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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: February, 2016
Feb 24, 2016

How can you handle an insane work load? How can you manage to get the impossible done? How do you provide consistent value over time to your community?

John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire did what even his mentor considered stupid: he launched a 7-day-a-week podcast interviewing entrepreneurs. Three years later and he has over a million downloads per month and is known for being a podcaster with a vibrant and dedicated community, Fire Nation.

In this interview we talk about how he literally gets so much work done and also what keeps him going day after day, year after year. We discuss writing, community, email, and his new book, The Freedom Journal. All packed into a very compact interview. John knows how to bring the value!

Here are a few of my favorite links to some of my favorite interviews & resources from John!

Highlights from the Interview

  • Working in batches can help you accomplish even huge tasks-- like interviewing at least seven people every week for your podcast. 
  • You will go to bed at night the same way if you get a few things done or a lot of things done. It's your choice. 
  • Look at what you're great at and focus on those strengths.
  • The focus for every entrepreneur needs to be creating free, valuable, consistent content.
  • You want to ask people what they are struggling with as you engage with them. This reveals their pain points or problems. Your job is to create a product, service, or community to help serve that need. 
  • Be yourself and connect consistently with your audience.
  • If you want to get better at a craft, whether writing or podcasting or something else, you need to be brave and DO IT. Write. Start a podcast. Be brave and get better as you DO. 

"We need to amplify our strengths and ignore or hire for our weaknesses." -John Lee Dumas

Do you want to accomplish ONE goal in the next 90 days? John's latest passion project is The Freedom Journal, which helps walk you through accomplishing one smart goal in 90 days. It's not a one-time thing, but a way of focusing on one important thing at a time. John is on his third iteration, so I always love hearing from people who USE their own things to be sure they work. 

I always ask my guests but often forget to ask YOU. What's inspiring YOU this week? 

Feb 17, 2016

I stumbled into blogging eleven years ago, which in blog years makes me about 99. When starting out, I had no idea about ANYTHING. I definitely knew nothing about disclosure or the FTC. Because back then, the FTC had not given standards for disclosure to bloggers. We are in different times, people.

My blog about life with our dog morphed into a blog about life with kids morphed into more of a lifestyle blog. When people got sick of me talking about writing and social media,  I started this site.

Now blogging is so far from online journaling (did you know blog came from "web log"?) and there are a lot more moving parts. People make real, substantial incomes from blogging. Which means there are best practices, blog etiquette, and even actual RULES. Rules like: don't use fonts on a for-profit blog without a commercial license. Or, don't take images you find in a Google search and put them on your blog without actual permission.

One of the BIG rules in blogging is disclosure. If you make money or could make money through a link, you have to SAY it.

The Federal Trade Commission (aka FTC) started regulating blogging a few years ago. They say that bloggers must let readers know if they received free product or will receive payment for a post. This included free product for review, sponsored posts where you receive money, or affiliate links where you get a commission for recommending a product. The overall rule of thumb is: don't be deceptive. Where there is money being made, consumers must be made aware, even if you're Beyonce. (Thanks to Julie from Girl on the Move Blog for that link!)

Most bloggers that make money are aware of this. Because bloggers making money are connected to other bloggers and learning the business of blogging, they know. I hear it at conferences, in blog groups, and on blog posts. It's really hard to MISS it if you've been blogging for a while. But I've run across a slew of people not disclosing and it prompted me to write this post. 

Ignorance about disclosure isn't bliss.

I want to point you in the direction of a GREAT and very thorough podcast episode from Taylor over at Boss Girl Creative to walk you through the basic ins and outs of disclosure. She and Jenn from Busy Being Jennifer hash out most of the things you need to know about disclosure. Rather than going through what she did such a great job of covering, I want to cover something different that is running rampant right now.

A lot of content creators are using free things like webinars, video series, summits, and ebooks to promote paid content. This is nothing new. But I've seen a rash of people promoting these as affiliates without disclosure. You get an email sharing a free opportunity, but what you don't see is the lifetime (or longtime) cookie attached to your email when you sign up for the free thing. If you do buy a paid thing, the person who referred you gets paid.

I think that this has been a gray area because the first link is to something free. Creators are simply sending you free content. Right?

Wrong. The FTC is clear on deception. That's the POINT of disclosure. And what I see very few people disclosing in these free content emails is the fact that if you buy something after watching or downloading the free thing, they will get paid. There are also sometimes incentives on the back end for affiliates to get the most signups. The person with the most signups often gets a cash prize. 

Why does this matter?

Some of you probably don't care at all about this. Some of you may be getting irked because you realize that you received a whole bunch of these emails this week. Maybe you got asked to join a Facebook group that was built around a particular launch...but not by the person launching the course or program. (You can bet the group was set up by an affiliate of the program.) Maybe you received free video training or someone emailed you a really great bonus to a course that was not theirs. All of those scream: AFFILIATE LINKS. 

This matters, ultimately, not simply because of the FTC. I'm way less concerned about the FTC coming after little old me and way MORE concerned about not breaking your trust, reader.

Disclosure is about integrity.

Disclosure is about saying, "Maybe I'll make fewer sales if I disclose, but I'm disclosing anyway."

(PS- Pat Flynn believes that disclosing can make MORE sales.)

Disclosure is about being up front with your people.

Disclosure is about trust.

This is why it matters so much to me and why I hope it matters to you. Do you care more about keeping your readers' trust or about (potentially) making an affiliate sale? I feel like trust is at stake and your integrity is at stake when you do not disclose to your readers.

If you are reading this and you realize that you haven't properly disclosed in the past, it's okay! You can start now. You can promote products well and make money as an affiliate while disclosing properly.

If there is a cookie involved and a potential commission for you if someone buys through a link, disclose. A general rule of thumb: when in doubt, DISCLOSE.

If you are reading this and you realize that you are getting pitched a lot of affiliate links that are not disclosed, consider hitting reply and kindly asking if the links are affiliate links. I'd like to give marketers the benefit of the doubt on this one...though I'm also a pessimist. If it bothers you, ask. If it doesn't, no biggie.

Once again, check out Taylor's podcast episode to get the nitty gritty on disclosure. But I hope to leave you with this one thing: When in doubt, disclose.

Hold your integrity and the trust of your readers over everything else. Don't be smarmy. Not disclosing affiliate links is like the essence of smarm.

I'd love to know YOUR thoughts! Have you accidentally messed up disclosure in the past? Have you gotten a slew of emails that were clearly affiliate links? 

 

Feb 10, 2016

With so many social platforms and social media posts, it can be really difficult to know WHERE to be. Should you be on ALL platforms? Or choose one and really rock it? In this interview with Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social, we talk about how to choose the best social platform for YOU.

A little about Amy: She is PHENOMENAL. I "met" Amy first on her podcast, Social Authority. She is most well known on her YouTube Channel, but also has a great blog and a fantastic presence on Blab and Periscope. Oh, and Twitter and also Twitter. To get a great sense of who Amy is, you can watch this video or just head over to the Savvy Sexy Social blog.

How to Choose the Right Social for YOU 

The best way to choose used to be answering a question like this: who is your audience and where do they hang out? That is a great question, but with platforms like Instagram having 400 million users, you know that your people ARE there. So the question is more like this:

  • What are people talking about?
  • How can you speak into the conversation in that platform's context?

Answer questions of your target audience on the social platforms. Your goal determines the platform. Example: Twitter allows you to answer quickly and really to search and find people. YouTube has more of an archiving function, so content lives longer.

Amy's Tips

Start somewhere. NOT five social networks. You'll be mediocre at best at one of them. Aim for absolutely crushing it on one platform.

Live streaming has a personal connection unlike anything else, so consider some of the newer opportunities like Blab, Periscope, or Facebook Live.

You can be personable without being an extrovert. Don't feel like you have to be a certain type of person to be on video. You DO want to have a consistent brand in terms of how you present yourself in person AND online.

Links

Amy's START Series - This is the Pinterest one, but you can find the WHOLE series.

Amplify Summit - Sign up to hear me speak February 10th!

Consider the Cross Audiobook for Lent - Don't worry. I'll share all about the process later.

Up Your Email Engagement - live training with Kirsten of Sweet Tea LLC

 

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