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Two Tips on Landing Interviews for Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 6th of January 2009 Writing Content 0 Comments

Last week on Twitter I had a discussion with a number of followers about landing interviews with other bloggers as a way to generate interesting content for your blog. One of the responses I had via a direct message from a follower was:

“I’m too shy to approach big bloggers for an interview – do you have any tips?”

Two ideas come to mind:

1. Don’t just approach ‘big’ bloggers

While many successful bloggers are willing to do interviews you might find you have more success if you target mediums sized blogs initially. While there is nothing wrong with aiming high – some bloggers are more likely to do an interview with you if you can show them a few other interviews you’ve done you might have more success.

2. One question interviews

One of the best ways to get even larger bloggers to respond is to keep your interviews very simple. The fewer the questions and the easier that they are to answer the more likely you are to get a response. Take this to the extreme with a ‘one question interview’ – a single question that is answerable in a few sentences.

You can then present the answers in a couple of ways:

1. As a single post – combine all the answers to the same question in one post. In this way you get a post that is quite long and explores the topic in a variety of ways (hopefully).

2. As a series of posts – I’ve done this a couple of times when going away for a vacation. I present each answer as a single post (or sometimes group shorter ones together) and then drip them out onto the blog over a series of days (here’s an example of the index page to one such series of one question interviews).

Not everyone will respond even to single question interviews but you’ll be surprised how many will.

Further Reading – here’s a post that I’ve previously written with 8 tips on How to Get and Conduct Interviews for Your Blog.

PS: one other point that I feel compelled to make after a day when I had a lot of requests for interviews (for some strange reason they all came at once). The feeling that I came away from most of the requests today with was ‘frustration’. The frustration came from most of the requests simply asking too much.

Over the day I had 6 requests – one of them had two questions and was quite manageable, the other 5 requests had 7, 9, 10, 11 and 15 questions attached. When I reluctantly responded to the one with 9 questions (it took 2 hours to do) the interviewer then wanted to send a series of follow up questions!

While I understand the desire to do comprehensive interviews that go beyond scratching the surface – sending someone a series of 10 or 15 questions is quite overwhelming. Unless the questions are ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type questions a question can take 10-15 minutes to answer if done comprehensively – this adds up when you ask a lot of questions.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Single question interviews are genius. Not everyone has time to spend on a lengthy back and forth, but it takes just as much time to send an answer to a question as it does to say “No, thank you.”

    An excellent strategy is to send single interview questions to many different questions, then post them (per your example in #1) into one well woven article.

  • Interview other bloggers. Never thought of that before.

    Good idea to start with medium sized blogs. Guess we should try to make it as simple as possible for them to complete the interview as this take up their valuable time.

    Is it a good idea if we offer something beneficial to them in return for doing the interview?


  • Great post and some really useful and practical points as always!

    I’m taking exactly this fewer questions approach with a series i’m doing (shameless plug) and i’ve found it works a treat!

    It’s simple for the interviewee to take part in and hopefully they feel that they can spend a little longer on each question than they would if it was a longer interview.

  • I think another important thing to do is to try to ask people things they haven’t been asked 50 times already. Make it interesting for them.

  • Great idea Darren, I used to have a few interviews on my old blog but recently it hasn’t seemed appropriate for my current one. However, it is a good idea for a lot of bloggers and I would love to see more interviews.

    Fellow photographer Dave Cross has done some pretty good interviews similar to how you describe above.

  • Hey Darren good points. I find face-to-face interviews much more fun and interesting to do, but just on your point on interviewers asking too much – maybe then you could create a page, like a FAQ, where you answer all those questions for the people that want to know more?

    I’m someone who’s interested in all aspects of a story, from the beginning and I try to conduct interviews assuming that the viewer/reader doesn’t know anything. Yes, it takes time, yes it’s a lot of work but the other side is, if you don’t have time, don’t do them.

    Like a comment policy on a blog, maybe you need an interview policy so people know in advance how much will be too much?

  • I think the principle you outline, Darren, applies to non-blogger interviewees as well. The top names are very busy, and may not be familiar with blogs and/or their worth. Getting an interview with them is next to impossible.

    It’s better to start with smaller names, up-and-coming people and people who would be interesting to your readers, whatever their prominence in the world. After getting some of this kind of interview under your belt, it might be easier to persuade more famous people to be interviewed.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • I like to ask for example links too. People often respond saying I like when _____ does ____ because _____. Asking them for good examples of _______ makes the article better.

    And ask for a headshot if they have one. Nice to see who you are reading about.

  • Darren,

    I have interviewed many people for both my blog and my book. I must say I would never send an email with 15 questions attached. If I have more than one or two questions, I request a phone interview with a time limit as part of the request. I don’t think the interviewee should have to do all the work for me.

    If you’re looking for responses to a single question, I find LinkedIn Answers the best way to go. I can send the request to people in my LinkedIn network and often get great responses from people who are not in my network as well. I’ve been amazed at the thoughtful responses I’ve gotten from this method. They’ve led to some great blog posts.

  • Another POV on interviews: Carve out a niche, and folks in your field will agree to 1/2 hr phone interviews, which can be done via Skype and recorded and transcribed for posting. See an example here:

  • I have to say it seems a little rude to attach interview questions to an initial interview request. I would suggest making contact first, finding out if the interviewee is interested and has the time, and find out how much of a commitment they are willing to make. Then send the questions.

    Also, to the shy person: What is the worst that can happen? They’ll say no. Who cares? Move on to the next blogger you admire.


  • A chap in the UK is a master of “One Question and One Question Only” Interviews……TUUUUUUUUUUBBBEEESSS :)

    (not sure who’ll get my Tubes reference, but worth a try!) :)

  • As a blogger that will soon be conducting interviews this post is a great resource. Thanks so much for posting and sharing!

  • It seems to me that blogging is not that simple…if you really want to aim HIGH!

  • I’ve experienced some interview, its took me a few days to answer all question.

  • Hi Darren,
    How are you doing. It seems your post frequency has just increased.
    Awesome post up there by you. Frankly speaking I the posts from your guests more because they are more related to what I look for i.e, to talk about making money blogging.
    However, I am one of your biggest fans on earth.
    You must be a very busy person as you are the most money making individual blogger I suppose. Is that true? Because your name is taken by many bloggers in their posts. Sometimes I feel the whole world is your fan but than I realize that my world is blogging thats y I see ur fans everywhere.


  • I would definitely approach of little people. The big guys never want to have interviews and the reason is always that they’re too busy. It is pathetic for them to do this but I guess everyone gets a little arrogant when you’re making all kinds of cash.

  • Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of asking several middle-leve bloggers one question. The same question. It give readers a different viewpoint on several fronts.

  • This is off topic….I’m looking for a post that Darren done a few month ago about stumbleupon…any got it…?

  • Excellent advice Darren. I completely agree with your thoughts as to not overwhelming interviewees. In my own experience in different niche industries – this has been exactly the case. Ask a question or two, and compile a nice, structured article – with those answers inserted. Makes for a good read as well!

  • I am glad that I read this post as I am in the middle of working on an interview. I set up an agreement to interview a very influential person on Linkedin. Our agreement is to do a follow up interview each month. That gives him even more exposure and since he is so popular it links me to him. As his fame grows, hopefully so will my traffic.

    J. Michael Warner
    Genesee Crest Ltd.

  • I think some of the most valuable interviews I have ever done were with the “up and coming” people in certain industries who were just about to “make it”. I guess it’s a bit like investing… you have to pay close attention, and when they get to that point where they’re just about to be crazy popular, you give them a call.

  • @brian is right…..try to ask questions that are relevant but at a different angle. also, ask questions that are important to them. if blogging is the topic then maybe ask about blogging and family. Also, how much does a blogger write about the family and things to think about when opening not only yourself but also your family to cyber world

  • Thanks Darren… Simple is so much better? Since we are on this subject and even though you are a “Really Really Big Blogger” would you be willing to do a one question interview for my blog? It’s just one question… LOL

    Seriously you are one of the three blogs in my google reader that I can rely on for consistently great stuff and great links and info. on Twitter!

  • What a great series of posts on interviews for blogs. I have been thinking about doing this for awhile now and it was great to get some information and tips about it. Thanks.

  • Thank you for sharing this. This is a great advice since I had no idea that less is better for this subject. I will definitely keep this in mind as I am just starting off on this road.

  • I like the idea too of interviewing from small to medium bloggers. This way you can tell the Big Blogger that he’s in your final list (like saving the best for last). Also, by interviewing these people first you are able to check which questions were of good quality. So when you get to Big Blogger, you’re ready with the right questions and of course you get the right answers. :)

    As always, superb post. thanks again.

  • Interviews are great for increasing web traffic. I love reading what other bloggers have to say.

    Conducting an interview with original questions works best too. I bet you get tired of answering the same questions.

  • I think I would prefer a one question interview with a Problogger that a multiple question interview with a medium level blogger.

  • Thank you Darnen for such an cool write up. I think the major proble most bloggers have when it comes to interviewing popular bloggers is fear of rejection. Any one who overcomes this fear will surely be successful with conducting interview with famous bloggers.

  • Interviews would work, like someone said before, if it is interesting and catches your attention, sure why not? You just have to make the effort.

  • Hi, I’ve been thinking for a while I would like to have a few interviews on our blog but haven’t known how to go about it (which is how I came across ProBlogger). Your posts have been a great help in not only giving tips such as the one question interview but also in giving encouragement to just go for it.

    So, thanks for the posts and now it’s just down to me to think of questions and send out a few e-mails – my fingers are crossed!

  • Jon

    Good post, I have done a few interviews already with my blogs and overall, I have found doing them over the phone as the simplest method for all involved. Cut it to 5 or 10 minutes and you are done!

    Jon – Where’s Your Traffic Going?

  • Great article agan, you problogger! haha..

    Thanks for sharing. I asked a few people to interview my blog, as well as my investment program.

    Have a great day!

    Edward Brown

  • Excellent Advice! I am new to blogging with my two blogs but hope to get out there and learn from those who do well with their blogs :-) I love meeting new people so interviews would be great!

  • Darren, besides brevity, I would add that when making a request, use a tone consistent with your blog. I got a request last week that was excruciatingly formal and even called me ma’am but when I visited their site, it was a storm of cussing. I don’t have a problem with either, but I felt that their intro email was misleading, so I would add for those looking to interview bloggers to *be consistent with your tone* because bloggers are quite observant.

  • Hi all of you looking for interviewees …….. if travel is your thing, maybe an interview with me will work for both of us . gets my name out there, a blog for you, and links both ways.

    i have had one interview on a blog .. written by a woman who had attended one of my travel writing workshops.

    cheers from the kiwi travel writer

  • I just concluded my first “big shot” interview. I’m glad I kept it simple and focused. I did a few interviews prior to this one and really find that people respond well to direct and short formats.

    I will continue to follow your blog for many more wonderful ideas as I am new to blogging.



  • I think problogging is becomming more difficult all the time as competition is always increasing. The interview idea is great, because it’s interesting for the reader and it is great content for the search engines.

  • I think most bloggers blog about their respective industries. I usually have good success when I let them know that they don’t have to answer all the questions, but instead pick the ones they feel most comfortable answering.

  • thanks for the tips daren………. interview to be more better

  • Good thing you prefaced with #1 or you might have ended up with a bunch of #2 in your inbox.

  • I definitely agree with the tip #1. This way, you are building your blogging social circle.

  • focus on big bloggers is good but getting more wide networking on blogger more better…..agree, nice tips

  • Great article Darren. I also believe that allowing guest bloggers to write articles for your site can also create additional interest among readers with the different writing styles.

  • It’s funny how different celebrities & bloggers are. I’ve found that with celebrity interviews, most of the celebrities actually like it when people ask them a lot of questions just as long as they’re good ones.

  • Great article.

    Interviews are an excellent way of providing your readership with fresh insight from other sources. At my site, we do question and answer exchanges on a regular basis and at the very least, they are always an informative and entertaining read.

    Incorporating interviews into the endeavors of blogging is a good thing.

  • As a reporter I’ve had no trouble lining up interviews with people for my blog. The biggest hurdle is getting over the fear of asking – don’t let yourself get in the way of yourself – just write the email and hit “send” or pick up the phone. You’d be surprised how many people will say yes.

    One-question interviews are great – but I mainly use them for round-up blog posts. I’ve had great success with this by posting my question in LinkedIn’s Answer section. In my request, I always ID myself as a blogger & explain that I’m soliciting information for a blog post. That way I’m letting anybody who responds know that I could use what they say in the post in case I don’t have time to email them directly.

    Since I interview people for a living, I have often used outtakes from those interviews – which I primarily do by phone – in a blog Q&A. This happened recently when I interviewed Paul Gillian, author of the blog for this blog post: I interviewed him for a magazine piece, then used some of the comments I didn’t use in the piece for a Q&A. It got a tremendous amount of traffic when one of the Websites that he cited in the interviews linked to it from their front page

    Michelle Rafter
    WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

  • this good news, thanks for your tips