Photo courtesy of Romel Sanchez on Flickr

Managing a blog isn’t always easy. Fresh content doesn’t just pop out of the ground or fall out of the sky. It takes work. You have to constantly be looking for things to blog about or looking for fresh insights and fresh ways of presenting content to people.

One of the best ways you can do this is by interviewing people for your blog. Doing interviews for your blog will provide you with new content and give you perspectives that you never thought of before.

Of course, we haven’t actually featured any interviews on this blog, but we’ve done some for other blogs we manage and they’ve all been well received.

Don’t take my biased word for it, though. Daniella Rodriguez, assistant manager of BakersBodega, the Premier Bakery Cash & Carry Warehouse in Pico Rivera, California, knows the power of interviews on that company’s blog.

“It makes us look more professional and I think the interviewees feel like they’re more appreciated,” Rodriguez said during a recent interview. “They become loyal customers and our relationship gets better with them. They share the interview link with their followers on Instagram and Twitter and they ask their followers to start following us. And usually, their followers will start following us right away.”

Rodriguez estimates that after an interview post is published on the company’s blog, they’ll get anywhere from 200 – 500 new Instagram followers.

“At least a quarter of our followers come from the interviews,” she said.

BakersBodega has been fortunate to be able to feature some minor local celebrities on its blog, like The Cake Mamas, who won an episode of Cupcake Wars. Customers who have seen these interviewees on TV can even be a little starstruck that someone they’ve seen on TV shops there, Rodriguez noted.

The store has also featured numerous local small bakery shops and at-home cake shops. And when customers read the interviews done with these small business owners, they get inspired at how they started out small, but have been able to grow their businesses.

In addition to that, the interviewees continually mention the BakersBodega blog weeks and months after their interviews have been published, Rodriguez said.

And that’s part of the beauty of interviewing people for your blog, particularly business people. They’ll be so thankful for the exposure that they’ll continue to point people in the direction of your business long after the post has been published. (I believe these are known as brownie points in the business.)

You can grow the sharing opportunities exponentially by also sharing it with any other companies that the interviewee mentions (such as brands they like or tools they use etc.) They are great to share in your email newsletter so other clients/partners/vendors see them and may even inquire about being interviewed.

Interviews usually provide good content for your site keyword-wise. We find most of the interviews we post for clients end up being one of the top blog posts for that month.

Who should you interview?

Customers are an obvious choice, but vendors, suppliers and business partners are all good choices, too. Everyone has an opinion to share and most people like sharing them, especially when they’re getting exposure to a new audience (your followers and readers). They will most likely feel honored that you want to interview them and will share it however they can.

And when they share the interview post with their followers, your business gets exposure to their network, which means potential sales leads for you.

Influential people within your industry are another lucrative group to interview. We manage a blog for construction software company ProEst, so we interviewed Carol Hagen, who is widely known within the industry for being a construction software expert. We asked her about what emerging trends she’s seen in the construction industry and how much software has changed throughout her 20+ career.

Photo courtesy of Generation Bass on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Generation Bass on Flickr

Hagen isn’t connected to ProEst in any way, but she has recommended the software to people. The point with interviewing her, though, was that her reputation within the industry means she’s highly influential, which translates to a lot of people following her and wanting to know what she’s saying. The fact that she’s saying it on the ProEst blog makes people want to check it out.

And, of course, these influential people will share the blog link with their followers, which tends to be lucrative because, being so influential in the industry, they will have a lot of followers. It can result in good link authority for SEO purposes, but also bring real traffic and recognition to your site.

Interviewing Tips

  • If at all possible, try and have your interviewer be someone who has experience doing it. There are plenty of former journalists out there who are freelancing (ahem) who you can hire off a place like oDesk. They will not only be able to conduct a good interview, but they’ll also be able to fashion a cohesive article out of it, pulling out the strong, newsworthy points and cutting away the fluff.

  • Ask open-ended questions rather than close-ended questions. Open ended questions are ones that cannot be answered by one word (as in yes or no). This will make for better answers. Open-ended: “How has including interviews on your blog affected it?” Close-ended: “Do you think including interviews on your blog has been beneficial?”

  • Start off by getting all the basic stuff out of the way like correct name, spelling of name and title within the company before launching into the real questions.

  • If you need to save time or you have a particularly articulate interviewee, just run the interview as-is in a question and answer format. This is much easier than writing an article from an interview and presents what the person said exactly as they’ve said it (with minor edits for grammar, etc.). If you do have time, though, or you have a particularly inarticulate interviewee, a well-written article makes for a better read and can make someone who is no good at speaking sound brilliant.

  • Make the first ones count. Do your best with the first one or two so you can use these as examples to invite new people. That doesn’t mean you can slack off afterwards, but these first ones are the most important ones because they set the tone and the general template for the rest.

  • Ensure that everybody in your organization knows about the interview opportunities on your blog so they can use it as a marketing tool when they meet with key clients/partners/suppliers or if they come across an influential industry person who they can suggest it to.

  • Although it’s okay to let people have a look at the interview article before it goes up, let them know you have a schedule that you intend to keep and therefore when you give it to them to look at, you expect their feedback quickly (rather than days later). Also, their feedback is only to let them make sure that what they’ve said is accurately represented. They’re not editing the piece (although their pointing out of any grammar or spelling mistakes is greatly appreciated).

  • Keep some journalistic integrity while doing the interviews so they will be real. You don’t want to make your interviews a sales pitch for the person or their company.

  • Do them regularly, not every few months or just one time. Seeing as how time-consuming they can be, one per month is a good schedule to keep.

  • When hunting for influential people, use tools like FollowerWonk and MOZ to see who has the largest following on social media and who really is influential in your given industry.

As great as interviews are for a blog, they are not the proverbial silver bullet that will push your marketing efforts to the next level. They are just a tool to use in conjunction with the rest of your marketing material.

They can also be time consuming, particularly if you do verbal interviews. Always suggest doing an email interview first where you send the questions and receive written responses back. This way all you need to do is cut and paste the answers into the blog post. This is a hundred times easier than re-listening to a recorded verbal interview, taking notes and fashioning it into an article.

You will also run into the occasional unpleasant person to deal with. This ranges from people who are always “busy” and who are difficult to pin down to people who won’t shut up to people who just downright don’t make much sense when they talk.

If you want to interview me about the art of interviewing, please do contact us. I won’t waste your time. I’ve been on the receiving end of dozens of these things, so I know how it works.

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About Rob Swystun

A former journalist, Rob has been writing professionally since 2006 and now focuses on copy writing, website content, articles, blogging, ghost writing, editing, proofreading and public relations. Currently an Athabasca University student studying for a BA in Communications, Rob holds a Journalism Diploma from Langara College in Vancouver.

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