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: March, 2016
Mar 31, 2016

This episode traces a common thread through the speakers on day 1 of the Smarter Artist Summit, put on by the guys from the Self Publishing Podcast. 

Mar 24, 2016

To say the world of publishing has changed in the last 10 years would be an understatement. Laughable, almost. The biggest change being, of course, the state of self-publishing. That term used to come with disdain from "real" writers and the traditional publishing world. It was vanity publishing, really---what you did if you couldn't secure a book deal with a real publisher. Now, self-publishing, better known as indie publishing, has grown into a thriving business where authors have more control and are making more money than ever before. Want proof? See the latest report from Author Earnings. At the forefront of this rise of the indies is Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. In this interview she shares tips for indie writers and wisdom from her own career. 

Also known as thriller writer J.F. Penn, Joanna Penn has been one of the positive and uplifting voices in the indie community, always on the cutting edge of trends. Her podcast, The Creative Penn, is on its way toward 300 episodes and she has sold almost half a million books in 74 countries... as an indie author. 

Where You Can Find Joanna

The Creative Penn (Sign up to get your Author 2.0 Blueprint FREE!)

Joanna's books

The Creative Penn Podcast

Subscribe to Joanna's YouTube Channel or connect on Twitter!

A Few of My Favorite Creative Penn Episodes

How to Write a Book Description with Bryan Cohen (of the Sell More Books Show)

Optimizing Kindle Categories, List Building, & Facebook Advertising (with Nick Stephenson)

Publishing Trends in 2016 (with Jane Friedman)


Favorite Quote

"The most important thing for anyone-- regardless of whether they're an author-- is to decide what is their definition of success."

The Big Takeaways - Tips for Indie Writers

  • Following your curiosity is the most powerful way to be able to keep your enthusiasm for your projects. 
  • We are living in such an exciting time for writers! 
  • Non-fiction often sell better than fiction because they help people. 
  • She doesn't write what doesn't interest her, even if it's something that sells. Instead she follows her curiosity. 
  • If you have a split focus, you will always be something like 50% into each thing. You will likely have more success going 100% at ONE thing. (Need some focus? Check out my Foundation Series!)
  • BUT choose what your measure of success is and then make that intentional choice. For Joanna, that means keeping the fiction and the non-fiction. 
  • Being a creative professional is a totally viable living in this current time with our global market and the ability to publish our work. 
  • Some people have the starting energy; some have the finishing energy. You also need the MARKETING energy. 

Fiction vs Non-Fiction 

  • Fiction and non-fiction are separate beasts and you have to treat them differently in the writing and the promotion.
  • Fiction tends to be harder to build a list and promote, mostly because people are more easily convinced to sign up or buy something that helps them or solve a problem. As opposed to fiction, which is primarily about education. 
  • For building your fiction list and marketing, think of your own behavior as a reader. 
  • If a reader reads 3.4 of your books, then they will remember your name. But often they won't after just one book. 
  • The key to making more money as a fiction author is by writing in a series. It's more valuable and gets readers hooked on your voice and your work. 
  • We are in a binge culture, so often people will binge on ebooks. 
  • Once you have something regular and become a habit, people will follow you to the end of time. This can apply to podcasts and fiction series. Consistency is super important.
  • If you want to supercharge your launches and growth, paid traffic through Facebook, Twitter, or Book Bub can really help you to find and grow an audience QUICKLY. 
  • Like anything else, learning to get results from Facebook ads (or other paid advertising) takes testing and trial. 
  • We need to keep a balance between creating and promoting. 


The Question We Need to Ask: What is going to leave a lasting legacy? Our tweets, Facebook, and podcasts will disappear. But books can make us money for the rest of our lives, plus 70 years past when we die. What can I do today that is going to have a lasting impact? 


Mar 16, 2016

When you say yes to something, you are actually saying no to something else. You can't do it all, so yes is a choice to prioritize one thing over another. What are you saying yes to? What are you giving up? 

Mar 9, 2016

Twitter and I weren't always BFFs. But it has become a platform that uniquely allows you to connect with people-- if you know how to do it. If you are just starting out on Twitter, it can seem like an anti-social platform until you find your footing. Madalyn Sklar, founder of the Twitter Smarter podcast and the number 3 social media influencer in Houston has some great tips and ideas for mastering Twitter.

If you want to find Madalyn, you can check out her website, listen to her podcast, or connect on Twitter. On Thursdays, she hosts the always awesome #TwitterSmarter chat at 12pm central on Thursdays.

On Twitter, you have to be to the point with your message since you have limited characters. (Though this may be changing if Twitter adds the rumored 10,000 characters!) Twitter is all about making smart choices with your words. Be intentional in your tiny space! Make every character count.

Socially speaking, Twitter is the cocktail party-- a really great place to connect. One great way is Twitter parties feel like you're in a room full of great people and have side conversations in the midst.

Madalyn Sklar's Tips for Mastering Twitter

Optimize Your Profile

  • Have a great picture that shows who you are.
  • Utilize your header image real estate. Show off your personal brand or blog! (sizing 1500x500 pixels)
  • Craft a bio that tells who you are and has the MOST important things in the 160 characters.
  • 1-2 hashtags are okay, but you don't NEED them. Definitely don't stuff them.
  • If you can fit something personal that will help build connections, great!
  • You can include an extra link in your bio.

The Best Tools for Managing Twitter

  • Find what works for YOU!
  • Hootsuite lists are great for listening to conversations. (Read how I utilize Hootsuite!)
  • Buffer is a phenomenal scheduling tool with great Chrome extensions.
  • Tweet Jukebox is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of scheduling. You can plug in evergreen posts to have them autoscheduled over time.
  • Social Quant is a tool for finding followers (try through Madalyn's link for a 14-day trial!). You give them a list of keywords and the algorithm finds and follows people for you. Great way to boost your followers!

Consider what you want to be live and present for and what you want to schedule. Evergreen content is fabulous for automation within Twitter. You also can automate your books or coaching packages or email list landing page to tweet daily or weekly.

Madalyn's final word was to pick ONE thing from this interview and take action! You can Tweet to Madalyn (@madalynsklar) and to me (@kikimojo) or use the #TwitterSmarter hashtag to tell her something you've learned or applied!

Note: Madalyn is the opening keynote and I will also be speaking at Social Media Day in June! If you're in the Houston area, definitely come out for Social Media Day!

Mar 2, 2016

Whether you are writing a blog or another form of content, a huge question you need to answer is this: Should you write for yourself or for your audience? 

This week's Create If Writing episode came from an email that Sarah Borgstede sent me (thanks, Sara!). Except, this was not HER question. I'll share with you what she wrote and then I'll address what I pulled from it. And I'll also address her question a bit because it would be rude not to, right? Right.

Sara said:

THIS topic would be awesome. The seasons or stages of blogging.

At first I just posted randomly, about myself. That was my "all about me" stage. Now I've got my editorial calendar and I'm doing the whole Pinterest thing. I consider this my "Pinterest" stage. I hear you on the sponsored posts. I've started to delve into that and am not thrilled and I don't think my customers really like them either. I do need to make some income, though. I have a product: It does well but it's a tremendous amount of work! I run it (a 7 week program) a couple times a year. I need to offer more smaller products to go along with it, or products that can be purchased anytime. Working on it. It's all such a learning process.

[from a later email] I kept reading, "people don't want to read about YOU. Write for the reader." So I quit. But I miss writing like that and just being myself. My blog does well...I think it does well. I haven't been blogging very long and I get 100,000 page views a month. And I do enjoy it. And it is me. But it's not ME-me.

Help?! Is there a way to somehow do both and not lose this good thing I have going here? I thought I was all set with my blog goals and vision and now I feel confused.

How I LOVED this email back and forth that we had going! (Ps- if you are NOT signed up to my email, you are missing this very back and forth. Sign up HERE.) I think this is a great topic and one that I've come back to many times. Because this isn't an answer once and be done kind of question. This is a constant finding-the-balance and toeing-the-line kind of issue.
So do you write for yourself? Or your audience? 
I want to offer some thoughts on this idea that I pulled from Sara's email and then talk about blogging & seasons a bit as well. 

Should You Write for Yourself or for Your Audience? 

Find Your Why. 
I emphasize this so much in my different trainings and courses that I feel like a broken record. But if you want to blog or create content intentionally, you need to nail down your why. I would say that you need a primary and secondary why. These help you make decisions about the kind of content, the frequency, and just about everything else. The kind of images you use depends on your why. The revenue streams you choose depend on your why. 
Example: If I am a blogger whose main why is to make a part-time income and my secondary why is to get a non-fiction book deal, my blog will likely look different than someone who is writing just for fun or someone who needs to fully support his or her family on a blogging income. 
Find the Balance. 
I think it's important to balance writing for yourself and writing for your audience. Unless you don't care if ANYONE reads your blog, you have to think about audience. (And if you don't care if anyone reads your blog, why aren't you just writing a journal in a notebook?) You also want to think about what YOU want to write (and what you CAN write about) if you want to enjoy your work. Too much focus on the audience and you may hate it. Too much focus on you and you might lose your audience. Unless you're a fabulous, amazingly insane writer or have a totally interesting life. Or are already super famous and people would read your grocery list. 
Example: If you are writing to produce an income (getting back to that why), then you need to be more audience-centric. If you want to write as an outlet but also hope to make some money, you may be more focused on what you want, but you will still have a sense of serving your audience. 
I think so much comes down to your WHY. Then you can find the balance of what you enjoy that will also serve your audience and community. 
But then we get into the really interesting part of Sara's question about seasons. We DO have seasons of life and seasons of blogging. Often the relate to each other, but sometimes you may have a season of blogging that is not related to other outside life events. 
Did you know blogging itself has had stages and seasons? 
Blogging started with web logs-- online diaries that were found on places like Live Journal. They were super personal and people didn't always use real names. Blogs then shifted as they moved to sites like Blogger (remember blogspot?) and Wordpress. At first they didn't even have comments. (Listen to more about blogging history in my interview with Darren Rowse!) Blogs were still personal and looked very different from other websites. 
Over time, blogs became more professional and polished as people realized they could make money blogging. Blogs moved toward looking more like sites and sounding more formal, rather than the impersonal journal style posts that really started blogs. They were more like a magazine in look and feel. 
Maybe TOO much so, which I think is why things are shifting a bit more back to be more personal. (At least, that's what Paula Rollo tells me. And what I'm seeing as well.) I love finding a blog with a strong, personal voice paired with great visuals and navigation and all those user-experience elements you expect from a nice site. 
If you want to take a look at my journey (minus the blog I accidentally deleted), you can find I Still Hate Pickles, my first foray into really writing a blog, and then Kirsten Oliphant, my lifestyle blog I still update. Not as much since I got passionate about writing here, but I don't think I'll ever stop the more personal lifestyle/parenting blog. 
What has been YOUR blog journey? Do you struggle with the balance of writing for yourself and writing for your audience? Leave a comment below!