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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Create If Writing - Authentic Platform Building for Writers & Bloggers




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Now displaying: May, 2015
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?