• Mar

    How to Create Content from Interviews


    Before you begin, it is critical to research the company and/or product. There is nothing worse than going into an interview knowing nothing about the person. If they realize you have not done your homework, you are likely to encounter contempt and you could lose the interview entirely.

    It is important to know your audience as well. Whom do you want to reach? What is the main message? What do you want to get across?

    To flesh out a story, make use of press releases, white papers and information you can get from the interviewee’s Web Site. These sources will help you get an idea of what the company does and how to form your questions.

    Note: Letting the information tell the story is a mistake. Ignore industry hype, as well.

    Still, in many cases, you will be unable to test the methods the interviewee is discussing. Time, money constraints or lack of technical knowledge could prevent you from exploring the subject in greater depth. If in doubt, consult another expert to verify the claims, if possible.

    Interview Sources

    One of the best sources for people to interview is HARO – Help a Reporter Out). You can get access to a wide variety of experts that you can talk to, by phone, or email. Another couple of resources you could use are LinkedIn and Facebook.

    Technical Information

    When recording an interview, there are several inexpensive and simple options. The one I recommend is to have a dedicated phone line or high-quality Internet phone service for making your calls. Get a RadioShack Mini Telephone Recording Device. It plugs into the handset and cord. It comes with a mini jack that you can attach to a recording device. From there, you can record the conversation.

    If you do not have a dedicated phone line, I recommend Skype and the MP3 Call Recorder application for recording the conversation. Be aware that this technique can have serious limitations, depending on the time of day and the type of Internet connection you have. If the interview is only for the purposes of transcription, that will make a huge difference. If you want to use it for multiple users, the quality could be questionable.

    For a headset, I recommend the Gamecom 1 headset from Plantronics. Among other things, it has a boom mike with a foam piece over the microphone to filter out booms, pops and hissing noises.

    After the interview, you might want to edit it a bit. Audacity)is good for this and is a free program.

    Interviewing Methods

    There are two methods that I recommend. One is to interview the person over the phone; the other is to interview them by email. Both have their pros and cons.

    For telephone interviews, make sure you have all your questions written down so you can refer to them over the course of the interview. Nothing is worse than losing your train of thought, then not being able to find your way back.

    When possible, I recommend that you stick to your list, which allows for digressions and surprises. You will find that you can record most of what you want in 20-30 minutes. Be aware that some interviews can turn into marathons of 60 minutes or more (which are a real pain to transcribe).

    Also, be aware that some interviewees love the sound of their own voice and when they are interviewed they want to tell you EVERYTHING, whether you want to hear it or not. In this case, having pre-formed questions is necessary to keep them on track. You might also need to interrupt them, as well.

    The email interview is excellent for two reasons. It allows the interviewee to think about their responses and to compose a well thought-out answer. Often, the writing is very clear and you can use it without the need to edit it.

    The other reason for using the email interview is if you are short on time. All you have to do is to compose a message to the interviewee with the questions you want to ask, and send it off. It is that simple.

    The major downside is waiting for the response, which could take time. Sometimes it helps to let the interviewee know that you have a deadline. Another downside is losing the spontaneity of a live interview, where often the unexpected takes place and something magical can happen.

    If a “red flag” pops up in an interview, pursue it. You never know where it will lead.

    Additional Notes

    When working with interviewees, I like to go over the questions you want to ask beforehand. The interviewee can give some thought to what they would like to say. This can help make the interview go smoothly. (Some interviewers disagree with this approach and prefer to ask the questions live.)

    Spend time talking with your subject before the interview if possible, getting to know them. Genuine friendliness, interest and compassion works wonders. It relaxes both you and your subject and creates an open atmosphere where the interview is likely to flow well. If you come across as someone who can be trusted, you are likely to get material that might have been difficult or impossible to obtain under other circumstances.

    Initially, learning how to interview people can be challenging due to being nervous, unsure of yourself, etc. Fortunately, many people are quite receptive if you tell them you are new to the process or are nervous, etc. Eventually you will become more comfortable with the process and the words will flow naturally.

    When you want to record an interview, always let the interviewee know in advance that you are planning to tape the call. Never tape a call without permission; that can have potentially serious consequences later. If necessary, ask for written permission. Consent on tape has always been enough.

    When interviewing, learn how to ask the hard questions. It is important to discern the real facts, not what the information is on a white paper (otherwise known as hype). 

    Be open to the unexpected. Sometimes it will yield unsuspected dividends. Let your enthusiasm show. Nobody wants to listen to a dry interview.


    There are several approaches here. The obvious one is to do it yourself, though that can be time intensive. A 20-minute interview could take up to an hour to transcribe.

    If time is short I would outsource it. One idea is to post a job on elance) or ODesk. I found one resource on elance and my cost was $69.65 for two 45-minute interviews. Another source is the Warrior Forum. Check out the (Warriors for Hire) section. You can probably find some great deals there.

    This concludes this except. Another section, on interview questions, will be available tomorrow. The full chapter is in my book: Secrets of Profitable Freelance Writing

    You can read all the posts under the Freelance Writing category

    Want the entire program ? Click here to get the book and all the videos in one package.)

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