5 Tips to Cold Pitch Interviews for your Blog

Whether you are interested in boosting your traffic, getting more credibility or connecting to an expert, interviews are good for your blog. But how do you get people to say yes to being interviewed by you?
When I decided to create an e-course that would help solo business owners improve their businesses, I knew that I wanted to bring in extra perspectives to make it as useful as possible. The problem was, I didn’t know any experts that I could interview. The solution was to pitch people cold – and it worked! So far I have interviewed 20+ established experts.
Ideally, you want to connect at least a little first – maybe chat on Twitter – but if you decide to do it cold like I did, here are some tips.

1. Keep the first email short and sweet

We’re all busy people. So why is it so easy to send away a five paragraph monster email to someone you have never been in contact with before and expect them to read it all and reply?
Don’t give the other person all the information up front – he or she doesn’t need that yet. Instead, be a bit of a tease. Your first email is meant to be a pitch email – are they possibly interested, or not? I try to keep this to 5-10 sentences, max. This shows that I respect the other person’s time but is still enough space to show that I’m familiar with their work and to make them intrigued.

2. Make it easy for them to say yes

In the pitch email, I ask something along the lines of “if you’re just a little bit interested, can I send some more information?”. This is a very low degree of commitment – they accept that you contact them again – but it gets them started saying “yes” to you. It’s easy to say yes just because I haven’t made them promise anything. There’s no “will you do it?”, which means that they have to decide on the spot and probably will go for no if they don’t know you. Instead I invite them to get more information so they can make a decision.
In the follow up, I specify the exact time commitment and suggest times (in their time zone). This makes it possible for them to plan and they know what they sign up for – it’s not some endless “get on the phone” but a specified time slot. Even such a simple thing as suggesting time slots makes people think “no, can’t do Tuesday but that Wednesday time works” – instead of thinking whether they should do it or not. That said, even though I suggest times (at least two different dates and times), show that you are flexible and willing to work around their schedule. After all, they are the ones doing you a favour – don’t be difficult.

3. Show that you understand their situation

Put yourself in their shoes. You get a pitch from someone you don’t know. What are your first thoughts? “I don’t have time” and “I don’t know this person” are probably two common objections. When I email people, I show them that I know that. Just a simple phrase like “I understand that you are busy…” (backed up with a short and to the point email!) shows the other person that you care about their situation. Don’t underestimate that.

4. Don’t be too cocky but don’t downplay yourself either

This is a tricky one. You don’t want to be begging and you don’t want to seem arrogant. For me, the trick was to tell myself that even though the other person was more established, they also started someplace and I’m at that place now. By showing how doing an interview is a win-win-win you get a stronger position than just asking for something.
Another way to signal confidence without changing what you say is changing how you say it. Instead of saying “if you don’t mind, may I please interview you?”, clearly state that “I’d like to feature you as an expert on topic X on my blog”. You didn’t ask for anything different – you just come across as more confident.

5. Create a win-win-win

Maybe you have difficulty seeing how you can help someone who is more established. Chances are that if you don’t see it, they won’t either. Some people might agree to do an interview just because they are nice and like the sound of what you do, but don’t take that for granted. How will they benefit from doing this interview? Let them know. It can be something as simple as being featured as an expert on a blog that serves their target audience. Maybe you want to add a note about them having a coaching program if anyone could do with more help. It’s up to you, but show them the benefits.
If you would like them to share the interview with their audience, let them know how their audience could benefit from the interview and getting to know your blog. Are you in related fields? Could the expert’s audience easily be interested in what you write about to and benefit from that? Tell them how.
Use these tips with respect for the other person – popular bloggers might get 50 crappy pitches and requests to do things for others they don’t know, every day. If you’ve got your sights set on someone much more established, interview a few slightly more easy to reach people first so you can show that others have done it. Plus, even a little social media chat goes a long way.

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