In January, 2020 I decided to venture into the world of podcasts. I ended up charting a different course than most in that I did not start a new podcast for Martin Investigative Services. Instead I focused on being a guest on existing podcasts. How to actually get those appearances turned out to be a story in and of itself.
This is the story of that journey, and how it all worked out.
Over the years, a number of people had reached out to me about starting my own podcast. I flirted with the idea on and off, but ultimately I decided the commitment level was just not right for me. Besides, I’m not sure I have the talent or the patience to be a podcast host. (But please don’t let my skill-set misguide you. I think having your own consistent podcast can have a lot of very rewarding benefits. You can target a new audience for your specific business. You can build your brand and products to a wide range of customers in different sectors of the economy.)
I’m no stranger to creating content. Over the past 7 years, I’ve written over 450 blog posts. Each post is time-consuming, and some are tedious. It can be difficult to consistently produce a 500-1000 word blog post that is focused on quality content – not filler. Many of these posts have increased our web site traffic both short-term and long-term, and brought us a lot of press coverage we wouldn’t have necessarily received otherwise.
One day I was in the middle of writing a new post when I had a thought: What if I could be interviewed for 30-60 minutes on an existing podcast, then have that interview transcribed and post the transcription as a post? That’s certainly much easier than writing new material!
The more I thought about it, the better the idea became to me. I am completely comfortable with media interviews – having done two book tours, dozens of television shows and over 1,000 radio shows as a federal agent and private investigator.
So this became my new goal.
I then had to figure out how to get on some podcasts that were actually listened to. You think this would be a breeze given there are (by some estimates) over 900,000 podcasts on the planet.
Do you really want to do a podcast that no one ever hears?
The reality is, many podcasts have no real audience or history of shows. The interviewers themselves are amateurish at best. I asked myself, Do you really want to do a podcast that no one ever hears? Surely, I could have my 30 minutes of transcribed content, but no advantage with the show’s influence or established audience. That would have been mostly a waste of time.
How do we get on a quality show with hundreds of downloads per episodes?
I quickly learned the hard lesson that getting on podcast shows can also be very difficult and time consuming. To that end, four of my investigators and I began a “deep-dive” into the world of podcast booking agencies.
We narrowed the selection field with a list of 10 of the top podcast booking agencies – but barely. The quality diminished rapidly as we approached the numbers 5 through 10.
Please keep in mind, my investigators are all former agents of the FBI, DEA, IRS or Secret Service. We know how to interview and glean information, and we were totally transparent in our telephone interviews of the agency personnel. We told them our goal, and that we were private investigators from Martin Investigative Services, Inc.
I want to share with you some highlights of what that investigation determined. You might find the following facts helpful and revealing.
- All ten agencies will negotiate their fees. The average cost for them getting you on a show was approximately $350. Don’t ever pay this amount or anything close to that amount.
- Most have a silly “set-up” fee which averages $750. Never, ever pay this fee. They will waive it for you.
- Don’t pay for the mandatory “one-sheet” which supposedly needs to be developed. This is another gimmick to generate income. There are numerous samples on the internet and you can complete yours in one hour. The agency should do this for you as a courtesy.
- There are four agencies that are actually run by three different partners. Not a negative to be fair, but we saw this as their way of dominating the industry. Their rates are all different so don’t hire the most expensive one of the four.
- We found one person that runs one agency behind the scenes but is out front for another.
- There are two agencies that have some funny math. Let me explain: Some agencies want you to do a minimum four shows a month for a certain fee. For example, they will quote you $1,500 for four shows at $375 per show. That’s understandable. Two different heads of booking agencies actually said, “We charge $1,200 per month for “3-4 shows”. We said we would definitely want four ($300/show) versus three ($400/show). They both said they couldn’t guarantee the actual number. As I said, that’s some funny math.
- There is one person that charges you $500 just to speak with you about their services.
- What agencies charge you additionally for social media marketing while others include this service?
- What agencies will actual transcribed your interview as part of the fee? Who will charge extra for this service? (By the way, call us for a referral to the best transcription service in the United States – at unbelievable pricing.)
- Many of the agencies have three different levels of participation with cute little names for each level. I won’t use the actual names but similar to beginner, leader and pro. One agency was averaging $600 per interview using this sliding scale. Ridiculous.
- One agency we found was charging a flat rate of over $1,000 per interview. They were not very busy.
We ended up retaining what we thought was the #1 agency on the list and (more importantly) the best fit for our company. We put our money where their mouths led, but the results were just not good.
Here were the terms:
We would get 4 interviews (not 2 or 3) each month, for 3 months, at a cost of $1,500 per month.
The real damage done was the loss of two month’s time waiting on an agency that produced nothing.
We provided our credit card for the first month payment beginning on February 1, 2020. On March 1, 2020, we spoke with the principal and expressed our concern for no interviews to date. He advised there “were numerous interviews in the works”. He even asked me on this call if he could access my card for the second credit card payment. I think you know the answer.
On April 1, 2020, after two months passed and no interviews, we told the principal via letter to refund our monies. On April 2, 2020 our agency representative at the booking agency advised she had lined up two interviews for April 2 & 3, 2020. Unfortunately, the first interview was done twice because the host’s internet equipment wasn’t working. On the second try, his microphone malfunctioned.
The second show we did was a great hit for the host as it was his highest rated show in two years. However, his audience numbers were really minimal. The real damage done was the loss of two month’s time waiting on an agency that produced nothing.
To his credit, the principal returned half of our initial retainer. We are in negotiations for the remainder.
I was fortunate in our research to find Andrew Allemann’s podcastguests.com. We personally spoke with Mr. Allemann who is a true gentleman and runs a very detailed and fair podcast guests website.
The site has target audiences: It’s for those who want to get booked on podcasts or, for podcasters looking for guests.
There are two plans to choose from: Basic for $10/month, Premium for $29/month. Both of these fees are paid annually.
We signed up for the premium package. There is also an opportunity to be featured as a guest in the email sent out timely each Monday morning. We took advantage of this opportunity the very first week. Combined with our listing and featured guest, we were stunned to be offered numerous shows. Within the first month of our subscription, we did 7 quality shows. The cost was pennies on the dollar compared to the podcast booking agency we retained.
Consider giving podcastguests.com a look before you try booking on your own or using a podcast booking agency.
Unfortunately, on June 1, 2020 I had a serious accident which has sidelined me for the past three months. I should have one more month of physical therapy. I hope to renew my subscription to podcastguests.com and jump back into being a podcast guest.
If you would like us to be a guest on your podcast, please email me or call our corporate office number at 800.577.1080. Note that we won’t sell anything on your show, but we do provide great content and information for your listeners: As the front cover of my latest book states, Secrets From America’s Top Investigator To Living Safer, Smarter And Saner. We also offer your listeners a this dedicated page of unique resources. You will find updated information and secrets from the world of private investigations.