I used to be so jealous of talk show hosts.
|Finding experts with professional advice on any given topic is only a site away.|
I mean, seriously. They get paid to talk with interesting people. How cool is that? But now, as a journalist and non-fiction writer, I realize that I am living that dream.
I am a writer, but my favorite part of the job is the interviews. Some writers hate it. I have successful writer friends who dread the interview. They’d rather email questions than go face to face or hold a 'phoner. But the people I talk with for my articles think I have a very interesting job and I’d have to agree.
I learned early on that interviewing is where it’s at for me. In the last few months I’ve already talked with a woman who solves crime through hypnosis, a 10-year-old karate champion, a financial advisor, a chiropractor, a man who lost his child to a rare and unexplainable disease and a chocolate-maker who delivers.
Talking to these fascinating people is fun and easy with a little bit of preparation. But finding them — and the facts to support what I learn from them — is a different story.
Luckily, there are sources you can use to find experts on practically any subject. My favorites thus far are http://www.profnet.com and http://www.expertclick.com
Both of theses sites can connect you with professionals who are ready, willing and able to give you interesting interviews, quotes, and ideas. Both sites are free to register at, but do require that you are a writer and request the name of a publication you write for. You can successfully register as a freelance writer for either of theses sites, and you don’t have to be “employed” by anyone.
These sites serve a two-fold purpose. They help writers find experts and interesting topics and they help professionals who are interested in being interviewed as experts.
Here’s how they work. You can submit a query on your topic and the service will forward it to any professional that fits your possible needs. Or, you can look up topics and contact professionals directly. In addition, both services can send you press releases on any topic you’ve requested. I get a daily list of press releases that help generate story ideas — an area which I used to have problems with.
Profnet.com is an online community of 12,000 news and information officers. Recognized as the leading expert resource of its kind, Profnet is supported by 4,000 organizations in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia and has 16,000 expert profiles on file.
Expertclick.com was formerly Yearbook.com and has been around since 1984. They have a service called InterviewNet, which sends your initial interest directly to the professionals in the areas of your choice. Expertclick claims this is more secure than any other online resource. They do allow paid advertisers to also answer questions, which is how they fund the site.
Finding people to talk with is one of the hardest parts about writing non-fiction articles for newspapers and magazines. These two online resources help to make that process one step easier. And, if you’re drawing a blank you can peruse the press releases for some interesting ideas. Like, “American Eating Trends of 2006.”
I’m sure there’s an idea there and the experts at the Institute of Food Technologists would be more than happy to tell you more than I can.
Karen Braynard is a contributing correspondent to a small handful of local weekly newspapers, a feature writer for The Senior Guide and aspiring full-time freelance magazine writer with a few clips under her belt. http://www.kbwrite.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org