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How to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog

Yesterday I began a short series of post on ‘Blog Interviews’ that started off by looking at some of the benefits of using interviews on your blog and why it’s good to be interviewed on other people’s blogs.

Today I want to swing my attention to the topic of how to get people to agree to be interviewed on your blog. I’ll also include a few tips on how to conduct them.

1. Introduce Yourself

One of the dangers of reading another person’s blog everyday over time is that you can easily become overly familiar with them, to the point where you feel that you know them very well when in reality they have no idea who you are. Don’t assume that the person you wish to interview will know who you are unless you’re sure that they do.

Get in touch with your potential interviewee with a friendly, polite and brief (see below) email that outlines your request but which also gives them a brief introduction to who you are and how you know of them. If you’re a reader of their blog mention this (don’t lie – I’ve caught people out), if someone else recommended them mention that etc.

Don’t get into false flattery but if you genuinely admire them or something that they’ve done mention that briefly. All of this puts your request into some sort of context.

2. Outline How and When the Interview Will be Used

One of my most frustrating interviewee experiences was when I put numerous hours into being interviewed by another blogger (who asked too many questions and was very demanding along the way) only to find that he never published my interview until 9 months later.

Tell the person who you wish to interview where it will be used (give them a URL to check out) and an approximation of when you’ll publish it. This gives them an idea of what type of site you run, the style that the interview might happen in and what type of deadline they’ll be under.

If you’ve done interviews with others you might like to point them to an example as this can help them see what you’re asking of them.

3. Give Incentive

While you might get an interview out of sympathy or because the interviewee is feeling in a good mood – you’ll probably find that most interviewees have some self interest when it comes to the motivation for doing interviews.

Tell them what’s in it for them. Often with interviews it will be largely about publicity and exposure but there could be other reasons for them to give you their time. However – don’t use false incentives or build it up to be bigger than it really is.

4. Don’t Overwhelm With Questions

I was asked to do an interview recently by a fellow blogger and in the email that they sent asking me to consider it they included 42 questions that they had for me. Yes – 42!

Now some of those questions I could have answered in a word or two – but when I’m interviewed I like to give something of myself to the process and make it worthwhile for those reading the interview. That takes time and when you’re confronted with a long list of questions it’s just easier to say no – especially when you’re already under the pump in terms of your schedule.

My approach to asking for interviews is to send a quick introductory email to the potential interviewee that includes no actual questions. I generally outline the scope of the topic I wish to cover and tell them how many questions I’ll try to keep it to. I mention that there may be one or two follow up questions if I need clarification.

This way the interviewee knows whether they can handle what you’re going to give them but is not overwhelmed by it all coming to them at once.

5. Give Different Options for Medium

Another strategy that I often use is to give interviewees a choice of the medium for the interview to take place in. I generally offer email or Instant Messaging but if you’re up for it you might also offer to do it as an audio interview.

You’ll find that each interviewee will have preferences for different medium. Some like the idea of having time to mull over the answers with an email interview while others like a more conversational style of IM or audio. Some like to prepare while others like to do it on the run. Let them decide what form it will take and you’re giving them a little more control over the process.

6. Do some research First

Before you do an interview you should have done some research into the person you’re questioning (in fact I’d do it before you even ask them). This will help you to ask intelligent questions that are in the scope of their expertise.

If they are a blogger, build on ideas that they’ve been exploring recently in their posts (referencing them in the interview with links to their posts is a good idea). If they’ve been interviewed before make note of what they’ve been asked previously, what they answered well, what they were passionate about etc and try to build on these areas. Don’t just ask the same old questions they are always asked but attempt to take it into new ground. This will not only give your readers something fresh but will also give the interview energy and will hopefully inspire your interviewee a little also.

7. Don’t be Offended if ‘Rejected’

The fact is that a certain percentage of those you ask for interviews will say no. Another percentage will not even respond to your request.

The reasons for the knock-backs will be many and varied but don’t let it get you down.

The main advice I can give if you’re rejected is to not take it personally, to politely thank them for considering it and moving on. You might ask them if they mind you asking them again in a few months time (if you sense it is because they are busy) but don’t push too hard or you’ll just end up ruining future chances for interaction.

8. Notify them When You Hit Publish

If you get an interview and all goes well and you come to the point of publishing it, always give your interviewee the courtesy of letting them know when and where the interview is published. Send them a URL and thank them again for their time and insights.

You might find they link to the interview on their own blog as a result and you might even find they are happy to interact with your readers if they leave comments on the interview (in a sense the interview can continue for some time in your comments if they do).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Eric Allam says:

    Darren, thanks alot for taking the time to write about this, it was exactly what I was looking for. I hadn’t really thought of Number 3 before, which makes perfect sense. Now its time to go out and ask for those interviews!

  2. Jon says:

    Good post …I’ve been asked to be interviewed a couple times and have declined because I felt like it was just a ploy to get me to write content for the interviewer’s site. If they would have followed your tips I probably wouldn’t have felt that way.

  3. Ian says:

    There’s a blogger meet up in Manchester this weekend. I’m going to take a video camera and see if I can get a few interviews on tape to publish the following week. Not the same, I know, as a more involved interview, but I think it will be interesting.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Hey Darren,

    I really like the tips you’ve brought out here. I too wondered how bloggers like yourself interviewed someone. Thanks, I will definitely be using this article in the future.

  5. Thanks Darren, I find that the quick interviews can often lead to longer case studies and even consulting engagements as well. Great job as always.

  6. Darren,

    It’s great to have your wonderful tips for new bloggers like myself. This post was especially since we’re planning to offer a series of podcasts from relationship experts giving tips for a successful wedding and marriage. Now I know a few more things I can do to prepare myself for this process.

    Thanks!

  7. Imran Hashmi says:

    I have interview comming week – definitly this is Best techniques article / blog i ever read on the net

    Cheers

  8. jhay says:

    Just the post I needed. I’m plannig to feature some interviews in my blog. I’m even considering to release the interviews as my very first podcast. I just hope everything will turn out fine.

  9. I just finished interviewing 101 people – yeah, 101! Most were relatively easy, some didn’t answer, some were downright difficult (e.g. the interview about what the interview is about, missing calls, etc.). Old friends were the worst!

    Didn’t interview you Darren!

  10. Paowiee says:

    Great post darren!

    I don’t live in the US so I don’t think I can do phone calls for my interviews. Would it be irritating if I just email them my questions and have them answer it?

  11. Darren Rowse says:

    Depends who you’re interviewing Paowiee – lots of people who prefer email interviews to phone ones.

  12. Thejesh GN says:

    wow I needed this article.

  13. I just came right out on my blog and asked. “Hey-hoo… Over here. Someone invterview me.”

    then I had two interviews with three more in upcoming months. Hahaa. Sometimes the best way is to just be aggressive.

  14. Shaun says:

    Great post! Thank you.

    At Juxtaviews.com we try to limit the number of questions to around ten. I agree that it’s very important to respect the time limitations of those who agree to an interview. We used to send a lot of questions, and told them they only had to answer 10, but they inevitably shirk the “harder”, and often most interesting questions.

    Also, one of the easiest ways to recording audio interviews is to use Skype with Pretty May. However, we find that most people prefer email interviews (so far!).

  15. deepak says:

    I just came right out on my blog and asked. “Hey-hoo… Over here. Someone invterview me.”

    then I had two interviews with three more in upcoming months. Hahaa. Sometimes the best way is to just be aggressive.

  16. netvalar says:

    I do Q&As from time to time myself and have found that if they are overwhelmed then the Q&A gets started but never finished. I always state that I may have follow-up questions but to date have never had to clarify something, though the one time I sent a follow-up question I didn’t get an answer and ran with what I had.

    Follow-up is important if someone has agreed to answer a few questions for your blog and you sent them the questions. you should be willing to follow-up with that person within a short period of time as they may have gotten side tracked. Short period of time does not mean the next day, I like to follow-up 3 days later myself.

    The Q&A that most people go WOW on is with Tony Platt

    http://blog.timelineonline.org/2007/10/q-with-producer-tony-platt.html

    Though it is the ones with musicians that get the most hits and E-Mailed all over cyberspace.

  17. Mike says:

    Very good tips.

  18. Thanks for the tips. I was just getting ready to interview someone and found your article very helpful.

  19. iSaleswriter says:

    Excellent advice for anyone wanting to use interviews. Question; how many questions do you recommend for a potential interview?

  20. Dawn Baird says:

    I’d been thinking of content for a new podcast and this answers part of my question. Thanks!

  21. Darragh says:

    Excellent advice Darren, and still as relevant 2 years on. Definitely bookmarking this for further reference!

  22. I like how you just created a tunnel page with a recent post back to this very useful article from several years ago. I need to remember to do this as I have old content from 2006

  23. Seedplanter says:

    A well-written piece. The part about not overwhelming them with questions is an excellent point. Interviews by phone generally take longer, simply because it’s a conversation. (Don’t make the mistake I made in my first interview, though–I joined in on the conversation because we “clicked” and it ended up being more of a chat. NOT good!)

    Great thoughts, all. Thank you.

  24. Apple Games says:

    Very good article, I’m planning to do a few interviews with companies (PR people) and showcasing them on my blog.

    A good way to do this, also, is to ask your readers to forward some questions or make a poll of the top questions you would ask to X person/company. Take the top questions and conduct your interview in this manner.

    I will be doing one with Electronics Arts shortly.

    Extremely insightful article Darren, good work.

    Apple Games
    http://www.applegameshop.com

  25. HIB says:

    Graet post. I’ve recently been doing quite a few interviews of people primarily NOT blogging, but there is a lot of good information for me to keep in mind.

  26. Kadeem says:

    I used these exact same steps and landed an interview with an actor in a major hollywood film for my blog site.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren Rowse shares some great tips on how to get and conduct interviews for your blog. bloggingThese icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  2. [...] Yesterday I wrote a series of tips on how to ask for an interview for your blog. Today I want to focus on how to handle being interviewed as a blogger. [...]

  3. [...] Never force a fellow blogger to help youThis applies to almost everything, whether a linkback, an idea or two, technical help, or an interview – even if you’re going out of your way with a big incentive. Although most bloggers would be willing to lend a hand with a project you have if they had the time, don’t forget that they might have to refuse or even not reply because of time constraints, heavy workloads, set principles, or a simple lack of internet access while travelling. [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse has written two great posts on interviews, How to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog and 10 Tips on How to Be Interviewed. If your going to be on either side of the interview process then these are a must. [...]

  5. [...] How to approach others for interviews for your blog [...]

  6. [...] How to get and conduct interviews for your blog [...]

  7. [...] I needed more research. According to Darren Rowse, research is very important in doing blog interview. Just as like in interviews by journalists, researching about the persons you’ll be interviewing would help in asking more relevant and intelligent questions. This would take care of confusion and misunderstanding. I learned this lesson the hard way, case in point the interview with Man-Blog Editor Mike Villar which follows: 1. How does it feel to be nominated for the PBA? [...]