In a previous article, I talked about how interviewing experts is one of the best and most leveraged ways to create high-quality, profitable content for your online business. You can use expert interviews to make products, drive traffic, or build your subscriber list.
But the big question I always get asked is: “How do I find an expert to interview?” And that’s almost immediately followed up with, “And how do I get them to say yes?”
So here’s my 10-Step Formula for finding and securing quality guests to interview:
1. Understand the Expert Mindset
Experts want to share what they know, and promote what they’re currently working on. That’s why they’re experts in the first place: they’ve spent time and energy learning something, and enjoy teaching it to others while getting the word out about their latest book or project. You don’t need to sell an expert on the concept of being interviewed — you just need to convince him that he should be interviewed by you.
2. Establish a Professional Image
Before you even approach a single guest, you need to have the means to convey that you’re a professional and worth his or her time. You can do that by putting together a website with a good picture of you in appropriate attire for the niche, and a description of your project. Include some voice samples, clips from previous interviews, or a list of other guests you’ve got lined up. If you’re going for your first guest you won’t have any previous work to showcase, but you can still make a compelling case for why the project is worth being part of, and why you’ll conduct an informative interview the expert can be proud of.
3. Build your Reputation
Write some articles on the topic that you want to conduct interviews about, and post them on your blog or in article directories like EzineArticles. Showing potential guests your articles will prove you’re knowledgeable, or at least passionate, about the subject matter they’re experts in.
4. Increase your Promotion
Press releases also help you establish credibility and build your reputation, and you can submit them, for free or a nominal fee, to sites like PRWeb. Write press releases to announce the start of your project, each time you interview a new expert, when you’ve completed 10 interviews, etc.
5. Build your Subscriber List
While you’re working on collecting experts, you might as well build an audience too — that way you can tell future guests that you have interested people waiting to hear their interviews. One way to do this is to have a link in your article resource box and at the bottom of press releases pointing to your project’s website, and invite visitors to sign up for the VIP notification list to hear about future interviews.
6. Choose your Target Experts
Not every expert will say yes, so plan on asking more than you need. Make a wish list of 5 to 10 people to start, but keep it targeted and go for the best in the field first. For example, if you want to interview social media experts, start with the best-known visionaries on Twitter. If you want to interview golf coaches, choose the ones who have gotten results for big golf stars.
7. Build your Wish List
If you’re stuck for names, do a search for your niche topic followed by the word “expert.” Next, go to Amazon and look for authors who have written books on the subject, and don’t forget to read the reviews. Also search the Radio-TV Interview Report at for appropriate experts who are looking for interview opportunities, and sign up for RTIR sister site Reporter Connection, which allows you to craft a request and have it sent out to experts who subscribe.
8. Remember Everyone’s Favorite Radio Station
Experts are busy, and you need to convey how being interviewed by you will make good use of their time. Before approaching anyone, figure out how you’d answer the question, “What’s In It For Me?” (that’s WIIFM, which they say is everyone’s favorite radio station). But don’t wait for them to ask the question; tell them upfront. It could be a large audience, or it might be that you’ll let the experts use the interview for their own purposes too.
9. Contact the Experts
Once you have a good list, you can finally start asking for interviews. On RTIR or Reporter Connection, the request process is built in; just keep in mind that they’re created for pros, so be professional in your request: state who you are, what you’re working on, why you want to interview that person, and how she’ll benefit. If you only know an expert’s name, search for her official website. Look for a “Contact Us” link or “Media” area that lists a publicist who takes interview requests; or sign up for her newsletter, and look for contact info when it arrives, which might simply mean hitting “reply.” When sending emails, always put “Interview Request” in your subject line. Also try contacting your expert directly on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. If printed communication doesn’t bring results, look for a phone number and call.
10. Leverage the “Yes” Answers
Eventually one expert will say yes to an interview, and then you can go back to everyone you haven’t heard from and tell them that their peer has agreed. After you record the interview, ask for a testimonial on how you did as an interviewer so you can use that in upcoming requests. If you’ve landed a well-known expert, it’s easier to leverage more. But if the top names say no the first time around, go back to them later when you’ve interviewed more people. Chances are they’ll finally say yes, too.
This process can be continued over and over until you’ve interviewed enough people for your project, and you can do it again any time for future projects. The good news is, the more experts you interview, the easier it is to leverage more interviews and bigger names.