June 6, 2016
By Ryan Malone
I wrote before about the many reasons to conduct blog interviews. They can be your secret weapon to delivering great content that accurately captures the voice, flair and attitude of your subject.
If you’re tasked with blogging about topics in which you aren’t already an expert, blog interviews are the most effective way to get the job done and provide valuable content to your subscribers.
While interviews have worked for journalists for hundred of years, you don’t have 10 pages to work with on a blog. So it’s important to get to the point and extract the meat of the argument quickly and concisely.
Here are 5 killer questions to ask your next interview subject:
It’s difficult to write a targeted article if you don’t clearly understand who you writing for. Many people have written about developing personas—and we do that her for inbound marketing and blog writing programs—but if you need a quick compass, this question works wonders.
Make sure you learn the reader’s gender, age range and typical personality. This will help you define the language to use for the blog—length of words, sentence structure how you plan to identify with their concerns. It also helps frame any historical references to a time they remember.
Many writers dedicate time to define a problem or a trend, but they never discuss its implications. Discussing problems is one of the best ways to build affinity with your reader. If you fail to discuss the implications, you miss a valuable opportunity to share their pain and earn their continued reading.
You’ll often be interviewing someone who is clearly passionate about the topic. They can list many things—problems, trends, issues—you name it. While lists are a popular in blog posts, they also create an opportunity to add confusion—kind of like a polka dot tie on a paisley suit (No I have not worn this combo, although it sounds fun!).
By asking for the single most important takeaway, you can quickly channel the interview into the one or two points that really matter. And don’t think the rest is wasted. It’s likely great supporting material for the article or a future post by itself.
When you interviewing individuals who have a high degree of expertise in their field, they tend to use acronyms or assume that you know as much about the industry as they do.
If you write an article that includes “expert-only” terminology, you’ll likely lose many readers. To protect yourself from this, it’s important to ask your subject to explain their concept in plain English. Ask them to assume you know nothing about the topic. This will force them to describe the concept in such a way that maximizes how many people will follow the article.
Almost every blog post you write should have a call to action. Just because someone reads your post, doesn’t mean that they’ll read your site. You have to treat each post as a standalone object. This means including a relevant call to action on almost all posts. For example, if you’re writing an article like I am now about blog interviews, you might include a call to action that offers a free blog writing consultation like the one below (heh).
The next time you set off to write your blog, think about how you can use interviews to add depth, create a stronger argument or add some insight you might not be aware of. With blog interviews, the sky is really the limit. The better yours interviewing skills, the more interesting content you can create.
What blog interview questions have you used successfully?
About the author
Ryan Malone is the founder and Chairman of the Board of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.