Between the interviews with up and coming bloggers series that I ran on my personal blog and the launch of BlogcastFM.com, I’ve had the opportunity to interview more than 30 bloggers. Not only have I learned quite a bit about blogging but I’ve learned about people and how to to conduct interviews with bloggers.
1. Everybody is approachable
One of the things I absolutely love about the world we live in today is that we have access to people like we have never had before. However, one of the things that holds us back is fear. We see a well known blogger and we become intimidated by their RSS counter that says 5000. Surprisingly, these people are not much different than a blogger who’s just starting out. They’ve just been around longer and know more. They started out just like you with nobody reading their blog. Most people are very approachable and you just have to make the effort and reach out.
2. Listen more than you talk
In the first interview I ever did, I got some unsolicited advice. I was told that I talk too much. When I went back and listened to it, I realized that I did talk too much. If you’re interviewing somebody, the spotlight is on them. It’s a chance for that person to talk about themselves and their blog. Embrace that and your interviews will be much better.
3. Ask questions based on the answers you receive
This ties into the above point about listening. Part of what has made my interviews get smoother and smoother is that I start with one simple question “How did you get started?” and then I build all the rest of the questions I ask on the answers I get. Not only does this force you to listen, it makes the whole thing flow much better.
4. Treat it as conversation
In a recent interview I did, the interviewee was actually nervous. While it was challenging I told him to think of it as two guys at a bar just having a beer and chatting. When you get too formal then you become unnatural and it’s really obvious to the people listening. The interview is an opportunity for everybody to eavesdrop on your conversation. If you are really formal, nobody will really want to eavesdrop. One of the things we love as human beings are stories. Let the interviewee tell a story. It’s a conversation, not an interrogation.
5. Provide Value to your listeners
This is kind of a no-brainer. The clear goal behind interviewing a blogger should be to draw out valuable advice that your listeners can put to use right away. I try to make sure that every blogger I talk to offers at least one tip that I haven’t heard of before that listeners can implement right away.
6. Everybody has value to add
Regardless of whether they are big or small, people can offer a valuable perspective on things. Just because somebody has only been around for a short time, don’t discount what they have to say. It’s also really useful to interview bloggers completely out your topic area. The other day I interviewed a parenting blogger. As a single 30-something male, I don’t spend any time reading mom blogs, but I still learned some very useful things from talking to a parenting blogger.
7. Research the person you are interviewing
Spend a little bit of time learning about the person you are interviewing before you do the interview. This way if you ever do hit a point in the interview where you lose your flow, you’ll have a list of things to go back to and ask about. Some things you could ask about include:
- the most recent post they wrote
- a product they just released
- something about their personal life
8. Maintain/Nurture Relationships
Once you have interviewed a blogger, you have formed a relationship. But just remember that it doesn’t end after the interview. It’s important to maintain and nurture that relationship. If it hadn’t been for the relationships I maintained with everybody I’ve interviewed, I would not have had nearly as much support in getting the word out about the ebook that went along with a new site launch. Some ways to maintain/nurture relationship include:
- Follow the interviewee on Twitter
- Comment on their blog posts
- Add them on Facebook or Linkedin
I’m a big believer in the power of interviews. I think it’s really a tremendously valuable way to improve your knowledge and provide great value to your readers. Don’t underestimate the value you can gain from both listening to and conducting interviews with bloggers.