Blogging is a great way to share your expertise and get online attention for your small business. That’s true whether you run a clothing shop, a travel agency, or a software development company. In your blog, your voice should reign supreme. However, bringing others in as guest bloggers or interviewees can spice up your content and add a new layer of usefulness to your readers.
If you’ve never conducted an interview, that’s okay. Your shared interest with your interviewee is a great starting point. Here are some additional tips for ensuring a successful chat that will help you weave some new knowledge into your blog.
Know Your Audience
Before you decide who to invite for an interview, be sure you have a good understanding of what your audience wants to know. Then, when you’re preparing for the talk and during the interview itself, keep your readers in mind to know what to ask. For example, if your topic is fashion, know whether your readers are most interested in trends, practicality, or cost.
You can even ask your readers for their feedback. Create a blog post asking who in your industry they’d like to hear from, or what topics they want you to explore. Then you can seek out experts who match those requests.
Narrow the Topic
Keeping with the fashion blogger example, say your readers’ feedback says they want to know how to build a capsule wardrobe for work. Now your topic is narrower than general “fashion” or even “work attire.” You can look for an expert on a specific topic.
When you’ve settled on a topic, do your own research on it. Of course, you want to hear what the expert has to say, and so do your readers. But learn enough about it to be able to pose intelligent questions. Look for challenges within the topic and prepare to ask the interviewee how they can be solved.
Get Someone Reputable
Now that you have a good idea of the interviewee you want to recruit, look for someone reputable. Don’t just agree to interview the cousin of someone you meet at a party. Check out their credentials. Go to their website, social media accounts, or blog. Do a pre-interview to make sure they can speak intelligently about the topic you want to ask them about.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Start with the journalism 5 Ws and 1 H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. For example:
- What is a capsule wardrobe and what are its benefits?
- Who can benefit most from a capsule wardrobe for work?
- Where can someone go to build a capsule wardrobe?
- When is the best time to shop for capsule pieces?
- Why is a capsule wardrobe useful?
- How do you plan a capsule wardrobe?
Send your questions to the interviewee in advance. You can even have them respond via email if they’re more comfortable with that. Know that if you conduct the interview in person, via phone or video call, you’ll be asking follow-up questions too.
Find New Directions
If it’s a speaking interview, watch for places in the conversation to veer off on a tangent. For example, say you ask your capsule wardrobe expert, “Why is a capsule wardrobe useful?” and they respond, “For one thing, it can help you define your personal style.” You might take the opportunity to launch into a side conversation about personal style and its importance in making clothes buying decisions.
Just be sure that, if you do veer off into a tangent, you bring the conversation back to your planned questions. Remember, the interviewee will be following your lead, so always lead them to the information your readers want to know.
Ask Follow-Up Questions
An interview doesn’t have to be just questions and answers. It can be more of a conversation, as though you were talking to a friend about a mutual interest. For example, say you ask, “What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?” and your interviewee responds, “It eliminates clutter, cuts down on decision-making, and is better for the environment.” You could respond, “How is it better for the environment?”
Sometimes the best responses from an interview come from those follow-up questions. This is particularly true if your interviewee is a little shy. You may need to continue to ask questions before they tell you the most valuable stuff.
Ready for something new in your blog? Interviewing a guest is a great way to give your readers a different voice, some new ideas, and perhaps a different angle on your usual topic. Interviewing isn’t hard but it does require some thought and preparation. Use the suggestions above to get the best information when you interview a guest for your blog.