A Guest post by Josh Hanagarne – World’s Strongest Librarian
In this article I outline:
- Why I was scared to ask for big interviews
- How I got over the fear
- The results of my efforts, which I couldn’t be happier with
Seven weeks ago, my blog was one day old and I was staring at the keyboard thinking “Oh man…what now?” World’s Strongest Librarian was live on the web and I was faced with the same blank screen and choices every blogger faces when it’s writing time.
I started plugging away, reading Problogger and gaining momentum. A much bigger blog noticed me and I accepted an offer to be mentored by someone who had achieved what I wanted to in my own niche.
I followed his advice and all was well—until I ran into some advice that scared me.
“Interviews can be a great source of traffic. Do some.”
I believed it, but you have to be an established expert to get someone’s attention. Everyone knows that. Right?
Questions to ask yourself if you are scared to ask for interviews
- What exactly am I afraid of?
- What if they say no?
- What is the worst case scenario?
What am I afraid of?
In discussions with bloggers, the following reasons pop up frequently:
- My material isn’t good enough yet and they’ll say no
- I don’t have enough traffic yet and they’ll say no
- They’ll say no…
For your own sanity, choose to believe this right now, today: 1) It’s never going to be the perfect time so stop wringing your hands; 2) Assume they’ll say yes.
What if they say no?
What if they do? Go on like before. Focus on what is working.
What is the worst case scenario if you are rejected?
Will your bed wash out to sea in the night? Will your family be sucked into a black hole? Will Google delete your blog and put you on their list of losers who got turned down for interviews by big names?
Life goes on. If your blog is progressing, you’ve lost nothing.
That’s one of the great things about cyberspace: I handle rejections by email much better than in person. I’d rather delete an email that says “No thanks” than have someone look me in the eye and shake their head. Then you have to gracefully avoid sobbing and getting defensive while you stumble out of their office.
My interview project
Last week I decided to compile an e-book of strength-related interviews for release later this year. The book spans many fitness disciplines: the goal is to interview people who are champions in their own niche while simultaneously showing that we all train for similar reasons, no matter how different the methods.
But who? Who to interview? I ignored my racing heart, opened a Google document, and made a list. Five minutes later I was looking at that list thinking: “You fool. Who do you think you are?”
The list included the following names and target areas
- Arnold Schwarzenegger (foreword for the book)
- Dave Draper:bodybuilder, former Mr. Universe)
- Peter Nestler: 7 time Jump rope champion
- Dennis Rogers: grandmaster strongman
- Jim Smith: Strength coach extraordinaire, founder of the Diesel Crew
- Jedd Johnson: American grip strength champion
- Dance Dance Revolution champion
- Pull-up world record holder
- Dan John: Track and field God, prolific strength coach and author, kettlebell expert
- Various parkour aces
- Winner of the Great Divide Bicycle Race
- Mike Tyson: former boxing champion
- Randy Couture: former UFC heavyweight champion
- An upcoming trapeze artist I admire
The list went on and on. I sat there quivering, trying not to have a seizure.
But I had committed to this one thing: I will not shoot small…yet
That was four days ago.
Results to date, surprising connections
Yesterday I got an email back from Laree Draper, Dave Draper’s wife. Dan John and some other experts are going to be in Salt Lake City this very weekend. She invited me to come to dinner with them all and committed them all to interviews.
Assuming they are as willing as she says, I will knock several interviews off my list. I also get to go work out with these guys and pick their brains. Remember this point.
Peter Nestler and Jim Smith committed later that day. Dave Draper committed this morning. Jedd Johnson should later today.
Peter Nestler is a friend of Dennis Rogers (I had no idea). That may open doors.
When I opened that invitation from Laree, I screamed out loud in my office. I’m not sorry. It was worth screaming about.
Why I believe this has worked so far
- I am a genuine fan of the people I’ve contacted. I aspire to the results they’ve achieved and can gush sincerely. Every email was a fan letter.
Here is one of the emails I sent: (I’ve taken the names out because I want to maintain surprise later)
Hi Mr_____. Thanks for taking the time to read a brief message from a fan.
I’m sure you’re even busier than I think you are. This means a lot to me.
My name is Josh Hanagarne. I’m a librarian in Salt Lake City, UT. I write
a humble little blog called World’s Strongest Librarian, focusing on
kettlebells and knowledge.
I’ve partnered with______, a massive strength website, to
create an e-book of brief interviews with various strength experts and
champions. Currently I have completed interviews with a prominent old-time
strongman and an upcoming Trapeze artist.
I would be honored to add your expertise as a ____ ace to the mix. If
you are interested, here’s how it could work:
Interviews will be between 1-10 questions. You can choose how much or
little you want to share.
Interviews can take place by phone or email, whichever you prefer.
Questions to ask in the interviews will be chosen from fans of World’s
Strongest Librarian on Twitter. You could of course add any questions
you like, and I will add my own if the fan’s questions do not cover everything beneficial.
If all goes well, the e-book will be released in December across a variety
of sites. This will be a great chance to get valuable strength and fitness
information out there to hundreds of thousands of readers.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. If you
can’t participate for any reason, I would be very grateful if you could
suggest anyone else in your field I might contact–but I asked you first. I
only want the best:)
I personalized each email to fit the person.
The email contains:
- No false flattery
- Humility, but not begging—it says “I’m confident and my project is going to happen one way or another”
- Tasteful name dropping
- It obviously is not a message begging for links
Lessons and suggestions
- Find a mentor. A little encouragement goes a long way. Whether you’re writing about making money, sewing quilts, or starting the first underwater manatee rodeo, somebody knows more than you and can guide you.
- Fight that fear. Remember: the worst case scenario is not terrible
- Have someone proofread your interview requests
- Be a fan! If you’re sincerely interested and not motivated by links/gain/popularity, it shows.
- Treat it like a game. This stuff is fun.
- While you’re waiting for a response, get some work done.
No reward without risk
I’ll admit it—I was nervous to even pitch this post to Darren. I don’t feel especially worthy to be writing for you all. Yet, here we are, on Problogger. This is the purest distillation of the 80/20 principle in action.
Maybe I don’t have any business being here. It doesn’t matter what I think about this. If someone agrees to let you ride their coattails for a while, don’t argue with them. Don’t second guess yourself. Just enjoy it and thank them profusely.
Did I worry about how I would feel if Darren rejected me? Of course. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
PS: as the experiment unfolds, I’ll provide more updates assuming I stay in Grandmaster. Rowse’s good graces.
You can visit Josh Hanagarne at World’s Strongest Librarian, flailing away at the universe, one post at a time. The as yet e-book mentioned in this article will be released later this year as a partnership between World’s Strongest Librarian and Straight To The Bar.