Imagine, you decided to share your story with me and my readers. Here’s how it would work.
What in the end looks like a spontaneous chat, is quite the contrary behind the scenes. Weeks will pass till an interview is ready to be published, spent in close collaboration between you and me to tell your story the best possible way.
Why can’t we just have a quick chat?
How many times after a conversation was over you thought of a better answer or a piece of information you forgot to add?
By working offline, in peace of mind and with no time pressure, we will make sure that this doesn’t happen.
How does production cycle look like?
As we are not going to actually talk to each other, we will be working in a document I’ll share with you on Google Drive.
This way we don’t have to send each other endless emails with attachments constantly wondering what the current version of the interview is. On Google Drive, we will always have a current version of the interview which both of us can edit.
Generally speaking, there will be a number of question-answer rounds followed by an editing round done by me till I’m out of questions and we are both satisfied with the quality of the content (more on this later).
In detail, there is an initial question/answer round, a couple of additional follow-up question/answer rounds followed by editing round each as well as some fun activities that happen on my Google Plus stream.
In the very end, I write an introduction to the interview, do the final editing and format the text to make it better suitable for online readership.
Initial Question/Answer Round
At first, I’ll ask you 15-20 questions “poking in different directions”, as in the beginning all I’ll probably know about you is a general outline of your story.
Some of the questions/answers of the initial round won’t be a part of the main interview and I’ll take the information for my introduction. The rest of the answers help me decide on the main direction the interview is going to take.
Before we move on to the next step, I’ll edit your answers.
I will remove, rephrase, and cut short (I’ll tell you why it is necessary in a minute). Also, I will make some comments asking you to clarify things, pointing out a logical inconsistency or sharing my opinion on particular phrasing or point.
Follow-Up Questions/Answers Round(s)
It’s always like this. The more answers I get, the more questions I come up with.
In the follow-up questions/answers rounds (usually two, with new questions being fewer every time), you’ll need to deal with my comments and answer the new questions.
When you are done, I’ll once again dive in there with my red pen for editing and black pen for the last couple of questions.
Questions From the Audience
As part of the promotion of the upcoming interview, I’ll make a post on Google Plus called “What’ve you always wanted to ask…?” revealing the occupation of my interviewee (for example, “What’ve you always wanted to ask a language teacher?”).
I won’t reveal your identity at this point, because who knows, maybe you are somebody known in the community and it may be easier for the people to ask the questions this way.
After a couple of days, I’ll incorporate (most of) the questions people came up with in the interview which you’ll have to answer as well.
An Infographic to Share
When we have some content already (usually, after the initial question/answer round), while you will be still working through the rest of the questions, I’ll create an infographic that illustrates one of your answers and share it on my Google Plus profile (like this one, for example).
This is when the people get to know your name, which will as well be on the bottom of the infographic along with a link to your web site (if you have any). You can check out all the infographics I’ve created so far here.
This is a great way to remind everyone about the upcoming interview and also give them a sneak peek at the kind of things you and I will be discussing.
Besides, infographics are perfect for sharing on social media. By sharing it, my followers not only pass along useful information but also spread the word about the interview.
Later on, I use the infographic within the interview text. After the interview is published, you will be free to use it in any way you like as my “thank you” for all the time and effort.
When all the questions and (pre-edited) answers are there, I do the final the most brutal editing fighting with myself for every word.
It’s like cooking a perfect sauce. You need the ingredients to blend together and for the unnecessary liquid to evaporate. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of separate ingredients with some water.
Why is editing necessary?
While answering the questions, I’ll let you “talk” the way you are used to, taking as much space as you like. Your job is to tell me the story. My job is to tell the story to everyone else.
I ensure that among those ca. 3000 words there is not a single sentence of irrelevant information, not a single point that doesn’t make sense, and not a single word too many.
Also, because it’s a blog on the web, the text needs to be suitable for the online readership. A big part of it is formatting the text so that it’s easy to read not only on a desktop pc, but also on a tablet or a smartphone.
But of course you’ll have the final word and will have to approve the final version of the interview.
Why put so much time and effort into it?
On one side, this effort is necessary to tell your story the best way. Not to make a quick post, but to create a thorough article on a topic.
On the other side, people who read these (not at all short) interviews take some time out of their busy life for it. It is my personal commitment to make every minute of their time worth it.
Nothing of this would be possible if we just had a quick chat which I would then simply write down.
Pretty intense, huh!
Well, my interviewees think it was totally worth it. Check out their testimonials.