In April 2014, I tweeted Pat Flynn a video, asking him to be a guest on my podcast. He said yes within minutes. This is how I did it.
Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com has been one of my biggest influences since starting my blog and podcast. I was fortunate enough to meet him in San Diego at the Social Media Marketing World conference.
“If there is anything I can do to help, just ask,” he had said, as he handed me his business card.
I stared at the card. Need help? it read. Email pat at smartpassiveincome.com. No phone number, mailing address or twitter handle.
Email seemed to be Pat’s preferred method of contact.
I nearly blurted out, “Can you be a guest on my podcast?!” on the spot, but I decided it probably wasn’t the best time to bombard him with requests. We were at the closing party and he was keen to get into some karaoke.
I could always just email him…right?
However, post-conference, I began to think otherwise.
I realized that when you’re as popular as Pat Flynn, you end up receiving a lot of emails.
300 – 400 a day, to be more specific.
Yikes. How was I going to ensure my email got noticed? I knew I’d have more of a chance because I’d met him in person, but I didn’t want to count on that. If I was going to ask him for an interview, I wanted to do it properly. To make it IMPOSSIBLE for him to say no.
I had to do something other than email. Something that was really going to stand out.
Generating the idea
The first thing I did was write a list of things I knew Pat liked:
- Music. At the SMMW conference, he told me how much he loves karaoke
- Helping people. He’s always so humble and grateful for his followers and fans
- Humour. You can tell by his fun podcast introductions (Example: “And now, your host – he treats his Xbox like a third child…Paaaat Flynn!”)
- Doing things differently. This is evident in his whole approach to online business.
- Being an awesome husband and dad
- Beatboxing. Again, he does this on his podcast.
Next, I assessed my own skills and resources that related to the things Pat liked:
- I can sing, but that would require writing a tune, which I have never done before.
- I do, however, enjoy writing poetry, and remembered performing a cheesy rap song back in high school. This would be easier than singing. After all, it’s like poetry set to music, right?
- I had no musical instruments at my disposal, but figured I could find something online.
- I had a smartphone and podcast equipment for recording video and audio
I deduced that Pat would respond well to a quirky, humorous music-based invite. Preferably with some beatbox beats. So I decided to write a cheesy rap song and set it to some downloaded backing beats.
It just seemed like the obvious thing to do – I mean, why wouldn’t I make a rap video?
Creating the message
The next step was to create the message. I wanted to include the following components:
- Mention that we had met at SMMW14
- What I like about Pat
- What I do and who my podcast helps
- Asking the question
The final lyrics:
This is a song just for you, Pat Flynn
You’re a total boss at podcasting and beatboxing,
You’re super fun and friendly, man I’m such a lucky girl
To have met you at social media marketing world
I podcast too, it’s my own creation,
I help design students with communication
You’re such a great speaker, I just have to ask,
Would you consider being a guest on my podcast?
My listeners will love you and they’d love to hear,
Your speaking tips and how you overcame fear.
Plus I’ve got ideas for a really cool show,
You could totally beatbox, and I’ll do the flow!
I clearly need help with creating good beats,
‘Cos all I’ve got is this app, and it just sounds crap!
So what’s in it for you? You’re probably wondering Pat
Well if you say yes, I’ll give you this hat!
How long did this take me to write?
I wrote most of it during about three of my daily 20-minute walks to the gym. Plus a couple of moments of inspiration in the shower. I find letting your mind wander during boring tasks like walking, showering and doing the dishes is great for generating ideas!
To find music, I went to the App Store and searched for ‘beatbox pad’. I found a free app called ‘Hip Hop Pad’ that allowed you to play looped beats and add sound effects over the top. Super cheesy, which worked for me!
Including some filler music bits, the whole song took less than 90 seconds. If I were to do it again, I’d aim to get it under 60 seconds.
One challenge I faced was achieving decent video and audio quality. I had great equipment for audio, but I’d never done a high-quality video before.
Here were my equipment options:
– Samsung Galaxy S4 phone (good video, average audio)
– Canon powershot camera (good video, average audio)
– PC webcam + mic + video recorder software (good audio, terrible video)
– Roland E-05 recorder + mic + mixer (awesome audio…no video)
Solution: I decided to record the video on my Galaxy using the front camera (so I could see my frame positioning), and use my regular podcast setup to record the audio (mic and ipad input to mixer, output to Roland). Then I would just dub the audio over the video post-production. Perfect!
Due to the lighting in my apartment, short equipment cables and lack of tripod, I did the recording sitting on my lounge room floor with my Galaxy phone propped up on a coffee table and a stack of shoe boxes and fixed in place with sticky tape.
Yes, sticky tape. (I believe you shouldn’t let you lack of resources hold you back. Learn to improvise.)
Perfection: the enemy of good
You may be wondering how long this thing took me to implement.
Of the entire process, getting myself and the camera set up took the longest. If I had a proper office space with a camera and mic already set up, this wouldn’t have been a problem. The actual recording of the song took about 15 minutes. Yep, that’s all. Four attempts in total.
I made some major stuff-ups the first few takes, as expected. And in the fourth take, I actually forgot the lyrics halfway through a verse, but just continued on and pretended it was deliberate.
If you watch the video, you can see I make some over-exaggerated sideways head movements. I was actually sneaking a glance at the lyrics that I had stuck to my wall!
Some of my music cues aren’t quite on time, and there are plenty of things I could have done better with more attempts, but frankly, I just wanted to get the video out. I didn’t want to spend hours and hours recording it.
To me, it’s ok that the video is far from perfect.
I think a ‘homemade’ element actually adds to the appeal, and makes it look like it came from a real person rather than someone’s production team. It’s like receiving a homemade card or birthday cake. Sure, it may have lumps and bumps and bits that fall off, but this is what makes it endearing!
Sending the video
This was the fun part! Heart a-thumping, I tweeted Pat with the link: “I wrote a song for you, @PatFlynn. Happy Friday!”
Seven minutes later, my phone pings. It’s Pat Flynn:
Cue: me, jumping around the room like a little girl.
After Pat’s reply, I simply sent him an email with the subject line “Thank you for watching my rap video!” and asked when would be a suitable time for him. We had the interview arranged for 2 weeks after.
What happened after
The aim of the video was to get Pat Flynn to say ‘yes’. That was ALL. And it totally worked.
But what happened after was completely unexpected. And incredibly cool.
- I started getting tweets and messages from random people saying how much they loved the video and that it had inspired them to also make videos.
- Cliff Ravenscraft of Podcast Answer Man shared the video on almost every single social media platform. And he played the ENTIRE AUDIO on his own podcast! (Note: I already knew Cliff through his Podcasting A-Z course, but I doubt that made a difference to him sharing it). This would be great exposure for anyone in the online business world, but for me as a newcomer with a relatively small following, this was HUGE.
- The positive feedback prompted me to make more videos. It got the attention of Jared Easley of Starve The Doubts, who suggested I submit to speak at the Podcast Movement conference about getting guests on your podcast. So I did, and landed a spot on a panel. Speaking at a conference? Woo hoo! (I’ll also be speaking at the Business Podcaster Summit in January 2015.)
- I’ve discovered a whole new way I can help people. Due to the number of people asking me about being creative and reaching out to influencers, I’ve created an entire course on this.
All of this came from just ONE GOAL – to get Pat to say yes to an interview. It just goes to show: you never know what will come from thinking outside the (in)box.
Try doing that with an email.