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Create If Writing - Authentic Platform Building for Writers & Bloggers

Create If Writing is a weekly podcast for writers and bloggers dealing with authentic platform growth. Kirsten Oliphant interviews experts to find out how they are building email lists, connecting through Twitter, and using Facebook groups. These practical episodes are balanced out with inspirational interviews from successful writers and bloggers who have made it big and want to share the struggles, the creative process, and tips for reaching your goals whether you are an author publishing books or creating an online presence through blogging.
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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 2, 2015

What is your end goal? Are you chasing pageviews? Dollar signs? Do you want more Facebook likes or engagement? Let's talk about what the BEST goal really is for you. But first! I have a free download for you: a 15 Step Intensive List Growth Worksheet. Click below to snag your download for this actionable worksheet that will give you specific steps to grow your list this month. We are doing this in our Facebook group as well in December, so join us if you want to do this together!

GET YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD NOW!

This past year I had a giant switch in my mind. I wouldn't have said that I was chasing pageviews, but that's really where I spent my time. I promoted things like crazy, hoping to see those numbers rise. (I should point out now that I am NOT saying that having better pageviews as a goal is a bad thing!) In June I finally hit 100k pageviews, which had been a long-term goal that seemed TOTALLY out of reach. I celebrated...until the next month Pinterest changed up the algorithm for the smart feed again and my pageviews were literally cut in half. Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 2.27.50 AM It's terrible seeing that. I hate it. But you know what I hate more? That all those pageviews and all that traffic did NOT translate into something more lasting. I got comments. I got some new followers. I got a few email subscribers. But check out those blog stats compared to my mailing list stats for the same blog. Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 9.05.24 AM Do you see a jump? Me neither. The same steady growth. (If you're wondering about the jump before April, I grew my list through a book I gave away on NoiseTrade and gained a bunch of followers through that. My point is not that pageviews are bad or a bad goal. My point is that my mindset was NOT focused on building a lasting audience through my email list. If I had, I would have seen the same kind of jump in the stats for that list. I actually got more subscribers in May when I had half the pageviews that I had in June.

That's a sign of a mindset that is not focused enough on list-building. I want to make an argument that your goal should not be pageviews ALONE, but your goal should be to build an email list that is made up of a lasting audience. That audience should be the backbone of everything else. Period.

This is quite a shift. I know this because I went through this shift this year. Taking time off from promoting my blog heavily or even writing on my blog scared me. It was hard. And strange. Yet I did not really see a change in my income. My residual Pinterest pageviews stayed pretty consistent after the big drop. (Followed by two more months of dropping.) Not much actually changed. Except that on the back end of things, I grew a new email list for this blog by almost 700 people. Which means that on a blog with pageviews that are maybe a tenth of my larger blog, I built an email audience that is close to half the audience I have for the bigger blog. I don't do math, but that's pretty nutty.

10% of the pageviews but 50% of the email subscribers

THAT, my friends, is the difference between focusing on the bottom line of pageviews or a bottom line of building a lasting audience through your email list. I have some really exciting things coming up this month with regards to email lists, so make sure you are subscribed to get all the good stuff!

GET YOUR QUICK FIX!

Nov 25, 2015

We are living in an age of options. You can traditionally publish (if you get through the gatekeepers, that is). You can independently publish through Kindle. Or with a PDF. Or print on demand. You can sell through booksellers or through you own website. For clarification, in this episode Angela and I throw around self publishing and independent publishing interchangeably, though some people are more specific and use independent to mean publishing on a format like Kindle and self-publishing to create something like a PDF or having copies of your book printed. 

(I talked with Ed Cyzewski about this as well in Episode 10 and he had some great thoughts on this as well!) 

Angela England runs two fantastic sites: Untrained Housewife (all about things related to homemaking) and AngEngland (dedicated to writing and publishing). She is a scrappy entrepreneur (which you will hear when she talks about promoting her book AND making money doing it) and has had great success publishing. We are doing an INSANELY actionable training this Friday, November 27 about how you can break free from depending on ads and sponsored posts for your income and make money with your own writing! You are NOT going to want to miss it OR miss the fantastic bundle we have put together just through Cyber Monday. Find out more about Creative Profitability!

 

Quotable

"Anytime you can begin to be really creative with the way you're marketing and think outside the box, you are going to be in a position to create long-term buzz and revenue."

At a Glance

  • To find the best topic for your (non-fiction) ebook, try to find the sweet spot where it's not too broad, but not too narrow. Bad Examples: How to Knit Everything or Knitting Purple Hedgehogs. Good Example: 52 Baby Gifts to Knit You Can Knit in a Weekend. Go for achievable, specific, and targeted toward a particular audience. 
  • People feel like there is only ONE option: independent publishing or traditional publishing. Instead you should consider what is the best format for your project or writing and what your goals and needs are. 
  • Editing is a huge piece of the puzzle when you are publishing independently. (Listen to Episode 8 with Sarah Steidl to learn more about working with an editor!)
  • If you do need to have help with editing, formatting, or other pieces of your independent books, Angela recommends HIRING, rather than bartering. I've had great experiences bartering, so I would say that I agree with her, but if you are going to barter, it can be successful if you have the expectations aligned. 
  • For promotion, you can give people the book ahead of time to promote and write testimonials that you can use on the sales page. Trying to get in front of other people's audiences is a GREAT way to get your product out in front of people. 
  • You can also reach out beyond blogs to magazines and even utilize paid opportunities. Yes, you can get PAID to promote your book. 

Questions to Ask When You are Trying to Decide How to Publish

Time-Frame - How quickly do you need your book? Traditional publishing takes MUCH longer. If you have a time-sensitive topic or reason to hustle, self-publishing is the way to go. Angela talks about how she independently published two books while waiting for her book to be traditionally published.

Technical - What kind of book do you want to produce? CAN you do it yourself or hire someone you trust? Would a traditional publisher be the best choice to have the right quality? 

Relevant Links

Problogger Podcast- How I Lost 80% of My Traffic
My advent devotional I talked about - Make Him Room 
Sign up for the Webinar - Creative Profitability

Nov 18, 2015

Brand and platform have almost lost their meaning because they have become so overused in the last few years. I generally hate coined, common phrases. Mostly because I'm contrary. But I love both these words despite overuse. 

Often I think artists have the hardest time with these words. They seem, to use one of my favorite terms, SMARMY.

But brand and platform are more about your core identity, your WHY. They deal more with connecting with your ideal audience rather than shining a spotlight on yourself. 

Do you think these are dirty words? Tweet and let me know: @kikimojo 

Nov 13, 2015

This summer I had the privilege to talk with Valerie Koehler from The Blue Willow Bookshop here in Houston. I have been to a number of author readings at the Blue Willow, which hosts big names like Weird Al Yankovic (see his book Weird Al), independent authors like Jennifer Daiker (see her compilation New Life Within), and literary authors like Amanda Eyre Ward (her book How to Be Lost is one of my all-time favorites).

Blue Willow also hosts Teen Book ConTweens Read, and the Bookworm Bookfest. (I talk about wanting to crash Teen Book Con in this interview!) If you are in Houston, you MUST give the Blue Willow Book Shop a visit! Tell them I sent you!

If you want to connect online, you can find Blue Willow on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook. Sign up for the Blue Willow email list, even if you AREN'T local. It has fabulous reading recommendations!

 

My Big Takeaway: I loved hearing how Valerie is passionate about connecting readers with writers, especially through the three festivals.

Can the Indie Author Get into an Indie Bookstore?

  • Yes, but you need to be polished. It should go without saying to have your work edited, but many do not take the time or spend the money.
  • It's hard because the traditional gatekeepers DO keep out a lot of the slough.
  • Do quality work and hire an editor!

Big Takeaways

  • Working in a bookstore sounds glamorous, but there is a large dose of business involved. I loved hearing this because I think so many times we imagine jobs to be one thing, but we forget how many basic, boring, technical kinds of things must be done for success!
  • One of the important things for Valerie is a commitment to keeping your word. Show up when you say you are going to show up. Again, I have heard these same parallels applied to blogging & writing: show up consistently over time.

Inspiration

  • I loved hearing Valerie talk about her father and how he demonstrated that idea of the commitment to showing up in his life.
  • Valerie also talked about the way that fiction sometimes more than non-fiction inspires us to action because we empathize with the characters and want to make changes in our lives.
  • Really great books don't preach at us, but impact us through the gray-ness of characters and seeing something of ourselves in them. 
Nov 5, 2015

Another week, another bunch of obstacles. I recorded the last episode dealing with obstacles because I had a bunch: sick kids, busyness, and MORE. This week? More of the same. I've got a super short episode for you where I get personal and talk about what I do to handle those obstacles. 

[podcast]

Here is my biggest conflict right now:

Man vs. Time 

I have a backlog of projects that keeps backing up behind me plus new things I want to work on. Plus I'm trying to get through #NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) which means an extra 2000 words a day. Here are some of the fun things that I'm working on that you can look forward to:

-A live training November 12 with Matt from ConvertKit all about that email service provider
-A free email course 
-Some other great courses through ConvertKit 
-A mini course on branding your writing voice
-This novel I'm working on for NaNo

I'm tired just looking at the list. Plus I have two back-logged podcast episodes for Business 2 Blogger, an email audit for a friend, a brand audit for another blogger, and then things like, you know: DISHES. Cleaning my house. Taking a shower. Feeding children. 

Here is my tip if you find yourself stuck in the pit of Too Many Things, Too Little Time:

  • Make a visual list. Then you can actually SEE the things on your to-do list and see when you get to mark them off. 
  • Remove unnecessary items. Go into shipwreck mode! Ships used to toss off anything they didn't need when in storms to stay afloat. Don't ask me why that worked, but if it worked for pirates, it should work for us. Or...something. Whether that analogy works or not, get rid of what clutters up your list.
  • Don't get distracted. SQUIRREL! We all know that feeling, right? You are working on one thing and the shiny object of something else takes you off course. If it's not on the main list, don't do it. Make another list that shows those things you want to come back to once your main list is DONE. 
  • One thing at a time. This is the one I hate the most. I love to read eight books at a time. I love to have six tabs open. (Compared to some people, I know that's a low number!) But if I want to get things done, it needs to be one. at. a. time. That's how you finish. And that's why I'm so BAD at finishing. 

 

How do you get through your conflicts? What are your big tips to get through an overwhelming list? Let me know in the comments or join the discussion in the Facebook group

Oct 28, 2015

Lately we have had a lot of obstacles in my household. Namely: stomach flu and then pneumonia and vacation (which was fantastic and is only an obstacle in terms of work productivity). These got me thinking about the four literary conflicts we all learned in school and how those might translate into the modern world and our modern work. Before I dive into the seven conflicts that keep us from our work, a few quick things. 

1. Sign up for my email list if you haven't already! I have a sweet giveaway coming up that you don't want to miss. 

2. Subscribe to my live training because I have an AWESOME one coming up. Two words: special guest & bundle. 

3. If you haven't listened to the last five episodes, I have had STELLAR guests. Here are some quick links to those. 

how to cultivate your perfect audience Facebook

introverts-and-writing-facebook

is-blogging-dead-facebook

list-building Facebook

leverage Facebook groups featured

Now, let's talk obstacles and conflict! 

My Publishing Journey 

The long and short of my story is that I went to graduate school and got my MFA in Fiction, left with a mostly completed novel. Got an agent who loved the manuscript and sent it to publishers who loved the manuscript...and then they didn't buy it. This is basically the death toll for a manuscript in terms of traditional publishing, but the publishers did want to see more from me. 

My first agent got pregnant and passed me off to a second agent who also got pregnant and retired and convinced her husband (also an agent) to read my work. Which...I still haven't sent him. He is still out there, waiting, and I touch base with him every so often. But because of two obstacles, I haven't worked on my newest manuscript, which is 80% done. Those obstacles? Kids and the mental space they take away from my ability to really write fiction and FEAR. I've already gotten so far in publishing and had all these things line up only to fall apart. It makes me a little gun-shy. 

This got me thinking about conflicts and obstacles. It brought back memories of the literary conflicts---you know the ones! Man vs nature, man vs society, man vs man, and man vs self. Some of the conflicts I thought of fit into those categories, but I decided to make my own that are a little more specific to our modern life. 

 

The Seven Conflicts that Keep You from Your Work

1. Man vs Relationships. For me, this is my kids. I DO have enough time to work, but it's more that I really dive down deep when I write fiction and it's hard for me to surface and be a decent person and mom. This could be friends, a spouse, or some other relationship that cuts down on your work productivity.

2. Man vs Distractions. For me, this is Facebook. I open my computer and if I even glance at Facebook, I snap back to attention two hours later, unsure of who I am, where I've been, and what's happening in my life. I also get sucked into trying to watch TV and work at night. Not REAL writing, but scheduling things and photo editing. I can do those things while watching the Vampire Diaries, but I am not nearly as effective or fast. 

3. Man vs Technology. Though both distractions I mentioned were technically technological, I mean here things like your computer crashing, your phone screen breaking, or programs failing to work correctly. I feel sometimes like all my tech conspires against me. 

4. Man vs Ability. Often I run into something I want to do online, but CAN'T. Then I'm faced with the choice to either hire someone or learn it myself. An example of this is launching the podcast. I literally launched from conception to first three episodes in two weeks. (Read how HERE.) But every time I edited and produced, I ran into issues that I couldn't fix. So I went from YouTube videos to hiring an editor to taking a session with Meron Bareket that solved all my problems. But it took TIME. Sometimes we dream and just don't have the ability to achieve our dreams. Just ask all those tone-deaf American Idol hopefuls.

5. Man vs Busyness. Do I need to explain this one? We are busy people. The end. 

6. Man vs the Bank. Sometimes we have the flexibility to work undeterred by the need to pay bills. I am in a great position in that I don't HAVE to do the work I do. I would LIKE to make a full-time income, but for the moment, I can work in the off hours while my hubby brings the bacon. And the eggs. And the coffee. No, we don't have a huge budget, but we have enough. This can be a big issue for people who are side-hustling while working a full-time job. We have to eat. And live places. So the bank matters and can be a legit conflict. 

7. Man vs Self. This is the big one. Some of the others we cannot change. We can't control if our computer crashes. We cannot choose when or how our kids get pneumonia. We will always need to pay bills. But we DON'T always have to be subject to our own fears or our self-doubt. Even though we do have control here, I think this is sometimes the BIGGEST conflict or obstacle to our creative work. 

 

YOUR TURN! What are the conflicts that keep you from your creative work? Which of these seven is your main conflict with getting your creative work done?

Related Links

Claudia Emerson's Late Wife
Michael Parker's If You Want Me to Stay
Craig Nova's The Good Son
The NaNoWriMo Site
Danny Nguyen Photography

Oct 22, 2015

Everywhere I turn, I find people touting programs designed to multiply your email list. But is the key to a healthy email list found in numbers? In this interview with Paul Jarvis he talks about his email, the Sunday Dispatch, and why engagement trumps numbers alone.

If you don't know Paul, he calls himself a freelancer evangelist. He is the type of person who split-tests his profile picture and who also talks about unicorn farts. With a 20-year career as a freelance web designer he is also a prolific writer on sites like Forbes, Fast Company, NewsWeek, and BuzzFeed. You can find Paul on his site or on Twitter, and but where you should really connect is through his email list, The Sunday Dispatch. Oh, and he is co-host of Invisible Office Hours with Jason Zook and he has his own podcast, the Freelancer. Here are some of my favorite Paul pieces:

Audience Growth
What Do You Do When the Trolls Come Marching In?
Whose Playground Are You Playing In? 

 

NOTE: The podcast episode will be up momentarily! Having some issues this morning with...well...all kinds of things. If you are here from my weekly email, know that this will be up by the end of the day.

Quotable

"People don't realize they can cultivate an audience of people they want to have in their audience."

Big Ideas

  • Paul sends a weekly email called the Sunday Dispatch. It includes articles that will later appear on his blog or in syndication elsewhere, but they come to subscribers FIRST.
  • He aims to be interesting and valuable to his audience. Many people send what is interesting and valuable to themselves, not to the audience.
  • To figure out what's interesting and valuable to THEM, Paul listens. To make it interesting and valuable to himself, he puts his own spin on the content. This also has the effect of being interesting to the audience as well. There is no shortage of articles & content, but people read and identify with his because it's unique and personal.
  • Paul uses humor to help get to the ideal targeted audience. He cultivates the exact type of people he wants in his audience and doesn't worry about the rest.
  • The numbers on your list are often vanity metrics. It's the ENGAGEMENT that matters. You want people who support you and your work. This is much harder to measure than simple numbers alone.
  • Paul unsubscribes people who are rude or mean in responses to his emails. He will also look at how many people have not opened over a quarter and will delete those people.
  • When you delete people, you are saving yourself money (once you get to that point of paying) but you are also increasing your engagement and open rate.
  • To test content on his blog Paul uses Optimizely. (Yep, he even split tests his photos.) But he will split test his email subject line using Mailchimp's A/B testing every time he sends. The winning headline is the one he uses when he posts that content on his blog and other syndications.
  • Guests posts worked well as he was building and now he doesn't do guest posting as much but will put his posts up on Huffington Post, Inc, and Medium. If you are posting on quality websites, don't worry about duplicate content hurting your SEO. Google gets it.
  • For Paul, the point is to get people on his list, not just get hits on the blog, so everything links back to the sign-up for his list.
  • Depending on your revenue model, your focus might be different. If you are selling ads on your site, you need page views (or opens & clicks on your list if you're selling ads on your site). If you are selling products or services, your mailing list might be your best place to sell.
  • Things are so saturated right now, that it gets hard because of all the noise. Disruptive revenue models are the ways to find new and unique ways to create content.
  • If you are genuinely excited about the thing that you're doing, people see that come through and they get excited with you. Plan well, but continue to be excited and keep that moving.

 

And if you want to know more about the Creative Class (which I can tell you firsthand is an awesome investment!), you can read more about that HERE.

Oct 14, 2015

Find the full show notes at www.createifwriting.com/019! 
Follow Kirsten on Twitter!

In episode 18 I got to talk with Darren Rowse of Problogger and this week I'm talking with Demain Farnworth of Copyblogger. I loved this conversation where we talk about being introverts, what unique things we can bring to the table when there ISN'T anything really new, and what drives us crazy about the world we're in right now. You can find Demian at the Rough Draft podcast, The Lede podcast, writing on Copyblogger, writing on his blog The Copybot, and on Twitter.

Here are some of my favorite posts/episodes from Demian:

Shakespeare's 5 Rules for Making Up Words to Get Attention
The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer
A Creative Email Trick for Becoming a Plain Spoken Writer

Quotable

"I think the internet is particularly built for introverts." <- AGREE!!

Big Ideas

  • The internet is particularly built for introverts because it requires less of the draining in-person connection and it also easier to send an email and face that possible rejection than an in-person one.
  • The hedgehog idea is what is your passion, what is economically viable, and can you get better at doing that passion. You want to find something you love to do and can improve.
  • Damian does a lot of experimenting, asking "I wonder if?" about his content. He tries things to see what traction he can get.
  • You have to adapt and see what works and where you go organically and find what works for YOUR audience. No two audiences are the same.
  • My goal is to find and deepen the relationship with people who want to follow me and go all the places I go.
  • You probably aren't going to bring anything new to the table except for YOU and your voice.
  • The only thing that really changes over time is the filter: we take information and themes and express them through our voice and our perspective.
  • It's getting easier and easier to be publishers of content, which is an exciting thing. It's easier to create and to consume content. There are so many tools for us to do that in unique ways.
  • Trying some of the new formats like Periscope or Blab or podcasting is all about finding a new audience and connecting in a new way.
  • The downside  internet can really bring out the worst in people. People read 1/10th of something and respond as though they know.

Relevant Links

Quiet by Susan Cain
How to Move Your Audience from Infatuation to Love - The Lede Podcast
Why Introverts Make Good Writers

What I Want to Know from YOU: 

Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does that impact (or does it?) your creativity and your work?

Oct 8, 2015

Is blogging dead? It seems this question keeps resurfacing. I know what I think about this, but in this interview I get to hear what Darren Rowse of Problogger and Digital Photography School thinks about that question. Like many he has had a winding journey to get where he is today. And by winding, I mean he has had 40 blogs. (Yes, that is the number I meant to write. Want proof? Listen to the interview!) Being a part of the blogging world as long as he has, Darren has some unique perspective about the ever-changing blogging landscape and how you can stay afloat with all the changes.

Find Darren on TwitterBlabPeriscope, and Facebook. Find the show notes at Create If Writing and you can follow me on Twitter or join in the Create If Writing Facebook Group

Quotable: One of the best ways to stand out in a noisy room is to whisper in someone's ear.

I cannot TELL you how much this quote spoke to me. Love it. If you want to get a free 31-day series in your inbox all about going deeper with your peeps, JOIN ME. A few of the ideas came from this very interview! 

The Big Takeaways

  • In the early days his blogs relied on ads & affiliates for income, but he has moved towards creating his own products to sell and more diversified income streams.
  • Many people stop learning when you've been blogging about blogging (or anything) for a long time. You have to stay current and watching to see what people are experimenting with and what is working. But you can't JUST experiment with everything all the time.
  • Podcasting is one of those new things (definitely check out the Problogger podcast!) Darren is trying. The connection with an audience goes to new depths and it's a much less crowded space than blogging, so this is a good time. (Include Blab & Periscope in this as well!)
  • In the first few years Darren's blog growth was one-by-one. He visited other blogs and left comments, emailed people who left comments, and other small actions that showed he was paying attention to the people who WERE coming to the blog.
  • He also utilized in-person connections like teaching in-person camera classes. Online, this looked like taking part in forums and being helpful where possible.
  • When you really look after those readers, they become big fans and share your work with their friends and things can grow exponentially.
  • As he started, any time someone left a comment, he used to respond in the comments, then send them an email to let them know he commented back. Some of those people still read the blog today and have brought other readers alongside them. He started conversations
  • Now that he has a much (MUCH) wider audience, it's hard to bring that type of contact to scale. Doing things like Periscope and podcasting have brought more interaction with his audience in a whole new way. You can still whisper and be personal, but it may not look exactly the same as you grow.
  • Guest posting has become very normal to do, but putting ideas on other people's blogs is still a great way to connect with new readers.
  • Doing challenges is another fantastic way to bring community to a group. It's an intense period of doing something together and doing things together brings community and engagement. It gives people a sense of belonging.
  • Another great idea is to repurpose and repackage old content to give it second life. The first 31 days of the podcast was a repurposing of an old series. Creating evergreen content helps you to have content to repurpose.

Is Blogging DEAD? 

People are constantly saying this and Darren has heard this for the last ten years. People tend to say this whenever a new medium comes along or when someone large leaves blogging. (Read this great interview Darren did with Heather Armstrong of Dooce about this very thing!) The reality is that blogging is shifting and has always been shifting. As hard as this may be to believe, when blogs to having comments (because they didn't at first), many people thought blogging was dead. Keep evolving and be open to the new movements.

One thing Darren has been doing a lot of lately is Blab, so you should definitely follow him on Blab to get notifications when he goes live!

Relevant Links

Reading Roundup: What's New in Blogging Lately
The Problogger Podcast
SuperNiching: The Dirty Little Secret of Bloggers Everywhere

Oct 2, 2015

When I heard Maritza Parra speak this summer on list-building at Podcast Movement, I knew I wanted to have her come on the show. You guys know how I feel about building email lists. (If you don't, you should read this or this or this.) Maritza shared in the session how she sold her first product to a list of 800 people and made $30,000. Now you're REALLY geared up for this interview aren't you?

Maritza hosts the Easy Online Marketing Podcast and you can find great value on her site. I would highly recommend signing up for her email list, where you can get a freebie with SO MANY ideas for freebies that are working right now to give away as incentives for email subscribers. SO helpful!!

Quotable
"The whole point of a list is building relationships."
Big Ideas

Give free content BEFORE asking people to op-in.
You want to move people toward taking action.
Maritza has subscriber appreciation days where she will have her readers sign up for a phone call or mini session with her so she can really connect.
Super targeted lists of very passionate people can be VERY successful. This allows you to be super specific in what you offer and lets you zero in on those pain points for your audience.
Consider doing real-life meet ups where you can connect with people in person. Have a Q&A and make notes of what things they want to know and learn.
Don't take unsubscribes personally!
When is the best time to send something to your list? When you have something important to say, THAT'S the time.
You teach people how to treat you, so if you hesitate or second guess who you are or your product, that lets other people know they don't have to take you seriously.
If you are giving great content, you should be able to offer paid products without feeling bad.
Add a story to what you are selling. Frame it well and as an experience.
Maritza said she has had more failures than successes, but those failures taught her more than the successes. When you fail, celebrate and try to see how you can push through.
Keep separate lists. Know why people signed up so you can speak to specific pain points.
Your freebie whole be a list-specific product, but doesn't have to be huge. A 1-2 page PDF would be great.

Do you suffer from list-building stage fright? Don't be afraid to email your list or sell to your list. If they signed up, there is something they want from YOU.
How to Involve Your Audience in Your Products

Involve them in the process. Ask what they want in a survey or give them two choices and have them hit reply to tell you.
Have a webinar or live training where you can say, "The results are in!" This lets them know that THEY were the driving factor.
Launching before you create your product allows you to know that you have an audience and a need for that product.

I loved this interview because it made me feel like I can do this. I can get over myself and my stage friend and email my list. I love the ways that Maritza connects with her people via phone calls and face to face. What is YOUR big takeaway from this? Let me know in the comments!

The post List-Building Secrets for Success with Maritza Parra appeared first on Create If Writing.

Sep 23, 2015

Whether you are a writer working to establish relationships with readers, a blogger wanting to create a community around your blog, or a business-owner wanting to connect with customers on a deeper level, Facebook groups are the way to go. (Until Facebook makes groups go the way of the dinosaur, but as Katie mentions in the interview, that's why you have an email list!) I loved getting to talk with Katie this morning and I hope you can come away with a renewed sense of how Facebook groups can work for you, no matter WHAT your purposes.

As for Katie, you can find her at the Biz Women Rock site, listen to the Biz Women Rock podcast on iTunes, or jump right into her Biz Women Rock Facebook group to see her live out what she talked about in this episode. (I'm in that group and she practices what she teaches!!)

ALSO! This is time sensitive so I want to throw it out here right now at the beginning. Katie is doing a free webinar this Friday, September 25 at 2pm EST about how to start, grow, and monetize your Facebook group. She will give an awesome free training (I did it last month!!) and offer you the last chance to buy the Facebook Groups Rock course before she has her baby girl in a few weeks! Sign up for the free training HERE.

Quotable
"Your group on Facebook, i.e. your tribe or your community, is only as good as the value you're providing them."
Big Ideas

Katie started an in-person community in Tampa and applied some of the principles that worked for an IRL group in an URL group.
Biz Women Rock started as a podcast and she was following the typical model of getting sponsors and growing the podcast audience.
The Facebook group came out of her desire to want to wrap her arms around her listeners. (I LOVE this description!)
Out of this group, her brand became a trusted resource and the central focus became NOT the podcast, but the community and brand as a whole as a business resource with the podcast just being ONE of these things.
Facebook may very well change up how groups work and they may not work well forever. This platform isn't YOURS. Get email addresses!
To collect those email addresses, Katie utilizes webinars and has also used the Facebook group as the freebie or opt-in for people who sign up on her website for her email list.

Facebook Group Tips for Moderators

The group needs to be engaged for it to work. Figure out what works for each group, but asking questions you think people WANT to answer is a good way to get people talking. People love to share about themselves!


Utilize different kinds of media: video, photo, text. Videos especially can bring people into your world and helps make you relatable and approachable as the leader of the group.


You need to have this engagement and relationship before you sell to your group. It won't BE salesy if you're doing it well.


As the owner, YOU set the tone. Don't be afraid to moderate and do what works for you, not just what other groups do.

Sep 16, 2015

I love a good story. And I love a good SCARY story. You don't have to be a scary story fan yourself to enjoy this episode where I interview Aaron Mahnke from Lore Podcast. (But you DEFINITELY want to be a scary story fan if you listen to Lore.) Aaron is a writer of scary stories himself. (Find his books HERE.) I love the story of how he came to create Lore. You can read it in his words on his blog, but the short of it is that he had been trying to created a freebie for his email list. In his words:

I believe people innately hunger for story. We enjoy a well-told, well-written tale. It allows us to escape for a moment and live in someone else’s world, a world where problems have solutions (most of the time) and  things make sense (again, mostly). Story is in our DNA and it’s our legacy. 

So much YES. A giant thanks to Marianne Tolosa from The Lipstick Campaign for recommending this podcast to me! Find Aaron on Twitter (as Lore and as himself Aaron), Instagram, the Lore Podcast website, or his author page. Buy his books HERE or subscribe to Lore HERE. 

My Favorite Quote: 
"Sometimes folklore is paint on top of a just a messy human situation and we tell it through the lens of a fairy tale or scary story because humans really can't be the monsters."
Big Ideas

Aaron has been doing the self-publishing routes and Lore came out of Aaron creating a freebie for his email list.
His journey in starting Lore, like so many stories I've heard, was sort of a happy accident, or an organic creation that sprung out of something his other work.
Each podcast episode takes about 30 hours to create, start to finish.
Reading out loud reveals how some words sound next to other words. <- This is great for editing the written word, not just spoken words! 
Aaron uses Evernote to save ideas, links, and photographs as he researches and prepares topics.
The podcast has helped him to find the time to write because it has allowed him to be freed up from his other design work.
To get his most recent novel finished, he committed to writing 2000 words a day and then wrote those words. Every. Day.
Aaron is a plotter, not a pantser. Plotters tend to more comprehensively outline and plan things out while pantsers traditionally write by the seat of their pants. (Let me know in the comments which YOU are!)
Lore was NOT started as a way to market books, though it's a very natural connection that makes sense. I think the difference is in the quality of Lore.
In terms of podcast ads, he keeps to sponsors that make sense also with the podcast itself and with the audience. He also puts them at the end to be less obtrusive to the content itself.

Want to Start a Podcast?
We talked about starting podcasts and the technical bits to that. If you are thinking about starting a podcast, I'll be having a series here very soon, but here are some other links! (And I would HIGHLY recommend paying someone to edit. I've used Christopher Wright and he was affordable, fast, and did  a GREAT job. It's worth the money. Trust me.)

We talked about the different kinds of production and planning for podcasts. Aaron writes out a script and then reads it in a way that is very natural and not forced. For my interviews (and in the intros and outtros) I tend to write a few outline-y notes and then go off-the-cuff so it sounds more natural.

Pat Flynn's Free Podcast Course
John Lee Dumas' Free Podcast Course
Aaron Mahnke on How to Get Your Podcast into the Top 20
How to Start a Podcast in Two Weeks
So You Want to Start a Podcast?

Relevant Links

Home Work - Aaron Mahnke's other podcast about working from home
The Wake - graphic novel that's inspiring Aaron this week
What I Want to Know from YOU
Do you listen to Lore & love scary stories like I do? (We can still be friends if you don't.)

Aug 21, 2015

 

Have you ever gotten stuck in your creative work? REALLY stuck?

Sometimes this comes in the form of writer's block. Or sometimes your process gets in your own way. You keep trying to move forward and instead keep hitting a wall. This week I took reader questions and got two that fit well together dealing with the writing process and writer's block. Let's dive into some reader questions from the Create If Writing Facebook group and Periscope!

Now, on to reader questions!

Penelope from @Foster2Forever asked about writing process on Periscope.

You can hear the full details on the podcast, but I always start with a vomit version. That's a really ugly, horrible draft where I get as many words on the page as possible to shape them into something good. Then: editing. Lots and lots of editing.

As far as WHAT I write, I don't write a lot of fiction now that my kids are little. For now, my brain on little kids (not unlike my brain on crack

Anita @blestbutstrest asked in the Facebook group about writing conferences.

I have been to a TON of conferences lately. Podcast Movement has been the best, but I've also been to AdventureCon (which I couldn't remember in the episode), Declare, Re:Write, Blog Elevated, and the Houston Baptist Writer's Conference. They are ALL good for different reasons! I'm a conference junkie, what can I say?

Thanks for listening this week and I would love to answer any questions you have about my new course or about the webinars! You can reach me at kirsten@kirstenoliphant.com

The post Kiki Talks Writing Process & Writer’s Block – 014 appeared first on Create If Writing.

Aug 14, 2015

"If everyone else is doing it, what's the point?"

This is the quote that stuck with me from this delightful, weird, rambly conversation with Marc Martel. Let me introduce you to Marc, in case you don't know him already.

Or, maybe I should have given you this one first: an imagining of how Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury would have done a duet.

Incredible, right? Marc and I have known one another for fifteen years, back when we were both graduating college. He was playing with the band Downhere, who had just been signed to a major Christian label. I was working in a church doing youth ministry. Now he is pulling double-duty with his first solo album, Impersonator (it's SO GOOD) and being the frontman for the Queen Extravaganza, which means he channels Freddie Mercury for half the year. Exciting life, right?

Marc has navigated the music industry in the new, digital age, which set the stage for changes in the book world as we have moved to digital there as well. I loved talking to him about promotion, his passion, and....the Backstreet Boys. No, really. We talk about the Backstreet Boys.

I hope you love this interview and feel inspired to find your weird way of embracing your passion. I think we all dream of making our passions a working reality, and that's just what Marc has done and is doing.

For more on Marc, please check out his site for tour dates, and you can also snag his album Impersonator from iTunes!

And if you LOVE the new music on the podcast as much as I do, you can check out more about her and her music on her site. 

The post Marc Martel on Finding Your Good Kind of Weird appeared first on Create If Writing.

Aug 7, 2015

Two and a half days. Twenty-five pages of notes. More knowledge than I can possibly share here. The Podcast Movement conference was honestly the best conference I have ever been to. Not simply because of the attention to detail and how smoothly everything went, but because of the incredible sessions and the connections with other podcasters and speakers. I can say now that Aisha Tyler, who is laugh-out-loud funny, also possesses the ability to make me cry.

Why so incredible? Podcasting is not new and yet it still has an aura of freshness. A palpable sense of excitement buzzed through the Omni in Fort Worth. Coming straight from a blogging conference, the difference in atmosphere was staggering. Everyone I talked to had an excitement about their podcast, whether they are on their 50th episodes or just gearing up to launch.

I met Taylor Bradford from Pink Heels Pink Truck and the Boss Girl Creative podcast. She and I had been friends online but never actually me, so it was great to have another person I could hang around with and share notes and observations.
Best Sessions
Practical Application: Meron Bareket led a session on sound that totally gave me the tools I needed to up my game. I've got an editor for some of my interview episodes, but the difference in this week and the weeks before is stunning. Plus? His post-production method took ten minutes.

Inspiration: I feel like this was a ten-way tie. Hearing Sarah Koenig from Serial was incredible. It was like EXPERIENCING an episode of Serial. I got to meet John Lee Dumas before his keynote and was so impressed with how kind and generous and real he was. I'm a huge fan of Pat Flynn, so getting to hear him talk (and beat box) put a giant smile on my face. He had some really neat stories (that I mention in this episode) and shared his vulnerabilities and fears with us.

 

What impressed me most about the speakers across the board was how incredibly willing they were to connect. They took time to talk to EVERYONE. They did not put on airs. Katie Kimitsos, who led a session on community, talked with me and Taylor at the end of the conference about some of the things she is working on and her goals.

I really loved getting to meet Cliff Ravenscraft, aka The Podcast Answerman. He had a meet up I attended before things officially started and I got to actually talk in person about my podcast. When I had a few questions after the conference, he dived into the comment thread to answer. THAT is the kind of connection I felt as a theme of the conference and was very much what Cliff talked about in his session. He had so many great things to say, many of which impacted this episode.

Can I tell you about this episode? It's a little weird. 

There's no music, first of all. Just me. While I LOVE the music that my friend Josh of Unbroken Light put together for me when I called in a favor when I started the podcast, I want to shift a few things and I think shifting the music is a must. When listening to a session on email newsletters, Maritza Parra challenged us to think about niche and to be even MORE niche than we already are. What could be more niche than a podcast for writers and creatives dealing with the passion and practice behind making good art?

PLENTY.

The more I thought about it, the more I saw this podcast as a place for the worn out. The burned out. The tapped out. The down and out. I feel like this podcast provides inspiration and tools for writers and other creatives who find themselves in that boat. The vision isn't wholly different than the one I came in with, but it is more specific and I think better helps me think about my goals.

Which brings me to my biggest two goals after Podcast Movement: 

1. Sound. (Thanks, Meron!!!)

2. Connection.

I want to connect better with my guests. To have amazing interviews, not just GOOD interviews.

Jul 29, 2015

Kevin Kaiser is hard to describe. People always say that behind every great man there is a great woman (which is a phrase I actually hate- a much longer discussion), but I think Kevin is proof that behind every great success, there are other hidden people and work that you may never see. Kevin is one of those people, a true creative and also marketing strategist who has been a ghostwriter and a person behind the people. He truly lives in that place where creativity and business intersect.

 

 

[podcast]

Some great posts from Kevin:
Get Low (about Wu Wei, which he talks about in the interview)
5 Things Star Wars Taught Me about Creativity and Life 
3 Essentials to Building Influence

You can find Kevin on TwitterFacebook, or on his site.

At a Glance

  • Kevin defines creativity as the ability to connect the dots.
  • If you want an audience, you can't JUST write.
  • In today's landscape, you are competing against everybody and nobody. There are so many choices. Your only limitation is your imagination.
  • Relationship is the premium, the thing that is the most valuable.
  • How do you get attention when there are so many messages? Confidence and trust of an audience.
  • If you have a short-run view of things, success a voting machine. You work for the likes and the shares, but it's a veneer and doesn't last. If you are looking at the long-run of things, success is a weighing machine. What has substance and resonates will LAST.
  • Keeping a job while you do your art can be a competitive advantage. You don't have the stress of people waiting on you for food.
  • Let go of the need to be validated. That's when things will loosen up. Let the work be what it will be.
  • Creativity doesn't depend on us. Be an antenna for the inspiration that is all around us. The most necessary thing is to be open and present.
  • We should think about life in terms of apps verse operating system. Apps come and go, but an operating system helps us make sense of the world in a clear way.
  • The number of relationships you need to make a living is smaller than you think. 10,000 followers (thinking email list) shows a real connection. Consider that 1/2 to 2% will BUY.
  • Think of platform as building trust and gathering people.
  • Viral posts are shared because people like sharing things that validate something in themselves. There is a psychology to sharing.
  • You can't fake authenticity. If you try to fake it, you will lose trust. Since relationship is the underlying factor, you will lose the most important thing.

 

My Big Takeaway

"The artist's primary responsibility is to be the champion for the work." <- THIS. I feel like that quote sums up the whole of platform-building and some of the audience growth.

"Writer's block doesn't really exist. Writer's block is a story we tell ourselves when we are afraid." Mind=blown.

 

Relevant Links

StorySellerU (will be opening again in the fall)
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Advice for Starting Your Own Mastermind Group  from Cliff Ravenscraft of the Podcast Answerman
Transcending Fear in the Creative Process from Atlantic Monthly

One of the things Kevin said that I loved was that to aim really low. Aim to get 10 new followers this week, not 100. Be methodical and work for a slow build. Overnight successes don't last. True successes have done the hidden work that other people don't see.

What I Want to Know from YOU

Kevin and I talked about deadlines and stress. For some (like me), a deadline can make you totally freeze. For other people, that stress gives a hyper focused flow. How do YOU react to deadlines?

Jun 24, 2015

Special thanks to Josh Mills of Unbroken Light for the podcast music!
In these days of publishing with so many viable options, how do you decide if you should pursue commercial (traditional) publishing or publish independently? Or should you think about hybrid publishing?

(Note: There is hybrid publishing in the sense that agencies or publishers are doing a sort of half-commercial, half-indie publishing, but I am using it here in the sense of doing BOTH traditional and indie publishing.)

You will NOT get an answer for that question in this episode with Ed Cyzewski. What you WILL get is an inside look at his experience as a hybrid author. Among others, he has commercially published Coffeehouse Theology and A Christian Survival Guide as well as Pray, Write, Grow and Creating Space independently. He has an active blog and shares great content (as well as humorous quips) on Twitter. Do join his email list, if for nothing other than his pet rabbit. (You'll see.) Go stalk him. Tell him I sent you. 

Some of My Favorite Posts from Ed: 

Are Independent Authors Just Control Freaks with Issues? 

Why You Should Join the Book Lovers Email List (<- MY title, not his)

When Commercial Christian Publishing Was Bad for My Soul

At a Glance

Writing about what you really care about helps you find readers who can get on the same page.
Blogs so often evolve as YOU evolve. That's okay!
Your blog writing can be a great place for discovering what your readers want to read.
With traditional publishing, often you have a year to prove yourself and if you don't make the sales, you can be considered damaged goods. This (clearly) comes with an enormous amount of pressure.
Even the tactics that publishers will use to promote books (WHEN they use them) won't work for everyone.
A lot of the things that you might think will help you sell books will NOT. In Ed's first experience, interviews in magazines, on radio spots, and media tours sold very few copies.
The secret is to be relentlessly helpful and make lasting connections.
Your email list should be about authentic connections and establishing relationships with your potential readers.
Prayer and writing often involve similar steps and can develop one another, becoming a life-giving cycle. (More on that in his book Pray, Write, Grow!)
Writing is a gift, but also a marketable skill. Carve out the writing time and keep shifting things in your life to keep the creative life up. Don't necessarily do this by taking away your financial safety net!

Quotable and My Big Takeaway: 
"You can't afford to NOT independently publish and make all your mistakes first."
Relevant Links
Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl (find his site HERE)
Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
The Examen App
What I want to know from YOU:
How did this conversation affect your desire to publish traditionally or independently? What has your experience been with either? Let me know in the comments!

The post Ed Cyzewski on Hybrid Publishing – 010 appeared first on Create If Writing.

Jun 2, 2015

Are you selling out if you put ads on your site? How do you grow your platform without sacrificing your authenticity?

I'm answering fabulous questions from Jenna (at the Gleeful Gourmand) and Andi (at Andilit) this week! If you want to pose questions for me, join the Facebook group for more community & conversation.

EXCITING NEWS! I decided to go all-in and do two podcasts rather than just one. Because, after all, one IS the loneliest number. The other podcast I've been secretly recording is for Blogger2Business and is laser-focused on blogging. That podcast and the larger site is a FABULOUS resource for bloggers. Even if you consider yourself a writer who happens to blog, you should be proud of your blog and strive to have it represent you well. Head over to Blogger2Business to find great tips & tricks for growing, plus a very-familiar voice interviewing some blogging phenoms.

Now, let's talk Ads and Authenticity!

At a Glance: Ads

There are two main types of ads that you can have on your blog: ads from networks (like Google Adsense, Adthrive, or Burst) and sponsored slots where bloggers or companies pay a monthly fee for that slice of your sidebar real estate.
When you use an ad network like Blogher, there are often restrictions on how you can get IN to the network and with regards to other competing ads on your site.

You can also choose to have sponsor spots that other bloggers or companies can pay for month by month.
Many people who choose to have sponsor spots use a site like Passion Fruit to handle the details of this.
You can also swap sponsored spaces with other bloggers.
Keep an eye on your analytics. If people aren't clicking through to sponsors, maybe you shouldn't have them. And if you're only getting like $4 from a giant ad in the sidebar, you're giving up valuable real estate for nothing.
If you pay for a sponsored spot on someone's blog or do a swap, make sure your button is visually appealing and that it will be eye-catching but also fit in with the blog's aesthetic. You also may want to choose a landing page rather than your home page for the link.

 

 
At a Glance: Authentic Growth

You need to think about your goals when you decide whether or not to have ads or what kind of monetization to have on your blog.
I personally don't think ads are (in and of themselves) selling out. Even if the cost is only your time, there is a cost to blogging and ads defray that cost.

If you consider your blog a business, you SHOULD have the goal of making money.
When it comes to growing your blog or promoting yourself, there ARE bad ways to do this. Example: paying for followers. DON'T DO THIS. Giveaways can help bolster your numbers, but they may not be people who really care what you are doing. On the flip side, that might help people discover you.
Stop thinking of your numbers. Think of those page views and followers and subscribers as people. You have value to offer and you are gathering people around to share that value with them.
Growing your platform is nothing more than finding people who need YOUR words.

 
My Big Takeaway
Not to knock Michael Hyatt (because I'm honestly on his page about the idea of platform!), but the word platform has really become kind of a dirty word for many people just through overuse. IT SHOULDN'T BE. You have a platform is what connects you with the very specific people who need what only you can offer them. It may be large and it may be small, but it is uniquely yours. When you think of it that way, it sounds lovely, doesn't it?
Relevant Links
Paula Rollo's interview on Blogging Intentionally

Chad Allen's interview on Platform

How to Grow Your Blog Authentically

Platform by Michael Hyatt
What I Want to Know from YOU
Do you struggle with the idea of self-promotion, growing your platform,

May 27, 2015

We could all USE an editor, but how often DO we use one? When should you hire an editor and when should you do your own editing?

In this episode I talk with editor and blogger Sarah Steidl about common editing mistakes and when you should hire someone instead of trying to edit your own work. Sarah blogs at Girl Grows Up, is the editor for Grace Table (a blog I LOVE and have guest posted on), and is an editor-for-hire at Soleil Editing. All that AND a mom of two!

Two of my favorite pieces of Sarah's writing are:

Squeezing Summer In (GREAT as we're moving into summer!)

When Hospitality Doesn't Come Easy

You can find Sarah at her blog, Grace Table, Soleil Editing, on Twitter, and on Instagram.
At a Glance

Sarah's rule of thumb is that if you are asking people to pay you for your writing, you need an editor.
It's also a good idea to have extra eyes if you are writing a guest post or anything else for publication, whether that is an editor or a fellow writer/blogger.
When working with an editor, know what you want in terms of the scope of editing. (Think: grammatical errors or a full-content edit for the clarity of your message.)
Content & developmental edits come before line edits and proofreading.
When looking for an editor, word of mouth is a great place to start. You should also look at the types of work that the editor does.
Typos remind us that we are all human. BUT the less they happen, the better.

Tips for Self-Editing

When you hit your final draft, let it sit for as long as possible. A few days if you can.
Come back to your piece and try to read it as a totally new audience member.
Read for clarity and cut things that are unnecessary or anything that clouds your meaning.
Let it sit again for a few hours or a few days.
Print it out and read out loud, slowly, to catch errors.

Relevant Links
Grammar Girl Podcast

Chicago Manual of Style

Strunk and White's Elements of Style

Word Crimes on Read, Write, Muse (we mention this in the interview)

The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers on Brain Pickings
My Big Takeaway
I think this interview made me realize that I need to start making use of an editor. (Note: I ALMOST hit publish with a glaring error in the previous sentence. PROOF!) As a total cheapskate, I like to think that I can self-edit well. But with several books on Amazon that have NEVER seen an editor, I am now uncomfortably wondering how many mistakes are in there. Eeek! No one likes to have someone point out a mistake. It's like having someone tell you that you have spinach in your teeth. You hate hearing it, but you'd rather not have spinach in your teeth. Am I right?
What I Want to Know from You
Have you ever used an editor? What was your experience like? What is your biggest drawback to using an editor?

*This post contains affiliate links! That means at no extra cost to you, purchasing something by clicking through the links will give me a referral fee. Thanks for supporting the show!

 

The post Sarah Steidl on Editing- 008 appeared first on Create If Writing.

May 19, 2015

How many email subscribers EXACTLY do you need to get a publisher to take notice? Are all traditional publishers at odds with self- and indie- publishers?

In this conversation with Chad R. Allen, we talk traditional vs self-publishing, what numbers matter, and why you should just DO YOUR ART. Chad has been in publishing for over sixteen years and with Baker Books for over thirteen. His site is an incredible resource with posts like:

6 Things for Writers to Remember When an Editor or Agent Says No

Is This Blocking Your Creativity?

8 Essential Tips for Marketing Your Book on Facebook

The Basics of Building a Platform

He also started the Book Proposal Academy, which walks writers through the steps of writing a killer proposal. While he shoots it straight about what publishers are looking for in terms of numbers, he also offers so much hope and has such a passion for urging on creatives in their work. His book, Do Your Art, is a prime example of this. This interview will hopefully give you some concrete goals to work toward and the inspiration to do so!

You can find more great content on his blog and find him on Twitter and Facebook.

At a Glance

The constant in publishing is great content.
Traditional publishers tend to be agnostic about whether books sold are ebooks or physical books.
Traditional publishers tend to not be as threatened by self-publishing because self-publishing provides a viable option for those publishers turn down and can also be a way to grow enough readers to secure a traditional deal.
Platform is more accessible today than ever before.
The "magic number" of email subscribers that will make a publisher interested (in non-fiction) is 10,000.
Email list is the key metric more than Twitter or Facebook or other social media because the email list is a digital asset you own.
Offering your content online through blogs or a free ebook is a way to use your content to grow your list.
A warm list is one that is interactive and interested. Think of those unsubscribes as simply paring down your list to make it warmer.
To find balance in writing and growing your platform, you need to make specific goals and find a plan that is sustainable.
Realize that YOU have things to offer and people are longing for what is uniquely yours.

Relevant Links
Why Traditional Publishing Should Kiss Self-Publishing's Feet

Jane Friedman's The Future of Reading and Writing

101 Jon Acuff Quotes from Kevin Kaiser (for inspiration!!)

41 Tips That Put Over 10,000 People on My Email List from Blog Tyrant

My Big Takeaway
I loved the idea of thinking of my list as growing warmer as I have people unsubscribe. Chad's ideas on how to use my current content to grow a warm list also got me thinking about repurposing things that I already have and working on new things. I'm currently trying to find a balance that is sustainable. So far I haven't figured this out, so let me know if you have!!
What I Want to Know from YOU
What are your current goals? And what content might you currently have to offer for free in order to find and grow your audience?

The post Chad R. Allen on Publishing- Episode 007 appeared first on Create If Writing.

May 12, 2015

How many fans does it take to make a living as a writer or artist? And do those fans HAVE to be on your email list or can they be spread across your social media platforms?

This week's episode is what I'll be calling Kiki Talks: the once-monthly episode where I am answering your questions. (Two quick things: 1. Kiki is my nickname because Kirsten is sometimes a beast, and 2. You can ask your questions on Twitter or in the Facebook group OR sometimes like this week, on Periscope via Twitter.) I'm answering Kelli's question about whether it is better to build an email list or find followers through other social media platforms.
At a Glance: Email Lists vs Other Social Media Platforms

An email list is integral because it allows you to reach into someone's personal space in a way that is more intimate than Twitter or Facebook.
Email lists are set up through a host, NOT your personal email account. (I use Mailchimp, but may move to Aweber at some point.)
My biggest numbers in terms of traffic come through Pinterest and Facebook, with Twitter at a VERY distant fourth. My email list brings my blog more traffic than Twitter, but not by too much. Then again, I have a few hundred people opening each email, which makes it about as popular as my second or third most popular blog post on any given day. (Looking at my email list the day after recording, the open rate bumped up to 30%, which is pretty normal for me.)
Other platforms may change (like Facebook's algorithms that make your visibility disappear), but your email is under YOUR control.
Publishers would generally say that around 10,000 email subscribers is a good number to see for a non-fiction book deal. 5,000 would get attention, but 10,000 is the sort of "golden" number. (More on that in episode 007!)
Kevin Kelly introduced the theory that 1,000 true fans (who will buy everything you make) is enough to make a comfortable living.

My Big Takeaway
Get an email list. Decide what service to use (always use a service, not your gmail or hotmail) and what kind of content/how frequently. Think about what best serves your goals. Do your best to grow your list authentically so you have people who really LIKE you and want to support you and buy whatever it is you sell: book, album, class, coaching. But ALSO keep growing your social media platforms. You may connect with different people in those spaces and find real fans and real traffic.

The email list should be your foundation and your true fans, who will buy anything you create. (So when someone unsubscribes, rather than feeling sad, think about the fact that they are NOT your true fan and it is one less person to pay for when you get to that point.) Having a smaller number of loyal subscribers is great, but those bigger numbers can matter to publishers or for other reasons. Intentionally grow your email list, but definitely use a combination of platforms for growth.

Relevant Links
-Kevin Kelly on having 1,000 True Fans
-The Problem with 1,000 True Fans
-The Blog Tyrant's 41 Tips to Get over 10,000 Email Subscribers

What I Want to Know from YOU: 

If these numbers sound crazy scary to you (they alternately do and don't to me, depending on that day's optimism/pessimism/realism balance), don't fear! What is YOUR goal for your email list or platform growth?

Where are you finding social media or email working for you? Is my experience that I share in the podcast similar or different to yours?

The post Kiki Talks Email List & True Fans– Episode 006 appeared first on Create If Writing.

May 5, 2015

Not all writers are bloggers and not all bloggers would call themselves writers. (I want to talk more about blogging as a genre soon!) Much to my surprise, I discovered that I love blogging possibly as much as I love writing fiction. If you are blogging, there is a reason. Perhaps you blog for fun. Maybe you blog to support your family and bring in an income. Or you might blog as a way to build an audience for the book that you are writing. The reason WHY you blog will affect HOW you blog and WHAT you blog about.

Do you know why YOU are blogging?

In this episode I talk with blogger Paula Rollo about intentional blogging. Blogging intentionally means blogging with goals and an audience in mind. Blogging with a clear focus will help you as you create content and make decisions about how often to blog or what kind of posts you want to create. Blogging intentionally also makes your blog more accessible to readers because it will help your blog to become more cohesive and unified.

Paula Rollo blogs at Beauty Through Imperfection and also the newly launched Blogger 2 Business (along with Holly Homer, who joined the podcast to talk about Facebook & formulas in episode 4). She began blogging for fun and then later changed her goals and her blog into something totally new. What started as a sort of outlet for a new mom became a steady stream of income for her family as her intentional blogging transformed how she blogged.

You can also find Paula at  What Is That? I Need It or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

At a Glance

You can start a blog for one reason and rebrand if your life, goals, or plans change!
Set realistic goals and revisit them at timely increments for you.
Many bloggers choose Wordpress over Blogger for a lot of different reasons.
Paula made a slow but intentional transition to a new kind of blogging, keeping some things that her readers liked while adding new content. She chose to focus on numbers before monetization.
You can monetize your blog through ads (like Google adsense), affiliates (like Amazon), networks that connect bloggers with brands for sponsored posts (like Social Fabric or Izea), selling a product like a book.
Everyday, mainstream bloggers will have a hard time with large growth writing a journal-style blog. You need a great voice, great writing, some luck or REALLY hard work, and a phenomenally visual site. There is an "it" factor for this, but blogging is too crowded a landscape to write just about you and think you'll have huge growth. Unless you are a celebrity already.
Re-use and Re-purpose your old content! Make better images and update content for old posts to keep them fresh.
To blog intentionally, you should define what you're trying to do and what you're willing to do in order to make that happen.
Great questions for sponsored posts: Does it benefit you? Does it benefit the brand? Does it benefit the readers?

Relevant Links
Bloggers with a great voice: Dooce, The Bloggess, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp
Blogging on the Side: Book from Paula Rollo & Becky Mansfield about Intentional Blogging
A few Link Parties I Like: Mouthwatering Mondays from A Southern Fairytale, Inspire Me Mondays from Blessed But Stressed
Blogger 2 Business on How to Recycle Old Content
My Big Takeaway
I loved what Paula said about changing a post's focus. Instead of talking about MY bad day and leaving it there, I can write about my bad day in terms of how YOU can help avoid a bad day. She spoke about shifting the post to make it immediately relevant to the reader. I feel like that is a way that many of us who are writing more personal things can keep our personality. I'm also right with Paula in being inspired by the idea that there are so many things possible online with some inspiration and hard work!
What I Want to Know from YOU
Why did YOU start blogging?

Apr 29, 2015

I talked to Holly Homer and finally have the Three Keys to TOTAL DOMINATION online! Simply pay me $50 in three easy installments plus $9.95 for shipping and handling and you can learn Holly Homer's Three Keys and the secret formula for Facebook succ...

Apr 19, 2015

With Twitter tips, tricks, and tools to spare, Eric T Tung joins us for Episode 3 of the Create If Writing Podcast. He is #33 on the Forbes list of global influencers and #1 here in Houston. Currently he works at BMC software and speaks at conferences all around the country. Here is what I LOVE about Eric. He doesn't ACT like he is on a very short list of global influencers. He will happily take a selfie with you---in fact you BETTER take a selfie if you ever meet him. (I prefer the goofy ones.) He is personable, hilarious, and totally not one of those people who thinks he is all that. (Even though he kind of is.)

You can find Eric on Twitter, LinkedIn, and on his blog. He is a great resource and person to follow! Let's see what he has to say about Twitter.

At a Glance: Tips for Using Twitter

Snag your name if possible. Use a middle initial if your actual name is taken (or really cool). Consider a fun alternative if your name is John Smith.
Be professional, but also personal. (Clearly his profile picture demonstrates this intersection.) Don't have two profiles. People want to get to know you.
Use Twitter lists to organize people you follow. You can make them public or private.
Save time by using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content tweets. This can free you up to engage in real time.
If your feed gets too busy, you can mute people. (And they won't know about it.)
Post links to your own content multiple times a day. Twitter moves faster, so it's not spammy. You can't post the exact same tweet, so change the order of the link & hashtag or pull different pieces from the content as a Tweet. (But never share JUST your stuff.)
You can schedule old evergreen content (i.e., content that is relevant ALL the time) so that you have more of your own links to share. You can also schedule date-specific content way in advance, like scheduling links to your old Christmas posts in January to go OUT in December.
Three qualities that can boost Twitter engagement: make it interesting; make it entertaining; or make it feel-good. People love that! Visuals whether photos or video are great.

Relevant Links
Find Your First Tweet
How to Use Twitter Lists
Why Twitter Isn't Just Shouting into a Crowd
Hashtagify (we didn't discuss this, but this is a great tool to find relevant hashtags)
Eric's How Social Media Is Like Star Wars
How to Use Buffer (what Eric uses)
How to Use Hootsuite (what I use)
Tim Grahl's 3 Myths about Social Media Marketing for Authors
My Big Takeaway
In this conversation I really appreciated what he mentioned as far as how to leverage your Twitter numbers (around 30 minutes into the episode). With Tim Grahl's 3 Myths about Social Media Marketing for Authors in mind, Eric talked about not simply thinking of your number of Twitter followers as potential sales (because often it will be something like 1% or lower), but considering how those numbers can help you secure other things like speaking engagements. (If you're a writer and want to be published, realize that the likelihood of you getting a book deal is slim without some kind of tangible platform. This may not mean Twitter, but it certainly helps to have those numbers!) It isn't all about the numbers, but numbers are definitely useful. ESPECIALLY if you think of them as people to connect with, not impersonal numbers.

****Disclaimer! Though I talk about meeting Twitter friends in real life, I would ABSOLUTELY not meet a stranger in person without vetting them seriously. Adults meeting online friends, be careful. Teens? DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.****

If you want more about social media, I'm embedding this great Slide Share he presented recently here in Houston entitled "Holy Crap! I Can Get Fired for Posting on Social Media Posts?"

What I Want to Know from YOU.
I'm nosy.

Apr 19, 2015

 Have you ever experienced one of those strange journeys in life? The kind where you start at point A and end up at point Q? (This podcast is one of those journeys for me!) Today's interview is with Blaine Hogan. Blaine started out as an actor, but as he began to really make it, a series of panic attacks derailed his career and brought his life to a halt. He is now the Creative Director at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and the founder of the course Make Better. I first ran across Blaine years ago in an episode of one of my favorite shows, Prison Break. Listen to his story in the podcast to see how he came from there to creating a course like Make Better. Truly inspiring stuff!

You can connect with Blaine on his blog (he has a great freebie for email subscribers!!), the Make Better site, or follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

At a Glance 

I loved Blaine's understanding of art as a spiritual experience: "The lights would go down and someone tells you the most true thing they know." Do YOU think of art as spiritual in some way?
Have you ever unraveled in the best possible way, as Blaine says he did?
Has your life ever taken you on one of those surprise journeys? Were you pleased with the destination & the journey itself?
"Disorganization is not a badge of honor for creative professionals." What I took from this is that we often need great discipline and organization to create, especially in the middle of busy lives.
Do you feel like you need validation (self-validation or validation from others) to let yourself write or create?
Has being an adult stifled or killed your creativity? In what ways do we encourage creativity in children but discourage it in adults?
Blaine mentioned the discipline of being AWARE, and giving yourself credit that what seems like a small though over breakfast might be important. Write it down. Put it on the computer. File it away. Write every day.
"Never stare at the blank page." Do you have hope or guilt with the blank page?
Are you a good starter or finisher? (Or maybe a good middler?)
Do you struggle with a sense of artist guilt if you miss a day or don't accomplish your goal?
If you have kids, how do you balance having kids & creating art?
"I am not my work."  <- Do you find that as freeing as I do??
I loved his idea of not creating a singular project, but our life as a portfolio. How do you think mindset might change creative work?
Do you think you could make it through a silent retreat???

Relevant Links
Make Better **If you are an email subscriber, there is a coupon code for $25 off the course! If you sign up AFTER seeing this, email me that you signed up and I'll pass on the code. (Good only for the April 2015 registration.)**
The Wounded Heart by Dan B. Allender
Seth Godin
Paul Jarvis
Willow Creek Community Church
 My Big Takeaway
THERE WERE SO MANY. I love thinking of the idea of a portfolio rather than projects. I have so many projects and sometimes I think they are all in their separate boxes, unrelated. Thinking of my whole life as a portfolio gave me a sense of hope and also the freedom to HAVE so many random projects. I also have even more of a sense of validation for art just by talking to other artists. I hope listening gave YOU the same sense of validation! As far as a practical takeaway, I love the idea of keeping something handy to write down those thoughts through the day. I've been keeping a small notebook in my purse for the past few months and have found that I write things in it all the time. Sometimes to-do lists and sometimes fragments of a poem or story.

 What I Want to Know from YOU
I'm nosy. I want to know all of these things in the comments and I want to know them NOW.

-Do you feel like you have lost some sense of creativity as an adult?

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