How to Get Expert Consulting AND Killer Content for Your Site for Free

  • June 9, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 14 Comments

Get Expert Consulting AND Killer Content for Your Site for Free

Imagine getting a highly-paid expert to spend an hour with you on the phone to solve your biggest problems… for free. Then, imagine turning the results of that consultation into killer content for your own site that your readers devour and share like crazy.

Imagine that the expert not only does all of this for free, but that he or she also helps you promote the content you created from the interview.

Then, what if you could also give back to the expert, introducing them to a whole new audience? Imagine making friends with this “a-lister” and forming a mutually-beneficial relationship that helps make both of your businesses stronger over the coming months and years.

This isn’t fantasy or a lucky break. I’m talking about something you can easily do over-and-over again, improving your business or life and helping your audience and the expert at the same time.

Any guesses?

I’m talking about interviews.

Entire sites have been created solely based on interviews. There’s no question interviews can be a powerful type of content. Check out Mixergy for example. Andrew Warner has built an amazing wealth of information from interviews into a very popular site over there.

An interview is an excellent way for you and your audience to get answers to tough questions that only an expert could answer.

In your interview, you can ask questions that you really want to know the answers to. People pay hundreds per hour for consulting with experts, so make the most of your “free” consulting time.

In addition to the consulting, great content, extra promotion and long-term relationships that can come out of interviews, they can also take a lot of pressure off of you.

If you’re trying to become a trusted authority at your site or blog, trying to constantly develop and share expertise can be challenging. By interviewing other experts, you can take some of the pressure off of yourself to constantly provide great information.

5 Steps to a Stellar Interview

Have you done any interviews before? Interviews can be as magical as I described, but there are some things you need to do to make the magic happen.

  1. Reach out to experts you really respect and want to learn from, not just people you think will attract new visitors.
  2. Ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answers to. Get “in the moment” and interact with your expert naturally. If you worry about what your readers will think you won’t get the really juicy details that matter.
  3. Be sure to find out what the expert might be currently promoting before the interview. Ask the expert about that book/product/service or whatever in your interview, naturally, in the context of your discussion. This will help you form a bond with the expert and make them happy for the promotion. Also make sure to link to the expert’s site and include a bio.
  4. Package the interview well. Don’t just slap up an audio file on your blog. Audio takes a ton of time to listen to and doesn’t lead the listener well. Take notes of your interview and create a list of highlights and times at which they occur. Have a transcript made as well for people who don’t want to listen.
  5. Promote the interview and thank the expert publicly (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for doing the interview. Send the expert a quick email letting him know when the interview is published.

A Couple of Things to Watch Out For

If you put in the effort and do most of the things I suggested, your interviews will deliver lots of benefits. However, if you cut corners, you can end up wasting your time, the expert’s time and turning off your readers.

Here are a couple of things to watch out for:

  1. Beware of creating “fluff” interviews, just because the expert is a big name in your niche or field. Don’t be intimidated by someone’s status, and don’t expect that just because someone is well known your interview will attract a big audience. You need to shape the content of the interview, and the content is ultimately up to you and your questions.
  2. If your first interview isn’t a hit, don’t be discouraged. Experiment and learn from your trials. Try different formats, lengths, topics, etc. and give interviews at least a few tries to work.

Check Out My Interview with BlogCastFM (and win a one-on-one hour of consulting time with me)

Speaking of interviews, Srini interviewed me over at BlogcastFM on the topics of blogging and building traffic. To help Srini promote the interview, I’m giving away an hour of consulting time to one reader. Head over there and check out the interview for your chance to win.

Bonus tip: boost the promotion of your own interviews by asking your interviewee to provide a giveaway along with the interview.

What is your experience with interviews? Have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments! If you have any questions, just ask. I’m happy to answer them.

photo by prosto photos

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Karol Gajda June 9, 2010 at 8:57 am

I knew what this article was about based on headline alone (and based on previous conversations with you, haha).

#2 is good: ask questions you genuinely want the answers to. Another idea is also to ask your audience for some questions to ask the expert.

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 9:16 am

Ha ha, it’s funny how so much from those little conversations become blog posts, isn’t it?

So yeah, excellent addition, Karol. Getting your audience to provide questions will engage them even more, and help you to create some great content out of the interview.

David Crandall June 9, 2010 at 9:08 am

This is really useful for me! I’m about to start pushing myself to do video and naturally want to incorporate interviews in with that. You put out some really good tips that I can assure you I will keep in mind as I start doing this!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

Awesome, David. Let us know how the video interviews go for you. Not to many people are doing interviews over video, and it seems like an untapped opportunity.

Everett Bogue June 9, 2010 at 9:41 am

This is an amazingly helpful post Corbett. We’ve talked about this before, but this was my #1 strategy that I continue to use when building content for my blog.

Here are a few things that can be helpful, in addition to what you mentioned.

1. Take an opportunity to use an affiliate link on the Interview to products that the interviewee has published. This generates revenue for your site, and enables you to support your work financially.

2. Interview people with large followings. One of the biggest interviews I ever did was with Leo Babauta during the first few weeks of my blog. I was terrified when I asked him, but he said yes. To date, it’s still one of the most popular stories on my blog. Don’t be afraid to ask people who seem inaccessible. Why? Because they’ll probably say yes, and if they don’t, no harm done.

More importantly, asking for an interview puts you on their radar.

Now that I have a large following, I’ve found that I always have time for interviews. The reason for this is simple: interviews help everyone. They build great content for your blog, they lead to more exposure for the interviewee’s blog.

Every time I get an interview request, I can’t help but say yes.

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hey Ev, thanks for the bonus tips!

I love your idea of including an affiliate link. That is a great way to “dip your toe in the water” with affiliate marketing, without worrying about being overly promotional or “sales-y.”

You’re absolutely right about how most people (even big names) will have a hard time saying “no” to an interview. With my first couple months of blogging, I interviewed both Chris Brogan and Chris Guillebeau, two people I couldn’t have imagined would actually say yes to my request.

Mars Dorian June 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

So simple but true,

I have started doing this recently, Corbett, and it’s working like magic – both ways. Always when I want to know some valuable info, I ask the digital maverick for his opinion. It’s about time someone put the message out there ;)

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks for the validation, and I’m glad this technique is working for you too!

Heather Villa June 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

Super Post!
This is something that takes a simple email, tweet, or facebook message to start the ball rolling on and it can provide you with OUTSTANDING results! And the best part is – it’s F R E E

My experience in Listening to a CRAPPY Interview: (names have not been used to protect the innocent)

I will say that I had recently listened to an interview in which a not so well know blogger interviewed a super-social media big name A-lister. I was excited to listen to the interview so I followed the link to it from the A-lister’s blog. So I got to the ‘interviewer’s’ blog and began to play the audio. It sucked. Not just a little bit – but it sucked so bad that I actually wanted to tell the A-lister to remove their plug for that ‘interviewer’ because, well, it was just really that bad!.
Through out the interview the interviewer asked the A-lister questions and after the questions were answered instead of further pursuing details, elaborations, etc. they replied with “hmmmm, ok, yeah” There was actually a point in which the A-lister had to correct the interviewer with terminology that kept being used because it was incorrect.

You know, I could probably write an entire post about it!
Nonetheless – this is a really great thing to do if you sit down and plan out your questions etc – maybe discuss the format with the person you interview to prevent a catastrophic failure of a post!

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Yeah Heather, I love how easy it is to get the ball rolling on interviews. Lots of people are actually preferring Twitter for communications these days, so you can often get the interview process started in 140 characters or less.

Ugg, I hate crappy interviews too! And I think you’re right, it usually comes down to how engaged the interviewer is. If they’re just following a pre-defined script and not digging in to the important parts, listeners are just going to feel unsatisfied (or in your case maybe even a little angry about it).

Srinivas Rao June 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

Corbett,

Thanks for the shoutout and the interview. As you can imagine I have plenty to say on this subject since I’ve done over 60 interviews at this point. It’s definitely a learning process and a skill that you refine with time. One of the biggest things that I sucked at when I first started was listening. So, it would throw the flow off the interview. Once you become really focused on listening to what the blogger is telling you, the rest is like clockwork. I have three questions that I ask in an interview which are prepared before hand and the rest is basically on the fly. The reason I’m able to do this is because I use those questions to give a basic structure, but all the rest of the questions that I build into an interview are actually based on the answers that a person gives me.

Everett’s points above are spot on. Interviews do help everyone. They help the listeners, they help the interviewer, and they help the interviewee. Without giving it all away since i”ll probably be sending a guest post about this is the idea of providing an incentive to every touch point. An interview has multiple touch points: the interviewer, the interviewee, and the audiences of both bloggers. If you can figure out a way (which I’ll talk about in the guest post) to provide value at every touch point, then you can really do some great stuff with the interview.

One thing I would say is not just to interview the people with the biggest followings. To our own surprise some of our most popular interviews have been with lesser known bloggers. In fact the idea for BlogcastFM started based on a weekly series called Interviews with Up and coming Bloggers. Some of those people (i.e Kelly Diels,) are actually now quite famous.

Corbett Barr June 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Awesome, Srini. Thanks again for posting the interview, and I look forward to that guest post you mentioned here.

Great point about the up-and-coming interviews. Sometimes you just really know when someone is going to be a hit, and exposing them to your audience early is really helpful to everyone.

Adele February 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hi Corbett,

Just discovered your site yesterday and have been immersed in it for hours. I’ve been forwarding links to friends. Wicked content and I appreciate your common sense appoach to building a successful online business.

p.s. Thanks for the mixergy link too – just the sort of thing I was craving!

David Crandall June 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

I’ll totally keep you in the loop on this. I’m still a little nervous about it, but was encouraged by Everett’s comment below.

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