For the last few days I’ve been working on whittling down the transcript of an interview I conducted with bestselling author T. Harv Eker. When the magazine asked me to do this interview, I jumped at the chance despite my busy schedule. Why? One of the best parts of my job as a journalist involves getting to talk to interesting people, especially people I admire or whom I consider great teachers. Eker falls into that category.
I heard Eker speak about five years ago at an event. He spoke for two enthralling hours. I’ve been trying to make it to one of his Millionaire Mind Intensives ever since. I almost attended one this past year but just couldn’t make the time. This interview seemed a gift from heaven, except I didn’t think I’d be interviewing the author of The Millionaire Mindset about the topic of his book or courses but rather about social media. I’m interested in that, too–and how to succeed at it. So, it still felt like a gift. Then Eker refused the rewrite of his standard list of questions, which his PR person sent along to me and I had revised and added to to reflect the focus of the magazine. So, I revised again and pretty much went back to his original questions. That meant I got to speak to him about his area of expertise! Whoo hoo! Fun for me, and I’d make it work for the magazine some how.
Writing a Q & A article actually is one of the easier types of articles to write for a magazine, and you can employ the same technique on your blog quite successfully as well. In fact, interviews with well-known people posted on your blog will drive traffic to your site. Magazines love these articles for the same reason; a celebrity of any type drives magazine sales, subscriptions or online views.
I like to start my questions with one or two that allow the person to delve into their background a bit. Sometimes the information garnered here ends up in the introduction. I may rewrite their bio using some unique information I have obtained in these first questions. Plus, it breaks the ice for the more serious questions to follow.
Then I create a set of questions that flow logically one after the other and allow the interviewee to make the points I am seeking. In this way, the article will flow logically from one question and answer into another. I won’t have to move any of the answers around.
Now comes the difficult part–at least if the interviewee was a willing participant eager to speak about his or her topic. You have to edit and cut the transcript of the interview down to a manageable word count. For example, after my interview with Eker was transcribed, I ended up with an 8,600 or so word document. My article assignment was for a 2,000 word document including an introductory paragraph or two. That meant a lot of cutting of really great information.
You do have to go through the transcript and cut and slash. If that isn’t possible, you need to read carefully and cut sentences and or phrases, then combine what is left with three ellipses (…) to show you have removed some of what was said.
Of course, you also must edit the whole transcript. You cannot change your subject’s words, but you can delete some redundancies and put in appropriate punctuation, etc. At the time of the interview I always ask their permission to correct their grammar as well.
You always need a lead, or introductory paragraph or two, some sort of description of the person (a bio)–either included in the lead or placed at the end of the article, and sometimes a conclusion.
Pretty simple really. No need to do a lot of crafting of content. The interview subject provides all of that. And you go away having met someone interesting, learned something, and acquired one more byline and a paycheck.
I ended up with a refresher course from the time I heard Eker speak and a mini Millionaire Mind Intensive. I was pretty happy about that. Plus, the interview is scheduled as a cover story. Not bad all the way around.
Cha monti says
Hi i would like to ask if q & a articles have to be on famous people. Because i was wondering if i could do one on an owner of a restaurant
Nina Amir says
You can interview anyone you like–if your readers will be interested.
How do you know what questions to ask ?
“Why are we here ?” a good question or
“Tell me about your day?”
Nina Amir says
Ask questions related to the topic of your blog and the expertise of the person you are interviewing.