I’ve been co-hosting a weekly podcast for nearly 12 years with over hundreds of guests and I want to tell you the secret to getting invited on a podcast. Are you ready? Here it goes.

Already be talking about something.

If you want to go on a podcast and talk, the best thing you can do is already be talking about something. And by talking, I don’t mean pontificating on social media. I mean by writing blog posts, responding to comments, participating in web standards, doing conference/meetup talks, and having actual human-to-human interactions (in-person or online) where you’re taking place in the marketplace of ideas. It helps if you do that on a regular cadence. If I can see from the outside that you’re thinking about a topic –whether broadly or deeply– that gives you standout guest potential. You don’t need to have a whole branded “A Book Apart”-style catch phrase for what you’re talking about (although, it doesn’t hurt), but you need to show you’ve thought about, experimented with, or understand a topic beyond the readme.md.

The incentive structure is setup like this (presented in user story format):

AS A podcast host
I WANT a friendly and knowledgeable guest
SO THAT I can fill an hour of dead air

As a podcast host, I need as close to a “sure thing” as possible. Being a good guest candidate also requires a lot of soft skills. Possessing knowledge is one thing, but I need the confidence that we can talk a for an hour without you being an asshole or the conversation collapsing. Are you funny? Serious? Either way can you spin a story and be remotely relatable? A nightmare scenario for me is having to throw away a whole episode and scramble to record a backup before the show goes out on Monday. Whatever you can do to model those core skills in your online persona goes a long way.

Anyways. That’s my advice if being a guest on a podcast or livestream is a goal of yours. It probably works for speaking at conferences too. I don’t care if you’re someone’s boss, if you’re super-duper smart, if you drive a Porsche, if you have a popular code repository, or if you’ve paid to get yourself into a Forbes article. My biggest care is that you’re already talking about something, you have an open catalog of thoughts and opinions, and I can see evidence that your ideas have broader appeal than your basement.