How to Use Interviews to Increase Traffic to Your Blog

  • July 8, 2010 by Guest Writer
  • 31 Comments

How interviews can increase traffic to your blog

Guest post by Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM

As somebody who runs a site on which the only content is interviews with bloggers, I’m a big believer in the power of interviews to generate traffic to a blog. BlogcastFM was the byproduct of a weekly series called Interviews With up and Coming Bloggers I ran on my personal blog for about three months.

One of the major reasons we launched BlogcastFM was because I noticed a significant spike in traffic every single time I did an interview.

How to Select Interviewees

Depending on the topic of your blog, there could be hundreds or thousands of great people out there to interview. What I look for above all is somebody who has an interesting story. If you’re interviewing other bloggers, there are plenty of people with lots of subscribers and lots of traffic. But if they have an interesting story it makes the interview so much more engaging for the listeners.

With that in mind, let’s look at the different kinds of bloggers you might want to consider interviewing.

  • A-listers: A-listers are an interesting bunch. After all they are the most successful people in the game. The truth is they are no different than you or me. They just have more traffic, subscribers, and have been doing this a little longer.

    One good thing about interviewing the A-listers is that they have a substantial following. Most people are interested in hearing from them since they are often the ones we look to as thought leaders.If they promote your interview, then you’ll definitely get a nice spike in traffic.

    On the flip side of this you have to consider the fact that many of these a-listers have been interviewed multiple times and the interview that you do with them might be a small blip on the radar of everything they are working on.

    I’ve interviewed thought leaders and people who are relatively well known who don’t end up promoting the interview I did with them. It’s no fault of their own. The fact is I’m probably one of 100 things on their radar each day, which takes me to the next group of people.

  • Up and Coming Bloggers: Up and coming bloggers are a goldmine for interviews. Keep in mind that up and coming bloggers are not going to be up and coming forever. Some will eventually be big.

    When I interviewed Kelly Diels she had 100 RSS readers. Today she makes her living as a blogger. I’m also fortunate to have established a relationship with her because of the fact that she wasn’t well known when I interviewed her.

    The other thing that up and coming bloggers will do is be much more likely to promote your interview. Given that they are in the “up and coming” category, they know that an interview is a great opportunity generate buzz.

  • Early Stage Bloggers: Early stage bloggers often don’t get the respect that many of them deserve. One of the great things about them is that they are probably the easiest people to form relationships with and could even lead you to your first joint venture.

    The great thing with early stage bloggers is they are looking for opportunities to connect with people. In fact, even if you are somewhat more established it’s the perfect opportunity to bring somebody into the limelight, and believe me, people don’t forget things like that.

How to Leverage an Interview to Increase Traffic

I want to talk about a concept that I call “provide an incentive to every touch point.” One of the things to know about an interview is that in its very nature, it has the potential to go viral. An interview has more touch points than a typical blog post. Let’s dissect this a bit.

The 3 Touch Points of an Interview

  • Interviewee: When we started BlogcastFM, the thinking was that marketing was built into the business model. The fact is that the interviewee is more than likely to promote the interview through retweets, a post on his or her blog, or some other method.

    Despite interviewing some fairly big bloggers, I started to notice that the interviews were not getting as many tweets as I thought they would or page views. So, I started to rethink the strategy a bit and realized that I had missed the boat on two other touch points.

  • Your Readers/Listeners: For your readers/listeners the most important thing you can do is provide value. With all the feedback we had received I was fairly confident we had accomplished that goal. But, I hadn’t given the readers/listeners an incentive to share the interview with their followers.
  • The Readers/Listeners of the Interviewee: This is another group of people that your interview will likely come in contact with. Chances are they also a significantly bigger group than your readers/listeners. So, it would really be in your best interest to make sure they have an incentive to promote the interview as well.

The Incentive

In my recent interview with Corbett, I asked him if he would be willing to giveaway something as a part of the interview. I have found that having people I interview giveaway an ebook or other product/service tends to build a significantly higher buzz about the interview and in some cases even sales of the the interviewee’s product.

The Benefits of Audio Based Interviews

  • Authenticity: About 7 months ago I started to realize how multimedia content can enhance the authenticity of relationships. Almost every person I have a relationship in the blogosphere is somebody I’ve interviewed.

    The thing that audio content gives you is a dynamic and engaging conversation. It’s as close to how we would interact in real life as you could get in the online world so naturally it will increase the depth of your relationship with somebody. When Nathan Hangen came to visit LA, we went to a bar and had drinks and it was as if we’d already known each other for quite some time because of our Skype chats.

  • Challenging to Replicate: One of the other things I that I find particularly compelling about audio based content is that it’s not easy for another person to replicate. Email-based interviews are everywhere online and since they are not time consuming to produce, they can easily be replicated. The other thing audio provides is that it would ultimately be different on every blog because a different person would be conducting the interview.
  • Speaking Skills: Audio based interviews also significantly enhance your speaking skills because of the fact that you are forced to speak to people constantly. This can eventually translate into other opportunities in other areas of your life.
  • Network/Relationships: While I don’t necessarily form a deep relationship with every single person I interview, there are some people who have become a part of my network because of the fact that I’ve interviewed them.

Interviews not only give a great chance to get expert advice and great content for your blog, as Corbett pointed out in another post. They can also open doors to so much more from traffic, to speaking opportunities, to new connections and relationships.

Have you used interviews successfully on your blog? What other tips would you share? Let’s chat about it in the comments.

photo by Thomas Hawk

Srinivas Rao is obsesses about riding waves over at his personal blog The Skool of Life. He is also the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM. You can follow him on Twitter @skooloflife


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Srinivas Rao July 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

Corbett,

Thanks for the opportunity to guest post here. It’s interesting to think that I’m slowly becoming the go-to guy for information on how to do interviews. More than likely I’ll be turning that skill into a product pretty soon. What I’ve shared here is the beginning of alot more content that I have about interviews.

Corbett Barr July 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

Hey Srini, I’m glad to have you here. Thanks for putting together some really great advice for doing interviews. Best of luck with your sites.

Jimi Jones July 8, 2010 at 7:36 am

Good stuff, Srini.
I’ve been following BlogcastFM since it’s launch and has probably listened to just about every interview, all of which have been loaded with valuable information. I agree, doing more audio and multimedia in general on a blog is a great way to build an audience and rank higher.

I haven’t done any interviews as yet, but certainly plan to at some point. Keep up the good work, dude. :-)

Thanks to Corbett for hosting this post. I’ve now discovered another blog with a fine topic of interest.

Corbett Barr July 8, 2010 at 8:25 am

Hey Jimi, welcome here. I’m sure Srinivas will love to hear from you. It’s always great to know there are people out there who devour every post/interview on your site. Thanks for sharing.

Srinivas Rao July 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Jimi,

Thanks so much for your ongoing support. It really means alot to me to have such a loyal and passionate audience. If you ever need tips on interviewing bloggers, feel free to reach out to me and I’m glad to give you some pointers based on my experience.

David Crandall July 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

Great article. Been considering doing some interviews lately and this is going to spur me on to action. Apparently all signs are pointing to me doing this. LOL

My next 3 tasks:
1. Hit submit on this comment
2. Email the people I want to interview
3. Search your site for tips on HOW to interview

Srinivas Rao July 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

HEy David,

I”m glad to hear that. Interviews are a great way to connect with people. I’ll be working on a guide on how to do interviews pretty soon which I’ll be sharing with people soon.

Michel J. Gagnon July 8, 2010 at 9:02 am

Thanks Srini. A few weeks ago, I got to a point where I got tired of the usual “product package” offered on blogs (interviews, ebooks, etc.). I’ve thought about doing videos and interviews, but concluded that it was basically following the crowd.

Yet, you got me with your point about authenticity. I think you’re right. It not only gives authenticity to the relationship you develop with the interviewees, but also with your readers. It gives your blog another flavor, an authentic one.
Nice job.

Srinivas Rao July 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Michael,

I think interviews provide a tremendous opportunity to be authentic because they allow us to connect with the person behind the blog on another much deeper level. At its root, that’s what I think being authentic is all about.

Murlu July 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

Interviewing is definitely worth the shot because (like the comment about an existing community) regardless of who you interview, they are going to help promote and give your readers some excellent insights that are always relevant if you choose the right people :)

Betsy Talbot July 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hi, Srini. Corbett just posted the interview he did with us for his other blog, Free Pursuits, and as a not-quite-a-big-shot-except-in-my-own-mind blogger, I promoted the hell out of it. And will continue to do so because it was such a comprehensive interview with great info for his listeners.

One thing I think helps makes it more worthwhile (especially when dealing with the not-quite-big-shot variety) is to have a short list of helpful things for bloggers to do to promote the interview. Of course they want the attention, and if you can offer them a few new ideas to promote they’ll be forever grateful AND they’ll drive more traffic to your site. I did this a lot on my old business blog and it worked wonders.

And now I’m going to check out BlogcastFM.

Srinivas Rao July 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Betsy,

It’s funny because right after her posted your interview, I subscribed to your blog and I planned on reaching out to you about being on BlogcastFM :) . So, I’m sure we’ll be talking soon.

Mars Dorian July 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Kick-ass article, Srini.

And I know this method works like white magic for you. Even I learn a crazy amount of stuff because of just listening to your stuff on blogcast fm. All the points you mention here make super-sense, and the reason why I’m not doing it is because it’s not my style.
There are soo many interviews outside, the world doesn’t need another one like me. I leave that to guys who own the game like you ;)

Everett Bogue July 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

Thanks for this article Srinivas!

Interviewing is such a key strategy for blogging growth, and I’m glad it’s starting to get attention. As you know already, I’ve only done a handful of guest posts when growing Far Beyond The Stars to 4,000+ subscribers, the rest of the interactions I’ve had have been via interviews.

I think because I’m so opinionated, and striving for such a specific goal, being interviewed by people in my niche really helps to bring attention to my goals.

Early on I had a goal of interviewing everyone in my niche as thoroughly as possible. I started with smaller blogs and worked my way up to the A-listers in the group. It was a very successful strategy.

Now it’s interesting to see up-and-coming bloggers adopting the same strategy based on how it works for us.

Best,
Everett

Srinivas Rao July 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Everett,

I remember my chat with you and I think that your targeted focus on the A-list bloggers within your niche for interviewees was a really brilliant way of doing things. You got very influential subscribers and that was very powerful. I remember you talking about the 150 rule for managing relationships and I’m working on implementing that into my own blogging strategy for Q3.

Jen Gresham July 10, 2010 at 5:02 am

Wonderful post. I’ve long thought there needed to be more resources to help out budding interviewers. I’m reading Larry Grobel’s The Art of the Interivew right now, which is wonderful, but an e-book or class specifically for bloggers would be a hit I think. Let me know if you’d be interested in working together on such a project. I’ve been tossing around this idea and have some ideas.

I wonder about your comment on audio files. I’m a huge fan of NPR and the interviews they provide. And like you said, listening to someone’s voice adds a component to the interview that brings it to life. But I will also admit I almost never listen to audio files on the internet, because I’m too impatient. So my criteria for a good interview on a blog changes. I’m looking for insight and depth more than just personality. (Of course, NPR offers all of those)

Just wondering if what sets apart the audio interviews you are performing is that depth that comes from a real conversation, i.e. a back and forth, that’s difficult to replicate in an online interview, rather than the media in which you present it?

Thanks for this!
Jen

Srinivas Rao July 11, 2010 at 7:39 am

Jen,

Your comment about an ebook on how to interview bloggers is pretty timely because it was something that has been on my mind for the last few days. As you can imagine, I get alot of questions about how to conduct interviews with bloggers and you’re the second person to bring up the fact that there are not a ton of resources out there for interviews. I’ve written a handful of posts on other blogs as well, which i’ll shoot over to you. I also will have to check out that book you mentioned.

Mike Ziarko Musing July 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Excellent bit of insight Srinivas. I’ve actually begin contacting several bloggers in my network to execute the exact same initiative. Im going to start with email based interviews, and then move on to audio if my interviewees allow it! Whats your take on video interviews? I’ve seen a number of high profile bloggers do it quite effectively.

Srinivas Rao July 11, 2010 at 7:42 am

Mike,

So I have a few takes on multimedia vs online. I think that in order to for you to really build a stronger connection with the other blogger multimedia content is essential. The thing is that you area having a two way conversation when that happens vs a more static conversation. I think video is great, but the only challenge I think that you have with video content is lack of portability. One thing Ive heard from many people is that they actually listen to our podcast in their car, and video doesn’t enable that opportunity. On the flip side video could make you be seen as even more authentic since we get to see your face.

Mike Ziarko July 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

Srinivas – thanks for your response and I agree. If that’s a challenge with bloggers who might be dissuaded from video blogging, there are tools out there that allow you to convert youtube videos to audio on the fly. I’ve heard that its all about coming up with a combination of different methods works best, since every individual who comes to the site might like a different way to consume content.

Paul Cunningham July 11, 2010 at 9:23 pm

More and more of the audio I listen to these days is interviews. They just always seem to carry more useful information than the average newsy podcast.

I want to do more (both as interviewer and interviewee) but Srini as you saw coordinating timezones for us Australian’s can be a bit touch :-)

Srinivas Rao July 12, 2010 at 6:57 am

Paul,

Yes it is definitely challenging to coordinate with you guys. But, I’m betting you could start the Aussie Blogger’s podcast, since there are so many of you who are successful :) . When I spoke with Dan @Tropical MBA we talked about the fact that Iphone 4g and the ipad will likely increase the popularity of podcasts.

Stanley Lee July 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Srini,

I didn’t know you have launched BlogCastFM aside from your life-learning lessons blog. I never thought interviews of other bloggers (whether A-listers or newbies) would do so much on driving up own blog’s traffic and perhaps increasing number of retweets. Perhaps a follow-up post on how to request for interviews of any one of those categories would be nice (I’m having trouble finding these kinds of blog posts/guides specifically, although I’d happy to do the honors if you’d like ;) .

Cheers!

Stanley

Nikki Cooper November 24, 2010 at 12:48 am

Hi I believe that interviews are a really big incentive for people to check out who you are and you do what you say you do. Great post thanks Nikki Cooper

Heather R Morgan December 7, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thank you for your tips. I like the idea of interviews, and I have thought about it before, but I also feel a bit awkward asking my friends and colleagues for interviews. I am interested in the field of economics, and I am an aspiring economist myself, but generally economists don’t like being interviewed because of the trouble we can run into if we aren’t careful what we say. I don’t want my friends and professional contacts to get uncomfortable around me or begin to think of me as a reporter. Do you have any advice for this?

Fernando Raymond April 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

Great post and we are fallowing up your radio shows for sometime now and loves the people you bring on the the show. Looking forward for some new tips on how the matures can get the benefit form interviews and how to get people to agree to do an interview with anyone. Thanks for the great post.

John Shea April 14, 2013 at 8:08 am

I know this is an old post but I stumbled across this while going through Corbett’s tips from his mailing list, I have recently decided to start my own interview show and I really like the idea of the incentive giveaway. Awesome!

David Crandall July 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Well, hopefully that guide will be coming quickly cause I just set up 5 interviews. LOL

What have I done?!?! :) (Super excited about them)

Betsy Talbot July 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Always looking for new talent – I think I’m gonna like you, Srinivas Rao.

Jen Gresham July 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Great. Look forward to reading the articles.

I spent a year working in corporate communications, and it was amazing to me how little is out there on interviewing techniques period. There’s next to nothing for bloggers! As I said, would be happy to discuss a potential collaboration on this. I recently left my job as a scientist to pursue a career in writing, and interviews will be critical to that transition. So I def. have a vested interest!

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