When you take some time to think about your target reader, you are being intentional, which is ALWAYS a good thing. Without intention, you don’t have strategy.
Will this be perfect? NO.
I sometimes get a little eye-roll-y when people talk about their perfect reader named Molly, the one with three kids, a husband who works a corporate job, and who loves to buy her clothes at White House/Black Market.
This drives me crazy because I know my own audience pretty well. At least, a good portion of them. They email me back and talk about their lives. They hang out in my Facebook group and share what they are working on and struggling with.
I still don’t know where most of them shop. And if you asked me where I like to shop, I would say that I LOVE White House/Black Market, but I can AFFORD Ross.
People are complicated. Your audience will not be one-dimensional.
If it helps you to name your ideal reader and think of that person when you write, great. If that brings clarity and cohesion to your work, power to you! Do what works. But more often, I think that completing a workbook like this and thinking about your target audience is more about YOU.
It is more about finding out the kinds of need that you meet with your blog, your writing, or your business. Your ideal reader is the person who NEEDS what you OFFER.
Do your best to imagine that one person who needs what you have. Think about their ins and outs and their finances and marital status and what shows they watch and what makes them click on a particular headline. This can be a very helpful exercise.
But then remember as you write that your audience may have some commonalities and some similar backgrounds and interests. They are diverse. They are not all named Molly.
Defining your target audience is a great tool for you! But the more you actually connect with your readers in a personal way through emails or Facebook groups or comments on a Facebook page, the more you will be able to write with those particular people in mind.
It doesn’t mean you will try to please them all, but you might think about how you word something because there are four REALLY dedicated dudes that follow your 90% female readership. Consider your target audience and write for them as WELL as the audience you know IS actually reading.
Do you know your brand story? Have you written yours?
Brand is one of those terms that gets thrown around all over the place. We use it often without being 100% sure that we know what it means. Add another really broad term like story and you have Brand Story. Something you could probably talk about in a conversation or nod along with, but when pressed, you might not fully get this concept.
In this post (and podcast episode) I want to help you understand what a brand story is, why it's important, and how to craft your own brand story. The coolest part? I made a freebie just for you! Click to get a free mini-course that will walk you through crafting your brand story in a few minutes a day.
I would define your brand as your full identity. Not as a person, but your identity as a writer, blogger, or business. It encompasses everything from your visuals (which is what many people think of as a brand) to your ideals and beliefs.
Your brand has a vibe. It should have a clear sense of purpose, which is where the brand story really comes in. Your brand becomes recognizable not only visually, but in terms of the kinds of content you create and share and how you interact with people in your space.
Your brand story is the way that you would describe all of those moving parts that make up your brand, but in a HUMAN and relatable way. You see, story is engrained in our DNA. It is an innate part of us. Sometimes after childhood, we don't validate story. It becomes less important than some of the more tangible or measurable things: income, ROI, financial security, investments, and all those fancy adult terms.
And yet, we know and we see how story actually impacts us. This is why advertisers utilize story in Superbowl commercials.
When you write your brand story, you'll be talking as much about your audience as you will yourself. Because this is not simply a story for you, to bring the focus to you, but this is a story that is meant to draw in the ideal audience. You talk about your history, your values, your struggles, and your transformation, but you'll also be really speaking to THEIR values, struggle, and the transformation they want to see.
You'll want to write out the whole thing, then edit it down, and become familiar with it. You should already know it, because it's your story, but just like everything online, there is editing. Every value you hold dear may not come through your brand. You edit. You choose. You define your brand.
I've never seen a Brand Story tab on the navigation bar on a website. Rather, it's a framework that goes underneath everything else. It's like your why: it brings focus, clarity, and cohesion to your brand. Even if you never share the actual story you write word for word. Even if the whole thing doesn't go on your website.
Pieces of it may appear in your About page, or on your Work with Me page. When you talk to people about what it is that you do, this brand story will come out. At least, that's the point. You want to work on this and craft and write this like a mission statement and KNOW it, so that when someone asks, you will retell your brand story in your own words. Because it is YOURS.
Want to craft your brand story? CLICK HERE to sign up for the free email mini-course!
Twitter and I weren't always BFFs. But it has become a platform that uniquely allows you to connect with people-- if you know how to do it. If you are just starting out on Twitter, it can seem like an anti-social platform until you find your footing. Madalyn Sklar, founder of the Twitter Smarter podcast and the number 3 social media influencer in Houston has some great tips and ideas for mastering Twitter.
On Twitter, you have to be to the point with your message since you have limited characters. (Though this may be changing if Twitter adds the rumored 10,000 characters!) Twitter is all about making smart choices with your words. Be intentional in your tiny space! Make every character count.
Socially speaking, Twitter is the cocktail party-- a really great place to connect. One great way is Twitter parties feel like you're in a room full of great people and have side conversations in the midst.
Optimize Your Profile
The Best Tools for Managing Twitter
Consider what you want to be live and present for and what you want to schedule. Evergreen content is fabulous for automation within Twitter. You also can automate your books or coaching packages or email list landing page to tweet daily or weekly.
Madalyn's final word was to pick ONE thing from this interview and take action! You can Tweet to Madalyn (@madalynsklar) and to me (@kikimojo) or use the #TwitterSmarter hashtag to tell her something you've learned or applied!
Note: Madalyn is the opening keynote and I will also be speaking at Social Media Day in June! If you're in the Houston area, definitely come out for Social Media Day!
Everywhere I turn, I find people touting programs designed to multiply your email list. But is the key to a healthy email list found in numbers? In this interview with Paul Jarvis he talks about his email, the Sunday Dispatch, and why engagement trumps numbers alone.
If you don't know Paul, he calls himself a freelancer evangelist. He is the type of person who split-tests his profile picture and who also talks about unicorn farts. With a 20-year career as a freelance web designer he is also a prolific writer on sites like Forbes, Fast Company, NewsWeek, and BuzzFeed. You can find Paul on his site or on Twitter, and but where you should really connect is through his email list, The Sunday Dispatch. Oh, and he is co-host of Invisible Office Hours with Jason Zook and he has his own podcast, the Freelancer. Here are some of my favorite Paul pieces:
NOTE: The podcast episode will be up momentarily! Having some issues this morning with...well...all kinds of things. If you are here from my weekly email, know that this will be up by the end of the day.
"People don't realize they can cultivate an audience of people they want to have in their audience."
And if you want to know more about the Creative Class (which I can tell you firsthand is an awesome investment!), you can read more about that HERE.
When I heard Maritza Parra speak this summer on list-building at Podcast Movement, I knew I wanted to have her come on the show. You guys know how I feel about building email lists. (If you don't, you should read this or this or this.) Maritza shared in the session how she sold her first product to a list of 800 people and made $30,000. Now you're REALLY geared up for this interview aren't you?
Maritza hosts the Easy Online Marketing Podcast and you can find great value on her site. I would highly recommend signing up for her email list, where you can get a freebie with SO MANY ideas for freebies that are working right now to give away as incentives for email subscribers. SO helpful!!
"The whole point of a list is building relationships."
Give free content BEFORE asking people to op-in.
You want to move people toward taking action.
Maritza has subscriber appreciation days where she will have her readers sign up for a phone call or mini session with her so she can really connect.
Super targeted lists of very passionate people can be VERY successful. This allows you to be super specific in what you offer and lets you zero in on those pain points for your audience.
Consider doing real-life meet ups where you can connect with people in person. Have a Q&A and make notes of what things they want to know and learn.
Don't take unsubscribes personally!
When is the best time to send something to your list? When you have something important to say, THAT'S the time.
You teach people how to treat you, so if you hesitate or second guess who you are or your product, that lets other people know they don't have to take you seriously.
If you are giving great content, you should be able to offer paid products without feeling bad.
Add a story to what you are selling. Frame it well and as an experience.
Maritza said she has had more failures than successes, but those failures taught her more than the successes. When you fail, celebrate and try to see how you can push through.
Keep separate lists. Know why people signed up so you can speak to specific pain points.
Your freebie whole be a list-specific product, but doesn't have to be huge. A 1-2 page PDF would be great.
Do you suffer from list-building stage fright? Don't be afraid to email your list or sell to your list. If they signed up, there is something they want from YOU.
How to Involve Your Audience in Your Products
Involve them in the process. Ask what they want in a survey or give them two choices and have them hit reply to tell you.
Have a webinar or live training where you can say, "The results are in!" This lets them know that THEY were the driving factor.
Launching before you create your product allows you to know that you have an audience and a need for that product.
I loved this interview because it made me feel like I can do this. I can get over myself and my stage friend and email my list. I love the ways that Maritza connects with her people via phone calls and face to face. What is YOUR big takeaway from this? Let me know in the comments!
The post List-Building Secrets for Success with Maritza Parra appeared first on Create If Writing.
Whether you are a writer working to establish relationships with readers, a blogger wanting to create a community around your blog, or a business-owner wanting to connect with customers on a deeper level, Facebook groups are the way to go. (Until Facebook makes groups go the way of the dinosaur, but as Katie mentions in the interview, that's why you have an email list!) I loved getting to talk with Katie this morning and I hope you can come away with a renewed sense of how Facebook groups can work for you, no matter WHAT your purposes.
As for Katie, you can find her at the Biz Women Rock site, listen to the Biz Women Rock podcast on iTunes, or jump right into her Biz Women Rock Facebook group to see her live out what she talked about in this episode. (I'm in that group and she practices what she teaches!!)
ALSO! This is time sensitive so I want to throw it out here right now at the beginning. Katie is doing a free webinar this Friday, September 25 at 2pm EST about how to start, grow, and monetize your Facebook group. She will give an awesome free training (I did it last month!!) and offer you the last chance to buy the Facebook Groups Rock course before she has her baby girl in a few weeks! Sign up for the free training HERE.
"Your group on Facebook, i.e. your tribe or your community, is only as good as the value you're providing them."
Katie started an in-person community in Tampa and applied some of the principles that worked for an IRL group in an URL group.
Biz Women Rock started as a podcast and she was following the typical model of getting sponsors and growing the podcast audience.
The Facebook group came out of her desire to want to wrap her arms around her listeners. (I LOVE this description!)
Out of this group, her brand became a trusted resource and the central focus became NOT the podcast, but the community and brand as a whole as a business resource with the podcast just being ONE of these things.
Facebook may very well change up how groups work and they may not work well forever. This platform isn't YOURS. Get email addresses!
To collect those email addresses, Katie utilizes webinars and has also used the Facebook group as the freebie or opt-in for people who sign up on her website for her email list.
Facebook Group Tips for Moderators
The group needs to be engaged for it to work. Figure out what works for each group, but asking questions you think people WANT to answer is a good way to get people talking. People love to share about themselves!
Utilize different kinds of media: video, photo, text. Videos especially can bring people into your world and helps make you relatable and approachable as the leader of the group.
You need to have this engagement and relationship before you sell to your group. It won't BE salesy if you're doing it well.
As the owner, YOU set the tone. Don't be afraid to moderate and do what works for you, not just what other groups do.
Special thanks to Josh Mills of Unbroken Light for the podcast music!
In these days of publishing with so many viable options, how do you decide if you should pursue commercial (traditional) publishing or publish independently? Or should you think about hybrid publishing?
(Note: There is hybrid publishing in the sense that agencies or publishers are doing a sort of half-commercial, half-indie publishing, but I am using it here in the sense of doing BOTH traditional and indie publishing.)
You will NOT get an answer for that question in this episode with Ed Cyzewski. What you WILL get is an inside look at his experience as a hybrid author. Among others, he has commercially published Coffeehouse Theology and A Christian Survival Guide as well as Pray, Write, Grow and Creating Space independently. He has an active blog and shares great content (as well as humorous quips) on Twitter. Do join his email list, if for nothing other than his pet rabbit. (You'll see.) Go stalk him. Tell him I sent you.
Some of My Favorite Posts from Ed:
Are Independent Authors Just Control Freaks with Issues?
Why You Should Join the Book Lovers Email List (<- MY title, not his)
When Commercial Christian Publishing Was Bad for My Soul
At a Glance
Writing about what you really care about helps you find readers who can get on the same page.
Blogs so often evolve as YOU evolve. That's okay!
Your blog writing can be a great place for discovering what your readers want to read.
With traditional publishing, often you have a year to prove yourself and if you don't make the sales, you can be considered damaged goods. This (clearly) comes with an enormous amount of pressure.
Even the tactics that publishers will use to promote books (WHEN they use them) won't work for everyone.
A lot of the things that you might think will help you sell books will NOT. In Ed's first experience, interviews in magazines, on radio spots, and media tours sold very few copies.
The secret is to be relentlessly helpful and make lasting connections.
Your email list should be about authentic connections and establishing relationships with your potential readers.
Prayer and writing often involve similar steps and can develop one another, becoming a life-giving cycle. (More on that in his book Pray, Write, Grow!)
Writing is a gift, but also a marketable skill. Carve out the writing time and keep shifting things in your life to keep the creative life up. Don't necessarily do this by taking away your financial safety net!
Quotable and My Big Takeaway:
"You can't afford to NOT independently publish and make all your mistakes first."
Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl (find his site HERE)
Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
The Examen App
What I want to know from YOU:
How did this conversation affect your desire to publish traditionally or independently? What has your experience been with either? Let me know in the comments!