10 Tips for Creating Awesome Interviews for Your Blog
Interviewing successful people in your niche is a great way to boost traffic to your blog.
The problem is that most bloggers don’t have a clue how to properly interview someone. More often than not, the blogger fails to squeeze out any semblance of quality information so the interview is filled with fluff and the interviewee has no incentive to share the interview or even associate with you.
If you want to start creating awesome interviews for your blog, you need to follow these tips.
#1 Schedule and Conduct Live Interviews
I’m guessing that more than 90% of the internet’s interviews are conducted through email. There are three problems with that.
- Sometimes the interviewee is bad at writing.
- The interviewee tends to whip through the interview as quickly as possible only contributing surface-level answers.
- You don’t have a chance to ask tailored follow-up questions that get them to delve deeper into the subject.
If you want a high-quality interview, you need to conduct it live or through Skype. =
#2 Design Smart Questions
An interview is only as good as the questions that you ask. If you ask boring questions, you’re going to get boring answers. And nobody has time for boring content.
Here are some popular boring questions:
- Did you start with a business plan?
- How long did it take for you to reach profitability?
- What’s your best advice for making money online?
Here’s how you can reframe those boring questions into smart ones that’ll make it more fun for them to answer:
- Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
- How long were you running the business before you started paying yourself? How did you live through those first few months/years?
- If a kid walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?
Do you see the difference? Smart questions draw them into a frame of mind where they able to give you their best possible advice.
#3 Start with Small Talk
Once you get the interviewee on the other line, start with a few minutes of talking about where they’re from, their family, or even the weather (as cliché as it might be).
This makes them feel more comfortable talking with you and they’ll open up and tell you more of their secrets.
#4 Make Sure they Know the Audience
Your goal with any interview is to get the interviewee to provide the most valuable, specific advice tailored to your audience.
If they’ve never read your blog (which they probably haven’t), then it’s your responsibility to tell them everything about your audience, from the age, personality type, interests, etc.
#5 Set Expectations
Right before you start the interview, give them a roadmap of where you intend to take the interview. Tell them the questions or topics so they can structure their responses based on the information you want them to give in the order you want them to give it.
Also tell them how long you the interview will take and how you are going to record and distribute the content.
#6 Introduce Them
One of the most impolite things you can do in an interview is start it off by asking them to introduce themselves.
Prior to conducting the interview, spend at least an hour learning about your interviewee. Read their about page. Look through their latest blog posts. Try to figure out what they’ve been doing lately through Twitter or Facebook.
Then write a 2-3 sentence introduction that walks the reader/lister/viewer through who the interviewee is, why they’re important, and why the audience should pay attention.
Plus, if you ask the interviewee to introduce themself, they’re going to do so humbly and the audience won’t get a sense of how important that person is.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want them to speak as much as possible while you speak as little as possible.
One way to do this is to parrot. Pick out one or two words from something they said and ask that phrase as a question.
For instance, if they say, “I attribute all of my success to optimizing our sales funnel.”
They you say, “Sales funnel?”
Then they’ll say, “Yeah, our sales funnel is…”
Anytime you want them to elaborate on a thought, use that technique.
#8 Transition through the Questions
The only time you should spend a little time talking is in between questions. Wrap up the question by summarizing their response. Then transition into the next question by relating it to their previous response. If you put some thought into crafting and organizing your questions, this will be easy.
#9 Anything Else You Would Like to Add?
This is the magic question to ask at the end of every interview. Asking them if there is anything else they would like to add has two benefits:
- It’s almost impossible to cover everything with your questions. This gives them an open door to talk about anything that they believe is important.
- It subconsciously tells them that the interview is about to wrap up which encourages them to summarize everything they’ve said up to that point in perhaps the most important two minutes of the interview.
It’s uncanny. The response to this question is almost always, “No, I think you covered everything, Nick. But I would like to say this…”
#10 Thank them and Direct People to Their Sites
At the end of the interview, thank them for taking the time, remind the audience of their name, and direct people to their websites.
Similar to the intro, don’t ask them to pitch their sites. Do it for them.
What Can I Do Better?
You’ve heard the sales phrase, “Always be closing,” right? Well, I think you should also always be getting feedback.
Immediately after you wrap up the interview ask them if there’s anything you could’ve done better. They’ll appreciate you asking and you’ll find out how to improve.
It’s a lot more work to conduct the interview live, produce their audio/video, and transcribe then edit the content, but it makes a world of difference in the quality of the interview. Let’s make the internet a better place.
Bonus: Interview Template | The Best Questions To Ask Potential Interviewees
Below we go into a little more depth on actually questions to ask – along with our current Interview Templates plus our follow-up emails for potential interviewees.
No matter if you are starting out as a blogger or you are a seasoned professional, interviewing experts is a surefire way to create valuable content for your website.
At IncomeDiary we had two main strategies to make money online when we first got started.
Now, almost 10 years later, these two strategies are still two of the best ways to create content readers love to read!
As an example of what can be achieved – our Interview series has earned us well over 1 million visitors and counting!
The Value Of Interviews
There’s nothing quite like getting into the head and seeing through the eyes of some of the most successful and respected individuals in your industry – learning exactly how they do it and what they overcame to get there!
It is amazing what successful people will reveal if you just ask them!
Not only that, conducting interviews is great for our own creative juices.
The number of great ideas – often not directly related to the interview, that I have got when doing an interview blows me away!
Streamlining the Interview Process using an Interview Template
Below, I’ve included the exact templates that we use to recruit new interviewee’s for IncomeDiary.com
We find it takes an average of three email exchanges to get the BIG INTERVIEW.
Email 1 – an introduction (who you are and the value in doing an interview will you)
Email 2 – A polite follow-up – do they have any questions? Again tell them how excited you are to interview them. [If your first approach does not work – don’t give up!]
Email 3 – The Interview Questions
We prefer to conduct our interviews via email – simply because it is easier to edit and add to the website, plus it is most SEO Friendly. However many people will prefer to do an interview over SKYPE and that is OK too. Then you have the option to publish as a Podcast – but in any case have the interview transcribed as we did in this interview.
Usually you will not publish every single word from an audio recording – simply because the readability will be poor if you do.
Remember these individuals are busy people – and this should be reflected in your approach.
Interviewing Hack: If the name you are approaching is a big name, then chances are you will not have their personal email – in these instances, look to connect with their Executive Assistant or PR Company.
Note: Most of our interviews are with successful entrepreneurs – so please replace our entrepreneur and business references with your own niche.
This strategy works equally well across all niches – photography, football, interior design and home renovation to name but a few.
Also, be sure to follow up with your prospects as we all know how busy successful people can be.
Interview Template 1
Ref _____ Interview Series: “How I Did It” (replace text in quotes with name of YOUR series.)
My name is Barry Dunlop and I work for IncomeDiary.com and our network of entrepreneur related websites.
We have recently been doing a series of interviews with successful entrepreneurs and would love to invite you to be one of our main interviewees for our new series: Why I’m Successful
At www.incomediary.com we offer, business, blogging and life advice to internet entrepreneurs.
You can expect your interview to be published on this site and all of our subscribers will be notified.
You have been on my wish list for a while now, and I was particularly impressed with the success you have had with WEBSITE/COMPANY.
I appreciate you are very busy, but please get back to me if you would like to go ahead with this.
Also, we will include links and promo material for your site – we have a combined readership of well over 100,000 readers per month on our sites.
PS. Here’s an example of a recent interview: https://www.incomediary.com/pat-flynn-why-im-successful/
The interview can be done over email or Skype.
Interview Template 2
Follow Up Email if required:
Interviews can be done via email or a Skype call but we do prefer them to be done over email because they tend to come out better and posted sooner.
We do our interviews between 9am – 9pm EST so any weekday between these times will work great.
Let me know how you want to proceed, either with a preferred date/time to do a Skype call or let me know if you want to do it via email and I will send over the questions.
Interview Template 3
Thanks for agreeing to do and interview, we appreciate it.
I think an interview with you, will be a very worthy addition to our list of interviews.
When responding can you please attach at least one preferred picture of yourself for the article along with details of the best way for readers to find out more about you and your business.
First, can we have an introduction to YOU – your story so to speak.
A modest introduction (ideally one paragraph) that explains why the reader would want to learn from you.
Things like your full name, interesting facts about your background, business name and a few facts about it, such as traffic numbers, turnover, earnings etc
I have listed some further questions below — but if there is a question you would like us to ask, that you feel would add value, please feel free to include in your responses.
What inspired you to create your business and how did you motivate yourself to keep going when things were difficult?
When did you start your business?
How many hours a week do you work?
How much do you make / earn? (if you rather not answer this question, that is fine).
Useful info box (short answers are fine)
What Book Are You Currently Reading? (Entrepreneurial, Business, Marketing, Blogging related). If you’re not currently reading a book, just name the last one you did read.
What Has Been Your Best Business Purchase? (Your best purchase that made a big difference to your online business, for example: a WordPress Plugin, Website Software, a new server etc)
What’s your favorite business resources? (ideally name 3)
Who is your Biggest Inspiration? (Larry Page, Richard Branson, My Father etc..)
Name a favorite business website? (not your website – ideally it should be Entrepreneurial, Business, Marketing, Blogging related)
1. What inspired you to create an online business and how did you motivate yourself to keep going?
2. Comparing your business from when you started to now, what has been the main thing that allowed you to expand your business (How did you go from small time to big time success)?
3. Whats the most profitable aspect of your online business, why do you think this is and how can others apply this to what they are doing?
4. What is your work day like? (Do you wake up early, work late, communicate, what jobs do you do yourself, who do you talk to etc)?
5. When did you realize you were successful/made it. (a million visitors, most profitable day, featured in press etc) and how did you feel/celebrate?
6. Looking back, what could you of done sooner to have got to that point quicker?
7. What should other entrepreneurs reading this interview – be focusing on to expand their business (e.g. outsource, get a team, monetization, traffic generation etc)?
8. What do you consider the main differences between those people who have been successful in your industry and those who have failed?
9. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
10. What’s the most common rookie mistake when it comes to starting a business?
11. What has been you biggest business mistake and what did you learn from it? (if you don’t mind sharing)
12. What advice would you give other bloggers / entrepreneurs starting out?
Some of these questions may overlap, so if you want to combine any of them that is fine.
As mentioned above, please feel free to make some suggestions for questions of your own, if you wish.
Naturally we reserve the right to edit replies and facts – but nothing will be published without first returning the post / interview back to you for approval.
PS: Here is an example of an Interview with Todd Herman that is based on the above format.
Once the article is published, contact the author to let them know the URL and thank them again.
This is also a good time to ask if they have any suggestions for people to interview or better still, introductions?