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.
Maya ada says
I would like to appreciate you as your blogger face-off section is very useful for me. By reading bloggers interviews boost my motivation level dramatically.
Thanks for this articles. Lately I have been thinking of adding interviews to my blog and have been unsure of how to go about doing this. This article was very helpful.
Terry Conti says
Interviewing is a learning process for everyone. I like what you said about interviewing that it helps you form relationships therefore get you known. Interviewing is a win, win situation. Terry Conti
I remember the first interview I have conducted and I sent a list of like 10 questions.
Though recently I have been conducting interviews in real time and it’s made the interview so much fluent and readable. Which brings me to point 3.
I think it’s a must for all interviews.
Sheila Atwood says
I liked #8 – I would like to think that the interview not only added value to my readers, but added value to the interviewee.
I found that giving an option of a video interview or an audio makes a big difference. Not everyone likes to be seen on screen.
Wow, perfect timing. I am literally about to conduct my first interview (in written form) and was struggling to decide what questions to ask. This post has really helped to put me on the right track. Thanks!
Men's Online Magazine says
I think learning a little bit about the blogger and their history first before approaching them is huge
Roshan Ahmed says
interviews with pros are really helpful. Few days back Daniel posted some interview questions-answers (in which he asked personal stuff of great bloggers) here and it was really helpful.
-Roshan Ahmed 🙂
Mary E. Ulrich says
Could you go into details on HOW you did the interviews? How did you record them? How did you edit them? Did you have them sign releases?
ps. Maybe this is another blog post?
Srinivas Rao says
Recording: I used an on add on to skype called skype call recorder that costs about 15 dollars. I think there are actually free versions of this too that you can find just by doing a search.
Editing: I’m a mac user so I usually just throw everything into garage band for the editing and it takes about 10 mins to do it and during the editing process is when I write up the summary of the interview.
Releases: As far as signing releases, no I haven’t had them do this. I think where that would become necessary is if I used the interviews to make money from them directly, which I don’t currently do.
Hope that helps.
Allan Ward says
Hi Srinivas. Great post. I’m sure you were nervous when you started, but you’ve obviously learnt a lot from the number of interviews you’ve done.
I like the idea of treating it like a conversation, and not trying to make it too scripted.
Josh Garcia says
I like how you broke it down into smaller components so we can really hit homeruns when we do interviews. I never thought about doing an interview, after reading this it has me thinking. 🙂
Chat with you later…
Andrew @ Blogging Guide says
One of my first products was interviewing ‘famous’ people from across the world and the most important thing I did was to buy their product / book before doing the interview.
I could then delve a bit deeper into the subject and ask specific questions.
Srinivas Rao says
That’s definitely an effective strategy. The main thing with me is that I interview 3+ bloggers a week so if I bought every single one of their products I’d be broke :). At this point, I’ve interviewed over 50 people so you can imagine how quickly the cost would add up. However, when I do get opportunities to look at their ebooks, I use the interview as a mechanism to promote their product. Recently one of our interviewees got 42 retweets and sold 2 copies of his ebook just by doing a giveaway of his ebook,
Andrew @ Blogging Guide says
Yeah, I can understand. Perhaps, many would give access for free!
Do you have advice for interviewing other bloggers by email where you don’t have the benefit of actually talking to the blogger?
Srinivas Rao says
@Kathy: I think that email is a bit more challenging only because it’s not as dynamic or personal. That being said I think that you could use the same sort of thought process by anticipating the answers that each blogger will give and then build your questions around that. Also, one thing to do is take a look at the interviews that are written up already on some blogs.
Dev | Technshare says
Great Post man. These are awesome tips. I think Researching is the key to conduct effective interview. I like your 4th Point “Treat it as conversation”.. Great Point !!
Thanks for sharing this awesome Post.
Great tips, Srinivas. I’m considering an interview series in the not-so-distant future, so this helps nicely.
I was just thinking, perhaps there should be another tip: “Crack a beer to relax.” Might not hurt.
I think research is key and often overlooked by many people conducting interviews.
Too many times I see an interview pop up but each question are almost identical to the ones asked previously in an older interview.
Do your research to see if there have already been interviews and avoid those questions like the plague. Ask something new and current, not the same old drudgery we’ve heard a thousand times.
You should also at least read their About Me page so you can accurately craft your questions to include a wider detail and touch on topics they are experts at.
I’d also add to #1 that if you comment regularly on the blogger you wish to interview, you’re going to have a much easier time landing your interview. Bloggers take note of who’s active – they’re most likely going to say yes to you over the blogger that’s never commented.