Using Interviews to Build Your Online Course Business

Interviewing experts in your online course subject is a great way to gain a following, and sell more products.

Are you looking for a way to market your online course business but don’t want to write article after article? If you enjoy talking to people then interviews might be for you! Simply by talking to experts in your field you will slowly gain a following and eventually the platform to sell your own content.

If this sounds interesting then continue reading! This article will help you determine who to interview, how to secure the interview, and even what questions you should ask.

How do you find experts to interview?

Soundbites from the right people can advance the purpose of your online class and help you reach more of your niche audience.

Use these strategies to feed to marketing funnel and increase your enrollments:

  • Networking: If possible, choose someone you know or are connected to for the first interview. You’re more likely to get a yes and already know their specialties make a good fit for your students. Be careful not to choose another online instructor who’s a direct competitor — choosing a highly successful online instructor in a related vertical is OK and strongly encouraged.
  • Respond to the Audience: Active readers and students will often tell you who they want to hear from. If possible, secure these resources, who may even inspire material for a follow-up course.
  • Filling the Funnel: Align your course content and sales funnel to generate leads. Audit your other marketing efforts to determine gaps that can be filled by one or more interviews with popular influencers. For example, if your course is on how to achieve 80 rpm in long-distance biking, you can interview regional and local athletes to learn more about their training programs.

It’s more than an interview, it’s about establishing a relationship.

You’re not done when you’ve found the experts you need and that your audience wants. You have to get them to agree to the interview, which might be difficult at first. Building a relationship can be tricky, so maximize the likelihood that they’ll open your email and agree to partner with you.

Here are some ideas on getting in good with thought leaders and influencers:

  • Follow their social media accounts, sharing their content often.
  • Mention them in your own updates, such as #FF tweets to follow you on Twitter.
  • Read and comment on their blogs using an authentic voice and tone. Try to make it memorable.
  • Buy or review their courses.
  • Attend conferences or webinars they host.
  • Subscribe to their email lists.

The more of these you can squeeze in, the more likely you’ll land the interview.

Ask for the interview.

Once your target interviewee knows who you are, it’s time to ask for an interview. Using email allows you to say what you want privately. Keep it friendly, engaging and to the point. Your message could go like this:

SUBJECT: Hi (interviewee), can I interview you?

Hi (interviewee),

I’m the instructor for (your course), and my students and I are huge fans of your work in (reference a webinar, podcast, TedTalk or another online event). I’d love to talk to you about (topic) because it’s such a natural fit with our shared interest in (subject matter). Of course, I would send you a list of the interview questions and welcome any feedback you have on the content of the interview.

If you’re open to an interview, would (date and time) work for you?

Here is a free link to some reviews and summaries of my blog content related to my (name of class) class:

link
link
Thanks for much for your time and I hope I can talk to you very soon!

(your name)

You might not get a reply the first time you reach out, and that’s okay! Influencers are often busy. It is perfectly fine to follow-up with the individual after a few days, but if they don’t reply again then leave it at that. You don’t want to get a reputation for being annoying.

Coming up with the right questions.

Once you secure the interview it’s a good idea to conduct research to prepare for it. Read the most recent posts on their blog and check out a few books on their area of expertise. The more you know, the more effective your questions will be. Ask them questions on their website to build the relationship and publicize your affiliation with them.

Use your research to come up with several questions that inform your students and entice them to delve further into the topic by taking your class.

Make your questions open-ended so that the interviewee can explain topics on their own terms. This method encourages longer answers. The idea is to get your expert to discuss what, who, where, when, why and how — to cover the topic in depth.

Here are some discussion points that work for most topics, including the expert biker in the example above. You can ask them how they pedaled their way to the top of their biking career:

  • What challenges did they face? How were obstacles overcome?
  • What are the points you/the interviewee want to get across?
  • How did your expert arrive at the solution? Have they?
  • Who can gain the most from the experience?
  • Any final words of advice (to student/practitioners)?

Send them the details in a timely manner.

Help your interviewee feel as comfortable as possible. If they publish and interview a lot, they may not need a lot of hand-holding. However, you can send them details to prepare for the interview, including:

  • A warm thank you for doing the interview
  • When the interview will take place
  • Whether the interview will be live or recorded
  • How the interview will take place — Skype, Zoom, Vodburner
  • Whether the interview will be emailed to them (not recommended if you want to ensure a fast response
  • List of interview questions with notes
  • If applicable, an interview “how-to” guide

Be sure to explain what readers or listeners hope to take away from the experience and tie-ins to your course branding.

Take care of the logistics.

Here are suggestions on what to do before, during and after the interview.

  • Before the interview: Send reminder emails a couple of days before and a few hours before the interview. Make sure your microphone and headsets are in working order, as well as your recording options.
  • During the interview: Prepare your guest for spur of the moment questions. If you aren’t sure of something, repeat what you think the guest said or ask for clarification. Remember to ask deeper questions on some topics. One way to do so is to ask, “Why is that important?”
  • After the interview: Don’t overedit. You want the interview to sound natural and not canned. Clean up the ums and awkward pauses but strive for an impromptu effect to ensure the finished product stays fresh.

Use a compelling introduction to pull your audience into the interview. Don’t forget a strong call-to-action to check out or enroll in your online course. This is the whole point of the interview after all!

Promote the interview everywhere and often.

Now that you have an interview you’re happy with, the final step in promoting the article, video or sound file to draw the widest audience possible. The key is to get experts to share the interviews with their own communities. This gives you access to a wider audience for your online course. Here are some suggestions to help you succeed:

  • Send the final audio/video file to the expert, thanking them for their help. Let them know where you plan to share it — such as social media, blogs, iTunes or YouTube.
  • Ask the expert to promote the interview on their own channels. This is a good opportunity to get backlinks to your website or online course. To encourage this, write a synopsis of the interview that contains links to your pages.
  • Promote the interview on your social media, distribute a press release, add great photos to turn the interview into a blog.
  • Offer a limited-edition coupon available to those who find the interview on the influencers blog, website, podcast or other channels.

It is a lot of work, but interviews can elevate your status and your business.

Interviewing experts is a lot of work, but well worth the effort. In return, you create solid relationships with knowledgeable mentors and build your customer base. The people who listen to your interviews will naturally begin to associate you with the people you talk to. With consistence effort you will gain authority and a following, and your course sales will rise as a result.

Author

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

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