Do Podcasts Charge for Guests and Should I Pay to Be a Guest on a Podcast?
Whether or not podcasts charge for guests and if you should pay to be a guest on a podcast, is actually a heated topic and one without a cut and dry answer in the podcasting community.
Yes, some podcasts do charge guests to be on their show and some guests do pay to be on them.
However, there is much debate over whether they should charge and whether that affects the integrity of their podcast.
Leaving the important question of whether it’s a good use of your marketing budget to pay to be on one.
To understand what’s really happening with this important topic of podcasts charging guests, there are several factors to consider.
Why do some podcast hosts charge guests to be on their podcast?
The “pay-to-play” proponents say podcasting is a business.
They have equipment to pay for, editing work to be done, and they spend considerable time producing each podcast so they should be compensated for their time.
In essence, podcasting is their job and they should be paid for it.
One outspoken proponent of charging guests, Super Joe Pardo, explained his reasoning in this widely viewed blog post “‘Yes. I Charge My Podcast Guests.’ – An Honest and Open Letter”.
According to Super Joe, he gives business advice to the guests on his show. He is solving their problems with them live and feels that deserves compensation.
He also says that when a guest comes on a podcast, they are promoting their business and therefore go on to make more money because of the audience he has built.
Super Joe, feels he should get a piece of that pie.
Then what’s the big deal about charging guests to be on a podcast?
Podcasters against the practice of charging guests to be on their show feel it really affects the integrity of the podcast to charge.
It makes it so the listener wonders whether or not you have the guest on because you believe in their message, you think they’re a good fit for your podcast, and you really think your audience will like the guest – or if you have them on because they could pay your fee (some fees are upwards of $5,000!).
If you only have guests that can pay your fee, it likely doesn’t give a leg up to someone who is up and coming, it doesn’t give you the same range of selection, and it adds a criteria (will they pay?) to the selection process that may or may not be fair.
“Are the podcasts hosts who charge guests simply choosing guests who will pay them?”
That’s the question.
Hear more about my thoughts on this subject in THIS podcast episode.
Do podcasts have to disclose that guests have paid them money?
Most podcasters do not disclose that they charge their guests to be on the show.
Purists in the podcasting industry find this to be unfair and misleading.
Bottom line, if you’re paying to be seen on a platform, you’re paying for an ad.
All ads need to be disclosed as ads.
Unfortunately, many podcast hosts aren’t calling these paid placements ads.
The trickiest part of the whole debate is that it’s impossible to know what percent of people are charging their guests to be on their podcasts.
The podcasts that I know charge guests, don’t have it disclosed on their website, on their contact form, or when the podcast itself airs.
The way you find out if a podcast charges is by receiving an email in response to your pitch to be on their show that says “We’d love to have you. We charge x amount and if you’re interested, here is the form to complete.”
If it weren’t for their response, you would have no other way to know about the fee.
Most of the argument against podcasters charging their guests has to do with this lack of disclosure and whether that level of omission creates distrust.
If you think about it in terms of what’s happened in the blogging world, bloggers have to disclose any affiliate links or relationships they have with sponsors.
It can break the audience’s trust when you break that social contract with your listeners and put in the question mark as to whether or not they are on the show because you think they’ll make a great guest, or because they paid you.
Even Rachel Hollis in the book Girl, Stop Apologizing talks about the time someone asked her in a Facebook comment how she had time to do it all and she said that she didn’t… she had a team to help her.
People were so upset that she wasn’t a mom doing everything on her own and that she had a nanny and a team to help her with her website and blog posts every week.
It had never occurred to her that people would think she did it all on her own, but by not mentioning it, it upset a lot of her audience.
Whether or not she had a team wasn’t the issue. People felt misled because she hadn’t mentioned it.
Charging guests to be on a podcast and not disclosing it can feel like that – but even worse because it’s a more purposeful omission.
If the majority of podcasts do not charge guests to be on their podcasts and seem to be selecting their guests based on what they can bring to the conversation rather than what they can pay them, it can feel like a slight when you omit that from your podcast disclosures and don’t mention that you do charge.
Audiences like to think you are having guests who you really want to talk to, who you value their opinion and expertise, and who you have a high regard for.
Which is why, some out there, like Christopher Lochhead, are labeling this practice as “fraudcast” (see: Beware of the Fraudcast, Podcasts that Charge Guests).
How do podcasts make money if they don’t charge guests?
Podcasts typically make money through sponsors and from the listeners that become buyers of their product or service.
Podcast hosts basically become similar to social media influencers in the sense that they are putting their opinions and thoughts out into the world, and those who like and connect to what they are saying are more likely to buy their products or services by becoming raving fans.
For example, a podcaster who gives business advice to entrepreneurs may have a paid mastermind group you can join, or business consulting you can purchase, or a book you can buy, if you like their podcast.
Perhaps you’ll want to book them as a motivational speaker at an upcoming event you’re hosting? (see: How to Make Money Podcasting).
They may have sponsors that fit with their business advice and pay them to get a shout out on their podcast.
The higher they rank on the top 100 list on Apple Podcast Charts as they grow, the more money the sponsors are likely to pay.
If they charge it, should you pay it?
The other question that comes into play on this topic is whether or not it’s worth the investment to pay a fee to be on a podcast.
Being a guest on podcasts can be a great marketing strategy, a way to connect to a wider audience and help get people to your website and social media accounts – helping you reach your target demographic.
However, there are plenty of podcasts that don’t charge guests a fee making it a great FREE marketing strategy (see: The Most Overlooked Marketing Strategy on a Budget).
Paying to be on a podcast, calls into question the same sense of integrity. Do they really want you on the show?
Or, do they want you because you’ll pay?
And if anyone asks you to pay for coverage, you MUST get stats – their download numbers, their listener demographics, etc. to ensure it’s worth the investment.
If they’re going to sell on ad, then they need to be prepared to answer those questions like every other media company that sells ads.
What should you do when you want to be a guest on a podcast then?
Your best strategy is to craft really good email pitches to podcasts that are in your niche and have the best chance of having listeners who will relate to you.
You’ll also want to make sure you have a good strategy in place to get the most mileage out of being a guest on a podcast and any new traffic that comes your way.
Podcast Clout, is a great tool to help you find those podcasts that are in the top of their category.
View the Podcast Clout Demo HERE.
P.S. If you want to hear a heated debate on this subject, check out Super Joe Pardo and Christopher Lochhead tackling this subject on Unstructured on THIS podcast.