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When people start a blog, the biggest questions they ask are “How do I increase traffic? How do I create traffic?” That’s why, in this episode, and in the Content Machine series, we’re focusing on content systems. Our goal is to help you build a repeatable, scalable process to create unique content that you can then put on your website to drive SEO traffic and to share with the community.
Focus on Creating a Content System for Your Blog
Maybe you’re writing a post every day. I’ve done this for several months, but it’s hard, and chances are that you’re going to falter at some point and not feel like doing it. That’s why you’ve got to create processes and systems for creating content, leveraging that content, getting it out, and using it to get traffic.
When I started with DustSafetyScience.com, I used what I call random topic blogging. This is what a lot of people do at the start. I flipped through my textbook and said, “Okay, I’m going to talk about the combustion of single particles or something like that.”
I researched it heavily, created amazing images, wrote all the material, and uploaded it to WordPress. That was my life for the first month or two of having my blog.
As a system, it’s not scalable, it’s overly difficult, and you won’t keep up with it. I didn’t keep up with it either.
The trick here is to find something that works for you and stick with it. Maybe you’re reading a lot of technical or scientific papers right now. The three-minute paper process is one that you can use to create content. If you’re tired of researching and reading technical articles, maybe you can focus on content curation and repurposing. You could publish a weekly blog post covering the 10 most important topics in wildlife science or wildlife biology. Use Google alerts to pull that information in and repurpose it into a blog post or newsletter.
If you’re getting the idea that content machines or content systems are a better way to go, you’re right.
With an interview series, you interview people whose experience and insights will interest your audience and use their answers to create blog posts on your website. It’s like guest posting, except that you reach out to them, do an interview, and then publish a blog post.
I came up with eight steps to do this process.
Step one: Pick an overall topic
Maybe you’re doing 10 interviews on jobs after finishing your PhD, or a new series on things you can do with a molecular biology degree. You want to come up with an overall topic, but you’re doing an interview with each person.
Step two: Create your list of questions
These are the questions you’re going to ask the interviewees. You can ask the same question to each person you’re interviewing or you could vary the questions depending on their background. I like doing the same question. I find it interesting to see how different people respond to the same question.
Step three: Create your list of potential interviewees
Scour social media and your network for people who might be interested. Google your topic. What websites are coming up? What blogs are coming up? Those are probably great potential interviewees.
Step four: Create your template outreach email
This is important if you’re reaching out to several people at once. It’s easier if you create a template.
The general opener that I use is “Hello.” Then I add a personal note like “Hope the weather’s nice in Florida at this time of the year” followed by “I’m emailing you to see if you’d be interested in doing X or being involved in project Y.”
You want to get straight to the point within the first paragraph or two. Explain why you’re asking and tell them exactly what they can do next. “If you’re interested, hit reply and we’ll set a time to do the interview. If you’re interested, here are the questions. Email me your responses.” Make it easy for them.
Finally, add some gentle urgency. Just say, “I’m collecting the interviews for May in the month of February. If you’re interested, make sure you give me your response by the end of this month.” This way, you’re more likely to receive responses.
Step five: Send a follow-up email
There’s a saying out there that goes something like “The money is in the followup.” A followup email will double or triple your response rate.
The email I send goes like this:
“Hi, name. Just following up on my previous email about doing X. We are in the process of looking at the responses and we are analyzing them until January 15th. I want to follow up just in case. No worries if you don’t want to be involved- just ignore this email. But I wanted to follow up in case you want to have your opinion heard. All the best, Chris.”
Step six: Create your SOP for posting the interview
What do you do when you get a response? You upload it into WordPress, make it all pretty, double-check everything, press publish, and then realize that you forgot to tag the image in the post. Or you forgot to proofread it.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) will probably include things like:
- Create an image
- Rename the image with the person’s name for SEO purposes
- Tag it properly and add it to your post
- Copy the content in WordPress
- Preview and proofread
- Preview and double-check line spacing and links
- Release on a set date
Whatever the steps are, create an SOP so that you don’t forget them.
Step seven: Post your interview
This is a simple one. You’ve now got it uploaded into WordPress. You’re ready to go. Ship that thing into the world.
Step eight: Promote your posts
Post them on social media, tag the interviewee, and email the interviewee to let them know it’s live and ask them to promote it. You can also create a LinkedIn post summarizing the interview and use that to drive people back to your website.
What are the Benefits of an Interview Series?
Using this content machine for your blog will deliver multiple benefits.
Benefit #1: You get a lot of content out of a little bit of work
Once you set up this process where you’re emailing a person, getting a positive response, sending them the questions, getting the responses, uploading the post and promoting it, you could get a great new blog post every week out of 30, maybe 45 minutes of work.
Benefit #2: You establish relationships
The people whom you interview might become long-term readers of the blog. They can also become colleagues or friends or maybe partners down the road. It makes them look good, which is always the best way to make you look good.
Benefit #3: Social sharing and distribution are built into the process
You can email the interviewee and say, “Hey, do you mind re-tweeting this or posting it to your newsletter?” This is nice when you’re getting started because others will help you share your content when you don’t have a large social media following.
Benefit #4: It builds your authority
You will be seen as a hub of information. With content repurposing, you’re not really creating any fresh new content of your own, but you will be seen as the authority because you are the central hub through which all this information passes. If somebody wants to learn the best thing about dust explosions, they know to go to my website. This is the best way to build a profitable business based on that authority.
Benefit #5: It diversifies your content automatically
You’re not going to get stuck in a rut where you’re writing blog post after blog post with the same tone and content, because you’re interviewing different people with varying backgrounds and points of view.
Examples of How Others Use an Interview Series
One is Scientist in the Spotlight by Sophie Arthur at sophtalkscience.com. We’ve mentioned her on the podcast before. With Scientist in the Spotlight, she highlights a scientist and what they do. Another platform is Beyond Prof. They do a PhD interview series, which focuses on what people are doing with their PhDs after they finish them. The interview series is at https://beyondprof.com/aurora/interviews/.
If you have any questions about how to start an interview series for your blog, you can reach out to me via email or leave a comment below.
I look forward to showing you the various ways you can build content and drive traffic to your blog so you can build a business that changes the world.
This is the fourth episode in the Content Machine series. The previous episodes were:
- Using random topic blogging as your first content machine
- Using three-minute papers to drive traffic to your site
- Content curation and repurposing
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