore. So I guess we’ve solved that problem at some point. Now I can talk about it.
So when you have this solution, even if you’re in the middle of it, share it. There might be podcasts where that’s the goal of the show is just to literally be a journal every day. But for a coach for a business owner, who does need to consider positioning and all of that. Having the lesson I think is really important. The lesson is the key.
How To Promote Your Podcast As A Host & As A Guest
Rachel: So talk to me about promotion on a podcast because when I started my podcast, I was so overwhelmed by some of the things that were said to me. You can do promotions, you can share lists, all these different things. When is it too much selling? Or where do you like to position that in an episode?
Jessica: So are we talking here about a host of your own show or as a guest on somebody else’s show?
Rachel: Well, actually, let’s dive into both because you kind of piggybacked on my next question.
Jessica: Because the rules are a little bit different on your show. You can do whatever you want as far as promotion goes. Now keep in mind, if you’re promoting right out the gate, at the beginning of the episode, new listeners are probably going to turn off and go to another show, because they’re like, You need to at least tell me who you are before you start running your stuff. Take me out to dinner first. So you want to give value.
Another good rule of thumb with having your own show is you want to treat every episode as if somebody is listening for the very first time. So, if right at the beginning of the episode, you’re saying subscribe, rate and review – I just clicked play, so I’m not ready to do that yet. So just think about if somebody is listening for the very first time. What journey do you want to take them on in that episode?
At the end, you can give that call to action and give that specific thing that you want them to do. Write a review is always a nice reminder. But give a clear call to action. Because these are listeners of your podcast, or the people that are just going to get to know you, a free call to action is best. But on your own show, you do have the free reign to promote something that’s paid because it’s your podcast.
Rachel: And now let’s flip the script. If you’re on somebody else’s podcast,
Jessica: So when you’re on somebody else’s podcast now we’re recording this on the day that Dancing with the Stars premieres for its next season. And I’m a huge fan. So you want to make a ballroom dancing metaphor. Typically, the male leads the dance and in male/female ballroom dancing partnerships, the host is leading, okay. So as the guest, you don’t want to be super promotional, you are there to 100% provide value. Now, if the host leads you to be promotional. Take their lead. I’ve been on podcasts where they’re literally asking me, Well, how do you work with clients? And I’m like, Well, fantastic. I will follow you in that direction.
Rachel: Great. You just gave me the greatest segue I need.
Jessica: Exactly. But, let the host lead you there. If they don’t we stick to value and a free call to action.
Rachel: I think that’s a great thing to have on a forum to ask them if you can give a free gift.
Jessica: Yeah. Absolutely. Definitely ask them in the greenroom chat on the pre call, if it’s not discussed. My call to action is easy because I just drive people to our website. So it’s interviewconnections.com. I don’t usually ask, but if you do have a free offer, you can always just check with the hosts and say you want to offer this to your listeners, and maybe they’ll put it in their show notes.
How To Grow Your Business With Podcasts
Rachel: So tell me for that person who is just starting the podcast, what are the things, if you could look back at yourself that you wish you would have known?
Jessica: I wish I would have known that it takes a really long time to grow an audience and that the number of listeners you have doesn’t dictate how successful this show is for your business. You could have a pretty small audience that plateaus in size, but you can engage them more, you can be more effective with your content to attract people to your website more. That’s what I would say.
Rachel: What would you say for a person who is really trying to grow their business? Would you say, definitely get on podcasts? What was your goal for your clients that you do work with? What is your goal that you actually suggest to them?
Jessica: For the entrepreneur that really wants to grow their business, if you don’t have a podcast yet, I would recommend starting as a guest, because when you have your own show, that is the place where you can cultivate an audience, but you’re going to need to get listeners.
So going on other shows as a guest is the way that you can get listeners back to your show. So I would start as a guest, because people that have been a guest on other shows are much better hosts, because they’ve had the experience of being in other people’s shows.
Typically, if you’re really in growth mode, being on a show every single week is ideal. But you also have to consider your availability, your schedule, what mental bandwidth do you have to give each interviewer 100%? So if someone’s like, I really only have bandwidth to do one or two great interviews a month, do one or two. I’d rather you do that, then not do a great job on four shows a month.
Rachel: I love that. What would you say for hosting a podcast? Do you typically see people do a release a week?
Jessica: Weekly is definitely the most popular. Also, seasonally, my business partner, Margie has a podcast that she does in season. So I think it’s about once a year, maybe a little bit more, she drops a season. And that works really well for her. Also the content is so high quality because she’s so particular and selective about each individual episode of that season. So it’s really, really good. The same thing happens when you have a weekly show. Sometimes you’re just trying to meet a deadline to get an episode out and then the content goes downhill.
Rachel: Wait, let’s really talk about that. I was talking to somebody who said their podcaster makes them go four weeks in advance. I was like, Well, I can never have that. Sometimes you plan and then you have cancellations. And then you’re like, Oh, I better bring a great episode out.
Jessica: I will say there is no shame in missing a week. There’s no shame in going on a hiatus. Business growth brings different priorities. I co-host our podcasts, I do a lot of episodes on my own as well. I’m in a season right now where I’m on a lot of sales calls. I’m doing a lot with other parts of my role. So we’re on a little bit of a break. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that. I’ve had my podcast since 2014.
So don’t just churn out content, because you need to get an episode out. Make sure it’s quality. If you don’t have the time to release a quality episode. Don’t release an episode.
Rachel: There was a week where I did not have the bandwidth. We had just launched and I needed a few weeks to get my brain back. I remember going and being like, Okay, well let me go see on YouTube if I’ve done any video that I can repurpose. I ended up skipping that week off. No shame. And then on the week back I said, Hey, I took a week off. This is why and let my listeners know what was going on.
Jessica: Absolutely. I love that. I love that you told your listeners too, because it’s the same thing for me. I’m like, Well, I actually have a lot of episodes on other people’s podcasts. So there’s a lesson there. I’m focusing a little bit more on guesting right now than hosting my own show. I think it’s a good note that if you have videos to repurpose, I’ve done that where I don’t have an episode to release. I’m like, well I did this really good Facebook Live. The audio is perfectly good for a podcast. Let me just repurpose.
Just Start Your Podcast
Rachel: What would you say for anybody listening, what’s something that you think we’ve missed? Have we covered it all?
Jessica: So the one thing we didn’t really talk about that I really want to say is you have to just start. So many people put podcasting off, they put guesting off, because they feel their message isn’t right. They feel they’re not ready. They don’t have their funnel in place. You just need to start, An analogy to this is, there’s no perfect time to have a kid. You just have it. It sucks. There’s really no perfect time to start podcasting or being a guest. If you are listening now. And you’re interested, just start doing it. And then you improve as you go.
Rachel: I love that and practice, we can say that the key to doing a great podcast is being able to practice your message.
Jessica: Yes, absolutely. The best practice is actually the live podcast. So if you’re super nervous, go on smaller shows or shows that launched a month ago. They’re super new too but get practice. Don’t wait till you feel you’re ready for these really big podcasts. Start small if you feel you’re not ready, and that will allow you to work your way up to more established podcasts.
Rachel: We were talking about the host leading, I would love for you to tell me, what does it look like when somebody hires you?
Jessica: Thank you for that lead. So when somebody hires Interview Connections, we take them through an onboarding process. We get really clear on their story, their message their target audience. So we know what types of podcasts are best for them to be a guest on because that’s a common theme. A lot of people don’t know what shows they should be on. So we ask all those questions. So our team can be like, Okay, these will be the right shows for you. We make their podcasts and then we do all the research for the shows: the pitching and the connecting. So it’s a done for you and done with you podcast booking service.
Rachel: Oh, I love that. Would you say that typically, each client is different in the sense that some of them want to go on once a week, some of them want to go on more?
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. We have some ambitious clients that want 10 a month. But I would say most are in the range of two to four interviews a month. That tends to be the pace that makes the most sense for a lot of our clients.
Embracing Lessons Learned As You Move Forward In Your Business
Rachel: Well, we just covered what was missing. I love that you brought up to just start messy. I can’t tell you how many coaches I see with failing businesses, they’re brilliant, but they have a failing business, because they’re just waiting for this perfect moment. Instead of saying, I’m going to feel the fear. And I’m going to do it anyway.
Jessica: Yeah, and the one thing I want to add, a lot of people say that it’s not just their messaging, or, I need to really make my target audience accurate. So I was just helping a client last week, who is probably nine months into podcasts. I’m guessing her business is pretty small, it’s pretty new. And one of the big lessons over the last nine months of doing podcasts is that she’s targeting the wrong type of client. And that felt initially like a failure. All this time wasted.
But she would not have figured that out if she hadn’t been going on other shows. So there’s, there’s a lot in these early few years of business, there’s a lot of lessons that are learned from actually speaking to the wrong shows or going on speaking to the wrong audiences or having the wrong messaging. That’s not something you can prevent. You have to learn those lessons by actually executing, failing and then saying, oh, okay, I’m gonna pivot now.
Rachel: I love that. Because those valuable lessons are only ones that we learn when we’re doing exactly the wrong thing. The people that I see who are consistently successful in their business, whatever that looks like, monetary or personal wins in our business, are the ones that share about the fears, share about the inner critic, share about the imposter syndrome, but also don’t let that rule their entire business building.
Jessica: There’s a lot of value in working with messaging coaches, and working with coaches to figure out your target audience and 100% do that. But at the end of the day, you actually have to be speaking and getting real life feedback from real people in order to know if that message lands if that target audience is the right fit for you.
Rachel: I love that. Well, I’m so thankful that you said yes to be on my show.
Jessica: I know. I’m so glad. I just think it’s funny because we originally scheduled to do this and then I had COVID. I got such a chuckle out of the fact that I was scheduled for a podcast called Healthy Hustle the day I COVID after being at a conference. I was like, this is hilarious, but I’m feeling 10 out of 10 today, so I’m so glad that it worked out.
Rachel: Well actually before we leave, tell everyone where to find show
Jessica: Interviewconnections.com We have so many resources there from podcasts to articles to just scheduling a consulate call so head over to interviewconnections.com
Rachel: Awesome guys, you know where to go and I guarantee that you got value from this because I know I did and a lot of those questions which I wish I would have known. We just answered them today.