Clever Marketers, you are about to read some amazing marketing magic from Danny Iny, on using interviews to build your business, create blog content, and establish your credibility! Enjoy Danny’s post, leave a comment, share it in social media, and then IMPLEMENT! 🙂 Hugs, Heather
Why do interviews at all?
This post is about how to conduct great interviews on your blog, but before we jump into the HOW, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the WHY.
There are at least five good reasons to include interviews as part of your blogging strategy:
- Content for your blog. You’ve got to churn out good content on a regular basis, and an interview is a lot easier than coming up with a whole new post!
- Interviews make for good content. The reason why you’re interviewing the person is that they have something interesting to say – this guarantees that the content will be interesting, at the very least.
- Search engines will like it. If it’s an audio interview, and you have it transcribed, that makes for not only great content, but a lot of text. Search engines like that!
- Raise your own profile. By associating with the bigger names in your industry, you automatically raise your profile in the eyes of your readers.
- Connect with the big players. How else can you get a major player in your industry on the phone for 30 minutes or more? This is valuable because they can answer questions, and because they will remember you – especially if your questions are good.
These are good reasons, but they aren’t the only ones – I’m sure with a bit of time, you could come up with five or ten more to add to the list!
Okay, let’s get down to nuts and bolts. How do we do this?
Who to Interview?
The first step is to decide who you want to interview, and my advice here is to AIM HIGH – go after the biggest players in your market.
It is perfectly normal to feel timid – if you’re running a blog that hasn’t grown to ginormous proportions yet, then you might be thinking something like “Who am I to call up the really big players? Why would they take my call?”
Well, the truth is that you might be surprised. The first interview that we ran on Firepole Marketing was with Guy Kawasaki – and yes, it was a bit of being in the right place at the right time (I wrote about how I landed Guy Kawasaki on Problogger).
But then I went on to interview a whole bunch of other big names, including one of my heroes, Randy Komisar – the author of two amazing books: “The Monk and the Riddle” and “Getting to Plan B”. When I landed the interview, I was ecstatic, and told everybody I knew. They all asked me how I did it.
My answer: I emailed him and asked.
The worst that can happen is that they politely decline, or don’t respond. But you’d really be surprised at how friendly and accessible most people are these days. So aim high!
Making the Approach
Once you’ve got your list of interview subjects, you have to send them an email. Here’s what that email might look like:
I’m a big fan of your work – [GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF THEIR WORK, AND WHY YOU LIKE IT].
I’m wondering if you’d have the time and interest for me to interview you about [YOUR NICHE] for [YOUR SITE/BLOG].
I’ve recently interviewed [BIG NAMES] – so you’ll be in good company.
[OR, IF YOU DON’T HAVE BIG NAMES YET:]
The kind of people that we’re going to feature include [BIG NAMES] – so you’ll be in good company.
What do you think? Is that something you’d have time for?
Thanks in advance,
It really is that simple. You won’t always hear back right away (or at all), but sometimes you will, and probably more often than you expect!
When they respond, coordinate a time that is convenient for them, and send them the details for how to call-in (more on how to set that up in a moment).
You should also send a short blurb (only a couple of paragraphs, maximum) about who your audience is, and what you feel the fit will be with the interview subject. In other words, give them a sense of what you’re looking for.
Preparing for the Interview
There are two sides to the preparations that you need to make for the interview – technology, and content.
On the technology side, you need a way to conduct and record the interview. There are tons of ways that you can do this – lots of people advocate using Skype. I personally don’t like that, a little bit because I’m worried about random technology failures, but mostly because I like to walk around and talk with my hands. So I use FreeConference.com (there are tons of services like them, so find the one you like best).
When I setup the call, I get a toll-free number (optional, but I think it looks more professional, and for the extra $5-10, I’d like to make as good an impression as possible), and make sure the call is being recorded (there’s a checkbox for it – look carefully to make sure you don’t miss it). When I started doing interviews, I would add a few more phone lines than I needed (just paranoid – I can’t think of a good reason, and I don’t do it anymore), and booked the call to start about 15 minutes before the start time, and end about 30 minutes after (this is important – make sure you have a margin, in case the call goes long).
On the content side, you need to prepare yourself to conduct a GREAT interview. Here’s how to do it:
- Over-prepare! Read the person’s stuff, and think about what questions you can ask that will give them a chance to really show off what they know. Your goal should be to give them such a great opportunity to show off that they will want to link to your interview when it goes live!
- Script out the interview. Do it in bullet format, so that you’ve got your questions in order; start with an introduction, list your questions, and have a concluding, closing question that can give your listeners an action point to follow. You can find inspiration in this post of virtual interview questions.
- Situate the interviewee. Especially if they’re a bigger name, they probably do lots of interviews. They should read up on you before the interview, but they probably won’t – so make sure to mention who your audience is in one of the first questions (“Guy, our readers at Firepole Marketing are entrepreneurs and small business owners, usually in the 1-10 employee range. How can they…”).
Okay, so you’ve prepared for the interview, and you’re ready to go. It’s time for the moment of truth…
Doing the Interview
Dial-in to the conference number a few minutes before the interview is scheduled to start. Make sure you have a printout of your script, and a pen and paper handy to take notes. Give yourself a window to get comfortable.
When the interview subject dials in, don’t dive right into the interview. It’s important to help them get comfortable, and to help yourself get comfortable, too. Thank them for taking the time to do the interview, and ask them about something recent that is going on – are they having a good day? What’s the weather like where they are? Try to follow their Twitter updates on the same day so that you know a bit about what’s going on in their lives.
Once you’re both comfortable, start the actual interview. Introduce your guest, mentioning who they are and what they do (“for the benefit of our listeners, Guy Kawasaki is the founder of Alltop.com, and the author of several books, including The Art of the Start, Reality Check, and most recently, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.”), and jump straight to an icebreaker question to get the ball rolling.
Throughout the interview, use your script, but be flexible about it. Adapt the order of the questions to the flow of the conversation, and veer off of the script when appropriate; you can ask other questions that come to mind, or remove questions that you had planned to ask, but that you’re seeing won’t fit with the flow of the conversation. I like to make notes on the script – checking off questions as I ask them, crossing out the ones that I don’t want to use, and making little notes about questions that I want to ask, but hadn’t scripted (so I don’t forget).
After the Fact
The first thing to do after the interview is over is to thank the person you were talking to. Send them a quick email thanking them for their time, and telling them when the interview will be posted.
Next, you need to get the audio cleaned up – remove long moments of silence, stumbling like “ummm” and “ahhh”, and any other boring sections. The purpose of this isn’t to twist anybody’s words, just to make you both sound smarter and more articulate than you really are. 😉
Once the audio is cleaned up, get it transcribed. There are services that can do this inexpensively (do a Google search for “transcription service”), or you can just post an ad on Craigslist. I’ve had large amounts of transcription work done for as little as $1 per minute of audio.
Finally, assemble it all into a post; write a good hook, add a picture of the person or their logo, insert the audio, and include the transcript at the end. That’s it – the post is ready to go up. When it does, make sure to tell everyone you know about it, for example on Clever Marketer’s Blog Forum, and email the subject again to thank them for doing such a great job for you.
A question for you…
So I’m wondering… now that you have this blueprint, what are you going to do with it? Because as great as this advice is, it doesn’t work if you don’t take action!
Do you have an idea of who you’d just love to interview for your site or blog? Leave a comment and tell me who it is…