Podcasts are continuing to get more and more popular with millions of listeners worldwide. In some (few from what I've seen) cases, people with very popular or very niche shows can charge what some people call a “Guest Appearance Fee.” While I understand that some of us are trying to at least pay for the cost of production with our podcasts, but there are some things to think about before you go charging people to be on your show.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

I know some people were charging to be on your show (in some cases four figures) to be a guest. The law of supply and demand can be summarized as the smaller the supply for something the more your can charge as long as it has value (or perceived value). Why? Because you can't get it anyplace else.

If you show has a HUGE audience and people are banging on your door to be on your show, this might indicate a high demand for people to be on your show. If your show is super niche, it may be the only podcast on the topic. If a potential guest wants to do a deep dive on Viking history, there may not be that many podcasts to contact.

Remember when sponsors are paying you money it is to get in front of your audience. If a guest thinks you have a large chunk of the audience they may be willing to pay to get in front of them.

MANAGING DEMAND WITH YOUR PRICE

When you have too much demand on a product as you can't keep up, one strategy is to raise the price. When I was a working musician some of the bars I played had a $5 cover charge. Why? Because if you were willing to pay $5 just to get in the door there was a good chance those people had disposable money to buy food and drinks. This way your bar was full of your target audience.

If you have a TON of people BEGGING to be on your show, charging for an appearance might slow the demand. It might shorten the line to get into the guest chair, and only those who KNOW that you have their target audience will bust out the cash to sit in that seat.

If this sounds like a good idea, lets take a second and look at this a little deeper.

Take a Long Look in the Mirror

If you were to go to Google is your show one of less than five other podcasts on your subject? Are you the only pigmy pony podcast? Do you have a large audience? Not many people can say they have a super-niche podcast with a large audience.

Here are some other things to consider:

Enjoying the Extra Money This Would Bring In

TV Talk shows (due to the union) pay their guests to appear on the show ($726 per episode by some accounts) but that is for a show with millions of viewers. According to some reports by Marketwatch 30% of adults have no emergency savings at all (if you make 50,000 a year). If you go up to $150,000 a year 25% of people are still living paycheck to paycheck.

My point is without some discipline, there were always be more month at the end of the money.

What might happen is you have an extra $1000 a month and you get those braces for the kid, or even worse have a second child (and those little boogers are expensive). Now what was extra money to put into your savings, or add some breathing room, is now being spent every week. It is no longer “extra”money.

Now You NEED Guests to Pay

When your back is up against the wall you do things you may not be proud of. Now you start to accept any guest as long as they pay. I've been there done that. While I had a job when I graduate from college I still took a job as a janitor at my church to help pay the bills. I had student loans to pay, and I needed to save up money to move into an apartment. My Dad (who had a degree in computers) took a job as a convenient store manager working the night shift. You do what have to do not because you want to, but because you have to.

This Could Cause a Negative Spiral

If your guests don't fit your audience, and they don't deliver value, you might lose your audience (and remember that is what people are paying for – to get in front of your audience). If your audience goes away, so does the demand to get in front of them.

For me (again an opinion), you don't really need to sell me your guest and provide tons of street cred when you introduce your guests. I trust you that you're not going to bring on someone who won't deliver value.

Potential FTC Issues

The FTC Guides, state that at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make.

255.5 states, “When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that
might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not
reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed. ”

For me, by having them on your show, your audience trusts you to bring people of value. If you don't disclose that they are paying to be there, and someone purchases their product or service, you might have an issue with the FTC (I'm not a lawyer, but it gets sticky).

If you're in the UK, you might want to check out the CAP Code 2.4 “Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing
communications.” 

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
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