I've been talking about why your audience isn't growing and want to tackle how to get more readers and sell more books. I have a great interview with Chris Syme of the award-winning CK Syme media group and author of Sell More Books with Less Social Media.
Many authors struggle with promotion the same way that bloggers do. Content creation is awesome! But promotion...not so much. I think sometimes we need to reframe the conversation.
Think back to when you were young and fell in love with your first books. Did you ever wish you could write to your favorite author? I did!
But...back then there was no internet. No website for authors. Just the publishers' address on that boring page no one reads in the front of the book.
Now? If you want to reach your favorite author, you might be able to get a response in under an hour on Twitter.
Yes, social media means we have to do some promotional work. But what if instead of thinking of this as WORK, we thought of it as connecting with our readers. Directly. THAT'S SO COOL!
But it still isn't always easy. So I talked with Chris Syme to get some tips on using social media and I have some great tips for you to find more readers! (You can also check out episode 89 of the podcast, where Chris and I talk marketing strategies!)
Know Your First Book Is a Learning Experience
Your first book will likely NOT be your best. You should treat it as a learning experience. Learn from reviews and listen to beta readers if you have them. That doesn't mean you shouldn't work to make it great, but realize you will learn more from failures.
Don't Start Copying Tactics with No WHY
Many authors start using tactics that other authors use...without focusing on NEW authors. You can't just copy a case study that a successful author shared and expect to have success.
Start with the Basic Platform that Succeeds
You need an author website, an email list, and Facebook. Data tells you that these three things WORK. You can branch out to Instagram and Tumblr or wherever you love to hang out, but start with the places that bring you ROI- a return on your investment.
The Best Marketing Strategy Is Writing the Next Book
Don't stop writing. Your marketing should NOT be the focus, no matter what level you're at! But when you start especially, don't freak out when your books don't sell and you struggle to find readers. Just keep writing.
Build an Author Network
Stay connected to other authors, both at the same level you are and a few steps ahead. You should connect to those in your genre and some trustworthy groups. Do be careful-- not everyone knows what they're talking about in Facebook groups.
Find Great Beta Readers
You want to find beta readers who aren't your friends, because you want someone to tell you the truth. Sometimes people in your genre will read a piece to tell you if you're on the right track. You could also hire a developmental editor.
Know Your Goals
You want to engage fans, moving them from readers to raving fans. In order to do both of these in the same place, you need to have a platform that encourages BOTH engagement and promo.
[tweetthis]"You don't win the right to sell to people without engaging first." @cksyme[/tweetthis]
You Don't Need to Be On all Platforms- Just the Ones Your People Are On
80% of online adults 13 years old and older are on Facebook. The end. This is still the biggest platform out there. Instagram is the second, and it's owned by Facebook. You don't have to work as hard to engage people there.
Know the Platforms That Sell
There is a funnel when it comes to sales. Discovery is where people find you. Awareness is where they begin to engage with you and getting more loyalty. Sales is the bottom of the funnel. Facebook and Youtube are at the top when it comes to sales effectiveness and discovery. YouTube isn't always the best for authors, which leaves Facebook as the most effective according to data.
Go with Engagement
Check what is working with Facebook Insights. Sort your posts by engagement. See what people are engaging with and then find a way to do more of that while being more of your authentic self.
PRO TIP- If you love Instagram, but know more sales are made on Facebook, consider how you can make Facebook into your Instagram by engaging around visuals. It's a mental switch, but think creatively how you can apply what you like about one platform and put it into the platform with the data behind it. The mistake that we often make is that we think that we like a platform, so we need to be there. Go with data FIRST and then find a way to replicate that other platform on the one that DATA says to use.
Ultimately, you don't want to be someone else on social media. You want to be YOU. Find a way to connect where you can be your authentic self.
For more insights from Chris, check out her books and her course on setting up your Facebook page (which is really fantastic!):
How to Set Up a Facebook Page That Sells More Books ( a great course I've taken!)
Or just connect through her blog at CK Syme Media Group!
One of the biggest questions that people have about social media is how to get followers. No matter how many you currently have, we all seem to want to get MORE followers. And more. We can never have enough!!
I especially know what it feels like to be just starting out where you have under 1000 followers. I remember my first year on Twitter with something like 300 followers, feeling like I would never grow.
Getting followers feels like an impossible task. You need more followers so that you have some kind of social proof, so that more people will follow you, but no one will follow you without more followers. And I have found it to be true that once you pass a certain benchmark of at least a thousand people, it gets easier to grow.
Getting followers is kind of like a chicken and egg problem.
So let's talk about how you get more followers on social media, especially when you are just starting out OR when you are stuck.
Note: This post contains affiliate links! That means at no extra cost to you, I will receive a commission if you purchase something through some of the links I share.
You can listen right here or on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. Or keep reading below!
Before we even get into the specifics of how, I want to talk about the WHY. Specifically YOUR why. If you are not super clear on your why, you are going to struggle to grow your social media presence, your blog, and your audience.
Your WHY is your purpose. My background is in writing, so I like to think of it as your theme. A theme isn't the beginning-middle-end of a story, but the ideas that run throughout, tying the story together.
For an example, my WHY is that I want to help writers and bloggers build an online platform without being smarmy. I love helping people connect with their perfect audience online, using all the tools and strategies that smart marketers use, but without the icky salesy tactics.
Knowing my WHY means that if I have a post idea that doesn't fit into that overarching purpose, I don't write it. Or I write it in a guest post somewhere else. Or on my other blog.
If you aren't clear on your why or the audience you serve, you are going to really struggle!
Take some time to write out a clear statement of purpose. This should include who you serve, how you serve them, and what is unique to you.
Once you have your why in place, you can both create and curate content that fits under the umbrella of your why. In the second post of this series I talked about curating content, which is essentially the way that you share other people's content on social media. I want to go even deeper on this idea of sharing relevant content.
Consider your perfect audience (see my series on how to find your perfect audience) when you are coming up with content ideas to create. In the same way, think about your target audience when you are choosing Tweets to Retweet or pins to share on Pinterest.
Ask yourself: Does this serve my perfect audience?
When you share awesome content (your own and others), a really cool thing happens. People start to see you as an authority.
You become their go-to for news, trends, and resources. You save them the time so they don't have to research all the latest trends or news. Sharing quality content will help you get more followers that are truly interested in you. That's why it's really important to share relevant content.
PRO TIP: On Facebook in particular, you need to not only consider the topic, but the kind of content. If you keep sharing viral videos because they get great reach, but you don't CREATE video, this may hurt you in the long run. When you share your blog posts as links, your page is used to doing well with video, so the reach may diminish for link posts. An active page doesn't help you if it's active for video, but you are trying to drive traffic to a blog.
Here are a few of my favorite creator/curators in different niches:
The Sell More Books Show - Each week Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral share five big newsworthy items and three tips related to book writing and marketing, especially in the indie space. I want to know what's going on, so I follow their podcast, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page so hopefully I won't miss anything.
Jenn's Trends - Jenn Herman has a blog focused on social media, specifically Instagram. Even though I've temporarily told Instagram, "it's not me, it's you," I can count on her to share big news I need to know about social media. I joined her Facebook group to keep up with what she's sharing about social media.
Social Media Examiner - While this seems like a no-brainer because this is a hugely established site, I love Michael Stelzner's curiosity and passion for social media. (You can hear this particularly through his podcast, where he seems genuinely excited and interested in the guests.)
Sharing consistent quality content is HARD. Especially when you are also creating content too. I really rock at creating content. I love it. Give me content creation all. day. long.
And while I shared in my post on why your blog isn't growing that it's not just about promotion, YOU HAVE TO PROMOTE your awesome content. If you are trying to curate good content from other people as well (which you should do), then you have even more posts to share and schedule. Promotion is a lot of work, so you'll want some tools to help with that.
Note: Don't forget that you can't JUST promote. You have to engage with people as well! Read the previous post in this series for ideas.
So what tools can help you get followers on social media through content sharing?
Quuu - (Facebook & Twitter) This app will generate and autopost relevant content to your Twitter or Facebook feeds for you. Like most apps, you can use some features with the free version and then upgrade.
I honestly don't LOVE pushing out content that I haven't seen first. But they have a great vetting process for the posts that they take, so you will get great content!
Quuu Promote - This is a paid part of Quuu where you can submit posts to go in the Quuu feed. I've seen really great results from putting my posts in here. This means that when other people sign up for Quuu and autopost links, YOUR links go in the pool to be shared on a particular topic.
This has resulted in a good amount of traffic and also shown me what content is working well. Check out these two posts, both about email marketing. (For reference, another promoted post I did had 17 clicks from only 80 shares, as compared to the 300-something shares for only 8 clicks.) They don't accept posts automatically, but look through each.
Promo Republic - I love this social sharing tool because it comes with templates and stock photos that you can edit (think: Canva), but you don't have to LEAVE the platform to share them. Instead, you create them right there, write your text for a post, then choose to share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram (reminder, not autoschedule, since Insta doesn't allow that).
They share trends that may help you come up with post ideas and you can create a queue of content that will post at optimal times. Get this on AppSumo for a limited time with my referral code (that gives me credit at no extra cost to you) HERE.
Tailwind - I love this app for Pinterest! (It also does Instagram, but I don't use it for that.) It has one of the easiest scheduling dashboards I've used. You can click a button to shuffle them all, choose the best time slots you want per day, how many shares per day, and even join tribes of other Pinterest users to promote each other's content. If you use my affiliate link, you'll get a free month to try it out!
Hootsuite - I have been using Hootsuite maybe longer than any other social tool! It's very similar to Buffer, which a lot of people like, but because I have never seen a reason to switch! Choose which one works for you. You can manage up to three accounts with Hootsuite's free plan, including Facebook (page, group, or profile), LinkedIn, and Twitter.
I create Twitter lists within Hootsuite and then can easily go in and schedule content on a weekly basis. (Though I've been HORRIBLE about this lately.) It clears the clutter when you just want to pop in and see what's going on over on Twitter. This makes it easier to get in, engage and schedule, then get out without getting lost.
Iconosquare - Iconosquare is NOT a social scheduling platform and is strictly for Instagram. But it's a really helpful tool to manage your followers and to see what content people engage with so that you can create more of the same. You can even track details like which hashtags performed well for you. As with most tools, you can get more when you pay.
Social Jukebox - This is a great tool to create a content library (or "jukebox") of evergreen content that get shared again and again over time.
RecurPost - Similar to Social Jukebox, this tool will let you schedule posts to share again and again. If you don't want to pay for Edgar or SmarterQueue, you can use these two together to get the max number of posts without paying.
PRO TIP: Remember to share your own posts with as much gusto and passion as you share other people's posts. This tip comes by way of Paula Rollo of Beauty Through Imperfection and her Facebook Group, Actionable Blogging Tips.
I know that in the past year, the idea of getting followers by following people brings out the eye rolls. Especially on Instagram, people talk about getting 300 new followers in a day, then losing 294 two days later. (True story.) That's a LOT of people doing it wrong.
The BEST way to follow people to get followers on Instagram and Twitter is to follow people you are actually interested in, interact with them in a way that isn't smarmy (ex: DON'T follow, then tweet at them telling them you followed and asking them to follow back), and then in a few weeks or month, unfollow the people who aren't following you back UNLESS they are stellar content creators and you want to keep following.
Give this practice a little more of a personal touch and a little more time to see it actually work for you.
I have not mentioned much about growing a Facebook page here. There are a few reasons for this. First, this can be one of the harder platforms to grow. Because of the way the Facebook algorithm works, people often won't see your content. Even huge pages have very little reach on posts. I'll talk more about this in a separate post, because it's a HUGE topic.
Facebook groups - Many blogger Facebook groups have threads on a weekly or daily basis where you can link to your social profiles and then follow everyone and have them follow you. You really want TARGETED followers, so these don't always work well. But depending on your goals or while you're trying to get past that social proof number, this may really help.
Giveaways - You can definitely grow quickly and with big results using giveaways. But you are more than likely going to end up with people who don't care about you or your content. Particularly if you are giving away money or a gift card to a store. Try to be more targeted to your audience and give a great prize, but one that is specific to writers or moms or your audience.
Ads - You can run Facebook ads to get likes for your page, but this is something I would do sparingly. Facebook seems to drop your reach right after you pay for things to make you think you NEED to pay for things. So, realize this is an option in the ads manager, but don't rely on this.
If you are trying to get more followers on social media, don't forget your overall purpose. Think of the kinds of followers you really want and the long-term goals.
Consider all these tips in conjunction with the reasons your social media isn't growing, particularly thinking about the idea that you need to be SOCIAL.
What are YOUR tips for getting more followers on social media? Share in the comments!
Social media can be one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal...but it can also be the most frustrating. It takes a lot of time, can feel like a part-time job, and sometimes doesn't seem to bring in results.
If you are one of the many people stuck wondering why your social media isn't growing, I've got some explanations and some tips for what you might do differently.
Here are three reasons why your social media isn't growing.
Back when I first started using Twitter and Facebook, I'd been blogging for a few years. But I NEVER shared my own blog posts.
Why? Because NO ONE DID. These social media platforms evolved to be a good place for promotion, but they didn't start that way. Now many people use them ONLY for link-sharing. (More on that in the next point.)
Part of growing your blog IS utilizing the power of you social platforms. (But your blog still won't grow without fixing the three mistakes we talked about in the first part of the series!) We should be sharing links on our Twitter profile, our Facebook page, on Instagram, and wherever you hang out online.
But if that's ALL you are doing, you aren't going to grow your followers on social media. Which means in turn that you won't have as much traffic to your blog. You do NOT want someone to come to your profile and find that every post or even every other post is your own.
If you really want to grow your social media platforms, you need to be a curator of content, not just a creator. Being a good curator means that you are picking and choosing things to share as a kind of collection or gallery. People often talk about the 80/20 rule: 80% of what you share should be from other people and 20% from your own content.
Ask yourself what kind of content would COMPLEMENT your own.
Consider how you can curate a collection of links and posts that will reach your target audience. Share your own, but share links from other sources MORE.
Social media isn't always the best name for Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus or Instagram anymore. It's often more like Self Media. You promote yourself. And, if you aren't actually being social, you're only talking to yourself.
If you aren't having actual conversations with people on social media, you aren't being social. This happens a lot when people automate their social shares. They use tools to send out links automatically so they never have to actually go ON Twitter or LinkedIn.
It also happens when people try the follow-unfollow method of growth. This looks like following a bunch of people and then unfollowing them the next day or week. (Um, that's just smarmy, PERIOD.Stop.)
Clearly, if you are automating everything, you CANNOT be social. Without showing up and talking to other people, you will not grow your social following.
Automation is great (see this post on the difference between scheduling and automation), but you need to have conversations. You must be social.
This means that in addition to scheduling and automating content, you must actually show up on those platforms and engage. Here are a few ideas for how this can look:
This is not rocket science. It isn't hard to do. But it also takes a bit more time and investment. Life would be wonderful if we could just step back and automate everything...but then we wouldn't really make connections or increase engagement.
One of the reasons your social media isn't growing is that you are trying too many things at once. You are on five platforms, trying to manage all of them at the same time.
Each platform has its own quirks, social media sizes, audience, and best practices for how often to post. (See my post on Seriously Simple Social for more and a free guide!) Unless you've been doing this for years or have an assistant helping you out, it can be near impossible to manage all of the platforms well.
I also see people often having one post from a social platform automatically post to all the others. So if I'm following someone on Instagram, I might see their post there first. Then I see it on their Facebook page. Then I see it on Twitter. Then I see it on their Facebook profile.
Each platform has its own nuances. You aren't going to get a ton of Instagram OR Facebook followers when you automate your Instagram images to post on Facebook. You'll look silly when you have 11 hashtags on Facebook or you tag people and it doesn't work because the original tag was on Twitter, not Facebook.
Don't cross the streams! It is more work, but even changing a few things about your post (image size, hashtags or NO hashtags, description length, etc) can help it do well on EACH platform.
Start with a focus. You may want to make sure you secure your name on several of the big platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for sure) before someone else gets it, but you don't have to be fully active on all of them.
Pick 1-2 platforms you really like where your ideal people also hang out. Consider an overarching strategy for the kind of content you'll post and how often. Set an alarm or set aside time daily or weekly to engage with people on that platform. Master the kinds of images and posts that do well there. (Again, get my Seriously Simple Social Guide for that!)
When you are really rocking 1-2 platforms and are in your groove, consider adding another. But don't try to be in all the places at one time. You will have a hard time posting quality content on many platforms and
Wait-- shouldn't we be using Facebook groups to grow? Yes. Ish. Facebook groups are great for connecting with other bloggers and getting our content out there! But share groups may be holding back authentic growth.
The kinds of groups I mean are those where content creators can post their links in daily or weekly threads. Then they are required to follow or like or share or comment on the other links in the thread.
While this SEEMS like a good idea, it's really not. It might boost your numbers a bit. It might give you some social proof when one post has 20 comments. (Note: whenever I see a post now with more than a handful of comments--ESPECIALLY if it's a newer post--I always assume these are from one of these share threads.) The problem with these groups is that you aren't actually finding your target audience.
Instead of connecting with that busy mom or that just-starting-out author, you are connecting with another blogger. Who, outside of the group requirements, is NOT likely to become a superfan. If you are trying to work with brands, they have grown wise to this (especially about Instagram pods) and they are NOT happy.
It's one thing to have a small group where you support each other and share content. (Like the content curation I just wrote about.) Follow-for-follow threads are another thing altogether. Required follow and share groups do not result in authentic engagement from your target audience. Period.
Be wise in the kinds of groups you join and what kind of threads you participate in. Ask yourself what you are REALLY gaining from your participation.
These groups are popular because they give a FEELING of success. Doesn't it feel nice when you have a bunch of comments on a post? Don't you love seeing other people share your content? If the groups you are in result in real engagement from your idea people, that's GREAT. If they don't, or if they require that you share content you otherwise wouldn't, it's time to rethink.
Though many of these fixes are a bit more time intensive and require more of YOU, that's the cost of real social media growth. A lot of the tactics people teach out there are just that: tactics. They are not a strategy. And they are not about engaged, authentic growth.
If you're looking for the main reason why your social media isn't growing, it's likely because you aren't investing enough of yourself. You are automating in order to create a Self Media that's all about your links and not about real engagement or serving your audience.
What are YOUR struggles with social media? Have you seen some of these reasons in your own social media?
I see people asking questions constantly in Facebook groups about growth. Specifically people want to know why their blogs aren't growing.
It's a complex question! But today I'm going to tackle the top three reasons why your blog isn't growing. And, NO. None of these three have to do with social media! (We'll get to that next week!)
Ouch. As a writer, this one really rubbed me the wrong way when I started considering my blog growth intentionally.
We all have different reasons for blogging. (And you really should know the why of your blog!) For many of you in my audience, those reasons have to do with loving to write. Yes, maybe you want to also sell books or sponsored posts or make money by having traffic an ads. BUT YOU LOVE THE CREATIVE WORK. I know you!
So it can feel like a personal insult to hear that you're being too self-centered about your work. (Plus, who likes being self-centered??) I'm not really telling you that you are self-absorbed, only that your blog isn't outward-focused ENOUGH.
Why do people read blogs?
Not sure? Think about why YOU read blogs. For me, I might click through to read a blog post if the title grabs me. It relates to me. It's interesting or relevant or solves a problem I have.
People read blogs because those blogs offer something. They GIVE to the reader. There is a benefit. Maybe that's a how-to or a series of tips. Maybe that's entertainment or encouragement or inspiration. But there is some kind of exchange wherein the blogger (that's you) gives something to the reader.
Readers will not read blogs that don't give them something. And when we write blog posts that are just like online diaries, focused on telling just our life story, people are generally not going to want to read. (The exceptions are if you are already a celebrity, you have a really unique story, you have some kind of "it" factor, or you're a really KILLER writer. Usually we are NOT as interesting as we think we are.)
We need to invite readers IN. That doesn't mean we can't write about ourselves and our stories. If we leave our own story out, our blog could be interchangeable with any other blog out there. Not good.
Our unique story and our voice NEEDS to be there, but readers need to know there is a place for them. It has to be relatable to them and give some kind of benefit. Even if that is a simple as a few minutes of enjoyment.
How to Fix This: If this is your problem (and MANY people struggle here), you need to consider how you can write what you want to write, but also think outward. Consider how you can use your blog to benefit other people and what you are giving them. What does your blog give? What does it offer that a complete stranger might want to stop and read?
Just when you thought the first reason was hard to hear...I give you this. But I just want to write! I don't care about blog design, you say. Plus I have no money and don't know blogspeak.
I know, friend. I know. I was there! I started on Blogger (which, unless you have a lot of money, will ALWAYS look like a blog on Blogger) and when I started paying more attention to design, I didn't want the clean, white look. I had bright colors and busy backgrounds. It was a hot mess.
Here's the thing about design: it impacts the way people read your words.
When Rob and I were looking for our first house, we looked at all kinds of places. Some were in pristine condition, some were foreclosures with no flooring and holes in the walls. We are good at vision, so we could see SOMETHING in most places.
Except one house. It was older and had original mustard-yellow countertops and shag rugs. It was clean, but it was just so much ugly. Most of all, though, we HATED the layout. We struggled with a vision for the house because we didn't like the floor plan. Countertops you can change, but layout is layout.
We bought another house and a few months after moving in, I had this realization as I walked into my master bedroom: this house had the same layout as the house we hated.
I couldn't believe it. Even with all our open-mindedness and visioning, we hated a house for (we thought) its layout, then bought a house with the same floor plan...but modern updates. Honestly, we were both floored.
THAT IS HOW MUCH DESIGN MATTERS.
You cannot underestimate the impact of how you package your words. So if you are a writer and hate thinking about this stuff and don't want to learn to code and don't want to pay someone...you have to consider the cost.
You don't have to have the most beautiful blog, but you DO need to have a blog that doesn't detract from your content.
How to Fix This: If you don't have a lot of money for design, you can use a simple free wordpress.org theme and just keep it SIMPLE. Simple looks so much more professional than busy. Or consider Squarespace, which is something like $7-10/monthly and is drag and drop. Very clean, very professional. If you're using Blogger, it is REALLY HARD (ie- expensive) to make it not look like Blogger. I love working with Merri from WPTech Cafe and I also love the themes from Restored 316. I'm an affiliate for Restored 316 and am currently using their Refined theme, if you want to check that out. (Being an affiliate means if you purchase a theme, I get a commission at no extra cost to you!)
This is where it gets confusing sometimes. Because I told you in #1 that it's not all about you, and now I'm telling you that it needs to be uniquely you. What gives?
Your blog DOES need to be about other people enough to draw them in. But your unique story and voice and perspective will keep them reading. If you don't have something unique, your blog will be like every other of the million blogs out there. Why should they read or come back to yours?
This can be really difficult and takes practice. It will also shift over time and depending on content. But learning to find your unique voice and find how you can weave your story and perspective through the posts makes you stand out. And, even though you're being uniquely YOU, it will draw in the readers and keep them.
What IS your story? What IS your writing voice?
You need to consider these questions in order to help your blog grow. It's not enough just to write helpful tips for people. Your helpful tips need to have YOUR spin. Otherwise they'll get lost in the sea of other helpful tips.
How to fix this: If you haven't been training in a lot of the writing spaces, these may not be questions you've thought about at length. But I've got just the resource for you! Check out my post How to Brand Your Writing Voice.
These three aren't the ONLY reasons why your blog isn't growing. The other big key to blog growth is promotion. We'll hit on that a bit in the second part of the series when I talk about why your social media isn't growing. But just so we're clear...you can't write a blog post and think people will find it. (Unless you are an SEO wizard.) Promotion totally impacts this.
But you can promote like a crazy person and if people don't feel included, are turned off by your blog design, and don't find something unique, your blog will not gain and retain new readers.
So...how are you feeling at the end of this?
I want you to know: these are not the only reasons your blog might not be growing. And they might be hard to hear. If they ARE, please take some time after you read this or listen to the episode. Be grumpy. Complain. Send me an email about why you disagree.
Then come back a few days later when it feels less personal and really LOOK at your blog. Could these actually be the reasons your blog isn't growing? Ask a friend who is impartial if you need help looking with honest eyes. I do NOT mean to be discouraging or hurtful.
If so: HOW BIG?
Because if you want to really grow and really want to grow large, you need to seriously consider these three things. But if you want to write for writing's sake or because of a particular passion, then you can worry about them less.
If you want to really grow a platform or build a giant blog, you need to take it seriously. You have to think about why your blog isn't growing...and then what you're going to do about it.
Preorder a copy of my book, 31 Small Steps to Grow My Blog, and get the accompanying course, Blog Growth Boost for just $27. (Normally $97!)
Want to support the show? I've got a totally new Patreon page with awesome rewards! Check that out here: http://createifwriting.com/patreon
After going through Hurricane Harvey this week, I wanted to talk about creativity in the storm. Here are some thoughts on how creativity works in hard times.
A week ago I was in California speaking at Podcast Movement. The weather was 75 degrees. Sunny. Breezy. AMAZING. I started getting calls about the weather.
"Are you coming home?"
"You know we're getting a hurricane, right?"
"You should really come home."
Living in Houston, you get used to hurricanes. We weathered through Hurricane Ike when Sawyer (my oldest) was a few months old. It was a harrowing night with high winds making the giant oaks outside bend to the ground.
We made it, but lost power for a few weeks with trees downed all over town and some rising water. It was a mess. But you get used to the warnings.
By now we've all heard how Harvey was beyond normal. I've heard it called the worst natural disaster in US history. Houston tends to flood anyway and getting trillions of gallons dumped on it in a weekend could not have ended well.
A few days later and we have sun again, shining down on all the piles of carpets and furniture by the curb. Some neighborhoods still have five or more feet of water. Up over the doors and windows.
Grocery stores actually have food on the shelves.
Roads are opening.
Helicopters are flying overhead.
Military convoys are parked at the football stadium.
Every other pickup truck has a boat in the back.
These are strange times.
Whether you are facing a literal storm or some other kind of hard time, creativity can flow...or get stuck.
For me, it's therapy. In the worst moments of the storm, I felt peaceful. But since, I have woken up terrified that water was coming in my children's rooms. I cried in the grocery store today to see food on the shelves.
I don't always process in the here and now. Writing? Helps me process.
But it isn't always that way. Sometimes you might get stuck instead. For now, I'm without childcare, so some of my creative things literally WILL be stuck. I have less than half the time to create. When I have the time, I want to write. I want to get back to the podcast and to connecting with my people.
Whether you thrive or get stuck in the storms, it's okay!
YOU ARE NOT A SLAVE TO YOUR CREATIVE WORK.
Rather, it's something that should bring a benefit to YOU. It should be life-giving.
That means No guilt if you don't want to be creative for a bit. If you need a breather, it's okay.
Your creative work serves YOU, not the other way around.
So whatever your storms this week, this month, this year, I HOPE that your creativity helps you flourish in it. But if it begins to feel burdensome instead, take some time off. Refresh. Then return when it feels more life-giving to you.