3 min read
min read
February 7, 2024

How to Interview Subject-Matter Experts for Your Blog Posts

How to Interview Subject-Matter Experts for Your Blog Posts

Table of contents

Even though Google aims to provide the most relevant and helpful content to their users, that’s not always the case. 

A majority of top ranking blog posts provide fluff and vague information with little-to-no actionable advice to act upon.

Adding cherry on top, I’m seeing so many companies publish AI-generated content on their website just as-is only to meet their quarterly publishing goals. 

This means, there’s a LOT of BS-content being produced and published (dumped) on the internet today.

In today’s world where good content is scarce, its value becomes even more important. And so does the value of writers who put in extra efforts to create content worth reading. 

One way these writers stand out is by interviewing subject-matter experts for their blog posts. 

Humble-brag: I’m personally very good at sourcing subject-matter inputs and in this guide, I’ll show you how to uplift the quality of your blog posts by interviewing subject-matter experts.

But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Let’s first understand what a subject-matter expert means.

What is a subject-matter expert (SME)?

A subject-matter expert, commonly referred to as an SME, is a person with specialized knowledge in a specific area, subject, and/or industry. This person often has years of experience working in a specific field, a good reputation in their industry, is well-known for their work, and has continuously been learning and gaining expertise in that domain.

For example, Tommy Walker, the founder at The Content Studio is my go-to person for all things content. He has been a part of the content marketing industry for more than 18 years, and has worked with companies like LinkedIn, Vimeo, and Shopify Plus.

Similarly, you can find subject-matter experts in different niches like product development, sales, HR, etc. 

These people are great sources of information. They can provide you with unique and valuable insights that you likely won’t find elsewhere. 

These insights come from their years of experience working in the industry. 

Tapping into this experience and their expertise can uplift the quality of your blog posts.

Ronnie Higgins, the Director of Content at OpenPhone with more than 10 years of industry experience, highly recommends interviewing SMEs for your blog posts. He states, “Adding SME inputs to your content is highly beneficial for the readers. These SMEs can be from within your company or outside. All that matters is that they are speaking from experience and can provide concrete examples, not hypothetical ones.”

Moreover, it can also help you make a great impression on your readers as they’ll know that you put in the extra efforts to provide them with valuable information. Further increasing your credibility and positioning your company as an authoritative source in your industry.

Pro-tip: to let your readers know that you’ve worked extra hard on your blog post, you can add a list of contributors section front and center, just like Ryan Prior has done on the Modash blog. He's a well-known content marketer in the influencer marketing space.

I asked Ryan the ‘why’ behind this initiative to which he responded:

“We put contributors and their titles front and center because it builds trust for the reader quickly, it feels good for the contributor to see their face & name at the top (extra recognition and most importantly It's an E-E-A-T signal for SEO.”

💡Essential Read: How to Become a Subject Matter Expert in Just 6 Months

Why interview subject-matter experts?

Interviewing subject-matter experts requires a lot of work. This includes finding the right people to interview, figuring out the best way to gather their inputs, structuring your blog posts around these inputs and more. 

So, why bother investing time into it?

Here are a few reasons why I personally interview subject-matter experts:

1. There’s a LOT of fluff on the internet

I mean it. I have been in the content marketing industry for more than eight years and one thing I’ve realized is that there’s a lot of lazily-produced and generic content on the internet. 

Even the top-ranking blog posts on search engines provide little-to-no value to readers. 

Can you guess why such posts, despite being unhelpful, worthless and generic, rank at the top?

Answer: because their publications have spent years building their domain authority, published a lot of content on their website, and spent millions of dollars building powerful content marketing engines.

And since search engines now consider these publications credible and authoritative, their posts are more likely to rank higher. 

This might make you think, “why are these companies publishing low-quality content?”

Well, they’re not doing it purposely.

A big reason behind this is that the content marketing teams at such companies face a lot of pressure to publish hundreds of blog posts each month/quarter. To stay ahead of their competitors and meet their marketing goals. This pressure leads to a cycle where quantity is prioritized over quality.

Interviewing subject-matter experts helps me cover information that readers won’t find elsewhere. And also provide genuine value to readers. 

When people read something that resonates with them, contains a lot of valuable insights, is helpful, and has been written with a level of depth that only a true expert can provide, it naturally enhances the perception of the brand I’m representing. And they’re more likely to come back or take some kind of action.

2. AI-generated content is generic, inaccurate and lacks human touch

Back when ChatGPT was publicly launched, I questioned myself, “should I go back to being a software developer again (I’m a Computer Science Graduate)?” 

It made me second-doubt my career choice because I thought, “If an AI can write content, what value can I possibly add?”

As I began using ChatGPT, I realized that it often churns out content that lacks depth, human touch, and accuracy, since it is only as accurate as the data it has been trained on.

Bani Kaur, a freelance B2B SaaS writer with bylines in companies like Klaviyo, Sprout Social, Dooly and Litmus made a similar observation:

Despite this, a lot of companies, especially small and medium-sized publications, are publishing AI-generated content on their blog just as-is. 

Now, there are a few problems with this:

  • First of all, AI-generated content won’t be helpful for your readers. And if they don’t find your content helpful, it’s very less likely they’ll do business with you.
  • Secondly, in response to the insane number of companies publishing AI-generated content on their website (just as-is), Google has continuously been rolling out algorithm updates. These updates are aimed at identifying and promoting high-quality, valuable content while demoting shallow, low-effort content in their search results. 

But, that doesn’t mean that you should not use AI tools in your workflow. 

Companies that use AI tools for inspiration and assistance are more likely to produce content that is both helpful and engaging. 

Wordtune, our AI-powered writing and summarization tool, serves this very purpose. Unlike other AI platforms, we have built our AI-powered platform such that it encourages users to use it for inspiration and as their personal writing assistant.

Interviewing subject-matter experts provides me with unique insights and saves me from covering generic or fluff information. After interviewing subject-matter experts, I use Wordtune to:

A. Summarize the conversation

Wordtune's Summarizer tool

B. Rephrase my insights such that they don’t feel technical or complex for readers and match the publication’s style guidelines.

Wordtune's AI Rewrite feature

C. Improve the flow and readability of the content. 

D. Weave these insights naturally in the original content draft.

3. Satisfy Google’s E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

Earlier, it used to be E-A-T, without the “Experience” in it. 

The addition of "Experience" to form E-E-A-T suggests that Google is placing greater emphasis on content created by individuals with direct, real-world experience. 

However, it’s not always possible for these experts to allocate time and effort in content creation, especially if your company has a huge publishing cadence. 

So, the question is: how can you satisfy Google’s E-E-A-T if you can’t get people with first-hand experience to write for you? 

Answer: by partnering with these experts. 

Even though many of these people can’t allocate the much-needed time and effort to create content, what you can do is build systems and processes to gather inputs from these people - whether it’s via an in-person interview, over a virtual call or by asking them to submit a form.

When you structure your content around their inputs and/or add their unique insights to your posts, it can not only help you deliver value to your readers but also satisfy Google’s E-E-A-T.

That’s a BIG reason why I love interviewing SMEs.

4. Write content that’s actually helpful and valuable

I’ve personally seen so many writers take the top-ranking articles on search engines as references related to the topic they’re covering and write the same exact things but in their own words. There are also writers who perform deep research, but the number is very low. 

But it’s not always their fault. 

Writers, especially who are in the early stages of their career, should be provided with detailed briefs and outlines, which provide them with a clear direction and produce content that’s actually helpful and valuable.

However, considering the pressure content marketing teams face, it’s not possible for many of these teams to spend considerable time on individual briefs or to cultivate that depth of research for every piece.

The end-result: low-quality and generic content.

By interviewing subject-matter experts, writers can go way beyond the top-ranking articles. They can get their hands on insights that come from first-hand experience about the topic they’re writing about. This can include industry-specific data, personal anecdotes, or forward-thinking opinions that anticipate trends and changes.

This kind of information isn't available through a simple web search. And hence, the content comprising these insights stands apart in quality and relevance.

Personally, interviewing SMEs has been very beneficial for me as doing so:

  • Develop relationships with industry experts who can be called upon to provide insights when needed.
  • Opened doors for future collaborations.
  • Position myself as a writer who is willing to go the extra mile and do what’s needed to produce high-quality content.
  • Raise my freelance writing rates to $2,000+ per post. 

That being said, let me share my personal framework on how I interview subject-matter experts.

How to interview subject-matter experts

The process of interviewing SMEs can be divided into the following three categories:

  1. Identifying these experts and reaching out to them.
  2. Finding the best way to collaborate.
  3. Adding their inputs to your posts.

Let’s dive into each point one-by-one.

1. Identifying SMEs and reaching out to them

Once my clients send me the brief and the outline, I initiate the research process. This involves things like understanding how to differentiate my post from top-ranking posts (SERP analysis), downloading research papers and reports from top publications in the industry, and finding information related to the topic I’m covering on social media. 

Parallelly, depending on the topic I’m covering, I look out for SMEs who can contribute to my post. 

However, while doing so, I make sure that the publication I’m writing for is willing to give a do-follow backlink to the subject-matter expert’s preferred publication or provide them with something in return for contributing their inputs. If not, I try to find out ways to get SMEs to contribute to my article. I ask myself: “is there something I can help them with?” 

Providing something in return is a great way to get interest from well-reputed SMEs. And I make sure to communicate this benefit in my journorequest. 

Here are a few places where I look for SMEs:

A. LinkedIn

LinkedIn, in my opinion, is the best social media platform to identify and reach out to SMEs. You’ll see a lot of professionals hanging out on the platform and sharing actionable advice. 

On LinkedIn, I reach out to SMEs in two ways: through the search feature or posting a journorequest.

So, suppose I want to write an article about product management. To find the best people to contribute to my article, I:

Use LinkedIn’s search feature:

LinkedIn offers an excellent search feature with powerful capabilities to narrow down the right SMEs for your article on Google Ads mistakes. 

The first thing I do is search the term “Product Manager” on LinkedIn.  And hit “Enter” on your keyboard.

Next click “People.”

Here you’ll find a list of Product Managers who can contribute to your article:

You can narrow down your search depending on your specific needs. For example, Product Managers in the finance industry.

You can find these filters by clicking “All filters.” 

Upon applying a filter or two, just click “Show results.”

Here’s the filtered list of product managers in the finance industry.

Note: it’s very important to manually vet these people before you reach out to them. You can do this by heading over to their profile and reading their posts. Reach out to the ones who you think can provide valuable insights.

While connecting with them, you can send them a quick note like: “Hey {Person X}, I noticed your extensive experience in product management within the finance industry and would love to get your insights on [specific topic] for an article I'm working on. Would be up for a brief interview or answering a couple of questions via a form? Thank you! ”

You can also personalize your note by mentioning something they wrote about recently to increase the chances of getting a response.

Another great way is to post a journorequest on LinkedIn.

Post a journorequest:

When people source SME inputs, they like to call it “journorequest.” You can post one such request on LinkedIn like this:

When posting a journorequest, make sure:

  • You’re not making the request broad. Mention exactly what your article is about and what specific points you’re covering.
  • Add a list of questions for SMEs to answer. Mention that they’re free to answer one or more of these questions. 
  • Use the right hashtags to reach the right people. 

2. X (formerly Twitter)

Just like LinkedIn, X is a great platform to find and reach SMEs. You can’t really apply filters on X to narrow down your search. 

But in my opinion, X has a far better search functionality than LinkedIn. 

So, you can mention exactly who you’re looking for to find the right SMEs for contribution. For example, “product manager finance”

You can also post a journorequest on X just like we did on LinkedIn. But note, Twitter has a 280 character limit, so make your request as concise as possible. 

You can also post some questions in the thread to provide more context.

If you’re a premium user, you’re not bound by the 280 character limit. You can write up to 4,000 characters. 

C. Help a B2B Writer

Help a B2B Writer is just like HARO or Terkel but not that crowded and connects B2B writers with authoritative sources. I’ve been using the platform for several months now and it has helped me uplift my articles. 

Just head over to the platform. Click “Submit a request.”

Submit your request along with other fields like name, email address and deadline.

Provide as much context as you possibly can to get great answers. 

Once you’ve submitted a request, you’ll start receiving responses in a day. Here are a few additional tips to help you make sure the responses you receive are relevant and valuable:

D. Slack communities

I also publish my requests in industry-specific Slack communities. These are communities where you’ll find professionals having meaningful discussions, asking questions, assisting each other. 

When it comes to content marketing, I rely on Superpath, a community for content marketers. They have a dedicated #content-collab channel where I share my requests:

On Superpath, you can also find content marketers who would also love to connect you with experts in their network. 

Or you can find your own industry-specific communities by searching online for top Slack communities on search engines. 

Use search terms like “best [industry] Slack communities” or “join [industry] Slack group.”

E. My personal network

Over the last few years, I have built a rich network of people I can rely on or reach out to for expert inputs. These are people I talk with and love interacting with on a regular basis. 

For this article, I needed inputs from Ryan Prior, so I just reached out to him on Slack and he was kind enough to provide me with a response:

So, I highly recommend you to build a strong network of people you can rely on for SME inputs.

Once you’ve identified the right SMEs to interview, the next step is to figure out what the best way to gather inputs from them is. 

2. Finding the best way to collaborate 

Just ask SMEs what the best way to collaborate would be for them. Ask them whether they’d like to get on a call, do it over email or submit a Google form.

Drop them a message that says something like:

“Hey {Person Name}.

Hope you’re doing well. Thanks for considering my request to share your expertise. 

I’d love to interview you for my article. I believe your contribution could greatly enhance the depth of the piece. 

Would you prefer to get on a quick call? 

If your schedule is tight, I understand and can send over some questions via email as well. I can also send over a quick Google form for you to submit. 

Just let me know what works for you. 

Also, I’d like to point out that I’ve set the deadlines for collecting these inputs for the end of next week. Please let me know what works for you.

Thank you once again for considering this opportunity to share your knowledge. 

Looking forward to your response. 

Best regards,
[Your Name]”

For all three modes of communication, here are few tips for you:

1. Call

Interviewing an SME over a call is a great way to dive deep into a topic. Here are a few tips to knock these interviews out of the park:

  • Before the call, thoroughly research the SME's background, their work, and any previous talks or publications they've been a part of. This will help you make a great impression.
  • Start the call by confirming how much time they have available and stick to it. If the conversation goes well and runs over, ask if they can spare a few more minutes.
  • Prepare a list of open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses. Make sure these questions are not broad, otherwise they might struggle to provide meaningful answers.
  • If you plan to record the call for accuracy, ask for their permission before you start recording.
  • After the call, send a thank-you message and, if appropriate, include a brief summary of the key points discussed. 

2. Email

Here are a few tips to consider if their preferred mode of communication is email.

  • Keep the email as concise as possible. Ask them what you’re specifically writing about and which specific section you need their help with to provide them with the much-needed context. 
  • Send a list of relevant questions for them to answer. Like I said before, make sure these questions are not broad, otherwise they might struggle to provide meaningful answers.
  • Clearly state your deadline for responses, but be considerate of their schedule.
  1. Google Form

If you're sending a Google Form for them to fill out:

  • Design the form to be as straightforward as possible, with clear instructions. Mention what you’re specifically writing about and which specific section you need their help with to provide them with the much-needed context. 
  • Make sure your questions are not broad, otherwise they might struggle to provide meaningful answers.
  • Clearly state your deadline for responses, but be considerate of their schedule.

Once you’ve gathered their inputs, the next step is…

3. Adding SME inputs to your posts

Here are a few great ways to incorporate SME inputs in your post naturally:

  • If you interviewed an SME over a call, it’s important to extract meaningful insights from the transcription, considering you recorded the call. Wordtune’s Read & Summarize feature makes it a breeze to extract valuable insights from transcriptions. 
  • A good idea is to prepare a spreadsheet file comprising the inputs you’ve gathered along with external research. This way, you can have everything in one place. Organize the inputs depending on the specific topic they’re covering. For example, if an SME has answered a question about the future of product management, then you can create a dedicated section in your spreadsheet for 'Future Outlook' where you can compile all insights related to that topic. Here, you can also dump other relevant information, statistics, and forecasts that you find during your research. It's very important to categorize the information so that when you need to retrieve it for analysis or reporting, you can easily find the specific details you are looking for.outlook there. 
  • Once you’ve gathered all SME inputs in one place, analyze the outline to understand where these inputs fit in. If you need to create an additional section, feel free to do so. This could be something that has emerged from the discussions which you hadn't anticipated before. However, before you start writing the article, communicate and confirm this with the content strategist. 
  • After you’re done writing the article, reach out to SMEs to confirm if they’re okay with how you’ve framed the inputs or if they want to make some changes. Also confirm the designation and the website they’d like you to link to (considering you’re giving them a do-follow link)

Once the article is published, you’re free to share the URL with them. You can also give them a shoutout on social media for sharing their valuable insights. Like this:


SME inputs can help you uplift the quality of your articles, when sourced and implemented right. 

Wordtune’s wide range of features make gathering and extracting insights from SME inputs feel like a breeze. From helping you prepare a list of relevant questions to ask to make sense of these inputs to naturally adding them to your content, Wordtune is a one-stop shop for working with SME inputs.

But don’t take my word for it.

Take it out for a test spin today!