Tools of the Trade: Scheduling podcasts using Acuity Scheduling

Our process for Scheduling podcasts

Let's start with the problem: Maintaining my calendar sucks.

It's not that I’m “too busy” or that I’m some sort of special delicate snowflake. I'm just trying to navigate this crazy world of 24/7 push notifications. You know, that feeling that I'm behind time the second I wake up every day.

That's the blessing and curse of how the internet works.

Yes, we're all busy. Get over it, Jeff. Get over yourself.

Indeed. But that's not the point of this post and video. Being busy is not the problem I'm trying to solve.

Let's redefine the problem

Problem: I don’t like having awkward conversations.

Life is good when I invite guests onto our Jumpstart Podcast, and they verbally accept.

The part I don't like? When we spend 2 weeks trying to find a time that works for both parties. We're scheduling a podcast episode, not open heart surgery.

As I'm trying to find a recording date with guests, telling my schedule sounds something like this:

”I'm free from 8 to 10 in the morning on Wednesday… 2 months from now.”

It feels like I’m giving everyone the brush-off. Basically telling the podcast guests that I am too important, and there's no opening at all for the next 60 days.

But that's not really the case, I just have to awkwardly explain that I'm going to be on 3 continents and 5 time zones over the next two months.

This is the reality of the digital nomad lifestyle. I've been living out of a suitcase since 2015, and I bring my business on the road. I change location a lot, and that means I can't be sure if I'm able to take a phone call or if the internet will work the following Wednesday.

Minnesota Nice, a term we assign to people who are passive aggressive about not doing something at all to avoid an awkward conversation, has led to a fair share of missed opportunities.

Often, I can't fit someone in until 2 months from now, and at the same time, I'll desperately need someone as a guest for the coming Thursday (which is in 2 days).

Surely this can't go on if we want to grow the business. I talked about project planning on day #21 of this 90 day challenge, that getting processes in place is the No. 1 thing we wanted to do in 2018. And we are using Asana to map out the podcast process.

But getting a guest scheduled for a recording date/time is still a chore. With my traveling and the time zones differences, it's still hard to tell when I'll be available to do recordings.

I looked into many calendar scheduling tools and tested a lot of them. Many of them seemed too lightweight or clunky, and didn't do what I needed it to do.

And then I found one that I loved – Acuity Scheduling.

It's great, and I want to share with you why I love it so much.

Our podcast scheduling process using Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling is the solution to our previously defined problem of trying not to give everyone the brush-off.

It started with using Acuity Scheduling for our podcast scheduling process, but the tool is now a vital piece in many areas of the business.

I want to show you exactly why we like it by sharing some insights into how Acuity Scheduling works. We'll actually go into the tool, and I'll show you how we use it to improve our podcast process.

1. Multiple calendars (and family calendar)

You can add multiple calendars on Acuity Scheduling.

Under business settings, I can view my availability based on all the calendars I've added. It works with Google Calendar, iCloud, Outlook Office 365, just to name a few.

At the time of this video recording in January, I was still in the US trying to get ahead of the game, batch recording these videos. This episode doesn't go live until now, in mid February. I traveled to Hungary late January, and it was noted on my calendar, so the system will block out dates when I'm not available. So no one could make an appointment when I'm traveling for work or spending the holidays with family.

Acuity Scheduling consolidates all my calendars and allows people to book time slots with me according to my availability.

2. Intake Forms

To schedule the podcast, guests click to book a time slot on my calendar. After that, they'll be prompted to answer a few questions. We set these questions up on intake forms.

We do a mini pre-interview and ask them a few questions to get some basic information.

We always start off each episode by asking the guest about their first breakthrough project that got them into digital marketing. We ask each and every one of our guests this question. The guest will be much more ready to articulate this since they've actually written it out once already.

We ask them how they would like to be introduced, and any link or plugs they would want us to share. We use this information in both the audio introduction at the start of the recording, as well as in our writeup.

We also ask them about topics that interest them lately. I can use this during the conversation, to probe and share more about these topics during the recording.

The guest will also share a headshot of themselves and their postal address. We use it to order a cartoon avatar. We use this cartoon to make the podcast artwork, and a thank-you postcard is sent to the guest after the episode goes live.

All this information is collected upfront to produce our podcast, and we're letting the guest go at their own pace.

What used to be much awkward back and forth emails have been consolidated into one link. This link goes to a secret page on our website that's embedded with the Acuity Scheduling. And all the information we need is gathered in one spot. It has really transformed this part of the business.

Works for more than just podcasts

I don't use Acuity Scheduling only for our podcast process. I schedule pre-sale calls on this system as well.

It's helpful for my schedule to be readily available to view. It helps to inform my wife about my schedule as she can see it on the calendar. It's really been a wonderful addition to the business.

3. Multiple appointment types

Aside from using it to schedule our Jumpstart Podcast, we also use Acuity Scheduling for other types of appointments. This happens in the appointment types area.

Now, what type of appointments do I schedule with this tool? I thought you'd never ask.

I do 1-on-1 calls with students in the Agency Jumpstart Course.

I schedule meetings for our apprenticeship program. As you might recall, I've adopted an apprenticeship model in Jeffalytics. Apprentices will join my team, and I teach them everything that I know about a topic and also get them invested in growing the business. We've got some awesome apprentices and I use Acuity Scheduling to set up meetings with them.

We also do case study calls with students, pre-sale calls and training calls.

I have all of these set up as different appointment types. And all I need to do is to click on a type of appointment and either send someone the direct link to the scheduler or embed it on the website.

I've been very happy with this process and it has saved me so much time.

4. Add padding to meetings before/after

You can add padding before and after your appointments.

For calls or meetings that takes up quite some mental bandwidth, I'll add a 30 minutes padding before and after the appointments. This will make sure that I don't have appointments scheduled back to back.

I have plenty of time to prepare and mentally unwind for appointments like podcast recordings or 1-on-1 calls.

5. Very easy schedule management

Managing your schedule is easy. Whenever I have to go out of town for speaking engagements or to attend conferences, I won't be able to record podcasts. There's not much room for that when I'm traveling, and I don't always have the recording equipment with me. So I block off that time.

I don't allow people to schedule meetings when I have family time. Or when I'm in a loud place or the internet connection at the AirBnB is not very stable. I'll block off these times, then I don't have to worry about it, and I don't have to deal with it.

6. Embed on my website

You can embed the Acuity Scheduler on your website and give someone the link to that webpage. With this, you can put more customized information around the scheduler and give it more context (and humor).

For our podcast process, we're using just one (secret) webpage, and we're sending every guest there.

Having a scheduling page saves us time and made everything more efficient. I am much less of a bottleneck on the process, as my team can share the link as well.

It's simple and clear when I am available. Everyone can see what's on the calendar because we've pulled the information out of my brain and onto Acuity Scheduling.

You can probably tell that I am a big fan of this tool! If you're having scheduling nightmares like I used to have, then you should definitely give Acuity Scheduling a try.

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