Many travel writers, both beginners and experienced, follow a familiar format.
They travel (even if that is to some local destination because their travel niche is where they live), they take notes, they take some photos, they return home, and then they begin writing numerous travel articles and essays on their trip, and submit them to various online and offline publications.
However, truly savvy travel writers know that there is another tool at their disposal, one that gives them more article angles, and the opportunity to both attract new readers and potentially add a more multi-media-rich experience to their personal brand toolbox.
I’m referring of course to interviews. The kind you conduct with various people you encounter on your travels.
There are many people you could possibly interview — other travelers or tourists, colorful or prominent local citizens, expats who chose to relocate to the destination, the manager at your hotel, the chef at the restaurants you dine in, the other restaurant patrons, or even the average person you meet on the street.
An interview can be presented to your audience in several ways – as a written interview (article), or as an audio or video interview.
An interview doesn’t need to be long (since many people are busy or have shorter attention spans these days anyway), but it does need to be interesting! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t conduct longer interviews, but when you do consider breaking them up into segments, or a series.
Some Tips for conducting a great interview
- Always prepare in advance – even if it’s just by jotting down a few questions for which you think your readers would like to know the answers;
- Try to interview people in their own environment – if it’s a chef, ask if you can interview in the kitchen, ask a hotel manager if you can shoot a few scenes at various places around the hotel, such as the pool, or spa. Interviewing the Dive Master? Suit up and interview in the water if you can (above, not below);
- Always make an audio recording – even if you’re just planning to submit your article as a written interview, since it’s almost impossible to write down every word someone says. You’ll want to be sure you don’t misquote someone;
- Whenever possible, have a second (backup) audio recording, or someone else taking good notes for you. Yes, I have done video interviews and later found the audio portion of the recording to be completely unusable. With notes at least you can still produce a written interview;
- If you plan to conduct regular interviews consider investing in a decent quality microphone, such as the Sony WCS999 Wireless Camcorder Mic (which is the one I use and love), to help improve the audio quality.
- You don’t need an expensive video camera – a pocket video camera like the Kodak zi8 Pocket Video Camera (which I absolutely love!) does a great job and even has a jack for an external mic, like the one linked to above, so you can get better audio;
- If you’re doing a video interview, use a tripod. Video shot with an unsteady hand is difficult to watch;
- Don’t hesitate to ask if you can repeat portions of a recorded interview if you feel it needs to be done – that’s why editing tools exist;
- Ask your interview subject to review the interview before it gets published – this is a matter of courtesy, and serves to be sure that the interview is presented accurately;
- Remember that the better you make your interview subject appear, the more professional you’ll appear, which will benefit you in many ways in the long run;
As a travel writer, your job is to provide travelers with as much information on a particular destination as you can. Most of your site visitors are reading your travel blog to find information to help them plan their trips. They’ll keep coming back to your site if you also offer them the kind of interesting and entertaining content that interviews provide.
Do you regularly interview others? Share your advice!
Love your post. I have actually started a series of interviews with new travel writers every Wednesday on my blog http://thetravelnerd.blogspot.com/ and have found it very rewarding.
Thank you! I just read your interview with Claire – nice job!
Wow, this is great advice! We have just started our travels and I wouldn’t have thought of interviewing people. Now you have given me lots to think about. My mind is already churning about who I can interview. We are staying at a great place owned by an interesting couple that would make a great interview subject. Thanks for the ideas!
Excellent idea! You are lucky to be in a travel niche that lends itself to interesting characters and situations that would be of great interest to other adventure travelers – I can’t wait to read or listen to some of your interviews!