- Their work has to focus on the right niche – Your interviews must be related to your blog’s main topic.
- They need to be known in your industry – Your readers need to be interested in what interviewees have to say.
- They need to be approachable – People who are responsive to fans on social medias are more likely to be responsive to you.
Create your own list of interviewee essentials, starting with the factors mentioned above. Other factors to consider include the interviewee’s primary social media channels, their audience size, and their overall brand.
You’ll probably get a few ideas for your initial interviewees as you outline your mandatory criteria. Write these names down in a separate document as you go. You’ll use them to complete the next step of the process:
Create a list of potential interviewees
Now that you understand what you’re looking for, it’s time to find specific people to feature. Some people won’t respond, so it’s important to create a list, even if you’re only doing one interview. A good rule of thumb is to have at least twice as many potential interviewees as necessary. If you get more interviews, great, but if you only get responses from half the people, you’ll still have everything you need.
How do you find those names? There are two main strategies you can use when you’re starting out: brainstorming and searching through social media.
Chances are pretty high that you already know (or know of) some great candidates for blog interviews. You’ve noticed, consciously or not, names that come up time and time again in your industry.
These are the best people to start with for two reasons. First, you can authentically say you’re familiar with their work, and a genuine compliment makes them more inclined to help you. Second, if you’ve already heard of them, they’re important enough to be worth interviewing.
So grab a timer, open a notebook or Word document, and brainstorm names for 5-10 minutes. You’ll eventually want to track interview candidates in a spreadsheet, but blank notebooks/Word documents encourage your mind to think more freely.
Don’t think too hard about these names, and don’t start crossing people out. You want to get as many names as possible — you can narrow the list down later.
Social media is an ideal tool for finding people who are both interesting and influential enough to make excellent interview candidates. One glance at a person’s social media profiles can tell you how big their audience is, why they’ve attracted that audience, and how responsive they are to that audience.
There are several ways you can do this, depending on your preferred social media networks:
- Watch popular hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, paying special attention to people whose posts are regularly listed in the “Top” category
- Check out Twitter chats relevant to your industry. Note who runs the chats and any special guests they have
- Search for popular YouTube channels related to your niche. Add the creators, and any special guests, to your list
- Take note of people featured on top blogs and podcasts in your industry
- Take a look at the top LinkedIn publishers who write about topics relevant to your audience
- Ask your social media audience for suggestions
Once your interview series is established you’ll also be able to put out calls for interview subjects on your social media, but this isn’t a great tactic for beginners. Most of the people worth interviewing are sought out by media outlets on a regular basis. They won’t come to you unless they know who you are – and think your blog is worth the time.
How to approach people about blog interviews
Creating your list of potential interviewees was the easy part. Actually reaching out to these people can be nerve-wracking, especially if they’re people you admire. But it doesn’t have to be. Remember, you’re inviting them to come talk about their work on your platform. They’ll be flattered that you thought of them, even if they can’t do the interview.
How to write interview requests
Your request should be as short and succinct as possible. There are four pieces of information you absolutely need to include:
- Who you are
- How you know who the interview candidate is
- Why you’re reaching out to them
- How they can move forward with the interview process
You can simplify this process by creating an interview request template. This is the template I used for interviews on my author blog:
This template works for a few different reasons:
- The recipient sees who I am immediately
- It shows that I’m familiar with their work, and pay them a compliment
- It includes specific details about the interview, so candidates can make an informed decision
- It explains exactly how to respond if they’re interested in the interview
You’ll need to change the details, but you can use a similar format for your own requests.
Approaching interview candidates via Twitter
Twitter is actually where the team found most of the participants in the ThemeIsle series of blog interviews, but it requires a slightly different approach.
First of all, you want to make sure you’re following them on Twitter before you reach out. This marks you as a fan, giving the interview candidate more reason to respond.
You also need to change your approach on Twitter. Your initial request should only include two pieces of information:
- Why you’re approaching this person
- How to respond if they’re interested in the interview
Who you are is already visible on Twitter; if they want to know more, they can check out your profile. Since you’re already following them, they can also assume that’s how you know them.
How to conduct an interview for your blog
Now that you’ve found some people willing to be interviewed for your blog, it’s time to get through the interviews themselves.
Follow these five steps to ensure a great interview:
1. Prepare the questions
The questions you ask can make or break an interview, so you want to choose the right ones.