Podcast Listener Experience - do podcasts pay their guests?

Do Podcasts Pay Their Guests For Appearances on a Show?

I have been listening to more and more podcasts as of late and have always wondered, “Do Podcasts Pay Their Guests?” As many people will tell you, things are rarely free any more. As a small podcast, one of the fears you might find yourself facing is whether you will be able to land guest speakers or not. Could costs be preventing you from landing your ideal guest? I’ve been analyzing various forums and popular sites to see what other smaller podcasters have been saying.

So, what was the most popular opinion?

Typically, podcasts do not pay their guests. Their “Payment” comes from exposure to the audience as well as highlights to their services, e-books, products, etc. Even if a podcast is small now, there is an assumption by host and guests that the show will grow, and the exposure will increase.

Surprisingly enough, almost every comment on the subject I looked at made it very apparent that they have never been asked for payment. Every small podcaster knows that the budget isn’t there to be handing out large sums to anyone who helps with the podcast.

Just because something is typically done one way does not mean that you need to follow suit. Offering gratitude and other forms of payment can go a long way to form a lasting partnership. Something of which could benefit you more in the long run.

Why Don’t Podcast Guests Ask For Payment?

Many describe podcasting as a form of journalism. In a sense, they are correct. A lot of podcasts run on the format of interviews. Bringing different people from each field on to talk about a given topic.

On the flip side, there is the other spectrum of podcasters that podcast as a hobby (before going full time with a show). Sharing their enjoyment of the medium with others and talking passionately about a topic they love. As such, some regard the idea of demanding payment to be an insult to the medium altogether.

“How much am I being paid” just screams, “I don’t really want to work with you unless I make some money out of it,” which can actually mean that the guest doesn’t have much to offer and really can’t find ways to benefit from their appearance.

There is nothing wrong with questioning ways to promote yourself, which is the main form of “payment” that I discuss further below. That then creates a level ground where your guest knows what to expect from the collaboration, and you also know their level of commitment.

You should never invite a guest onto your podcast if they are not eager to come on and talk. It will create a very awkward atmosphere not only for you but for your audience listening as well. If something like this occurs, you may find yourself losing listeners and credibility. 

Podcasting Without Guests Value - but do podcasts pay their guests?

Why are Alternative Payment Methods Effective in Bringing Guests?

From an outside point of view, money is the only way to get “paid”. Right?

If you are a podcaster, you know that earning that extra viewership is worth a lot more than a measly sum for your time. More viewers = more opportunities for you to grow in the future.

Every podcaster has the end goal of turning their hobby/dream into a profitable job, maybe even full time. Doing so requires forward-thinking and a lot of planning.

Planning for the future is crucial and often means sacrificing small rewards in the present. The easiest way to achieve that is through exposure.

Benefits of Exposure (a form in which podcasts pay their guests) from Podcast Appearances

Why is exposure effective? Many think that if more people know you, you’re going to earn more money. Whilst this is loosely the case, there’s actually more to it. Exposure is a great social currency and a great way podcasts pay their guests.

Having a guest on your blog tells your audience two things:

  1. You trust this person enough to allow them on the podcast.
  2. Whatever this person is selling or promoting is relevant to them.

The second point is more critical than people think. As a podcaster, you spend your time building an audience on a certain topic, hobby, or skill. No matter how you look at it, your audience follows you for one of those reasons.

This means that your guest is going to receive exposure to a targeted group of people. People who will actually want, and be interested in, what they’re offering.

Compare this with other social platforms like Facebook, which can charge thousands just for you to reach half of your audience. Being a guest to an audience of passionate individuals could be one of the most profitable activities you can perform.

If the service/product offered is of high enough quality, those who have made a purchase because of the podcast are likely to return. Not only did the guests gain sales, but they also gained and retained customers.

What Not to Do When Looking for Guests for a Podcast

The worst thing you can do is invite a guest that has absolutely nothing to do with your topic. Trust me. Don’t do it.

When you are in the earlier days of podcasting and are finally looking to take that leap into interviewing a guest, make sure they have some relevance to your topic. 

Remember, your audience tune in because your podcast aligns with their interests. And that is exactly the way any podcasts pay their guests – by matching them with an audience that is already interested in what they have to say!

If your podcast is about running, there is little place for someone talking about new cars. Your regular listeners will be disappointed, and it may invoke reconsideration. If a listener is reconsidering whether they should continue listening, you might as well kiss them goodbye.

Regardless of size, find a guest that can offer additional value.

How to Form Podcast Relationships with Your Guests

If you can form a friendship with another podcaster, you open up a multitude of opportunities. Even if that only means you collaborate once every 6 months. That 1 collaboration provides you with marketing opportunities, and you are essentially gaining his audience for that one podcast.

Many people have the mindset that if they invite a guest to their podcast, they are doing them a favor. I beg you. Please look at it the other way.

If you choose your guest right, they are doing you a favor.

You do not know everything. Your guest, on the other hand, may know something you don’t and can teach you and your audience. Everyone wins, but more importantly, you provided value you wouldn’t have with just yourself.

Nurturing these encounters is critical to growing as a podcast. Seeing each guest as a one-time pit-stop will damage your brand in the long run.

Forming relationships is a lot easier than you think. Here are a few ways:

Follow up Email After an Interview 

This is a very basic method, yet it’s surprising how many people just don’t bother (or forget). Sending a follow-up email a day or a few days after your podcast can provide you with a non-spam way of contacting them.

Thank them for their time. Pick out something they said in the podcast and let them know how valuable it was. Openly share the interest to work together again and provide them with a topic you think would suit another collaboration.

Not everyone is eager to continue working collaboratively. If you do not receive a response, it might be best to move on to another opportunity. It is much better to show interest and leave the option to them than to flood their inbox and have them block you.

Engagement storytelling - other forms podcasts pay their guests

Be a Gracious Host

This is more applicable when the guest is traveling to you for the podcast. In these cases, the nicest thing you can offer is food and drink for their trouble. Not only does this show that you are a gracious host, but it also leaves them with the feel of being looked after. 

They are more likely to then go away thinking better of you. Good manners and respectful actions go a long way. Don’t be surprised if they come back to you with an offer to collaborate again.

Offer Them Some Bonus Content – Easy and Memorable Way Podcasts Pay Their Guests

I’m not referring to giving them a hand out of your favorite podcasts to listen to. I mean offering to provide some content to his audience that they can use. Maybe you have just finished creating a helpful guide on the topic of the talk. Maybe you have been working really hard on some content for your website, but you could guest post instead?

The options here go on and on. It depends highly on the situation and what is available to both parties. You can’t offer to guest post if the guest doesn’t have a website now, can you?

This also works in favor of you. Guest posting will create backlinks for you, further strengthening your SEO. This also applies if you provide the guest with additional content.

Whilst I don’t mean to say ‘only do it if you get something back’ – that’s a bit distasteful – I do mean to say that whilst you are looking to form these relationships, you can use methods that also benefit you.


Do Podcasts pay guests? The clear answer is no. However, looking into the question from a different point of view, you should now be able to see the advantages that “paying” guests can have.

I don’t think this practice is going to change either. Podcasting is a way for individuals to express their personality and love for a certain topic. Despite the competition, podcasting is a very collaborative community. Other podcasters are itching to see you succeed just as much as they are for themselves if you aren’t in their niche, that is!

I would recommend trying one of the methods pointed out above and see if they bring you any success. If you do, comment below and let me know the outcome!

How hard was it for you to land your first podcast guest?

About the Author

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.

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