Have you ever read an intriguing interview and thought, “I want to try conducting an interview for my blog!” Well then you’re in luck because this week on Maine on the Blogs we are talking about the art of the interview!
What makes some interviews interesting while others can read as stale and boring? We’ll look at two distinct interview styles and you walk you through how to conduct one successfully.
Before you organize an interview there are a few things you need to do first. Think about what your blog genre is and make a list of people who you think your readers would be excited to read an interview of. Are you a parenting blogger? Maybe you want to interview a popular parenting author. Are you a foodie blogger? Perhaps you want to interview a local celebrity chef.
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Once you have your sights set on a particular person it helps to use some excellent blogger etiquette when you invite your top choice name to an interview. If you already have a personal or professional connection to this person and a quick and direct email is not out of the question then by all means, do that. But if you have never connected with the person you want to interview then it helps to employ the following basic rules of blogger etiquette:
- Write a professional email that explains who you are, what you want, and why that person should want to be interviewed by you.
- Include no more than three links to your blog. Make sure to include a link that talks about this potential interviewee (if you have one), a link that would appeal to the interviewee (maybe as a foodie you ran a piece on a recipe that this person created or would be excited to cook), and a link to a whatever your most popular link in the last 6 months that can show your potential interviewee how you successfully engage with your readers.
- Make sure to give your interviewee ample time to schedule a meeting with you. Don’t say, “I want to interview you for my blog post that will be published this Friday!” Make sure to give a comfortable space of time like two or three weeks. This wll also help you to drum up excitement with your readers.
- Avoid using emojis, bad spelling and grammar, and humble bragging. Be as direct and polite as possible while sticking to your point.
- Give the recipient of your invitation 7 to 10 business days to respond. Make sure that in your invitation that you mention that you will follow up in about a week so that they won’t be surprised to get a second email, should you find the need to follow up.
THE Q + A TWO WAYS
The easiest way to conduct an interview is to do a classic question and answer session with your subject. Here are two ways to go about this:
In a traditional Q + A you can submit your questions in writing through email or have a sit down conversation and take notes and record your subjects answers. Make sure that the questions you ask are interesting and dynamic. You want your goal to be that your readers get excited about the subject and leave the interview feeling like they learned something interesting and new about someone or a topic they may already know well.
READERS CHIME IN
A second – and probably more interesting – route for an interview is to tease the name of your subject to your blog readers and invite them to ask their burning questions! This will help drum up excitement in your readership and also provide free advertising. You could dedicate an entire blog post simply to teasing your interview and inviting your readers to chime in.
Example: In this video, Stephen King takes questions from readers.
THE LOST ART OF CONVERSATION
The second style of interview that can work well is the art of the conversation. Invite your subject to meet for coffee or lunch and discuss a specific topic. For this you will need to be sure to drive the conversation by delicately bringing the chat back to your main ideas by asking questions, which can be difficult for those who are not comfortable to talking to other people, particularly those they do not know well. You must be OK with gently interrupting the conversation in order to keep it on track. Be sure to record the conversation with a small tape recorder or a smart phone and take notes as you talk. The conversation will give you lots of information from body language to tone to quotes form which you can draw from when writing your final piece.
Example: Charlie Rose – the king of conversational interviews talks with Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Foster Wallace in this video clip below.
EDIT TO MAKE IT POP
When you finish with your interview the next phase is writing and editing. Some bloggers mistakenly think that they must include every word mentioned in a interview, which is not so. By carefully editing the raw material you can craft an interview to tell an interesting story, a story that pops. Be absolutely sure that as you cut portions of the interview or play up specific facets of the interview that you are as true to the content as you can be. You never want to suggest or imply things that were no actually said.
Interviews can be a truly interesting tool to add to your blogger bag of tricks to keep your readers engaged. Not only can you add fascinating voices to your writing but you can make important professional and personal connections that you can use later in your blogging career. If your interview goes well then make sure to invite your subject back in the future!
Here at Maine on the Blogs we are always interested in keeping YOU engaged! If you could choose someone to be interviewed for Maine on the Blogs, who would it be? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
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