How to land and prepare an interview with your dream blogger!
Have you actually considered interviews as a form of content on your blog? Looking around other blogs, you might notice many of the ‘big blogs’ have a lot of interviews, and half the time, they are with very relevant people in their niche, giving very valuable insights to their audience.
You might be thinking, “how on earth do they do that?” or “I wish I knew where to start,” and if you are, then it’s a good job you’re here.
We’ve got experience from interviewing for Meant to be Made and our previous jobs as digital marketers to give you the best start to interview for your blog.
Why interviews are good for your blog / The benefits
Having interviews on your blog offers some brilliant benefits for both your blog and you as an individual.
Interviews are a great form of content
Adding interviews to your blog adds a fresh approach to how you are delivering information to your audience and helps to keep them engaged and interested.
Having another blogger’s perspective on things and offering solutions and guidance to your audience adds a new point of view for your readers. It allows them to learn more about different aspects of your niche from different people all in one place.
They can help your authority and credibility
Like any content you add, the higher the quality and the more you teach, the better your authority will be, and your credibility will rise. This is the same with any high-quality interviews you produce.
Being associated with some of the best bloggers in your niche doesn’t go unnoticed! You become on the same par as them (so long as your standards match) and start to attract a bigger audience. Also, more bloggers will want to be associated with you!
They can help establish relationships with others in your network
Having established relationships within your niche will help your credibility and can also boost your blog popularity. Imagine being friends with one of the top bloggers in your niche and helping each other out all the time?
As it takes two to interview, you are guaranteed to build some kind of relationship or recognition when creating blog interviews. The more you socialize with the interviewee before, during, and after the interview process, the more chance you have of establishing a better relationship with them.
We think interview ‘aftercare’ is so important. Rather than ending the interview, moving on and never looking back, take the time to go the extra mile with the interviewee and give them the best experience they can have.
Interviews will open your blog up to a new audience
When you publish an interview, you are not only posting to your own audience, but you will be attracting the audience of the interviewee
When publishing the interview to your blog, you have a chance to use a whole new range of relatable keywords to help boost your SEO and organic search.
Also, if the interview goes well, the interviewee might link to the interview and your blog from their own blog, sending traffic your way.
Interviewing can help you gain confidence and new skills
It might be nerve-wracking to imagine yourself interviewing other bloggers in your niche, especially if you lack confidence.
You might be worried they are more knowledgeable than you, and you might come across as ‘stupid’ or ‘unworthy,’. Let’s be honest, any respectable person won’t be thinking that, and you will be well-prepped from the start.
Also, depending on the type of interview you conduct, you will learn new skills along the way. If you are planning on doing written interviews, you will learn how to ask and edit relevant and smart questions along with how to structure an interview-based blog post.
If you plan to conduct a live video interview, you will become much more comfortable in front of the camera and talking to people on a whim.
You can integrate interviews into other forms of content
Edit your interview to make new content! Consider taking excerpts from the interview and adding it to other relevant posts. You can take snippets from the interview to post on social media. The options are endless.
You can do what you like with your interview so long as it doesn’t breach any terms and conditions, and it doesn’t take the interview out of relevance.
Choosing the right interviewees
When it comes to deciding the best interviewees for your blog, you will first need to figure out your goals and what you want to achieve. If you understand your goals before you start approaching people, you will have a clearer idea of how to approach your potential interviewee.
If your goal is to boost your reputation in your niche, then partnering up with one of the big-name bloggers in your industry will help. It’s a simple matter of who you are associated with. I implore you to aim high from the start, you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Most of the time, people are willing to give you the time so long as you are genuine enough.
Alternatively, you might get rejected, but remember, it might not be because they don’t want to; it might simply be because the timing is not right for them. You won’t be the only person reaching out to a big-name blogger, so don’t be disheartened if the interviewee can’t help at this time.
Although it would be pretty cool to rub shoulders with a big blogger, you shouldn’t scratch the little guys off your list.
Big-name bloggers might be where they are because they are experts in their field, but along with that, they also have put years of work into their blog to get it to where it needs to be.
Smaller blogs will still hold plenty of knowledge and valuable insight for your audience, they just might not be as well established yet.
Smaller blogs will also greatly appreciate that you trust them enough to consider them as an interviewee and will be very grateful for the opportunity to be on your blog and get a credibility boost too.
Is there a blogger you keep seeing everywhere? Is there a blogger currently doing the interview rounds? If so, consider approaching them. Chances are they are at the stage in their schedule where they’ve put the time aside to contribute to interviews and guest content. Also, if someone is getting a lot of recognition, then they have something valuable worth contributing to.
Once you’ve decided on your goals, it’s important to take some time to write down a list of different bloggers for your goals.
You might even have one goal, for example, to target big-name bloggers. You might also have a few names from the other points we have mentioned, just in case your initial plans don’t pan out.
Prepping for approach
If you want the best chance of scoring your dream interviewee, then you can’t just leave it all to your first point of contact.
Help yourself out by doing some serious prep work before you even get to the point of emailing them. This will give you an upper hand over other bloggers who live by a ‘come what may’ stance.
So what can you do to prep for approach?
Get creeping on their social media
Many bloggers are more consistently active on their social media as they use this to interact with their readers and market their content. Follow them on social media to get an idea of what they’re currently up to and discussing with their readers; you might find that your interview idea would benefit them and their audience.
You can also refer to any findings when you approach them for an interview. For example, “I noticed on twitter a few of your readers mentioned they would like to know about ‘x’. I’m currently looking to run an interview based on ‘x’ and think it would benefit your readers and my own.”
Understand them and their blogs aim
Understanding who your desired interviewee is and what their blog stands for is a great way to bring a more personalized interview request to them.
It’s important to reach out to them as a human and fellow blogger, helping to aid their audience rather than send a basic email template that lacks a personal touch.
Understanding their blog’s aim can also help to shape the interview you plan to have. If the interview relates strongly to their blog’s aim, you have a higher chance of getting a yes.
What are their projects
Understanding the interviewee’s projects and posts allows you to get a feel for their style and tone.
- Are they laid back or have a more formal approach?
- How do they write?
- Are they extremely thorough?
- Have they done interviews before?
- Have they been in front of the camera before, or do they prefer text-based interviews?
- What projects can you refer to when you are creating small talk or referencing during your interview?
Put yourself on their radar
Before approaching anyone for anything, whether that’s for an interview or to guest post, we always recommend putting yourself on their radar first.
If you get yourself noticed by them even in a little way, it creates that ‘light bulb’ moment of recognition when you get in touch with them for a collaboration.
They will recognize you as a fan and appreciate you reaching out to them off your own back before you ask them for anything.
You can get yourself noticed simply by commenting on their posts, touching base on social media, and even linking back to them or referencing them on your blog. They will appreciate your kindness.
First interview request
The first interview request is where you will be approaching your potential interviewee for the first point of contact about your collaboration, and so you need to be sure you do this right.
There are a few things to cover in your first email, which are all important to pique the interviewee’s interest and really sell it to them (without being too salesy).
The introduction should be short and sweet. You should let them know who you are, the name of your blog, and what you do. Don’t ramble on about yourself, as they may just close the email.
What you are doing, why you are doing it
What is this current project you are working on? Are you running an interview series, or are you focusing on one topic which you think they can add value to?
The reach it will have
How many blog subscribers do you have? How many monthly visitors does your blog attract? If you will be posting on social media, what is your reach?
Why them? What do you want them to contribute?
Why have you chosen them? What makes them so special, and what do you want them to contribute? You can refer to a recent project they’ve done and how it can relate, let them know how it will benefit them.
The final chance to sell. What can you offer them? Link back to their site on all channels? Will you be promoting the interview and marketing it and, in turn, potentially driving all your traffic to their blog.
Wrap up the email with a thank you for their time, and to get back to you when they can if they would like to be involved. Then, wish them the best and sign off.
Second email – The follow-up
Your second interview email will be the follow-up email you should send a few days after your first email. If you don’t have a strict schedule set for when you want your interviews to take place, you can wait up to seven days before you touch base again.
I suggest several days because people are busy and they might not necessarily be ignoring you or declining you, they might just be on holiday or away from work.
The follow-up email doesn’t have to cover as much as your initial email. This email is just to try and nudge them for a response (preferably a yes).
So what should you include in your follow up email?
Start your email with a friendly follow up. Mention that you got in touch previously inviting them to get involved with your current project and if they have any questions for you.
Reaffirm some details
This is the part where you are reselling it. Briefly mention again why you would like to interview them and what value they could add to your ‘x’ amount of readers on your blog and social media platforms.
Let them know the interview can be conducted by either email or video call, and you can work to fit their schedule.
Limit the offer
Let them know you are only offering places for a limited amount of time. Suggest you have a limited amount of space available for your series or the project you are currently working on. If they would like to get involved, it would be ideal if they could let you know by the end of the week. Doing this will help give them a nudge for letting you know where they stand.
A friendly sign off
Finally, finish the email with thanking them for their time and that you hope to hear back from them.
If, after this email, you do not receive a response, then I recommend you let it go. You might be desperate to interview them and be keen to touch base again, but at what point do you start to become annoying to them and start to waste your own valuable time?
The wrap-up email
If you’re sending this email, then you’ve scored your interviewee, well done. This email is just as important as the first email you sent apart from you’re not selling to them anymore, you’re reaffirming their confidence in you and what you’re offering.
Thank them and answer any questions
Start your email by thanking them for getting back to you and for agreeing to work with you. Let them know you appreciate them taking the time out and that you are excited to work with them. You should also answer any questions or confirm any details they may have mentioned in their previous email to you.
Let them know what you need from them
You will need them to provide you with high quality, professional pictures of themselves along with a description of their choosing and relevant links to their blog or business. This information will be a small section on your post.
You should also mention that you plan on introducing them, and if there is a certain introduction, they would like you to say to promote them at their best.
Give them a general overview
This stage will take up the bulk of your email as you need to give them an overview of the interview strategy, let them know how many questions you plan to ask, a rough time approximate, and where the interview will be heading.
You can include your interview questions written in the email, but we find it much neater to attach them as a Word doc so they can edit them with their answers.
Ask for their two cents
Let the interviewee know that they can add any questions if they wish and whether they have any input in the overall strategy of the interview.
Letting them know that they can add their two cents makes them appreciate that you value their opinion, and you are open and considerate.
Confirm final details
Remember to confirm any details before you sign off. At this stage, it’s important to know how you will be conducting a written or video interview and how it will work into the schedule.
Chances are there will be further correspondence discussing questions and other things, so if you don’t have full confirmation yet, let them know that you are looking to finalize arrangements as soon as possible.
Any terms and sign off
If you have any terms with the interview, then let them know now. This could simply be that you reserve the right to edit any responses; however, you will make them aware of any changes and seek approval.
You should also let them know that they can get in touch with you at any time before the interview takes place.
Once you’ve landed your interviewee, it’s time to focus on your interview and how you can make it the best it can be.
Top interview tips
Consider text interviews
If you are undecided on how you would like to conduct your interview, then written interviews are a good way to start for numerous reasons.
Written interviews are easier to edit than video interviews, you and your interviewee don’t have to be available at a certain time or date to conduct the interview, and you don’t need to get dolled up either.
Live recorded interviews if you’re comfortable
Video interviews are a good idea for using different media on your blog. If you are interviewing someone local, then, by all means, meet up and record a video interview, but chances are you will be approaching someone who isn’t within your reach.
To get around this, we recommend using something like ‘Skype’ to conduct your interview with you both recording it.
One of the issues with using Skype or any other telecommunication software is buffering issues or your broadband cutting out during the interview. Stressful, embarrassing, and not very professional, but it’s not your fault, and they will probably understand that.
Include small talk
Small talk is important here, believe me, so don’t go straight into your interview and skip this. You want to include small talk because you want to both feel comfortable and get used to talking with each other.
Your small talk doesn’t even have to be in your interview. Before you begin the interview, talk to them like a friend, ask how they’re doing, how business is going, plans for today, did they have a nice weekend?
If you start with a comfortable friendship, it will shine through in your interview and will be a much nicer, better quality outcome. It also builds your relationship with them as you get to know each other on a personal level – yay!
Make sure they understand who your audience is
If the interviewee knows who your audience is, then the interview will be easier for both of you. You won’t have to worry whether they are translating on the level of your audience, and if they know who they are talking to, then they will feel much more comfortable.
Who is your audience? Are they predominantly females? What age range? This can help your interviewee answer questions better in a style that suits your audience.
Let them know where you plan to take the interview
Everyone appreciates knowing in advance where the interview is going. It’s good to be able to improvise on questions and answers, but not everyone is comfortable with this. Before the interview takes place, make sure you both have a set of finalized questions, and an idea of other points you might cover along with a structure that the interview will follow.
Introduce the interviewee
When you are starting the interview, introduce the interviewee, don’t leave them to do it themselves. Let your audience know who they are, the name of their blog, why they are important, and what they have to contribute. Let your audience know who they are as a person, so your audience can connect with them on a human level and not just see them as a source of information.
Keep the convo flowing
You want to keep your interview as natural as possible, so try not to have awkward pauses between questions. Rather than treating it as an interview, try to see it as a conversation between friends discussing business.
You don’t need to stick to the format of ask and answer, ask, and answer. Why not compliment them on a post if it’s relevant to the question you are about to ask of have just asked. Why not smile and laugh?
One of the most important things when interviewing someone is to make sure you are actively listening, so you don’t get caught off guard with a response.
Also, don’t worry about any ‘erms’ or ‘ahs’. It always sound much worse in your head, and other people don’t tend to notice as much.
Direct people to their site
Towards the end of the interview, reaffirm who the interviewee is, recap what you have discussed, and mention how great they have been. Thank the interviewee for discussing with you and for getting involved and thank your audience for watching. Ask your readers to visit their blog and also mention that you will be adding some relevant links and information underneath the video.
Ask for feedback once the interview is over
Once the interview has concluded, simply ask for some feedback from the interviewee. How was their experience? Did they enjoy it? What could have been better? Is there anything they would like to add that you can add in written form in addition to the video? Let them know you are open to collaborate again (if you want to), and you enjoyed working with them (if you did).
Common mistakes to avoid when hosting an interview
We’ve covered a lot about the positives of hosting an interview and how to make it run smoothly, but what about the mistakes people make?
Being unprepared is one of the biggest killers of an interview. Make sure you are prepared by having a confirmed date and time to interview along with a copy of the interview questions and a structured plan that the interview will follow.
disrespecting their time
You will most likely cover things such as interview running time and other things in the finer details you’ll discuss beforehand, but it is important to stick to the time allocated, so you both stay within your agreement. Running over your time might not seem like a big deal to you, but your interviewee is most likely a busy person, and they might not appreciate your interview messing up their schedule.
Losing interview structure
Something else that can turn an interview into a shambles is by losing its structure. By this, we mean letting your interview get to the stage where you are no longer conducting an interview but more talking over each other and going off track with questions and introducing awkward silences. Don’t let the interview get to a stage where it is no longer professional.
Asking obvious questions
Chances are you’ve learned a lot about your interviewee in the research stage of your interview strategy, so don’t waste time asking questions that aren’t relatable. For example, it’s good to introduce them at the start of the interview, but don’t move on to asking them questions about where they grew up, where they attended school and what they had for lunch.
The interview time isn’t for drinks or to catch up. It’s for getting the relevant information to your audience in the time allocated, so remember to ask smart, relevant questions to get the most out of the interview as you can.
10 brilliant questions to incorporate into your interview
We’ve put together some of our favorite interview questions for you to incorporate into your interview. We recommend keeping your interview limited between 5 – 10 questions to keep the interview at a reasonable time and still be engaging. You don’t want your audience to fall asleep or switch off.
What is your most popular post to date, and why do you think that is?
This question is an easy one, but it can tell you a lot about what their audience likes to read and can also give you an insight into the type of posts their audience responds better to. You will have your own analytics and data for your own audience, but if the interviewee is in the same niche as you, then you could benefit from learning from this question and applying their methods to your own work.
What methods do you use to promote your blog and attract readers?
This question can open up a lot of juicy details into how your interviewee drives traffic to their blog and keeps its readers. Do they have a great SEO strategy? What marketing do they use? What is the best social media platform for driving traffic their way? Ask the question and then ask some more.
What inspired you to start your blog/business, how did you feel?
This question is a good one, especially for those viewers who are just starting a blog. Many beginner bloggers feel incredibly overwhelmed and anxious when starting a new venture, so hearing that other, more successful bloggers once felt the same could be comforting and motivational.
What is the biggest blogging/business mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
If your interviewee is open to talking about their mistakes and failures, then this is a great question to ask. Knowing other people’s mistakes and what they learned from it will also help you and your audience learn from it as well.
Do you have any top advice for bloggers starting?
Gathering unique advice from individual bloggers can benefit your audience. Maybe one bit of advice from one interviewee can help a little, but imagine when you’ve accumulated tons of unique advice from tons of different bloggers? That’s a whole lot of top tips and tricks from some of the best out there. You can also gather all of the advice from your interviews and make a blog post from it!
What is your definition of success? And do you feel you have reached this?
I personally really like this question. I’ve always believed that success is determined by what you make rather than a stereotypical standard of what it should be. Understanding the interviewee’s thoughts on what makes a successful blog, how to reach it, and how it made them feel when they accomplished this can be a real motivator for your audience and open their eyes to the different concepts of success.
Can you give us an idea of a typical workday for you?
Being able to see inside another blogger’s workday can benefit the structure of someone else’s schedule. Some of your audience might be struggling to find a routine that works for them or might feel that something is ‘missing’ from their schedule, so getting a peek into someone else’s workday can hopefully offer some helpful ideas.
What is the most profitable aspect of your blog/business, and how can our audience implement that into their own blog/businesses?
We all want to know how to make money in one way or another. This question is perfect for helping those who are looking to monetize their blog in different ways. Learning how a well-established blog makes an income and offering that guidance to your audience is a great asset, and that is a kindness to be grateful for.
How did you decide on what niche to become involved in?
Did the interviewee choose the niche because they are passionate about it? Because they are educated in it? Because they believe they can make money from it? Understanding why your interviewee chose their niche gives others an insight into the options they have and what to consider when choosing their niche.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I particularly love this question because hindsight is a beautiful thing. We’ve all been there where we’ve sighed and thought “I wish I knew that sooner” or “I wish I’d done that sooner,” but knowing this now and passing it on to others can help them to avoid the common hindsight sigh and teach them a few things along the way.
Marketing your interviews
Once you have published your interview, it’s important to let the interviewee know that it is live and send them a direct link to it along with thanking them for their contribution.
When it comes to marketing your interview, you can do this just as you would do with any other content you publish. You can publish on your blog, using SEO and links to generate traffic, you can promote it in your newsletters, and you can also post it on your social media.
When you post your interview on social media, make sure you tag or link the interviewee as well as this will encourage them to share it on their social media too.
Interviewing can add another element to your blog and really give your content a little more edge. We have covered so much in this post to help guide you when it comes to approaching someone to interview, questions to ask, how to interview and interview aftercare, so you should ready to take on the challenge!