Do a guest interview on your blog
It can be difficult coming up with content for a blog on a regular basis…so have you considered getting someone else to write it for you?
A guest interview may sound terrifying, but it really doesn’t have to be and the contents can be really interesting and informative for your readers. Just to clarify, I am talking about an actual interview, i.e. you asking someone questions, and not someone writing a guest blog post, which is another possible blog post style (which also involves someone else writing the content for you!). I’ll talk more about this another time.
Let me give you a little guidance on how to put together a guest interview post and show you how easy it can be.
Pick a person
Unsurprisingly, the first task is to consider who you would like to interview. Firstly, consider if there is a ‘set’ of people you would like to interview. This will enable you to do a whole series of guest interview posts. For example, you could interview your staff. You could interview loyal clients. You could interview people similar to you, perhaps other craft people if you have craft-based business. For example, think how it might be interesting to compare a silversmith, with someone who does crochet, with someone who makes candles or clothes or pottery! We’ll talk more about questions below but having the same set of questions for a ‘set of people’ can make it really interesting to compare and gives you lots of extra ideas to write up a comparison post discussing the similarities and differences. Furthermore, you can offer to link to their website and/or social media platforms in return, and, with any luck, they will also advertise the interview in a social media post, in a newsletter or on their website, which will also market you to another audience.
Whether you have a set of people or not, do not just come up with one name! As lovely and helpful as people can be, everyone is busy and so you may need to ask a few people before you get an affirmative answer. Furthermore, you may get a ‘yes’, but then it takes them a while to actually complete the interview, so again it is always worth asking two or three people. There is no harm in having more interviews than expected after all!
Decide how you are going to approach the person, i.e. phone, email, in person, and also if you are going to offer anything in return (or if it is even necessary).
Pick a purpose
As with any blog post, I think it needs to have a clear purpose. What is your goal for the post? What are you trying to share with your readers? What messages would you like to convey?
I think an interview with a client is often a good way to share with new customers how a product or service might benefit them too. Whilst you may have said it on your website or in a social media post, there is nothing like a ‘real-life customer’ telling you: “this product is great and here’s how it worked for me,” It’s like a 5* review, but enables the happy customer to give more detail, perhaps more history and more context around why they feel this way about you, your product and/or service.
If you have a number of staff, I think a guest interview with each of them can be a nice introduction to your readers and clients to the ‘behind the scenes’ working of your business. If they happen to contact you and speak to a member of staff, they will feel familiar with them already. It can also show the depth and breadth of your business – in terms of experiences, backgrounds and areas of expertise. Interviewing suppliers can work in a similar way. It also shows the relationships you have and lengths you go to, to ensure you are working with good quality, trustworthy and selected people (hopefully!).
If you decide to interview some fellow professionals, again ensure you consider your purpose. I think a little ‘compare and contrasting’ can work well; sharing difficulties and successes. With your wrap around text (see below), it will also highlight your depth of knowledge and expertise; showing that not only do you know about your own area of business but you take the effort to get to know others across the field.
Whatever your purpose, make sure it is clear and defined. Getting a guest interviewer can be time consuming, so be clear about what you are trying to achieve and why. Oh and don’t be confined to being too ‘sales-y’ / review-style – people don’t just want to read about how wonderful your interviewer thinks you or your business are, they will want to learn something!
Write the interview questions
In order to write the interview questions, you firstly need to decide if you are going to actually talk with someone (face-to-face or over the phone) or whether you are simply going to email them some questions, in a Word document, which they can type answers to in their own time and return to you.
If you are going to speak to someone, I would recommend writing at least 10 questions. It is amazing how when speaking with someone you can rattle through questions quite quickly, especially if their answers are short. You may not ask all of the questions in the end, but it is better to have a few up your sleeve. Also, decide whether you are going to record the session and type it up afterwards or if you are going to make notes and write it up. Both of these can take longer than you think, so just be prepared for that. Consider how you are going to edit it into written format too, to ensure it is a true reflection of the original interview, as well as an interesting read and easy to follow.
I noted at the top that guest interview blogs can be easier than you think…and this is where simply sending a list of questions to someone applies. I think the answers people give can often be more interesting and revealing because they have had time to consider your questions and then consider their response. I would suggest only 5 questions are necessary, as you don’t want to scare people off when they open the document! As well as the question itself, I would recommend some guidance as to the answer you expect. Not examples, as this can be too accidentally persuasive, but perhaps some explanatory text or further ‘sub-questions’ under the main question to help the interviewee understand the level of detail you would like.
Importantly for both types of interviews, in the majority, make sure your questions are ‘open questions’ not ‘closed questions’. Closed questions are those that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. For example, “Do you like my logo?”; “Are my opening hours suitable?”
Open questions generally start with ‘what…’, ‘why….’, ‘where…’ ‘when…’ or ‘how…’ They invite description and discussion. If you really can’t get away from asking a closed question, consider if you can then ask ‘why’ to encourage your interviewee to explain their ‘yes or no’ answer.
Get the interview
Once you have written the questions and you are happy with them, send them to your interviewer or agree a time to carry out the interview. Ensure you are very clear what you are going to do with the content and how and where it will be published. Do let your interviewee know that you may need to do a little editing, not changing the sense of what was originally said, but you want to have the ability to correct spelling or make it flow a little better if necessary, so that it is a good quality blog post.
If you are sending a list of questions to be completed, then try to agree a return date.
Finally, request a photograph (or take one whilst doing the interview) to accompany the blog post. It is nice to put a face to a name!
Edit the interview
If you have carried out a spoken interview, then you will need to type up the answers and edit accordingly.
If the interviewee has written answers to your questions, you will want to thoroughly read through the answers and edit, if necessary.
Take the time to write some ‘wrap around text’ – a short introduction explaining a little about what the guest interview blog post is about and who the interviewee is. If they have a business (that is relevant) it is nice to offer to link to their webpage here too.
Also write up a summary or concluding paragraph, perhaps including a thank you to the interviewee for their time and participation. You could invite others to be interviewed, if applicable
Then, I highly recommend sending this ‘finalised’ version of the post back to the interviewee for their approval and getting something in writing which states that they agree it is a true representation of what they said and that they are happy with the wrap around text and anything it may imply. I would state again exactly where and when it will be published (and share the link!). Keep this on record.
Publish the interview
As with any other blog post – COPE – ‘create once, promote everywhere’!
Make sure you encourage your interviewee to tell friends, family and clients about it too, ideally sharing the link via social media… this will hopefully lead to lots more traffic to your blog!
You can also tag the person themselves in your own social media post (if they are happy for you to do so).
…then get started on your next one!
I enjoy doing guest interviews and have done them on a couple of blogs and also as features in newsletters, that I have worked on. They are often very effective for engagement. Let me know how you find it once you have done one. If you have any further questions, then get in touch.