How to Conduct Valuable Interviews for Your Blog

This is a guest post by Ivin Viljoen of Authopublisher, a self publishing blog.

Interviews are something that not most bloggers do, like video blogging (or vlogging). IMHO it’s something that lifts your blog into a higher standard than the rest of the blogs in the entire sphere. If you want to play the game and win, you have to hustle with every post. Let’s take a look at interviews, from the benefits to how to conduct them, plus some great tips!

Benefits of Interviews on Your Blog

The following are just some of the best benefits of conducting interviews for your blog.

  • It gives you a boost in traffic. You will have two people promoting the post on their networks – you and the interviewee. If the interviewee is prominent you will also get a great backlink from a high PR site/blog.
  • You will get great exposure to the interviewees network. You may even gain some new regular readers that sign up to your newsletter and subscribe to your feed.
  • You can stockpile interviews, if you get a break and make contact with a lot of interesting people. This will give you excellent content you can post when you suffer from inspiration deprivation or take a slight break from blogging by scheduling posts for the future.
  • It will save you time. If you’re like myself and Kristi, researching and writing a blog post takes longer than the some who cut, paste and spin of content. This type of content practically writes itself. Get a great video, look for a quote and paste some images and voila! You’re done.
  • You expose your readers to different views. Chances are the experts you interview will have a different voice than your own. It’s like having guest bloggers, but you’re still the blog post editor.
  • You build relationships with people you will never meet or network with in any other way.
  • You learn a lot along the way by delving into the experiences and insights of someone who offers a different view to your own. Every person’s experience in an industry/niche is unique, and therefore you learn from their triumphs and mistakes you don’t have to make.

The Best People for Your Interviews

You will do well to approach individuals that will be a good fit for your blog. Obviously not any person will do. Let’s look at some good criteria to adopt when looking for interviewees.

  • They should have achieved something – like published a book, have a ground breaking blog of get lots of press.
  • They should be an inspiration to YOU and you must genuinely be interested in hearing from them. If they’re not, it will show in your questions.
  • They should be presenting a new concept in the marketplace.
  • They should be a peer that you respect.
  • They should have star power, like a celebrity.
  • They should be controversial. Think the Wierd Al Yankovich or Lindsay Lohan of your industry/niche.

This criteria is, of course, not the be all and end all of interviews but will surely help guide you produce an interview that will not get done on a tin can or echo into a grand canyon like blog space.

How to Approach Your Desired Interviewee

There are a couple ways to approach your desired interviewee. There are ways that are effective and ways that are not. Let’s look at both.

Effective Ways

  • Through the persons contact page on his/her blog or website.
  • Calling, presuming you have their number.
  • Skype contact. Be careful to first make contact and get to know them before springing it on them.

Non-effective Ways

  • Through Twitter.
  • Blog Comments.
  • Annoying Private or Direct Messages.
  • Facebook Inbox Messages.

I have no idea why but the latter group is not effective at all.

The Best Resource for Finding Quotes and Interviews

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is my juiciest and best resource to date. You simply sign up as a reporter, submit queries of the source or interview you need and respond to the pitches. The service is free and the feedback is that responses is astronomical.

I submitted query three weeks ago and I have around 65-80 GOOD interviews and simply cannot keep up. People on this platform are so hungry that they email me to find out when I am getting back to them or when their interviews are going to be published.

Top Ways to Conduct Your Interview

It is important to go with the method that your interviewee is most comfortable with. These include:

  • Video - Have the interviewee on either a split screen on your PC (which is convenient if you are far removed from each other).
  • Conference Calls – Have both parties online and record the call.
  • Text via Email – A very effective way to go which a lot of people prefer because they can answer the questions in their own time and no scheduling is needed.
  • One-on-One – Meet the interviewee at a conference or social event, or you schedule a meet-up and document it with video or audio.

You will obviously need some resources to conduct the interviews with your desired interviewee. Here are some I have used or plan to use as they are recommended by other professional bloggers.

  • Audacity – I mainly use this resource for podcasting but you could set up a Skype or call on loudspeaker and record it this way. Obviously the quality isn’t excellent but will definitely do for your first few. It has recording and editing capabilities. Basic editing skills will be needed. You can download Audacity from Sourceforge for free.
  • Skype – Most people should be familiar with Skype by now. They DO have paid business solutions but for the basic applications, Skype remains free. It offer chat and call capabilities. Using this in conjunction with Audacity is preferred. Download Skype to start calling. A Skype user guide is also available if you are unfamiliar with their service.
  • Camstudio – Many times people do interviews on screen to capture the activity on the screen to do tutorial or discuss web content or services. You can download Camstudio to get started right away.
  • Freeconference – This ios the top referenced resource to do interviews online and is set to be the best product around. I haven’t personally used it but it is on my ‘to-do’ list. Check out free and paid services for Freeconference here.
  • InterviewStream – This is the premium services of business the world over to do interviews with prospective employees. Their product suite of proprietary online technology provides video interview solutions to hundreds of professionals including nine of the top 10 MBA Programs and the world’s leading global outplacement firm. Learn more about InterviewStreams solutions and features here.

Interview Tips

I’ll share with you my method for doing great interviews which you can also apply when doing live audio/video interviews. If you’re recording it live, you will need to think on your feet.

  • Ask questions relevant to your blog and it’s purpose. Seek to bring out both what you do and what he has to offer. Trick is to find a balance between them. Keep your listener or readers needs or reason they come to your blog in mind.
  • Save time by having an interview template that is unique to your blog. I have one when I have to send out bulk interview questions like when I got so many HARO responses. The template serves as a springboard.
  • Send email with interview template attached to interviewee.
  • When the email is returned, have a look through the questions and elaborate on issues and concepts that are still unclear or you may be interested in finding out more about. Remember to keep your reader in mind.
  • Finally, look through the persons blog/website. Browse and pay particular attention to the ‘about’ and ‘press’ pages. See what else is interesting and not covered in the interview thus far and ask more questions. Look at their networks and companies worked for previously. Sounds like a lot of stuff, but remember that you can still edit. I have actually edited 40% of the last interview I’ve done and it’s still a very meaty one afterwards.

Don’t worry, the more you do it, the better you will get at it. Here is some feedback by an author on using this method.

Thanks Ivin for a great interview. You would not let me settle for an average interview. You asked questions and would not stop until you had great answers.

Remember, people like to talk about themselves, so ask a lot of questions. If you want to have a look at some of the interviews I’ve done before, including with Kristi, have a look here.

Are you being interviewed on radio/audio? Read my tips on being a successful radio interviewee.

Well, that’s it from me. I hope you have been inspired to take your blog to the next level and you have sufficient tips and tools to dive right in and get your first ones done. You are welcome to add your tips and thoughts in the comment section. In fact, don’t leave without giving us your thoughts – we (the blog owner and I) insist! :)

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Comments

  1. says

    Great information, Ivin. When you interview someone via skype do you send them a list of questions beforehand? Is that part of your interview template? If so, how far in advance do you do it?

    I’ve only conducted interviews via email and have been interview by email once. It was great because I could really think about my answers. With audio or video you don’t have that same luxury without heavy editing. I just wonder if sending the questions ahead of time kills the spontaneity of the interview. What’s your experience been?
    Brad Harmon just posted How Much Social Media Does Your Small Business Really Need

    • says

      Hello Brad.

      Yes, you can send questions beforehand as talking points for both parties to look through, but it should never serve as a script. You want ideas to flow and a conversation to take place. Having a ‘scripted’ interview will keep both sides of the conversations stiff as a board. And it WILL show in the interview.

      The interview template serves as a basic question template which you should ask because they relate to your blog, as the email interview is explained. When the interview is live though, use the same template but elaborate from there and ask questions on interesting things that may come up during. Remember to think ‘what would my readers want to know’?

      I find, many times, after having an interview or when I do a talk that I missed soetehing that I SHOULD have mentioned and only realize it afterwards. If you’re being interviewed live via audio, it’s good to have a breakdown of what you WANT to mention before you. That way you won’t forget. With a live video interview that could obviously be challenging. Videos interviews are the toughest, and you should know you’re stuff. IF you’re full of fluff, it’s going to show. MANY people I interview opt for the text/email interview.

      I strongly suggest for you to also look at the ‘tips on being a successful radio interviewee’ that I linked to at the end of the post.
      Ivin just posted Winners Of Free Blog Report Mentoring Program

    • says

      I’m glad you made this post Ivin, Doing inteviews is the next step I plan on taking for this blog. The problem is I have been concerned about how to conduct a proper interview. A written interview through email is obviously the easiest but it also allows no room for follow up questions. When doing a live interview you say to provide talking points and let the conversation flow. I’m afraid I will freeze up and not be able to di deep enough and make it interesting. Obviously television commentators are the best at this; they were not born that way. Do you have any advice Ivin on how to practice these interview skills before were face to face with an importan interviewee.
      Mike just posted African Mango- Is it a healthy fruit extract or a harmful diet pill

      • says

        In the mirror. Seriously. Make sure you’re demeaner is professional. Sit/stand up straight. Speak slowly and clearly. Know your stuff and be prepared. Ask for talking points to prepare.

        You’re written interviews can also be aces. When they send it back review it and ask again. Until you’re satisfied.
        Ivin just posted Winners Of Free Blog Report Mentoring Program

  2. says

    Hi Ivin,

    Like promised, I didn’t leave without commenting, recently I started doing interviews with people, currently did 4 interviews so far. Most of them through emails because I have a huge time gap with them. I love the tips you share, I’ve used some of them and it has worked tremendously for me.

    However, I would have to disagree with this statement

    “Non-effective Ways

    Through Twitter.
    Blog Comments.
    Annoying Private or Direct Messages.
    Facebook Inbox Message”

    So far 4 of the people I interview I reached them via twitter, I connected with them first, so that they know who I was, and then I reach out to them via DM’s to let them know that I wanted to interview them. It has worked for me for facebook inbox messages too because some of them doesn’t have a website. Most of them doesn’t mind. Maybe because I establish a relationship first. That would be a key. I tried using “contact page” but it didn’t work for me, somehow a few wasn’t interested to respond.

    Aaron
    Aaron Lee just posted Twitter Influence – Which metrics matter

    • says

      Thanks Aaron. Perhaps it could be industry related or just personal approach issues. Twitter is not working for me because when I approach soemone they don’t reply back. I @msg’d someone and they didn’t respond. On the other hand, some people may not be very active on Twitter and may not want to or even know to look at that section.

      I approached soemone who was featured in my ‘top 5 self publishing superstars’ post, this person accepted my freind request but may not be active in social media.

      Remember thought that I am reaching out to the cream of my industry to interview them as well, so perhaps I’m too ‘small fry’ for them. ‘Their loss’ I say.

      Looking at your trouble with the contact page it seems that responses may vary. Perhaps I should have said those didn’t work for me. However, I value your contribution and sure Kristy does too.
      Ivin just posted Winners Of Free Blog Report Mentoring Program

      • says

        How interesting that Aaron Lee and I had the same feedback about this one part of Ivin’s post. Twitter and Skype are the two very best ways to contact me and blog comments and Facebook (or LinkedIn) inbox messages will also work.

        As Aaron mentioned, Twitter is a great way to connect with someone and then move the conversation elsewhere.

        Reading Ivin’s reply the light bulb went on. These work well for me because I am reaching out primarily to others who are social media savvy. It doesn’t work at all when I want to reach local businesses because many of them – believe it or not – are not even online yet.

        This is a great concept, Ivin and I’m jealous Kristi ;-) I want a video guest post, too, Ivin – and I have a specific request. I would love a post on how to do a video interview featuring a local small business.

        That would be a great sideline for bloggers and a huge draw for small businesses who aren’t very knowledgeable (or impressed) by blogs, Local Search or Social Media but who would be thrilled to see a video of themselves and their business online that they could share with friends and family.

        I encourage bloggers to consider expanding their blogs to support their local communities. I explain how and why in the post I’ll put in CommentLuv.
        Gail Gardner just posted Why We Need Group Geo-Targeted Niche Blogs

      • says

        Hi Ivin,

        Guess you’re right on that, it depends on the industry, mine is social media and startups and most of them are active on twitter and facebook. OhH! big thanks for HARO, will certainly check it out!

        Thank you again for the page, certainly helped me a lot. Last article i stumble which was on interview was a video by Chris Brogan.

        Aaron
        Aaron just posted Twitter Influence – Which metrics matter

  3. says

    Hi Ivin,

    So far I have done interviews by email text format only. I have not tried making conference calls, that is a great idea. But as you say, recording sype calls will not lend good quality audio. But there are lots of free sources out there to make high quality calls.

    I am sure interview is a win-win situation for both parties and it is a great trend too!

    Cheers,
    Jane.
    Jane just posted Are You A Procrastinator You Can Survive- Don’t Worry

  4. says

    Hey Ivin,

    Wow! You have over-delivered here. I enjoyed reading your post and got a lot out of it.

    Interviews are very powerful as you have mentioned the benefits above. They build your credibility. Your readers will not only benefit from the content shared, but will associate you with the successful people you are interviewing.

    I haven’t done them yet and I should start conducting them really. I have been interviewed a few times now :)

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Ivin.

    All the best,
    Mavis
    Mavis Nong just posted Having a Blast and Turning Heads in the Beautiful and Magical April!

    • says

      Thanks Mavis. Have seen you around the blogosphere so I’ll take that as a HUGE complement. That’s the minimum standard of my guest posts. Spread the word :)

      The main thing for me is, learning SOOO much by picking other people’s brains on a subject. No one persons experiences are the same.
      Ivin just posted Winners Of Free Blog Report Mentoring Program

  5. says

    This is a really great post, Ivin, thank you for putting so much time into it, and for turning me on to HARO – I had heard about them in passing before, but I’m going to check them out now for sure. :)

    • says

      Ya, HARO is one of my biggest secrets I was weary to give away. But that’s how I get ahead. Lots of free, helpful information is how I build my following.

      HARO is ipso facto the number one resource for quotes and finding interesting people. I am still working on interview pitches I received over a month ago. They have definitely broken down the doors and it removes the gatekeepers.
      Ivin just posted Winners Of Free Blog Report Mentoring Program

  6. says

    While I have yet to conduct any interviews, I found this post to provide an excellent outline and reference of resources. It was definitely worth a gold star in my reader to come back to! And thanks for sharing your “secrets”.

    What do you recommend as a very new (just getting started) blogger in pursuing interviews given that I don’t have much of an audience for the interviewee?
    Dan Wadleigh just posted VIDEO- Inbound Marketing Strategies with Blue Lobster Marketing

    • says

      Thanks Dan. That’s a tough one. Let me tell you the truth: blogging isn’t easy. However it may be, you could build an audience trying to land great interviewees who people want to hear from. All that is going to be shouted into a cave if you do not build some kind of network like on Twitter, feeder promotion sites like Bizsugar, Blogengage, Blokube and Bloginteract while you blog.

      Try parallel great interviews with great content and make friends with people in your niche or related niches. It doesn’t help doing interviews and no-one reads it, but those interviews will give you backlinks (juice for blog rankings) and traffic sent via the interviewees network. But don’t just trust interviews for traffic but also use other methods.

      I am trying to master traffic generation and therefore read blogs like ‘Traffic Generation Cafe’ of Ana Hoffman and this one,. I also read thousands of free I get my hands on. I try develop my own methods as I learn, but blogging is a daily discipline, like Martial Arts and that’s how you grow. Getting past the first six months is the toughest. Good luck!
      Ivin just posted Sucessful Blog The Next Step

      • says

        Hi Ivin,

        I hope you don’t mind me jumping in here to reply to Dan too. Dan, there are many of us who collaborate online. The shortcut is to collaborate with the blogs that are related to your own – and in the marketing niche that is made easier because many of us welcome new bloggers and already know each other.

        My recent post about BizSugar /small-business-advice post has a good list but is too old to select in CommentLuv so I’ll select another one that also has a list. Focus on reading, sharing and commenting in those specific blogs and you’ll have a leg up on traffic generation and visibility.
        Gail Gardner just posted DoFollow CommentLuv KeywordLuv Community

        • says

          Ivin – thanks for the candid feedback, always appreciate straight talk. As a former military guy, I appreciate the discipline requirement to deliver something of value. Interviews may be a future task once more established/experienced in general.

          Gail – thanks for the tips and encouragement. Without getting caught in “analysis-paralysis”, I’ve recently been trying to simply define brand/strategy to have a general course charted. I intend to officially move from listening/reading to writing … soon:) I have started following @GrowMap on Twitter, but, just checked and realized I wasn’t in my RSS. Heading there now to subscribe, and will take more action sharing and commenting on relevant blogs.

          Thanks again!
          Dan Wadleigh just posted VIDEO- Inbound Marketing Strategies with Blue Lobster Marketing

    • says

      I try giving as much as I can Chris. I know one day people will want to interviewee me, because of giving so much. It’s a principle I know works. But seeking it; I have asked people to do interviews if they are in that line of blogging and got mixed responses.

      However, I get a good response when asking for blog reviews with people I write guest posts for. It seems fair to all and that is kind of like an interview because you and your blog are seen as one.
      Ivin just posted Bloggers have One-Up On Authors

  7. says

    Great tips! I agree with everything said here about interviews, especially the fact that certain interviews can get you tons of new traffic and relevance in your industry.

    I also agree that you should interview people that you look up to and respect. One of my best and most rewarding interviews was with Shoemoney, Jeremy Shoemaker, at Blogworld Expo 2008. Not only did this get me a link on a PR 6 website, but there were 64 comments from his readers, most of which thought the interview was VERY helpful!

    Thanks for the reminders about how important (and easy) interviews can be for building good blog credibility and content.

    Here’s the original link to the interview too: http://www.shoemoney.com/2008/10/09/interview-with-moller-marketing/
    Nate Moller just posted VIDEO- Matt Cutts Talks about Permalinks for WordPress

    • says

      You interviewed Jeremy Shoemaker? Get out! That’s awesome man. Yes, I am building a lot of relationships these days so I will probably be abel to have the courage to ask for interviews with superstars. But since blogging is not really my niche, but bloggers my target market, I find it difficult to get superstars interviewed as its not always relevant.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. It’s SOO valuable to us.
      Ivin just posted Market Your Book-Blog like Lady Gaga

  8. says

    A great and thorough post. I’d add that guest interviews can boost your energy–you’re not out there doing it all alone–companionship.

  9. says

    Hi Ivin,

    I’ve given interviews basically by email and have one pending in a radio-online. But I haven’t done yet to other bloggers, basically for lack of time and for my not “perfect” English and I don’t want to make them in Spanish because the possible people, are fewer.

    No doubt that video is the star but it isn’t easy because you need to put “face” and not all want it.

    Excellent information about HARO – first time for me – I’ll explore it :)

    Cheers,

    Gera
    Gera just posted StumbleUpon Tips and Tricks to Stumble Upon like a Rockstar!

  10. says

    Ivin, I love your tip on HARO; it would never have occurred to me to use such a service. That’s going to be extremely helpful.

    Do you have a suggestion for how long the interview should be for an audio interview? I know there are stats on people’s attention span and how long people are likely to listen to certain things?

    Thanks for the great tips.

    Connie