A business coach says he paid $35,000 to appear on a podcast, and it turned into $150,000 in revenue. It's part of a growing trend of guests paying for air time — and it's raising legal eyebrows

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A business coach says he paid $35,000 to appear on a podcast, and it turned into $150,000 in revenue. It's part of a growing trend of guests paying for air time — and it's raising legal eyebrows
Nick Unsworth, CEO of Life on Firelifeonfire.com
  • A business coach made $150,000 after paying $35,000 for ads and two appearances on a podcast.
  • He's part of a growing trend of guests paying podcasts hosts thousands of dollars to be interviewed.
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Nick Unsworth paid $35,000 for 12 weeks of ads and for two appearances on the Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast - and then made $150,000.

The CEO of Life on Fire, a faith-based coaching business, made the money from podcast listeners signing up for his courses after he was a guest on the show.

Unsworth is one of many guests paying podcast hosts thousands for an interview spot. According to Bloomberg, podcasts around wellness, cryptocurrency, and business most frequently have guests paying to appear.

Guestio, an online booking marketplace for podcasts, as well as other platforms like radio, and their guests, raised $1 million to build the platform. Instead of paying a public relations firm to pitch them as guests, people can connect and directly pay the podcast host for an appearance on their show. Podcasters also can pay for a guest they want for their show.

Guestio retains 20% of all booking fees made by the booker or talent. Travis Chappell, founder and CEO of Guestio, told Bloomberg that the platform has paid more than $300,000 to both podcast hosts and guests since 2020.

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Entrepreneurs on Fire, the show Unsworth paid, is Guestio's top-earner. The show, hosted by John Lee Dumas, sometimes charges guests $3,500 for appearances, and mentions sponsors at the end of its podcast episodes.

Although the business model seems to be thriving for both hosts and guests, some people think there should be more transparency.

"As someone who's making money for that type of advertorial content, it should be disclosed," Craig Delsack, a media lawyer in New York, told Bloomberg, said referring to guests paying to be on a podcast. "It's just good practice and builds trust with the podcaster."

A Federal Trade Commission spokesperson, who couldn't provide specific comment to Bloomberg, told the company that guests paying to appear on a show without disclosing it in on the show can be misleading to listeners.

But for people like Unsworth, being on a podcast can be a way to build trust.

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"When you're the guest, you're the star," Unsworth told Bloomberg. "If you can be in that position and make your offer, you have no barriers. No one is listening to that episode thinking it's a commercial. There's immediate trust and a perception that you're held in a high light."

Unsworth did not immediately respond to a request from Insider.

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