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: January, 2017
Jan 30, 2017

Today I'm interviewing Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social and the Social Authority Podcast. She shares all about her writing process and her new book, Vlog Like a Boss. 

Find her book at

Sign up for my free training at

Listen to my previous episode with Amy, episode 32!



Jan 27, 2017

Want the links? Subscribe to the Quick Fix and get access to the archives!

Want to learn how to write a killer welcome series for your email list? Join me Tuesday for a live workshop!


Jan 23, 2017

I still remember when I discovered five years ago that I could publish my books on Amazon all by myself. It was a revelation! Still, learning how to self publish a book is an undertaking. We are in a brave new world where self publishing (now more aptly called indie publishing) is a very real way to make a career as an author. Which means you'll find a ton of posts and tips for indie authors, good and bad.

In this interview, I talk with author, speaker, podcaster, and Draft 2 Digital marketing guru Kevin Tumlinson on how to self publish a book, the creative process, and why Draft 2 Digital might make your life a whole lot easier. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, purchases made after clicking through links may give me a referral commission. 


Connect with Kevin Tumlinson

You can find Kevin Tumlinson behind the mic for the Wordslinger podcast, plus the Self Publishing Podcast and Creative Writing Career. (That's a lot of podcasts!) Check out his author site, his books on Amazon, and give him a shout on Twitter

Tips for Indie Authors

Plan & Organize Your Time

Kevin writes fiction and non-fiction and hosts several podcasts PLUS does marketing for Draft 2 Digital. Yet his process for getting everything done is remarkably simple. Here are a few of his big time management tips.

  • Putting first things first when planning out your time
  • Making sure all the things you need to do are on the calendar
  • Using the reminders app to (duh) remind you about tasks
  • "If it isn't on the calendar, it doesn't get done." 
  • Be aware when you're adding a tool that sometimes that tools takes time to learn

Share Your Work

Beyond writing, as authors we need to build our platforms and get our work out there, whether we are talking our books or our blog posts. 

Social Jukebox is a tool that both Kevin and I use for our social media scheduling. You can create a content library so that your posts will continue to post to social over time. My tip: add the scheduling of content to your workflow as you publish a post. 

Kevin has started utilizing Medium as a space to post both fiction and non-fiction to get in front of a new audience. (Here's a post on utilizing Medium! If you're a user, find and follow me HERE and find Kevin HERE.) You can repost OR create original content for the platform. 

Give Yourself Permission

You will always be learning how you work and what your process looks like. It will change according to the seasons and situations of our life. 

"We have to occasionally step back and reconsider: is this what we're really after? Is this the dream? Or is this just one version of the dream we've grabbed onto?" 

Market Effectively

You want to build a mailing list, but even more foundational than that, you want to build your platform. Phenomenally successful authors have built platforms without email lists. The point isn't to  to build a means of communicating with your readers. 

The trick to finding readers is to go where your readers hang out and become one of them and part of that community. You want to find a community where the community is built around the kind of work that you do. Be active and connect and be wise about when it's appropriate to share your work.

The goal of marketing is to increase your odds. As an author, you're trying to improve your odds of someone buying your book. Do what works best for YOU. Maybe that's Facebook or Medium or Wattpad

One of the big things that we discussed was Draft 2 Digital, the indie publishing company that Kevin went from superfan to employee of. Since our conversation, I have signed up and even tried the conversion feature. I would highly recommend using at the LEAST the conversion tool. Or go all out and utilize D2D as a 

Easy Distribution with Draft 2 Digital

Kevin uses beta readers and a street team separately. His beta readers help with developmental edits and then the street team gets the manuscript after its done to help with edits and feedback. Once it's done with those edits and any other editor he uses, he goes right to Draft 2 Digital.

D2D is an aggregator, which means that they have relationships with different vendors. (With the exception right now of KDP.) You can upload your book and choose where you want it distributed and pay a 15% cut of your royalty for that automated distribution. 

You can also simply use their free conversion tool to take your word doc and make it into an epub, mobi, or PDF. EVEN if you don't use D2D as your distributor. 


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Jan 20, 2017

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Jan 16, 2017

Do you ever find that it's halfway through January before you are ACTUALLY putting action into place? With the holidays and kids home from school, January seems more like a planning than a starting month for me. If you're in the same boat, I wanted to offer some resources on how to plan your year in terms of your blog and business.

How to Plan Your Year

Pen to Paper!

What do you want to accomplish this year? This is the place to start. You need to have an idea of your goals and dreams before you can make concrete plans.

I am a huge fan of brainstorming. It's a judgment-free time of ideas. You don't tell yourself what's good or bad or realistic or not realistic. You  put it ALL down.

There is something so cathartic about putting everything on paper and seeing it. Yes, I DO mean literal paper. You don't have to do it this way, but writing with your actual hand on an actual piece of paper can be really helpful. Writing rather than typing activates a different part of the brain, so it's a good practice.


Once you have a list of things on paper, you can make some judgments. What is realistic? What can you REALLY get done? What goals or projects require learning or doing something else first?

When you prioritize, you want to think about how much time a particular project takes. Both in terms of how big of a project AND if you already have the skills to complete that project. If you want to write an ebook, but don't know how to format so you bought a course on formatting that you first need to go through, that obviously adds on time to that particular project.

It's also good to think about the ROI for a project. How much will it work for you once it's out in the world? Will it be building your email list while you work on the next projects on your list? Is it a sales funnel that will create revenue for you? Think about putting a project first that you can accomplish more quickly and that will be giving back to you once it's completed.

Plan Your Calendar

Finally, as you look at the goals and projects, put them in the context of your larger calendar year. What else do you have going on that you have to plan around? I'm talking about things like vacations, having a baby, big work events, or other things that will affect your productivity.

You probably won't have time to complete a project if you are on a family vacation. (And that may ruin your vacation if you try.) You probably don't want to be promoting a new book if you're also signed up to promote someone else's course launch as an affiliate.



Jan 13, 2017

Welcome to the first-ever Quick Fix! This is the podcast episode that goes along with the Quick Fix weekly emails. Every Friday you'll hear (and receive in your inbox) news, links, resources, and more related to writing, blogging, publishing, and all things related to building an online platform...without being smarmy. 




Jan 9, 2017

Each year I feel like I add on a few more tools that I can't live without when running my blog. I wanted to share with you my top tools for bloggers AND offer a pretty epic giveaway for the things that I use! Find the Creator's Studio Giveaway here!

This post contains affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, I may get a commission if you purchase something after clicking through!

Listen to episode 84 - Top Tools for Bloggers

Top Tools for Bloggers

First: a caveat. These aren't just the top tools for bloggers. These tools are helpful for anyone in the online space creating content. That's why I've named the giveaway the Creator's Studio Giveaway. It's for bloggers and CREATORS of content.

I'm going to break these tools down into a few categories. Almost all of these tools I've used for at least a year, but if I have used them for less, I've used them long enough to recommend them! (PS- I never recommend things just for the sake of money as an affiliate!) Here are my picks for top tools for bloggers.

Blog Tools - I think that Wordpress should REALLY change the name of because it's super confusing, especially to people like me. I use the self-hosted, which allows more control and the use of ads.

Siteground - I use Siteground for my web hosting after a really terrible experience with Blue Host. I love BH for years, but when I started tracking my site's downtime (through a free tool called Down Notifier), I realized that my site was down all. the. time. Siteground has been fantastic and I have had ZERO downtime in the months since I've moved.

Genesis - I used the Genesis framework on almost all my sites. I just kind of love it.

Studiopress - My favorite themes on Wordpress are paid Stuidopress themes. They are gorgeous, functional, and mobile-ready.

Pretty Links - This plugin has really been helpful as a podcaster. I can create easy-to-say and easy-to-remember links that I can tell you on the podcast (or remember myself when someone's asking). This also makes it easy for listeners to remember and perhaps take action.

Simple Hooks - This is a plugin that works with the Genesis framework and allows you to plug code into different places on your website without breaking things. It's genius.

Online Tools & Apps

iMovie - I use iMovie to edit video, Quick Time to record screenshare videos (though I plan to move to Camtasia this year), and Audacity as my sound editor, both for the podcast and for videos.

iPages - I use this program to create almost all of my freebies and workbooks. It's amazing and works much like InDesign or the program I used to use (and I think is now gone), Pagemaker. It is only on mac.

Leadpages - I use Leadpages to create landing pages that convert well and also pop-up sign-up boxes for email. Once you get into Leadpages, be forewarned: you can't go back!

Popup Ally Pro - This is a great tool for popups and other kinds of sign-up options on your site. You can turn them off for mobile so that you won't get in trouble with google, and completely customize them with your own fonts and brand colors. Beyond pop-ups, you can have feature boxes (the thin sign-up form many people have just under the header) and those smart bars at the top or bottom of your site. This tool is incredible!

Evernote - I use Evernote to jot down ideas and sometimes write blog posts. I have IFTTT send all my blog posts directly to Evernote so that one day if my blog disappears, I'll have them somewhere else, saved.

Workflowy - This is a tool if you like clean. It's great for the bullet journalers because it looks like a bulleted list, super concise and clean. But when you click each bullet, it expands and there's more underneath. It always looks clean and not cluttered, but it contains a lot of info. It keeps me from stressing.

Picmonkey - I use this image-editing software for all my social media and blog images. I can easily resize one image for all the things.

Canva - I love Canva for longer things and am thankful you can go back in and edit. For the free version, you can create up to a 29 page document.

Audacity - I use this free tool to edit all my podcast episodes, plus any videos I record.

CONVERTKIT - I'm putting this in all caps because it's my FAVORITE tool of all. This email service provider has been a game changer for me for so many reasons. I love the advanced features like automation and link triggers where I can segment people with a simple click and send more targeted emails. Their affiliate program is also killer and is my top consistent monthly income. BONUS! If you want a free month, you can try a free month on me, as they are a sponsor of the show!

Physical Tools

ATR2100 - I love this dynamic mic, which is not a attractive as the Yeti, but was recommended by several of the top sound people and podcasters I spoke to for beginners. And beyond. I use this for the podcast and for my videos and interviews. (If you click the link, I also use a similar boom arm and pop filter.)

MYRIANN iPhone Ring Light - This is a tiny ring light that fits on your iphone (though I often use it clipped on my computer). It's not the most AMAZING light, but will totally up your lighting game and is very portable. I use it DAILY for things like Facebook live videos or course videos.

KCool Octopus Tripod - This little guy is also portable and works with my iPhone. Super simple and easy!

NEWEER LED Light Kit - If I'm at home doing videos, I also have this bigger (though still really lightweight and portable) set of studio lights. The batteries seem to be running out more quickly now that I've had the lights for almost a year, but they come with a battery charger. These are great for general soft light and can be adjusted up and down in terms of the intensity.

What are YOUR picks for the top tools for bloggers? what do you think is missing form this list of creator's tools? Share in the comments or join the discussion in the Facebook community.


Jan 5, 2017

Welcome to Day 5 of the January Kickstart! Your Quick Win for today is for you to think about where your income has come from. And where you WANT it to come from in 2017. 

Join us for the kickstart, a free blog planner, and some Quick Win worksheets:


Thanks to our sponsor, ConvertKit! Get your free month with my favorite email service provider here: 

Jan 5, 2017

Want to know how to plan your week based on the ROI from last year? Learn to create a weekly calendar batching content based on what has been working for you. 

Want free worksheets and a 75-page planner to help you kickstart 2017? Get them here:



Jan 3, 2017

Sign up for the January Kickstart! 5 days of live workshops in the Facebook Community and Quick Win Worksheets.

Thanks to our sponsor, Convertkit! Get a free month of my favorite email service provider:

Jan 2, 2017

Sign up for the January Kickstart! We will have 5 days of live workshops in the Facebook group and 5 free worksheets to give you a quick win. 


Thanks to our sponsor, ConvertKit! Get a free month by signing up here!