How to Spice Up Your Blog with Interviews

blog interviewLike we talked about Tuesday, sometimes you just don’t know what to write about.

Well, there’s one surefire way to still publish epic content on a regular basis without getting burnt out.

Start running interviews on your blog.

Just look at blogs like BlogcastFM, RiseToTheTop, and Mixergy that only do interviews and have even built an entire business around it.

Besides, if you are the only person who ever writes on your site it will be refreshing for your audience to hear another person’s perspective.

In this post we’ll discuss our experience with and advice for doing interviews in all sorts of mediums (audio, video, text) as well as some tips for how to reach out to A-Listers and land an interview with them.

It is Easiest to Start With Text Interviews

The least intimidating way to start doing interviews on your blog is to just do a text interview. This is also the smallest amount of work for a number of reasons:

  1. You don’t have to schedule a time to talk with someone.
  2. Editing a text post takes less time and effort than an audio or video interview.
  3. You don’t have to see yourself on camera/hear yourself on a microphone.
  4. Your guests may feel more comfortable doing a text interview anyway.

When you are just starting out with interviews, text-based interviews are easiest.

To see a great format we use check out the two most popular text-based interviews on Think Traffic:

Our Experience So Far on YouTube

We’ve been doing interviews for years here on Think Traffic (in text, audio, and video forms), but we only just recently started using YouTube for hosting our video interviews. (We used Vimeo previously.)

In just the five months we’ve had video on YouTube for Think Traffic we’ve already had over 11,000 views with over 900 views per video. The results have been even stronger considering the first 5 of the 13 videos we have on the channel were just reposted interviews we had on Vimeo.

As for Expert Enough on YouTube, we have roughly 3,500 views in just 4 episodes, for an average of about 850 per show. Not bad for a website started only four months ago.

Each channel has roughly 100 subscribers as well. Which means, every time we publish a new video it automatically shows up on the home page of YouTube for them. Pretty powerful.

To see how we use Skype and Call Recorder for Mac to do our interviews, check out our two most popular video interviews:

Using iTunes to Host Audio Interviews

We’ve been using iTunes for the audio version The Expert Enough Show and using the website LibSyn to host our episodes.

Our four episodes are at a total of 2,413 downloads (in addition to the number of times each interview has been watched on YouTube). While publishing simultaneously on YouTube may be hurting our chances of ranking well in iTunes, we think that people appreciate being able to consume the show in whatever format they prefer. We’ll be experimenting with this further in the near future.

If you want to really dive into podcasting the best resource we’ve come across to help you get started is from our friend Cliff Ravenscraft over at Podcast Answer Man. He has a free, two hour Learn How to Podcast video tutorial where we learned everything we needed to know to get the Expert Enough podcast going. I’ve spent time with Cliff in person and he is the go to man for everything podcasting.

Study our two most popular audio interviews to figure out a good formula for asking guests worthwhile questions:

How to Get A-Listers to Agree to an Interview

One of the best reasons to do interviews is to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk to. You get to pick the brain of someone that would normally cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to get one-on-one coaching from for free.

When you reach out to someone you haven’t been in contact with before you want to make sure they say yes though. The best ways to get people to agree to do an interview are to:

  • Keep the request short and sweet.
  • Mention the exact reason why they would be a good fit for your audience.
  • Make it as painless for them as possible (e.g. don’t make them record it or do formatting of their text).

Heck, sometimes people will start to notice what you are doing and reach out to you first. This is how I was able to connect with and set up an interview with Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA. We featured him in a piece of content, he tweeted us to say thank you, and I reached out on Skype to see if he wanted to be on the EE Show.

Getting the Most Out of Your Interview

Here are three rules to help you get the most out of your interviews:

  • Choose interesting, dynamic and relevant guests.

  • Whether your interview will be a big success depends a lot on how interesting and relevant your guest is to your audience. It also depends on how fun and dynamic your guest is.

  • Ask great questions.

  • You should always spend time preparing prior to your interview. Take time to investigate your guest. Read about what they’ve been up to. Take notes on which of their projects and accomplishments are potentially the most interesting to your audience.

    For a typical 20-45 minute interview, make a list of 15 to 20 questions you’d like to ask on the call.

    Remain flexible and don’t worry if you don’t get all the questions in. Listen carefully to your guest and be ready to ask good follow-up questions as they come to mind.

    Don’t get sucked into your script and stick only to your prepared questions. This will come off as stiff and you’ll miss opportunities to draw out some juicy details from your guest.

  • Introduce the interview well.

  • Don’t just post your YouTube or iTunes link within your blog post. You need to tell people why the interview is relavant and how it will help them.

    Include bullet points about what your readers or viewers will learn from the interview. Include show notes and links to relevant resources (hint: this is an opportunity to include affiliate links if appropriate).

    Then, suggest actions your readers can take based on what they learned from the interview. Ask people to comment on something they learned from the interview if you want to get more comments on your post.

    If you’re running the interview on YouTube, iTunes or elsewhere, you can ask people to subscribe and comment on those platforms as well.

For more great tips on interviewing, check out our guest post from Srinivas Rao on how to use interviews to increase traffic to your blog.

***

Now take action.

If you’re a content producer and haven’t tried running an interview before, try one in the next few weeks. Follow our tips above. If you have other questions, let us know below. We’re happy to help.

Then come back here and let us know how your interview turned out. Share a link below.

If you’ve already run some interviews, we’d love to know: what kind of success have you had running interviews on your website? Post a link to your best interview below.

Cheers!

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  • http://www.sparringmind.com/ Gregory Ciotti

    Great overview, glad to see things working out so well on ExpertEnough.

    I noticed you guys previously used Vimeo, was the switch over to YouTube worthwhile for the traffic so far?

    • http://www.sparringmind.com/ Gregory Ciotti

      Ah, I see you addressed some traffic stats for YT in the middle must have grazed over the numbers. Definitely seems like it’s YouTube or nothing for video (at least for blogs).

      • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

        Hey Gregory,

        We are bigger fans of Vimeo in general, but it fits more in with filmmakers and higher end videos. We wanted to grow our presence on YouTube even though we like the tools and interface of Vimeo more.

    • http://www.kfm24.com Kenny Fabre

      Gregory

      from vimeo to youtube I think thats a great choice, all of these other video sites out there are not that good, tried alot of them but youtube always gets the best results

  • http://www.simbarusseau.com/interview-multimedia-journalist-scott-anger/ Simba Russeau

    This is a nice piece! As a multimedia storyteller, interviews is what I do. This is a recent interview I did: http://www.simbarusseau.com/interview-multimedia-journalist-scott-anger/

    One suggestion that I had on another site, for the content marking niche, is to do profile video segments. Like short 5, 10, or 15 minute profiles such as a day in the life of a pro blogger. I do this kind of interviews a journalist and for me this is the most compelling because it tells a nice story while including an interview.

    As a photographer I’ll start to incorporate more image mixed with audio video presentations like Magnum in Motion does with its photographers work to add a bit of spice to the mix up.

    Thanks for this article. Off to do another interview!

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Thanks for the suggestion Simba. We try to break up the longer interviews by showing static images if they relate to what is being discussed (such as a certain website or book).

      Cheers!

  • http://www.fostable.com Fostable

    It is quite difficult to do a very good video with quality resolutions.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      True. To record in anything above 640×480 in Skype is tough.

  • http://invite.wproadie.com Stephen Jeske

    Caleb, that’s a great and concise overview with all the right information to get anyone off to a good start.

    “It’s easiest to start with text interviews” is a point that cannot be emphasized enough. Podcasts and YouTube videos sound way more sexy, but everyone needs to learn to walk before they can run.

    Once you have some text interviews under your belt, you can then go back to those earlier guests and do a Podcast or video.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Thanks Stephen. :)

  • http://www.womenswaytowealth.com cassie | womenswaytowealth

    Great article, there is a really fast growing buzz around YouTube now (or is it just that my awareness has been raised?!) and I’m going to start video marketing soon too. It’s a great idea to spice up your blog with audio interviews and to use itunes to record them. We also use skype although the sound quality isn’t always great.
    Building up channels of subscribers is another way to build your list and probably taps into a completely new (and as yet unsaturated) market of subscibers and potential customers. Thanks.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Skype quality can sometimes be hit or miss. One way to get around that would be to have the guest record on their end and to splice the two recordings together later.

  • http://bloggersethics.com Tushar@BloggersEthics

    Long time ago, in my previous blog, I did some interviewers of my favorite bloggers and one of the other guy in the blogosphere labelled it as a “free traffic getting technique” without making effort. Have not done any since then.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      It still takes effort, but maybe not as much as a complete blog post.

  • http://www.chinabusinesswebinars.com shlomo

    Caleb,
    Great Post! I’ve got good experience with webinars. It puts your audience into ACTION! it’s works well, but they are harder to market and setup.
    FInd it here if you are interested: http://www.ChinaBusinessWebinars.com
    Thanks,
    Shlomo

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Hey Shlomo,

      Webinars can be great too. In that format you can get live feedback too.

  • http://beginningbarefoot.com Barefoot Dawsy

    Good call about the text-based interviews. I went this route with my blog and it is sooo much easier than dealing with audio. On that note, have you got any recommendations on how to present an audio interview? I’d like to do a transcript, but 30 minutes of interview is a lot of words, and I’m not that fast a typer!

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Hey Dawsy,

      You can use a VA for transcripts. Look on a website like fiverr or odesk for people to do it for you. That is what we have done in the past.

      We haven’t been transcribing the interviews at EE though and no one has even asked for one yet. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  • http://www.crudefitness.com Clint – Crude Fitness

    A great way, I have found, to attract the ‘a-listers’ is to interview the ‘lesser-knowns’ first, build up a ‘this is who I’ve interviewed previously’ portfolio.

    It looks a lot more attractive to the big names.
    It certainly worked for me.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Good idea Clint. Reaching out to someone big to be on your podcast when you have no episodes yet is bound to fail…

  • http://PodcastAnswerMan.com Cliff Ravenscraft

    Thank you so much for the shout out for my free podcasting tutorial in your post! I really appreciate it!!!!

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      No problem at all Cliff. Those tutorials seriously saved me so much time getting our Expert Enough podcast set-up properly.

  • http://www.tradingheroes.com Hugh

    Last year, I was too chicken to do an audio interview, so I did a couple of text interviews. That was OK, they got a few hits.

    Then this year, I decided to step it up with audio and I’m glad I did. Almost right off the bat, it contributed to about a 20% increase in my traffic. Most of the increase has come from Facebook, where the people I interview share with their audience. This is my most popular one to date:

    http://www.tradingheroes.com/ttl-002-full-time-trader-interview-jessica-peletier-aka-rogue-traderette/

    A few tips from my experience:

    When first starting out, it is easier to interview a couple of friends who are experts on the topic first, just to get over the fear and work out some of the bugs.

    I’m still pretty bad at interviewing, but I’m learning how to ask better questions and dig deeper into their answers to make the interview as beneficial to everyone listening. Srini at BlogcastFM is one of the best to listen to for picking up excellent interview technique.

    I’ve been trying to get video interviews but my interviewees either lack a camera or have dodgy internet. I’ve been putting them on YouTube by adding a splash screen with the audio. You could also read your text interview and do a splash or slideshow to get the video eyeballs.

    The best thing is to just get started. Don’t geek out on equipment or fancy intro/outros. Just do the best you can right now and keep improving!

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Those are some awesome tips Hugh. Especially the one about interview your friends first. You’ll be more comfortable in the beginning that way instead of intimidated by interviewing someone you don’t know as well.

  • http://www.nichesense.com Anshul

    Interviewing successful people in your given niche always gets a lot of interest as your audience wants to hear from people who have done it ahead of them and what was their key to success.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      Great point Anshul. One of the best reasons to do interviews is because your audience can be inspired to take action.

  • http://facetsofjoy.com Joy

    I had been online for four years, but just started a new site at the end of November 2011. After using December to work out any “site bugs”, in January, I ran a text interview with giveaway series–one a week for four weeks. Each guest was an expert on one of the themes of my site. The giveaways prompted readers to comment which began a conversation, and brought excitement and anticipation to the month. A sense of community was born and nurtured from then on.

    • http://www.pocketchanged.com Caleb Wojcik

      That’s awesome Joy. Congrats on incorporating a specific strategy and sticking with it!

  • http://therexblog.com Rex Williams

    Great info! Thanks for the tips. I’ve learned so much from BlogcastFM and others. I have seen the power of interviews so I decided to try it and start off with an easy one first (although she was probably the most difficult to get info out of.)
    http://therexblog.com/2012/02/02/insider-tips-special-interview/

    Then I decided to do a whole series with one of the founders of Skullcandy, and they are turning out great. Check it out: http://therexblog.com/2012/02/13/how-skullcandy-got-started/

    It may be how I advertised some of them on Facebook or G+, but it’s funny how I have more views on YouTube than my blog. What’s your recommendation? Always share the blog link?

    Thanks.

  • http://www.alden-tan.com Alden

    I just posted up my first ever interview today! And I just so happens I was reading this post. It’s with Nina Yau from Castles in The Air

    It’s a purely text-based interview. I thought it would be easy compared to other mediums. I really like the part on how you say you should introduce the interview well. It’s totally spot on as compared to simply slapping the whole interview up.

    I must say, besides being able to get hold of an interview, you can really learn and gain a lot of insights from it alone, something which is comparable to even highly-priced coaching programs.

    Anyway here’s my interview!

    http://alden-tan.com/interview-with-nina-yau-truth-seeker-from-castles-in-the-air/

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  • http://theclearcopywriter.com/blog/ Danielle Lynn

    Hmmm well… now I’m keen on trying out some interviews.

    Like you said though, the trick is finding spectacular questions to ask. :) I’m guessing “What’s your favorite cereal brand?” just might not cut it.

  • http://www.productivesuperdad.com/ Timo Kiander

    Hi Caleb!

    I’m starting my interviews again (with video), but my question is:

    What is the best platform for hosting video interviews?

    I think that there is a time limit on YouTube (how long the videos can be) so having a 30 minute interview is out of the question.

    Any other alternatives than YouTube?

    Cheers,
    Timo

  • http://www.smartforexeducation.com Ken

    Great post Caleb,

    I have also seen a significant amount of traffic coming from my you tube channel. The quality of content has to be significant in order to create an interest and see traffic back to your site.

    Well done.

    Ken

  • http://www.dormroomcash.com Adam

    I have been wanting to do more interviews, but I just don’t know what software to use. I have skype so that I can call people and do an interview that way, but I don’t know how to record using it. This is probably easy but I just need to spend some time looking into it.

  • http://www.foundertips.com Agota

    I’d like to add two more tips for getting A-listers to do an interview with you:

    1. Build up on your successes (especially if your site is relatively new): build up on your successes. People in the industry know each other, especially big players. They’re much more likely to do an interview with you if you already interviewed someone they know. The stronger the connection between them, the better.

    I have e-mailed one famous blogger before and didn’t get any answer.

    I e-mailed him after a month or so when I had few more interviews under my belt, and added this:

    “I did an interview with your friend (insert the name of other blogger that I know is his friend), you can take a look if you want: (link to the interview with his friend).”

    The blogger agreed to do an interview immediately.

    Don’t be shy, once you have couple of interviews under your belt, use them as a social proof in order to get more interviews.

    2. Don’t be afraid to ask twice or thrice.

    People are busy, especially A-listers, and sometimes your e-mail might simply go unnoticed among bunch of other e-mails in their inbox. Don’t get depressed if you don’t get a reply to your interview request. Wait for a week or so and send them one more e-mail, something like “Hey (blogger’s name), I sent you an e-mail about interview for (your site) and didn’t get a reply, I was wondering what do you think about that?”. Many people are nice and reply even if the answer is negative. What if they don’t reply?

    The reason might be that your blog is clearly a very new one and there’s not much in it for them to justify time and efforts they would spend on the interview.Don’t be sad and keep building your blog. Then, once you feel ready (probably after few months), e-mail them again, using some social proof and traffic stats that hopefully are looking more impressive now. You have a high chance of landing an interview then.

    • Corbett Barr

      Great tips Agota! Thanks for sharing. I especially like the idea of building on your successes (quickly in the beginning). This can be an incredibly effective approach.

  • http://thecollegeinvestor.com Robert

    Thank you for the motivation to do my first interview. I reached out to a well known personal finance author – Andrew Hallam, author of Millionaire Teacher, and he was awesome enough to respond and answer my interview questions.

    The post is pretty epic at over 2,000 words, but there is a ton of good information there!

    Here is the interview: http://thecollegeinvestor.com/2616/9-questions-millionaire-teacher/

    Thanks again for the motivation. I’ve been blogging for 2.5 years, and had never done an interview until now!

  • http://www.hikinginfinland.com Hendrik Morkel

    Thanks for the interesting article! Interviews have been a key part to make my site Hiking in Finland so successful, as I interview cottage gear makers. It is great fun & interesting to read their thoughts on ultralight backpacking, gear and trips.

    The Best One? Hands down the one with Fritz Handel, the maker of the BushBuddy: http://www.hikinginfinland.com/2009/11/interview-fritz-handel-from-bushbuddy.html

  • http://www.watchmebuildtraffic.com Max Day

    Hello. Thank you for your comments. I guess interviewing I need to try. I use a word press plugin to manage adding new content for me. It will allow you to select keywords for desired content and accept video and or article post, approve or delete them prior to post, add your own navigation bar and links around the post, and schedule how often you want to accept new content from these keywords.

    Increase your web traffic is a keyword I am trying to rank for.

    I am new at this and I know that using quality back links is key as well, not quantity. I appreciate those who share. Thank you.
    Plugin-Wp Robot 3

    check my site

    http://watchmebuildtraffic.com

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene

    I’ve actually got my first text interview coming out Friday so I can’t post a link to it but I will come back and do so once it’s published. I just read the notes here and I have tried to follow that and I already had the gut instinct to start with text. I know nothing about audio, editing, recording any of that – nor video. So stick with what I know for now and I’ll expand outwards.

    I sort of know my first interview subject but was still apprehensive about asking him, but he said no problem right away. He filled in answers, I asked a few clarifiers and got some filler. I would have liked longer, more detailed answers though. Is there a way to coax that in a text/email interview?

    Thanks
    Darlene

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  • http://www.uscitytraveler.com Taylor @ USCityTraveler

    Good stuff, I’m going to definitely start writing more questions for future audio interviews. The last one I did was a little too short and it’s hard to come up with last minute questions

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