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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: January, 2016
Jan 26, 2016

Writing, like most things, is not a one-size fits all activity. (Please unfollow and unsubscribe from anyone who tells you that it is.) In college it took me four years to discover how I best wrote papers. Unfortunate for me, considering I had already written something like forty papers by then. To succeed at writing, you need to know how to discover your writing process. You MUST.

Without knowing your process, you will take longer, do frustrating work, and expend more time, energy, and even maybe money to get to an end result of your best writing.

In this part two of my interview with Gabriela Pereira, we talk about her process of writing a book while also running a site and podcast. She shares her tips on how to discover your writing process to write smarter and write better. (Ps- That's the philosophy over at her site, DIY MFA.) Find more about Gabriela in Episode 28 or head over to the DIY MFA site to sign up for her email list and find great resources. 

How to Discover Your Writing Process - Episode 31

What Gabriela Learned

  • If you want something done, ask someone who's really busy.
  • We fit the same amount of work into the time we have. She found ways to fit in the book and still got her other work done. 
  • You do have to also sometimes pass off work to someone else. 
  • When you HAVE to be efficient, you find a way. To do this, you need structure and to know your process.
  • Many writers jump from zero to what they want to do without stopping to figure out the process.
  • She made her own set of rules and held herself to them. Ex: No all-nighters while writing!
  • Writing a book is not about imposing someone else's structure on you. 

Read more about finding your creative process from Gabriela HERE. 

 

How to discover your writing process

  • Find who you are as a writer in your natural habitat and then you can figure out how to maximize that behavior before you try to write a book. What is YOUR most effective pattern?
  • Try things to see what works best for you. It may surprise you.
  • Your output in the beginning may be less, but once you discover your process, your pace and your quality will improve.
  • Learn your limitations and your process. 
  • Determine the difference between an obstacle you can push through and something that is a legitimate reason you cannot do something. (Ex: Having four young kids proves to be too much for me to write fiction, but I CAN write non-fiction.) 
  • It has to be sustainable over the long-term. 
  • Create your own rules that keep you healthy, but still don't squash the creative energy. 
  • Process is organic. You have to know yourself and know how to nurture yourself. 
  • Writing is an art and a discipline. There needs to be room for the creative part and the work part. 
  • Sometimes things work in a season, but wouldn't work in another season or setting. 

 

Pain vs Suffering: Pain is objective. You don't make your word count for the day and that stinks. The suffering is the other angst you throw on top of the pain. You maybe couldn't change the word count, but worrying and moaning and whining and suffering through the fact that you didn't make that daily work ends up making everything harder. Failure does happen. Don't throw suffering and angst on top of it. 

What I came away with from this interview is that I need to REMEMBER my process, even on a daily level. If I simply dive into my work each day, I sometimes miss the big picture or work on the wrong project first. If I stand back and look at my big list BEFORE I start, I am much more focused and effective. I work faster and better, whether that is in writing or editing a podcast. 

I loved my conversations with Gabriela! She interviewed me on her podcast in episode 78. Listen to that HERE

Jan 22, 2016

Today I want to tackle a big topic that is close to my heart that has a lot of buzzwords surrounding it. I want to talk honesty. Integrity. Specifically I want to broach this question: of how authentic and transparent should you be online?

This, ultimately, is your choice. Completely. But I do think it needs to be a conscious choice and sometimes are not so conscious about it. 

Let's break this down and talk about some of the buzz words you may hear related to honesty and integrity. 

Transparent. This is allowing people to see behind the curtain. It's being honest in the amount that you let people see. 

Authentic. This is being true to yourself. It's being honest in that you stay true to yourself. 

Online, we all create a persona. We are constructing and curating the version of ourselves that people see online. As honest as you are, you are not your real self online. 

Let me repeat this:

You are not your real self online. 

You cannot possibly share every facet of yourself online, even if you wanted to. It would be like trying to fully represent a 3D object on paper, in a 2D format. It doesn't fit. 

THIS IS NOT INAUTHENTIC. This is simply making choices about what to share publicly. It is making the choice of what exactly you will be transparent about and what things you will hold back. 

It fails when people construct a persona that is so far from who they actually are and then people see behind the curtain and the whole thing crashes down. The great example is Tiger Woods, who sold himself as a family man. When all his issues came out publicly, he looked like a liar. If he started out as the bad boy of golf, he could have found sponsors and been successful as that. Selling himself as a family man and then being revealed as something else took away trust. 

Here is one thing you MUST be transparent about: legal disclosure. If you are an affiliate for something, you HAVE to share this. The FTC says so. (Just listen to this great podcast from Taylor Bradford on the Boss Girl Creative for more on disclosure.) Not disclosing compensation for affiliate products and programs is illegal and also can damage your integrity with your readers. This is one part of transparency where you don't have a choice. 

Integrity is a huge currency. It may be the most important currency you have with your audience. 

You get to choose what you share and how much you share and when and where you share it. You can be transparent and not share every single thing. You can hold things back and still be authentic. You can hold things back and still be transparent. 

But: 

You need to be honest. 

Realize that being honest doesn't mean you tell EVERY SINGLE truth. It does, however, mean that you do not share untruths. You don't lie. 

I want to leave you with a challenge: Have you intentionally thought about your persona? 

Have you sat down and thought about what things you will and won't share online? 

Have you thought about your core values that you want to be clearly communicated, both online and in real life? 

If not, take some time to really hash this out so that you can set some boundaries for yourself and be conscious with what persona of yourself you are presenting online. 

Jan 21, 2016

In this short episode of Create if Writing, I want you to really think about your life. Are you doing what you LOVE? 

No, really. Are you doing what you love? 

If not, I hope you stop and consider how you can pursue your passion in life. 

Jan 13, 2016

Read the full show notes HERE

This is part 1 of my interview with Gabriela Pereira from DIY MFA. I have been a longtime fan of her site and podcast, which is a great resources for writers. We had so much to chat about that I broke the interview up into part 1: Why Writers Need Community and part 2: How to Find Your Writing Process. Want to support the show? Check out the rewards on Patreon!

People often think of writers doing their work in solitude, sitting in a room somewhere with a typewriter (don't ask me why I ALWAYS see typewriters in my mind) and one million locks on the door to keep the world out. And yeah, we can be an introverted bunch. Though our work is often done alone, in this interview I'm talking with Gabriela Pereira from DIY MFA about why writers need community.

The DIY MFA Podcast was one of the first writing podcasts that I listened to when I had my great podcast epiphany last year. Gabriela Pereira calls herself the instigator of DIY MFA and in the last six years has built an incredible community of writers hungry to learn to write more, write better, and write smarter.

What the Heck IS an MFA? 

An MFA is a Master of Fine Arts and is considered the terminal degree for creative writing. I got mine in Fiction from UNCG and Gabriela got hers from the New School in New York. Mandy Wallace has a great post on it here: The Beginner's Guide to the MFA. I feel like I didn't do my program at University of North Carolina at Greensboro justice because I LOVED it. I miss it. I learned so much and, as I said in the interview, I would do it again. 

Do YOU Need an MFA? 

No. They are not necessary to get published, but you will learn a ton. You will learn a lot alongside other people and from your great mentors and teachers. (I learned from Michael Parker, Craig Nova, and Lee Zecharias.) Writers especially of genre fiction might not fit as well in an MFA program, as they tend to focus more on literary fiction. Gabriela started DIY MFA to provide an alternative for people who wanted the tools to write better, but didn't have the money or ability to do an MFA or if the program was not a great fit. 

The DIY MFA Community 

The blog itself is not overrun with comments because the life of the community happens in the Facebook group---which you can join only if you are a subscriber. The students in the flagship course go even deeper into community with one another. (Find more on the course HERE!) The community is a safe space for questions and being honest and growing in writing TOGETHER. Gabriela has a sense of protectiveness and takes the role of being a moderator to maintain a positive influence. She believes it is the community leader's prerogative. (I agree!) 

Why Writers Need Community

Because writing is so lonely, often writers long for people who GET you. Writing also comes with a lot of rejection. Your fellow writers can be your support system and help you face rejection, negative comments, and what often amounts to a LONG wait. The hallmark of a great community is a group of writers who want to see each other succeed. Writers can also help each other be a resource for information. There are so many rules and guidelines that you have to follow (especially in traditional publishing) and other writers can be fantastic for crowdsourcing.

How to Build Community

Even in this busy social media age, person-to-person connections really help you to accomplish your goals and build a real platform. You aren't building numbers but a community of readers. Personal recommendations have so much more impact than a banner ad. 

Community starts at home, whether that's your blog, your email, your Facebook group, or your whatever your fundamental network is with other people, and it extends from there. People often forget to ask friends first and think they need to find fans. Start with the people you know. 

 

I will part two of this interview with Gabriela Pereira in a few weeks for you when we dive into writing PROCESS! Want to support the show? Head over to Patreon where you can pledge for as little as $4/month and get some sweet rewards! 

Interested in making an income online WITHOUT using sponsored posts and ads? Join me and writer Angela England for a fantastic training on how you can do just that. We will be offering special bonuses to live viewers (you have two dates to choose from!) and will also host the Blog Elevated Twitter Chat on Monday, January 18 where we will also have some great deals. Look for  #BlogElevated on Twitter at 9pm CST. 

 

Links from the Episode 

Jan 6, 2016

These are the show notes for Episode 27 of the Create If Writing Podcast! I'm going a little backwards here in terms of the content in the show. I'll start with the two blog mistakes you might be making right now and then reveal the biggest mistakes I made in 2015. Want to support the show? Find me on Patreon where you can support me for as little as $4/month. This post contains affiliate links!

I hate making mistakes. But I sure make a lot of them! Especially considering the fact that this blog and the podcast were not even on my radar at this time last year, I think it's gone pretty well. And I always learn when I make mistakes. Maybe more than I would otherwise, because learning the hard way sticks with you!

My $1300 Mistakes of 2015

Buying a $50 Planner When I Don't Use Planners. I thought the money would make me use it. But the thing is that I don't consistently use paper planners. I don't. Never have. Never will. I had a few weeks that I did populate with stickers and words and things, but overall...nada. 

Spending $250 on a Business "Idea." I went in with a few people I trust on an idea that someone they trust(ed) gave. He bought a large list that had opted in to receive general parenting posts. The plan was for us all to create freebies and an email would go out to that list offering free books when the signed up for our lists. TOTAL BUST. No emails. And the biggest mistakes is that I didn't trust my gut. I had a feeling right before that this was a terrible idea. I should have trusted my gut. 

Buying a $1000 Course That Wasn't All That. I guess the mistake was really not asking for my money back. Or at least emailing the creator. I was kind of embarrassed to say I didn't think it was worth the money. But out of all the courses I bought this year, it was the prettiest and the least in-depth and helpful. I honestly felt like I knew everything in it and the course was more of a great organizational tool...but I didn't learn anything NEW. 

Trying to Do What Other People Do. (A priceless mistake.) I don't have a specific example of this, but as I launched this podcast and site, I learned by watching what other people did. Without realizing it, I often made decisions based on what other people were doing. That's not a BAD thing, but it can be when you don't consider what you want to do, what you THINK you should do or what your audience wants, it is NOT the best option. Once I realized I was doing this, it helped me see clearly that I needed to step back and make my own choices. Learning from others is great! But that all needs to be filtered through yourself. 

 

I've learned a lot this year! I'm looking forward to all I'll learn this next year. Hopefully I won't make the same mistakes again---I'll make new ones! 

Let's get practical for YOU. Here are two mistakes you might be making that you can correct TODAY. 

Two Big Blog Mistakes with Easy Fixes

Not Customizing and Optimizing Your Email Forms

This is not technically a BLOG mistake, but because I feel like email is the backbone of your blog, I'm counting it. When you use an email service provider like ConvertKit (read why I like them HERE), Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, or Aweber, you will have a series of forms, pages, and emails that people will see as they sign up. Many people, even people with large followings, miss opportunities by not customizing these forms. 

If you aren't sure what these are, try signing up for your email list. See what this process looks like and jot down notes of things that look weird or off. Then head over to your email service provider and update. Need some tips? 

Tips for Optimizing Your Email Forms

  • Brand things with your logo and blog colors. 
  • Write the way you do on your blog or in your email. Be personal & memorable.
  • Don't add any links or distractions on the sign-up page. That page or form has ONE purpose: getting people to enter an email. 
  • Don't add any links or distractions in the confirmation email. This email has ONE function: getting people to confirm their opt-in. 
  • Any time you can create a thank you page, do it. (More on that below.)
  • Once people have confirmed, if they see another page or are sent another email, THIS is where your links should go.

Not Utilizing Thank You Pages with Social Shares

This is totally related to the email forms, because there is almost always an option to redirect people to a page on your website rather than using that email service provider's form or page. If you simply use what Mailchimp or ConvertKit offers, you are missing out on an opportunity to bring people back to your blog. And if you do this right, you can actually turn this page into a social sharing machine. 

I use social sharing thank-you pages wherever possible. For email signups. For content upgrades (freebies within a post). For webinar signups. FOR ANY AND ALL SIGNUPS OF EVERY KIND HAVE A THANK YOU PAGE. 

The ones I use now are from LeadPages, but you can create one in Wordpress by using the Click2Tweet plugin or embedding a tweet that people can share. When you ask people to share, they often do. Especially if you are giving them something great. So give them something great! Then ask (and make it easy for them) to share. 

 

Links from the Episode

Support the Create If Writing show on Patreon! I've got super cheap options and super fun bonuses. 

Get your free 50+ page blog planner to help you start off your year!

Sign up for the free image workshop on Thursday where I will walk you through creating branded & sized images with Picmonkey. 

And if you haven't signed up for the Quick Fix, by golly, get on my email list already. You'll like it!

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