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Asking for interviews - hints and tips 

Getting an interview with an industry leader or celebrity in your field can help drive a ton of traffic to your site, not just through search engines, but general social bookmarking buzz.

If you're wanting to interview others, here's a few tips for getting noticed and your questions answered.

Email, don't call

Industry experts and celebrities are busy folks, always doing something. If you call at a particularly bad moment, you're likely to have the door shut in your face. Send them an email instead, with "request for interview" in the subject line.

"What's in it for me"

Bearing in mind their time restrictions, make your introduction brief - who you are, who your site caters to. If there's something specific about your site that you feel the person may be particularly interested in, such as good traffic levels, a product or service of theirs you are actively promoting, make mention of that - anything that will appeal to their WIIFM (What's In It For Me) trigger.


Be uber-polite, but not to the point of groveling. Unless you're a journalist with the New York Times or have a high-ranking, massive traffic site; bear in mind it's the interviewee doing you a big favor, not the other way around. 


Don't give a deadline of just a couple of days. The person you're approaching may be very busy - plan a couple of weeks ahead and be prepared that it may be months before you'll be able to get in their ear


Ask simple, clear questions. By this I don't mean yes or no answers, but questions that are open enough to be answered briefly or at length. Be concise in your questions in that the interviewee doesn't need to waste time trying to understand what it is you are actually asking.

Send all your questions the first time. If you've been fortunate enough to grab the person's attention, don't think that gives you license to keep asking questions with the expectation of an answer. Give your questions a ton of thought, because there may be no opportunity for follow up.

Send a maximum of 5 questions. I've received some interview requests that looked like exams and felt like interrogations. If you do need to ask more questions, in your request be really clear that the interviewee is free to answer as many as they can, rather than feel obligated to. A partially completed interview is better than none at all.

Follow up

If you do get a response, be sure to thank the interviewee. Follow up with the person when the interview is published with the URL. I deal with a lot of mainstream press journalists who'll ask me questions, I'll respond and then hear nothing back until a reader says "I saw the article mentioning you in X last week". Again, journalists from big circulation publications can get away with that sort of thing; the rest of us need to be especially courteous :)

Ongoing involvement

If the interview takes the form of a blog or forum post; let the interviewee know that there may be responses from your readers that he/she may wish to monitor and respond to. 

A series of interviews can inject fresh life into your site, attracting new visitors and can certainly help increase stickiness, best of all, it only costs you a little bit of time and thought. Give it a whirl!

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.

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