Cover image of Create If Writing
(84)
Arts
Education
Books
How To

Create If Writing

Updated 3 days ago

Arts
Education
Books
How To
Read more

Create If Writing is a weekly podcast for writers and bloggers dealing with authentic platform building online. You will hear from experts on list-building, connecting through Twitter, and how to utilize Facebook. But tools for building an audience would feel empty without a little inspiration, so these training episodes are balanced with inspirational interviews with writers who share their creative process, ups and downs, and how they have dealt with success or failure. Kirsten Oliphant is a self-published author with an MFA in Fiction who has been blogging for 11 years and is in the top 20 of Houston's Social Media Power Influencers. She has spoken at Blog Elevated, Houston Social Media Breakfast, Adventure Con, Houston Business Advancement Conference, and Social Media Day Houston. She created the Free Email Course and loves to get nerdy about all things email list.

Read more

Create If Writing is a weekly podcast for writers and bloggers dealing with authentic platform building online. You will hear from experts on list-building, connecting through Twitter, and how to utilize Facebook. But tools for building an audience would feel empty without a little inspiration, so these training episodes are balanced with inspirational interviews with writers who share their creative process, ups and downs, and how they have dealt with success or failure. Kirsten Oliphant is a self-published author with an MFA in Fiction who has been blogging for 11 years and is in the top 20 of Houston's Social Media Power Influencers. She has spoken at Blog Elevated, Houston Social Media Breakfast, Adventure Con, Houston Business Advancement Conference, and Social Media Day Houston. She created the Free Email Course and loves to get nerdy about all things email list.

iTunes Ratings

84 Ratings
Average Ratings
80
2
2
0
0

Informative, fun and inspiring

By Suzanne Stanmeyer - Sep 30 2019
Read more
I found Kristen’s podcast last week after she was a guest on the Sell More Books Show. I’ve been listening to author podcasts for a little over a year and have covered all the basics. Kristen’s podcast is a breath of fresh air. She’s my new favorite. Optimistic, real, and entertaining. Subscribe. You won’t be disappointed!

Kinda preachy

By Bwholeton - Aug 06 2019
Read more
So the earlier episodes of this podcast seemed really informative in a fun and interesting way, but the more it went on the more preachy it got and the more complaining it contained... I would say if he episodes available, only the first 3 or 4 are of any use.

iTunes Ratings

84 Ratings
Average Ratings
80
2
2
0
0

Informative, fun and inspiring

By Suzanne Stanmeyer - Sep 30 2019
Read more
I found Kristen’s podcast last week after she was a guest on the Sell More Books Show. I’ve been listening to author podcasts for a little over a year and have covered all the basics. Kristen’s podcast is a breath of fresh air. She’s my new favorite. Optimistic, real, and entertaining. Subscribe. You won’t be disappointed!

Kinda preachy

By Bwholeton - Aug 06 2019
Read more
So the earlier episodes of this podcast seemed really informative in a fun and interesting way, but the more it went on the more preachy it got and the more complaining it contained... I would say if he episodes available, only the first 3 or 4 are of any use.
Cover image of Create If Writing

Create If Writing

Latest release on Oct 09, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 3 days ago

Rank #1: How to Get More Followers on Social Media

Podcast cover
Read more
Want to know how to get more followers on social media? I've got you covered. This posts is the third in a series on Why Your Audience Isn't Growing. You should also read Why Your Social Media Isn't Growing to see mistakes you might be making!

One of the biggest questions that people have about social media is how to get followers. No matter how many you currently have, we all seem to want to get MORE followers. And more. We can never have enough!!

I especially know what it feels like to be just starting out where you have under 1000 followers. I remember my first year on Twitter with something like 300 followers, feeling like I would never grow.

Getting followers feels like an impossible task. You need more followers so that you have some kind of social proof, so that more people will follow you, but no one will follow you without more followers. And I have found it to be true that once you pass a certain benchmark of at least a thousand people, it gets easier to grow.

Getting followers is kind of like a chicken and egg problem.

So let's talk about how you get more followers on social media, especially when you are just starting out OR when you are stuck.

Note: This post contains affiliate links! That means at no extra cost to you, I will receive a commission if you purchase something through some of the links I share. 

Listen to How to Get More Followers on Social Media

You can listen right here or on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. Or keep reading below!

HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Before we even get into the specifics of how, I want to talk about the WHY. Specifically YOUR why. If you are not super clear on your why, you are going to struggle to grow your social media presence, your blog, and your audience.

Your WHY is your purpose. My background is in writing, so I like to think of it as your theme. A theme isn't the beginning-middle-end of a story, but the ideas that run throughout, tying the story together.

For an example, my WHY is that I want to help writers and bloggers build an online platform without being smarmy. I love helping people connect with their perfect audience online, using all the tools and strategies that smart marketers use, but without the icky salesy tactics.

Knowing my WHY means that if I have a post idea that doesn't fit into that overarching purpose, I don't write it. Or I write it in a guest post somewhere else. Or on my other blog.

If you aren't clear on your why or the audience you serve, you are going to really struggle!

Take some time to write out a clear statement of purpose. This should include who you serve, how you serve them, and what is unique to you.

HOW TO GET FOLLOWERS THROUGH CONTENT

Once you have your why in place, you can both create and curate content that fits under the umbrella of your why. In the second post of this series I talked about curating content, which is essentially the way that you share other people's content on social media. I want to go even deeper on this idea of sharing relevant content.

Consider your perfect audience (see my series on how to find your perfect audience) when you are coming up with content ideas to create. In the same way, think about your target audience when you are choosing Tweets to Retweet or pins to share on Pinterest.

Ask yourself: Does this serve my perfect audience? 

When you share awesome content (your own and others), a really cool thing happens. People start to see you as an authority.

You become their go-to for news, trends, and resources. You save them the time so they don't have to research all the latest trends or news. Sharing quality content will help you get more followers that are truly interested in you. That's why it's really important to share relevant content.

PRO TIP: On Facebook in particular, you need to not only consider the topic, but the kind of content. If you keep sharing viral videos because they get great reach, but you don't CREATE video, this may hurt you in the long run. When you share your blog posts as links, your page is used to doing well with video, so the reach may diminish for link posts. An active page doesn't help you if it's active for video, but you are trying to drive traffic to a blog.

Examples of People Sharing Consistent Quality Content

Here are a few of my favorite creator/curators in different niches:

The Sell More Books Show - Each week Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral share five big newsworthy items and three tips related to book writing and marketing, especially in the indie space. I want to know what's going on, so I follow their podcast, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page so hopefully I won't miss anything.

Jenn's Trends - Jenn Herman has a blog focused on social media, specifically Instagram. Even though I've temporarily told Instagram, "it's not me, it's you," I can count on her to share big news I need to know about social media. I joined her Facebook group to keep up with what she's sharing about social media.

Social Media Examiner - While this seems like a no-brainer because this is a hugely established site, I love Michael Stelzner's curiosity and passion for social media. (You can hear this particularly through his podcast, where he seems genuinely excited and interested in the guests.)

HOW TO GET FOLLOWERS THROUGH CONTENT-SHARING TOOLS

Sharing consistent quality content is HARD. Especially when you are also creating content too. I really rock at creating content. I love it. Give me content creation all. day. long.

And while I shared in my post on why your blog isn't growing that it's not just about promotion, YOU HAVE TO PROMOTE your awesome content. If you are trying to curate good content from other people as well (which you should do), then you have even more posts to share and schedule. Promotion is a lot of work, so you'll want some tools to help with that.

Note: Don't forget that you can't JUST promote. You have to engage with people as well! Read the previous post in this series for ideas. 

So what tools can help you get followers on social media through content sharing?

My favorite tools to share quality content-

Quuu - (Facebook & Twitter) This app will generate and autopost relevant content to your Twitter or Facebook feeds for you. Like most apps, you can use some features with the free version and then upgrade.

I honestly don't LOVE pushing out content that I haven't seen first. But they have a great vetting process for the posts that they take, so you will get great content!

Quuu Promote - This is a paid part of Quuu where you can submit posts to go in the Quuu feed. I've seen really great results from putting my posts in here. This means that when other people sign up for Quuu and autopost links, YOUR links go in the pool to be shared on a particular topic.

This has resulted in a good amount of traffic and also shown me what content is working well. Check out these two posts, both about email marketing. (For reference, another promoted post I did had 17 clicks from only 80 shares, as compared to the 300-something shares for only 8 clicks.) They don't accept posts automatically, but look through each.

Promo Republic - I love this social sharing tool because it comes with templates and stock photos that you can edit (think: Canva), but you don't have to LEAVE the platform to share them. Instead, you create them right there, write your text for a post, then choose to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram (reminder, not autoschedule, since Insta doesn't allow that).

They share trends that may help you come up with post ideas and you can create a queue of content that will post at optimal times. Get this on AppSumo for a limited time with my referral code (that gives me credit at no extra cost to you) HERE

Tailwind - I love this app for Pinterest! (It also does Instagram, but I don't use it for that.) It has one of the easiest scheduling dashboards I've used. You can click a button to shuffle them all, choose the best time slots you want per day, how many shares per day, and even join tribes of other Pinterest users to promote each other's content. If you use my affiliate link, you'll get a free month to try it out!

Hootsuite - I have been using Hootsuite maybe longer than any other social tool! It's very similar to Buffer, which a lot of people like, but because I have never seen a reason to switch! Choose which one works for you. You can manage up to three accounts with Hootsuite's free plan, including Facebook (page, group, or profile), LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I create Twitter lists within Hootsuite and then can easily go in and schedule content on a weekly basis. (Though I've been HORRIBLE about this lately.) It clears the clutter when you just want to pop in and see what's going on over on Twitter. This makes it easier to get in, engage and schedule, then get out without getting lost.

Iconosquare - Iconosquare is NOT a social scheduling platform and is strictly for Instagram. But it's a really helpful tool to manage your followers and to see what content people engage with so that you can create more of the same. You can even track details like which hashtags performed well for you. As with most tools, you can get more when you pay.

Social Jukebox - This is a great tool to create a content library (or "jukebox") of evergreen content that get shared again and again over time. 

RecurPost - Similar to Social Jukebox, this tool will let you schedule posts to share again and again. If you don't want to pay for Edgar or SmarterQueue, you can use these two together to get the max number of posts without paying. 

PRO TIP: Remember to share your own posts with as much gusto and passion as you share other people's posts. This tip comes by way of Paula Rollo of Beauty Through Imperfection and her Facebook Group, Actionable Blogging Tips.

HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS THROUGH FOLLOW FOR FOLLOW

I know that in the past year, the idea of getting followers by following people brings out the eye rolls. Especially on Instagram, people talk about getting 300 new followers in a day, then losing 294 two days later. (True story.) That's a LOT of people doing it wrong.  

The BEST way to follow people to get followers on Instagram and Twitter is to follow people you are actually interested in, interact with them in a way that isn't smarmy (ex: DON'T follow, then tweet at them telling them you followed and asking them to follow back), and then in a few weeks or month, unfollow the people who aren't following you back UNLESS they are stellar content creators and you want to keep following. 

Give this practice a little more of a personal touch and a little more time to see it actually work for you.

A Note on Facebook

I have not mentioned much about growing a Facebook page here. There are a few reasons for this. First, this can be one of the harder platforms to grow. Because of the way the Facebook algorithm works, people often won't see your content. Even huge pages have very little reach on posts. I'll talk more about this in a separate post, because it's a HUGE topic.

HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS...SPARINGLY

Facebook groups - Many blogger Facebook groups have threads on a weekly or daily basis where you can link to your social profiles and then follow everyone and have them follow you. You really want TARGETED followers, so these don't always work well. But depending on your goals or while you're trying to get past that social proof number, this may really help. 

Giveaways - You can definitely grow quickly and with big results using giveaways. But you are more than likely going to end up with people who don't care about you or your content. Particularly if you are giving away money or a gift card to a store. Try to be more targeted to your audience and give a great prize, but one that is specific to writers or moms or your audience. 

Ads - You can run Facebook ads to get likes for your page, but this is something I would do sparingly. Facebook seems to drop your reach right after you pay for things to make you think you NEED to pay for things. So, realize this is an option in the ads manager, but don't rely on this. 

Remember the Context When You Are Trying to Get Followers!

If you are trying to get more followers on social media, don't forget your overall purpose. Think of the kinds of followers you really want and the long-term goals. 

Consider all these tips in conjunction with the reasons your social media isn't growing, particularly thinking about the idea that you need to be SOCIAL. 

What are YOUR tips for getting more followers on social media? Share in the comments!

Sep 18 2017

50mins

Play

Rank #2: 150- Niche It Down a Notch

Podcast cover
Read more

When you niche down in your writing, you can increase your productivity AND your profits! 

For a full slideshow and more on this, check out the full shownotes at http://createifwriting.com/150

Feb 08 2019

46mins

Play

Rank #3: 160 - How to Find Time to Write

Podcast cover
Read more

The question I get asked most is something along the lines of: How do you write with five kids? Sometimes I ask myself this question too! The specific ways that work for me may not work for you, but I'll share some tips to help you learn how to find time to write.

 

HOW TO FIND TIME TO WRITE

Whether you have small children, a job, or any number of other things going on, finding time to write is HARD. Writing is an art, but it's also a practice. A skill. It takes brain power, energy, and time. In my experience, it's also very life-giving.

Evaluate your circumstances

What do you have going on in this particular season of life? Not just in terms of things that take up your time, but emotional things. Maybe you're caring for a baby and are exhausted or have someone in your family with chronic illness. You might be depressed. Take into account all the things that are present in your life.

Make a plan

Once you've considered what's going on in your life, come up with a plan. Realize that  your first plan may not work, but you have to start with one, try it, and then you can adjust. You'll probably need to adjust. Don't feel defeated if the first plan doesn't work. Ex: my 10pm - midnight office hours. Trying to write with kids.

Learn how you work best

You may not always have a choice in how you work, but try to find out what's ideal for you. This means everything from the specifics of when to work, where you work, and how. I like working better in the mornings, but I used to only have the option for nighttime. I also really hate having a firm deadline and need to finish way ahead of time if I have something like a preorder or I freak out. This matters a lot, especially when you don't have a lot of time. If you aren't working the way you work best, you'll e slower.

Know your limits, respect them, and test them

It's very easy to compare yourselves to other people and try to measure yourself against that. It's not going to help you write more or better or faster. There's a difference between watching others and learning from them and watching others and trying to shove yourself into their mold. I'm a fast writer. That's just me. You can't look at me putting out a book a month and think you can do it because I am. Maybe you can; maybe you can't. Either way? That's okay! You can always challenge yourself and work to get better at your craft or increase your speed, but that may not be the best for you. I didn't know I could write a book a month until I did it. Now it's easier because I know I can.

Find hacks that work for you

Listening to what has worked for other people might help you find what works for you. In a Facebook group for moms, one mom mentioned joining two gyms. She couldn't afford a full-time (or part-time) daycare, but was working for home. So she joined two gyms and used one in the morning for two hours and one in the afternoon for two hours. When I heard this, I thought it was genius. Then immediately felt a rush of mom guilt, until I did the math on that and realized that those were just four hours out of the day when I still had like nine others I was with my kids. This was (and is) a huge help to me. I don't always use both, but I regularly work at the YMCA, which is $75 a month for me and all five kids. Collect tips and then see what ones can work for you.

That's how I work... have any tips or ideas to add?

Apr 26 2019

26mins

Play

Rank #4: 184 - How to Avoid Bad Author Collaborations

Podcast cover
Read more

Author collaborations can be fantastic ... except when they aren't. In this post, we'll look at how to avoid bad author collaborations and the questions you should answer before you dive in!

It's no secret that I'm into collaborations. I wrote a whole book on working with others called Creative Collaborations.

And yet ... I've had some bad ones.

I still recommend working with others, but I've learned a lot and am way better at choosing good projects and good partners. I hope this helps you avoid those bad author collaborations!

KINDS OF COLLABORATIONS

First of all, if you haven't worked with other authors, you might be wondering about the kinds of collaborations you can have.

Really, the sky is the limit as far as ways you could partner up and support other authors or work together. But here are some of the common ways authors work together all the time.

  • newsletter swaps (sharing other authors' books in exchange for sharing yours)
  • joint author box sets or anthologies
  • series or shared, connected worlds
  • co-writing a book
  • group promotions through Bookfunnel, Story Origin, etc
  • running a giveaway together
  • joint Facebook groups
  • co-hosting a podcast
  • interviews (on blogs, Youtube, etc)
  • and so many more!

Authors work together in all kinds of ways and it can really benefit everyone involved to work together and expand reach or share readers.

But ... you can also end up getting burned. You might lose time, money, or relationships. Or, you might just derail your forward trajectory and momentum when you make a group project your focus.

Read the full post HERE!

May 23 2020

36mins

Play

Rank #5: 134 - Writing Rules and When to Break Them

Podcast cover
Read more

In this post and podcast episode, we'll be diving into the idea of writing rules and when you can break them. I was honestly surprised with where I landed on this. Keep reading and see if you agree!

We've all heard that phrase: "Learn the rules; then you can break them." Or something like it. But how do you know what the rules are? And when can you actually break them?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you purchase something by clicking through. 

WHY THERE AREN'T REALLY WRITING RULES

We live in a time period where things are much more open. Language is changing and has been affected by social media and texting. (Don't feel too upset by this because language is always changing. People were mad at Shakespeare in his day. It's not a new problem!) 

There are also different schools of rules. Personally, I adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style for my punctuation and grammar. While others might use the MLA or AP or something else. These don't all agree! (It's a good idea to find out which of these your particular niche uses so you can also adhere to the common guide in your niche!)

RULES & EXPECTATIONS

The rules we will be talking about today are really more of expectations that your readers have for your particular genre, niche, or medium.

When you write a query to an editor and you have two spaces after a period, they may not read your manuscript. PERIOD. They are too busy to read everything and this choice gives them an easy out to toss your manuscript.

When you buck the expectations and the rules, you are sending a message. Usually that message is- I'm ignorant OR I don't care. Neither is a good thing.

Writer in another group talked about just not understanding why people care about punctuation and spelling. "It's about story," she argued. But readers won't read your story if there are tons of errors. It tells people that you are careless and that you haven't taken the time or effort to do the bare minimum.

Same with covers. Constantly in writer's groups, people are saying things like "What do you think of my cover?" And when the responses are, "Hire a designer," they say "No." Cover matter. Period.

They sell books. They set expectations. They keep people from buying books.

LESSONS I LEARNED ABOUT RULES

I personally was surprised (as a rebel) to find freedom in following the genre rules. I started writing clean fiction under a pen name in December. I'm a writer by instinct first, so I wrote, then realized that I had messed up some big conventions and expectations. Namely that one of my short stories didn't have a Happily Ever After ending. THEY MUST in this genre.

Typically these books also switch back and forth between the perspectives of the two characters falling in love. I normally like a close third narration sticking to ONE character. This was hard for me.

Both were actually hard--I like resolution, but not necessarily happy endings. I also like my choice for sticking to one character.

FREEDOM WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK

But I found that when I started writing within what seemed like strict confines, I wrote better. I wrote faster. In fact, I've published two full novels in 2018, with the third coming out in June. In addition to two short stories in December. I wrote almost 30k words this past week. I believe MUCH of this had to do with the freedom and framework I found in sticking to the conventions.

REFRAMING THE RULES

If you are struggling with rules (like me), see if you can reframe. This is a way of sort of tricking your mind by giving something another name and a different association.

Call the rules expectations. Call them a framework or best practices. Do what it takes to help wrap your brain around finding and sticking to the rules that you need to for your niche, genre, or medium.

Just know that for most of these things, you need to fit into expectations if you want to ever SELL things and connect with an audience.

WHEN YOU CAN BREAK THE RULES AND BUCK EXPECTATIONS

It's important to note that rules can be broken. New things can emerge. Now we are talking about disruption. Disruptive innovation is when something changes in the market that makes a huge impact. Brand new markets for different kinds of customers.

Netflix is an example. They first disrupted the video stores and shut them DOWN. Then they doubled down on streaming and within a few years, TV will be totally different. (My opinion.) 

As content creators, writing an unexpected blog post or type of book is more a micro-disruption. You might choose to do something outside the rules and find great success because of the contrast. But generally speaking, if you want an audience and/or money, you should know the expectations and do your best to meet them.

The three times you can break the rules are when you are:

  1. Famous
  2. Genius
  3. Lucky

Those are typically the only ways that breaking the rules will mean success. You're famous and already have an audience of raving fans, you can do whatever you want.

You're a genius and you happen to stumble upon disruptive innovation that WORKS and changes the game.

Or...you're lucky. You happen to break a rule at the right time or get in front of the right audience or have some crazy stroke of luck. Often there is hard work behind luck. But sometimes there is just...luck. It just happened to work, even though it shouldn't have.

DO NOT BASE WHAT YOU DO ON THESE OUTLIERS.

You can't look at what someone famous does and say, "Well, breaking the rules worked for THEM." If you see someone breaking the rules successfully, chances are they are famous, a genius, or lucky. You'll do best to stick to best practices, not base your decisions on the outliers and minority finding success breaking the rules.

BREAKING THE RULES CAN BE SELFISH

When it comes down to it, if you are breaking the rules because you feel like you need to for your art, you are being selfish. You are putting yourself ahead of your readers.

You might say that you're writing for art, not for money. That's fine. But following the rules is NOT just about money.

Expectations and rules are a gift to your readers. In some ways breaking the rules isn't just about art, it's about YOU. You are thinking of YOURSELF first when you break the rules. Readers have expectations and they may be best served when you follow the expectations of your niche or genre, whether that's clean romance or the kind of blog you write or even within podcasts.

GO OUT AND CREATE CONTENT YOU LOVE THAT SERVES YOUR PEOPLE WELL. 

I'd love to hear in the comments if you agree/disagree with this idea of freedom within the rules or my strong statement that breaking the rules can be selfish! {ducks head waiting for tomatoes to be thrown}

LINKS I MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE-  

Emma St. Clair - my pen name for clean romance

Two free short stories by Emma St. Clair - referenced as not fully adhering to conventions

Two spaces after a period

Bad reviews given to famous works

Disruptive Innovation

The Writing Life - being open to cover changes by Robert Kugler

Tim Storm & Storm Writing School

KDP Rocket - a tool I use for keywords (I'm an affiliate and happy user!!)

Go On Write - great affordable covers (I use his branding package)

German Creative on Fiverr - affordable cover designs

Write to Market - book by Chris Fox

May 28 2018

39mins

Play

Rank #6: 100 - Part 1 of How to Grow Your Email List with Social Media

Podcast cover
Read more

This month, I'm running a case study on how my list grows over social media with the same freebie! I'll return with Part 2 down the road to share my findings. 

Thanks to my sponsor, Ambition Ally, the makers of PopUpAlly Pro! Find out more here: http://ambitionally.com/kirsten

Can you help with my survey? http://createifwriting.com/2017survey

May 01 2017

25mins

Play

Rank #7: 123 - How to Get Un-Stuck: Tips for the Writing Process

Podcast cover
Read more

When is the last time you thought about the writing process? Or, more specifically, YOUR writing process?

The older I get, the more I know myself and understand how to tweak the writing process to fit what works for me. The writing process could really be called a system, the way we think of systems in business. Systems are simply the process, method, or course of action to get a desired result, especially consistently over time.

When we get to know ourselves better and how we work, we can tweak our writing process to work better for us. We write more, better, faster.

Check out Derek's video where he shares a small box with big ideas, plus some of the secrets of his writing process! (Then come on back for more on process.)

For more great, daily content, I would highly recommend subscribing to Derek's channel! He's really ramping it up this year and sharing a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at life as an entrepreneur.  LOOSE STEPS OF THE WRITING PROCESS

You could break down the writing process in any number of ways, but I'm going to put it into four very loose steps:

  1. Collect ideas
  2. Write judgment-free drafts
  3. Edit ruthlessly
  4. Rest and then perfect

For the first two, you need to be really kind and generous to yourself, but in the last two, you must be ruthless. Let's break that down!

COLLECT IDEAS

The enemy of the writer is the blank page. This very common saying speaks to the fact that writers often struggle with the start.

It makes me think of the law of inertia, which states that an object at rest will remain there. Objects in motion will continue in motion. That start can take a lot out of you.

BUT WHY?

Often the start is difficult because we don't have ideas. Or we aren't sure where to begin with the ideas we have. This is when we can fall prey to distraction or what Stephen Pressfield calls the Resistance in his book, The War of Art.

You can help your start along if you have ideas. The page may still be blank, but your BRAIN isn't. The problem is that we aren't always as observant as we should be and we don't think about collecting ideas like we should.

Derek shared a few ways that he collects ideas on the run in his video. Here are some things that you can try!

You could: 

  • Keep a box for notecards with quotes
  • Have a notebook handy at all times
  • Download an app that's easy to use for notes like Evernote or the notes app

If you are constantly observing and stockpiling ideas, you can avoid so much trouble at the start! Once you have an idea, it's time to move onto stage two.

WRITE JUDGMENT-FREE DRAFTS

I feel strongly that in the drafting process, you need to get out of your own way. You don't judge your ideas but let them flow. At least (and especially) in the first drafts.

  • Create a vomit version
  • Write drafts by hand (which slows you down and may help clarify)
  • Write down the page (kind of like making a list of ideas, scenes, descriptions, bits of dialogue)
  • Don't have judgment in your drafts

When you edit during your drafts and restrict the flow of your free-flowing thoughts, we may miss out on something that is in the back of consciousness. Connect with the page. No judgment.

If you're still struggling with this, two thoughts. The first? Do what works for you. But...the second: don't write this off too quickly. If you haven't tried letting it all out and are used to editing as you go, just TRY this.

Consider Upworthy. You know, the site with all the viral posts that were all over your Facebook feed a year or two ago. They write 25 potential headlines per post. Check out this Slideshare from Upworthy, particularly slides 33 & 34.

Without letting out your bad drafts, you're missing something.

Oh, and according to editor and author of the Story Grid, Shawn Coyne, you shouldn't edit this at all until you COMPLETELY FINISH.

(I don't always agree with that, but I'll save why for another day.) 

Now you've got some content on the page. It may or may not be good, but it's THERE. Time for stage three.

EDIT RUTHLESSLY

Now that you have words on a page, you're going to do the hard work. You will be critical and judgmental. You are going to go back to those words and cut things and rearrange things and find what doesn't work and fix it. You need to be ruthless.

I really loved how Derek put this in his video. He talked about how we all assume people care about us and our story. BUT THEY DON'T. It's our job to make them care, especially right at the beginning of our content. 

Personally, I do something weird. I'm SUPER MEAN to myself in edits. I write mean and awful notes to myself. If someone else wrote these things to me, I wouldn't want to write again, but I can do this to ME and it oddly inspires and empowers me.

Being ruthless doesn't have to look like actually being mean to yourself. But it does mean being hard on your words.

You will: 

  • Take out unnecessary things
  • Check that the flow works
  • Have a goal and ask if your writing accomplishes this
  • Listen to other people's common criticisms
  • Be ruthless - IF you are writing for other people

As for that last one, your WHY matters as you edit. If you are writing a diary or a passion project, you can be self-indulgent. You may not edit at ALL. If you are writing at all for an audience, you MUST be willing to die a little.

You need to find the balance of writing what you love, but still serving your people well.

You're almost done. Next up: the final touches.

REST AND THEN PERFECT

This final step of editing is where you go back and really make everything perfect. I should point out that these four steps are not a literal four-step process. I go through many rounds of editing in the editing process. I may also go through several rounds of polishing. Here's what polishing might include:

  • Let it rest before you polish
  • Find GOOD readers
  • Listen to advice, but filter it

Polishing is when you will find the genius and the magic. You still might hit that point when you hate it (or is that just me?), but you'll find that this is when you move into a work you're pleased with and ready to publish.

I want to stress that I don't spend a lot of time for EVERY kind of content. I spend the most time going through this process in my longer-form content like novels. Some blog posts get more editing and attention than others. I also tend to write more cleanly in the first draft of a blog post, so that my first drafts are pretty publishable.

With a blog post, I collect the ideas, potentially outline (usually on paper), and then write a pretty clean first draft that I will edit through once or twice.

Do you know YOUR process?

Jan 15 2018

25mins

Play

Rank #8: 122 - How to Plan Your Year in Reverse

Podcast cover
Read more

"You're doing it backwards."

Does that sound like a good thing...or a bad thing? Usually when someone says that to you, what they mean is that you're doing it wrong. You are going about a task in the wrong order.

But when it comes to making goals and accomplishing them, the best way is to work backwards on purpose. You need to look at your big goal as Point B. You are currently at Point A. Then work backwards to think about the steps in between to bridge the gap. If you look at your Yearly Content Guide and the daily planner printable sheets, this will make much more sense! Let's walk through the process.

1 / How do YOU Work?

Before you can really start planning effectively, you need to take some time to figure out how YOU work. You don't want to waste time on methods that don't work for you. I'll give an example to make this more clear.

When I was in college, I wrote a ton of papers! I can't begin to think about the hundreds of pages I wrote and the all-nighters that I pulled. But it took me 'til my senior year to realize that I wrote papers BEST when I finished them a day or so in advance.

Giving myself that cushion of time meant that I wrote in a leisurely, focused way. I had no frantic, stressful moments. I didn't pull all nighters, fueling up on Mountain Dew and Twizzlers. I wrote faster and I wrote BETTER when I made my own personal deadline ahead of the imposed deadline.

That doesn't mean I cannot work well under pressure. In December I started writing under a pen name, Emma St. Clair, and wrote two short stories in the sweet romance genre. (You can check those out here if you like light and fluffy non-steamy romance.) I cranked out two stories and published them within the space of two weeks.

And the effort was a success! I garnered 26 five-star reviews for Four Days of Christmas and have a new email list of over 100 people and am still making sales and money now in January.

What I've learned about myself is that I work better with self-imposed goals and deadlines, not ones that someone else forces me into.

Questions to Ask:

  • What time of day do you work best?
  • What work space works well?
  • What stresses you out?
  • What circumstances make the work easy and fun?
  • How do you like to write-- pen & paper, computer, typewriter?

Before you can plan well, you need to know yourself well. This isn't as easy as you'd think and it may change according to the season or circumstances. Ask yourself questions about the ways you work and make note whenever something stresses you out OR has great results.

2 / Working Backwards

My whole Yearly Content Planner shows you how to work backwards. It starts with looking at your goals, your stats and analytics from the past year (I keep this simple, so don't freak out if you don't like numbers), and then moves into weekly and daily planner printable sheets to give you laser focus.

As an example of what this looks like, say I want to write 8-10 books this year. (Which I do.) This means that I need to write a book every month or so (if I'm working in a 10-month year, which is my plan).

I can then get super specific and think about how much time I need to give my cover designer, how much time I need to format, how much time I need to give my editor, and how much time to write the book itself. When I take that backwards, I can plan out just when I need to do what based on the tasks involved and how long each one takes.

If you want to increase your pageviews from 5k a month to 50k a month, you'll have to look at what current traffic sources you have and how many posts you write per week. Then you have to create a strategy for creating content and for promotion that would scale up your pageviews that much. When you're trying to grow, typically you can do two different things (or a combination).

How to Scale Up
  1. Deepen the content you already have - make what you have do more for you.
  2. Widen how much content you create - do a lot more of what you're already doing

Chances are you'll do a little of both, but it's worth thinking about this to pick a focus. Would it help you to get more pageviews if you wrote five times a week? Or repurposed content and promoted the heck out of fewer posts and the ones you already have?

With books, I could spend more on AMS ads or Facebook ads or increase the price of my current books. Or I could write more books quickly and promote them to up my income through having lots of books for sale.

If you aren't sure, try things to see! But once you see what's working, double down on that! Look at the end goal and then ask yourself if all of your actions and investments of time and money move you toward your goal...or not. Cut what doesn't. Do more of what does.

3 / Asking for Feedback

It's always a good idea to ask people you respect and trust for feedback. This might be other people in your industry who are knowledgeable or it might be people who like that content. As in, you could ask other indie authors your questions about a book and you could also ask indie readers who are not authors. Both are helpful.

But when people give you feedback, you need to be willing to TAKE IT. Sometimes we don't want to hear the truth or we are unwilling to give something a shot. We hold on tightly to what we love, even if it doesn't work.

Don't. If fifty people tell you that your book cover sucks, you should trust them. Get a new cover.

Feedback may not work in every step of your planning, but is an important part of finding what works. You need to get out of your own head and let other people share their experience and understanding.

Jan 11 2018

27mins

Play

Rank #9: 103- Tips for a Successful Launch with Jenny Melrose

Podcast cover
Read more

Whether it's a podcast or a blog or a book or a course, launching can make or break you. Break is a LITTLE extreme, but your spirit can definitely feel broken after a not-so-hot launch! According to Jenny Melrose of the Influencer Entrepreneur podcast, it's all about the strategy. In this episode we are going deep to learn tips for a successful launch!

And don't miss a live workshop with Jenny (and me!) on May 24 at 9am CST where she's going to teach us how to run a successful challenge-- a key component to her launching success. Register HERE!

Connect with Jenny Melrose

The Influencer Entrepreneur Podcast

Jenny Melrose dot com

The Melrose Family

Tips for a Successful Launch with Jenny Melrose

There are so many kinds of launches. You can launch tons of different products, first of all, and then you can choose to launch just to your list or do a joint venture (JV) launch with someone else. You can launch with affiliates. You can use ads. You can have open and closed cart or evergreen. You can use webinars. You can go on podcasts as a guest. YOU CAN DO ALL THE THINGS.

But what really works? 

It will vary depending on what you're launching and what your goals are, but here are some great tips for a successful launch from Jenny Melrose, who has done a number of launches for different products and in different ways.

If you Build It, They WON'T Come

I've busted the Field of Dreams myth with books, blogs, and even podcasts that I thought would naturally bring in the right audience in DROVES because they were quality. Nope.

Without a strategic plan, your launch is not likely to be a huge success. It seems obvious, but I think most of us have done this at least one time. Do NOT build a book or product that you assume everyone will want and find without strategic planning.

Note: If you have something you truly love and want to build it for the sheer love of it, go for it! Just realize that this is not the most strategic path for launching success. 

Launch with Challenges

Jenny creates evergreen challenges so people can come as they want to. The challenges up engagement, give people a taste for the content and quick wins that make them feel successful.

To promote her challenges, Jenny utilized Facebook groups, but not in a smarmy way. (Read my full post on how to not be smarmy in Facebook groups.) She searched for questions that people were asking related to her challenge, answered the question as fully as she could, then let the person know she had a challenge and invited them in a no-strings-attached kind of way. After some time of this, even group owners started tagging her as the expert when people had questions related to her topic.

The purpose of the challenge is to show them that the next step is your product, whether that's your tripwire or your bigger course or product. You don't overwhelm with information, but give just what people can handle in a 5-10 day period. 

Evergreen challenges connect to evergreen products or that add people into a group in your email list that you target with a related launch. Another option is to have a live challenge that runs during the launch of a course where every person in the challenge starts and ends the challenge on the same day. 

Another place to use this same kind of strategy is Quora. See this post from Teachable for ideas!

Use a Tripwire Product

Jenny recommends using a tripwire product, one that's less than $20.This could be an ebook or a video training that's evergreen. Many people fear selling too much, but this early introduction to an affordable price gets people primed as customers. Once people have given you money once for a product, they are much more likely to give you their money again (assuming you're creating quality content). 

Work Backwards with Aligned Products

Start with what your final product will be and work backwards to the smaller, tripwire product, and then to the challenge (or other kind of funnel you'll be using to attract people). For an evergreen launch, you can pitch your larger product sometime after the time after the challenge (or email series) ends.

Evergreen or Open-and-Closed Cart?

Jenny has found better results with the open-and-closed cart, where there is a limited time for the sale. This urgency results in more conversions. People (like me!!!) wait often until just before the cart closes to make that decision. Other people know going into a webinar that they are planning to buy something. 

When Launches Aren't Working

The first failure you have can really keep you from doing more (read about my failed launch and thoughts on this), but you should consider where you can fix things.

  • Were you using a strategy?
  • What could you tighten up?
  • Can you ask your audience?
  • What tweaks and changes affected the sales from one launch to the next? 
  • Were you in front of your audience enough? 

Jenny found that doing more Facebook lives and webinars really helped with her launches. People don't expect Facebook live videos to be perfect, so you can put less pressure on yourself. Instead, they help people see the REAL you and are often winsome and attractive to people because they see the real person behind the product. Being authentic builds trust. 

Jenny's Big Tips
  • Find a way to engage with your audience as soon as possible, whether through a challenge, welcome sequence, or live videos in a group 
  • Remember people purchase because of the WHY (see the link to Simon Sinek below), so show them YOUR why

Links mentioned in the interview: 

May 22 2017

36mins

Play

Rank #10: 131 - How to Plan a Writer's Retreat on a Budget

Podcast cover
Read more

It's no secret that I go on a lot of writer's retreats. Well. For a mom of five pretty young kids I go on a lot of writing retreats. This post will explain why, how, and how you can DIY a writer's retreat on a budget!

You may be familiar with the idea of writer's conferences (and blogger conferences!) as an important part of community and growth for many writers. I am a conference JUNKIE and have attended tons. But I don't think people talk enough about a writer's retreat and how to make one possible for YOU. 

I try to take 1-2 writer's retreats per year, completely by myself. As an introvert, this is luxurious.

And if that sounds terrifying to you, you can also do a writer's retreat with other people. This post is more geared toward the single-person retreat, but you can apply some of the ideas for a partner or group retreat.

But let's take a step back...WHY are writer's retreats a good idea?? Then I'll share some of my tips for planning.

BENEFITS OF A WRITER'S RETREAT

While conferences have many benefits like learning, networking, and getting new ideas, retreats are all about the work. Specifically, pulling away from the normal day-to-day in order to focus on the work. 

Retreat actually means to withdraw, which is how I think of a writing retreat: I'm withdrawing from the normal tasks, plans, and people to focus solely on the work of writing. 

But writing retreats do more than just help you focus. Here are some of the benefits of a writer's retreat: 

  • Completing a task or project 
  • Refreshing yourself and recharging
  • Harnessing a single-minded focus

On past writing retreats, I have completed editing manuscripts, built courses, finished off tasks I couldn't seem to get done otherwise, and written drafts of novels. For me, these retreats are one of the only times I get multiple, uninterrupted hours of work on projects. It allows me to finish things, but also to access a focus and energy that I typically don't in my 1-2 hour blocks during a typical week. 

I balance out the work (which I find refreshing in and of itself) with other inspiring things like being in nature, reading books, painting, pampering myself, and sometimes hanging out with other people. 

I return feeling refreshed and accomplished, ready to re-enter the typical grind and schedule. As an introvert, the recharging of a day or two alone is incredible!

HOW TO PLAN YOUR WRITING RETREAT

As I mentioned, you don't just have to write on a retreat. If you have other nagging tasks that you can't ever seem to complete, finishing those might help remove the mental burden and strain, enabling you to write better.

On my retreats I have finished editing and uploading podcast episodes and show notes, edited and formatted books, and built out whole courses. 

The important thing is to know what you hope to accomplish going in. Just like at home in your day-to-day, you need to prioritize if you want to complete things. Put the first things first. What could you NOT do in your normal life? Or, what would be the BEST use of that time? 

Make a list of the things you REALLY want to finish, then those that you HOPE to complete (or at least work on). I also make sure that I have some life-giving other work, like books loaded up in my kindle or in print versions, great music, and maybe some plans to step out a bit. Even on a retreat, I sometimes need a retreat. 

You might even make a list of things you WON'T do. Perhaps you will ignore social media for the time or you aren't going to check email. (Unless those are included in your priority tasks!) Go somewhere without wifi so that you can ignore the internet altogether. 

(As a humorous note, I didn't intentionally add showering to the list of things I wouldn't do, but that's how it worked out on the last retreat I took. I stayed in a tiny house with an outdoor shower and a sudden cold front dropped the temps to the mid-30s. I returned home from the retreat rested...and a bit smelly.)

Once you know what your plans and priorities are, this might actually help narrow down where you go. If you're on a serious budget, you may have to choose place first or place based on price, whereas if you have flexibility, make a plan and then pick the best place. 

BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIPS

With five kids, saying we are on a budget doesn't quite cover it. So how have I been able to afford 1-2 writing retreats a year? Here are my tips. 

Be determined. If you REALLY feel strongly about having a retreat, you have to make it happen and give it the priority it deserves. Because I feel like these are incredibly important, I've shared that with my husband, who totally supports me in this.

Between his help and my parents, I didn't pay for childcare, which would have been the biggest expense otherwise. If you don't have kids, that's one less cost/concern, but if you DO, you must try to your spouse or support system understand why you need a retreat and then ask for help. 

Check first for free options. I have done several retreats house-sitting for friends. Put a call out on Facebook or other social media (if you dare) to ask if anyone has a place. Look for someone who has a garage apartment, guest room, RV, vacation home, or simply works long hours and has an empty home.

Several times I stayed with a friend who had no kids and who worked until around 9pm at night. That gave me tons of daytime hours and then we often hung out for a bit at night. If people know that you are someone who wants to take retreats, they may consider letting you know when they travel and have an empty home. 

Use VRBO or AirBNB. I cannot say enough about these sites and how incredible they've been for my travel. You can choose simply a room in a house or look for a tiny home or other cheaper option. If you want an inspiring location, you can find that, but if you just need a space to work that has wifi, you can look for that too. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the cleaning fee. Some places that are $30 per night have a $30 cleaning fee, which ends up making it as or more expensive than other options. Also do make sure there is wifi if needed. 

In December I stayed at a tiny home in the country with cows right outside my door. It was amazing! There was no TV, so I simply wrote. When I needed a break, I headed into the small town to eat something or just look around. 

You never know what you'll find on these sites, so if you haven't tried them, definitely see what's in your area or nearby. 

Pack food. If you are on a super tight budget, you could bring your own meals if possible. Even if you stayed in a Motel 6 or something with a mini fridge and microwave, you could buy frozen meals for a few dollars a piece. Anything you get at a grocery store would likely be cheaper than eating out, so do check for a place that has the kitchen options you need.

Be food frugal. I wrote a post on my lifestyle blog about the best foods for family travel, and that might be good to check out. Almost every fast food place has a dollar or value menu. Breakfasts as dinners are often a great choice. 

I tend to treat myself to at least one nice meal (can I get an Amen from people who love eating alone at restaurants??), but otherwise stock up on things from the grocery or dollar menu. 

Take what you get. My ideal writer's retreat would be on a beach, have lots of wine and great food, and maybe be for like a week. Typically I get one night, maybe two, sometimes in a guest bedroom eating salad from a bag. IT'S STILL AMAZING. And maybe one day when my kids are older and I'm making bank, I'll be writing from a Greek Island. 

Have you prioritized having a writer's retreat? What would you do if you had a day or night to yourself to write? 

I hope that these tips help! If you feel like it's something that could never happen for you, I would encourage you to make it a priority, get the people who support you on board, save up or plan a super budget-friendly option, and MAKE IT HAPPEN. 

Do you have any other tips that I missed? Share here in the comments or in the Facebook community!

Apr 09 2018

37mins

Play

Rank #11: 127 - How to Create Binge-Worthy Content

Podcast cover
Read more

Learn how to create binge-worthy content that keeps people coming back for more!

To connect with the community, head to the Create If Writing Facebook group!

Feb 12 2018

40mins

Play

Rank #12: 139 - Three Reasons You Should Write a Book

Podcast cover
Read more

If you haven't written a book, I want to convince you. And if you have written a book, I want to help you focus your efforts toward getting the most out of it! This post will share three big reasons you should write a book.

I'm not trying to take over Honorée Corder's job and tell you that you must write a book (more from her in episode 104!), but I do want to give you three reasons you should write a book and even break those down into some specific WHYs. 

(If you're new around here, I'm all about the WHY.)

These three reasons you should write a book are partly reasons...but also just as much goals for your books. Books don't just make money. They can accomplish a few different purposes and sometimes people miss that. 

THREE REASONS YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK
  1. Building
  2. Being Known
  3. Banking 

BUILDING

Audience building

Empire building

BEING KNOWN

Gaining authority

Gaining visibility

BANKING

Book sales

Other product/service sales

Oct 05 2018

29mins

Play

Rank #13: Why Your Social Media Isn't Growing

Podcast cover
Read more
Today's post is all about why your social media isn't growing. As in, why you can't seem to grow your social media followers. It's the second in a series called Why Your Audience Isn't Growing. You can click to read the first post, Why Your Blog Isn't Growing. 

Social media can be one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal...but it can also be the most frustrating. It takes a lot of time, can feel like a part-time job, and sometimes doesn't seem to bring in results.

If you are one of the many people stuck wondering why your social media isn't growing, I've got some explanations and some tips for what you might do differently. 

Listen to Episode 108 - Why Your Social Media Isn't Growing

Keep scrolling to read the post! You can also subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, I Heart Radio, your favorite podcast app, or find the audio on YouTube.

WHY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T GROWING 

Here are three reasons why your social media isn't growing. 

You Aren't Sharing Relevant Content

Back when I first started using Twitter and Facebook, I'd been blogging for a few years. But I NEVER shared my own blog posts. 

Why? Because NO ONE DID. These social media platforms evolved to be a good place for promotion, but they didn't start that way. Now many people use them ONLY for link-sharing. (More on that in the next point.) 

Part of growing your blog IS utilizing the power of you social platforms. (But your blog still won't grow without fixing the three mistakes we talked about in the first part of the series!) We should be sharing links on our Twitter profile, our Facebook page, on Instagram, and wherever you hang out online. 

But if that's ALL you are doing, you aren't going to grow your followers on social media. Which means in turn that you won't have as much traffic to your blog. You do NOT want someone to come to your profile and find that every post or even every other post is your own. 

The Fix

If you really want to grow your social media platforms, you need to be a curator of content, not just a creator. Being a good curator means that you are picking and choosing things to share as a kind of collection or gallery. People often talk about the 80/20 rule: 80% of what you share should be from other people and 20% from your own content. 

Ask yourself what kind of content would COMPLEMENT your own.

  • What links would add to the conversation you're starting with what you write?
  • What other people are creating quality content in your space?
  • What words of encouragement or news do your people need? 

Consider how you can curate a collection of links and posts that will reach your target audience. Share your own, but share links from other sources MORE. 

You Aren't Being Social

Social media isn't always the best name for Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus or Instagram anymore. It's often more like Self Media. You promote yourself. And, if you aren't actually being social, you're only talking to yourself. 

If you aren't having actual conversations with people on social media, you aren't being social. This happens a lot when people automate their social shares. They use tools to send out links automatically so they never have to actually go ON Twitter or LinkedIn. 

It also happens when people try the follow-unfollow method of growth. This looks like following a bunch of people and then unfollowing them the next day or week. (Um, that's just smarmy, PERIOD.Stop.) 

Clearly, if you are automating everything, you CANNOT be social. Without showing up and talking to other people, you will not grow your social following.

The Fix

Automation is great (see this post on the difference between scheduling and automation), but you need to have conversations. You must be social. 

This means that in addition to scheduling and automating content, you must actually show up on those platforms and engage. Here are a few ideas for how this can look: 

  • Reply personally to people who share, like, or comment on your posts. 
  • When you follow someone, check out their profile and comment to them about something in their profile that stood out to you. (If nothing stands out to you in their profile, why are you following them??)
  • Instead of just dropping links on your Facebook page, go live and answer questions or engage with your fans.
  • Join Twitter chats where you can talk to as many as a few hundred people in an hour. 
  • Try an Instagram hop where people on a particular day join in on a hashtag like #itssimplytuesday from Emily P. Freeman or #fridayintroductions from Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

This is not rocket science. It isn't hard to do. But it also takes a bit more time and investment. Life would be wonderful if we could just step back and automate everything...but then we wouldn't really make connections or increase engagement. 

You Aren't Laser Focused

One of the reasons your social media isn't growing is that you are trying too many things at once. You are on five platforms, trying to manage all of them at the same time. 

Each platform has its own quirks, social media sizes, audience, and best practices for how often to post. (See my post on Seriously Simple Social for more and a free guide!) Unless you've been doing this for years or have an assistant helping you out, it can be near impossible to manage all of the platforms well. 

I also see people often having one post from a social platform automatically post to all the others. So if I'm following someone on Instagram, I might see their post there first. Then I see it on their Facebook page. Then I see it on Twitter. Then I see it on their Facebook profile. 

Each platform has its own nuances. You aren't going to get a ton of Instagram OR Facebook followers when you automate your Instagram images to post on Facebook. You'll look silly when you have 11 hashtags on Facebook or you tag people and it doesn't work because the original tag was on Twitter, not Facebook. 

Don't cross the streams! It is more work, but even changing a few things about your post (image size, hashtags or NO hashtags, description length, etc) can help it do well on EACH platform. 

The Fix

Start with a focus. You may want to make sure you secure your name on several of the big platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for sure) before someone else gets it, but you don't have to be fully active on all of them. 

Pick 1-2 platforms you really like where your ideal people also hang out. Consider an overarching strategy for the kind of content you'll post and how often. Set an alarm or set aside time daily or weekly to engage with people on that platform. Master the kinds of images and posts that do well there. (Again, get my Seriously Simple Social Guide for that!)

When you are really rocking 1-2 platforms and are in your groove, consider adding another. But don't try to be in all the places at one time. You will have a hard time posting quality content on many platforms and 

You Are Participating in Too Many Share Groups

Wait-- shouldn't we be using Facebook groups to grow? Yes. Ish. Facebook groups are great for connecting with other bloggers and getting our content out there! But share groups may be holding back authentic growth.

The kinds of groups I mean are those where content creators can post their links in daily or weekly threads. Then they are required to follow or like or share or comment on the other links in the thread.

While this SEEMS like a good idea, it's really not. It might boost your numbers a bit. It might give you some social proof when one post has 20 comments. (Note: whenever I see a post now with more than a handful of comments--ESPECIALLY if it's a newer post--I always assume these are from one of these share threads.) The problem with these groups is that you aren't actually finding your target audience. 

Instead of connecting with that busy mom or that just-starting-out author, you are connecting with another blogger. Who, outside of the group requirements, is NOT likely to become a superfan. If you are trying to work with brands, they have grown wise to this (especially about Instagram pods) and they are NOT happy. 

It's one thing to have a small group where you support each other and share content. (Like the content curation I just wrote about.) Follow-for-follow threads are another thing altogether. Required follow and share groups do not result in authentic engagement from your target audience. Period. 

The Fix

Be wise in the kinds of groups you join and what kind of threads you participate in. Ask yourself what you are REALLY gaining from your participation. 

  • Is the group made up of your target audience?
  • Will other people in the group help get your content IN FRONT OF your target audience? 
  • Is the content you are required to share relevant and good for curation? 

These groups are popular because they give a FEELING of success. Doesn't it feel nice when you have a bunch of comments on a post? Don't you love seeing other people share your content? If the groups you are in result in real engagement from your idea people, that's GREAT. If they don't, or if they require that you share content you otherwise wouldn't, it's time to rethink. 

Though many of these fixes are a bit more time intensive and require more of YOU, that's the cost of real social media growth. A lot of the tactics people teach out there are just that: tactics. They are not a strategy. And they are not about engaged, authentic growth. 

If you're looking for the main reason why your social media isn't growing, it's likely because you aren't investing enough of yourself. You are automating in order to create a Self Media that's all about your links and not about real engagement or serving your audience. 

What are YOUR struggles with social media? Have you seen some of these reasons in your own social media? 

Sep 11 2017

32mins

Play

Rank #14: 129 - How to Create Viral Content

Podcast cover
Read more
I've written about how to create binge-worthy content, but today it's all about how to create viral content. You know: the kind that everyone keeps sharing like hotcakes until your blog catches fire? That kind. Let's dive in!

Going viral. I'd really love to know what comes to mind when you hear those words. Good thing? Bad thing? Something you've experienced or just hoped for? My question to you today is this: If you knew how to create viral content, would you?

The easy answer might be yes. Because who doesn't want a viral post! But today I'm talking with Paula Rollo of Beauty Through Imperfection and Quick Blogging Tips about how to create a viral post, the downside no one talks about, and how to take your viral post into a binge-worthy post.

Listen to Episode 128 - How to Create a Viral Post

 

HOW TO DEFINE VIRAL CONTENT

First up, what IS viral content? It depends who you ask. There is full-on viral posts, which are the kinds of posts that take off and go worldwide. That's rarely what we get to see. Viral is often used to mean a post with a much higher reach than the normal for you, OR a post that has massive reach.

Paula's encouragement was that you NOT compare yourself to others or feel like you'll never hit that massive reach. Consider what's viral for YOU. Aim for a post that has significantly more reach than your normal post.

THE DOWNSIDE OF A VIRAL POST

People don't often talk about the downside of viral posts. But you should realize that more eyeballs on your post can mean a few things. Here are a few negative sides when you create a viral post.

  1. If your post isn't on brand, it's not super helpful
  2. If your post is controversial, you will get the trolls
  3. If your post isn't something you're willing to stand behind, it's not helpful!

I would say that you should always ask yourself before hitting publish: What if this goes viral? You don't always know if it's going to happen. You probably aren't going to get into that category of worldwide attention. But...if you did, is this the hill you want to die on? Is this post a great representation of you?

Viral posts can bring unwanted attention. And if your posts goes viral, but isn't the kind of thing you usually write about or is one of those one-off posts that doesn't fully represent you, it's not going to be super helpful.

If you wrote about something that's controversial or that people disagree with (which could be anything these days), you may also get ugly comments or people sharing your post because they HATE it. You could get angry emails or other negative responses. The more your post gets shared, the more likely you'll face criticism.

THE UPSIDE TO A VIRAL POST

On the plus side...when you have a post go viral, it gets tons of eyeballs on your site. Some people will meet you for the first time and these new readers that might become raving fans.

The best-case-scenario is that you have a post that's close to your heart and your brand go viral. That will bring the right kind of readers to your post.

HOW TO CREATE A VIRAL POST

Viral posts aren't often the how-to posts or the ones that solve a tangible problem. Yes, those can take off and be read and shared. But the posts that get people sharing and sharing and sharing are the ones with an emotional connection.

When you resonate with readers, they will share your post. So if you want to reverse engineer a post to go viral, you need to start with one emotion that you're hoping to evoke in readers.

You'll need to find an image that somehow relates in feel or in the content to that one feeling. You can use stock photos or your own photos, but again--your looking for connection.

As for your headlines, you can consider something like the Coschedule Headline Analyzer (also great for email subject lines!) and consider what would motivate someone to click.

Your framing and description matter as well. Framing is how you introduce the post when you are sharing on social media. The description is usually the meta description that you create when you are setting up the post in SEO for Wordpress by Yoast or whatever tool you use for SEO and metadescriptions. (I do this in Yoast and also in my Social Warfare plugin.)

TIPS FOR WHEN YOUR POST GOES VIRAL

If you have a post go viral, you want to do the best job you can to optimize the post.

Feb 26 2018

53mins

Play

Rank #15: 170 - How I Wrote and Launched a Book in (almost) a Month

Podcast cover
Read more

When I wrote this post, I got overwhelmed. You might too! Fair warning. But in the moment, this was FUN. Not overwhelming. I'm going to share what I did with my co-author and then will have follow up posts that are more geared toward a practical-for-YOU way to launch. There will still be takeaways here for you in the details. Just pinky swear you won't read and then get overwhelmed and stop writing? Please? Okay. Great. Let's go!

Over the past 18 months, I've written more books than I ever thought I could write in a year. I had no idea I was capable. Truly. I've written over ten books in the last year along with some shorter works. 

So, let's just start with this fact: I write fast. Maybe or maybe not fast than you. But fast. I'll be sharing the timeline here for my most recent book, but that does NOT mean you need to ever attempt my timeline. Just focus on the launch and the actions. You can even move them around! You do you, friends.

You'll get some good nuggets on how to launch a book, EVEN if you know in your heart of hearts you'll never launch that fast. You don't need to! It's not a race! I just like to go super speed. That's me.

Whatever your speed, you'll find the steps you need to launch a book here! Future posts will go into more detail in a more accessible way.

Prepare to be overwhelmed! But remember, this was 100% fun for me! I promise.

...READ THE FULL POST ON THE CREATE IF WRITING SITE!

Jul 26 2019

36mins

Play

Rank #16: 171 - How to Market Your Book While You Write

Podcast cover
Read more

After sharing how my co-author and I wrote and launched a book in (almost) thirty days, I wanted to have a simpler episode geared toward YOU. Here are some ways to market your book while you write and where to stop wasting your time. 

You want to write a book. You want to self-publish (or, as I like to say, publish independently) on Amazon and/or other retailers. 

But marketing? 

Ick. Overwhelm. No. Help! 

If that is YOU, then I want to help make this a little more accessible. Ready for it? Here are some tips for marketing your book WHILE you write. 

HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK WHILE YOU WRITE

Many of you might think that you don't want to market while you write. You want to write a book and THEN figure out marketing. 

That's not BAD...necessarily. But you want to talk about overwhelm? That is someone who has written a whole book and now thinks, "Oh, I guess I should consider marketing."

Honestly, even if you aren't taking steps to think about marketing actively, you should at least consider marketing in terms of where your book FITS.

What category does it go in? What are the reader expectations for that category? What do the covers look like? How long are the books? 

Those are things to consider before or AS you write. I mean, if you want to sell books. If you are just writing a labor of love, then do what you want. But I'm assuming that I'm speaking to people wanting to SELL books. In that case, you should look at the market, even if you aren't marketing. 

But here is my very big, very simple advice on marketing while you write: 

Write everyday. Do one marketing task daily. 

That's it. The end. Simple. 

Too simple? Yep. So, let's dive into some things that you can do daily.

DAILY MARKETING TASKS

I'd honestly love to make a freebie for this. I probably will... soon. But not today. 

For now, I'm going to refer you to the GIANT post on how to write and launch a book in a month. There are so many action items there. 

Overall, I would say that you should focus on things that have lasting power, like building an email list. Create a freebie that relates to the series you're launching, or give away a teaser of a few chapters in exchange for an email address with a site like Bookfunnel, Story Origin, Book Cave, or Prolific Works. 

Join author group promos and send paid traffic to that freebie to grow your readership WHILE YOU'RE WRITING. So huge. When you go to launch your book and you have even a few hundred subscribers, that's POWERFUL! 

Also see: 

THINGS TO STOP DOING TO "MARKET" YOUR BOOK

This is where (if you listen to the audio) I get a little rant-y. Now, hear me: there isn't always ONE way to do things. So, take this with a grain of salt. BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING, these things will not help you sell more books. Period. 

Wasting Time on Social Media

Realize that if you think that building your Facebook likes or Twitter followers is going to sell books, you're probably wrong. Email sells more books. Focus on email lists, not follower counts.

Facebook is amazing for groups and collaborations and newsletter swaps with other authors, but many authors go into FB groups for a genre and then just drop links to their books. Any group that is filled with authors dropping links to books with no likes or comments is a WASTE OF TIME. Look for actual reader groups with actual readers and see what their rules are for self-promo. Or just listen and learn what readers in your genre like. 

Designing Your Own Book Cover

I once designed my own book cover. In the time it took me to create a cover (and I'm okay at stuff), I could have paid someone $15 on Fiverr to do it better and saved myself hours. Unless you're GREAT at book cover design (not just graphics) you'll waste time and money and lose sales because your book cover won't hold up against other books in your genre. Stop it. 

Blogging

Blogging isn't dead. But it's shifted. People don't read blogs like online diaries anymore. Authors didn't get this memo. They either write blogs that are diary-esque (which really only appeal to hardcore fans) or they write blog posts that are not to the right audience. An example of the second one is a fiction writer blogging about writing tips. That attracts other authors and writers, not the people who'll read your romance novels. 

If you want to drive sales on your blog, you'll have to actually take the time to create a content strategy based around things your readers are already searching for. You'll use things like SEO (search engine optimization) and Pinterest to actually drive long-term traffic and then have your site set up for sales. This is a lot of work. Your efforts are likely better spent elsewhere.

Making Bookmarks and Swag

I'm biased because I hate bookmarks. But even beyond that, bookmarks don't sell books. They're fun. If you have time and money to put into swag, cool! But don't make this a priority. This isn't how most readers FIND a book. So, if you're focused on sales, then stop focusing on swag. Superfans like swag. But if you're working on your first book(s),  you don't have enough superfans to make this important. 

Setting Up a Patreon

There have been some successful Patreon campaigns for books. But FOR THE MOST PART, this adds one more thing to do and dilutes your effort. When you sell a book, the most important thing is driving traffic TO THE BOOK. When you add Patreon, that's one more thing to do (set up, giving out prizes, the bonus content, etc) and one more place you're sending people THAT ISN'T YOUR BOOK. 

I see people setting these up trying to help pay for launch and I've looked at the breakdown of what they're paying. Usually? It's too much money on things they don't need to spend money on. My first book launch for Emma St. Clair probably cost under $300. I got a cover (that I still love) from an artist on FB having a sale. I paid $125 for editing. And I think I bought 2-3 paid promos. The end. 

Creating a Patreon just takes away your time and effort and gives another place to send people that is not your book. Keep it simple. Bootstrap. Focus on sending people to your book to buy books, not to a site like Patreon to focus on bookmarks and bonuses.

DO YOU HATE ME?

Was that too mean? Too honest? Feels a little bit that way. 

But here's the thing: I hate wasting time. And I hate the thought of you out there, wasting your time when you could be writing and doing marketing tasks that WILL SELL BOOKS.

Want to disagree? Have ideas of what is or isn't important? Leave a comment or head over to the Facebook group where we can talk and you can call me a meanie. ;) 

Aug 02 2019

35mins

Play

Rank #17: 159 - Book Launch Disasters

Podcast cover
Read more

I've shared a lot about my publishing experiences over the last year, and just in case I've made it sound like a walk in the park, today I'm sharing book launch disasters. Though I'm sharing things I've experienced, I think many of these are common, so hope that they will help you when you face book launch disasters of your own!

This post contains affiliate links! At no extra cost to you, I may make a commission on purchases made after clicking links. 

 

Book Launch Disaster: Amazon Glitches

The biggest part of this post deals with Amazon. MOST of these have happened to me. USUALLY the answer is going to be: contact Amazon. And the result of that will be: SOMETIMES they might do something. (But as I say in the podcast episode, "Most of the time, they're too busy making money to care.") Here are some things that might go wrong on Amazon--or another publishing channel.

Not publishing the book at the right time -  I did have a delay with one book of over three days when my book got flagged by Amazon (more on that in a sec). A big-time author this week tried to release the sequel to a series and people freaked out when it wasn't on time. The author was scurrying around Facebook groups sharing that Amazon hadn't published the book yet, but it should have been out.

  • If this happens: contact Amazon. It may or may not help.

Making you prove you wrote the book - I had a delay on my third Emma St. Clair billionaire book, The Billionaire Benefactor. Amazon says it may take up to 72 hours to publish, but usually it's hours. After a day, I contacted them. After three days, they emailed me asking me to prove that I had the rights to publish the book. I had to send an email from my domain name email address. It took a few days and messed up my launch timeline. I had swaps and ads set up, so had to email people and the companies I'd paid to try and switch dates.

  • If this happens: Contact Amazon. Contact any people you have newsletter swaps with, any companies you've paid for promos, and let your fans know if you've said the book will be out on a certain date.

Publishing the wrong version of your book - Amazon recently switched up preorders and how they are set up. This resulted in a TON of books being published with the draft version, not the final. Typos everywhere! Angry reviews! It was a mess.

  • If this happens: Contact amazon. You can ask them to replace the file, but often they'll want documentation. It's a really stinky situation for them and for you. Double-check the files before you send because things have changed.

Not changing the price - With my Billionaire Surprise Box Set, Amazon didn't change the price in the US until three days AFTER I changed it. For whatever reason, it dropped in Canada and outside the US, but my main promos I had scheduled were IN the US. So I lost money on the promos where they cancelled my book since it wasn't marked down as it was supposed to. One promo site rescheduled (thanks, Book Cave!). The others? I just lost money. Argh.

  • If this happens: Contact Amazon. Usually you'll just have to wait it out. If you need to, contact any people you're swapping newsletters with or any paid promos.

Disconnecting your series page - Masquerade Ball. When you have a series, Amazon will make a series page for them and show the others in the series at the bottom of the description. I had this set up and when I published the fifth book, they removed it. (Also had trouble getting them to add book #3 to the page when it published.) I don't know why they did this, but I simply had to call or email and get them to fix it.

  • If this happens: Contact Amazon. They gave me a hard time once, but normally, they are fine and restore it quickly.

Taking away your reviews - this is just something that happens. Usually there's nothing you can do other than get organic reviews from people. Make sure your reviews are legit, but otherwise, email Amazon if they ALL go. If it's a few, probably nothing you can do.

  • If this happens: Unless it's ALL your reviews, there's nothing you can do. If ALL your reviews disappear, it's probably a glitch and will restore itself. Make sure you're not reviewing your own books, asking family to do this, and that your ARC readers aren't using phrases like "in exchange for" that make it sound like they got a free book in EXCHANGE for review. Those are no-nos.

Removing your book - There was a glitch this weekend where al ton of books were removed from Amazon. It was just a glitch, but that doesn't help you feel better when you lose ranking because of your book being GONE. A few friends had this happen and it tanked their climb in the ranks.

If this happens: It's probably a glitch. If Amazon contacts you and it's related to the content in your book, you can do your best to comply. I've seen that, but RARELY.

BOOK LAUNCH DISASTERS: NOT SELLING ENOUGH

Sometimes you launch and it just feels like your book isn't selling the way it SHOULD. Don't mistake that for the way you WANT. Chances are, you'll always WANT it to sell more. But if you check the ranking of your book compared to other similar books in the genre you're aiming for and things like that, you'll get a more realistic idea. (I also use the tool KDSPY to check on fun details within categories. You can check that out HERE.)

If your book is not selling like it SHOULD, here are some things that might be going on. (Again, make sure your expectations are realistic. Mine sometimes aren't.)

Your cover doesn't fit the genre - With my book, The Billionaire Love Match, I had a handsome, grumpy guy, perfect for billionaires, I thought. I didn't realize (duh) that EVERY billionaire is in a suit. (Almost.) My cover was okay, but he didn't look rich and it was dark. I've now gone through a few transformations. It mattered! Whether or not you think covers matter, they DO. Make sure yours is genre specific. Don't get emotionally attached or go with what you love. It matters more if your READERS will love it.

Your blurb doesn't hook the readers - I have been testing Facebook ads with The Billionaire's Secret Heir and found that my ads were getting people to the page, but it wasn't selling like it should. The cover is fine and genre-appropriate and I asked around to get feedback. It all centered around my blurb. I wrote four revisions, bought a book, and wrote another one. I think it's much better and the ads converted better. You need to hook those readers who get to your page! Study other blurbs in your genre as they vary from genre to genre. Then study copywriting. I did and it helped!

Your ads aren't working - If this is the case, first check your cover and blurb. If that's not the issue, you may have a targeting issue with your audience or you may not understand how to run ads. This is a BIG reason I recommend email promo sites to start with, not Facebook, Bookbub, or Amazon ads. They have a learning curve.

Sometimes your book just doesn't sell the way you want OR the way it should. Sometimes it's because of #1 or #2, but sometimes it's not something you can pinpoint. Until you grow your own fan base of people hungry for your book, which takes TIME, this can be slow going. Try to identify any problems and then just do your best.

  • If this happens: Ask for help in a critique group. Check the other similar books in your genre and authors at your level (as in, don't compare your first book to an author with fifty). Be ready to respond to that feedback in a non-emotional way. :)

 

BOOK LAUNCH DISASTERS: YOUR EXPECTATIONS

I saved this one for last because I think it's the hardest. It's not external; it's your mind. I am HARD on myself. I set big goals and I want to accomplish them.

I shouldn't be disappointed in what happened this past year. I've reached my goals and then some. But I'm never NOT thinking about the next step. I always want to write better, sell better, and make more money. That's the goal-- not to get stagnant, but to get better. that means, though, that I can be super hard on myself.

I also suffer from book envy. I see other authors doing what I'm doing, writing what I'm writing, and it's SO hard not to think, "Why isn't that me?" That is so unhelpful. Unless you are studying what they are doing to see how it might benefit you, that comparison is only going to leave you sad.

Sometimes people want to read bland, vanilla, boring books. I've seen some selling really well in my genre. Sometimes you don't know why someone else's book with a bad cover is outselling yours with a to-genre cover. You can't compare. It's not healthy.

Any book launch disasters? Share in the comments or in the Facebook community!

Apr 19 2019

34mins

Play

Rank #18: 175 - Sustaining Your Book Sales and Yourself

Podcast cover
Read more

I'm getting a little bit real in this post about what it takes as an author to sustain your book sales and yourself. 

Earlier in 2019 I wrote a post celebrating my success--going from making $30 a month to over $8000 in a month just from digital book sales. I'm still totally in awe of that! (Read this post if you want to know how I did that.)

I don't tend to talk about income a lot, because that's just ... not something I want to do. But I also wanted to address what happened after my giant celebration.

What I expected: passing the 5-figure mark that next month

What happened: my sales continued to fall through the year and are still falling

Yikes! One thing I've noticed in the online community is that people love to share the big numbers, but it's much harder to share the low ones.

I mean, duh, right?

Part of this stems from the fact that it's just plain embarrassing. (Even though I have to remind myself that it ISN'T. I'm still making solid 4-figures monthly from just book sales. Yay!) I had huge goals, and it was disappointing not to meet them.

Admitting disappointment? Uh, no thanks. I don't even like admitting them to myself! I don't check my income as frequently because I kind of don't want to know.

Which brings me to this place: I want to talk about sustainability for your sales and for yourSELF.

Sustainable is a word that gets thrown around a lot. In this context, sustainable is what you can do and continue to do over longer periods of time. 

SUSTAINING YOUR BOOK SALES

Enough time has gone by that I'm examining why my sales dropped. A few key things happened.

  1. I joined a multi-author series and wrote a book that was NOT in my bestselling series.
  2. I stopped running ads on Facebook.
  3. I stopped putting books out as frequently.
  4. The hot trend I was writing in cooled off.
  5. I finished a series and started a new one in a less hot niche.

These are all factors in my sales drop. I might dive deeper into each of these later, because these are BIG THINGS and I could say a lot about them.

What I've realized as I've looked at these things is that overall, to sustain sales, you have a few choices as an author.

YOU CAN:

  • Rely on paid advertising (Facebook, Amazon, Reddit, etc)
  • Work on smart marketing (updating old books, finding new places to promote, growing your list)
  • Continue writing books quickly to boost your backlist

Honestly? I'm not sure what else is in your control. If your book gets great word of mouth reviews and people start snapping it up, that's amazing! But you can't make that happen.

Sometimes, all three of those things fail. Your books may simply not be connecting with readers or they may not be written in genres that are easily targeted or where there are a lot of sales. (This is where I see most people struggle--their book might be great, but it's not in a more profitable market or is harder to market.)

The biggest thing, though, is that you cannot STOP. Which is a scary thought.

Book sales won't happen very organically (in other words, without you ACTIVELY doing something). If you want to see your sales continue, you must continue writing and marketing.

It can start to feel like a very terrifying and fast hamster wheel. Which brings me to the next point...

SUSTAINING YOURSELF

If you want to sustain book sales, you need to find ways to continue to get eyeballs on your books. Ads, newsletter swaps, paid email services, social media marketing, or a million other creative things.

But as you're planning out how you're going to sustain those sales, consider how you'll sustain yourSELF.

I'll be honest: I never thought I'd write a book a month.

What I've found is that I could write several books a month. I love being fast at things, so I shouldn't be so surprised. My fastest-written book has over 100 reviews on Amazon. The average rating is 4.8 stars. I wrote it in just over two weeks, mostly while on an elliptical machine, typing with my thumbs into my phone.

I NEVER WOULD HAVE PLANNED THAT. It just happened.

Then when I started publishing monthly or every six weeks, I saw a bump in all my old books. This REALLY worked for me.

The problem is this: I can write fast. But I also have to get things like covers done, edits done, emails sent, and MORE. There is all the marketing stuff.

I don't mind marketing, which I know might make me a weirdo.

But I love writing.

If I could write and do nothing else, I might put out three books a month. I really might. My ideas file? Is HUGE. And I can't wait to write each book. I've written over a book a month this year and love love love the writing.

Without marketing the books, though, they don't sell. I have to actively market. Even if you release a book a month, without marketing, you aren't going to make sales. It's not magic.

Here's the conundrum authors face: You have to keep marketing to SELL books. But you have to keep yourself alive to WRITE books.

That means you need a writing and marketing plan that's sustainable for YOU.

What does this look like? I'M NOT SURE.

I'm figuring this out for myself right now. But I can tell you that I don't want to lose the joy I have in writing. I also hate writing great books and seeing them languish on Amazon, dying a slow death because no one can find them. Because: no marketing.

I want to challenge you to think about sustainability.

What are sustainable goals? (Ex: My $10k a month goals are not, right now, sustainable.)

What are sustainable writing habits? (Ex: Writing a book a month IS sustainable. I love it and can do it.) 

What are sustainable marketing habits? (Ex: If I'm writing MORE than one book a month, it's hard for me to carve out marketing time.) 

This looks different from everyone. It may look different for you year to year. But these are big questions. If you aren't thinking long-term about what you can maintain, you're likely to burn out or get frustrated. You might lose your joy or your income.

Make sustainable goals. Set sustainable writing habits. Create sustainable marketing plans.

Then adjust whenever necessary. And believe me, it WILL be necessary.

To join the community, go to http://createifwriting.com/community

To learn more about workshops, go to http://createifwriting.com/workshop 

Jan 09 2020

32mins

Play

Rank #19: 133 - Why Writers Need Writing Groups

Podcast cover
Read more
Writers don't write in a vacuum. Or...they SHOULDN'T. Writers need writing groups and communities of other writers to help support, teach, encourage, and promote. We need each other! Keep reading to find the why and the how.

Successful writers don't write alone. 

Okay, let me qualify that. Successful writers may write alone, but they don't WORK alone. They have writing groups and writing communities, both online and offline that help them to achieve their goals. (This is true of bloggers as well and podcasters and any -ers that you want to toss in here, I'd wager.) We need community. And the depth of community we create determines our success.

BOOM.  

WHY WRITERS NEED WRITING GROUPS AND COMMUNITIES

During the recent #cockygate, I saw a few big takeaways, no matter WHERE you fell on that whole mess. (If you don't know what that is, check out a smart and funny summary and then some legal stuff.) Here are the big things I saw from that. 

Writers in Community Get Inspired, But Don't Copy

I think the impetus (from my understanding) of the author going for a trademark was the fact that other people were copying her books in title and cover because they were successful.

Y'ALL. Do your own thing! Pay attention to what other people are doing. Watch them. Study them. (I know I do!) Then apply what you learn to your OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS. You do you. 

Writers in Community Don't Hurt the Community

Trademarking a common word sets a dangerous precedent. Sending emails about changing things like book titles and covers (which isn't always a small expense) is NOT helping the community. 

There are two opposite poles-- doing what's best for you and doing what's best for others. As a writer in healthy community, you should be in the middle. Helping the community helps YOU. But it shouldn't just be about them either. Find your happy spot. But don't hurt a community, because you NEED them. (More on that later.) 

Writers in Community Don't Become a Mob

While I think the trademark action wasn't the best for the community, neither was the community turning into a mob a good thing. I never like the mob mentality. Often it acts first and thinks later. I think the backlash to #cockygate was ugly. Surprising? No. But ugly, VERY much. 

Should writers band together? YES. Marie Force is a great example, being at the helm of the Indie Author Support Network, which is banding indie authors together. The goal is to be able to reach out to companies like iBooks and Amazon with concerns, bringing the force of over 1000 authors with them. That isn't a mob. It's a mobilized, logical force. 

When we turn on each other (even thought I totally get it sometimes), we aren't helping the community as a whole. What if that same mob turned on YOU? Think about that before you join an emotionally charged group. 

HOW TO FIND GOOD WRITING GROUPS AND COMMUNITIES

I would recommend that you find writing groups of various sizes. I have a few one-on-one people that I go to for the most personal and vulnerable of things. I'm in a few larger groups of a few hundred and then some larger of a few thousand. I'm missing the in-between of one to hundreds, which I think is super important. I'd love to have a group of about ten or less. These sizes allow for different trust factors. 

But what should you look for in writing groups? 

You should absolutely look for groups where people:

  • are honest
  • speak kindly
  • have your best interest at heart
  • know what they are talking about

I've seen writing groups that fail at one or several of these, and they are a  MESS. If you have an honest group that isn't kind and doesn't have your best interest at heart, it's horrible. If you have a group that is kind but doesn't know what they are talking about, that helps NO ONE. I think these are the four most important things. 

A FEW GOOD WRITING GROUPS

Here are a few of my favorite writing groups, with a bit about each. 

Create If Writing - Yup, this is my group. And it's epic. We talk about platform-building, our writing, blogging, social media, and have share weekends. Oh, and we celebrate small wins. Big wins too. But small wins matter. 

I Am a Writer - This group connects to Write Now, the podcast from Sarah Werner. She is kind and generous and cultivates community that is so helpful!

20Booksto50K - This is a behemoth group and may be intimidating. Especially if you are new and drop in just to ask questions that have been answered in full a LOT. Go listen. Read. Watch. 

If you want more on Facebook groups and why they are particularly important and what is changing about them, read this post on what you need to know

Do you have advice for finding great writing groups? Or have a writing group I should add to the list? Leave a comment to let me know! 

May 14 2018

30mins

Play

Rank #20: 155- How to Deal with Your Doubts

Podcast cover
Read more

All writers struggle with insecurities. A few this week who are at various stages of their writing and publishing and even blogging careers feeling like a failure or feeling scared or just struggling with doubts. 

We have all been there! I hope this post can be an encouragement to you if and when you're feeling insecure about your writing or creative work.

HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR DOUBTS Identify the trigger

Can you find out what is causing those feelings of doubt? I've struggled with and still struggle with depression. When I'm having a low day, I put it on the calendar. It helps me identify if something happened to trigger it. There isn't always something, but for you maybe it's reviews or a particular Facebook group that makes you feel unhealthy. Try to find the cause. 

Remove or adjust

If you are able to avoid or remove that thing from your life, even temporarily, do it! If not, see if you can find a way to adjust. I've left groups that made me doubt myself, disconnected from Facebook friends who weren't positive, and I've taken breaks from writing altogether as needed. 

Find support 

We all need other creatives and to know that they are right there with us. Look for a group that makes you feel your worth. I don't mean a group of people who tell you what you want to hear. But find a group that will speak the truth to you kindly and that will share in your struggles. 

Remind yourself of truths

Focus on what you KNOW to be true, not how you FEEL. In January I had my best month ever. Then in February...I didn't. I was really low. When I talked to my husband about my income that month, he reminded me that though my income was lower than January, it was still my third-highest-grossing month. I got caught up in feelings, not facts. 

Take an action to move you forward

I've learned that I hit a low point at the time I finish a book. I am filled with self-doubt and even self-loathing. I think my book is the worst thing I've ever written. I want to quit. Once I identified that as a trigger, I learned to take an action: I start a new book. As soon as the finished book is with my proofreader, I open the next Word doc and start typing. 

You are not alone in your doubt! 

Every so often I've heard someone try to say that if you have doubts that it's just imposter syndrome or a sign of immaturity in your career. Just say NO to that nonsense. 

At some point, you DO have to get out of your head and take action. You can't allow these doubts and hardships to hold you back. But having them is NOT a sign that you don't know what you're doing or that you have a lot to learn. 

I've experienced doubt every single month for the last year, even though on paper I've gone from making under $100 a month to a healthy four-figure income. 

You're in good company!

Mar 22 2019

20mins

Play