Create If Writing

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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Dec 7, 2018

In this post I want to talk about something super fundamental that's sometimes overlooked. And it's simple! Let's dive into how to keep your audience happy.

If you want to build an audience of raving fans, it can seem daunting at times. Do this! Do that! Post here! Write this kind of thing! 

But when it comes down to the foundation, it's REALLY simple: set up expectations with your readers and then keep them. This means building trust and keeping trust. It's like you are creating a contract with your audience, even in things like your email sign-up forms when you tell people you will send every week.  


This boils down to setting up and keeping expectations, but there are multiple ways you may be doing this or NEED to do this. 

  • What you SAY - The most common way to set expectations is when you explicitly tell people what you're going to do. Ex: when people sign up for an email list, book descriptions, your blog tagline
  • What you DO - Your actions set the expectations. Ex: how often do you post on the blog, publish a book, send an email. 
  • What people HEAR/UNDERSTAND - You may not realize that you are communicating something other than what you think, so it's a good idea to get an outside perspective. Ex: book covers, your tagline, BIG things. (Don't do this with every blog post! But good idea with bigger things or as you start out.) 
  • What people SEE - You may not realize how much your visuals impact expectations. Ex: book covers, how your blog looks, images you choose to use


  • As much as you can, tell your readers what to expect up front. Be clear and up front about who you are and what you do. Surprises are only good when they are GOOD, like a free book. It's not a good surprise to get emails every day for your product launch when people expected only weekly emails.
  • As much as you can, keep to your word. Life happens and people understand that. But whenever possible, stick to your word. Which means... 
  • As much as you can, don't set up expectations you can't keep or that you hate! If you don't like sending weekly emails, DON'T START. If you aren't sure you could keep up a weekly podcast, DON'T COMMIT TO THAT! Set realistic and sustainable goals. 

This may seem very simple and obvious, but there are so many small ways we could all do this better!

When we are clear with expectations and then commit to following through, we build trust with our audience and end up with raving fans. 

Nov 30, 2018

I missed out on some big platforms and news in the first in this series, so here are more updates you need to know that happened in 2018 and will impact your 2019!

When I started this series, it was meant to be one post. Ha! There have already been updates since I posted. That's why it's so stinking hard to keep up with social media updates!

My advice from the first post still holds: if you don't want to PERSONALLY keep up, follow other people who will keep up FOR YOU. Choose the few platforms you want to focus on, choose an expert, and subscribe to their email list. Or read something like Social Media Today so you can get more broad updates.

I mean, but really, you'll get a lot from me each week in the Quick Fix, my Friday email with news, tools, trends, tips, and updates.



I need to apologize to Pinterest. It is my #1 traffic driver on my blogs. And...I don't pin. I don't hang out. I don't keep up. That's the very cool thing about Pinterest: you can kind of autopilot it. Because it's more of a search engine than a social place, you don't have to like and comment on a giant stream of people's activities. It's just...ideas. Much more timeless. That doesn't mean you can just ignore it, which is what I've been doing.

Sorry, Pinterest!

Here are some big updates from this year that are good to know! Oh, and if you want to connect there, I have a Create If Writing board that's fabulous and has the content from this site.

  • Pinterest Communities - This is really new and I'm not sure how it will be utilized. So far, I can't even join a community. And you can't see them or make them until you're IN it's kind of like Fight Club? Anyway. Here's a great post about them. I think it could have potential, but if I have a pretty solid understanding of Pinterest and can't actually get IN a community, there is an issue. READ/LISTEN TO MORE ABOUT PINTEREST COMMUNITIES.
  • Pinterest Carousel Pins - Because so many people just scroll through Pinterest, I'm not sure about how these carousel pins, which can have multiple images and links will work. Will Pinterest users really go for these? Unsure. Here's how to test if you have early access. Pintere
  • Lots more little updates - I found this fabulous post from Anastasia Blogger that has a summary of all the things that have changed on Pinterest this year. READ IT. 
  • SmartLoop comes to Tailwind - Tailwind is the only scheduler I use and pay for that works with Pinterest and Instagram. They added a feature that's much like Board Booster's old one that will let you set up pins that will pin again. FIND OUT MORE.  (*If you want to try Tailwind, this is my affiliate link! It's super easy to use and has great features.) 
  • Group boards aren't working so well - This isn't super new, but the group boards that once worked so well (with thousands of pinners) DON'T. Pinterest didn't want to give them priority as they were spammy. Work on having your own quality boards with keywords. Dump the big ones that have no relevance.

YOU GUYS. If you aren't using Pinterest, it's not too late to start. And don't get all eye-roll-y on me. It's the easiest platform to use. You don't have to talk to people or play a game. You share great content with relevant keywords in the descriptions. The end.

I mean, of course, there's more to it, but essentially, you're putting your content directly into a giant search engine. No follow-for-follow mess or follow-unfollow or whatever else. Even with a small following, your pins can be found and drive traffic to your site.

More resources: 


I had to dive deep into my resources for this one. I pay ZERO attention to YouTube. I love the idea...but I don't have the time. With all the video out there, YouTube is still a crazy-amazing platform if that's the kind of content you want to create!

  • YouTube Studio - This is essentially a new dashboard for creators that will have a brief look at analytics, suggestions, and a place to see YouTube news and updates. (You can see in this screenshot that I'm not big over in the 'Tube...except my one video that's been viewed 50,000 times on painting walls. For real. Too bad I don't blog about that.) 

  • YouTube Premieres - This is a new features that allows you and your audience watch a video together. That sounds kinda fun! And...kinda like the new feature on Facebook where you can have a watch party. How about that! READ MORE ABOUT PREMIERES.
  • YouTube Stories - This is a features just like those other features on those other platforms. Except... it's only for the elite with over 10k subscribers. MORE HERE.
  • YouTube is making its original content free...with ads - YouTube tried the subscription model like Netflix, but decided to scratch that in favor of having its videos come out from behind the paywall (so I can FINALLY watch the new Karate Kid!) but with ads. FIND OUT MORE.

I love that last one. You know why? Because YouTube is huge. But they still experimented with a model that's working for others. And when it didn't work, they went back to their strengths. It shows a wisdom to try, but to know when to double-down on what you already do well.



Instagram cracks down on fake accounts - The cheer was heard 'round the world as Instagram cracked down on fake accounts and some of the smarmier practices. READ MORE.

Instagram requires a biz account for many third-party tools now - As of December 2018, Instagram will finally fully shift their API (which started earlier this year). What this means for those of you who, like me, don't know what API stands for, it means that if you want to schedule and post from Tailwind or Hootsuite or another tool, you need your Instagram account to be a business account. The switch is free and almost painless. Your engagement might disagree, as mine dropped when I switched.

For Podcasters, Libsyn integrates with Pandora - Y'all. I don't have this yet, but for podcasters using Libsyn for their media hosting, you can get your podcast on Pandora, which I believe is the largest audio streaming platform PERIOD. I'm a huge fan of Libsyn and would highly recommend them for podcasters for reasons like this one. They care about podcasters and go out to get features that matter. READ MORE.

LinkedIn is doing some things (like thinking really hard about a stories-like feature) and Snapchat is making new spectacles, but I don't really care. At all.



My first tip for keeping up is that you should FOCUS. Unless you have a job that requires you pay attention to ALL social media, stop trying! I feel totally okay that I had to spend time googling "YouTube new features 2018" to write this post.

Pick the few platforms you care about and just do that work. The end. Don't worry about Instagram if you don't use it. If you think you MIGHT use it, don't worry now. Worry when you want to use it. The platform will change if you're looking now, planning for then.

I've found more and more as I go on that all the social media activity I strived to gain means very little. I mean, I have almost 10k Twitter followers. That was a huge goal years ago! doesn't DO anything for me.

What DOES work? Relationships. Those could happen on social. They happen for me in the Facebook group. And on my email list. Those two together are like my magic. Find your magic! The thing that you enjoy that DOES something for you. Then just do that and don't feel at all guilty that you ignore everything else. Okay? Great. Glad we got that squared away.


If you really like knowing what's up, visit a site like Social Media Today once a week and just scan the headlines. It's fabulous and easy. You'll impress your friends. (Maybe.)

Nov 16, 2018

This post will be part one of a series on social media changes from 2018. This doesn't JUST include social media, but also touches on Amazon and blogging and more. 

It can be SO hard to keep up with all of the changes that happen on the internet in a WEEK, much less a year. But I want to go over some of the big news and social media updates that you need to know. Most of these took place in 2018, while some were a little earlier and some are currently rolling out or have been announced, but haven't taken effect!


As a tip to start, if you find yourself overwhelmed trying to keep up, the best thing you can do is follow people and sites that do a good job of keeping you apprised. Here are a few sites or emails that will help you keep up:

The Quick Fix - my weekly email with news, tips, resources, and more


Let's dive into those links!!


I'd sum these up by saying privacy and groups. Because of the Cambridge Analytica issue, FB has made some changes with regards to privacy that affect ads.

  • Business manager required for custom audiences - If you have targeted by uploading your email list to Facebook (yep, you can do that), this will now need to happen in the Business Manager. Which is its own special circle of heal. MORE HERE.
  • New square images for ads - Um, yes please! Older versions of FB may not show these, but Facebook let me know in my ads manager that I can choose a bigger image. Can't wait for this!

  • Posting within groups as your PAGE - So we're clear, your PAGE is what people can LIKE, as opposed to your personal profile, where you ad friends. FB is rolling out the option to post as your page, but the group has to okay it. I haven't had this rolled out to my groups yet. READ MORE.
  • Groups may have mentors and mentees - This is a weird one and I've seen it happening more in a testing way, with it being added by FB to a group without the owner's permission. Members can sign up to mentor or be mentored. I feel like this is a disaster of smarminess waiting to happen where people in a group trying to get clients will sign up as mentors and try to "help." READ MORE
  • Groups can now be paid - This is another rolling out change where you can have a paid Facebook group. This has previously been against terms of service, so all those courses with a bonus group had to be careful how they worded that to avoid violating TOS. READ MORE
  • Groups can have learning units - Going hand-in-hand with paid groups, this would make a group function as a kind of course. READ MORE


  • New app for IGTV - Instagram added Instagram TV, which allows you to broadcast within the separate app for up to an hour. Word on the street is people are underwhelmed. READ MORE

I big-time love Kami Huyse and she has a fabulous show on IGTV. Here's a link to the show notes, which have updates on social media as well! CHECK IT HERE!

New shopping features - I don't know how this will trickle down to people like you and me, but this is fun. MORE HERE

New quick replies to DMs - If you want to reply fast, you can do this much more easily now.

Nametags - This works like Snapchat ghost codes, from what I gather. Because Instagram has copied everything else...

IGTV previews can be shared in Instastories - Oh, and Instastories can be longer now too.



Gutenberg is coming to Wordpress - This is the biggest change to Wordpress since...uh...forever? You might want to stick with the Classic Editor til they fix some bugs. READ WHY HERE



GDPR happened and we didn't die - I would love to never talk about this again. But the privacy policy enacted in the EU had worldwide repercussions. Mostly things are fine. You can read my posts about it HERE and HERE.



  • Createspace morphed into KDP Print - If you used the print on demand company Amazon owned, it's now gone and merged into the same dashboard with your ebooks in KDP. This will in the long run be great, but it's been a bumpy transition.
  • Affiliates can share their influencer page link in email - Amazon doesn't allow sharing affiliate links in email. But they did update (maybe in 2017) to allow Amazon Influencers to share a link to their page in email. This is a separate program within the affiliate program. APPLY HERE.

Curious? Check out my influencer page! All those links are affiliate links, to provide disclosure.



  • Maybe we'll finally get to edit tweets - This has been the most-called-for feature by users and Twitter is "thinking about it." I'll believe it when I see it. READ MORE
  • Have live audio - This is a neat feature that works on the app or in Periscope. It's like a live video...but audio. READ MORE. 
  • Twitter will let you use a chronological timeline - Go under your settings & privacy and uncheck the "see best stories first" thing.
  • Testing new desktop features - You can check out screenshots HERE.



Google Plus is dead - If you've still been using this, you can chill and have one less thing to do. READ MORE. 

Nov 9, 2018

So far in this series, I've shared a simple book launch formula, how to get other people to share your work, how to utilize paid promotions, and in this post, I'm tackling how to grow your email list. This WILL have applications outside of book launching!

If you're new around here, you may have missed that I'm a little nerdy about email lists. I've got under 10,000 people on my combined three lists (for fiction, nonfiction, and my lifestyle blog). Not huge! But size is NOT the only thing that matters when it comes to your list. The goal should be a group of active, interested, and perhaps even RABID fans.

First of all, let's talk about a few email basics. When I say "email list," what I mean is the group of people who have actively signed up to receive emails that you send through an email service provider like ConvertKit, MailerLite, Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, or any other trusted provider. I do NOT mean you sending emails to all your contacts in gmail.


Growing an email list really breaks down into two main pieces:

  1. Content Strategy
  2. Traffic Strategy

Without great content, no one will want to sign up for your list. Without traffic, no one will know about your great content. These go hand-in-hand. There are also tools and ways to optimize your website for email growth, but I'll tackle that in another post.


Note for People Who Hate Email: 

It's all about your MINDSET. If you're frustrated about email or not really "into" it, you need to reframe the conversation. Consider email your direct connection with your superfans! It's not a chore and it's not THAT complicated. You CAN do it and I hope that if you think of it as connecting with your fans.

If you are JUST getting started, check out my FREE EMAIL COURSE!


I'm all about the two parts in this post. There are two parts to your email content strategy that you need to consider. The first is the kind of content that you are creating openly on the internet, whether on a social media platform like Instagram, a blog, a YouTube channel, or even in books you sell on Amazon. The second part of your content strategy is what you'll send people through your email.


To get subscribers, you need to have fabulous content that they can interact with BEFORE they sign up. If you have great blog posts, they may be motivated to sign up to get more. If you have Instagram posts that they just love, they might want to go deeper and get updates via email. You must have some great public-facing content that they can engage with before you ask them to sign up.

You also need to have a compelling reason that people want to sign up. No one wants to "sign up for my newsletter." Nope. You need to clearly and specifically let people know WHY they should sign up for your email list. That looks like creating an email content strategy.

It doesn't have to be complicated! For my fiction list, I tell people that they'll hear about new books first and get my Weekly Clean Reads email with great book deals. For Create If Writing, you'll get the weekly Quick Fix where I share news, tools, and resources for your authentic-platform building.

Do you see how both of those are clear and specific? They may not speak to EVERYONE, but I don't want everyone on my list. I want superfans!

A freebie (aka: lead magnet or reader magnet) is another type of content that may get people to sign up. This usually looks like a free book, checklist, form, resource, guide, etc that people will get for signing up for your email list. Freebies can still work really well, but they also need to be specific and targeted to the right people.

If you are trying to figure out how to grow your content or develop a content strategy, I'd recommend Meera Kothand's book the One Hour Content Plan. It's focused toward blogging, but will be helpful in thinking about a framework for content strategy.



A lot of people stop after working on content. They think the issue is really all about creating a great freebie and having a nice website, perhaps with a snazzy opt-in form or pop-up. Those things are great! But if you have no traffic coming your way, then you won't have any people who see your content to sign up.

Ways to get traffic to your website:

  • SEO - Search engine optimization as with Google
  • Social Media - Sharing on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest (which is more like search engine traffic)
  • Use email - but this is a chicken and egg problem- you can email people when you have a new blog post, but this doesn't help if you don't an email list
  • Guest posting - not all created equal (check out my post over at Jane Friedman)

Ways to get traffic to your email list directly:

You can use a variety of ways to build traffic to your website or even just a landing page for your freebie. A combination is often best, but you could have several different kinds of


Are you feeling a little better about email? Just a LITTLE? I hope you are!! Remember: you need to think about the kind of content you're going to provide and then get that content in front of people.'s a little more complicated in practice. But break it down into those two pieces to start. You can do it! 


Nov 2, 2018

It's a scary thing to consider spending money when you are just starting out. Or even sometimes in the middle. When you aren't yet making money, it can seem crazy to SPEND money. But investing wisely can lead to greater results. I'm going to share the two main ways that you can invest as you launch your book and some things to consider as you do. 

Listen to Episode 142- How to Use Paid Promotion to Launch Your Book 


Subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, or your favorite podcast app!


Much of this series focuses on books, but could apply to other launches, but this post will be more specifically geared toward book sales. 

The two main options for paid promotions are:

  • paid newsletter promotions (like BookBub or BookSends)
  • paid advertisements (FB & AMS)

There are lots of other ways you could advertise, but these are the two main branches that I'm going to talk about today. 


Email outperforms social media for sales, period. (Read some research on that here, or listen to Tim Grahl.) If you don't have a big list, that's okay! You can use paid email promotions that utilize other companies big lists. Essentially, they spend the money to build a giant list, then they charge you to have your book featured to their big audience. 

Things to consider:

  • Do you need reviews or other requirements?
  • Does it break down into specific genres? 
  • What is the cost?
  • What do other authors say? 
  • Does the book have to be live to set up the promotion? 
  • How far in advance are they booked up? (Some are booked up for months in advance)
  • Is it email or is it a social media post? 

Before paying for any of these promotions, I asked other authors which sites they personally had luck using. Not everyone agrees, but it's a good idea to ask people, not just see reviews. I also tested and found which ones seemed to work well for my books and tracked those daily sales with a spreadsheet so I could know which ones to try again. 


Kindlepreneur's List of 127 Promo Sites

Reedsy's List of Promo Sites 




The biggest of these are Amazon Services Ads (formerly known as AMS ads, now just AS ads) and Facebook Ads. Many people have found success with these kinds of ads, but the downside is that you have to either learn the skill and platform, or hire someone. 

Things to consider: 

  • Do you have time to learn something new? 
  • Do you have the money to test? 
  • Do you see other authors in your niche having results? 

TIP: Now you can go to a page and see what ads that person has run. You won't see the effectiveness, but can see the image they used, their copy, and any interactions on the post. 


Kindlepreneur Free Amazon Ads course 


Test, but ask others what works

Pay for the ones with ROI - email!

It's not always about the money you make back, but what it gets you. ROI, but with a grain of salt because visibility matters to your ranking, KU page reads, people reading through to other books. Some people have a formula for this, but it makes my head spin, so I can't even.


Difference between running ads and paid NL promos. Both risky, esp if you're trying them for the first time, but ads tend to have more risk. With an NL, if you ask for reputable suggestions, people will tell you. Doesn't mean you'll get what you want or hope for, but often it's easier than trying to figure out the right audience to target on FB ads or how to bid on BookBub ads or what the heck with AMS, or AS ads.

Conclusion: Invest and Test

The biggest thing is that you're going to have to invest. Invest in your own growth of newsletter. Invest in ads for your books. Invest in the things that make your book succeed, like a great cover and time to write well. Test what you can and track your sales and pagereads and rankings on Amazon. You can't always get this down to a science, but you can get a good idea of what works for you and what doesn't. 

Oct 26, 2018

In the last post I shared a simple book launch framework. Now I want to break down some of the specifics related to promotion, because this is where people really struggle. Because this is a huge topic, this post focuses on getting other people to share your work.

Having other people share your work? Well, that sounds smarmy. Isn't this the blog and podcast all about NOT being smarmy?

Yes. Yes it is.

But there is a way to ask others to share your work that is NOT smarmy. I heavily rely on other people sharing my fiction books for Emma St. Clair, and I've built some amazing relationships along the way. I'm going to break this down a bit, but if you want more on how to work well with others in non-smarmy ways, you should really check out Creative Collaborations. Yeah, I'm plugging my book. But literally, that's what the book is about. So if you want more... get it.


It sounds simple to say that you should ask people to share for you. But if you're starting out and aren't sure how to do this, it sounds weird and gross, like those 100 emails I get every day from strangers asking me to add this super relevant link to my blog post! (Nope.) 

The two main ways to do this are: 

  • simply asking people that you have a relationship with (including newsletter swaps)
  • having an affiliate program for your thing

Let's go a little deeper into the details so you can put this into action! But first... a few quick reminders. If you didn't already check out the first part of How to Launch Your Book, you should do that. I'll give you a summary of the three main kinds of promotion: 

  1. sharing with your people (email, social media, etc)
  2. asking other people to share with their people (what this post is talking about!)
  3. paying for ads and promos

Clearly, we are focusing on part two. But I'll go back to part one and also we'll look at ads and promos in the future. (If you want a head start on email lists, you can check out my email list resources!) 


Also before we start, let's get your head right. If you hate thinking about promotion and marketing, you need a mindset shift. Stop thinking of this in those terms if you don't like them. 

Marketing and promotion is basically YOU connecting with your ideal audience and readers. Don't you want to do that?

Don't you want to get emails from people saying they loved your book and your course and think you are the best thing ever?

Don't you want people joining your email list after they read your great blog post?

Don't you want to know that readers were up all night reading your book? 

Marketing and promotion are just fancy words for you finding your ideal people who want your stuff. Doesn't that sound much better, albeit less fancy? 

Oct 19, 2018

Writers all struggle with different parts of the craft. Some struggle with the start, while others get stuck in the middle, and many find editing to be a challenge. But one shared struggle for most writers I talk with is the actual book launch.

Book launching brings to mind the idea of marketing and promotion and publishing, whether you are working alongside a traditional publisher or you are an indie author. I'm going to share a simple book launch formula here geared more towards indie authors. But if you are working with a traditional publisher, these principles can still work for you! You simply might have other help or confines to work within.


I'm calling this a framework not a formula or a step-by-step guide because I like the loose structure of a framework. I definitely am a do-what-works-for-you person, so within a larger structural framework, you have freedom to try many different strategies. This is meant  to help you understand the bigger umbrella of a book launch so that you can shift the smaller, moving pieces in ways that work for you and your book.


When I say "simple," what I mean really is that I'm breaking this down into the simplest overarching things you need for a launch. I'll be following up in detail with later posts, but for now, the goal is to avoid overwhelm. SIMPLE. Got it? Let's go. 

Three Stages of Your Launch Timeline

1. Pre-launch - writing the book, editing, proofing, formatting, cover design, platform-building

2. Launch - three kinds of promo (more on that next week). Telling your audience, having others tell their audiences, and then paying people to tell people

3. Post-launch - keeping your book afloat, more evergreen strategies on your site, guest posting, AMS ads, continuing to do the launch-type promo paying or emailing, etc

That doesn't sound so bad...right? Let's take each piece and break it down a bit more. Again, this is about the framework, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on how to do a lot of these things. Before you get to the details, I want you to have the mindset. 


Goal: Prepare the product, building your platform

Actions: In this section of your launch, you'll be preparing your product. You'll write and polish your book, get the editing and proofing, formatting, and cover. All the things you need to be ready for launch.

You'll also be building your platform so that you have an audience to launch TO. I would primarily recommend growing your email list or a Facebook group. But if you have engagement on a social platform (people like, comment, click through, share), then definitely utilize that! 


Goal: Get the message out about your book, make sales

Actions: This is the most obvious section, but there are many ways to handle the actual launch! I'm trying a slow launch method where I don't really make a big deal about my book until it's been out for a few days, then I stagger promotional efforts to keep a steady rise. You might go for a big explosion on one day. 

The big thing to note is that there are only three basic kinds of promotion: you telling your audience, getting other people to tell their audience, and paid promotions and advertisements. 


Goal: Keep your book from gathering digital dust

Actions: Books typically don't just sell and keep selling. You have to continue to drive traffic. This can look like continued ads, writing blog posts related to your book and linking in the blog posts (you also have to then promote the blog posts!), setting up other paid promotions, reminding your readers, and other actions that you did in the launch stage. 

If you're using Kindle Select, you get a free promo or Kindle Countdown every 90 days. Now that I have a backlist of books, I try to set up one extra promo a month, in addition to launching a new book. So I'm doing all three of these levels every month. THAT MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU. I write rapidly. Find the balance, but don't forget to give your books love after they launch. Usually they will not keep selling if you don't. 

I hope that you are finishing this post feeling a sense of peace. Book launching (or just launching!) doesn't HAVE to be overwhelming. Yes, there are lots of little details within this big framework. But understanding the overarching ideas and the big picture can help you see just how doable this is! You've got this. 

We'll keep moving forward in this series, going a little bit deeper each time. Next up: more on promotions!

Oct 5, 2018

If you haven't written a book, I want to convince you. And if you have written a book, I want to help you focus your efforts toward getting the most out of it! This post will share three big reasons you should write a book.

I'm not trying to take over Honorée Corder's job and tell you that you must write a book (more from her in episode 104!), but I do want to give you three reasons you should write a book and even break those down into some specific WHYs. 

(If you're new around here, I'm all about the WHY.)

These three reasons you should write a book are partly reasons...but also just as much goals for your books. Books don't just make money. They can accomplish a few different purposes and sometimes people miss that. 


  1. Building
  2. Being Known
  3. Banking 



Audience building

Empire building



Gaining authority

Gaining visibility



Book sales

Other product/service sales

Sep 28, 2018

The beauty of the internet is all the knowledge you can find at the touch a button. My husband replaced the starter in our minivan last week after watching a video on YouTube. EPIC! But the downside of the internet is the same--all the "knowledge" you can find at the touch of a button. 

I want to break down some really popular advice and why you might want to ignore it OR why you need more information to make it make sense. 


The money’s in the list

If you know me, you know I'm into email. Research also shows that more conversions and sales happen through email than social media platforms. Yes, email has the best conversion rate for sales. But it takes work to get the right kind of email list and to sell the right kind of product in the right kind of way. Not automatic. Lots of work, but pays off.

Focus on getting the right subscribers, offering something that meets those subscribers' needs, and then honing in on your sales copy. 

Do what works for you

People sometimes think of this as do what you want. They ignore best practices and research and just do what they feel like doing. That MIGHT work, but it would likely be an exception to the rule OR you're just more stellar than everyone else at what you're doing. 

Doing what works means that it works multiple times and over time. It isn't a fluke or happy accident. There are many ways to do things, but you should really know the best practices first and not write those off.

Show, don’t tell

This is one of the most common pieces of advice for writers and I think it SHOULD be. However...there are some big mistakes people make in light of this advice. Tim Storm has a great post on this, where he talks about how often there is so much description that the unnecessary showing it slows the story down.

Sometimes you have to TELL. And other times, using gesture or a symbol or something else can really show something. In a book I recently read, the author SHOWED that a character was stressed by the way he counted the grains of wood in the table during a heated conversation. She didn't write, "He was stressed." She showed him counting as the discussion moved on around him. I LOVE that kind of showing. But super long descriptive paragraphs feel like they maybe belong in classic lit. Forever. 

Do one thing really well

This has variants, like when people talk about rocking out one particular social media platform. While focus is so important (I talked about that in episode 136), it’s also a good idea to diversify.

When Facebook changed algorithms back in 2012 or even more recently, some businesses literally closed up their doors because all their eggs were in that basket. It’s good to be diversified in our income streams and in our social platforms. (Email is also still the most SURE bet for longterm connection.)

Doing one thing well is a great start, but as you start to master something and maybe get some systems or schedules in place, you can extend outward and master some other social platforms or find other revenue streams.

You have to write every day

Yes, I get it. Writing is a craft and a commitment. Setting a schedule can be a good idea. Being disciplined is important. Writing is an art, but it is also a work.

But this phrase can really lead to guilt, which can short-circuit the brain and make you less productive. Write as often as you can. Write as discipline. Write for love. Some days it might be more discipline. Some days it might not happen. Some days you will love it. And some days you love it, but you can’t DO it. It does not mean you are not a writer if you don’t write every day.

Kill your darlings

Why there is no small debate about who said this first, this is still popular (and very solid) advice! But... some people misunderstand this and think that it means you have to kill off what you love. Nope!

No, you kill off what you love that doesn’t work. I have a tendency to use the word “So” when writing, often to start dialogue. While this may be something I often SAY a lot or people say when they are speaking, it doesn’t work on the page. If you can identify those natural tendencies that you have in your writing, you can see when they are overused and have become a crutch for you, rather than a support for great writing. 

You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

Yes, sort of. The problem here lies in the extremes. Some people say they have NO money and aren’t willing to invest. My friend Jami Albright sold bone marrow to buy good covers for her romance novels. She wrote two novels and the sales were so good, she is now full-time. But her original budget took some creative straining to pay for the necessary things for success. (Also, her covers were great, but still on a budget.) 

On the other extreme, I hear people saying they paid $1k for a blogging course or some kind of author marketing thing and they haven’t made the money back. You likely need to invest, but at the beginning stages, that doesn't HAVE to be a bazillion dollars. Start and scale. But don't scimp on the really key things. 

Hit up episode 137 if you need to know Six Questions to Ask before You Invest!

What did I miss? Share any other pieces of advice you've heard in the comments OR what I may have not covered all the way in these common pieces of advice!

Sep 21, 2018

Advice is rampant all over the interweb about where you should invest. Rather than giving you specific advice that may not work, I'm going to give you six questions to ask before you spend any money!

I've wasted a lot of money. I've bootstrapped. I've seen how investing early in the long-term can pay off...even if not right now. I want to share with you some of those specifics, but within the confines of six questions you can ask yourself before you invest. Where I spent money may not be where you should! My advice may not work for you! 

These questions, however, should really help you with these decisions!


  1. What do I NEED right now?
  2. What will benefit me in the long run if I invest NOW?
  3. What can I wait for?
  4. What can I get now for less and upgrade later?
  5. What's risky, but worth a try?
  6. What's the shiny object I need to ignore?

Ready to break those down?? Let's do it! 


I sometimes hear people telling authors that before they launch a book, they need a website. Guess what? NOPE. If I didn't have a website, I would have made JUST as much money this year as I would have with my website. I'm not selling books primarily there. What I NEEDED was a book I wrote, a great cover, editing, and a way to promote. 

You need to really separate what other people say you need and what you actually NEED to meet your goals. It's often way less than you think! If it helps to think about this backwards, consider what you don't need to accomplish your immediate goals. 

What I recommend always getting NOW: An email list. This has the best ROI for all the things. Whatever else you're doing now, get an email list. Check out this post on which provider is best for you.


I'm all about counting the ROI--return on investment. Sometimes that return doesn't come for a while. But for certain things, you should invest anyway. 

I mentioned email in #1 and fully believe you can invest there first. But you also may consider investing in growth there. NOT buying subscribers (gross!), but in giveaways or other surefire ways in your industry (that's important) to really grow your list. I used a paid service called Booksweeps and got like 1000 new subscribers for $120. Um, ROI. Now, that didn't pay off til I had books to sell, but it was a long-term investment. 


If you're primarily a blogger, obviously you need a website. But you don't have to have a killer one that has custom designs or a custom logo. If you are a writer, you may not need one at ALL for a good long while. Sure, it's great to have and you'll need one later, but again-- the fact that I have a website has not in any way at any time impacted my fiction book sales. The end. 

If you can wait and you're on a tight budget, WAIT. 


When it comes to waiting, some things are good to have now, but maybe they could be okay for now and then LATER you can have your dream. Perhaps you start on Squarespace and then LATER hire that designer. Create a simple logo for yourself or barter services or use fiverr. Later hire someone better and get things exactly the way you want them!

If you aren't sure on this one, consider the ROI of whatever that thing is you are considering. When will it pay off? WILL it pay off? Is your audience actually going to notice or be impacted? 


There are some things that you have to go out on a limb for. Things like AMS ads or Facebook ads or even hiring a coach or taking a course. They may NOT give you surefire results. If you are considering something risky, here are a few follow-up questions: 

  • Do I personally know someone who can vouch for this thing/person/service?
  • Have I researched the best practices? 
  • Are there other people in my niche who have found success with this? 


Okay, y'all. Get real. We all have things that we want just...because. We like them. We think we need them. SQUIRREL! If you can't be objective, ask a friend who's honest about this. Don't invest in things because they are pretty, cool, or because you really, really want them. 

Links I mention in the episode:



Sep 14, 2018

I'm going to gloss over the conversation about whether or not you should make money with your creative endeavors. I firmly believe that there is a happy place where you can get paid to do what you love.

Yes, you can also sell out. I can't tell you where that line is, but I think you know it in your heart when you do it. 

Here are some common revenue streams for creative people: 

  1. books or ebooks
  2. online courses
  3. coaching- group or individual 
  4. membership sites
  5. paid teaching - at a school or workshops online or in person
  6. affiliate sales
  7. sponsored blog posts or social media posts
  8. ads on your site
  9. physical products
  10. side jobs - editing, freelancing, being a virtual assistant, etc

Those aren't all the ways you can make money, but some of the more common ways creative people are making money online. I see a lot of people talking about the ways you can make money with these various revenue streams, but not a lot of people are talking about the COST. I don't mean financially, though that is a factor. I'm going go dive deep into how you can consider the costs of these revenue streams. 

Sep 7, 2018
In this blog post and podcast episode, I'm sharing about the power of having a single focus. I don't do well with one thing at a time, but I'm telling you to pick one thing and sharing what happened when *I* did! I am a serial starter. I am reading probably eight books right now. I have no less than four half-finished paintings in my house. I am currently working on three books. I DO NOT LIKE TO NARROW DOWN. But I learned something this summer. Even though I don't like doing one thing at a time, there is incredible power when you pick one thing and have a singular focus. Listen or read to learn the whys and hows of narrowing your focus for powerful results. LISTEN TO EPISODE 135 - THE POWER OF A SINGLE FOCUS Subscribe on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify WHY HAVING A SINGLE FOCUS IS POWERFUL Everyone works differently, so please take what I say here with that in mind. I am NOT advocating for all people at all times to do just one thing. I'd like to just start with that. Always: do what works for YOU and YOUR goals.  Having a single focus serves two big purposes: It helps you actually attain your goal It helps you learn to do that task more efficiently and automatically Research shows that you’re 2-3x more likely to accomplish something when you’re specific about how you plan to implement. Creating a goal isn't enough. You need to have a  BUT that only works if you have a single focus. (Read more about that in this blog post from James Clear on mastering one thing.)  A habit becomes more automatic if you continue to do just that one thing over time. It becomes habit forming. The more reps, the more second nature it becomes. When I played roller derby, one of the big things you learn FIRST is falling. You learn to fall well and practice falling well until your body naturally falls well every time. When you focus on one thing over time, it's like muscle memory. You're teaching your body how to do that task correctly and with ease.  My Results of a Single-Focus Summer This past summer I stopped almost everything. I closed my Facebook group to new members. I stopped blogging and creating new podcast episodes.  And I wrote four books and had a $3500 month on pure book sales. (SQUEEEE!) I learned that I can write a book in two weeks, but generally can write a novel now in a month. I had NO idea until I shifted my focus to this one thing. It's been amazing and now I'm slowly adding things back in. You can find Emma's books HERE if you're interested. HOW YOU CAN SUCCESSFULLY FOCUS ON ONE THING If you want to have a single (or even mostly single) focus, you need to plan. It's rough. Set your mindset - no guilt! Do what you need to do! Make a list of all the things you're doing. Figure out what HAS to stay on your to-do list. Figure out what CAN go. Make the final decision based on the ROI- what is actually performing?  Make a plan. This may mean planning your daily time and over months. Consider retreats. I did 2-3 this summer to finish edits. Hire out what you can. It's hard to let go of things. But you might be surprised how letting things go doesn't matter. Not blogging for three months? Had ZERO negative impact on my financials. (Or my traffic, which stayed about the same. Thanks, Pinterest!) Not podcasting? Same. I kept up with my email (because PIVOTAL) and with my Facebook group, which is the heart of my community. When you focus, you can really accomplish something. If you’re pivoting like I have been, you may need to do this and have a seriously focused time.  CALL TO ACTION Consider whether you need to have a focus. If so, then go through the things you’re doing and what you can get rid of. Make a list of all the things that go along with the new single focus and then do those things.
May 28, 2018

In this post and podcast episode, we'll be diving into the idea of writing rules and when you can break them. I was honestly surprised with where I landed on this. Keep reading and see if you agree!

We've all heard that phrase: "Learn the rules; then you can break them." Or something like it. But how do you know what the rules are? And when can you actually break them?


This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you purchase something by clicking through. 


We live in a time period where things are much more open. Language is changing and has been affected by social media and texting. (Don't feel too upset by this because language is always changing. People were mad at Shakespeare in his day. It's not a new problem!) 

There are also different schools of rules. Personally, I adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style for my punctuation and grammar. While others might use the MLA or AP or something else. These don't all agree! (It's a good idea to find out which of these your particular niche uses so you can also adhere to the common guide in your niche!)


The rules we will be talking about today are really more of expectations that your readers have for your particular genre, niche, or medium.

When you write a query to an editor and you have two spaces after a period, they may not read your manuscript. PERIOD. They are too busy to read everything and this choice gives them an easy out to toss your manuscript.

When you buck the expectations and the rules, you are sending a message. Usually that message is- I'm ignorant OR I don't care. Neither is a good thing.

Writer in another group talked about just not understanding why people care about punctuation and spelling. "It's about story," she argued. But readers won't read your story if there are tons of errors. It tells people that you are careless and that you haven't taken the time or effort to do the bare minimum.

Same with covers. Constantly in writer's groups, people are saying things like "What do you think of my cover?" And when the responses are, "Hire a designer," they say "No." Cover matter. Period.

They sell books. They set expectations. They keep people from buying books.


I personally was surprised (as a rebel) to find freedom in following the genre rules. I started writing clean fiction under a pen name in December. I'm a writer by instinct first, so I wrote, then realized that I had messed up some big conventions and expectations. Namely that one of my short stories didn't have a Happily Ever After ending. THEY MUST in this genre.

Typically these books also switch back and forth between the perspectives of the two characters falling in love. I normally like a close third narration sticking to ONE character. This was hard for me.

Both were actually hard--I like resolution, but not necessarily happy endings. I also like my choice for sticking to one character.


But I found that when I started writing within what seemed like strict confines, I wrote better. I wrote faster. In fact, I've published two full novels in 2018, with the third coming out in June. In addition to two short stories in December. I wrote almost 30k words this past week. I believe MUCH of this had to do with the freedom and framework I found in sticking to the conventions.


If you are struggling with rules (like me), see if you can reframe. This is a way of sort of tricking your mind by giving something another name and a different association.

Call the rules expectations. Call them a framework or best practices. Do what it takes to help wrap your brain around finding and sticking to the rules that you need to for your niche, genre, or medium.

Just know that for most of these things, you need to fit into expectations if you want to ever SELL things and connect with an audience.


It's important to note that rules can be broken. New things can emerge. Now we are talking about disruption. Disruptive innovation is when something changes in the market that makes a huge impact. Brand new markets for different kinds of customers.

Netflix is an example. They first disrupted the video stores and shut them DOWN. Then they doubled down on streaming and within a few years, TV will be totally different. (My opinion.) 

As content creators, writing an unexpected blog post or type of book is more a micro-disruption. You might choose to do something outside the rules and find great success because of the contrast. But generally speaking, if you want an audience and/or money, you should know the expectations and do your best to meet them.

The three times you can break the rules are when you are:

  1. Famous
  2. Genius
  3. Lucky

Those are typically the only ways that breaking the rules will mean success. You're famous and already have an audience of raving fans, you can do whatever you want.

You're a genius and you happen to stumble upon disruptive innovation that WORKS and changes the game.'re lucky. You happen to break a rule at the right time or get in front of the right audience or have some crazy stroke of luck. Often there is hard work behind luck. But sometimes there is just...luck. It just happened to work, even though it shouldn't have.


You can't look at what someone famous does and say, "Well, breaking the rules worked for THEM." If you see someone breaking the rules successfully, chances are they are famous, a genius, or lucky. You'll do best to stick to best practices, not base your decisions on the outliers and minority finding success breaking the rules.


When it comes down to it, if you are breaking the rules because you feel like you need to for your art, you are being selfish. You are putting yourself ahead of your readers.

You might say that you're writing for art, not for money. That's fine. But following the rules is NOT just about money.

Expectations and rules are a gift to your readers. In some ways breaking the rules isn't just about art, it's about YOU. You are thinking of YOURSELF first when you break the rules. Readers have expectations and they may be best served when you follow the expectations of your niche or genre, whether that's clean romance or the kind of blog you write or even within podcasts.


I'd love to hear in the comments if you agree/disagree with this idea of freedom within the rules or my strong statement that breaking the rules can be selfish! {ducks head waiting for tomatoes to be thrown}



Emma St. Clair - my pen name for clean romance

Two free short stories by Emma St. Clair - referenced as not fully adhering to conventions

Two spaces after a period

Bad reviews given to famous works

Disruptive Innovation

The Writing Life - being open to cover changes by Robert Kugler

Tim Storm & Storm Writing School

KDP Rocket - a tool I use for keywords (I'm an affiliate and happy user!!)

Go On Write - great affordable covers (I use his branding package)

German Creative on Fiverr - affordable cover designs

Write to Market - book by Chris Fox

May 14, 2018

Writers don't write in a vacuum. Or...they SHOULDN'T. Writers need writing groups and communities of other writers to help support, teach, encourage, and promote. We need each other! Keep reading to find the why and the how.

Successful writers don't write alone. 

Okay, let me qualify that. Successful writers may write alone, but they don't WORK alone. They have writing groups and writing communities, both online and offline that help them to achieve their goals. (This is true of bloggers as well and podcasters and any -ers that you want to toss in here, I'd wager.) We need community. And the depth of community we create determines our success.



During the recent #cockygate, I saw a few big takeaways, no matter WHERE you fell on that whole mess. (If you don't know what that is, check out a smart and funny summary and then some legal stuff.) Here are the big things I saw from that. 

Writers in Community Get Inspired, But Don't Copy

I think the impetus (from my understanding) of the author going for a trademark was the fact that other people were copying her books in title and cover because they were successful.

Y'ALL. Do your own thing! Pay attention to what other people are doing. Watch them. Study them. (I know I do!) Then apply what you learn to your OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS. You do you. 

Writers in Community Don't Hurt the Community

Trademarking a common word sets a dangerous precedent. Sending emails about changing things like book titles and covers (which isn't always a small expense) is NOT helping the community. 

There are two opposite poles-- doing what's best for you and doing what's best for others. As a writer in healthy community, you should be in the middle. Helping the community helps YOU. But it shouldn't just be about them either. Find your happy spot. But don't hurt a community, because you NEED them. (More on that later.) 

Writers in Community Don't Become a Mob

While I think the trademark action wasn't the best for the community, neither was the community turning into a mob a good thing. I never like the mob mentality. Often it acts first and thinks later. I think the backlash to #cockygate was ugly. Surprising? No. But ugly, VERY much. 

Should writers band together? YES. Marie Force is a great example, being at the helm of the Indie Author Support Network, which is banding indie authors together. The goal is to be able to reach out to companies like iBooks and Amazon with concerns, bringing the force of over 1000 authors with them. That isn't a mob. It's a mobilized, logical force. 

When we turn on each other (even thought I totally get it sometimes), we aren't helping the community as a whole. What if that same mob turned on YOU? Think about that before you join an emotionally charged group. 


I would recommend that you find writing groups of various sizes. I have a few one-on-one people that I go to for the most personal and vulnerable of things. I'm in a few larger groups of a few hundred and then some larger of a few thousand. I'm missing the in-between of one to hundreds, which I think is super important. I'd love to have a group of about ten or less. These sizes allow for different trust factors. 

But what should you look for in writing groups? 

You should absolutely look for groups where people:

  • are honest
  • speak kindly
  • have your best interest at heart
  • know what they are talking about

I've seen writing groups that fail at one or several of these, and they are a  MESS. If you have an honest group that isn't kind and doesn't have your best interest at heart, it's horrible. If you have a group that is kind but doesn't know what they are talking about, that helps NO ONE. I think these are the four most important things. 


Here are a few of my favorite writing groups, with a bit about each. 

Create If Writing - Yup, this is my group. And it's epic. We talk about platform-building, our writing, blogging, social media, and have share weekends. Oh, and we celebrate small wins. Big wins too. But small wins matter. 

I Am a Writer - This group connects to Write Now, the podcast from Sarah Werner. She is kind and generous and cultivates community that is so helpful!

20Booksto50K - This is a behemoth group and may be intimidating. Especially if you are new and drop in just to ask questions that have been answered in full a LOT. Go listen. Read. Watch. 

If you want more on Facebook groups and why they are particularly important and what is changing about them, read this post on what you need to know

Do you have advice for finding great writing groups? Or have a writing group I should add to the list? Leave a comment to let me know! 

Apr 23, 2018

If you haven't heard of GDPR, get ready. Like the term "data," you're going to be hearing this buzzword a LOT. I've got several posts on it already and will likely have more to say. In this post and podcast episode I'll share why all this data talk is significant, why we need to think about it to not be smarmy, and tips for GDRP compliance.

I'm also running a free workshop this week on Freebies + GDPR you won't want to miss. REGISTER NOW!



Did anyone else catch all those memes and silly videos about Congress questioning Zuckerberg? Many of us laughed at that, but here's the thing: were you surprised by anything he said?

Like maybe how Facebook might be tracking you on a website that's not Facebook even if you don't USE Facebook?

Here's reality: Data has long  been overlooked and it's about to change.

People haven't realized how precious data is and the common user of the internet has very little idea what is being tracked and how. These data conversations are really GOOD because they are forcing transparency.

I think this is going to have massive ramifications and this whole data buzz word will be around for a while. It also may have long-reaching impact on your business, if you are doing things like running Facebook ads or having a website or email list. I think that there will be some pushback from the typical users who may not like that your blog is storing their info or sharing with third parties.

Oh- you didn't know your website was doing that? Let's look at what it IS doing.


If you have Google Analytics on your site, the Facebook tracking pixel, or run advertisements with third parties, accept comments on your blog, or have comment forms, you are collecting data.

How much depends on what you're using. Even if you don't KNOW it, you are tracking data.

If you head into the back end of your blog, you'll find that commenters have email addresses stored on your site. That's data that you've collected and GDPR says you are responsible for it. WHAT. Same with contact and other forms on your site.

It goes deeper with Google Analytics, even though that typically is using ip addresses and has lots of anonymity (from my understanding). And if you have the Facebook pixel on your site or are using Google ads or other advertisers, you may be sharing your readers' data with third parties EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW IT.

So if this sounds creepy to you at all, you'll understand why I said that there is going to be long-term fallout and some people are really going to balk at this.


Y'all know I'm all for not being smarmy. So in one sense, I LOVE that this is being brought to light. As bloggers and people using the internet, we need to KNOW that we are storing data. We should know what is being tracked and we should be up front about that with our readers.

It's not smarmy if you don't know and don't tell your readers because you simply didn't know. However, as this data conversation continues, ignorance will not keep you from potential fines or from being responsible for the data you're (unknowingly) collecting.

I like that now we are creating some accountability.

I don't always like some of the specific ways this is playing out with GDPR, but I think that we are moving in a good direction by making all of this more transparent and honest. It's not going to be the wild west of data anymore.

Now you know and knowing is half the battle. The other half is doing something with that knowledge. So let's get into specific tips for GDPR compliance.


Here are a few very actionable and fairly simple items you can do:

Get the GDPR COMPLIANCE plugin. This will add a checkbox for consent on your comments and also any forms on your site.

Update your privacy policy. I know...BORING. There are templates out there, so you might find a good one, but if you want to be SURE you're covered, I'm an affiliate for the products over at Businessese. They JUST updated their privacy policy to have GDRP compliance.

Add a banner or overlay asking consent for cookies. I used a widget called EU Cookie Law Banner that I found in my Wordpress site under appearance/widgets. Likely you will see this banner floating along the bottom. I updated it with custom GDPR language. You can also check out the free option from Cookiebot...but I found it a little more robust than I think (hope) is needed.

Find out what your email service provider is doing. If you are not using a trustworthy email service provider, this is the time to switch. Under GDPR, you are the data controller, but a lot of the heavy lifting will fall to your data processor. You are responsible, but they do a lot of the tech stuff. Email them to ask. I know that Convertkit, Mailerlite, and Mailchimp have things in place and have already heard from a sad listener who is losing tons of subscribers because of her email service provider and GDRP.

Sign up for my free workshop on GDPR and freebies. I think this is going to be one of the biggest areas of impact, so I'm going to dive DEEP into what this looks like. If you are using freebies, lead magnets, or reader magnets to get people to sign up for your email list, you need to come. (If you don't know what those things are, read my post on freebies.)

Sign up for the workshop HERE!


Links mentioned in the episode:


I hope you found these tips for GDPR compliance helpful and that you are not too freaked out by the whole data situation and what you are collecting and what is being collected by other people when you go to mom blogs on the internet, for example. This is the world we live in!

Apr 9, 2018

It's no secret that I go on a lot of writer's retreats. Well. For a mom of five pretty young kids I go on a lot of writing retreats. This post will explain why, how, and how you can DIY a writer's retreat on a budget!

You may be familiar with the idea of writer's conferences (and blogger conferences!) as an important part of community and growth for many writers. I am a conference JUNKIE and have attended tons. But I don't think people talk enough about a writer's retreat and how to make one possible for YOU. 

I try to take 1-2 writer's retreats per year, completely by myself. As an introvert, this is luxurious.

And if that sounds terrifying to you, you can also do a writer's retreat with other people. This post is more geared toward the single-person retreat, but you can apply some of the ideas for a partner or group retreat.

But let's take a step back...WHY are writer's retreats a good idea?? Then I'll share some of my tips for planning.


While conferences have many benefits like learning, networking, and getting new ideas, retreats are all about the work. Specifically, pulling away from the normal day-to-day in order to focus on the work. 

Retreat actually means to withdraw, which is how I think of a writing retreat: I'm withdrawing from the normal tasks, plans, and people to focus solely on the work of writing

But writing retreats do more than just help you focus. Here are some of the benefits of a writer's retreat: 

  • Completing a task or project 
  • Refreshing yourself and recharging
  • Harnessing a single-minded focus

On past writing retreats, I have completed editing manuscripts, built courses, finished off tasks I couldn't seem to get done otherwise, and written drafts of novels. For me, these retreats are one of the only times I get multiple, uninterrupted hours of work on projects. It allows me to finish things, but also to access a focus and energy that I typically don't in my 1-2 hour blocks during a typical week. 

I balance out the work (which I find refreshing in and of itself) with other inspiring things like being in nature, reading books, painting, pampering myself, and sometimes hanging out with other people. 

I return feeling refreshed and accomplished, ready to re-enter the typical grind and schedule. As an introvert, the recharging of a day or two alone is incredible!


As I mentioned, you don't just have to write on a retreat. If you have other nagging tasks that you can't ever seem to complete, finishing those might help remove the mental burden and strain, enabling you to write better.

On my retreats I have finished editing and uploading podcast episodes and show notes, edited and formatted books, and built out whole courses. 

The important thing is to know what you hope to accomplish going in. Just like at home in your day-to-day, you need to prioritize if you want to complete things. Put the first things first. What could you NOT do in your normal life? Or, what would be the BEST use of that time? 

Make a list of the things you REALLY want to finish, then those that you HOPE to complete (or at least work on). I also make sure that I have some life-giving other work, like books loaded up in my kindle or in print versions, great music, and maybe some plans to step out a bit. Even on a retreat, I sometimes need a retreat. 

You might even make a list of things you WON'T do. Perhaps you will ignore social media for the time or you aren't going to check email. (Unless those are included in your priority tasks!) Go somewhere without wifi so that you can ignore the internet altogether. 

(As a humorous note, I didn't intentionally add showering to the list of things I wouldn't do, but that's how it worked out on the last retreat I took. I stayed in a tiny house with an outdoor shower and a sudden cold front dropped the temps to the mid-30s. I returned home from the retreat rested...and a bit smelly.)

Once you know what your plans and priorities are, this might actually help narrow down where you go. If you're on a serious budget, you may have to choose place first or place based on price, whereas if you have flexibility, make a plan and then pick the best place. 


With five kids, saying we are on a budget doesn't quite cover it. So how have I been able to afford 1-2 writing retreats a year? Here are my tips. 

Be determined. If you REALLY feel strongly about having a retreat, you have to make it happen and give it the priority it deserves. Because I feel like these are incredibly important, I've shared that with my husband, who totally supports me in this.

Between his help and my parents, I didn't pay for childcare, which would have been the biggest expense otherwise. If you don't have kids, that's one less cost/concern, but if you DO, you must try to your spouse or support system understand why you need a retreat and then ask for help. 

Check first for free options. I have done several retreats house-sitting for friends. Put a call out on Facebook or other social media (if you dare) to ask if anyone has a place. Look for someone who has a garage apartment, guest room, RV, vacation home, or simply works long hours and has an empty home.

Several times I stayed with a friend who had no kids and who worked until around 9pm at night. That gave me tons of daytime hours and then we often hung out for a bit at night. If people know that you are someone who wants to take retreats, they may consider letting you know when they travel and have an empty home. 

Use VRBO or AirBNB. I cannot say enough about these sites and how incredible they've been for my travel. You can choose simply a room in a house or look for a tiny home or other cheaper option. If you want an inspiring location, you can find that, but if you just need a space to work that has wifi, you can look for that too. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the cleaning fee. Some places that are $30 per night have a $30 cleaning fee, which ends up making it as or more expensive than other options. Also do make sure there is wifi if needed. 

In December I stayed at a tiny home in the country with cows right outside my door. It was amazing! There was no TV, so I simply wrote. When I needed a break, I headed into the small town to eat something or just look around. 

You never know what you'll find on these sites, so if you haven't tried them, definitely see what's in your area or nearby. 

Pack food. If you are on a super tight budget, you could bring your own meals if possible. Even if you stayed in a Motel 6 or something with a mini fridge and microwave, you could buy frozen meals for a few dollars a piece. Anything you get at a grocery store would likely be cheaper than eating out, so do check for a place that has the kitchen options you need.

Be food frugal. I wrote a post on my lifestyle blog about the best foods for family travel, and that might be good to check out. Almost every fast food place has a dollar or value menu. Breakfasts as dinners are often a great choice. 

I tend to treat myself to at least one nice meal (can I get an Amen from people who love eating alone at restaurants??), but otherwise stock up on things from the grocery or dollar menu. 

Take what you get. My ideal writer's retreat would be on a beach, have lots of wine and great food, and maybe be for like a week. Typically I get one night, maybe two, sometimes in a guest bedroom eating salad from a bag. IT'S STILL AMAZING. And maybe one day when my kids are older and I'm making bank, I'll be writing from a Greek Island. 

Have you prioritized having a writer's retreat? What would you do if you had a day or night to yourself to write? 

I hope that these tips help! If you feel like it's something that could never happen for you, I would encourage you to make it a priority, get the people who support you on board, save up or plan a super budget-friendly option, and MAKE IT HAPPEN. 

Do you have any other tips that I missed? Share here in the comments or in the Facebook community!

Apr 2, 2018

It's time to START. Why you need to stop listening to fear and join the conversation.

Evergreen Platform School 

$49 through the end of April 2!

AFTER April 2, use code podcast to get 30% off.

Apr 2, 2018

In a departure from the norm, I'm sharing a modern-day Easter parable with you! 

music by

Mar 19, 2018

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: <- FREE Facebook group  <- FREE weekly email <- 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. <- READ the book here


I hope to be back soon! But until then, connect with me where the people are! 

Feb 26, 2018

I've written about how to create binge-worthy content, but today it's all about how to create viral content. You know: the kind that everyone keeps sharing like hotcakes until your blog catches fire? That kind. Let's dive in!

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.

Listen to Episode 128 - How to Create a Viral 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.

  1. If your post isn't on brand, it's not super helpful
  2. If your post is controversial, you will get the trolls
  3. If your post isn't something you're willing to stand behind, it's not helpful!

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.)


If you have a post go viral, you want to do the best job you can to optimize the post.

Feb 19, 2018

This is a new (hopefully) annual feature at Create If Writing. Consider this my State of the Union Address, where I share my goals for the Create If Writing community. 


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.) 

Create If Writing Goals

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. 

2018 Goals for Create If Writing

I want to help you guys with a few big things this year. Here are my specific goals: 

  • Help my community publish (specifically self-publish) their books
  • Help my community promote and market their books & blogs
  • Help foster and grow the existing supportive, amazing, and helpful community 

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. 

Free Offers

I have a TON of great content on this site, such as the free planner, the Free Email Course, and, of course, this podcast, and the weekly Quick Fix (my epic Friday email). 

Paid Offers

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!

  • Email Lists Made Easy for Writers and Bloggers
  • Creative Collaborations
  • 31 Small Steps to Grow Your Blog 



1-on-1 Coaching

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 or join the community and reach out there. 

Feb 12, 2018

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!

Feb 5, 2018

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:

To keep in touch via email with weekly updates, sign up here: 

Jan 29, 2018

I've been talking about Facebook groups since episode 16 of the podcast, but here on episode 125 I'm sharing how to create a Facebook group with the latest tools!

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!

Facebook Groups Tend to Have More Engagement Than Pages

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.

Facebook Groups Tend to Be More Visible in the Algorithm

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!

Facebook Groups Build Powerful Community

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.


  • link your page and your group
  • post as your page or your profile (I've personally seen less interaction on posts from my page)
  • you can ask questions as people join the group
  • insights about your group
  • can welcome new members- Facebook will suggest it on the right sidebar in your group when you have new members & it will tag them and you can edit the message
  • one group has topics to organize posts - some people use hashtags to organize things, but this is better (not available in all groups yet)
  • header size for groups has changed - update when I have it (link talking about the different sizes)


  • don't "invite" people -- it's actually automatically adding them to the group without permission
  • turn off setting where others can add people (get notifications about people wanting to join)
  • keep showing up. treate people well. Be valuable and personable and present.
  • ask the questions - pain points, let them know about your podcast
  • pin post with who you are
  • don't focus on fast growth or numbers, but people. the whole point


  • always check the group rules -- usually in the About section, in a pinned post, or even in the header image
  • don't use other people's groups as a springboard. Make connections, but don't piggyback on what someone else built.
  • don't teach -- create long posts sharing biz lessons
  • don't drop your affiliate links
  • don't ask people to pm you so you can give affiliate links
  • know that groups have an owner- some more central than others
  • be in fewer groups and really invest
  • don't overly cross post or say you're crossposting
  • don't like for like
  • be wary of share groups and what it's REALLY getting you
  • find promo threads that work and do those
  • DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT ask for market research in a group (ex: "Would you be interested in an Instagram course on creating branded images? Comment below!") and then private message all those people or get their emails and tell them.
  • overall: connect with people. let it happen naturally. don't be a vulture, circling the group waiting to get some value and money and people from it.

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. 

Jan 22, 2018

"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!

Read the Facebook newsroom announcement HERE and Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook post HERE


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:

  • Facebook will prioritizing friends and family over posts from pages and brands.
  • If you aren't creating engaging content on your page, you will most affected.
  • If you are creating engagement content, you shouldn't see as much of an effect.
  • Paid promotions (ads) will still take place.




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?

  • People still expect you to have a public presence on Facebook and will look for you there.

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!) 

  • Facebook prefers that you have a business page for business reasons.

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.

  • Facebook business pages have great ecommerce tools that profiles don't have.

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.

  • Stop like-for-like Facebook threads. 

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.

  • Stop sharing me, me, me posts.

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.

  • Don't use engagement bait.

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!



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