[IMGCAP(1)] Last month, we discussed how your firm can boost sales dramatically with a company newsletter.  Astute reader Michael Carter of Practice Paradox echoed our sentiments about the importance of a monthly newsletter, and offered an important suggestion about how you can create interesting content for your newsletter (and blog, too!)

Michael writes:
A fast and effective way for firms to create content for their newsletters and blog (because we have found this is a major bottleneck for many firms) is to record an interview.  This produces interesting conversational style articles that readers find engaging.
Michael suggests interviewing experts within your firm, as well as successful clients of yours, and posting the audio file of the interview.

I also think this is a great technique, as well as an extremely underutilized one!  Since I’ve done this before, with great success, I’d like to dive into the details about how you can get started conducting interviews.  

How to find someone to interview
I’d recommend setting your initial sights high by targeting industry thought leaders to interview.  These days, everyone is looking for additional exposure to new audiences. If you have an audience and platform, and you’re offering to put Mr./Ms. Thought Leader in front of your customer and prospect base (in a position of power, no less), then why wouldn’t they want to work with you?

In addition to industry thought leaders, you should also consider interesting clients, partners, and colleagues that would be interesting guests to banter with.
Bonus: Your interviewee will want to promote the interview, too!

One of the beautiful synergies of conducting an interview with someone is that your interviewee will also want to promote the interview to their audience and following!

So you really get a two-for-one from a promotional standpoint here – and yet another reason why I advise you to aim high for a thought leader with an audience – as their audience may very well end up tuning into your interview!

How to record the interview
I use Skype to call people – specifically Skype’s Unlimited US & Canada plan.  For $2.95/month, I can make unlimited calls to landlines and cell phones in the US and Canada.  It’s hard to beat that!

Make sure your computer is directly plugged into a LAN computer connection. Don’t conduct interviews over a wireless connection, as sound quality may be compromised.  I’ve found sound quality over a direct Internet connection to work very well. If possible, call your interviewee direct on their land line, to ensure good sound quality on the other end of the conversation.

To record the interview, I use a product called CallBurner, which allows you to record Skype calls relatively effortlessly.  It’s free to try, and $49.95 to purchase.  So you can try it out for free, and if the interview format works out for you, it may be worth purchasing after your trial is complete.

How to edit your interview
After you finish the interview, CallBurner will allow you to save an mp3 file of the interview on your computer.  Next, you’ll need to edit the file – at least the very start and end of the interview.

Any audio editor will work for this purpose. I played around with a few free ones, but ultimately decided to purchase Audio Editor Pro for $39.95, which I found to be pretty intuitive and easy to use.

How to post your interview for listening and downloading
Now that you’ve got a clean mp3 file of your engaging interview, it’s time to post this baby online so that your eager audience can listen to and download the interview!

Again, you have a number of options here – one quick and easy one is SoundCloud, which includes a cool embeddable player that you can post directly to your blog.  Your readers can listen to the interview directly via the player, and/or download an mp3 of the audio. SoundCloud also provides you with statistics regarding how many listens and downloads your interview has received – pretty cool!

Like most “freemium” products, SoundCloud allows you to get started for free. It will then prompt you to upgrade to a premium option once you exhaust your free limit.

Additional ways to leverage your interview
For each interview I conduct, I like to write-up a short summary of the interview – essentially a teaser about what was discussed, and why you should tune-in!

You can also have your interview transcribed into written Q&A format – this can be done by a staff member, or outsourced very cheaply on the net (via sites like O-Desk or Elance). Producing a transcript of the interview essentially allows you to create two types of content from one interview – audio and written - and that’s the type of leverage we’re looking for as small businesses!

I’m a big fan of the Ready-Fire-Aim approach, and I’d especially recommend that here. Get started as quickly as you can to see if you like the interview format itself. If not, nothing lost, as most of the resources suggested here have free entry-level options. If the format is a winner – which I think it will be – then you can either upgrade to the premium options, or hunt down free offerings on the web to support your evolving audio productions. Best of luck in your interviewing efforts, and let us know how you do!

Brett Owens is chief executive and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, Calif.-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Brett can be reached at 916-254-0260 and brett@chrometa.com.