How to get epic guests on your podcast with Bhav Sharma

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Bhav Sharma works for Ali Abdaal and hosts a podcast called Creators Campfire. Her guest line up has been pretty epic, with big names like Gerald Undone, August Bradley and Kharma Medic to name a few.

In today's episode, we spoke to Bhav about how she started a podcast, how she gets amazing guests on her show, and how to make your podcast a conversation that people want to listen to.

Follow Bhav:
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Episode Transcript

00:00 Akta: Today's episode is brought to you by Riverside. We've been using Riverside to record all of our conversations with our creator guests remotely. Remote recordings can be really stressful if you or your guests don't have the best internet connection. But riverside is able to keep high-quality video and audio no matter what your wifi is like. Thanks to its local recordings, this has made the whole process stress-free and more fun. If you want a high-quality recording studio at your fingertips, visit the link in the show notes and use the code passionfruit2022 to get 15 off any Riverside membership plan.

And now, let's get back on air with our creators!

00:39 Bhav: This would be such a cool conversation to have. Why not just have it like in public?

00:45 [music]

00:53 Akta: Bhav Sharma is the host of Creators Campfire, a podcast similar to this one where she talks to YouTubers about their creative journey. She's had some incredible guests on her show, including Ali Abdaal, August Bradley, Kharma Medic, and Gerald undone. And through her podcast, she was even able to leave her corporate job to work for Ali Abdaal.

Hey, I'm Akta. And in today's episode of Creators on Air, we talked to Bhav about starting a podcast and what makes a good podcast host.

01:20 Bhav: So I like standard accountant, never thought I was creative. Um, you know, you kind of. the standard Indian thing. You go to school, you go to uni, you do your thing, you get a job and, and that's life.

Um, and yeah, genuinely never thought I would be creative, but I always wanted to be—I mean, I secretly wanted to be a YouTuber, like consuming so much of it, and I just loved that world. And I wanted to be a part of that world somehow.

Uh, the podcasting was so out of the blue. Like, at least with YouTube-ing, I think I'd, like, tried once. Once, uh, and it was very, very bad, but, you know, I was like, I can give this a go. Podcasting was a comp—just completely out of left field. Um, obviously, the world went into lockdown, and for some reason, having never even heard of GaryVee—someone mentioned him—and I started listening.

He was doing Tea with GaryVee at that time. And it was a daily thing cuz he obviously had, like, all of his, like, travel plans, I guess, were interrupted. And he was like, “Okay, this is what I'm gonna do.” And I was just listening to it. And I guess a month of listening to somebody like that, every single day, talking to people who just wanna do stuff and be creative and put themselves out there was like, “Oh shit. Maybe, maybe there's something in here? And maybe I can do something.”And realizing that I didn't have to be the one with the talent or the passion, so to speak. Right. Because that was my biggest concern is that I don't have something I'm passionate about. I don't have something like if I was gonna start YouTube, it's like, what am I even gonna talk about? I don't have anything.

Uh, and all of a sudden that he was talking about podcasting or just giving other people platforms that, you know, maybe do have the passion; are the talent. And I was, “I think I can do that.” I was like, “Okay.”

Um, and, and within a week, uh, between having the idea of, “Hey, I'm gonna start a podcast,” uh, I don't—“I'd like to book a bunch of people,” and “I think I'd got my first podcast scheduled,” which is absolutely absurd for me.

Uh, cuz I'm a massive overthinker. So. . Yeah. I mean, I don't even know what to take for that, but it was, it was completely outta the blue, and it just kind of happened.

03:17 Akta: So walk me through that week then, when you realized that you wanted to do a podcast, how did you decide that you wanted to have a podcast about creators, that you wanted to get, you know, these sort of guests on. What went through that whole process of starting that podcast?

03:30 Bhav: Yeah, I, it was, it was like, honestly, it was bonkers. Um, I, I—everything is because of GaryVee. I was listening to those things, and he was talking about—Uh, so obviously there'd become—people coming on and being like, “Oh, Gary, gimme advice on how to, you know, blow up or become a YouTube or whatever.”

Uh, and then there were people that were like, “Oh no, my business has gone, like, down or something. I can't do anything. Um, we're just stuck inside.” And he was saying, “Now is the time for you to go and like tell stories,” almost. Uh, but you know, I vaguely remember some ice cream seller was like, “I can't sell ice cream now, what am I gonna do?”

And he was like, “Go and tell stories. Like you can put up content about that or talk about your journey.” And he was like, “There are people that will give you the platform to do that.” and I was like, “That's so cool.” Like, maybe I'm not destined to be a YouTuber, but maybe I can interview YouTubers, uh, and give them a platform to talk about their things.

And he was—he must have mentioned some kind of campfire, like sit around the campfire or something. And that's when the name triggered. And I was like, “Right, Creators Campfire. I have a name. This is happening.”

And like I said, I'm an overthinker, and I'm a techie. So I love all this stuff. And I had to force myself to get on with it within like 24 hours of having the idea. Cuz the second I sat on it, it was not gonna happen. And two way out—I had to not buy gear.

Um, so I told myself, I was like, I have a laptop. And it has a webcam, that's it. I have headphones. The—I will buy a mic because I did a little bit of research. And obviously, you go down the, like the podcasting pros, like Pat Flynn, and you're like, okay, what are they using?

He recommended like this 60 Pound Samson Q2U mic that I just ordered off Amazon. I was like, “That's all I'm buying. That's it.”

Uh, I did a bit of research and kind of found out that Anchor was a free podcast hosting platform. Uh, that it's so easy to record a podcast with a MacBook. You've got GarageBand, like, built in.

So then I was like, “Okay, I need guests.” And I'm obviously a nobody. I'm not gonna go out to the big guests. So all I did was—I was—at that time, luckily just part of a little Instagram group. I can't even remember what, uh, was going through my head or why I was in that group or whatever. But I just threw a message in there and went, “Hey, look, I'm thinking of starting this thing. Anyone wanna come and join me for a conversation? Don't really know what I'm doing. It's the first episode. It's a huge risk, but, you know, if you wanna come and chat, let's do this.”

And I was so lucky cuz I—at least like four of them were like, “Yeah, let's do this.” And I had four guests booked in, and I was like, “Screw it. Let's just try this and that.” That's what kicked it off, basically.

05:58 Akta: That's incredible. But, I mean, you may—you might have started with smaller guests, but oh my God. Now your podcast has some incredible guests on there. How have you managed to do that? How do you approach guests, and how do you encourage them to come onto the show?

06:13 Bhav: Yeah, I get asked this question a lot. And I honestly genuinely don't think I'm doing anything special or anything outta the ordinary. And I—that question always surprises me cause I'm like, I swear to God, I'm not doing anything different to anybody else. But it has been called out. So I've kind of sat back and thought about it.

I guess at the beginning, I knew that I wasn't gonna reach out to the likes of, you know, Thomas Frank and Ali Abdaal and Matt D'Avella right at the beginning. Like those emails are going nowhere, those messages are going nowhere. I haven't even got a channel at this point. Right. I—it's like, there is no point in reaching out to those people.

Um, so for me, it was a ca—a case of building my experience and therefore just interviewing people around me. So I had at least 10, 15, 20 episodes under my belt to say, “Hey, one, I'm definitely sure that I wanna do this. Right. I actually want to continue.” Cause there's that whole start of like, people gets far as seven episodes or something like this. Seven episode is the death episode. And if you don't make it past that, then people are likely to quit. So I was like, “Okay, I need to make sure that this is something I actually want to do and enjoy.” Uh, so I needed to get that.

But also, I needed to have some kind of a backlog to say, “Hey, I am serious. I am putting the effort in, and you can see the stuff that I'm doing. And hopefully, that looks good enough for you to even consider it.” But even then, you still don't go out to the top people, you kind of level up slowly.So once you start getting some people saying, yes, it's just a case of, “Okay, who else can I reach out to that isn't like, you know, millions of subscribers, but is still a step up?”

And I was incredibly lucky to get some guests on at the like right early that said yes to me. And I still aren't. I'm not—I'm not entirely sure why they said yes to me, but I'm incredibly grateful. Uh, but honestly, it was just an email. It was—it was no different. I was genuinely fans of these people, and I loved their content.

And I guess that came across in the email because I was like, “I like—I love your stuff. I love all the stuff that you do and what you're about. And then I was just honest. I was like, “Look, I have a teeny tiny podcast. I'm a nobody. I totally have zero expectations. It's so cool if you don't wanna do this, but on the off chance, you know, you're bored for an hour or you have nothing to do, I would love for you to come on. And here's my plan.” Like, it wasn't just a “Come and chat to me about random crap for an hour.”

I dunno what I'm doing. It was like, “Look, here's what I wanna talk to you about. Here's what my podcast is about. And here's what I'm trying to get across to people.” And obviously, that evolved over time, and I'm still like reiterating that, but I still had a plan.

Um, and yeah, so some of the earlier, like I got Tom Buck who like—is now a friend and is just—is a wonderful person. But he said it was the email that made the difference. And the fact that I had a plan, cause he had like people emailing him all the time, but there was something behind that that made him go, actually, “Yes, I want to do this.”

Um, and that was cool. I would, obviously, once you start getting small, like, wins like that. And you start getting people coming on. It's easier for the next person to say yes, because you can then say, “Hey, I've had X, Y, and Z on.”

Uh, and then yeah, Marie Poulin another one of my absolute favorites. Again. No idea why she said yes, but I'm so incredibly grateful. And those start making a difference cuz then people can see, and you can turn around and say, “Look, I've had these people on.”

Um, so yeah, that, that's kind of how it started.

09:21 Akta: No, absolutely. That's amazing. I think that's great. And I'm really interested about this plan that you share in your email. So do you actually outline just, like, their podcast title, or do you kind of give an outline of like questions that you wanna ask them? Like how specific are you in your emails?

09:37 Bhav: Not specific at all. Um, and I know that's not very helpful. But I still don't really plan my episodes, uh, which is not something great to admit. Um, but early on, I definitely didn't. I was just like, “I love your stuff. I wanna talk to you about it and.” Like I knew if I planned my questions, I was never gonna stick to them.

And I also wanted a conversation to just flow. So it's like, “Hey, look, we're gonna talk about roughly this. I want,” like—the overarching thing is I wanna talk to people about their experiences of their journey. Yes. It's the standard chronological thing. It's like, “Walk me through how you got from a to B.” But I just wanted to see where the conversation went. So I didn't have a title picked out. I didn't have specific questions. All I said was, “Hey, I wanna talk about your journey.”

And then I'd pick some things out about them. I was like, uh, “Marie Poulin, I know that you're a Notion whiz and you've kind of done this on your YouTube channel. And I kind of wanna dig into that a little and see where the conversation goes and also call out X, Y, and Z.”

Um, so I guess I'd tailor it without even realizing I was tailoring it. Because I was genuinely curious about those things. And I was like, “This would be such a cool conversation to have. Why not just have it like in public?”

10:11 Akta: No, I love that. I love how you're making the podcast just feel so natural by having a conversation. Because I'm like you, I'm an overthinker. So when I was starting this podcast and I was reading about how to be a good podcast host and all of these things, I was reading that you have to commit hours and hours of research for guests. So is that something you do at all or not really? Are you quite relaxed about it?

10:32 Bhav: I am possibly over-relaxed about it. And I'm—I may be going the—a bit the other way.And now that I'm getting even bigger guests, I'm kind of a little more conscious of that. And I'm like, “Hang on. I—I do need to be on my game a little bit more.” Uh, and that's obviously no disrespect to the people I had on earlier. But I'm venturing out a bit more into the unknown as in like, they literally know nothing about me with. With like the likes of Tom and Marie, I kind of built up a little relationship. And now I can drop the message anytime and be like, you know, we know each other kind of vibe.

Whereas, um, some of the people I'm reaching out to, like, there's nothing there. And I know there's gonna be probably like no conversation follow-up. So I do need to be on my game a bit more. But again, I am still predominantly reaching out to people that I genuinely love their work and watch their content or follow their content. And therefore, it's easier to do that.

Um, I am probably a little more… more for the YouTube algorithm than the questions and the actual conversation. I'm—I'm now trying to think about not exactly what the title is, but what the, you know, the one-liner pitch might be after the—after the conversation. So, you know, when I, um, spoke to Ali for the second time, knowing that I'd spoken to him the first time about his actual journey, I was like, “Okay, this time I wanna focus on your business and how you—you built the business around YouTube rather than your physical YouTube journey.” So I might go in with that idea.

Um, and I—with Kharma Medic, I would say. This guy is someone who has built an insane YouTube channel and hit a million subscribers whilst being a medical student. Like he's done the whole thing part-time. So that was kind of—I guess it's an angle. I figure out at least an angle if I can. Uh, it just makes the conversation a bit easier if I'm not sure where to go. Um, I have in the past, um, for kind of like—like the likes of Kharma Medic, or kind of Thomas Frank. I have made a bit more of an effort to write a bunch of questions just in my head. I don't look at them in the episode. I don't do anything with them. But it's like, “Okay, I know roughly where I want this conversation to go.”Again, like I said, it never ends up going in that direction. But there's kind of a backup for me if it's like, “Oh, this took a turn and where it totally took, but it like—the Thomas Frank one took a completely different turn. And we ended up talking about College Info Geek for like most of it. And I was like, “Well, that was unexpected.”

And that's why I don't like to over plan. Yeah. Um, but I'd just like to have a bit of an idea.

12:57 Akta: No, I love that. I feel like that's advice I probably need to take on board for this podcast. I still kind of have to write my questions out because—something that I struggle with is when I'm in a podcast, I just feel like I don't want to be worrying about what the next question is.So do you have a way of overcoming that so you can still make it conversational without you having to stress about the next question?

13:51 Bhav: Yeah. I don't know how many times I've kind of just lost track of a question I'm gonna ask next. And therefore, I try not to just even think about it. I literally—I am having a conversation with this person.

Now that doesn’t mean I don't always have the audience front of mind when I'm having these conversations. Um, I'm kind of being selfish and having the ques—the conversation that I would wanna have if I was sitting with this person, which I guess I am. And saying like, you know, I even have this like mini joke segment of like, “this is selfish question time.” Like I'm purely asking questions for myself about myself.

Um, but I think that's—that flows better. Cause if you're—if you're talking to someone, like if—if me and you were just having a conversation off camera and I was thinking about what I was gonna ask you next, I wouldn't be listening to what you were saying in the—like in the current conversation. Like I might have asked you a question you were answering, and then I'm thinking about the next question. I'm not listening to your response.

14:39 Akta: Yeah.

Bhav: And then I think it sounds unnatural because you could then ask a question and you've either missed a point, or it's like totally not related. By the way, I'm not saying this is professional advice. This is just what I do. This could be terrible advice. Um, but I just—to me, it's more important to just like, have a conversation and see where it goes.

So I've had random conversations. So I've asked a question that's like YouTube-related, and then we've gone off complete tangent. Cuz they mentioned something that was just naturally interesting to me. Um, and then I have to pull it back, and I'm like, “Oh crap, we—we're doing this. I need to, you know, ask a question that people might like.” But it's also okay to just take a minute to say, “Oh, I like, I've definitely just gone. I've totally lost my train of thought. Let—let me kind of pull it back.” Like that's okay to do.

One, you're editing it. But—but two, even if you weren't, like, people forget things. It's—it's okay. It's human. Uh, you don't have to be like on the ball, every single.

15:34 Akta: No, absolutely. I think that's a really good approach to be honest because it just makes it more natural. Like you're actually building a relationship with your guests, um, which you have been because you're still in contact with a lot of your guests as well. And I'm sure that's been a great way to, I hate using the word network, but I guess network and build your connections. Has anything kind of come out of doing your podcast that, you know, wouldn't have been there if you weren't doing this podcast because of the people that you've met?

15:59 Bhav: Yeah. I also hate the word networking. I completely agree. And, and that's totally not what it is. There are genuinely people that come on that I—Like we just get on and we have conversations. And like I said, like Tom Buck, like—it's probably been a few months since we've we've talked, cuz we've probably really got busy. But like there was a time where we were having conversations all a time.

Like, “Nick, come on.” And we just message every so often. And we'll jump on a call and have a conversation.

Uh, I had [Myko] on like a few weeks ago, and oh my God, she's so nice. It didn't even feel like an interview. We were just having a conversation, and we were like, “This is so cool. We should totally catch up more.”

So. Yeah, there—there are genuinely connections, genuine connections, and friendships that I think have been built over this. And I'm so, so grateful for it because yeah. You just meet some, some really, really cool people that would never happen. Like I was the kind of person that didn't answer the phone at work or give my number up. Cause I was so scared of even talking to people.And now it's like, “Oh, there's people out there. They're actually quite nice.” And it's okay to talk to people, which is crazy.

Um, and I guess the second part of that is in terms of what's come out of it, I wouldn't be working for Ali, I don't think if I had this podcast. Like, that's what kicked it off because I'd started the podcast, and then I met up with him like as a fan. And I was like, “Oh my God, Ali, I just wanna come and see you or whatever.” Um, and because of that, we had something to talk about, and it was content. And as we were—as I was kind of leaving, I was like, “Hey. Not expecting a yes.” I was like, “What are the chances you'd kind of wanna be on my podcast?”

And this was very early on. And he was like, “Yeah, cool.” And I was like, “What?”

Um, and then it was because of that. Then we started talking. So he came on the podcast. That's when he was launching PTYA. He said, “Hey, do you wanna come help out?” And I was like, “Yes, of course.” And that relationship built, and then that built with the team. And then, yeah, keeping in touch with those guys. And then all of a sudden, it's like, “Hey, like we've got—we've got a job. Do you wanna come work for us?” So I'm like, “Yes, like that's insane!”

Um, and that would never have happened had I not even not started this. So one of the best decisions ever.

18:06 Akta: Absolutely. And you've been able to leave the corporate world and go full-on creativity, which I just love

18:12 Bhav: Yeah. It's, it's crazy.

18:14 Akta: Back to podcasting. What do you think makes a good podcast?

17:44 Bhav: Oh, that's a very good question. Um, right. This is—this is probably not the right answer, but I don't listen to a ton of podcasts. Um, I—let me rephrase that.

I listen to—I listen to a little, a bunch of podcasts. But I listen to a small selection of pod—Like I don't listen to a wide variety of podcasts, I guess is what I'm saying. Uh, and it's the same with my YouTube, like content. I li—I watch a tiny little segment. I watch a lot of YouTube, but I watch like a tiny group of people. Um, so I don't really know widely, I guess what makes a good podcast.But for me, I love the, um—I—maybe this is because I'm nosy, but I just, I like the more personal side of podcasts. And I think that's what that—allows you to do is you have, you know, an hour conversation or you're listening to an hour 90-minute conversation with someone and you get to know them a bit better.

When you watch someone on YouTube, you get the edited, you know, 10, 15-minute segment. And they're trying to either teach you something or entertain or both or whatever. And, and that's like super cool and amazing, but you don't really know what that person's like. And I know there's a bunch of like, like I'm not trying to go down the weird stalkery route or anything like that, but it's nice to kind of just feel a different connection with people.

And I guess when you're listening to that, when a podcast host brings that out, that's cool. Because then it's like two people just chatting. Um, and I—I prefer those podcasts. Even though I like the ones where you just learn stuff, and it's like, oh, how do you do this? That's totally cool. And that's like an actionable thing. But I love just listening to people having a good time, and it's like, “Oh, they're a really cool person.” That, to me, makes a cool podcast.

19:52 Akta: Definitely. And do you have a favorite podcast?

19:55 Bhav: Um, my—I mean, I should probably say Deep Dive.

19:59 Akta: I thought you were gonna say that.

20:00 Bhav: Deep dive. Uh, and then my second favorite, um, I  have been binging, uh, Steven Bartlett, The Diary Of A CEO. Uh, and I just—I just think it's great.

I guess, though, those two are my most listened-to podcasts.

20:17 Akta: Yeah, definitely. Same here. I love that podcast too. Amazing. So we are gonna end this podcast episode with a quick fire round, where I'm gonna ask you five questions, and you just have to answer the first thing that comes to mind.

20:28 Bhav: This could be dangerous.

20:29 Akta: I’ll start—Or both. Cool. So what's your favorite thing about being a creator?

20:37 Bhav: Oh, this is so not gonna be rapid. Uh, favorite thing about being a creator. I guess selfishly, my favorite thing is getting to, uh, speak to other creators.

20:48 Akta: I love that. And what's one tool that helps you to get more things done?

20:53 Bhav: Oh, uh, I guess technically Calendly cuz then I can book guests in, uh, or email, but that's kind of lame.

They're both kind of lame.

21:00 Akta: Yeah, no, Calendly, I think is a great tool. I use that all the time as well for booking podcast host. So I like actionable that answer is. Um, next question. What's one thing that helps to give you inspiration for your own content?

21:13 Bhav: YouTube. Oh. And stealing stuff on from Ali and work. I'm not sure that's inspiration.

21:17 Akta: That's that.

21:19 Bhav: I think that's theft, but you know,

21:21 Akta: Ah, similar, still like an artist.

21:24 Bhav: Still like an artist. Exactly.

21:27 Akta: And what's one thing that helps with your creator work-life balance?

21:30 Bhav: Oh, that's been a—an interesting one. That is very out of whack at a lot of times, if I'm honest. Uh, I guess if I'm talking podcast because obviously, the YouTube channel has not had any content on it in a while.

Um, the benefit of doing a podcast with a guest is that they're booked in. You—you don't have a choice. Like I'm not—I'm not gonna cancel on someone cuz I don't feel like it. Like that's just bonkers. So if there's something in the calendar, it's happening, and I will show up cause I'll be accountable for somebody else, and I will not let them down.

And also, once it's recorded, it has to go up. You're not gonna record it episode and then not put it up. There's just bonkers.

22:06 Akta: That's a good answer. I guess that's a good reason to have a podcast with guests on it. Right?

22:10 Bhav: Definitely.

22:11 Akta: And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to other creators?

22:15 Bhav: Um, this is—this is for people that want to be creator.

Uh, so I'll twist the question slightly, uh, is, is please just freaking start. Because, uh, I spent many a year watching people and go, “Oh, I wish I could do that. That would be so cool.” And did absolutely nothing about it. And then like, I'm, like I said, I'm so incredibly grateful I did something. And you have no idea where your life can go.

It genuinely will change at least line of, you know, one video a year for two—one video a week for two years can change your life. Um, putting yourself out there will change your life, but you've just gotta keep at it. Everyone goes through the dip, um, but you gotta power through. And you'll definitely feel better for it.

Whether that's realizing you don't wanna be a content creator, that's absolutely fine. But at least you've done it and tried it and don't have any regret. Uh, or you could realize that it's best thing ever, or you can get a new job out of it, or you can just be like, “Oh, I don't quite like this, but I like this.” And all of a sudden, your life has changed. So please, please, please. If you're thinking about it, just do it.

23:14 Akta: Definitely. And I feel like you and I are both proof of that because we both were able to leave our jobs by starting a podcast, doing YouTube. And we're both on the other side of it now, doing things that we really love.

So I think that's great advice.

23:25 Bhav: Exactly. Yes. 100%.

23:30 Akta: Thank you so much for coming onto our podcast. I really appreciate having you on.

23:34 Bhav: Thank you so much for having me. This has been a lot of.

23:36 Akta: Bhav’s definitely given me a lot of inspiration about how I can improve this podcast. You can find Bhav on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and on her podcast Creators campfire.

If you are a creator trying to move your business forward, check us out at GetPassionfroot on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or subscribe to our weekly newsletter Filtered Fridays. Stay passionate, and I'll see you in the next one.