How to Approach Experts for an Interview

I saw a question in a Facebook group today that I thought you might have, as well. It went something like this:

When you research a story that requires interviewing sources, how do you introduce yourself? … Do you just say you’re freelancer writing about a particular topic? Thanks!

This is a great question! And, it’s an important question. You want to have the authority of a publication behind you so that the person is willing to give you their time. But, as a freelancer, you cannot ethically identify as an employee of a particular publication. Yet, when you have an assignment from a particular publication, you are working for them. So, it’s kind of a conundrum.

Let’s break it down a bit.

 How to Approach Experts for an Interview | Be a Pro Writer

What to say to an expert when asking for an interview

Asking for interviews for a magazine story

You have an idea, and you know who you want to pitch it to, but you do not yet have the assignment. This is what I say:

“I’m a freelance writer working on a story idea I plan to pitch to X magazine.”

I then continue with my intentions:

“I just need a brief interview to help me formulate my pitch.”


“I don’t need to schedule an interview now. I just need to know if I can count on you if I get the assignment.”

However, if I’ve already secured the assignment, I say:

“I’m a freelance writer on assignment with X magazine.”

Asking for interviews for content for a business client

I write researched, informative content for businesses to post on their websites. They use this content to attract readers who, hopefully, become customers. The content I write is similar to the journalism pieces I write for magazines. However, I’m not working for a magazine, so the verbiage is slightly different. Here’s what I say:

“I’m a content writer working for someone in the X industry. I’m writing an article for their website about XYZ.”

I don’t name the business client unless they ask, I just name the industry. 

How to Approach Experts for an Interview | Be a Pro Writer

A word of encouragement

New freelancers frequently feel intimidated by approaching experts. Don’t be. I’ve interviewed farmers, doctors, scientists, a contemporary Christian music artist, business owners, a billionaire that saved a town, city officials, artists, the host of a show on The Animal Planet, and my next door neighbor. You know what I’ve learned from all those interviews? No matter what a person’s status, they are people just like you and me.

Of course, following protocol, respecting the person’s time, and keeping a professional image are important aspects of the job. What have you done to secure interviews with experts? I’d love to talk more about it in the comments.

Posted in Building Relationships.

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