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build credibilityAs 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 connectionNetworking 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 credibilityWhen 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 promotionWhen 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 AudienceIt 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.

Questions: 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 ChatHave you ever used an email interview? Do you have any tips to add? Share your experiences in the comments![divider style=”10″]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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