Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tips for Writing a Blog Interview

This is part two of two in a series about association blogs.

Once you have your association blog up and running what do you write about? A great place to start is profiles of association members. This gives members a chance to get to know each other and know more about the association. I really started to feel at home in the Wisconsin association after I presented an interest session at a conference. People who were in the session came up to me during the rest of the conference and started conversations with me. Sometimes all we need is an icebreaker to make going up to someone and starting a conversation a little less intimidating. The Wisconsin blog features profiles of members from all areas of the association to highlight their stories; we call this our We Are WASFAA posts.

Conducting an in person interview will give you the best material for writing a blog post. Phone interviews are the next best option. Some posts have been written by emailing the questions to an interviewee, but it can be harder to write the post that way. If the interviewee is willing to write the post themselves that may work better if it is not possible to conduct an interview.

Try to keep each article to approximately 1-2 pages of a word document in length. It is long enough to include detail, but not too long that people will stop reading before they finish.

When possible include a small picture related to the topic of the blog. In a We Are WASFAA blog post we try to share a photo of the interviewee in a professional setting and one in personal setting (with family, doing a recreational activity).

It is also helpful to include a small two line bio of the interviewer/author and a small photo. Include how author knows interviewee if appropriate. If you conduct an in-person interview a photo of the two of you together would be fun also.

Making time for two aid professionals to get together isn't always easy. Set a deadline to do the interview at least two weeks before your blog is due to the Blog Coordinator. This will give you enough time in case you have to reschedule or if you want to do any follow up questions.

I recommend that a second pair of eyes take a look at the article before you share it publicly. Sometimes it is easy to miss the little things when you have read your draft multiple times.

Most importantly, have fun! This is a great way to connect with another association member. You might find you have a common interest and end up presenting at a conference together in the future due to what you learn during the interview.

Example Interview Questions
  1. How did you get started in financial aid?
  2. What about your job has surprised you the most?
  3. What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid?
Association Leadership/Involvement
  1. How did you first become involved in the state/regional association?
  2. Why were you interested in an association leadership role?
  3. What advice do you have for someone new to the association?
  4. What advice do you have for someone who was just elected to an association leadership role?
  5. What recommendations do you have for someone who is interested in an elected position? Where should they get started?
Office Leadership
  1. Why were you interested in becoming a Financial Aid Director?
  2. What about your job has surprised you the most? What do you love most/least about your job?
  3. What advice do you have for someone in their first year of being a Financial Aid Director?
  4. What tips do you have for being an effective director?
Any Leadership
  1. What have you learned from your leadership role that you were not expecting?
  2. What tips do you have for being an effective leader?
  3. What is one thing you learned from your role as ---? (Role examples: Co-chair of a committee, elected representative, Financial Aid Director)
  1. You have presented at several conferences, how do you recommend someone get started with presenting?
  1. What do you like to do when you are not in the office?

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