freelancerforhire

Wrangling Interviews

In Learn from my mistakes. on October 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

Just as deadlines are a fact of life for a writer – in most cases so are interviews.  I can’t imagine that any successful writer has gone their entire career without having to do at least a few interviews.  Which brings me to today’s lesson learned the hard way: make sure the bulk of your work is done before you begin soliciting interviews, or t the very least be able to give your interviewees a realistic finish date.

I have been working on an article to be featured on my web zine for a couple months now.  I put the horse before the carriage a bit and started contacting people for interviews before I even had a complete list of people I’d like to interview.  As a result I landed the first interview in August expecting to be finished in a couple weeks, and wasn’t. 

It’s taken longer than expected to get the interviews I wanted for this piece.  Just finding the right people for my needs has been harder than I expected, and then a  few people weren’t interested or didn’t have the time to participate. 

Why is this so important?  Your interviewees may want to see the finished product, and you don’t want to seem unprofessional by delivering it late (in my opinion it’s good form to offer to send the finished product or notify them after publication – preferably the former).  If that’s not reason enough, you want to be reasonably certain that this article is going to happen.  Imagine taking the time to participate in an interview with the expectation you’d be quoted in an article, only to find out that your time had been wasted.  That’s exactly the situation you want to avoid with your interviewees.

Finally, If you conduct your interview in a professional manner from beginning to end and the turn out a well-written article that provides your interviewees with some promotion you may build a worthwhile business relationship.  If you don’t conduct your interview professionally, well…you won’t.

What do you do if you find yourself in my position – with one or more interviews under your belt but behind schedule to meet the date you’ve given your interviewees, or even worse the finish date you’ve given them already passed?  Do what I did.  Be sincere, and apologetic.  Remember, they are doing you a favor and their time is precious.  I sent an e-mail to the person I interviewed explaining that I fully expected o be finished by now but it;s taken longer than expected to complete the interview process for my article.  I let her know I was still moving forward with the piece and would notify as soon as I was finished.

It’s a lot easier said than done.  But to avoid this situation altogether try taking these steps:

  • Do your research and compile a list of possible interviewees.
  • Write out a list of juicy questions considering what kind of quotes you’d like to include in your article.  You may even want to consider slighly varrying the questions for each person on your list.
  • Consider how many interviews you think you’ll need and then add a few, just in case some decline.  (as a general rule interviewing 1 person only works if it’s an article about that person)
  • Create your outline and write as much of the article as possible before hand so you can insert quotes in some places.  You can probably get your introduction written if nothing else.  Getting started can be the hardest part.
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  1. Good luck! Hope things are going well:)

    Kristin

  2. I find it impossible to break into the freelancing writing world:

    #1) I do not have any time to truly focus on my mission with three boys attached at my hip.

    #2) I have never been published in a magazine before and do not have the time to market myself.

    #3) As I leaf through the magazines, I lose my momentum to submit my writing.

    Your advice is very much appreciated. I am glad that I found you over at the MBC writing group.

    **ps, I sooo miss NYC at this time of year.

  3. Things are going pretty well, thank you Kristen. It can seem impossible to break into freelancing, especially in the beginning, Jillian. I have the same feelings sometimes. I’m glad you found me at MBC too!

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