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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: May, 2016
May 25, 2016

Building an online platform as a writer doesn't happen in a vacuum. Or...it doesn't happen WELL in a vacuum. When we blog alone, we miss out on the community and the benefits of collaboration. I think that it's vital to connect with people at or around your same level, people below you who are newer, and then also people who have a larger sphere of influence than you do. (From here on out in this post, I am referring to these people who are in that "higher" sphere as influencers.) There is a right and a wrong way to do this, so in this episode I'm going to share my experience in how to connect with influencers.

How to Connect with Influencers

The biggest rule of thumb that undergirds ALL the things I'll say about how to connect with influencers is that you need to NOT be a douchebag. I mean, seriously, you could sum all of this up with that. But since I suspect we need more practical applications for that, I'll lay them out here.

Connect before You NEED Something

Don't go follow someone on Twitter five minutes before you send them an email asking them to come guest post on your blog. If I like someone's content, I'm already following them on Twitter or subscribed to their email list. I'd love already be on people's radars (see the next point) by reaching out or starting conversations or sharing on Twitter or hitting reply on an email that meant a lot to me. Long before I try to reach out for a collaboration or anything else, that person should ALREADY know who I am. The best places for connections (I think) are Twitter and email. Maybe for you that's Instagram and Facebook. Wherever you can make a point of connection with influencers, do it. Even if you don't you'll ever ask anything. CONNECT.

Give Generously without Expect Anything Back

I set up lists in Twitter via Hootsuite (see more of my Twitter practices HERE) and have lists of bloggers, social media experts, writers, and more. I try to schedule out shares and retweets of the people on those lists. Not because I want something back (though it's always nice when you get a thanks from someone you admire), but because their content is great and I want to share great content with my people. And like the first point, don't just share things the week you plan to reach out to someone. This is a great way to curate content that is helpful to your audience and also lets you get on the radar.

Ask in a Personal Way

A template for asking something (like when I ask people to be a guest on the podcast) can be great, but templates don't take into account the personal. You want that person to know that this is a message for THEM. Not 100 other people. There's nothing like getting those emails asking for me to partner with a company that has ZERO to do with my audience or content. Mention a recent blog post or something they have done that really meant a lot to you. Be personal. Show them you know who they are.

Don't Ask for Things That Are ONLY Good for You

Influencers are busy. Chances are that your email to that person is not the only one they got that morning asking for something. Make sure you're very clear up front what you are asking for, what that entails, and why it would benefit them. You can talk about your audience if you are asking them to be on your podcast or blog. Tell them what kinds of people they might connect with as a result. Tell them how you promote things. You can mention numbers (like how many people read your blog or listen to your podcast) or another kind of benefit, like having a small but engaged audience. Don't ask people to give you free things if you're creating a paid product. With the Profitable Blogging Summit, there was a paid upsell, but the Summit itself was free and I only asked for the interview. I required NO promotion of the speakers and I did my best to really promote them to my audience.

Build Relationships Rather Than Getting One YES

It's more important to establish and maintain a relationship than getting one yes. This means that you are planning for the long run. It means you are giving back to that person and making whatever partnership you have something that has a long-term benefit to them. I've already been emailed back by several speakers from the Summit who saw their email lists grow or sold products directly from the summit attendees. Most of that was the fact that they shared great content, but I also made a big and intentional effort so share their content widely and well so the speakers were very visible. Rather than just having someone speak once for something, I want to treat speakers so well that they WANT to partner again.

Don't Take No Personally 

You WILL get nos. I hear them all the time. If you don't hear back at first, hit reply to the email you sent that person (so they'll get a Re:Subject email) and give a short bump asking if they've had a chance to think about it. Don't reach out more than that, but do give them a week to respond and then try the reply. After that, let it go. If they say no, it isn't the end of the world and doesn't mean that you can't reach out again. You can sometimes get the tone from the email that maybe they are not interested at all, but you can maybe keep that door open by thanking them for their time and responding politely. Then keep on sharing their content the way you were and keeping those points of connection. Maybe the next time you'll get a yes.

 

Don't Leave People in the Dust

If someone collaborates with you, make sure you follow up. THANK THEM. Share a lot. Tag them. Make your content work for them to bring good things back to them. We all know those people who use people and then leave you in the dust. I HATE THAT. Everyone hates that. And word gets around in the blogging world. Be grateful, be generous, give back to the people who give you their time. Don't build your platform on the backs of other people. That's gross.

 

My favorite ways to connect are through Twitter, which I think really does make the world small. It allows you to reach influencers and people you might not otherwise reach. Many people don't think about Twitter much because they don't get a lot of traffic from it. Twitter, for me, is all about connection. Follow people you respect. Share their content. Hit reply to a Tweet and start conversations. Be engaged and you will find your engagement grow. (Again, this post outlines how I use Twitter.)

I also love to connect through email. Email is usually the best way to REALLY connect with people. I love to hit reply on an email that means something to me. Often that person will be on the other side and hit reply. I've established relationships with readers and turned a casual reader into a raving fan by responding to people who respond to my email. We have a conversation. It's private, not in some social media space. It's a very intimate way to connect and can really make a connection you might not otherwise make. (Need email help? Take my free course!)

Overall, treat people like people. Don't be a douchebag. Give before you ask and give MORE than you ask. If you are doing these very practical things, you are likely to create a fabulous network of real, authentic connections on the internet with influencers great and small!

Do you have any tips or experience with how to connect with influencers? Leave a comment to let me know below!

May 11, 2016

Virtual summits are EVERYWHERE this year. They are the new webinars: the cool thing that so many people are doing to grow their list and sell products. But summits are usually free, right? How are they money makers? Why are people doing summits? Grab a cup of coffee and let me pull the curtain back to show you how to host a virtual summit. 

You can read along or listen to the podcast episode on itunes or Stitcher or RIGHT HER. 

How to Host a Virtual Summit

Step One: Go Crazy

You have to be a little crazy to take on this huge task. Your life will be crazy. Just realize from the get-go that you will be saying no to a lot because you are saying yes to something HUGE. Summit is a big word because a summit is a big thing. You need bravery, time, expertise, help, and a big dose of knowing your life will be nuts. Are you there? Okay, let's move on. 

Step Two: Plan Your Why

I'm all about whys (see: The Foundation Series) because without them, you are going to lack clarity and purpose. You need to think about why you are hosting one in terms of YOU and YOUR AUDIENCE. Why will it benefit you? What is driving you to host a summit? Why would people want to attend? Why will the benefit? 

Step Three: Plan Your Speakers

Speakers are a key component of a summit. If you don't already have relationships with influencers or people who could add value to a summit, don't think you can pull this off. Take a few steps back and form some authentic connections LONG before you ask for something. 

Long before I even launched a podcast, I had connected with influencers on Twitter, following them, retweeting their tweets or tagging them when I shared their content, and even striking up conversations. NOT because I wanted something. And not in a creepy/stalker way. I simply made connections with people whose content I admired. So when I thought about starting a podcast, I realized I had connections with a lot of people who at least knew who I was. This makes an ask SO much more palpable. You aren't just following them on social and tweeting that week before you ask for a favor or their time. 

Create authentic relationships with people before you ask them to do anything for you. This may mean not doing a summit right away if you aren't connected. I think even if you DON'T want to do a summit, you should be connecting in this way with people whose work you admire. And don't contact them yet if you already know them! Go on to the next step first. 

Step Four: Plan Your Structure

Before you begin asking speakers to get on board, you need to consider what this summit will look like and how it will work. Is it paid? Is it free? Will you have affiliates? What are the requirements for the speakers? 

This is important especially when approaching speakers. I've had speakers say yes to the podcast or to different things ONLY if there were no affiliate program and no promotion required. That doesn't mean they won't share, but they don't want the requirement to share. 

May 11, 2016

Virtual summits are EVERYWHERE this year. They are the new webinars: the cool thing that so many people are doing to grow their list and sell products. But summits are usually free, right? How are they money makers? Why are people doing summits? Grab a cup of coffee and let me pull the curtain back to show you how to host a virtual summit. 

You can read along or listen to the podcast episode on itunes or Stitcher or RIGHT HER. 

How to Host a Virtual Summit

Step One: Go Crazy

You have to be a little crazy to take on this huge task. Your life will be crazy. Just realize from the get-go that you will be saying no to a lot because you are saying yes to something HUGE. Summit is a big word because a summit is a big thing. You need bravery, time, expertise, help, and a big dose of knowing your life will be nuts. Are you there? Okay, let's move on. 

Step Two: Plan Your Why

I'm all about whys (see: The Foundation Series) because without them, you are going to lack clarity and purpose. You need to think about why you are hosting one in terms of YOU and YOUR AUDIENCE. Why will it benefit you? What is driving you to host a summit? Why would people want to attend? Why will the benefit? 

Step Three: Plan Your Speakers

Speakers are a key component of a summit. If you don't already have relationships with influencers or people who could add value to a summit, don't think you can pull this off. Take a few steps back and form some authentic connections LONG before you ask for something. 

Long before I even launched a podcast, I had connected with influencers on Twitter, following them, retweeting their tweets or tagging them when I shared their content, and even striking up conversations. NOT because I wanted something. And not in a creepy/stalker way. I simply made connections with people whose content I admired. So when I thought about starting a podcast, I realized I had connections with a lot of people who at least knew who I was. This makes an ask SO much more palpable. You aren't just following them on social and tweeting that week before you ask for a favor or their time. 

Create authentic relationships with people before you ask them to do anything for you. This may mean not doing a summit right away if you aren't connected. I think even if you DON'T want to do a summit, you should be connecting in this way with people whose work you admire. And don't contact them yet if you already know them! Go on to the next step first. 

Step Four: Plan Your Structure

Before you begin asking speakers to get on board, you need to consider what this summit will look like and how it will work. Is it paid? Is it free? Will you have affiliates? What are the requirements for the speakers? 

This is important especially when approaching speakers. I've had speakers say yes to the podcast or to different things ONLY if there were no affiliate program and no promotion required. That doesn't mean they won't share, but they don't want the requirement to share. 

May 11, 2016

Virtual summits are EVERYWHERE this year. They are the new webinars: the cool thing that so many people are doing to grow their list and sell products. But summits are usually free, right? How are they money makers? Why are people doing summits? Grab a cup of coffee and let me pull the curtain back to show you how to host a virtual summit. 

You can read along or listen to the podcast episode on itunes or Stitcher or RIGHT HER. 

How to Host a Virtual Summit

Step One: Go Crazy

You have to be a little crazy to take on this huge task. Your life will be crazy. Just realize from the get-go that you will be saying no to a lot because you are saying yes to something HUGE. Summit is a big word because a summit is a big thing. You need bravery, time, expertise, help, and a big dose of knowing your life will be nuts. Are you there? Okay, let's move on. 

Step Two: Plan Your Why

I'm all about whys (see: The Foundation Series) because without them, you are going to lack clarity and purpose. You need to think about why you are hosting one in terms of YOU and YOUR AUDIENCE. Why will it benefit you? What is driving you to host a summit? Why would people want to attend? Why will the benefit? 

Step Three: Plan Your Speakers

Speakers are a key component of a summit. If you don't already have relationships with influencers or people who could add value to a summit, don't think you can pull this off. Take a few steps back and form some authentic connections LONG before you ask for something. 

Long before I even launched a podcast, I had connected with influencers on Twitter, following them, retweeting their tweets or tagging them when I shared their content, and even striking up conversations. NOT because I wanted something. And not in a creepy/stalker way. I simply made connections with people whose content I admired. So when I thought about starting a podcast, I realized I had connections with a lot of people who at least knew who I was. This makes an ask SO much more palpable. You aren't just following them on social and tweeting that week before you ask for a favor or their time. 

Create authentic relationships with people before you ask them to do anything for you. This may mean not doing a summit right away if you aren't connected. I think even if you DON'T want to do a summit, you should be connecting in this way with people whose work you admire. And don't contact them yet if you already know them! Go on to the next step first. 

Step Four: Plan Your Structure

Before you begin asking speakers to get on board, you need to consider what this summit will look like and how it will work. Is it paid? Is it free? Will you have affiliates? What are the requirements for the speakers? 

This is important especially when approaching speakers. I've had speakers say yes to the podcast or to different things ONLY if there were no affiliate program and no promotion required. That doesn't mean they won't share, but they don't want the requirement to share. 

May 4, 2016

With open rates hovering around 20% and click-through rates even lower, it's no wonder people get frustrated with email. Why spend the time to create content if no one will read it? Writing a successful email newsletter can be especially daunting, because unlike an email that offers a tutorial or tip or a roundup of resources, the newsletter is more personal. It's based less on a NEED. There is not as much urgency. It doesn't solve a problem.

Yet many bloggers write what would be considered a newsletter-style email. In this episode of the Create If Writing podcast, I'm talking with Kirsten (pronounced Cur-sten, unlike my Keer-sten) Thompson of Sweet Tea LLC and Sweet Tea and Saving Grace. As a virtual assistant she wrote weekly newsletters for other bloggers. Through the years she got to see the inside view of what worked and honed her email craft. And in this episode she shares that with us!

How to Write an Email Newsletter People Want to Read

Big Takeaways:

  • This is a struggle for many bloggers or writers who feel like they don't have anything to sell. But whether you are selling a product in exchange for cash or a blog post for pageviews, there is some form of currency involved. You need to figure out what your "product" is.
  • You want to get your target audience onto your blog post through email.
  • Social media will not drive traffic to your blog in the same way.
  • Your email list, if done well, becomes your community.
  • If you do decide to launch a product or service, your email list will be your best customers.
  • As far as directly speaking to your target audience, there is nothing that beats email.
  • Cleaning your list by deleting people who don't open your emails helps you and helps the reader-- they don't want to read anyway and you don't want to pay for them.
  • Let people know you HAVE an email list. Don't just stick a signup in the sidebar. Put links in your blog posts, ask people through social to sign up.
  • If a reader is going to give you an email address, treat them as a VIP.
  • Don't forget a call to action! Tell your readers to DO something! Ask them to reply or click a link or share something. We are doers when people ask us.
  • If you want to be a person who responds to email, make sure your settings are set up so you GET the emails and ASK people to reply. But don't ask for one if you don't want to take the time to respond.

 

Tips for Newsletters

  • Behind the scenes stuff. We are curious and so interested in the messy behind the beautiful images.
  • Be relatable. Let people see the struggle too, because that makes you more relatable to them.
  • Be honest and authentic.
  • Give sneak peeks or ask them to be beta testers.
  • Let your readers share their feedback and take part in your creation of future projects & content.
  • Be personal and intimate (the way bloggers often used to be on their blogs).

Recommendations for Email Service Providers

  • When you are just starting out, consider cost. If you aren't making any money, you don't want to invest in email, unless you are starting a business blog where you will sell courses and products, then you may want to think ahead and be more professional in your choice.
  • You also need to think about features and your goals. Which platform will help you meet your goals?
  • As you grow, you'll want to think about more advanced features like tagging and more targeted segmentation.
  • The email service providers all have great features, but you need to consider your goals, your lists, and what the goals are for your email.

(For my post on why you might want Convertkit, read that HERE.) 

If email seems like a big, scary thing, consider it another piece of content, like the content you post on your blog or social media. Reframe email if email becomes a mental stumbling block.

Related Links:

Find more about Kirsten at Sweet Tea LLC or check out her book, Inbox of Opportunity, all about Mailchimp!

And are you signed up for the Profitable Blogging Summit? Over 30 sessions from amazing bloggers and experts in social media and more! 

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