Let me say this up front: Email interviews are not really interviews, from a journalistic point of view. I’ve shared my view on that repeatedly.
But writers are increasingly relying on this method of extracting quick quotes from experts.
Often, they’re either scrambling for blog-post fodder.Or they’re simply scared to call people and conduct real interviews.
I see posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Help a Reporter Out, and other places, nearly every day for sources to “send your best tip on email for inclusion” in roundup posts for blogs large and small. Sigh.
In a typical week, I dozens of requests asking me to participate in email interviews of 6-10 questions. They’re usually idiotic.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m always going to choose picking up the phone over email interviews. But if that’s your only option to connect with a source, here’ how to make sure it doesn’t suck.
Thinking about going back to school to learn journalist skills to help your freelance career?
You could…if you want to waste time and money. Don’t get me wrong, learning is good. But do you really need to spend a couple years in the classroom and a pile of money on tuition to develop journalist skills? No.
In case you’re wondering, I’m one of those people with a master’s degree in journalism. That’s the route I took to develop journalist skills to write for newspapers and magazines, and ultimately carve out a career as a freelance writer. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t need a degree to be a freelancer. After all, The Carol Tice is a college dropout.
But you do need journalist skills to do things like dig up information, generate ideas, interview sources, find fresh angles, craft headlines, and write great content.
So how do you develop journalist skills to get more writing jobs? Skip the college route, and learn by doing. Here’s what you need to know:
Want to get paid to write about writing? If you know a little something about the business and craft of freelancing, you can cash in on your ideas and experience.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
It’s no secret that finding a niche is a smart strategy to grow your freelance writing business. Everyone should have a niche, or two or three. And writing can be one of them.
In fact, there’s a number of online and print markets that serve freelance writers and some pay up to $1,500 per assignment. Pitch these places great story ideas, and you can get paid to write about writing. For example:
You’ve got some insight on how to write great headlines.
You’ve learned a few interview tricks over the years to get sources to spill the beans.
You’ve some great connections with thought leaders in writing and publishing you can interview and write a feature about.
Or maybe you’d like to write about the art of the pitch and interview pros who know how to do it.
Want to get paid to write about writing? Check out these markets that cover the business and craft of freelance writing, and start pitching.
If you want to be a freelance journalist, you need to know how to find and interview sources.
But if the idea of calling up a total stranger and asking for a few minutes of their time for an interview freaks you out, then what?
Stick with low-paying content mill assignments? Give up on freelancing? Don’t do that, OK.
Ask any veteran freelance journalist about finding and interviewing sources, and most will tell you they felt the same way starting out.
It take a little practice to learn how to find sources, build relationships, and ask the kind of interview questions that get people to spill their guts and plenty of juicy details for your assignment.
You might need to ignore those first-time jitters to ask a source for an interview. And once you’re on the phone or face to face with a source, guiding the conversation takes a little practice. But it’s a skill you can learn to develop.
Want to learn how to find and interview sources as a freelance journalist? Here’s how it’s done:
How do you get paid what you deserve while doing what you love?
I thought about that a lot back when my freelance work mainly included writing for blogs and a local newspaper.
Then something happened that completely changed my writing business. I landed my first contract to ghostwrite a book.
That first project gave me the street-cred I needed to become a full-time freelancer and ghostwriter.
Want to learn how to land your first contract to ghostwrite a book and grow your freelance business? Here’s how:
There is one skill that separates the wannabes from the well-paid freelance writers.
That talent is interviewing — particularly, the ability to get memorable quotes from high-profile people. Leading experts, actors, rock stars, CEOs of $1 billion companies, presidents, big-time gurus, and the people who know them. Those types of folks.
This is a skill I learned early, and it’s helped me earn well as a freelance writer. Here are my three big tips for how to interview experts: