Mainstream media publications rely heavily on incorporating influencers and celebrities into their content.
This is because it captures people’s attention, increases the authority of their publication, and drives traffic to their platform.
Here’s the good news:
Running an interview series with industry influencers is a great way to do this for your own blog.
But how do you get started?
In this post, you will learn:
- The benefits of running an interview series on your blog.
- How to find interviewees.
- How to approach influencers and invite them to participate.
- How to research influencers and find questions to ask them.
- The best ways to present your interviews.
Ready? Let’s dive in:
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What are the benefits of an interview blog post?
One of the biggest benefits of interview blog posts that other types of posts don’t offer is the ability for you to establish relationships with top influencers in your niche.
This will lead to a number of additional benefits, such as an increase in the amount of traffic your site receives as the influencers you interview promote the posts to their own audiences. This will also increase your own popularity across all of the social media platforms your interviewees promote your posts to.
This type of post can also increase your credibility with your own audience, especially if you interview popular influencers you know your audience trusts. When they see the collaboration between you and the influencer, their trust in the latter party will be carried over to you, making them more likely to click your affiliate links and purchase your products.
The final benefit we’ll mention is the opportunity interview blog posts offer to you. Collaborating with your competitors allows you to offer solutions for problems your competitors or influencers may be better equipped to solve.
Here’s a quick example. Let’s say you have a blog about blogging with WordPress, but you get a lot of questions about Squarespace. You could deviate from your niche and start publishing reviews and tutorials for Squarespace, or you could save the resources, find a popular Squarespace blogger, and approach them for an interview.
Your audience gets to learn more about a tool they’re curious about, and those who are interested in said tool will use the affiliate link you insert in the interview to try it for themselves. Plus, their audience will be introduced to all of the content you have on blogging.
There are two types of interviewees you should consider approaching. They may even be one and the same.
First, you should approach the top influencers in your niche. This type of post takes a long time to plan and launch. The best way to ensure your efforts are worth it is to approach those with the largest followings in your niche so you can get your name in front of as many people as possible.
The second type of interviewee you should approach are those you feel would benefit your audience best. Think of topics related to your niche that intimidate you or that you feel inadequate to cover. If your competitors cover these topics at length, you may find it more convenient and beneficial to interview them on your blog than to go through the trouble of tackling such topics.
How to find interviewees
Let’s cover four different methods you can use to find influencers in your niche.
Google your niche. Enter “(your niche) + blog” into Google’s search bar, such as “soy candle making blog”. If you use this method and the following method alongside the MozBar browser extension, you have a quick-and-simple way of locating authoritative blogs in your niche.
Some of the links in your results will lead to blog posts that list the top blogs in your niche, which can be an extra way for you to locate influencers.
Just remember that some popular influencers may not have a significant presence in Google. You’ll need to pay attention to other metrics such as social media followers as well.
Google topics related to your niche. Another way to use Google to find influencers is to search for key topics related to your niche. If you want to interview influencers about a specific topic, search for that topic.
Use blogger outreach tools. Blogger outreach tools allow you to find influencers for a particular niche and email them. Many solutions, such as BuzzStream provide an influencer research database with stats to help vet them.
Use a content marketing tool. Content marketing tools provide easy ways to find competitive topics in a particular niche. Many tools, such as BuzzSumo, even go a step further by allowing you to find top influencers based on social authority.
The point of an interview blog post is to leverage the audiences of the most influential members of your niche.
The best influencers to choose for interviews are those who are most likely to share them or link to them.
However, some influencers are so popular that merely mentioning their name in a headline will attract more attention.
So, pay close attention to metrics such as social media followers, YouTube subscribers, email subscribers, number of comments, etc. Even SEO metrics such as estimated traffic and backlinks can be useful here.
Just be sure to prioritize influencers who are active on social media above all.
How to approach influencers for interview blog posts
You should have a decent-sized list of potential interviewees to contact at this point, in order of prioritization. You should also have done a bit of digging to find the best email addresses to use to get in touch with them.
Your efforts in approaching interviewees should begin long before you contact them.
You should start by interacting them. Here are a few examples:
- Follow them on social media
- Like, share, and comment on their posts
- Leave comments on their blog posts
- Subscribe to their personal email newsletters and engage with them
- Share their own content on your social media profiles.
- Mention them in your blog posts (if it is relevant).
This establishes a connection your interviewee will recall when you contact them. Without this connection, your potential interviewee, having no idea who you are, may wind up ignoring your request.
Consider using a blogger outreach tool for this purpose. Ninja Outreach is expensive and better suited for larger businesses and agencies. Tools like BuzzStream and Hunter are great for smaller bloggers. Hunter even has a free forever plan you can use to get started, though you’ll want to upgrade if you have more than 50 interviewees to contact.
Many of these tools even allow you to use templates to automate the process of writing and sending emails. Be careful with these, though.
Templates should only provide a framework for you to work with and should leave plenty of room open for personalization. Essentially, you should not use templates to mass send the same email to each potential interviewee on your list.
One of the reasons BuzzStream is a particularly good fit for this task is that you can set it up in a way that gives you chance to tailor each email before it is sent.
That said, you can easily do this on a smaller scale without using any outreach tool at all.
The proper way to use outreach templates
We’re using Hunter in our screenshots, but if you used BuzzStream or a similar outreach tool to find influencers, use that instead.
Hunter begins your template with a personalized greeting. It says “Hi” followed by the name assigned to your contact’s First Name field. “Hi there” is used instead if this field is blank.
Your template (and every email you create with it) doesn’t need to be long from here on out. It just needs to hit these points:
- Establish who you are
- Let the interviewee know how you know them
- Explain why you’re contacting them
- Give them an easy call to action
With this in mind, you can draw up a template similar to this:
Avoid reaching out to every potential interviewee on your list at once. If you get a few to agree, you can use the completed interviews as examples of influencers who have already agreed to be interviewed for your blog.
A simplified process for outreach
What we’ve talked about up till now if you want to conduct a fairly large number of interviews.
But what if you want to start with a smaller and more select group of influencers?
The good news is that you won’t need to use any tools. The process is simple and results in more meaningful relationships.
Once you know exactly which influencers you want to interview, go and subscribe to their personal email newsletters.
The next step is to engage with them and reply to their newsletters directly. Ask them questions, offer feedback and get to know them as a person.
Once you have exchanged a bunch of emails, casually drop the following line at the bottom of your next email:
“By the way, I’d love to interview you on my blog. Let me know :)”
If you have a large email list or social media following, you may want to work that into the email as well but the key here is to keep things natural.
Researching questions to ask in your interviews
Once an influencer has agreed to an interview, it’s time to enter research mode. The chances of interviewees promoting your post and reaching out to you in the future ride on the way in which you behave in the interview as well as the questions you ask.
We’ll get to the former in a second.
As for questions, it’s best not to ask the same set of questions every other interviewer has asked your influencer. This is especially true if they’ve done a lot of interviews recently.
Read, watch and listen to their latest interviews to avoid this. You don’t need to go too far back as the chances of them remembering a question they were asked a year ago is slim.
Take notes of the questions the interviewer(s) asks as well as the influencer’s responses. You should have already been up to date with the influencer’s blog, podcast and YouTube channel, so there shouldn’t be much to research there. If they have a book or similar project, take the time to research that as well.
Once you’ve done all of your research, start brainstorming questions you may want to ask your interviewee. If they’ve already been asked a question you want to ask, bring up their response to the question, and elaborate on the topic in your own question.
You can brainstorm as many questions as you like, but be sure to cut your final list down to 5 to 15 questions.
Conducting and presenting interviews
If your interviewee wants to be interviewed by email, simply send over your list of questions. You could even send a Google Form or Typeform for them to fill out.
If your interviewee wants to be interviewed over Zoom, Skype or the phone, try to sense their energy at the start of the interview, and match it. A simple “hi, how are you doing today” will suffice.
Ask your first question, and listen intently to your interviewee’s response. Ask follow-up questions if you have any before moving onto your next question.
Be sure to thank them for their time once the interview is over, and let them know when they can expect it to be published.
Presenting an interview blog post
There are a few ways you can present your interview as a blog post:
- Question and answer – A simple copy-and-paste version of the interview where your questions and your interviewee’s responses are published verbatim.
- Question and answer with input – Same as before, but this method has your own thoughts and opinions as well as additional facts sprinkled throughout the article.
- Magazine interview approach – Have you read an interview in a magazine? Sometimes they use the question-and-answer method. Most of the time, however, they’ll find a central topic to focus on (sometimes it’s the interviewee themselves) and write the article around that with anecdotes from the interviewee here and there.
Video based interviews are a good option partly because you can easily turn them into a podcast and transcribe it into a written interview.
This means you can leverage the built-in audiences of even more platforms – YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.
Incorporating influencers into your content strategy is one of the best ways to grow your blog. The web is full of influencer marketing stats to back that up.
Once you publish the interview, send a link to the finished article as well as prominent images you used in it directly to your interviewee.
Other than that, you can market this type of post the same you market all of your posts
The outlier is the way in which you approach subsequent interviewees. With one interview under your belt, you now have a solid way to market yourself to additional interviewees.
Pay close attention to reader comments as well. Go over any complaints and concerns they have, respond to them, and determine how you can avoid them going forward.
Do your best to make every new interview better than the one before it.
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