Interviews enrich blog posts

I like interviewing people who bring new experiences and perspectives to light travel at Planepack - my blog and website about travelling and flying with carry on luggage only.

Since starting Planepack in February, I’ve published about 20 posts that include interviews. This is what I do:

Find the right person

Choosing a subject is the easiest part: everyone has a story to tell and friends and colleagues are generally happy to be interviewed. I’ve spoken to men and women, light travellers, other bloggers and even fashion designers.

Choose an interview venue

Mostly I chat to people in cafes; they feel comfortable talking over a cup of coffee. The background ambient noise adds to the interview atmosphere - and you can promote the cafe as an added bonus.

Prepare 10 interview questions

I always research my subjects so that I can ask them interesting stuff. Most of my interviews revolve around light travel - I hope readers of my blog enjoy others’ travel experiences. I prepare 10 questions, which usually equates to about 10-15 minutes of interview time. I have the questions in front of me so that I don’t stumble and mumble during the interview. Sometimes the interviews move away from those questions, but it's useful to have a set prepared.

Use the right technology

I’m not a professional broadcaster, but my suite of technology does the job well enough for me. I use the following to capture the interview:

  • iPhone 7
  • Voice Memos Voice Recorder app
  • RODE mic,with an iPhone connector

Snap away

During your meeting, take a natural portrait photo of your subject to use in your blog post. If they are happy to be filmed, it’s great to capture a video of your subject describing or using a product. I use my iPhone, which is perfect for these ‘how-to’ videos. Or if filming isn’t possible, snap your subject talking or demonstrating their products.

Work those files

Name your Voice Memos file and save it at once to Dropbox. Your images and video should be automatically captured on your iPhone - so all good.

  • Share your Dropbox audio file with a sound engineer - I use SineSound to clean up the audio if necessary: your engineer can remove all those unnecessary umms and aahs. I have a standard Planepack jingle, which SineSound adds as an intro and outro to my audio file. He returns this as an mp3 file, ready for publishing.
  • Send the Dropbox audio file for a transcript - I use Rev, which is an excellent and well-priced service. They usually return the audio transcript text within 12 hours.
  • Review the Rev audio transcript against your audio file to edit out any misheard or misspelt terms.
  • Publish the video files at your YouTube channel. Make sure you complete all the metadata fields. YouTube automatically generates captions, which is great. But you’ll have to edit those as YouTube doesn’t interpret the speech perfectly. Editing and capturing these captions is a bit of a mission, but there are YouTube videos to help you!

This audio and video content forms the basis of your blog post.

Draft your blog post

I usually include the following in my interview blog posts:

  • Text: I write an introduction - why am I interviewing this person, for example - and I usually close with a bit of text too.
  • Video: embed the YouTube video in your blog post at an appropriate spot - with a relevant caption and a well-chosen thumbnail image.
  • Audio: embed the mp3 file with relevant metadata and captions.
  • Transcript: I like to publish the edited transcript as part of the blog post, but I’ve been criticised that these are not well enough edited. I’m in two minds about that as the transcript is a verbatim copy of the speech. To alleviate this, I’ve published the transcript as an attached file, but that defeats the purpose of being able to read the transcript as you listen to the audio interview. I’m interested if anyone has comments and feedback about transcripts and how to use them.
  • Images: add your images with captions to the post. If you’re publishing the audio transcript in the blog, it’s great to insert the images in the relevant spots to break the long text block.

Promote your interview

Facebook: As well as sharing the post with the normal social media channels, I like to publish the YouTube videos at my Facebook Planepack page. This is where having video captions is useful. According to AI Media, who specialise in web accessible content, more Facebook viewers pay attention to videos with captions than those who are bothered to open the video to listen to it.

iTunes: All my audio files are immediately published to my iTunes podcast via an automated RSS feed from Squarespace - the platform I use to publish Planepack blog posts. For some reason, it gives me a real thrill to see the list of interviews grow at Planepack Radio! I think it fulfills my early career wish to become a radio broadcaster.

And that’s it - apart from asking your subject to share the interview and blog post with his or her network. I hope you’ll give it a go; it’s good fun to speak to a wide variety of interesting people, and I think interviews add an interesting and enriching dimension to your publishing endeavour.

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