The Simple Favor That Wins You Powerful Friends Online

Ah, love.

It’s such an elusive thing.

You want more of it, and yet it’s so hard to find.

We all want those droplets of love that come in the form of more readers, social shares, comments, and emails. As bloggers, we can’t get enough.

But one type of love trumps the rest. It’s the love you can only dream about.

The love of an A-List Blogger.

You’ll have heard the stories…

One minute a blogger is chugging along, churning out great content day after day, but with little to show for it.

Then, suddenly, they catch the eye of a big-name blogger. An “A-Lister.”

And now they’re in the spotlight. They’re getting more traffic, more subscribers, more revenue. Everything is straight through the roof.

So how do you do it? How do you catch the eye of a big-name A-List blogger? How do you become the next hot new thing?

Read on.

Why You Haven’t Caught the Eye of an A-List Blogger — Yet

First, let’s have some tough love.

One simple reason likely explains why you haven’t caught the attention of an A-List blogger yet.

And it’s not because you’re “new.” It’s not because you don’t update your blog five days per week. It’s not because you don’t have a lot of traffic. It’s none of those things.

It’s because you aren’t even on A-listers’ radar screens.

Quite simply, you haven’t done anything that would cause them to notice you.

You’re swimming in a sea of black and white while wearing a tuxedo.

You need to do something different. You need to break out. You need to get their attention.

But to do that, you’ll need a shift in mindset.

The Totally Wrong Place to Focus If You Want to Get Noticed

Nearly every blogger makes this mistake when they start a blog — they’re too focused on themselves.

It’s not that they only care about themselves. It’s just they figure that nobody else will focus on their goals, so they better do it themselves.

As a result, all they think about is how they can get ahead, build more traffic, get more subscribers, and retire to a beach in Mexico.

But if you want to catch the attention of an A-List blogger — the kind of blogger who has a fire hose of traffic they could aim in your direction — you need to start thinking about them instead.

In fact, you need to think about how you can help them.

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

You’re the one who needs help the most, and yet I’m saying you should go out and help these big-name bloggers? Why would an A-Lister need your help? What could you even do for them?

To understand that, let’s look at what typically happens.

Successful bloggers get hit up with requests for favors from aspiring bloggers they don’t know all the time.

Imagine if you had dozens or even hundreds of people each day asking you for a favor without ever having done anything to deserve it.

I’m far from an A-list blogger, but I am shocked at how frequently I get asked for a favor by someone I don’t know.

Just recently, I received an email from a subscriber who was very upset I didn’t respond to his request that I introduce him to Steven Spielberg and Matt Damon. (I am not making this up.)

I don’t have a close personal relationship with either of them, and I have no idea why he thought I did. Him getting upset is like me getting pissed at Jon Morrow because he refused to introduce me to Justin Bieber. (Damn you, Morrow!)

And even if I did have a close relationship with Spielberg and Damon, why would I do this sizeable favor for a total stranger?

You wouldn’t walk up to a random person on the street and ask them to help you move a heavy couch up six flights of stairs, would you? And yet people will approach an A-List blogger and immediately ask for a favor.

That’s utterly the wrong approach. You need to help them first.

Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

But how do you actually put that approach into action?

The Big Favor You Can Do For A-List Bloggers That Helps You Too

Want to know the secret to getting on the radar screens of A-List bloggers?

Start doing interviews.

Interviewing is an amazing strategy for building relationships with successful bloggers who you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

But how is doing an interview with a blogger helping them out?

Here’s how: when you interview a successful blogger and publish it somewhere — be it on a podcast, or on your blog, or in a guest blog post — you are giving them something. You are giving, not taking.

Namely, you are giving the A-List blogger publicity and exposure. You are helping their business. That’s why it’s actually far easier to get an A-List blogger to agree to an interview than you would think.

Every successful blogger wants more new readers and followers, especially when they have something to promote, like a new launch or a new product. Interviews can provide that.

The Mistake That Makes A-Listers Run the Other Way

However, you have to understand one important distinction. We’re not talking about a purely informational interview, the kind a lot of career experts will suggest doing with someone you admire.

For example, imagine if I had called up Pat FlynnMarie Forleo, or Danny Iny in the past year and said, “Hey, I’m going to be in your neck of the woods tomorrow. Want to meet me at a Starbucks for coffee for 45 minutes so I can pick your brain?”

They would each probably say, “Get outta here, weirdo.”

(They’re all much too nice to actually say that, but you get the idea.)

Because an informational interview is asking someone who is busy to take time out of their day to do you a favor with no benefit whatsoever to them. Blech.

By comparison, a recorded interview — for the specific purpose of publishing the content on a blog, newsletter, or podcast — is doing that person a favor. You’re helping them get exposure for their ideas.

It’s a subtle shift, but it makes a huge difference.

In the case of Pat, Marie, and Danny, because I asked each of them to meet me on Skype for 40 minutes, and because I recorded it and said I would later publish it to the Interwebs where it would live forever, they each gave me their time.

Why the Size of Your Audience Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think

Now, you’re probably thinking, “How can I get A-List bloggers to do an interview with me if I don’t have a huge audience?”

But actually, you don’t need a huge audience. You’d be surprised how many big-name bloggers will say yes to an interview without asking about traffic numbers or download stats. I’ve never been asked about my traffic numbers and only rarely been asked about my download stats. It’s flattering to be asked to do an interview.

Sure, you won’t get everyone to say yes. But you can work your way up and establish credibility and social proof as you build up a track record, interview by interview.

So let’s look at a four-part formula for doing exactly that.

Phase 1: Establish Your Foundation

The first decision to make in Phase 1 is how you will use your interviews. Sometimes it makes sense to have a single destination for all your interviews. Other times you’ll want to mix things up a little.

I generally prefer to publish my interviews to my podcast, but it’s not essential to have a podcast to benefit from this strategy.

The following are additional ways you could use an interview:

  • You could quote from the interview in an article you write for another site.
  • You could quote from the interview in an article on your own site.
  • You could incorporate it in an e-book that you sell on Amazon.
  • You could transcribe the interview and post it to your site or email it to everyone on your list.

You could also do a combination of all of these things. I’ve done them all, and I discovered that publishing to my podcast was the quickest and the easiest method, allowing me to get more interviews done in less time and allowing me to build more relationships.

The point is to pick whatever works for you, and make sure any technical barriers don’t get in your way.

For example, if you decide to use a podcast for your interviews, you will need to get comfortable with podcasting. Like any new skill, it takes awhile to become proficient with the technology, software, systems, and procedures.

Pat Flynn has an amazing tutorial on how to get your podcast set up for the first time that should help.

Your goal here is to work out the kinks with lower-profile interviewees — maybe just friends and family right at the start — before reaching out to A-List guests. If you forget to hit the “Record” button one time, make sure it doesn’t happen when you’re interviewing an A-Lister!

Once you have a few interviews under your belt, you won’t are less likely to make these kinds of mistakes, and you’ll also be a more polished interviewer.

Phase 2: Build Your Credibility and Experience

Now that you have your foundation in place, you need to take some time to build your credibility in your niche. You can do this by getting consistently bigger and bigger “names” to interview.

Once you get a few well-known bloggers to do an interview with you, you can get other A-Listers more easily. Your credibility and reputation will grow.

When I first started, I posted a note on Help a Reporter Out that I was looking for people to interview for my new podcast, and I got flooded with emails from qualified candidates who were interested. You will be surprised how many people are itching to be a guest on a podcast.

I also invited friends and other bloggers who didn’t have huge audiences yet to come on my podcast. They got experience being an interviewee, and I got experience honing my interviewing chops. You could also ask around in communities you belong to, such as Jon’s Serious Bloggers Only.

Today, Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, has interviewed hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. But when he was starting out, no one knew who he was.

Warner says before you contact the big shots in your industry for an interview, you should start small. “Start out with someone who trusts you,” says Andrew. “Start out with someone who wants you to succeed.”

Andrew did this by making his friends and former work colleagues his first interviewees. By interviewing friends and former colleagues first, Warner gained experience and created sample interviews to show future interviewees.

Will you do everything right immediately? Of course not. You will stumble over your words, your questions will ramble, and you will have technical glitches. But the point is to get experience, and only with experience will you be able to improve.

Phase 3: Start Approaching Big Names

Here comes the fun part. You’ve gotten comfortable with the technology, software, systems, and procedures of conducting interviews. You’ve built up your own credibility and experience by getting some low-stakes interviews under your belt.

Now it’s time to start approaching the A-List bloggers you’ve admired from afar for so long.

It’s so exciting, isn’t it? I get all tingly on my insides.

The thing to remember here is that you’re probably still not on the bloggers’ radars. The first two phases have been all about making sure you’re prepared and look credible when the time comes.

At the same time, you should be slowly building connections with the A-List bloggers you want to interview so that they become more aware of who you are, and when it does come time for you to reach out for an interview, it’s not your first contact.

The following five elements will help you approach A-List bloggers with ease.

1) Grease the Wheels

The first step before approaching an A-List blogger is to “grease the wheels” — meaning, you need to take steps that will help them begin to know you long before you reach out with an interview request.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Leave insightful comments on their blog.
  • Share their content and connect on social media.
  • Purchase one of their products (preferably one that involves direct contact.)
  • Join the blogger’s affiliate program, and promote their products and services.
  • Write a blog post or a guest blog post in which you mention them (here’s me mentioning Jon on The Sparkline).
  • Record a two-minute video of yourself giving a testimonial about one of the blogger’s products.

For example, awhile back I co-authored an article in Forbes withStand Out author Dorie Clark in which I interviewed Andrew Warner, the Mixergy founder.

He mentioned AppSumo and Sumome co-founder and OKDork blogger Noah Kagan in his interview — a successful entrepreneur and A-List blogger who I had long admired — and I included that quote in the article.

Afterwards, I used this interview to “grease the wheels” with Noah:


Consider how many favors you’re giving out here:

  • Dorie is grateful because I wrote good content she could post to her column.
  • Andrew is grateful he was quoted in Forbes.
  • Noah is grateful he was mentioned in Forbes.

It’s a win all around. See how much better that is than asking someone to come do an informational interview?

And it worked out: a few months later, I had Noah on episode #50 of my podcast.

2) Keep it Brief

Over 100 years ago, Call of the Wild author Jack London wrote, “Just a tip of advice. Never write on both sides of the sheet when you are sending a letter to a busy man.”

Unfortunately, today we are not even limited by the amount of space on a sheet of paper. We can send emails that are 5,000 words long, and we don’t even have to pay for the cost of extra paper or postage.

As a result, people do not hesitate to send run-on, extraordinarily long emails to A-List bloggers who have neither the time nor the inclination to read them. One of three things usually happens:

  1. The blogger opens the email, reads it quickly, and decides to respond later when they have time to write an equally long response. But they just forget to come back to it.
  2. The blogger opens the email, sees how long it is, and closes it immediately with the intention of coming back to it, but they never actually do.
  3. The blogger opens the email, sees how long it is, calmly closes his email program, and then throws his computer out the window. (Or that least that’s what he feels like doing.)

In any case, you get the same result: no response.

That’s why you should take a different approach: be brief in your initial email to a busy A-List blogger. It is your best chance of getting a response, and you can always communicate later any relevant details you left out.

Here’s an example of a great brief email:


Be sure to include hyperlinks in your emails so that if your recipient does want to know more, they can simply click on the link.

3) Clearly Articulate the Benefit

Another area where people tend to screw up when sending emails to A-List bloggers is they fail to explain any benefits to the A-List blogger.

Keep in mind that probably every A-List blogger you look up to receives hundreds of emails each day. They are drowning in requests, demands, questions, and opportunities. So to stand out, you really need to use power words and clearly explain how you intend to benefit them.

Most people care primarily about their own success, and A-List bloggers are no exception.

So what are some benefits you could offer an A-List blogger?

Just look again at the email above where I recommended some possible podcast guests to Andrew Warner from Mixergy.

High-quality guests are the lifeblood of any interview-based podcast, and finding them is challenging, so my suggestion was actually helping Andrew out — the benefit of getting an excellent guest is clear. I also made it super easy for him to decide if they were right for Mixergy — I did most of the research for him. Another benefit — less research.

Additionally, my email was likely a refreshing change from the many emails Andrew must receive from people suggesting themselves as interviewees. Proposing someone else immediately builds trust.

So you can offer to make an introduction, or you could refer a potential consulting client, or create a testimonial for one of their products.

Or you can casually let them know that you already did them a favor. Maybe you wrote a glowing review in iTunes or in Or maybe you positively reviewed their product on your own blog from your perspective as a happy customer.

Don’t worry that you will be perceived as manipulative or opportunistic by doing one of these things for a successful blogger. As long as you are being sincere and reaching out to people who you genuinely admire, I think nothing’s wrong with providing value to the successful bloggers you look up to.

4) Make It Fun

Imagine getting the opportunity to meet your all-time hero in person. Do you think you’d be relaxed and confident? Or nervous and tongue-tied? It would be the latter, right?

It’s the same with A-List bloggers. The emails they receive are probably more uptight than a sailor on a submarine who has been at sea for six months.

Why? Because people get nervous when reaching out to someone who is successful, and they tend to clam up. They try to be too serious and professional. They drop any humor or personality.

And that’s usually a mistake. When you share your sense of humor, you send a message — hey, this might be kinda fun.

So make your emails fun and give them a sense of humor, without overdoing it.

Here’s a great example. Melissa Sconyers got my attention when she sent me an email a few weeks back titled “Killer tacos in SF.” Here it is:

killer tacos

I love Mexican food, and so we ended up emailing back and forth about great Mexican food in San Francisco, my hometown. It’s not every day I get asked about where to find killer tacos.

By the way, did you notice she has a business placing executive assistants with CEOs? I ended up asking her about that business and I referred her to a few other CEOs I know. Yet if she had used a subject line of “Placement Firm in San Francisco,” I probably would not have even responded.

By leading with a tongue-in-cheek subject line, she got me into a conversation, built up trust, and created greater opportunities for her business.

5) Find Commonalities

Finally, try to find commonalities between you and the A-Lister.

Maybe you are both fans of the Miami Dolphins. Maybe you both once worked at Starbucks. Or maybe you are both originally from the same part of Michigan.

With social media, finding out these types of details today is far easier than it was just six or seven years ago. Spend 15 minutes digging through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram and you can probably find a number of things you have in common.

Or Google! Have you heard of this thing called Google? It’s friggin’ AMAZING what you can find out.

Then find casual ways to mention the commonalities in your outreach emails. References like this not only help build a bond, but they also show that you’ve done your research. Most bloggers will be flattered that you took the time to find out more about them.

Whatever your common connection, use it. If the A-Lister finds out you are from the same small town or you have a shared obsession over the latest Kristen Stewart dating rumors (don’t judge), they are more likely to feel warmly toward you when you do approach them for an interview.

6) Ask for the Interview

Once you’ve established rapport with your A-Lister, it’s time to reach out and ask for the interview.

Many of the earlier tips about outreach still apply, but it also helps to be laser focused and be clear what you’d like to talk about. Avoid generic “tell me about your career” types of interviews that can be boring from an interviewee’s perspective.

For example, I like saying explicitly that my interview will only take “five to seven minutes,” and I like asking about a topic my interviewee is not often asked about but are passionate about.

For example, here’s the email I sent to founder and blogger Noah Kagan:


Note how I included the likeable detail about tacos in the PS (Noah loves tacos — something I learned from his blog.)

Phase 4: Deepen Your Relationships with A-Listers

The fourth and final step is the most critical.

Because the interview is really just an excuse for you two to get to know each other — it’s what you do after the interview that matters.

Now that you’ve gotten in the door and built the beginnings of a relationship with the A-Lister, you can’t drop the ball. You need to deepen the relationship over time.

You have many ways to do this. After your interview is over, you could continue to provide value to the other blogger, such as by making introductions or sending over relevant resources and information.

You could also help to promote any new books, products, or programs the blogger is promoting.

But often the interview itself will lead to more opportunities to build your relationship.

To give an example, I have interviewed a number of successful bloggers, such as blogger, author, and World Domination Summit founder Chris Guillebeau:


Also Jenny Blake of Life After College:


In my case, both these interviews were published in Forbes, but you often don’t need to publish your interviews in a big-name publication. Of course larger publications are usually better for attracting the big-name bloggers, but if you scale up your target blogs the same way that you scale up your interviewees, you might find that by the time you have access to top names, you have access to top blogs too.

In each of the cases above, the interviews opened the door to further opportunities. Shortly after I interviewed Chris Guillebeau, I scored an invite to a private event in San Francisco during his book tour for The Happiness of Pursuit.

And after I interviewed Jenny Blake, I later met her for dinner while I was visiting New York city, and I’ve done a webinar for a new private Momentum community, and we have plans to collaborate further.

See how a simple interview can lead to much more? It’s easier than you may think.

Finally, the key to building relationships successfully is to be consistent, so you must make following up a habit.

Don’t expect that you will simply remember to keep nurturing these relationships, especially if you are seeking to build relationships with multiple A-List bloggers over time.

A true professional uses a CRM program (which stands for “customer relationship management”) like Insightly or Contactually (which is my CRM of choice) to manage their followups and make sure no relationships get dropped.

Are You Ready to Make Some Powerful Friends?

OK, lovebirds.

I’ve given you the magic love potion. You know what you need to do.

Go out there, score some interviews, and make A-list bloggers fall head over heels in love with you.

It’s not as hard as you think, nor as intimidating.

Start small and safe. Then build your confidence interview by interview.

Who knows? You may even find the blogger you admire loves you back.

Just hold off on the PDA, OK?

That stuff grosses me out.

I mean get a room, people.

John Corcoran is a former Clinton White House Writer and creator of Smart Business Revolution, where he shares advice on how to grow your income by building better relationships in business. Grab 5 of John’s best email templates for contacting A-list bloggers here.

70 thoughts on “The Simple Favor That Wins You Powerful Friends Online”

  1. Hey John,

    Great post. Funny thing is, I was looking at the Interview section of BBT last week and was wondering, “Hmm, I wonder if I shouldn’t start doing interviews. Maybe I can incorporate that somehow in my plans” and then here you are with this post.

    I know someone, in a different space than blogging, that built his entire business by doing this. He started interviewing big names in marketing and 5 years later, he’s still doing it and is a known name himself. Mainly because of the association he had from interviewing them.

    And as I write this, I’m reminded of another big name person who did this and is good friends with Richard Branson and Tony Robbins. All from interviews. It’s a very underrated tactic.

    Would you suggest the podcast route? Or something along the lines of what Mixergy does — video interviews? I know you said you prefer the podcast route, but do you think that A-Listers would comply for an interview on video just the same?

    Great post.

    – Andrew

    1. Hey Andrew – I agree that interviewing is underutilized.

      As for what medium, I would say test it. I actually find more A-listers prefer audio to video because they don’t have to doll themselves up for audio. : )
      But that’s just my experience.

  2. Hi John,
    Excellent post with plenty of detail!

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me because I have begun to do interviews on my blog. Till now I have been doing only text interviews but I am planning to graduate to podcasts or videos.

    What I really like about you post is that you are emphasizing on the aspect of building relationships. We often forget that the benefits of offline networking also apply to the online world. Businesses are usually built through great networks and the same applies for blogs. Guest posts, asking for links or interviews – whatever our strategy is, relationships are the key to success.


    1. Hey Peter – why are you moving from text interviews to video and audio? It may be worth testing, but if the text interviews work for you and it doesn’t slow you down, then you might want to stick with it. Having said that, I find podcasts work best because all I need to do is record the interview. I can get the most number of interviews done over the course of a few months compared to other mediums.

  3. I was struggling to get a response in anyway shape or form from James Altucher.

    I sent 4 e-mails and tweeted at him numerous times – nothing.

    Then when his latest book arrived I went to read it in the bath. I wasn’t even through the intro when I dropped it in. The worst part is I was getting out and didn’t even notice until it was fat, bloated and I had inky bath water.

    I took a picture and posted it with a @@@@ me comment look what I did with James Altucher’s latest book. He immediately retweeted it, followed me back on Twitter and DM’ed me saying he’d mail me a free copy.

    He then e-mailed me agreeing to come on our podcast.

    Now that was a bit contrived, but I guess the message is not to give up!

  4. That’s right, this seems another tip, I have learned. We really can learn from the experience of other bloggers. Experience of others is best to follow if you exactly know it’s true.

  5. As usual, you have given me so many good tips in one post. I’ve already reached out to a friend who is also a writer and we are going to practice interviewing each other. I also sent your link to a friend who is a publicist. Keep sending us the good stuff, John!

  6. Loved this!

    I struggle because there aren’t (m)any bloggers in my niche. AT.ALL. (any suggestions on how to build when you are really the sole blogger out there? Before you get too sad for me, yes, I do have a largeish audience and yes, it is a legit business in terms of the bottom line!) But I still get revved up when I hear about methods for engaging the very few that do exist.

    Love that you show examples, too!

    1. Hey Lauren – I just checked out your site and I would ask myself which bloggers would it benefit me to know? It’s probably not business bloggers or entrepreneurship bloggers. It really depends on what your goals are – do you want to do joint ventures? Do you want to do guest posts? Do you want to give your site credibility by having other A-list bloggers do interviews with you that you share on your site? Think through what your goals are first, then brainstorm a list of 50 bloggers in other niches who will help you achieve those goals. More on that strategy here:

  7. Hi John,

    This is solid advice. I used a similar approach when I first started blogging in the ‘public speaking’ niche and it worked extremely well. The one piece of your advice that I really wish I’d had back then would have been to not go after the big names first. The very first time I tried this approach happened to be with a HUGE name in my industry… and he agreed to the interview! And only then did it dawn on me that I had no idea what I was doing!!! It was a great learning experience, but I’d definitely agree that when you’re starting out it’s probably best to go after the ‘B’ or even ‘C’ list names first while you hone your chops.

    Anyhow, solid article. For those of you who haven’t tried this approach yet, try it with genuine sincerity and you’ll be surprised how much love people are willing to show you.

  8. Awesome post, John! I am definitely going to use the HARO tip on finding interviewees. I love that idea!

    And I really appreciate the screenshot examples so we can get a better idea of what exactly we should say to grab someone’s attention. Thanks for the great tips!

  9. Excellent post, John!

    I’ve also had good luck getting A-listers to agree to interviews because they like the mission I’m on – helping creative types to make more money doing what they love.

    I enjoy doing interviews much more than I thought I would when I started out. My goal for the next few months is to move to a weekly podcast – thanks for all these excellent suggestions. I’ll be revisiting this post for sure.

      1. Yes, John – as a matter of fact I interviewed her quite a while back. She’s not on my podcast, though. But I am going back now and updating some of those interviews I did when I first started out with my blog. 🙂

  10. Loved this post! I had already approached a blogger friend about doing an interview, but now I think the podcast route is the way to go. And I planned on it being a one-time thing, but I truly believe now I should make it a focus. Thank you so much! Loved all your information.

  11. These are terrific strategies, John, thanks for sharing them!

    I’ve read soooo many articles over the last couple of years about connecting with influencers, I wondered if I’d learn anything new reading this, but of course I did. [Then I reminded myself not to be so darn jaded. :)]

    The best tip?

    Posting a note on Help a Reporter Out to get interview subjects. I’m in the planning stages of an interview series for my blog and have a short list of people to approach to get started, but I know I’ll eventually need to cast a wider net. I pore over the daily HARO queries in my in-box everyday to find pitches to respond to for my clients and myself, but I never thought to post a note to find peeps to interview — brilliant!

  12. Wow!

    This is so so so so so so AWESOME John!!!

    I am an interviewer for Blueprint Entrepreneur Mag, published on the Apple Newsstand and I’ve interviewed a few A-List entrepreneurs. But John, this article has been so insightful I almost feel as if I’ve not really been doing the job… or at least I’ve been under-leveraging the potentials of the job.

    THANKS a BILLION + 1 for this resource, I’m definitely going to be using these insights religiously now. Thanks again and again!

  13. This is a great article, and I can vouch for nearly ALL of these tactics working for me.

    My “go-to” move these days, if I like someone’s content and want to get on their radar….is Twitter.

    So easy to share their stuff, add a comment of your own and tag them in it. They ALWAYS see it. And, if you do it more than once over a month or so, your name will be seared into their consciousness.

    Then, you can even reach out and ask them a question directly. I’ve done this numerous times and it works almost 100% of the time, if I have retweeted or posted their stuff in the past. It’s like in the book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini – the “Law of Reciprocity.”

    We humans are hardwired to want to help and give back to people that have already given something of value to us…no matter how small the initial gift was. It can even be as small as a friendly retweet.

    This stuff really works, guys.

    Great work, John. =)

  14. Wow John–this post is a prime example of the way that Jon teaches about how to write a fabulous guest post. I am inspired and motivated to do more interviews. I had started down this path a few years ago and got side-tracked into doing all of the other start-up pieces for my blog. You’ve laid out such a clear way forward with so many good ideas. It’s like having a glorious smorgasbord of yummy sparkling tips. And I was hungry! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Laurie. Jon is the master when it comes to teaching how to guest post and I’ve learned a lot from him. I only wish I could write guest posts more frequently than once a year (I think my last guest post on BBT was about a year ago). I’m a sloooooow writer. ; )

  15. John – so nice to have my base beliefs on how to go about building relationships being affirmed through your many examples. Now…I have to get busy and do it! Actually, I leave comments and have even talked to some folks on the phone. I figure that’s why they leave a phone number. Another tip is to send a handwritten note of thanks to them – not very common. I need to get back to doing that one.

    1. It’s true handwritten notes are underutilized today. I actually got a handwritten note from the master of all of this, John Ruhlin (Check out his business The Ruhlin Group). It was written on METAL! There was no paper involved. It was a piece of metal fashioned like a piece of stationery. VERY memorable and unique. So try that next time! : )

  16. This is such a fantastic post, full of amazing tips and details, to meet A-listers. Here’s the thing, reading what you wrote gave me immediate anxiety. Ha! Just thinking of having to reach out to people, makes me quake in my boots. I’m horribly introverted and get so nervous just thinking of putting myself out there. I will be bookmarking this for a later date, and then also reading up on how to get over my fears!

    1. Oh no Jillian, the last thing I would want you to do is get more anxiety from reading this post. I would hope it would lessen your anxiety by giving you a system and showing you that it’s not that hard – it’s actually quite achievable.

      I think there’s safety in numbers. Reach out to MORE A-listers, not fewer. That way if you don’t get responses back from some of them, it won’t be that big of a bruise to the ego. : ) That would be more advice, even if it’s hard for you.

      1. Oh! It definitely isn’t something you need apologize for. My issues are purely self-inflicted. I get so nervous talking 1:1 with a person, that I fear an interview would just go down the tubes. ha!

        However, ask me to stand in front of a HUGE audience and give a presentation… No problem!

  17. “Nearly every blogger makes this mistake when they are starting out — they’re too focused on themselves.

    It’s not that they only care about themselves. It’s just they figure that nobody else will focus on their goals, so they better do it themselves.”

    Oh my word. This quote right here ! I actually just wrote a post yesterday on the importance of building relationships with other bloggers, and especially established ones before any new blogger even decides to launch.

    Your quote above captured what I wrote so perfectly ! I am at work right now but I will definitely be going through this post with a fine comb and using some of these tips to boost growth.

    Thank you so much for the amazing post 😀

  18. Hi John — thank you for the tips + sample e-mails so we can see them in action. Coming up with the interview questions for the actual A-Lister is nerve-wracking. I do a lot of research on the person, including questions others asked the person before. But somehow, I couldn’t get out of the ” tell us a little about what you do” question as an opening Q. Maybe you can write a separate article on more creative interview openers next time? If you have the time to be away from the company of Matt Damon, Spielberg, and your other casual buddies, that is. 😉

  19. Hey John – great to see you back here on BBT!

    I recently started doing interviews in preparation for a podcast I’m launching, and I totally agree – it’s a much better way to interact with A-listers and other people in your field.

    Now I just need to work on continuing along to deepen the relationships after the interview. That’s the key.

    Thanks for all the ideas! 🙂

  20. John, you’ve nailed a question that has been plaguing me for a couple of months now. I was going about this all wrong, but luckily I haven’t embarrassed myself in any irredeemable way, so I just need to change course. My first podcast interview is coming up soon, and I’m really grateful for this article because it’s going to give me a slightly different mindset as I approach the interview questions.
    I wonder whether my interviewer likes tacos…

  21. Hi John,

    I’m also one of the nervous Nellies out there whose palms sweat at just the thought of hitting up a big blogger. However, I never thought I’d have a blog so go figure! Thanks for the great, inspiring information. You never know, maybe I’ll go for it.

    1. John

      Thanks for the great article, simply amazing.

      I can see where this would help out so many people with getting on the A-listers watch list. As much i would love to try it Ican’t, i was born with a stupid scattering problem so I wouldn’t feel comfortable.

      But, if you know any way I could try this without talking, maybe a written format that would be killer.

      Again john, thanks for the great read. I will be checking out more of your stuff.

      Your friend

  22. Hey John,

    Wow, this was a coincidence! I was thinking about what I wanted to do in the summer, and interviewing was one of them. The tips you shared here really helped out a lot.

    I was thinking for now, to do a written interview on my blog then maybe branch out later to doing a podcast or videos. What do you think about this? Are they a looked upon the same, or is one preferred over the other?

  23. This was an excellent post. It fits hand-in-glove with another process I’ve been studying by Tim Grahl specifically for writers. I plan on taking both pieces of advice.

  24. John,
    Thank you. Amazing advice. I’m not there yet — but I’ll know what to do when I am! How cool that you worked in the Clinton White House. I worked in D.C. during those years too – as a Senate staffer (on the other side of the aisle, and then as a lobbyist – not unusual) Unless Presidential staffers lowered themselves to hanging out at the Capitol Lounge though I probably didn’t meet you! I can say with 100% certainty that I would not wish to re-read anything I wrote during that time. Goodness me. Thank you again. Onward and upward.

    1. Small world Sonia! I think having a background in politics is actually great training for the world of business, because you learn a LOT about pleasing an audience (or else you lose your job quick – as I learned the hard way in the CA Recall Election : ).

      1. John, that’s an excellent point. I certainly learned a lot about the many facets of human behavior during my years there. And great that you are using your skills (even those hard won!) to help us. 🙂

  25. The “taco” angle is perfect. It reminds me of when Tim Soulo approached Rand Fishkin with the email subject line “Yellow Shoes”!

    Totally caught his attention!

    Also what comes to mind is Pat Flynn and his red hat and backpack…

    Great tactics!

    Loved this post. Nice to meet you, too, John.

    Oh yeah, and hey, can you introduce me to Jon Morrow? LOL
    I swear I’m not a weirdo. LOL


  26. Wow. This is one friggin’ AMAZING article! Now I’m pumped and ready to go. Well, I will be once I figure out these gizmos with the podcast. Thank John!

  27. When I first started out I was under the delusional belief that if your content was good enough then it would spread. How wrong was I!! Fortunately this post, and a load of others, have helped me correct that erroneous belief.
    So to anybody else out there, just getting started, remember that old adage – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!!
    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction John with this very informative post.

  28. John,
    I like your practical approach and great points. I am starting to write blog post for my website and realize that interviews could be a great way to post material that others would find useful. I was planning to try some text based interviews first. I’ll take your advice and start small.
    I like tacos too and wonder who in the world doesn’t? I have recommendations for your next visit to the Boston area.

  29. I definitely have to find a way to do some good interviews for my future blog posts. Love the tips. A lot of the A listers in my niche are busy and it’s sometimes hard to bother them with lengthy interviews.

    I’ll have to take a crack at it though! I can see the power with what you’ve shown here John! 🙂

  30. Indeed online friends are very powerful and we have a strong bond.

    The transition is freeing and oh, kinda uncomfortable sometimes. But you can do it. I know you can.

  31. Thanks for this insight John. I always find your posts inspiring and funny. I love PDA, what’s wrong with a hug and a Mwah? 🙂 I will be trying out some of your tips here…. so… don’t be surprised if an email from me requesting for an interview, lands on your Inbox one day.

    All the best.

  32. Hey John, Sure this seems like the way to go, I love it when I read new strategies that have results. Will try it out with you one very soon. Check out for my email.

  33. Hey John,

    Thanks for this. It’s so true that you get value by adding value onto people and this is what you’ve highlighted here. You get so much more by giving and sharing than by simply being too focused on getting something from people.

    I love doing interviews and have shortlisted those I’ll be reaching out to!

  34. Nice Post John, filled with a lot of reasonable tips.
    heading over to build up my podcast immediately.

    Thanks alot


  35. John,
    I really appreciate how you clearly laid out each action step. I’m feeling much more motivated after reading, and already started my list of A-listers!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Whole Food, Whole You

  36. Excellent advice, that I intend to follow.
    As I understand it Skype doesn’t have a native built in record feature, so I have one technical question for you – what software do you use for recording your Skype interviews?

    Take note
    You have been bookmarked and earmarked for future interview.
    As ‘Arnie’ says “I’ll be back”


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