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Six Benefits of Interview-style Blog Posts

By: Guest | March 18, 2013 | 
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Today’s guest post is by Unmana Datta.

I’ve always felt interview-style blog posts are a great way to create content for a business site.

But I’d only taken advantage of them in an ad hoc way until a few months ago, when I started a regular interview series on my business blog.

Based on my experience, I wanted to share with you the top six reasons – and benefits –  to starting your own series of interview-style posts.

Six Benefits of Interview-style Blog Posts

1. Getting relevant content easily

For a blogger, content you don’t have to write yourself is such an attractive proposition!

By interviewing a marketing expert or entrepreneur I admire, I get great, relevant content on marketing and entrepreneurship.

Wait – easy is relative. What with asking people for interviews, sending them questions, editing the interview, it is a bit of work. If it’s a video interview, you have to prepare, have the actual interview (and even go to meet the person you’re interviewing), and maybe edit (which I haven’t done), or transcribe (which I did, and takes longer than you’d think!).

So let me put it this way – it’s a different way of getting relevant content than writing it yourself.

2. Repurposing content

You can use content from interviews to create more posts. For example, I ask each person I interview to name their favorite marketing blogs. Then I can round up the answers and write a new post. If you interview florists, for example, and one of the questions you ask is about how to get cut roses to last longer, you can create a whole new post with tips for making roses last from florists.

3. Learning from others’ experiences

When I interview people about being an entrepreneur, the answers were invaluable. Gini Dietrich herself scared me with her caution about cash. Sally McGraw inspired me with, “Overnight success is probably the exception, not the rule.” I have learned so much from each person I’ve interviewed, and my readers gained information I couldn’t have shared with them!

This is especially relevant if you’re managing a blog in an industry where you don’t have experience. In my last job, I started and managed the blog, but I wasn’t a business expert. So I interviewed other employees or clients to get the kind of content I needed.

4. Building relationships

Okay, this is a little sneaky. But I’m a big fan of everyone I’ve interviewed, and I wouldn’t have dared to approach Rand Fishkin or Anita Campbell to say “Hey, you’re so cool! Can I talk to you?” But – while it’s more or less the same thing – it seems more acceptable to ask if I can interview them for my blog and then ask them what makes them so cool. I’m amazed at the wonderful people I’ve been able to “meet” because of this.

5. Reaching new audiences

Usually the person you interview will share the interview with their networks. I wouldn’t count on this, but it’s a nice bonus when it happens.

6. Search Engine Optimization

If number five happens, you get good backlinks as well! But even apart from that, if you ask relevant questions and get good answers, you have keyword-rich content.

Pro Tips

Before you start, lay down some ground rules:

  • Who are you going to interview? What are the criteria for someone to get interviewed on your blog? I look for marketing or content stories – someone who’s built a business from a blog, or a marketing expert I admire, or a reputed entrepreneur in the marketing industry.
  • What will you talk about? I change the questions a bit for each person, but overall, I want to learn how the person I’m interviewing made it, what challenges they faced, and how they approach marketing. Because I’m interested in social media, marketing metrics, and productivity tools, I’ll also ask about that. But it all ties into the overall theme of marketing and entrepreneurship, because our audience is small-business and startup owners.
  • How often will you do this? If you can have a fixed schedule, that’s great. But decide on how often you want to do this ideally, and it might take you a few tries to figure out how often you can do this (based on the time you need to spend, how long it takes for people to respond, and so on). What should be the mix of interview posts with other content on your blog?

One last tip: Ask interesting questions. You can define interesting any way you like (I defined it as interesting to me, and embarked on it as a totally self-indulgent exercise!). Just don’t ask the same questions as everyone else, the same questions some of these people might have answered a dozen times already. Give it your own spin (pun intended!)

Unmana Datta works with small businesses to help them improve their marketing. She writes about marketing on the Better Marketing blog. 

54 comments
Unmana
Unmana

@shonali Thank you! I'm so thrilled you retweeted my post :)

Jerry Nihen
Jerry Nihen

I love this article. It's a simple technique, yet not something that many people think of. I'll definitely have to try this out!

 

I'd like to emphasize how important the last tip is (as others have mentioned) about the "Interesting Questions" part. I played in bands and was involved heavily in music for a while, and have been on the receiving end of some really pointless interviews. Not only is it boring to answer the same question over and over again, it makes the interview forgettable, and the relationship useless.

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

And watch Charlie Rose! Just by osmosis alone you'll learn about good interviewing

 

I like your point about asking interesting questions...it's important not to ask questions that you *think* are important but ones that matter to you. So, instead of "What's your favorite new product coming out this year Mr. Zuckerberg?" try "What's one thing that happened in the office last week that made you bust up laughing?"

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

Agree, this is a great post Unmana! Love the tips and advice. Interviews are "easy" but they are a lot of work! I don't think your readers understand how long it takes to transcribe and edit an interview unless they've done it themselves.

Unmana Datta
Unmana Datta

 @Jerry Nihen Thanks, Jerry. I think as long as you approach it as "I'm doing this because I think this is fascinating and I want to learn how this person does it" as opposed to "This is a job and here is my list of questions", the interesting part gets accounted for. And of course a little Googling, to see what the interviewee has said about him/herself in other interviewees, and take on from there instead of going over the same ground.

Unmana Datta
Unmana Datta

 @JoeCardillo True. One question I ask often is "What do you hate doing but have to do in your work?" Some people say "nothing", but sometimes you get an interesting answer!

LouHoffman
LouHoffman

 @yvettepistorio That's true although the short cut of asking the person to answer via email does save time. Then, the writing is akin to shaping clay. On the other hand, this approach doesn't allow you to probe a question on-the-fly which can lead to content gold.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Unmana I feel ... different. Instead of being all stuffed up, I'm super dry. Hopefully this is the end of it.

Unmana Datta
Unmana Datta

 @LouHoffman  @yvettepistorio Agree with you both! Email interviews are much easier, of course. But live interviews are so much fun (though a lot of work, as you say). 

JMutzke
JMutzke

@Unmana Thanks for the feedback. I've wondered about that myself. The fonts prevent it from looking "clean." I'll try to address it. Thks!!

Unmana
Unmana

@JMutzke Looks very good -- best of luck! This is just me, but I find the different colored text and italics a little distracting.

Unmana
Unmana

@ginidietrich I'm the reverse. I do seem to keep spraining my ankles though, but I haven't broken a bone yet!

Unmana
Unmana

@ginidietrich Hope so. Best of luck. Let me add, one sick day in eight years is an awe-inspiring record.

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