How to Build Credibility by Using an Email Interview

build credibility

As an entrepreneur, you’re always on the lookout for creative ways to build credibility for your business in order to make it more visible and more successful.

If you’re doing it right, the content you publish on your website promotes engagement with your customers and eventually leads to sales.

So it goes to follow that your goal should be to regularly produce fascinating content that’s insanely useful to your audience and gets them excited about your business.

But what happens when you feel tapped out? When you’re out of ideas and feel like you have nothing useful to share to keep your audience captivated?

That’s when I like to use an email interview.

Why You Can’t Let Doubt Stop You From Moving Forward

Don’t let the fact that you’re not a traditional journalist stop you or discourage you. Getting authorities to answer a few questions via email is actually much easier than you think.

Think about it this way…

You’ve been creating your own content for a while now – and you’re starting to build a loyal audience who sincerely loves what you produce.

So ask yourself: If one of those loyal readers asked you to lend them a hand and answer a question or two for their next post, how would you respond?

My gut tells me you’d be more than willing to help them out.

The people you look up to and follow who you’d love to interview are likely no different.

The entrepreneurial community is loaded with people who are ready and willing to lend a hand… especially if you’re an active follower of theirs. That’s called reciprocity, by the way.

When you regularly engage with them and their content, you’ll be surprised how willing most people are to help you out.

How to Get Your Target to Respond

When I started freelance writing, my first assignment was to find and interview artists who were working in the Green industry. I knew the industry well (growing up as the child of a hippie will do that!) but I was nervous about the assignment because I’d never formally interviewed anyone before.

The future of my career was counting on it and I felt the pressure.

As an active member of multiple green communities, I decided to take the plunge and put some requests out there to my connections. With a flip in my gut and shaky fingers, I wrote up a brief blurb on exactly what I needed and hit send.

Of course, that’s when the nerves really took over!

But within a day I had multiple people telling me they were willing to help me out. Those early connections helped me to launch my career and I’ll be eternally grateful for their contributions.

How did I get so many responses?

Simple: I was myself in the pitch.

I told them what I was doing (in my voice) and used about 200 too many exclamation points (as I tend to do) when I shared my excitement about my new adventure.

In other words, I outright asked for help from people I already knew.

The Easiest Way to Get on an Influencer’s Radar

As you’re growing your business and creating content, make sure to also be an active follower.

When you follow someone else’s content, make sure to share, comment on their posts, or even send emails to tell them how much you like what they have to say. Add value to their communities.

Reach out frequently and get to know the people you respect and admire. Offer to help where you can.

Over time, those people are going to remember your honesty, kindness and openness. Then when you eventually ask for an interview, they’ll be excited to help by adding their expert opinion.

How an Email Interview Adds Value to Your Content

When you use content from an email interview, it can add immediate value to your content in at least four ways…

1: You tap into the power of connection
Networking with other business owners and professionals can open doors to even more opportunities for you and for them down the line. Not only can you make lasting friendships but you can even get clients from these types of relationships.

By building your network to include the most influential people in your market, you build a level of trust with each other – and with your readers that’s invaluable.

You can’t put a price on the value of strong connections.

In fact, that leads us right into the single most impressive reason an interview can boost your content…

2: You gain instant credibility
When you align yourself with known authority figures through an email interview, you instantly build credibility by association. It can literally alter the entire course of your career if you do it right.

Remember that the people you admire now likely got where they are by wisely leveraging relationships to boost their business.

When I asked Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger if she’s ever leveraged interviews with experts in her industry to bring credibility to her work, she said…

“…one of the first things I did when I started Be a Freelance Blogger was to interview several well-known experts in profitable blogging and make those interviews available to my email subscribers.”

Why did that work for Sophie and how can it work for you too?

When experts contribute to your piece, it builds trust with your audience. Your readers might already know their names and value their advice.

However, I should point out that all this relationship-building needs to be genuine. Don’t just ask a bunch of questions, use them and disappear. Become friends, colleagues, and you’ll find a real, mutually beneficial relationship develops.

3: You open up to cross promotion
When you interview someone you also tap into a whole new readership – theirs!

Think about this – if someone asked you to be the subject of an interview, wouldn’t you want to share the heck out of that link with all your networks? Of course you would! And anyone you interview is likely to do the same thing with your content.

Cross promotion will help you gain traffic. Traffic leads to subscribers, and subscribers lead to customers. And of course, a loyal customer means income for you.

4. It Allows You to Provide More ‘Meaty’ Content for Your Audience
It might sound obvious, but a good, chunky, post full of useful information is the king of the content world. Gone are the days of knocking out 200 words of fluff and hoping you’ll see anything substantial come out of it.

Readers want advice, actionable suggestions, and aren’t afraid to read longer content to get what they need. If you’re struggling to find the depth and detail that makes your writing sing, a solid interview can give you that extra bump.

What to Include in Your Pitch

If you want your connections to say yes the first time, follow these 5 benchmarks when you send your pitch:

1: Be specific, not vague.
Tell them specifically what you need, why you need it, and when you need their response.

2: Respect their time.
Include the questions in the message.

3: Be humble.
Explain that you understand if they’re too busy to help right now.

4: Limit the number of questions.
Don’t go overboard. Only ask a few questions.

5: Pay back their effort.
Thank them and be sure to link to their blog in your post.

If you’ve taken the time to get to know the person, you can be a lot more relaxed when you write to them. Be sure to stay professional but above all else write the pitch in the voice you use to write.

Here’s an example of a pitch you might send for an email interview…

Hey Sally,

I was thinking about your writing today after reading your recent newsletter (seriously, seeing the biggest ball of twine is actually on my bucket list!) and I started working on my post for next week.

If you’re up for it I’d love to use a couple quotes from you in the piece. I’ve included a few simple questions below. Of course I’ll link to {their blog} and give you a little love on FB, G+ etc.

You’re a busy gal so no worries if you don’t have time this week. We could do this for a later run if you’d like.

1. What’s your top tip for keeping your career going when life tries to get in the way?
2. How much of your typical work day is spent marketing?
3. Do you have advice for a newer freelancer who thinks they’re ready to hire an assistant?

Have a great week & chat soon,


Your Turn to Step Up to the Plate

Here’s my challenge to all of you:

Make a list of some industry experts you respect, get networking, and then ask them to contribute to one of your posts by answering a question or two.

You’ll be amazed by how supportive most people will be. Not to mention, when someone you admire shares their advice with your audience your content is going to get a big boost of credibility.

Now it’s time for you to open the door to potential income and reciprocal business relationships. Start working on this today… and then come back here and tell us how it went for you.

Time to Chat

Have you ever used an email interview? Do you have any tips to add? Share your experiences in the comments!

Jenn Flynn-Shon is a freelance blogger specializing in the Green construction and writing industries. She's also self-published 2 fiction books and runs her own publishing house. Jenn loves to share tips for freelancers on her blog and connect with readers on Google+ When she's not writing you'll find her either watching hockey or sitting by the pool with her husband.

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About Jenn Flynn-Shon

Jenn Flynn-Shon is a freelance blogger specializing in the Green construction and writing industries. She's also self-published 2 fiction books and runs her own publishing house. Jenn loves to share tips for freelancers on her blog and connect with readers on Google+ When she's not writing you'll find her either watching hockey or sitting by the pool with her husband.

22 Replies

  1. Nice one, Jenn.

    One more idea: do your interviews via a video call if you can, and record it. That way when someone says something brilliant, you can include a short video clip of them saying it in your post. 😉
    Sophie Lizard recently posted…How Nude Photos Convinced Clients to Hire a Blogger With a Shocking PastMy Profile

    1. Thanks Sophie! I love your idea of recording the interview. That opens the door to use parts of the interview twice (or more) if you set it up correctly – once as a quote (as text transcribed from the interview) and again as the video medium in a different post. Thanks for commenting!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  2. Hey Jenn,

    Welcome to RA! Love your post – it’s given me some really good ideas to consider and implement. I don’t do a lot of interviews on my blog, but maybe I will now!
    Bobbi Emel recently posted…Feeling stuck? Here’s something to help you see the forest instead of the treesMy Profile

    1. Hi Bobbi and thanks for such a warm welcome! So glad the post was useful for you. If you do end up including an interview in your next post please share your experience. I’d love to know how it works for you!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  3. Nicely done, Jenn.

    Glad to have you here – and thanks for the excellent advice in the post!

    I noticed that two of the three sample questions could be answered with a very short answer… and “yes” can be tough to work with when creating content. What do you recommend as far as when/how to use open-ended questions?
    Gary Korisko recently posted…How to Build Credibility by Using an Email InterviewMy Profile

    1. Thanks Gary, happy to be here!

      That’s a great question. One word responses aren’t ideal, like you said, because they won’t help to add lots of content to the piece, but they can be a way to add impact to a specific point you’re making. For example, if Sally had said a simple ‘No’ to the 3rd question you could write around that answer:

      “So is there a perfect time to hire an assistant even if you’re a newer freelancer? According to Sally the answer is simple:


      You have to evaluate your specific situation because everyone’s business needs are different. Go with your gut, your budget and…”

      Or if you’re not in a time crunch to post the piece you can always follow up with a thanks and a request for the interviewee to elaborate…ask something that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no:

      “Thanks Sally, this is great but let me ask this – how did you know you were ready to hire your assistant? What tipped the scales for you?…”

      Obviously this is rough but I hope it answers your question!

      Have you ever had that happen when interviewing someone? How did you make it work?
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  4. Hi Jenn!
    Here’s a question… I’m an eternal lurker. I’m only commenting here because I have a question. But in my own niche, I’m in the habit of reading dozens of articles per week and while I share them, I never remember to comment. And when I do remember, it seems like I have nothing to say because I don’t want to come off as a know-it-all. So I lurk. What advice would you give?

    1. Right off the bat I have to thank you MJ – thanks for breaking out of your lurking shell by commenting over here. Its great to see you getting active in the conversation 🙂

      My advice is to do exactly what you did here – ask questions! You can add a lot by asking for clarification on a certain point in the piece. Its a nice way to be remembered and all but guarantees a response. And everyone reading the comments will have the benefit of the expanded conversation.

      Not to mention, you could get inspiration for your own post or article out of it and those responses could be part of the piece (just make sure to get permission to use them).

      Hope that helps!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  5. Hi Jenn. One must also remember the two main reasons why they are doing an email interview when they sit to frame the questions: to give their readers useful info from an expert and to build a great relationship with the expert and the people he or she cares about.

    One will find it easier to ask any questions without feeling like they are asking too much, and I bet some of the best email interviews are made this way – when you asked as many questions as you reasonably can, give them enough time to answer them and tell them to be as detailed as they can in their responses.

    1. Absolutely true Philos, especially your point about making sure the interviewee has enough time to respond. If you have to post your piece in 2 days that doesn’t leave much time. It isn’t a fair request to put that much pressure on your interviewee and isn’t very professional. Planning ahead & organization will help make your interview rock. Thanks for your comment!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  6. Thanks for a great post, Jenn! I’ve done audio interviews which are really fun, but they ended up taking me way too much time to transcribe and edit, since I wanted a readable version as well. I will have to try doing it your way and see how that goes.

    Question for you: what qualities do you look for most in a potential interviewee?
    Anne Michelsen recently posted…What can Toyota teach us about marketing green homes?My Profile

    1. Have you ever used a text converter, Anne? Something like Dragon can take the spoken words and convert it to written text. It should save you some time in typing/transcription.

      For qualities, I’d say it really depends on what the goal is for the post. If your post is going to be dry and you need to punch it up, look for an expert with a side of humor. If you’re not legally qualified to offer advice and need that for the piece (for example, medical or law) find someone who has the authority the post needs.

      Of course the most important qualities are willingness to help and someone who will follow through on that promise to help you out by getting you the responses requested!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  7. David Foley


    A terrific post — and I should apply some of your advice to my situation. Cheers! David

    1. Thanks so much David! If you do use these suggestions be sure to come back and let us know how it works out for you!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  8. Hi, Jenn! Good to see you here, and I look forward to more of your posts!

    Also, what Sophie said above is a great idea – I did a video interview with several people for my upcoming blog, making sure to only take 10 minutes of their time (though some wanted to talk for 20-30), and they were all more than willing to contribute! Some I already knew, and others were just quick acquaintances I’d met through Twitter, but sometimes that’s all you need.

    1. Hey Bree thanks so much!

      I love that reached out to your network early on in order to request interviews. Even better – getting up to 30 minutes of conversation per interview! That could be a goldmine for future posts or resource material. Outstanding! Thanks for the hint on where people can start looking for connections as well, social media is such a useful tool when done right.
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  9. Hi Jenn! A very creative way to give us writers more inspiration! Thanks so much! Gary is such a great guy! So glad you are sharing posts through his forum!

    Jaton Lyles
    “Let me be the Pen that writes for You!”

    1. Hey Jaton, thanks for the compliment! I appreciate you taking a few minutes to read through the post. Hopefully you find it useful for adding a little punch in your writing business!
      Jenn Flynn-Shon recently posted…5 Ways to Look Like an Internet IdiotMy Profile

  10. How an Email Interview Adds Value to Your Content is really amazing. If you can contact and convince an expert in a specific field. it will sky rocket your blog’s authority.
    Cristor Smhidt recently posted…WordPress News Themes For Newspaper or Magazine SitesMy Profile

  11. This was really helpful. I have wanted to get a boost in credibility, and going about it through guest blogging has been my strategy. I always figured emailing someone questions was kinda lame, but you make some really good points. Also, an influencer that I admire might share my post with his audience, thus building my own credibility and audience too.

  12. I think doing an interview is a really good idea and one of the best ways to connect with someone, or at least get you in their radar. But I think you should do it for the good-will of introducing someone of value to your audience.
    Matt recently posted…100 Reasons It’s Really Great To Be A Guy!My Profile

  13. I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest.
    I’m going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week.

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    live web cams women recently posted…live web cams womenMy Profile

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