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Creative Blogging with a Persona: An Artist, Journalist, and Reviewer Walk into a Blog…


We’re all guilty of going on auto-pilot with our blog once in a while: maybe we missed our deadline and need to whip up something quick, or we have to churn out a piece on a hot topic everyone else has done already, or worse yet, our eyes glaze over at the same old format on a blank screen. Such is the life of a blogger and time-crunched small business owner.

But what if you had someone else writing your posts occasionally? No, I’m not talking about a guest blogger, ghostwriter, or God forbid copying and pasting content from elsewhere…It’s You. Take on a new persona and “profession” for your next post. Who knows? By being creative, you could end up enjoying it, learn a new skill, and best of all, attract new readers and shares.

The Amazing Artiste

We hear over and over that visual web content—be it graphics, video, or presentations, is much more likely to be looked at, engaged with, and shared than its less sexy but equally important counterpart, text. Our brains are wired to pretty, shiny things. It’s no wonder Pinterest and Instagram have grown by leaps and bounds.

Graphic content also helps us digest information quicker: In fact, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than to plain text. And with all the choices on the Internet, our attention spans have shrunken to ADD proportions, so we are instantly attracted to snackable web moments. In other words, serve up imagery to tell your story quickly instead of relying on numerous keystrokes.

When it comes to visual storytelling, pretty much anything you can say with words will work with images. Find that challenging? For starters, you can keep it simple with brief commentary on an animated gif, a baffling series of Tweets from a major brand, one stark photo, or slideshow.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, go the data visualization route and combine data and graphic elements that blend well as an information shortcut. Create graphical representations of content with Infographics, the fastest growing way to display facts. There are many free resources to help. Or consider Mind Maps to explain big and small concepts alike.

More interested in videos to show your artisitc prowess? Photobucket, Vine, and Instagram Video are a few that can help. Or grab an existing video and write a few choice sentences about it. Some examples include: How a TED Talk inspires your work or makes a point about your industry, or an educational video for your readers. The only barrier is your  imagination. Either way you’ll be pulling double-duty delivering pre-packaged content that is already validated, while reinforcing your brand.

Reminder: Before you post content on your blog that is not yours, always check content usage guidelines.

The Rugged Reporter

Add instant color and flavor with interviews and quotes to your post by playing the enterprising journalist. Whether it’s a tech celebrity, industry luminary, or the chef at the hottest restaurant in town, get the words directly from the source to breathe new life into your blog. Also, the Q&A format of the interview is easily digestible and ready-made for readers to scan.

When interviewing someone “famous” or better known than yourself (which happens often), it can be intimidating. Believe it or not, though, by virtue of the fact that you have a blog, you’ll be granted instant credibility (even more so if you’re a published writer).

Truth be told, most people love to talk about themselves no matter who they are, and will happily promote their latest book, or whatever is most important to them at that time. For instance, in my post about bogus cosmetics claims, I located, researched, and interviewed the lead FDA attorney on a related and well-known case as an expert without any red tape (impressive for the government!). Or do a straight up interview. Posting a conversation with web-famous people also helps to build your SEO and traffic.

The Rogue Reviewer

Or take the opposite approach: Give your opinion, no holds barred. But let me clear about “reviewing.” We’re not talking about pay-for-play: I’m not advocating sponsored and/or paid reviews (unless they are clearly disclosed as such), but rather  expressing your opinion, and sharing your knowledge.

Do your homework before you try this style, and research the type of review you are doing. For instance, if you are doing a book review, take a look at popular review sites, or, if you’re doing a roundup on the latest phone apps, note the style and soak up some inspiration for what works (and what doesn’t) in that circle. Your readers will appreciate that you are doing the work for them, from product reviews to industry trends.

Be Everyone You Want to Be, Anytime

If you’re getting bored with your blog, chances are so is your audience. Why not shake things up for yourself and your readers?

Please, Stop Talking: How to Better Interview Your Podcast Guests


better podcast interviews

Please, stop talking.

Have you ever had a personal crutch or cliché that you used more often than you thought? It may have been something you didn’t realize until somebody brought it to your attention. Have you ever said, “Wow! I had no idea I did that all the time”? I’m here to tell you to stop it.

A good coach will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. You need to hear this. When you are interviewing anyone on your show, stop talking. Ask the question, then get out of the way. Let your guest shine.

Here is an example. This is a recent question I heard during an interview.

Host: “Doesn’t money just really make you more of who you already were? It’s like money affords your personality to flourish, right? If you’re loving and generous and then you become wealthy, you’re going to be able to express more of that love and generosity to a greater degree. If you’re a jerk and you become wealthy, you’re just going to become become a colossal jerk. So, isn’t it really just an expansion of who you were at the core anyway? I mean, it’s not the money’s fault. It’s basically just a magnifier of it.”

Guest: “And it’s … that’s a good way of putting it. It just amplifies who you are, and makes it more apparent. It has a greater impact. Yeah, absolutely.”

This host kept talking to the point that he answered his own question. The guest had nothing left to say. The guest tried to paraphrase the same thing the host said, but couldn’t even make that happen. The host made his own point. The host’s question was seven sentences. The guest’s answer was basically, “Yeah.”

There are three points to remember when interviewing guests. If you keep these in mind, your guests will feel great about being on your show, and you will look like a brilliant host. Just stay out of your own way.

1. Know the Answer

Your job is to make your guest look great. You have invited your guest to your show to provide something you couldn’t provide alone. They have a story to tell. It is your job to help them tell it. Lead them to the punchline, climax or conclusion.

You need to do your homework prior to the interview. You need to know what makes your guest interesting. What will make your guest engaging to your audience? Find that story, and help your guest bring it to life.

The story will have a conclusion that you should already know. You’ve done your homework. You know what happens at the end. It is an art to help your guest tell that story without telling it yourself.

Prior to their appearance on the show, guests on The Late Show with David Letterman are interviewed ahead of time by a show producer. It is that producer’s job to find the interesting story. If the producer discovers the guest was recently stuck on a roller coaster during a family vacation, Dave will tee it up. He will help his guest shine by asking, “How’s the family? Have you had time to get away with them lately?” Suddenly, the guest is off and running telling the hilarious story of the roller coaster.

It looks like Dave got lucky. Dave just happened to stumble across a great vacation story. Reality is homework. Dave already knew what would make a great story. His homework (or that of his producer) revealed the gold. He simply helped his guest get there.

Our host above knew the answer to his question. It was obvious by the lengthy set up. Unfortunately, he proved it rather than letting his guest flourish. The host could have simply asked, “Doesn’t money just really make you more of who you already were?” The guest would have been off to the races. The guest could have really explored that theory. The host would have looked like he has great questions. The guest would have looked like he knows his stuff. Everybody wins. Instead, we get, “Yeah, exactly.”

Know the answer, so you can let your guest shine.

2. Be Brief

Make your questions brief. If you want to make your guests look great, you need to give them room to spread their wings. Short questions will allow that to happen.

Ask your short question, then stop talking. If you are talking, your guest is not. Your listeners have come to hear your guest. Let the guest talk. If your listeners have come to hear you, your guest isn’t necessary. Stop wasting everybody’s time.

Many hosts feel the need to prove how much they know. Hosts want to display all of their knowledge to impress the guest. Unfortunately, this is a myth. By showing how much you know, you are only trumping your guest. If you appear to be the most knowledgable person on the show, your guest will feel uncomfortable. You will soon find it hard to get guests.

When you ask brief questions that make it easy for your guest to tell great stories, your guest will look like a star. He will truly enjoy being part of your show. Your guests will want to return. Word will spread. Your show will grow. Finally, your audience will love the new information and engaging stories.

Everybody wins when you talk less.

3. No Yes/No

Ask open-ended questions. When you ask questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”, some guests will take the opportunity to answer “yes” or “no”. Your interview will go nowhere.

Yes/no questions make it difficult for your guest to elaborate. When your guests tell stories, they become engaging. Stories are easy for your guest. Stories have natural flow. Elaborations take a lot of thought. Make it easy for your guest.

Our host above started with, “Doesn’t money just really make you more of who you already were?” All of a sudden he is faced with a yes/no question. He has forced his guest to elaborate. In order to help his guest, he continues with another yes/no question. In fact, he follows with two additional yes/no questions. Suddenly, his guest has nothing left to say.

The host knows that money simply makes you more of who you already are. He could have positioned his guest with, “How does money affect the core beliefs of an individual?” With that short question, the guest is now able to expound with his “more of who you already are” theory. The guest looks great. The host looks brilliant by somehow knowing that money affect the core of individuals. The listener gets to hear a great story.

Everybody wins when you stop talking.

It is your job to make your guest the star.

That is the reason you’ve invited her to your podcast. She offers something to the show that you cannot deliver as well by yourself. Let her do it. Lob that ball to your guest, so they can hit it out of the park. You don’t need to prove how well you can pitch. The goal is to let your guest hit home runs.

Make your guest look great. She will love you for it. Your listener will love you for it. You will learn to love yourself for it when your podcast begins to flourish.

Ask the question, then get out of the way. Please, stop talking.

Bob Dunn talks about WordPress Blogs


There are lots of popular blogging platforms out there these days, but WordPress has an incredibly loyal fanbase. NMX speaker and regular guest blogger Bob Dunn is a WordPress expert and regularly shares his knowledge with blogging newbies and established veterans. Check out what Bob has to say about self-hosting, helpful plugins, and customization in this exclusive NMX video interview below. And be sure to check out Bob’s session at NMX this January, “How to Laser-focus Your WordPress Blog In 60 Minutes.


There’s still time to see Bob and nearly 200 other speakers at NMX this January! Register today!


Marcus Sheridan talks about making speeches more social


When I went to BlogWorld Los Angeles, I had one overwhelming thought. I LOVE that Marcus Sheridan guy! I had never seen him speak before, nor even heard of him, yet after his session, I was an immediate fan. Seriously, I can’t gush enough about what an incredible speaker he is, how he engages the audience, and how many fantastic insights he has for the small business owner. (You can hear his session from the most recent conference in New York by purchasing the Virtual Ticket!)

Check out what Marcus has to say about presenting and what makes for a memorable session in this interview from Blogcast FM‘s Srinivas Rao. Also, think that you can just blog when you feel like it? Marcus has some thoughts on that, too.

What do you think? Should speakers interact with their audiences more? Do you like a monologue or would you rather interact with the speaker throughout the session?

Getting Through the Gate: How to Connect with Popular People in Your Niche


Everyone has a wall built around their personal life. Some people have very low walls, the type you can step over easily, while others build nearly impenetrable fortresses with gatekeepers stationed at every entrance. Reaching these people is difficult to say the least.

That doesn’t bode well for you if you’re trying to score an interview, like we recently discussed on this blog. Interviews are my favorite source for free content, but your best intentions to post this kind of content will fall flat if you can’t find anyone to say yes.

Now, of course, you have people that respond quickly to interview requests and are happy to accommodate you. But as you try to reach the more popular people in your niche, you’ll probably notice a decreasing likelihood of response. Some people don’t even take the time to send a negative response. No matter how you spin your interview request, the most popular people in your niche need you to go through their gatekeepers if you want a slice of their time.

Traditional Gatekeepers

You probably have already thought about the more traditional types of gatekeepers a person might have. Virtual assistants, secretaries, and other lower-level employees are often the people answering the emails and setting up interviews. These people get dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of requests every day, so you can see how it would get overwhelming pretty quickly, even if answering emails is their main job.

So how can you stand out?

  • Do your research and call them by name. Gatekeepers like to be acknowledged as important too.
  • Keep your email short and to the point. Longer emails that look like more work are more likely to get put in the “I’ll answer it later” pile.
  • Be specific with your request. Don’t say, “I’d love to connect with Mr. Important about an interview at his convenience.” Instead, say, “I’d love to interview Mr. Important via Skype about his recent comments on Twitter at some point next week.”
  • Be flexible. “If Skype is not possible, email would work too!”
  • Remember to say thank you. You’d be surprised how many people forget this point.

You should definitely follow up if your first email doesn’t get a response – but you have to give the person a little time. Don’t be a burden, DMing on Twitter to say, “Did you get my email” an hour after sending it. Wait at least a week; then, if you haven’t heard back, send a friendly reminder.

Non-Traditional Gatekeepers

Don’t forget that you can look beyond the traditional gatekeepers as well. Other “gatekeepers” include:

  • Personal friends
  • Coworkers
  • People who have worked on join projects with the person in the past

I will caution, however: do NOT get chummy with these people because you want the hook up. Not only is it rude, but people can usually smell when they are being used. If you’re already friends with a friend of the person you’re trying to interview, though, it never hurts to ask! Just make sure you do so respectfully and remember to return the favor.

And remember a conference can serve as a “gatekeeper” as well. At a conference like BlogWorld, you can connect with experts in your field without the barrier of email. So don’t be afraid to set up interviews with these people when attending BlogWorld. Many are happy to carve out some time to meet you. You just have to ask!

The #1 Way to Get Exclusive FREE Blog Content from Experts in Your Niche


Free Blog Content Wouldn’t it be great if you checked your email one day to find a message from a leader in your niche? And I don’t mean their latest email newsletter – I mean an individual email with free blog content they wrote, exclusively for your blog?

When I first started blogging, I had a hard time catching the eyes and ears of other bloggers. I was the new kid on the scene, and even back then, there were thousands of other bloggers out there, also vying for the attention of the top names in my niche. But if you can make a big-name blogger aware of your content – and that content is great, of course – they might share it with their followers. So I was frustrated. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, just hoping to get noticed.

But there’s a fool-proof way to get almost any expert out there not only to notice you, but also to send you free content – and even promote it! Who doesn’t want that?

My Secret Way to get Free Blog Content Exclusively for Your Blog – FROM EXPERTS

Ready for the secret? It’s actually a pretty simply concept – but first let me tell you what DOESN’T work:

  • Asking for guest posts – most popular bloggers are way too busy to write content for you
  • Publicly tweeting at experts – it’s rude to put people on the spot publicly when you ask for a favor unless you know them well
  • Post an excerpt from their work – you can do this (as long as you abide by fair-use laws and properly credit the work), but the posts won’t be exclusive for your blog

What does work? Are you on the edge of your seat? Okay, here’s my secret: Tell the blogger you’ll be featuring them on your blog and ask for an email interview.

Doing interviews is no secret, but if your experiences have been anything like mine, when you email popular bloggers or companies and ask for interviews, a lot of the time, you won’t even hear back. You have to spin your email the right way. I don’t just recommend asking for an interview, which is easy to ignore.

Here’s how to go about writing an email that is much harder to ignore:

Step One: Identify leaders in your niche who need promotion.

At any given time, there will be people in your niche who are hungry for promotion, and they’re more likely to give you the free blog content you really want. Maybe they just launched a new company. Maybe they got some bad press recently and need to set the record straight or tell their side of the story. Maybe they recently published a book. Whatever the case may be, there will be certain people in your niche looking for press. Those are the people you want to target. (For example, I interviewed Rick Kats from Pinerly, since they recently launched a new Pinterest-related company.)

Pro tip: If the person you’re interview is an extremely popular blogger, I recommend trying to find out who their “people” are and email them instead. Virtual assistants, managers, and others who work directly with your target interviewee are more likely to answer your emails. That might actually be their job. So work with them directly if you can. Assistants love when you actually send them an email directly because it shows you’ve done your homework and you know who you’re supposed to be emailing. These people spend every day answering emails addressed to their employer; sometimes it’s nice to read an email addressed to you.

Later this week, I’ll be publishing a post specifically about working with these “gatekeepers” in your niche, so make sure you’re subscribed to our blog if you don’t want to miss that post.

Step Two: Start the email with what you will do for them, not asking them to do something for you.

Popular bloggers get several requests every day, and they just can’t answer them all, even if they want to. Unless you know one another, an email that says, “Hey, would you do an interview with me for my blog?” is not a good idea. Yes, you’re getting free blog content, but that’s not what you want to highlight in your email. I have no motivation to help you, if you send that kind of email. Instead, here’s a better example of what you can say in your email:

Hey Joe Blogger,

I’m a huge fan of your work, and I’d love to feature your new book, How to be an Awesome Ninja Guru Expert Rockstar Blogger, on the BlogWorld blog next week. Our community is filled with bloggers from over fifty different countries, and I think they’d really love to hear about your book, since they’re always looking for advice about blog monetization. Would you have time to answer a few quick email questions about your work and where they can buy it (or we connect on Skype if that is easier for you)?



I do not  recommend that you copy this example word-for-word (yes, even if you change out the specifics). When you send an email with a request, the person deserves and individual email, in my opinion. But the take-away concept that I’m trying to show is how you should focus on what you can do for the blogger, not what they can do for you.

A few other things this email does:

  • Show that you know their work by mentioning their work and what it is about.
  • Use their name. (Many PR companies don’t take the time to do this.)
  • Tell them something about your readers/community so you can show how this will benefit them.
  • Make it clear that your questions will only take a few minutes to answer.
  • Reiterate in some way that this is for their benefit, talking about money/sales if possible. (For example, in my sample email, I talk about sharing how readers can buy the book.)
  • Give the person options for answering your questions.
  • Give a deadline passively. Avoid demanding a reply by a certain deadline, but make a time reference. (For example, I noted that I’d like to publish my feature “next week.”)

Follow up with this email if you don’t receive a reply, but wait at least a week for it to be answered. In my experience, 90% of the time, you won’t have to follow up at all. I’ve never not  received a reply with this kind of email, and usually I don’t have to follow up at all.

Step Three: Watch your email like a hawk.

The moment you receive a reply, respond with your questions or set up a time to chat on Skype (most people prefer emails). If you can catch the person while they are still at their computer, your interview questions will be less likely to fall through the cracks. In fact, if you catch the email the moment it is sent and are prepared with your questions, you might even get a response right away.

From there, also post the interview as quickly as possible. Sometimes, it makes sense to hold the piece (for example, posting at 4 AM on a Monday morning might not make sense), but in general, the sooner you can post it, the better. People don’t want to spend time replying to your questions only to wait to reap the benefits.

Don’t forget to email the link when the post is published or tweet the link with an @ reply when it’s published. You need to somehow alert the person that the content is live on your blog. And definitely do work to promote the content as much as possible through social media channels and your email list. If you do your part, the person you interviewed will likely help as well.

Why This is an Amazing Source of Content

So why is a “few quick questions” an amazing source of content for your blog? Because people love to talk about themselves. If you ask interesting questions (not the same old stuff that everyone is asking), people will send you LONG answers. Most of the time, when I send five to seven interview questions, I get 1000+ words back in return! And this is all exclusive content for your blog, as good as if the blogger had written a guest post for you. So don’t be afraid to start sending out email interview requests, even to bloggers who haven’t taken notice of you in the past. There’s no better way to get free blog content from the experts.

And as a side note? Email interviews with leaders in your niche are awesome, but video content is even better. In just over a month, experts across several niches will be gathering in New York for BlogWorld’s East Coast event, which makes it possible for you to connect with people like Peter Shankman, Jenny Lawson, Jim Kukral, Tim Street, and tons of other content creators who might otherwise not have time to reply to emails, even using the above technique. If you’re going to the event, set up interview times with these people now to make sure they can fit you in.

Three Must-Read New Media Interviews from 2011


Interviews give you a unique view of a topic matter from a fresh perspective. I love reading interviews, interviewing other people, and being interviewed! Today, I wanted to share three links to top new media interviews from 2011 as part of the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series. Check them out and then add your own favorites with a comment below!

17 Digital Marketing Experts Share Their Top Tips, Tricks, and Tools by Tamar Weinberg (@tamar)

This is a fantastic post that I’ve highlighted before, but it’s definitely worth linking again! Tamar compiled advice from 17 different professionals in the digital marketing world. Some of the people who share advice in this post include Jason Falls, David Armano, Chris Brogan, and Kristi Hines, so you know you’re getting some good tips and tricks in this post! I’m a fiend for new secrets on using the best tools in social media and content creation, so I’ve bookmarked this post and I still go back to it to get some fresh ideas from time to time. If you’re looking for some new blogs to follow, this is also a great place to find 17 of them!

Expert Interviews by Michael Stelzner (@Mike_Stelzner)

Okay, I’ll admit it – this isn’t actually a single post; it’s an entire category on the Social Media Examiner site. He does awesome interviews with top players in the new media industry where you’ll learn about everything from content creation to building relationships online. Some of the most recent interviews he’s posted are with Marcus Sheridan, Cliff Ravenscraft, Jesse Stay, John Jantsch, and Dennis Yu, but I encourage you to browse through the archives – there’s a lot of gold there! I’ve linked you to the category page, so you can also bookmark this link if you’re interested in Michael’s interviews, since the newest content will always show up right at the top.

Interview with Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal by Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan)

I like this interview because they cover a lot of topics, including branding, how to market to your audience, moving from an offline publication to online, and driving traffic with social media. It’s interesting to get the behind-the-scene posts of what’s going on with Elephant Journal – even if you’re not into that site specifically, they’re doing some pretty innovative things and Waylon has some great ideas. These two powerhouses pack a lot of info into just a short interview, so get ready to take notes fast and furiously on this one!

Now it’s your turn – what were some of your favorite new media related interviews from 2011?

Here are the other posts from this series:

12 Bloggers Monetizing
11 Emailers List Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting
7 Community Managers a-Managing
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews (this post)
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

BlogWorld Exclusive: Interview with the Team Behind Business2Blogger


One question on the minds of many bloggers just starting out is “How do I work with brands?“. They want to know how to contact them, what to ask for, how to work with them and a number of other questions enter their minds.

How can a blogger work with a brand? One of the easiest and possibly best ways when starting out, is by signing up with a business who connects bloggers and brands. I’ve worked with several of these types of businesess and I am excited to share one with you today.

It’s called Business2Blogger and the team behind it is phenomenal. They are fun, professional and know what they’re doing.

The other day they announced a new set-up for Business2Blogger called their “Job Board”. I contacted them to see if I could ask a few questions about their new job board, as well as what it’s been like working with bloggers and businesses, and they said “Sure!”.

The team consists of Jay CooneyShauna Callaghan and Holly Homer, who are not only close friends and live in the same Dallas, TX suburb, but are also business partners. You can find out more about them on their About page. Just hover over their pictures for a brief bio.

Julie: Give me a little background on why, when and how Business2Blogger was started.
Holly: I had been blogging for over a year and started to get some email requests from PR/businesses to write about them on my blog. My blog is a personal journal-type blog {yes, I write a mom blog} and so the majority of the offers were never anything I would normally write. If it was something I thought would fit on one of my friend’s blogs, I would pass it on. As I got more and more offers and I was sending them on to more and more people, I said, “Someone HAS to organize this!” and the idea for Business 2 Blogger was born. I was in an aisle at Target on the phone with Shauna when the domain name came to us and she went immediately and bought it. When we talked Jay into joining us, we hoped we were the people to do the organizing.

Julie: What are some of your goals when it comes to B2B? Goals for both businesses and bloggers.
Jay: We want Businesses to have the ability to find the right Bloggers to work with based on criteria that is important to them. And in the process, eliminate the need for Googling and cold-emailing Bloggers who may or may not even be a right fit for a certain Business. In addition, since many Businesses are new to social media promotion, we find ourselves routinely teaching Businesses how to work with Bloggers, and vice versa. Likewise for Bloggers, we want to create interesting and beneficial connections between Bloggers and Brands, and eliminate the frustrating process of courting companies to work with. Business 2 Blogger brings the two sides together effortlessly, saving time and money for both.

Julie: From the emails and blog posts I have read, you and the B2B team have quite the personalities. It seems like everyone has a lot of fun and loves what they do. Is that an important aspect when it comes to the success of B2B?
Shauna: “Quite the personalities” might be a bit of an understatement. We are a handful (especially Jay). I can say that because Jay & Holly are two of my closest friends. We have a ton of fun working together & trying to build an internet empire! We probably laugh more than we are productive most days, but some pretty amazing stuff seems to come out of the laughter.

Julie: B2B made an announcement about your new “Job Board”. Can you give me a little more information about this and why you are switching to this platform instead of sending emails to your bloggers?
Shauna: The job board provides a better platform for connecting business & blogger. We want this “matchmaking” process to be easy & affordable for businesses that are trying to find bloggers to work with. We will still be sending weekly emails to our list of 6500+ bloggers to notify them of our featured jobs & any news or updates! (So Jay’s email antics will not be going away)

Julie: Do you believe spreading the word through blogging is advertising dollars well spent for businesses? Have the businesses you worked with seen results? There’s the whole question of ROI when it comes to social media marketing.
Holly: I do think it is money well-spent…if it is well-spent. That is the problem. Because this is a new space and people are trying to figure out what works, there are some “experts” out there that are taking advantage of the ignorance. This does not have to be an expensive space. Much of it can be DIY! It doesn’t cost anything to tweet or start a FB page. There are hours and hours of social media education on YouTube for the taking. I can’t think of any other area of advertising where you can get so much exposure for FREE. We really had all this in mind when we built B2B. We wanted to be priced so using our services was a no-brainer and accessible to even the start-up businesses.

Julie: Some PR firms have complained about the difficulty in working with bloggers (they are demanding, don’t deliver on what they said they would, etc.). Has this been your experience or has it mostly been positive?
Jay: Our experience has been extremely positive with both sides. Although, we can see that for some, it only takes one frustrating experience with one Blogger (or Business) to leave a bad taste for social media in general. Holly, Shauna and I routinely say that we are matchmakers, and bringing a Blogger and a Brand together is much like starting a long-distance relationship. Both sides have to be realistic, and communicate their expectations and progress. Some will do it better than others, but overall we have found the vast majority of Bloggers and Businesses to be genuine, hard working, honest, and well-intended.

Julie: Are there any lessons you’ve learned along the way when it comes to running a business like B2B?
Jay: Oh, you bet. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to make sure you listen to your customers. We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible for the past two years, and we are the first people to admit when we’re coming up short. And each time we’ve listened to our customers, they have directed us in ways we didn’t know we should be headed. We learned very quickly to listen, and not be offended by criticism, and our customers have led us to a much more creative and productive place.

Julie: I know that some of the team are also bloggers themselves. Is that true for the entire B2B team?
Shauna: Yes, we are all either actively blogging or come from a blogging background. The 3 of us actually connected to through our blogs and surprisingly lived in the same small Dallas suburb. The phrase “it’s a small world” came to life in a big way. Our blogging “experience” is important because we have always have the Blogger’s best interest at heart & want to do right by both parties. It also helps us provide businesses with more insight into what Bloggers expect and want from them.

Julie: What advice would you give bloggers who are just starting out and are wanting to develop a successful blog?
Jay: Write honestly, and consistently. Respond to your commenters. I believe blogging to be about being yourself, and making connections with your readers. Write in your own voice, and from the heart. Holly is an extremely successful Blogger because her voice and her life come through loud and clear. Shauna has been successful in her blog design business because she makes a personal connection with her clients, and it shows in her writing and design. And me? Well, you’d have to ask both my followers what keeps them around. Most likely they can’t figure out how to delete me from their RSS feed. Whatever. They’re mine.

Holly: A “successful” blog has a different look to everyone. One of the things that can be very helpful is to sit down and figure out what YOUR successful blog looks like and then consciously work toward that goal with everything you write, tweet, and post to FB. When you thoughtfully work in this way, your voice becomes your brand and everything around your blog feels authentically you.

Julie: What advice would you give businesses when it comes to working with bloggers and social media in general?
Jay: Communicate. OVER-Communicate. Be very clear about what you are looking for, and when you need it accomplished. Have realistic expectations, and be open to what your Bloggers suggest. The majority of them live and breathe social media, and they are great sources of information regarding what will be most impactful within their circle of influence.

A special thank you to the Business2Blogger team for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure and visit their site Business2Blogger.com. Here is where you can find their businesses and/or blogs:

Jay Cooney
Shauna Callaghan
Holly Homer

26 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Interviews


Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Interviews

Right now, we’ve been posting a ton of speaker interviews, videos, and guest posts in preparation for #BWELA. Personally, I love it. Interviews especially give you the chance to really get to know the other person. Adding them to your blog will only strengthen your content.

I also recommend doing interviews if possible. Like guest posting, it’s a great way to get some exposure for yourself and your products. Today’s brilliant blogger links cover both topics: how to be the interviewer and how to be the interviewee. You might also want to check out this recent post on interviewing right here on the BlogWorld blog!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

From Tim Ferris to Seth Godin: How to Interview and Build Relationships with the Most “Influential” People in the World by David Siteman Garland

If you only have time to read one post on how to interview people, make it this one. David’s post isn’t just about what kinds of questions you should ask or how you should go about contacting a-listers; it starts at the very beginning with tips on how to get to know these people in the first place. Want to interview the most influential people out there? Start by reading this post. You can also follow David on Twitter @TheRiseToTheTop.

How to Use Interviews On Your Blog by Darren Rowse

This post is actually the first in a three-part series on interviews on Problogger. I highly recommend checking out the other two as well: How to approach others for interviews for your blog and How to be interviewed as a blogger. They’re several years old, but still filled with good tips! After reading his advice, you can follow Darren on Twitter @Problogger.

5 Blog Video Interviewing Tips by Ian Harris

This guest post by Ian Harris on Marko Saric’s blog is a great resource if you want to add video with your interviews. Video still scares me a little, so I really appreciate Ian’s tips! You can follow Ian on Twitter @twilovideo and Marko is on Twitter @markosaric.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about publishing on interviews? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Blog Design

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Interviewing Tips and Tricks


Podcasts come in many flavors, and one very popular format is the interview format. Do you fancy yourself the next Larry King or Oprah? Are you interested in interviewing people in your industry, company or political party? I’ve decided to write about two methods of interviewing that I’ve been experiementing with. The first favors preparation and list-building. The second suggests going in cold with no preparation at all. Here are a few interviewing tips and tricks for you.

Be Prepared

You don’t need to know your guest’s life story—that’s not what being prepared means. Before connecting with your guest for your recording though, you should have a bullet point list of topics as well as a short list of specific questions. The list of topics should be related to the reason you invited your guest to your show to begin with. I produce a show called Inside Internet Marketing that is primarily an interview series, and all my guests work in the affiliate marketing industry. My goal is to interview them about how they got into the industry, what they love and hate about the industry, and how their passions play into the work they do. BAM! There’s three topics, and that’s just me describing what the show is about. I can expand on my topic & questions list by researching any new projects or products that my guest might be promoting, any conferences or events that s/he might be speaking at, or if there are any links between this guest and past guests. Listeners love stories.

One major benefit of preparation like this is that it gives you a way to steer the conversation in the direction you want it to do. If your guest starts to ramble, it’s very easy to use your list to bring the conversation back in line.

I use Evernote to organize all my show notes for all my shows. I have a notebook called Show Notes, and a note for each show with the name and episode number for the title. This gives me a very easy way to cross-reference things that I’ve asked of past guests, ideas for topics and my bullet points for the next guest. I’ve also got Evernote on my iPhone and iPad for keeping track of ideas when I’m out and about. If you’re considering organizing your notes, I recommend an application that has both desktop and mobile functionality.

Be Completely Unprepared

One of my favorite speakers is Kim Ann Curtin and I was fortunate to have her as a guest on Inside Internet Marketing. When I last saw Kim speak, she talked passionately about listening. She drove home the point that to have the most effective conversation with someone, you needed to actively listen, process what is being said, and respond accordingly. It isn’t enough to show up; you need to participate.

I decided to use my interview with Kim as a test. I didn’t tell her ahead of time, but I didn’t prepare any questions for her. I only had one thing to begin the conversation with and then it would be up to me to participate and really have a conversation. There would be no list of questions to read from. There was no safety net. I had to listen accutely to what Kim was talking about, internalize it, and respond with an appropriate comment or follow-up question. I needed to be on my toes the entire time.

It was one of the best interviews I’ve ever conducted.

Given that I knew Kim beforehand and was comfortable talking to her, it was not a tremendous risk trying this method for the first time. Had I been interviewing a famous celebrity or someone whom I’d never met, I would not have tried it. Now that I’ve successfully done it once, I’m more likely to try it again and again. After it becomes second nature, I won’t think twice about using it with anyone at all.

What’s Best for You

One of these approaches will certainly work best for you. Whichever way you go, the same advice will apply: practice. That might seem odd when thinking about an method that favors unpreparation, but practicing the art of conversation is the key to success with it.

Are you an interviewer? What kind of advice would you give to podcasters?

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