Thursday, October 12, 2017

Followers Post 4 :: Write 31 Days






Let's continue the Write 31 Days challenge by talking about a great resource to tap for writing ideas: readers, followers, friends. Before you get on that "I can't take advantage of other people" kick, let's take a look at this option with open minds. 

As I often do, I'll ask that you put yourself on the other side of the pen. Consider this: if a blogger friend emailed and asked you for an interview to post on her blog, how would you respond? Would you tell your friend no? Most likely you'd be positive about the idea, perhaps even honored. Now consider: what is the difference between a blogger friend and a blogger follower? Isn't it possible that a follower would be just as positive, perhaps as honored?

Let's pretend that you have contacted a subject who has agreed to be interviewed. How will the process look? 
  1. After getting confirmation that the artist will answer interview questions, email a list of questions to her.
  2. Ask her to list as thoroughly as she wants to and email the list back. It is critical that you ask if there are subjects that the interviewee does not want to answer and to respect those wishes. If, for example, she doesn't want information about her family on the web, you must avoid asking for information or including information you discover in your research. 
  3. Once the questions and answers come back, it's time use  to write a profile. You may write about the artist, quoting her directly if you'd like, but writing a separate paper. 
  4. Some bloggers prefer to use the Q&A just as they arrive using copy and paste. If you plan to do so, be certain that the artist knows your intent as you should not change any part of the interview without permission. Telling the interviewee upfront gives her a heads-up to edit her work carefully.
  5. It's a good idea to send a copy of the article before it is published. This gives the subject a chance to clear up any misinformation or confusion. 
  6. Finally, the interview is published. Be sure to send the link to the artist so she can add it to her blog if she writes a post about the interview. Of course, it's a good idea to include links to the artist's blog.
See, that wasn't so bad. And the interviewee probably enjoyed answering questions and writing about her craft, family, and life. In other words, people enjoy writing about themselves as much as they enjoy telling about themselves. It's not egotistical, or doesn't have to be. It's quite an honor, actually, and another way to market one's art and work. 

What do you learn or gain from writing a post about a follower or artist? Depending on your questions, the list is quite long, but these are great starters: You learn about
  • a field of work that is different from your particular craft. For example, if you are a traditional quilter, you might interview and learn from a modern quilter. 
  • issues and concerns in the craft. Other people may read different magazines or books than you do. Asking about their influences gives you insight into other opportunities.
  • new or important artists in the field. You and the interviewee may admire different artists, or perhaps she knows of an up-and-coming new artist.
  • a new technique Artist attend many shows and classes. Ask about those and you could discover something new.
  • how to organize or improve the flow of your workspace. Even well-known artists sometimes work in small spaces. Asking about her workplace gives you new insight into how others organize their spaces.

Now that you understand that both you and the other artist have much to gain, consider who to interview. You should already "know" this person by reading books, blogs, magazine articles, etc. that she has published. Perhaps you've met her at a quilt show or convention or in a class. 

Most blogs have an "About me" page or a way to contact the writer. Use this to reach out to the artist, and construct a note requesting an interview. Be sure to tell her which social media you plan to use--email, FB, etc., and get that information from the artist, if necessary. Once you have the go-ahead, begin preparing questions.


Now about those questions. The obvious thing here is that you will get answers to the questions you ask, but it's easy to ask wrong or vague questions. Therefore, building the list of questions carefully is of utmost importance. 

A list of broad questions that can be used in any interview generally doesn't work well because the subject may give broad answers rather than the information readers are seeking. It is, of course, a good idea to build a list of questions that can be your starting point, and can be written at any time, even before you initiate contact. Once you have an agreement with an artist, do your research and use the list to write specific questions. My question lists appears above. I like to have it as I'm doing my research to help me stay on track.

Here's a link to a 2012 interview that I wrote about The Knotted Chain, an Etsy shop from which I won a giveaway. After receiving the jewelry from Shellie, I decided that I liked it and her service so much I wanted to profile her shop. 

This basically is about all there is to writing an interview. It's easy and you get to know your followers and artist friends on a deeper level. It can easily become a regular post to your blog. You never know, someone may even ask you to be the subject!

Please let me know if you have any questions--just leave them in the comments. I'll answer them here and also email you personally.

Links to other posts in this Write 31 Days series:
Writing about Writing Intro 

4 comments:

Kaja said...

LeeAnna at notafraidofcolour.com often goes to craft fairs and interviews the makers as she wanders around. It's always interesting to hear how creative people work.

Debbie Putman said...

I never thought about interviewing someone for my blog but I will now. Thanks for the idea and the how-to.

Bri said...

This was a great post! Thank you for sharing with us. And I bet Shellie really appreciated you sharing her shop! As an Etsy seller myself, I know that is a big help!
Blessings in Christ,
Bri from forget-not-his-benefits.blogspot.com

Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts said...

Thanks, Kaja! That's a great idea, but LeeAnna is a pro! I'll have to check out one of her interview posts.
Debbie and Bri, I hope you both find inspiration in the article. And yes, I think Shellie did appreciate it. I asked her to look over the post before publishing it and we emailed for quite some time after. She's a talented artist!