Hey, guys! I wanted to share why I've missed a few episodes lately. First: my computer crashed in a most epic way. But it's okay! It's back now...but then I got sick. You can hear it on this episode, but it hurts to talk and I have asthma, so I can't even. But hopefully it will be back. Soon.
For now, know that my platform isn't just about the podcast! It's about the PEOPLE. And that's YOU.
So please connect with me where we can talk like people:
http://createifwriting.com/community <- FREE Facebook group
http://createifwriting.com/quickfix <- FREE weekly email
http://createifwriting.com/algorithm <- FREE training on how to algorithm-proof your platform
And if you'd like to see what I've been up to lately, you can see my new book that just came out from my pen name. It's clean romance, which is a happy, sappy love story.
http://createifwriting.com/coldfeet <- READ the book here
I hope to be back soon! But until then, connect with me where the people are!
Going viral. I'd really love to know what comes to mind when you hear those words. Good thing? Bad thing? Something you've experienced or just hoped for? My question to you today is this: If you knew how to create viral content, would you?
The easy answer might be yes. Because who doesn't want a viral post! But today I'm talking with Paula Rollo of Beauty Through Imperfection and Quick Blogging Tips about how to create a viral post, the downside no one talks about, and how to take your viral post into a binge-worthy post.
First up, what IS viral content? It depends who you ask. There is full-on viral posts, which are the kinds of posts that take off and go worldwide. That's rarely what we get to see. Viral is often used to mean a post with a much higher reach than the normal for you, OR a post that has massive reach.
Paula's encouragement was that you NOT compare yourself to others or feel like you'll never hit that massive reach. Consider what's viral for YOU. Aim for a post that has significantly more reach than your normal post.
People don't often talk about the downside of viral posts. But you should realize that more eyeballs on your post can mean a few things. Here are a few negative sides when you create a viral post.
I would say that you should always ask yourself before hitting publish: What if this goes viral? You don't always know if it's going to happen. You probably aren't going to get into that category of worldwide attention. But...if you did, is this the hill you want to die on? Is this post a great representation of you?
Viral posts can bring unwanted attention. And if your posts goes viral, but isn't the kind of thing you usually write about or is one of those one-off posts that doesn't fully represent you, it's not going to be super helpful.
If you wrote about something that's controversial or that people disagree with (which could be anything these days), you may also get ugly comments or people sharing your post because they HATE it. You could get angry emails or other negative responses. The more your post gets shared, the more likely you'll face criticism.
On the plus side...when you have a post go viral, it gets tons of eyeballs on your site. Some people will meet you for the first time and these new readers that might become raving fans.
The best-case-scenario is that you have a post that's close to your heart and your brand go viral. That will bring the right kind of readers to your post.
Viral posts aren't often the how-to posts or the ones that solve a tangible problem. Yes, those can take off and be read and shared. But the posts that get people sharing and sharing and sharing are the ones with an emotional connection.
When you resonate with readers, they will share your post. So if you want to reverse engineer a post to go viral, you need to start with one emotion that you're hoping to evoke in readers.
You'll need to find an image that somehow relates in feel or in the content to that one feeling. You can use stock photos or your own photos, but again--your looking for connection.
As for your headlines, you can consider something like the Coschedule Headline Analyzer (also great for email subject lines!) and consider what would motivate someone to click.
Your framing and description matter as well. Framing is how you introduce the post when you are sharing on social media. The description is usually the meta description that you create when you are setting up the post in SEO for Wordpress by Yoast or whatever tool you use for SEO and metadescriptions. (I do this in Yoast and also in my Social Warfare plugin.)
TIPS FOR WHEN YOUR POST GOES VIRAL
If you have a post go viral, you want to do the best job you can to optimize the post.
This episode and post will share with you my heart for Create If Writing this year. I'm going to walk through my goals for Create If Writing, my goals for 2018, and the offers (free & paid) that I'll have for you this year.
Watch the video in the Create If Writing group! (You'll have to join first. Then either revisit this link, or look under videos.)
If you've listened to the podcast, you can say this along with me: Create If Writing is for writers, bloggers, and creatives who want to build an online platform without being smarmy.
To break that down...
I want to help you connect with the perfect audience, grow that audience, and make more money doing something you love, WITHOUT using smarmy and sleazy tactics.
I want to help you guys with a few big things this year. Here are my specific goals:
Until more of my kids are in school (which will be fall of 2018), I'll be holding back a little on the bigger programs and retreats and other ideas that I have.
Can I say something about paid products for a sec? I want to be clear that I consider the paid products and services I have as OFFERS. This means that I have paid things and I'm holding them out to you. If they fit for your needs and budgets, YAY! If not, that's totally fine. Refer to the free offers I just mentioned.
Books on Amazon
You can find all of my books on Amazon (and sometimes a few other places). These are great, affordable ways to learn. All three of these have very practical information for you!
If you want to jump ahead, working with me one-on-one will provide you with clarity, an action plan, and a confidence to move forward. I have various packages and am happy to create something custom for you. I've worked with nonprofits, writers, and bloggers to help them clarify their message, set up their email lists, and streamline their brand. I only take 2-3 clients per month and am currently booked out through mid-March.
The Create If Community
If you'd like more advanced help, but want something more long-term and love the idea of community, you should consider the Create If Writing Membership Community. This is a paid membership including a 40+ video content library, monthly Q&As, and the best Facebook group you could imagine. I'm closing this at 50 members or by March 1, whichever comes first.
The feedback I hear again and again from members is that this is their safe space, their happy place, and that the members have become real friends. I love that!
If you are like me and you started out with a plan that's already off-track by mid-February, don't despair! Just recalibrate.
My kids LOVE to jump on our scale at home. I mean literally. So this nudges it off the true zero. When you go to weigh yourself, it doesn't start at 0 anymore. With my non-digital scale, you just turn a little wheel to reset back to zero. Easy!
Do the same with your life and your goals.
If you are off-track, don't beat yourself up. Don't feel ashamed or frustrated. RECALIBRATE. See what you need to adjust and just keep moving forward.
Questions? Want to connect? Shoot me an email: kirsten at kirstenoliphant.com or join the community and reach out there.
Learn how to create binge-worthy content that keeps people coming back for more!
To connect with the community, head to the Create If Writing Facebook group!
This episode is a little different from the norm! No real show notes and not a lot of practicality...just some encouragement for you to keep on running. Unless it's time to rest!
To join in the conversation with our community, sign up here: http://createifwriting.com/community
To keep in touch via email with weekly updates, sign up here: http://createifwriting.com/quickfix
With all the recent hoopla with the updated Facebook algorithm, there has never been a better time to learn how to create a Facebook group! I love email lists because it can create a really direct line from you to your fans. But when you create a Facebook group, you are fostering the ability for your fans to talk with each other.
You can check out my previous resources on Facebook groups:
First of all, a Facebook group is NOT for every person, brand, blog, or business. Not sure if a Facebook group is right for you? Consider whether you have the time to manage a community and if you want to be more engaged with your audience. If you don't have the time, definitely don't create a Facebook group! This is not the kind of thing that you can set and forget.
But if you don't have the time and think you should start a group, here are some reasons you rearrange your time and priorities!
This doesn't HAVE to be true, as one of my group members shared her page, Amish Country in Ohio 101, which has over 8,000 likes. Lue told me she runs it LIKE a group, encouraging and taking part in conversations. It also isn't a means to an end for her--the page IS the thing.
For most people, sparking conversation on a page can be difficult. Groups allow a more safe space (especially if it's a closed group) and conversations happen more naturally there.
Though you won't see EVERY post from a group you're in, being active in a group means that you will see that group's posts WAY more in your feed.
For now. Facebook says that it's interested in Facebook groups now, so I suspect a lot of changes will take place in the coming months or years. (Read more about Facebook changes HERE.) Get going while it's working! Build community with your fans that will last beyond algorithm shifts or whatever else Facebook tosses at you!
I love the way that my group has created a sense of community. I've heard people say that their email list is their community. In a way that's true. As in, those are your people. But the real community doesn't happen until you get all those people in the same room where they can meet each other.
If you haven't created a Facebook group, consider if this might be a great way to connect your community with each other and to up your engagement.
"Forget Facebook pages. I'm just going to create a Facebook group."
"I'm not using a Facebook business page. My personal profile gets way more interaction."
"My Facebook page drives most of my traffic. I'm scared my income will dry up along with my pageviews."
These are the kinds of things I've been hearing since Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement about the new Facebook update and what this would mean for seeing posts from a Facebook business page in the newsfeed.
People are panicking. Many people are peddling specific advice about what you should do. Rumors are rampant.
So how DO you handle the new Facebook update and make a Facebook business page work? Let's dive in!
The big Facebook update in 2018 is all about engagement. According to Mark Zuckerberg, engagement is the holy grail and passive scrolling needs to stop. (I really hate people telling me what to do, first of all, so you can read more about my thoughts on this aspect HERE.) No one knows exactly what this means. We can take some clues from the announcements, but realize that we are all making inferences from a pretty vague statement.
What we KNOW:
More than any other question I've heard in the last few weeks (and even years, since Facebook pages stopped having great organic reach in 2013) is: Do I even NEED a Facebook page if no one will see my posts?
Whether you are an author or a blogger or a more traditional brand, the Facebook business page is similar to a blog in that it is the public face for you. (To be clear, a Facebook profile is what you create first on Facebook, where you can friend people. A business page is an optional add-on where people can like your page.)
Even if you just create a page as a sort of bookmark with basic info, photos, and a pinned post sharing that you primarily hang out on Instagram, you should have a page. How much it figures into your strategy is up to you! (To create a strategy for your social media, check out my free planner!)
In the Facebook Terms of Service, your personal profile is not to be used primarily for commercial reasons. Your Facebook page is precisely for commercial reasons. The key word is "primarily."
Facebook can decide what is too much selling and promotion. This means you should be careful! Facebook could, at any time, kick you off from violating this. Then you cannot have a page (you have to have a profile to have a page). You cannot create a new profile under their Terms of Service. You're done.
Use your profile for business with great caution. That said, the line between business and personal is much fainter than it ever was before. There are so many more bloggers who blog about their personal lives and entrepreneurs living a different lifestyle where business and personal are not so clearly separated. People in your personal life may want to read your blog and know what you are up to professionally.
You can also follow people's personal profile. This means that you can choose to see someone in your newsfeed that you aren't friends with when they post public things to their timeline. I know some large people (Mark Zuckerberg included) who have big followings on their personal profile, even if they don't have pages. I have a hard time thinking Facebook would allow this or have this feature without some business or promotion.
You can much more easily sell and promote yourself. The Facebook page is also where you can run ads. For ads, it doesn't even matter that your page has a small number of likes. You can target anyone on Facebook, not just people on your page.
Here are some of my tips for getting interaction and engagement on your Facebook page. Keep in mind that these are GENERAL principles for engagement on Facebook pages. To reiterate: these are not new ideas with this latest Facebook update since we don't know specifics.
If you don't know what these are, these are posts in Facebook groups where someone says, "Hey! Here's my Facebook page. If you like my page, I'll like yours. Leave it in the comments!" Or: "This is a Facebook page like thread. Leave your page link below and go like every other page in the thread!"
This sounds really attractive because numbers are so shiny. They are social proof. Likes are evidence that we are, after all, LIKED.
Except they aren't. This practice, while super easy, is a shortcut that hurts you in the end. Remember that we are about ENGAGEMENT. Those people liking your page in those threads probably don't actually LIKE you. They just Facebook-liked you. This means that you have dead weight on your page that won't engage with your content. When people don't engage with your content, Facebook shows it to less people in the feed.
ONLY use these kinds of threads if it's a like-pages-you-actually-like thread. Not a like-everyone thread.
I hear so many people complaining about the lack of reach on their Facebook page. No one sees their posts and no one engages when they do. But so many people simply use their page to promote their blog, books, or business. They are not CREATING engaging content, yet expect people to engage with it anyway.
While this is a Facebook BUSINESS page, we don't engage with faceless companies. We engage with PEOPLE. You need to think like your audience and think about what serves them (and also meets your goals). If you want engagement, you need to think about what causes people to engage.
Simple, right? But it's much harder in practice. This involves creating a content strategy (again- my free planner would help with that!) and posting more times. It means maybe pulling back on promoting our own blog posts and books. It requires more work.
Just before this announcement, Faceook gave a very specific update to say that they will squash engagement baiting posts. These are the kind of spammy posts from pages just trying to game the system, asking you to vote with comments or likes or the different reactions you can use.
The problem is that some of those same things were used by great pages and people creating real interaction! I love the "Share how you feel today in a gif" posts! They are super fun. Now you have a bot that Facebook has fed trigger words to keep those kinds of posts hidden in the feed. Which means even if you are trying to create engagement in a meaningful way, you could get caught in the bot.
Work on your calls to action - Itchy copy where you frame links, ask for things in ways that won't trigger the engagement bait bot
Create a copy bank of great Facebook posts - Start keeping a folder of screenshots or a list of great Facebook posts you love so you can get ideas for what you can do. Study what you see that has great engagement. Craft your own kind of content that is similar.
Pay attention to what's working - Go into analytics and keep track of what is working and what has been working. What kind of posts inspire comments and shares? What posts have a lot of likes? You need to be much more intentional now than ever.
The biggest thing you can do to make your Facebook business page work in 2018 is to be STRATEGIC. You need to be intentional if you want to see your page succeed in the face of Facebook updates.
What are your goals? You need to map out your overall goals, then how Facebook fits into that. Then you can plan a content strategy for what you'll post when. For more on planning a strategy, see my post on Planning in Reverse!
When is the last time you thought about the writing process? Or, more specifically, YOUR writing process?
The older I get, the more I know myself and understand how to tweak the writing process to fit what works for me. The writing process could really be called a system, the way we think of systems in business. Systems are simply the process, method, or course of action to get a desired result, especially consistently over time.
When we get to know ourselves better and how we work, we can tweak our writing process to work better for us. We write more, better, faster.
Check out Derek's video where he shares a small box with big ideas, plus some of the secrets of his writing process! (Then come on back for more on process.)
You could break down the writing process in any number of ways, but I'm going to put it into four very loose steps:
For the first two, you need to be really kind and generous to yourself, but in the last two, you must be ruthless. Let's break that down!
The enemy of the writer is the blank page. This very common saying speaks to the fact that writers often struggle with the start.
It makes me think of the law of inertia, which states that an object at rest will remain there. Objects in motion will continue in motion. That start can take a lot out of you.
Often the start is difficult because we don't have ideas. Or we aren't sure where to begin with the ideas we have. This is when we can fall prey to distraction or what Stephen Pressfield calls the Resistance in his book, The War of Art.
You can help your start along if you have ideas. The page may still be blank, but your BRAIN isn't. The problem is that we aren't always as observant as we should be and we don't think about collecting ideas like we should.
Derek shared a few ways that he collects ideas on the run in his video. Here are some things that you can try!
If you are constantly observing and stockpiling ideas, you can avoid so much trouble at the start! Once you have an idea, it's time to move onto stage two.
I feel strongly that in the drafting process, you need to get out of your own way. You don't judge your ideas but let them flow. At least (and especially) in the first drafts.
When you edit during your drafts and restrict the flow of your free-flowing thoughts, we may miss out on something that is in the back of consciousness. Connect with the page. No judgment.
If you're still struggling with this, two thoughts. The first? Do what works for you. But...the second: don't write this off too quickly. If you haven't tried letting it all out and are used to editing as you go, just TRY this.
Consider Upworthy. You know, the site with all the viral posts that were all over your Facebook feed a year or two ago. They write 25 potential headlines per post. Check out this Slideshare from Upworthy, particularly slides 33 & 34.
Without letting out your bad drafts, you're missing something.
Oh, and according to editor and author of the Story Grid, Shawn Coyne, you shouldn't edit this at all until you COMPLETELY FINISH.
(I don't always agree with that, but I'll save why for another day.)
Now you've got some content on the page. It may or may not be good, but it's THERE. Time for stage three.
Now that you have words on a page, you're going to do the hard work. You will be critical and judgmental. You are going to go back to those words and cut things and rearrange things and find what doesn't work and fix it. You need to be ruthless.
I really loved how Derek put this in his video. He talked about how we all assume people care about us and our story. BUT THEY DON'T. It's our job to make them care, especially right at the beginning of our content.
Personally, I do something weird. I'm SUPER MEAN to myself in edits. I write mean and awful notes to myself. If someone else wrote these things to me, I wouldn't want to write again, but I can do this to ME and it oddly inspires and empowers me.
Being ruthless doesn't have to look like actually being mean to yourself. But it does mean being hard on your words.
As for that last one, your WHY matters as you edit. If you are writing a diary or a passion project, you can be self-indulgent. You may not edit at ALL. If you are writing at all for an audience, you MUST be willing to die a little.
You need to find the balance of writing what you love, but still serving your people well.
You're almost done. Next up: the final touches.
This final step of editing is where you go back and really make everything perfect. I should point out that these four steps are not a literal four-step process. I go through many rounds of editing in the editing process. I may also go through several rounds of polishing. Here's what polishing might include:
Polishing is when you will find the genius and the magic. You still might hit that point when you hate it (or is that just me?), but you'll find that this is when you move into a work you're pleased with and ready to publish.
I want to stress that I don't spend a lot of time for EVERY kind of content. I spend the most time going through this process in my longer-form content like novels. Some blog posts get more editing and attention than others. I also tend to write more cleanly in the first draft of a blog post, so that my first drafts are pretty publishable.
With a blog post, I collect the ideas, potentially outline (usually on paper), and then write a pretty clean first draft that I will edit through once or twice.
Do you know YOUR process?
"You're doing it backwards."
Does that sound like a good thing...or a bad thing? Usually when someone says that to you, what they mean is that you're doing it wrong. You are going about a task in the wrong order.
But when it comes to making goals and accomplishing them, the best way is to work backwards on purpose. You need to look at your big goal as Point B. You are currently at Point A. Then work backwards to think about the steps in between to bridge the gap. If you look at your Yearly Content Guide and the daily planner printable sheets, this will make much more sense! Let's walk through the process.
Before you can really start planning effectively, you need to take some time to figure out how YOU work. You don't want to waste time on methods that don't work for you. I'll give an example to make this more clear.
When I was in college, I wrote a ton of papers! I can't begin to think about the hundreds of pages I wrote and the all-nighters that I pulled. But it took me 'til my senior year to realize that I wrote papers BEST when I finished them a day or so in advance.
Giving myself that cushion of time meant that I wrote in a leisurely, focused way. I had no frantic, stressful moments. I didn't pull all nighters, fueling up on Mountain Dew and Twizzlers. I wrote faster and I wrote BETTER when I made my own personal deadline ahead of the imposed deadline.
That doesn't mean I cannot work well under pressure. In December I started writing under a pen name, Emma St. Clair, and wrote two short stories in the sweet romance genre. (You can check those out here if you like light and fluffy non-steamy romance.) I cranked out two stories and published them within the space of two weeks.
And the effort was a success! I garnered 26 five-star reviews for Four Days of Christmas and have a new email list of over 100 people and am still making sales and money now in January.
What I've learned about myself is that I work better with self-imposed goals and deadlines, not ones that someone else forces me into.
Questions to Ask:
Before you can plan well, you need to know yourself well. This isn't as easy as you'd think and it may change according to the season or circumstances. Ask yourself questions about the ways you work and make note whenever something stresses you out OR has great results.
My whole Yearly Content Planner shows you how to work backwards. It starts with looking at your goals, your stats and analytics from the past year (I keep this simple, so don't freak out if you don't like numbers), and then moves into weekly and daily planner printable sheets to give you laser focus.
As an example of what this looks like, say I want to write 8-10 books this year. (Which I do.) This means that I need to write a book every month or so (if I'm working in a 10-month year, which is my plan).
I can then get super specific and think about how much time I need to give my cover designer, how much time I need to format, how much time I need to give my editor, and how much time to write the book itself. When I take that backwards, I can plan out just when I need to do what based on the tasks involved and how long each one takes.
If you want to increase your pageviews from 5k a month to 50k a month, you'll have to look at what current traffic sources you have and how many posts you write per week. Then you have to create a strategy for creating content and for promotion that would scale up your pageviews that much. When you're trying to grow, typically you can do two different things (or a combination).
Chances are you'll do a little of both, but it's worth thinking about this to pick a focus. Would it help you to get more pageviews if you wrote five times a week? Or repurposed content and promoted the heck out of fewer posts and the ones you already have?
With books, I could spend more on AMS ads or Facebook ads or increase the price of my current books. Or I could write more books quickly and promote them to up my income through having lots of books for sale.
If you aren't sure, try things to see! But once you see what's working, double down on that! Look at the end goal and then ask yourself if all of your actions and investments of time and money move you toward your goal...or not. Cut what doesn't. Do more of what does.
It's always a good idea to ask people you respect and trust for feedback. This might be other people in your industry who are knowledgeable or it might be people who like that content. As in, you could ask other indie authors your questions about a book and you could also ask indie readers who are not authors. Both are helpful.
But when people give you feedback, you need to be willing to TAKE IT. Sometimes we don't want to hear the truth or we are unwilling to give something a shot. We hold on tightly to what we love, even if it doesn't work.
Don't. If fifty people tell you that your book cover sucks, you should trust them. Get a new cover.
Feedback may not work in every step of your planning, but is an important part of finding what works. You need to get out of your own head and let other people share their experience and understanding.