The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Video Interview Series

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This year is on the downhill slope now.  September is about to wrap up soon and we’ll be heading into the holidays next.  Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas, they will be here before you can blink your eyes.Until then though I have another super cool guest for you today.  I met Bent through blogging of course and have had the opportunity to get to know him. 

He does a lot of interviews and I just LOVE his style.  I asked him to be my guest and he came up with a really awesome post for you today, sharing with you how you can put together your own video series too.

So take it away Brent…

In a nutshell, creating a video interview series is a great way to…

  • Produce original content
  • Establish credibility
  • Learn new skills
  • Connect with influential people
  • Add value to your blog readers

…and have plenty of fun while doing it!

(There are plenty of great reasons to make video a priority, and I will share more of them below!)

For instance, you may have caught my episode of Better Blogging that featured none other than Adrienne Smith:

This episode was the fifteenth in the series, and it prompted one of my followers to ask…

“How do I create my own video interview series?”

That’s a great question, and one that I would be thrilled to answer.

For all intents and purposes, I will outline my process in this guide. But first, let’s talk about…

Why Creating a Video Interview Series Is a Good Idea

A while back, I published a post on building relationships with other bloggers. I will happily go on record as saying that connecting with other bloggers is the single fastest way to build your audience.

(And I know Adrienne will heartily agree!)

But aside from publishing roundups and guest posts, creating your own video interview series is one more way you can leverage the expertise of top bloggers in your niche.

On the surface, it might sound like a large time commitment to create your own video interview series.

And it is.

At the same time, there are a lot of compelling reasons to do it.

For starters, it is an endless source of content.

Let’s pretend for a minute that your niche is training Labrador Retriever puppies. You may have already published content on leash training, crate training, and interacting with small children.

To be frank, there are only so many different ways you can spin your own knowledge to create new content. But introducing an expert to share his or her perspective on a particular topic can make all the difference.

And even though creating a video interview series may be time consuming, it is easy to do and a lot of fun.

For instance, did you know that Adrienne is from Houston and sounds like a true Texan when she speaks? I would have never known that had I not got to speak with her face-to-face!

Plus, it adds a lot of credibility to your blog when viewers see authoritative individuals giving you an interview.

Finally, your video interviews can be re-purposed. For a small fee, you can hire someone to transcribe the interview, and then turn the resulting content into a free giveaway, a blog post, an infographic… or you could even convert the entire video interview series into a podcast!

Who Should You Interview & How Do You Connect?

To begin, make a list of respected experts in your niche. These don’t have to be individuals with Gary Vaynerchuk‘s level of notoriety, but they should at least be easily recognizable individuals… basically, people with more influence than you have.

The caveat here is that these are people you should have already been building some type of connection with. This could have been through:

  • Commenting on their blog
  • Participating in their webinars
  • Sharing their content on social media
  • Linking to them in your own blog posts

In other words, the candidates for your video interview series should at least know who you are.

Send an email to that individual and ask – politely – if they would like to appear on your program.

Now, let me share the secret sauce to getting people to say yes…

(a) Promise a short interview

You might be familiar with podcasts and interviews that run 60 to 90 minutes in length. While an expert might be willing to give an interview of that length to someone with millions of viewers – say, Ellen Degeneres – try to be realistic about your own reach.

If this is your first video interview series, your reach is probably limited.

Instead, adopt an approach like Tanya Smith. Her podcast, Snack Size Marketing, attempts to keep each episode under 10 minutes.

In a similar fashion, I work to keep each episode of Better Blogging between seven and eight minutes in length. Not only does it entice the expert to agree to an interview, but it also makes the finished product more easily viewable for your audience.

(b) Name drop as much as possible

The first three people I interviewed were Matthew “Kaboomis” Loomis, Sharon Hurley Hall, and Tor Refsland. Each of those individuals has a significant following, and you had better believe I told every subsequent prospective interviewee about it.

This helps to emphasize that your program is meant to be taken seriously… as in, you interview real experts.

(c) Confirm a time

We will talk more about which platform to use to conduct the video interview later… but for now, just focus on getting a confirmed interview time.

I am personally a huge fan of what is known as a “two choice” close. In other words…

“I have some time available on Thursday. Would 11 am EST or 4 pm EST work better for you?”

A promise to do an interview at some ambiguous point in the future is as good as having no interview at all.

(d) Promise the interviewee a chance to self-promote

If you are attempting to interview any kind of credible expert, he or she will have something happening that is worthy of promotion.

Always strongly underscore that your interviewees are welcome to share something they have going on.

As I am writing this post, I just dug up a copy of one of the first emails I sent out requesting an interview. Here is the original version:

Hi __,

I was wondering if you might like to be a guest on my new web series, Better Blogging…?

So, you may have already caught the episodes I did with…

  • Matthew Loomis
  • Sharon Hurley Hall

If not, they’re available here:
http://betterblogging.com

Upcoming episodes will feature:

  • Tanya Smith
  • Brandon Schaefer
  • Tor Refsland
  • Thomas E. Hanna

And others…

Each episode gives my guest the opportunity to:

  1. Discuss your best practices.
  2. Tell us what makes you great.
  3. Promote something exciting you have going on.

Best of all, I make the whole thing really easy for you.

We’ll conduct a 10-minute interview via Hangouts On Air, and then I’ll take care of everything from there. I will, of course, give you a chance to prep by sending you a short questionnaire to complete.

Your answers on that questionnaire will guide the interview itself.

I have some time available this upcoming Thursday. Any chance you could squeeze me into your schedule at 11 am EST or 4 pm EST?

I’d certainly appreciate it, and I think it would do a lot of good for both of us.

Best,

Go ahead, copy and paste it.

You’re welcome.

Failing to Prepare Is Preparing to Fail

Sure, we have all seen those so-called interviews in which two people just shoot the breeze for an hour…

Hey! Maybe you like that sort of thing.

I don’t.

I’m a little too controlling for that.

If I’m going to spend time interviewing an expert, I want to look like I am at least somewhat prepared. And I think my readers and followers deserve to see a high quality interview, jam-packed full of awesome information in the shortest time period possible.

So I crafted a questionnaire – in the form of a Word document – that I send to each interviewee. I send it to him or her after an interview time is confirmed, and request that it be sent back no less than 24 hours before the interview.

So far, I haven’t had to chase anyone down for it.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking…

“Brent, it’s 2015… are you really using a Word document? Why not a carrier pigeon or a telegraph?”

Very funny.

Truth is, you could use Google Forms or anything else.

What really matters is that you ascertain the following information:

  • How does your interviewee want to be introduced?
  • What is your interviewee an expert at?
  • What should the focus of the interview be?
  • What does he or she want to promote?
  • What links does he or she want you to include with the published video?
  • Who else can your interviewee refer you to?

Yes, you read that last question correctly.

Ask your interviewee who else he or she knows that may benefit from appearing on your program.

  • Matthew “Kaboomis” Loomis introduced me to Brandon Schaefer.
  • Brandon Schaefer introduced me to Wade Harman.
  • Wade Harman introduced me to Ileane Smith.

…are you getting the picture?

Before the interview, spend some time reviewing their answers. Decide on a singular focus for the interview, and craft exactly how you intend to introduce your interviewee.

Finally, write down five or six good, solid questions to ask… questions that your know your audience would want to hear answered by this person. Cater the questions to their expertise. And ensure your final question prompts your interviewee to tell you about the thing he or she wants to promote.

The Fastest 10 Minutes of Your Life

Here’s the thing… when you actually come face-to-face with someone you really admire, like Dustin W. Stout or Ashley Faulkes, you had better be prepared…

(Go back and review the last step if you skipped over it!)

Because that 10-minute interview is going to go quickly. You just might find yourself going well over time, and that is okay. In a moment, we will talk about editing the raw video.

There a number of different platforms you could use to record your video; however, I am a big fan of creating a live event on YouTubethrough Hangouts on Air – to conduct my interviews. My main reasons are that it:

  1. Is consistently reliable
  2. Saves the raw video to my YouTube channel
  3. Alternates the video feed between speakers automatically

Here is how you do it.

Go to your Video Manager on YouTube and select Live Events.

Next, click on New live event in the top right corner.

Choose Unlisted from the drop down menu, give your interview a name, and then click Go live now.

Hangouts on Air will load.

In the top menu bar, click Invite People to get a shareable link.

Copy that link, and send it to your interviewee. It is a good idea to do this a few minutes before the interview is scheduled to start.

When the interviewee joins, spend a minute or two chatting and breaking the ice before the interview begins.

It is also a good idea at this time to:

  • Check the lighting
  • Double check the sound
  • Clarify any pronunciation issues

When you are ready, click Start broadcast at the bottom of the screen and recording will begin!

Now, as a stylistic preference, I prefer to begin and end my videos the same way. If you have ever watched Better Blogging, you will notice for the most part that they begin with…

“Hi! My name is Brent Jones and welcome to Better Blogging, the series that uncovers best practices of successful bloggers…”

And they end with the same rant about new episodes each month, subscribing to my YouTube channel, checking out my website for more information, and then,

“Until next time, I’m Brent, and thanks for watching!”

Does this make my program any better?

Probably not.

But I like to try to keep things looking official and consistent.

Ask your questions, give your interviewee plenty of time to respond… and if one of you trips over your words? Don’t worry about it. Because we still need to edit this video.

How to Make Your Video Interview Series Look Professional

By the time you finish recording your first video interview, you will be over the moon…

Except, wait! Not so fast. You still have work to do!

If you want, you can just skip this step, publish your video, and start promoting it… but if you want to create a video interview series that looks professional, you have more work to complete.

To begin, you are going to need to download your video from YouTube. Don’t worry – if you followed the previous steps, your raw video was uploaded to your channel as Unlisted. Simply put, this means no one can see it except for you and the people you share it with.

The easiest way I know how to do this is as follows:

Right-click on the video in your Video Manager and Copy Link Location. (Firefox)

Navigate to KeepVid, paste the link to your video, and then click Download.

Right-click on the 720p version and select Save Link As. (Firefox)

Congratulations!

You have now downloaded the raw video file to your computer.

Open the raw video file in your favorite editing program. While I use Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 for more advanced video editing, I – believe it or not – use a really old school version of Windows Movie Maker to do simple interview edits. You can download Windows Movie Maker 6.0 here if you wish.

(It’s literally the fastest way I know to create jump cuts…!)

Wait, did I get ahead of myself?

A jump cut refers to splitting a video in such a way that it literally jumps from one point in time to a future point in time. I will almost always soften the jump by adding a “fade in from white” effect. This indicates to the viewer that a period of time has elapsed, while making the transition itself less harsh.

I use jump cuts to remove stutters, run-on answers, a dog barking in the background, or pretty much anything else that takes away from the professionalism of the interview.

In some cases, I need to cut out a few minutes of dialogue to get the interview down to my target length of seven or eight minutes.

The final step is to add a professional intro and outro clip. If you think about creating your own video interview series as the equivalent of a program on television, you would expect to see an introduction and end credits… right?

I had mine made on Fiverr for just $5 each.

Once the video has been trimmed down to size, and the intro and outro have been added, you are nearly finished!

Get Your Interview Ready to Publish

Go ahead and upload your newly encoded video to YouTube.

(If you wish, you can now delete the unlisted raw video from your original interview…)

Now, so far as optimizing the title of your new video upload, its description, and its tags… I won’t go into detail. You might wish to check in with Ileane Smith for that.

The reason I don’t spend much time on these details is that Better Blogging was created as a means of producing content for my blog, not building my following on YouTube. While I should probably spend more time maximizing my native exposure on YouTube, I haven’t done so… yet.

But the one thing I do suggest is creating an eye-catching thumbnail for your new video upload.

The reason being is that this image will be the still frame displayed to viewers on your blog before they press play. And if you have ever uploaded a video to YouTube before, you know that the default still frame will almost always be taken when your eyes are closed or it looks like you are about to fart.

How do you create an awesome thumbnail?

Canva is a simple and free choice. My wife has been kind enough to create my thumbnails for me thus far, and I know that she uses Canva.

(This thumbnail can also double as the featured image for your blog post… so make it good!)

For the purpose of keeping my branding consistent, all Better Blogging episodes more or less have a thumbnail that looks like this:

You would also be wise to add all of your episodes in your video interview series to a playlist that gets featured on your YouTube channel… should someone come across one of your videos organically on YouTube, you might as well make it easy for them to find the rest in the series.

Schedule your video to publish at a later date, mark it as unlisted, or publish it right away. The choice is yours! Just note that you will be unable to embed the video on your blog until it is published.

Now, let’s talk about preparing the blog post itself…

First, assuming you are using WordPress, create a new category for each episode of your program.

Then create a new post and embed your video.

Again, assuming you are using WordPress, this should be fairly easy to do. Just click Add Media in the top left above the visual editor, and then choose Insert from URL. Paste the link to your YouTube video, and then click Insert into post.

But take it a step further… you owe it both to yourself and your interviewee to create a sharp blog post that is worthy of sharing. Add things such as:

  • Your interviewee’s social media and website links, and whatever they are currently promoting
  • A description of the program itself and when new episodes will be available
  • Key takeaways and noteworthy quotes from the interview
  • Links to other recent episodes of your program

I personally use the Special Recent Posts FREE Edition plugin to list the recent episodes below the video in each post. That way, each blog post updates automatically when a new episode is published.

When you are satisfied with your post, publish it, share the heck out of it, and notify your interviewee that the post is live.

(Most likely, he or she will share it, too!)

Creating a Video Interview Series Isn’t so Hard… Is It?

Alright, so… wow. This was a fairly detailed guide, right?

This is literally everything I do, step-by-step, to produce content for my video interview series.

Of course, there are numerous variations you could consider…

For example… perhaps you don’t want to interview anyone, and you would rather create your own video tutorial series.

You could do that.

Or maybe you’d rather leave the video raw and unedited, so it appears exactly as it happened.

You could do that, too.

I think the important thing to take away from this guide is that video is a powerful tool. Used correctly, it can be a great way to regularly produce engaging content.

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