Created with Sketch.
The Professional Writer
27 minutes | 5 days ago
44 – Simplify Your Areas of Influence
I’ve never been a “word of the year” person. I try to come up with a word because people tell me “I’m supposed to.” But my heart’s not in it, so I forget what my word is after about two weeks. But I sense that this year will be different. In today’s episode, I’ll explain how “Simplify” is the way I intend to run my business in 2021. I’ll also share: Practical ways to discover the ideal community of people you want to serve. Why knowing who your ideal audience is NOT is just as important as knowing who they are. Why you should say “no” to offering products, services, and programs you aren’t feeling passionate about. Massive Action Challenge Here’s how to take four massive action steps that’ll help you simplify your business processes: 1. Self-audit your website and blog Review every page on your website. Remove the products, services, and programs you aren’t actively promoting and replace them with the ones you are feeling most excited about – the ones where you can most help your audience. Do the same with your blog posts. For example, my blog includes a bunch of outdated tutorials on how to use various aspects of Facebook. Since Facebook updates their interface seemingly every week, these tutorials are defunct. I’m updating the ones I can and deleting the rest. 2. Update your social media bios Review your bio on every one of your social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, etc.). Every word in your bio must reflect your area(s) of expertise or influence, or the book, program, or service you’re passionate about and are currently offering. 3. Clean up your social media followers Review the people you follow on the social channels you actively use. Here’s where a lot of authors get things backwards. They primarily follow other authors when they should be following the people most likely to read their books! When I audited my Instagram following, I discovered I was following the wrong people. I spent a few days unfollowing the people I don’t interact with or whose content no longer interests me, and following people who comprise my ideal target community. 4. Scrub your email list Don’t focus on the number of subscribers you have; focus on engaged subscribers. Every three months, create a segment of subscribers who have been on your list X amount of time and who have not opened any of your emails. These people aren’t interested in what you have to offer. Remove them from your list and pour your efforts into connecting with subscribers who are the best fit for your programs, products, and services. My Core Services During 2021 In keeping with my “simplify” theme, here are the core services my company, Blogging Bistro, LLC, is offering in 2021: Coaching One-to-one and small group coaching in four areas: Brand development Website content development Blogging Email marketing Custom WordPress Websites My team (graphic designer, programmer, and content editor/project manager) will continue to create custom, mobile-friendly, self-hosted WordPress websites. Learn about our custom website creation process. NEW! One-Page and Two-Page Websites In addition to our multi-page websites, we’re offering one-page and two-page websites. These entry-level sites are perfect for new entrepreneurs and pre-published authors who need a professional web presence in order to pitch proposals to prospects, editors, and agents, but who don’t have enough content for a multi-page site. This lower-cost option displays all your content on one page, or on two pages (with the second page being your blog or podcast). If you’d like to explore your website options with me, sign up for a free 15-minute quick chat (phone or Zoom). Targeted Training I’m teaming up with experts in the writing and publication process to offer one-hour, value-packed trainings that focus on ONE critical area. We have targeted trainings planned for: Book launch teams Critique partnerships Hiring an editor I’ll share details about the targeted trainings as we get them finalized. Interested in in partnering with me to co-teach a targeted training on a specific writing-related or publishing-related topic? Send me your pitch. “Simplify” Series Structured to help you simplify the way you do businesses, this series will include free training on The Professional Writer Podcast, as well as affordable small group training. We’ll cover topics such as: Branding Simplified Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Simplified Websites Simplified What topic would you love for me to include in the “Simplified” series? Email me with your suggestions! Free Gift Here’s a free gift you can grab right now. It’s my 2021 Content Calendar template. Low-Cost Training Find Your Ideal Target Audience You have a life-transforming message to share with a slice of the world. This audio training and workbook will help you get to know your unique audience better than you ever thought possible. Just for Fun Here’s a shot of the sheep I referred to at the top of the episode. Aren’t those fuzzy faces adorable? Continue Learning Neil Patel Online Marketing Made Easy podcast with Amy Porterfield (Episode 321) These episodes from The Professional Writer podcast expand on the topics I address in Episode #44: Episode #1: Do You Have to Write Books to be a REAL Writer? Episode #2: How to Act Like a Professional Writer (Even When You Don’t Feel Like One) Episode #3: Going ALL IN Episode #9: Being True to Yourself Episode #10: Moving from Self-Focused to Self-Forgetful Episode #24: List Cleaning Gets Rid of Deadbeat Subscribers How to Keep Up With The Show Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 44 – Simplify Your Areas of Influence first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
34 minutes | 12 days ago
43 – Simple Stretches for Desk Jockeys, with Amy Connell
Have you ever been “in the zone” and when you glanced up from your computer, you were shocked that three hours had passed? That happens to me all the time! I pay the price by experiencing creaky muscles, dehydration, and weight gain. And I feel guilty. I chastise myself, “Laura, why didn’t you get up and stretch or refill your water bottle?” Better desk jockey habits begin today! Amy Connell, a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach, is here to help us replace self-blame and shame with simple stretches and strengthening movements to get the blood flowing and relieve muscles we’ve been overusing in all the wrong ways. You won’t be able to stay in your seat while listening to Episode 43! So fasten your earbuds and do the stretches as Amy walks us through them. BONUS Amy created a fantastic video exclusively for my listeners that demonstrates how to do the exercises. Word Nerd Moment NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – A fancy of way of saying, “Any kind of movement that’s not formal exercise.” In other words, move around. Be active! About Amy Connell Amy is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and imperfect eater. She founded Graced Health in 2016 to equip women with simple and grace-filled ways to take care of ourselves, find joy in movement, and establish a positive relationship with food and our bodies… while enjoying a little chocolate in the process. She lives in the Houston, Texas area with her husband of 23 years, their two always-hungry teen boys, and her stray-turned-princess pit bull named Grace. Visit Amy at GracedHealth.com The Graced Health podcast is about faith, food, and fitness as they relate to our overall health. Resources Mentioned Stretching Our Social Media Muscles Series – Episodes 39-42 Episode #39 The Secret to ‘Doing’ Social Media Episode #40 Create Winning Social Media Content Episode #41 Efficiently Publish Social Media Content Episode #42 Analyze Engagement and Adjust Your Social Media Goals Atomic Habits, by James Clear – Check out his tips on habit stacking (aff link). How to Keep Up With The Show Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 43 - Simple Stretches for Desk Jockeys, with Amy Connell first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
42 – Analyze Engagement and Adjust Your Social Media Goals
I’ve been podcasting since Valentine’s Day 2020 – every week for almost 10 months. I haven’t promoted my podcast by purchasing ads – all my promotion has been organic, through the emails I send to my subscribers and through the updates I post to social media. People are also finding The Professional Writer podcast through Google searches and through word-of-mouth. After 10 months of podcasting, I have just recently begun to see a significant uptick in my listenership, and new clients have begun contracting with me who decided to hire me after listening to my podcast and feeling as if they’re getting to know me, like me, and trust me. 5 ways to nurture the Know-Like-Trust factor The know-like-trust factor: Before someone will hire you, they need to feel as if they know you, like you, and trust you. The know-like-trust factor kicks in when your audience: Reads your blog or listens to your podcast for a few months and feels confident that you consistently deliver the exact type of content they’re looking for. Subscribes to your email list and looks forward to receiving the fresh, interesting, inspiring content you send them. Lurks in your private Facebook group or participates in your 5-day challenge and makes significant headway in achieving their goals. Watches your mini video series, attends your webinar, or joins your group coaching program. Follows you on social media, and begins commenting on and sharing your content. Over time, your audience begins to feel as if they know you personally – maybe even as if you’re good friends, even though you’ve never met in person. When I said in last week’s episode that social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, I wasn’t kidding! Growing your audience, your reach, and referrals to your website/blog can feel like an absolute SLOG at times (ok, most of the time). But if you know your audience and generously seek to meet their needs, you will see results. During this 4-part series on the secret to doing social media, we’re shifting our mindset from the excuse-making, “I don’t have time to do social media; I’m too busy,” to developing a habit of consistently creating content and posting to at least one social media channel. Similar to developing a routine of exercising our body daily, we’re exercising our social muscles daily. How do we go about shifting that mindset? In part 1 of this series, Episode #39, we talked about how each of us is allotted 168 hours per week. To develop our social media muscles, we need to identify exactly how we’re using that 168 hours so we can eliminate time-wasting activities. That will allow room in our day to schedule social media time. And I do mean schedule it! In Episode 39, I introduced you to three methods of prioritizing your social media time and adding it to your daily calendar. We discussed the 21/90 Rule, in which you commit to a personal or professional goal for 21 straight days. It takes about three weeks to form a new habit. Then, to solidify that habit, for the next 90 days, keep at it, gradually adding a minute or two to your social media routine. In Part 2, Episode #40, Create Winning Social Media Content, I urged you to begin thinking about everything you post on social media – to your personal profiles and your business accounts – as part of your writing portfolio. People are watching how you present yourself professionally and personally on social media much more closely than you might imagine. We discussed the importance of intimately knowing the needs of the community you serve, and finding ways to generously serve them. We identified our core income streams or areas of influence, and we began developing content to put into six different content “buckets.” Changing up the type of content we publish keeps our social media content fresh and lively. In Part 3, Episode #41, Efficiently Publish Social Media Content, we explored the difference between the sprint mentality and the marathon mentality of doing social media. You learned why one common “sprint mentality” practice – auto-publishing links to your latest blog posts – is a bad idea. I showed you the workarounds I use for adapting one piece of hand-crafted content and publishing it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. We talked about the importance of sharing promotional content multiple times, and how social media schedulers are huge time-savers. I also introduced you to 14 popular social media scheduling tools. Social media: One component of your marketing plan During the last three weeks, we’ve created a master plan for managing our social media and we’ve begun forming a habit of consistently posting content that contributes to the growth of our business. I realize there is a lot to take in and you may be feeling overwhelmed. My suggestion is to view social media as one component of the marketing plan for your business. That component can be as small or as large as you want it to be. I suggest that you go back and review Part 1 (Episode 39) in this series and work ONLY on the massive action steps I recommended in that episode. When you feel as if you have a handle on them, move on to Episode 40 and begin implementing those action steps. Do the action steps in Episode 41 only after you begin getting some mastery over the actions you took in Episodes 39 and 40. Each of these episodes builds on the previous one, so it’s important that you do the steps in order. Choose ONE social network for starters Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be active on all the major social networks. Choose one network – the one you feel most drawn to and are most likely to use consistently, where your ideal audience also hangs out. For the next 90 days, focus on that network. Learn the ropes. Find some online tutorials that show you how to use the different features, and seek to achieve a higher level of mastery than you currently have. Use it consistently, pulling content from your six content buckets and posting several times per week. After three months, if you have the energy and motivation to add a second network, go ahead. Interact with your followers and with industry leaders An important part of using a social network consistently is interacting with your followers. While creating and posting content is critical, letting your followers know you’re there and you’re interested in them is just as critical. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool, period. Check the social accounts you’re actively committed to, either throughout the day or at a set time each day, so you can make sure you’re engaging with your peeps in a timely manner. In addition to interacting with your ideal target audience, actively create and maintain relationships with clients, partners, and leaders in your niche. If you have a collaborative partnership with a publishing house, follow them, join their group, watch what they do, leave thoughtful comments on their accounts, and share some of their posts with your followers. This often leads to them noticing you and sharing your content, which gets your name in front of a larger audience. In some cases, it leads to them contacting you personally and inviting you into a relationship. I’ve had many fruitful collaborations with people I’ve “met” on social media – including offers to be a guest blogger or podcast guest, offers to speak at an event, offers to do paid writing gigs, offers to promote my services inside their private groups, offers to team up to provide training and workshops, and inquiries that led to a social media follower becoming a client. Show your followers, readers, and clients some love. No matter how famous or infamous your follower, they are a person. And all of us crave recognition and pats on the back. Follow their social accounts and make an effort to engage with and share relevant updates they post. Respond to people who engage with your posts. Continue developing the know-like-trust factor by responding to incoming social media messages, comments, likes, and shares. Don’t feel obligated to respond to all of them. Depending on how much activity your channel receives, that’s probably not feasible. If your posts get dozens or hundreds of comments, choose a cross-section of responses to comment on. Choose another cross-section to like (leave a reaction on). When responding to content you post that gets lots of comments, the key is to assure your audience that you’re there and you’re listening to them. What to do when people don’t engage with your posts If your social channel receives very few or zero comments, try not to get discouraged. Just because people don’t comment does not mean they aren’t paying attention. Here’s how most of us use social media: We scroll through our feed, stopping now and then to “like” a picture or a post and occasionally, to read the entire post as well as the comments. I post a comment to perhaps one out of every 20 or even one out of every 50 posts I read. My behavior is fairly typical – most of us don’t comment on every post we read; we comment on our favorite posts, on posts that strike a strong emotional chord, or on the accounts of people we love or admire or want to get to know better. In like manner, as content creators, we can’t expect our followers to like or share or comment on every one of our posts. That’s not realistic. The discouraging Facebook algorithm Here’s where your social channel’s Insights come in handy. Let’s say you post content on your Facebook page that features a graphic or picture and links to one of your blog posts. Your post gets between zero and three likes, shares, or comments. You wonder whether anyone’s seeing it. If it’s on your Facebook Page and you’re not paying to have the post distributed, chances are that between 0-3% of your followers are seeing it. If your page has 5,000 followers and your post reaches 3% of your followers, that means 150 people see it. Of those 150, maybe 1% of them will take the time to like, comment, or share it. That’s only 1 person! (Or 1.5 people, to be exact.) You can run the numbers, based on how many followers your Facebook page has. If your page has 100 followers and your organic, non-paid posts reach 3% of your followers, that means three people are likely to see your post in their news feed. I know those numbers are extremely discouraging, but that’s the way Facebook currently works… and Instagram is quickly heading in the same direction. Massive Action Step #1: Monitor your social accounts weekly Arm yourself with as much statistical information about your social accounts as you can, because the numbers usually don’t lie. Check your social media analytics once a week or so to see what’s working and what you can trim from your strategy. All the major social networks offer their own analytics tracking: Facebook Insights for Pages (click the Insights tab on your Facebook Page) Instagram Insights for Business accounts Twitter Analytics Pinterest Business Analytics for Business accounts LinkedIn Analytics Depending on the network, you’ll receive the following information: Summary of your account’s activity over the past week or month Content you posted Page views Post reach (estimated number of people who saw any of your posts at least once) Content interactions (also called Engagement/Actions/Activity) on your posts – reactions, likes, shares, comments, re-tweets, clicks How many people viewed your profile or clicked a link in your profile Total followers, plus followers gained or lost During your weekly Analytics review, ask: What kind of content is getting shared? (Refer to Episode #40 for information on content buckets) What kind of content is dead in the water? How quickly am I responding to people? Are my followers discussing anything new or exciting I can tap into? Massive Action Step #2: Take a monthly deep dive into your Analytics Ask: How often did I post to this network? By what percentage did my follower count change? How much referral traffic did I get to my website and blog from this social network? Which posts – or categories of posts – performed best/worst? What got shared the most? What content works best? Should I rethink my participation in this social network? Check Google Analytics to discover referral traffic During your monthly deep dive, check your Google Analytics to see how much referral traffic you received to your website from each social network you use. I covered this in Episode #35: 3 Easy Tricks to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog. A quick recap of how to do this: Log in to your Google Analytics account and click the Acquisition tab. Under All Traffic, click Channels. One of those channels is called “Social.” The “Social” channel will show how many people visited your website from social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you’re trying to decide which social channels to put more effort into and which to let go of, this information will help. Massive Action Step #3: Adjust your goals If you fell short of your monthly social media goals, figure out why and adjust your goals for the next 90 days accordingly. If you surpassed your goals, it may be time to add another social network or a new team member to assist you. Establishing realistic social media habits is foundational to presenting yourself as a professional writer. You can apply these habits not only to social media, but also to all the ways you market your writing-related business. Schedule a Quick Chat with Laura If you’d like additional input from me on how to build the know-like-trust factor, how to create an online marketing plan for your business, or how to use Google Analytics, schedule a quick chat with me. (link in show notes for Episode #42) We’ll spend 15 minutes getting to know each other and I’ll give you suggestions on next steps. What do you have to lose? Our quick chat is no-obligation and completely free. It might be the most valuable 15 minutes of your day! This final episode in our series on social media marketing is going live November 30, 2020, just in time for the holidays. I’m taking a podcasting break during December, but I will be publishing two blog posts in December: 5 Ways to Post to Instagram from your Desktop 2021 Content Calendar – I give away a new calendar every year, and it’s always my most popular post of the year. If you’re not already signed up for my email list, visit BloggingBistro.com and sign up. I’ll send you a notice when those posts get published, and you’ll also get my free quickstart guide: Essential Tools for Running a Writing Business. Also, in The Professional Writer Podcast Facebook Community, I’ll be doing a free Facebook Live mini-training during December on Common Scams Hackers Use to Access Your Website and Personal Information. On January 4, 2021, The Professional Writer podcast will return. I’ll be featuring interviews with professional writers on: Easy Stretches and Exercises for Sedentary Writers Non-writing Activities That Will Make You a Better Writer Writing for Children Discovering Your Perfect Client How to Put Your Reader First How to Plan an eBook Launch How to Communicate With Your Editor Hooked on Audiobooks (from the perspective of an audiobook listener) How to Become a Book Reviewer December can also be the time for you to get caught up on all 42 episodes of The Professional Writer podcast. I recommend that you go back to Episode 1: Do You Have to Write Books to be a REAL Writer? and listen – or re-listen to all of them. The average length of the episodes is 23 minutes. (Plug in those earbuds, go for a walk around the block and take in an episode or two!) Top 5 Interview Episodes #13 – Giving Readers Exactly What They Want, With Karen Barnett #15 – Expert Tips for Your Book Launch, With Kathi Lipp #36 – Two Issues That Hold Writers Back, with Ginny L. Yttrup #25 – One Word Makes All the Difference for Susie Crosby #20 – “Get it said. Shut up. Post.” (with Tim Fall) Top 5 Solo Episodes #3 – Going ALL IN #12 – Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals #19 – Three Irritants That Pull Readers Out of a Story #35 – 3 Easy Tricks to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog #26 – Three Tools to Protect the Privacy of Your Business Thanks so much for listening to The Professional Writer podcast! Mark your calendar for January 4, 2021, when I’ll be back with you to help you start the new year of business-building off right! Until then, I wish you a safe, healthy, restful holiday season. LauraThe post 42 – Analyze Engagement and Adjust Your Social Media Goals first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
41 – Efficiently Publish Social Media Content
Today’s episode is part 3 of a 4-part series that will help you stop doing things that don’t contribute to your business growth and replace them with new habits that will help you “do” social media professionally and productively. In Part 1, Episode #39, The Secret to Doing Social Media, we began creating a master plan for managing our social media time. We set a goal for how much time per day we will spend on social media, and where in our day we will do the bulk of our social media marketing. In Part 2, Episode #40, Create Winning Social Media Content, I urged you to consider every piece of social media content you create as part of your business portfolio. We identified our core income streams or areas of influence, and we began developing 6 types of content that will direct our audience towards our core revenue streams. We talked about the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, as it applies to creating social media content: 80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities. We want that 20% of our activities to be highly productive, in terms of moving our business forward. Which is why today’s focus is on tips and tools for creating and scheduling social media posts. Social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. I have been helping people with their social media marketing since 2007, and the plague that seems to infect many is the sprint mentality. Whenever a new social network becomes the “flavor of the year,” I guarantee that you’ll see the following litany of advice regarding what you “need to do” to build a following on this network and ultimately, make oodles of money off the stuff you sell: Create a profile on Network XYZ so you have your branded username reserved, in case this network hits the big time. Amass as many “friends” as possible on your personal account. Create a “business” profile and amass as many “followers” as possible on your business account (before the network changes their algorithm, making it nearly impossible to get new followers). Post fresh, original content daily (some marketers recommend 10-20 times per day!) on Network XYZ, making sure that all your content is interactive, likeable, and shareable. Interact with your friends and fans daily on Network XYZ, through commenting, sharing, and direct messaging. When Network XYZ introduces a new feature, jump on it immediately. Experiment with it, master it, and use it incessantly until the network introduces yet another new feature that they give a huge amount of distribution to in their feed. Whenever a new feature is released that Network XYZ wants you to begin using, they’ll give less airtime to the previous feature that you spent massive amounts of time mastering, because they want everyone to get excited about and adopt the new feature. Be prepared to shift on the fly. Buy ads. When Network XYZ starts becoming popular, they will offer advertising at an amazingly low rate and you’ll see an excellent return on your ad spend investment. As the network matures and more people purchase advertising, the price of ads will go up and your ROI will go down. I’ve seen this same litany repeated for: MySpace, Google+, Meerkat, Vine, Periscope – remember them? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat. It’s happening in a big way now with Instagram. Their latest feature, as I’m recording this episode, is Reels (15-second videos), which launched August 5, 2020. Instagram also heavily promotes Stories, Messenger, IGTV, and Shopping. I’m also seeing this advice related to the latest hot network, TikTok. Shiny Object Syndrome Whenever a new network gains popularity, you’ll experience the identical litany of “you must do this immediately if you hope to succeed on Network XYZ.” Be aware that’s going to happen and don’t get sucked into shiny object syndrome, where you’re tempted to abandon other network(s) you’ve invested thousands of hours building a following on in order to use all the cool new features of the latest, greatest network. If the new network’s ideal audience matches with your ideal audience, by all means, dive in and give it a shot. Use it regularly for three months, experiment with all the features, and see how it works for you. After three months, if you haven’t gained any traction, give yourself permission to abandon ship. Keep your profile, but repurpose the content you created for that network and use it on other platforms that give you a better return on your investment. Remember: Social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. The reason I detailed that litany of advice I’ve heard thousands of times is because the advice caters to people with a sprint mentality: Join the social network, grow your audience as large as possible as quickly as possible, and bask in all the warm fuzzies you’ll get from likes and shares of your posts. A year later, get super-depressed when the network matures, changes its algorithm, your followers stop seeing your posts, and your interaction tanks. It’s a symptom of the bright, shiny object syndrome, and it happens on every social network. Be prepared for it to happen to you. When it does, you’re going to feel as if your effort went to waste. You’re going to feel like giving up. If you are committed to growing your business, you need to avoid getting sucked into shiny object syndrome and commit to producing fresh content week after week, year after year. That doesn’t mean you have to do this on every social network. Do it only on the network(s) you most enjoy using, where you’re seeing the best return on your investment. If you need to figure out which social network is bringing you the best return, in terms of people who click links in your posts and are routed to your website, listen to Episode #35: 3 Easy Tips to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog. In episode 35, I explain how Google Analytics shows you where your social media referral traffic is coming from. This information will help you determine which social networks to put your efforts into and which ones you can safely let go of. Do Not Auto-Publish Links to Your Blog Posts One important aspect of developing the marathon mentality is sharing your content multiple times. Here is a time-wasting method many writers use: They set up an automated feed through their WordPress blog or their email marketing service or their social media scheduler. They labor for 10-20 hours to write a brilliant blog post. A link to the post gets automatically shared to their Facebook or Twitter account. That’s it. They’re done. They don’t ever create original social media content to promote their blog post. This method is a waste of time. Why would you spend hours writing an impactful article and rely on a third-party to auto-share it? Not only are those auto-shared posts ugly – they usually include only the post’s headline and hopefully, the post’s featured image. It’s obvious to anyone who happens to see the update that it has been auto-shared. Why would your followers bother to click the link if you didn’t take the time to create it yourself? A lot of writers have told me that they use auto-sharing because creating an original social media update is too time-consuming. This way, they can publish their blog post and forget it. But auto-posting defeats the purpose of blogging, doesn’t it? When you publish a blog post, you obviously want someone to discover it and read it. Why wouldn’t you take an extra 15 or 30 minutes to create original social media content that will effectively promote the article you worked so hard on? Don’t neglect this essential step of the blogging process! Brainstorm a topic for your post and research it Write it Edit and proofread it Format it in your blogging platform Schedule it and copy the permanent link of the post Create at least one original piece of social media content for the channel or channels you are committed to using Post your social media content live, or schedule it using a third-party tool Share Promotional Content Multiple Times Another important social media habit to develop is to share the hand-crafted promotional update with link to your blog post multiple times. No “one and done” mentality! Regardless of which social networks you use, very few people are likely to spot your post in their feed, and many of them won’t see your post until the second or third or tenth time it goes out. That’s why it’s so important to create a variety of social media posts that link to your blog article and to publish those promotional posts multiple times. I’m not talking about posting the identical promotional post to Facebook 8 times in one day. I recommend creating a minimum of three different promotional posts – each with different pictures and text. Change up the type of content whenever possible. One of your promotional posts might a livestream video; another, an Instagram Reel, and a third, a quote graphic that features a key point from your article. After you create your three promotional posts, use a scheduling service to schedule the posts over time. When I publish a new blog post or podcast episode, I usually schedule one or two promotional posts during the week I publish the content. Then I schedule another one about two weeks later, and additional ones once a month for the next 3-6 months. Posting One Piece of Content to Multiple Platforms A lot of us have heard that we shouldn’t post the same content on our Facebook Page as we post on Instagram. We’re told to customize our social media content for the network to which we’re publishing, rather than creating one piece of content and publishing it simultaneously to all our social networks. If you have the time and energy to do this, or you have the funds to hire a virtual assistant (VA) or a social media manager to do it for you, by all means, give it a try. But frankly, most business owners barely have time to “do” social media at all, and creating unique content for 5 or 6 social networks is not an option. Let’s say you’re creating a promotional social media update that links to one of your blog posts. Here are some workarounds for starting with one piece of content and tailoring it for various platforms: Optimize your posts for each platform. For example, Instagram does not allow clickable links in their captions, and the audience for Instagram posts is younger than for Facebook posts. When posting to Instagram, adapt the written content for a younger audience and remove the hyperlink from the caption and put it in your bio instead. You’ll want to use up to 30 hashtags for each Instagram post, but only 1-3 hashtags at the most for Facebook. Also, Instagram uses square images and Facebook uses horizontal (landscape) images, so customize the image size for each network. Post similar or identical content, but not at exactly the same time. Schedule the post for Facebook today and the same post for Instagram tomorrow. Or schedule a week’s worth of posts for Facebook, and roll out that same content on Instagram in reverse order. Monday’s Facebook post gets published Friday on Instagram. Analyze peak days of the week and times of day. Know when your audience is likely to be checking their account on a particular social network, and schedule your content for those times. Adapt the content slightly for each network. When creating promotional social media posts that feature an image, write the content for the post. I usually adapt and shorten the content to fit Twitter’s 280-character limit. I create the graphic for the post in Canva (affiliate link) or Stencil (aff link) and resize the graphic so it’s optimized for posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. I upload the social media update to Buffer, the scheduling tool I use. I repeat this process for each of the multiple social updates I create to promote the blog post, and I schedule the promotional posts over a 6-month period of time. Here’s an amazing offer from Canva: Pay for 1 Pro account, get 4 free! Design with friends, colleagues, or family members for only $12.95/month whether you’re a team of 1 or 5. Plus, the first 30 days are free for new users. I’m going to take advantage of this offer myself! Click here or click the graphic for details. Massive Action Step Select one blog post or podcast episode you’ve created – it can be one you’ve already published or one that you’re working on now. Write three promotional social media updates that will link to this piece of content. Find or create visually compelling images, videos or graphics that reflect the written content of your promotional posts and will “stop the scroll” when one of your followers sees it in their feed. Pointers for Using Schedulers: Scheduling your social media posts via a third-party scheduler will not decrease the chances of your post being distributed. I’ve talked to many panicked people who are afraid to use a third-party scheduler because they think it’ll decrease their post’s reach. Many, many studies have been done and there is no measurable difference in distribution, reach, or engagement when using a third-party scheduler as opposed to using a scheduler native to the social network or posting in real-time. This could change, as the social networks are constantly massaging their algorithms. If you’re worried and you use Facebook and/or Instagram, use their native Creator Studio to schedule your Facebook and Instagram posts. One reason I love using third-party schedulers is that I can customize which images accompany my posts, and I can preview what the post will look like before I schedule it. Many scheduling tools also deliver great analytics and link tracking so you can see how your posts are performing. Several of them allow you to post comments on published posts from inside the scheduler. Some of them even analyze your audience data and detect the peak times that your audience is likely to be logged into that network, so you can schedule content for the best times for your audience. Once you learn how to use a particular scheduling tool, you’ll discover that it’s a huge time-saver. Most schedulers offer a free version or a free trial period. I highly recommend testing several schedulers because each has a slightly different functionality and interface. Settle on one that is a pleasant experience for you to use and fits your budget. Because schedulers are huge-time savers, I recommend investing in one of their paid (premium) tiers. Most schedulers charge a reasonable monthly or annual fee, and this low-cost investment in your business is well worth it. I am a big fan of scheduling tools, but even so, I don’t schedule all my social media content. While I recommend scheduling promotional posts that link to an article on your blog or to a page on your website or to one of your podcast episodes, leave space to publish as-it-happens or in-the-moment content. Listen to part 2 in this series – Episode 40, for a refresher on the six types of content buckets for which you can develop content. 14 Social Media Scheduling Tools Scheduling tools are great for scheduling “evergreen” content as well as promotional posts that link to specific blog posts, podcast episodes, or your products, services, and programs. Generally speaking, Wednesdays between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in your time zone tend to be a good time to post and weekends are considered the worst days to post – that applies to all the major social networks. But it might be different for you, so dig into your analytics so you can discover the best days and times of day for your brand. 4 Schedulers I Use Regularly Buffer – Instagram, Facebook Pages and Groups, Twitter, LinkedIn profiles and pages, Pinterest (on certain plans) Hootsuite – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn pages and groups, YouTube Later – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter Facebook Creator Studio – Facebook Pages and Instagram Business Schedulers Others Recommend (alphabetical order) Agorapulse – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn CoSchedule – Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook Pages and Groups, Pinterest, LinkedIn profiles, pages, and showcase pages, Instagram Crowdfire – Facebook Pages & Groups, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, LinkedIn pages, WordPress, Etsy, Shopify, Medium, Vimeo MeetEdgar – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts. Planoly – Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter PromoRepublic – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google My Business. Sendible – Facebook Pages and Groups, Twitter, Instagram Business Profile, LinkedIn, Google My Business Socialmonials – Instagram, Google My Business, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube SmarterQueue – Facebook pages and groups you manage; LinkedIn profiles and pages; Twitter profiles; Instagram profiles; and Pinterest profiles. Tailwind – Pinterest, Instagram Massive Action Step If you’re not already using a social media scheduler, research the links above and choose one or two to test. Sign up for the free version or their free trial and schedule two weeks’ worth of “evergreen” posts or links to upcoming blog posts/podcast episodes, or links to previously published content from your archives. Next week, in Part 4 of this series, I’ll give you some tips for engaging with your followers, and we’ll discuss how to monitor the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts and adjust on the fly. Resources Mentioned Find Your Ideal Target Audience: During this 48-minute on-demand audio training, Laura will guide you through a series of questions that will help you discover and get to know your reader. Includes a printable workbook. Episode 35: 3 Easy Tips to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog. Canva (affiliate link) Stencil (aff link) Pixistock Black Friday Specials – from November 25-December 2, 2020 (aff link) Free Social Media Business Plan Want a template to help you build your blogging and social media strategy? Click here to request yours or text BIZPLAN to 44222. How to Keep Up With The Show Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 41 - Efficiently Publish Social Media Content first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
40 – Create Winning Social Media Content
This is the second in a 4-part series on practical tips for effective social media marketing. Last week, in part 1, “The Secret to Doing Social Media,” we began creating a master plan for managing our social media time. Our focus was on becoming aware of how we use our time so we can stop doing things that don’t contribute to our business growth. We set a goal for how much time per day we will spend on social media, and where in our day we will do the bulk of our social media marketing. Several listeners commented: “All those things you said in the episode about not having (or making) time to do social media are true of me.” They also commented that my massive action steps in Episode #39 are challenging. That’s true – unlearning bad habits and forming new habits that enable us to “do” social media productively and professionally is not easy to accomplish. But putting these habits in place is foundational to presenting yourself as a professional writer. You can apply what you’re learning not only to social media, but to all the ways you market your writing-related business. Before you dive into Part 2 and this week’s massive action steps, I want you to listen to or read Episode #39. Each of the episodes in this 4-part series builds on the previous one, so it’s important that you do the action steps in order. Another episode I highly recommend listening to is Episode #12, Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. In Episode #12, I introduce you to a marketing mindset that’ll help you create a long-term plan that will consistently move your business forward. Today, in part 2, we’ll discuss how to create winning social media content. In part 3, we’ll talk about tools for scheduling our content. In part 4, we’ll discuss engaging with our audience, and how to monitor and adjust our master plan. Let’s Talk Content. I’m not talking about random cat or dog videos here – I’m talking about content we use to help us build our writing-related business. Here’s how I view social media content: I consider every single thing I post on social media to be part of my writing portfolio. That includes content I post to my personal profiles and my business accounts. People are watching how you present yourself professionally and personally on social media much more closely than you might imagine. A lot of writers assume that what they post to their personal accounts doesn’t matter, so they ignore the rules of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Their posts look as if a 10-year-old wrote them, and they unwittingly lose credibility with their real-life friends, as well as with editors, agents, and prospective book buyers. I realize that many social media posts are spur-of-the-moment and that we can’t expect the spelling and punctuation to be perfect, particularly when we’re typing on a touchscreen phone. But we can take an extra minute to proofread our posts and the comments we leave on others’ posts to clean them up before posting. Many social media platforms, such as Facebook, have an editing function where you can edit your post or a comment after publishing it. Take advantage of this feature! Consider everything you post to social media as part of your writing portfolio. If you were to compile all the social media content you’ve ever published and put it into a portfolio that you’d show to a literary agent as a sample of your writing, would you be proud to show them what you’ve published? Before I acquaint you with a content-creation strategy, I want to back up a few steps to make sure you have some critical foundational pieces in place. Identify Your Ideal Target Audience First, WHO is your ideal target audience? This does not need to be one specific person, but rather, a community of people – of readers, clients, customers who are the BEST fit for the products, services, and programs you offer. This is an area where many writers get it wrong, particularly when using social media. They assume their audience is other writers, and they amass thousands of Facebook friends, many of whom are other writers. If you’re a book author, yes, other writers and authors might buy your book. But they probably won’t be your primary audience or your best audience. If you suspect that you have some work to do in defining (or redefining) your ideal audience, be sure to sign up for my on-demand audio training called, “Find Your Ideal Target Audience.” During this 48-minute audio training, I’ll guide you through a series of questions that will help you discover and get to know your reader. The training includes a printable workbook. Meet Your Audience’s Needs After you have clearly defined the community of people you want to serve, focus on meeting their needs, as it relates to the core products, services, and programs you offer. For a refresher on why it’s important to focus on helping your ideal audience overcome a challenge or working through a pain point, listen to Episode #14: Everyone’s Favorite Radio Station – Are You Tuned In? Choose 1-to-3 Core Areas in Which You Want to Generate Revenue Depending on how you structure your writing-related business, you are likely to have one or more revenue streams. Selling your books might be one revenue stream. Public speaking might be another revenue stream. Coaching and consulting is a third income stream many writers have. Editing is another popular income stream for writers. My writing-related business has four core revenue streams: Consulting and coaching (with a focus on brand messaging, web-based writing, and email marketing) Custom WordPress website design and development (I share revenue with my team, which includes a graphic designer and a programmer.) Ghost writing (month-to-month content writing and management of the blogs and social media accounts of several clients) Speaking/teaching/training (includes the online workshops and courses I offer, plus teaching at writers conferences and online events) Grab something to write with and quickly jot down the core area or areas in which you want to make money. If you’re not earning an income from your writing presently, write down areas in which you would like to earn money. Maybe you’re not concerned about earning money – you may be volunteering your time for an organization or ministry, or writing for the sheer joy of it. But you still want to present yourself professionally and develop influence among your readers and followers. If that’s the case, write down the core area or areas in which you would like to develop influence and become recognized as an expert or specialist or go-to person in your niche. Don’t overthink this – go with your gut. What are you most passionate about doing – something you can easily envision yourself doing for the next three years and not getting tired of it or burned out? These areas should also mesh with the needs of your ideal audience. In other words, if you’ve identified your ideal audience as a reader of Amish fiction and your novel is paranormal romance, you’re going to have a major disconnect between your audience, their desires, and what you offer. In my case, my ideal audience describes themselves as a tech-challenged writer who wants some hand-holding as they learn to master the intricacies of blogging and email marketing. My coaching services are an excellent fit for that need. As you plan the content that will go in your social media posts, your blog posts, your podcast episodes, the emails you send to subscribers, your speaking presentations, and your books, think about how the content you create will feed into your core revenue streams. You never want to randomly post any old thing – that’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick. You’re being strategic and deliberate about the content you create and post, so that every iota relates directly or indirectly to one of your core areas and directs your audience towards your revenue-generating content. I did that earlier in this episode, in fact. I started this episode by identifying the importance of knowing your ideal target audience. I included a call-to-action, inviting you to sign up for my low-cost audio training that will help you get to know your ideal target audience. That call-to-action fits directly into my core area of speaking/teaching/training, and indirectly into my core area of coaching and consulting. Often, people who go through the inexpensive on-demand audio training decide they would like to one-on-one coaching with me. And coaching is one of my premium, higher-priced services. To recap, the goal of the content you create is to feed into the core revenue-generating areas in which you serve your ideal audience. Content Buckets I gently route my audience into my core revenue streams by organizing my content into six content buckets. I use the term “content buckets” because it helps me visualize the types of content I want to create. I visualize 6 buckets – like those beach sand pails for kids that come with a little plastic shovel. My 6 content buckets (or content categories): Introduce Inform Interact Inspire Entertain Influence You can have as many or as few content buckets as you want, and you can name them whatever you want. The six I use cover the gamut of the types of content you’ll likely create. As you listen to this next section of the episode, I recommend that you have a bunch of sticky notes by your side – even better if you have six colors of sticky notes. Or use a notebook or scribble pad or Word doc or whatever works best for you for brainstorming. As we go through each of the six content buckets, jot down ideas that come to mind about specific content you could create for each bucket. We’re brainstorming here, so don’t worry about how weird or wacky your ideas are – just get them out of your head. Content Bucket #1: Introduce Key question to ask yourself: “What does my ideal audience need to know about me in order to feel as if they know me, like me, and trust me? We are most interested in buying from people, not from brands. So let your audience get to know the person behind the brand. I am a private person, and my rule-of-thumb for sharing personal stuff online is: What do I feel comfortable having the whole world know about me? When you post anything online, you can never assume that it is private, even if your Instagram account is private or you share something in a secret Facebook group or only with your Facebook friends. You must assume that everything you post online may be viewed by anyone in the world. Content that introduces you may include: Personal life – Be careful about sharing pictures of minors, such as your kids and grandkids. You don’t want to unintentionally set any child up as a potential target for a predator. Random thoughts – Try to achieve a balance. Remember that your goal is to grow your BUSINESS. While it’s fine to give people a glimpse into your sense of humor, don’t go overboard with off-brand posts. Deep thoughts – In episode #37, I talked about how thoughtless political posts can destroy your credibility. In the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election in the US, and in the weeks following the election, I watched countless people unwittingly destroy their professional credibility and lose hundreds of friends and followers by name-calling, insulting, shaming, and otherwise creating a divisive, negative atmosphere. Selfies – Use judiciously. I am friends with a couple of people on Facebook who constantly post selfies. If you own a hair salon and you’re showing customers 365 ways to style your hair, that makes sense. If you sell vintage shoes on Etsy and post selfies of your feet wearing a different pair of shoes each day, that makes sense. If you’re a celebrity and your millions of fans want to know what you’re doing every minute of your life, that makes sense. But if you’re a celebrity only in your own mind, those posed shots of you in front of the bathroom mirror get really old really fast. Your audience will wonder why you seem so in love with yourself. What you do all day – People enjoy seeing pictures of your work space, or of a new recipe you’re experimenting with or the people you work with. Change things up by posting a variety of videos (live and pre-recorded, pictures, text). Out and about – Events you attend, fun stuff you do. Content Bucket #2: Inform Key question to ask yourself: “What does my ideal audience need to learn about my core areas? Here’s where the 80/20 rule comes into play. The 80/20 rule specifies that 80% of the content you post should be educational content, where you help your audience solve a problem or meet a challenge. The other 20% of your content can be direct sales. Word Nerd Moment This principle of content creation directly mirrors the Pareto Principle, which was named after an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. In 1906, Pareto noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the population. When describing the type of content you create for social media, the Pareto Principle rule of thumb is: The majority of your results or outcomes or consequences come from the minority of your activities. Your informational content might include: Instructional and how-to posts where you share your knowledge and expertise Your favorite tips/tools for accomplishing a specific goal or task Video, audio, and/or text-based tutorials Infographics Links to your blog posts, podcast episodes, vlogs, and guest posts on other people’s sites Links to or shares of someone else’s article that relates directly to one of your core services Content Bucket #3: Interact Key question to ask yourself: “What does my ideal audience need to do within each of my core areas? This is where you add an extra layer to the other five content buckets, by seeking to engage and interact with your followers and friends, based on the informational and inspirational content you’re consistently posting. Questions – Posts with questions get higher engagement than “statement” posts. Challenges – Share a challenge you’re facing, or challenge your readers to take an action based on something you’ve taught them. Polls, Surveys – Keep them short and simple, so your audience can instantly respond without having to think too much Quizzes – A fun way to help your audience determine where they stand, as it relates to your core services. Quizzes are a great opportunity for you to offer your products, programs, and services because the people who take the quiz are already interested in what you have to offer, and their responses help you dive into their minds and identify their key pain points. Facebook Live, Facebook Groups, Instagram Stories and Reels are all popular ways for you to interact with your audience. Content Bucket #4: Inspire Key question to ask yourself: How do I want my ideal audience to feel when they encounter content in my core areas? People buy with their emotions. Watch a few TV commercials or radio spots or print and online advertisements, and you’ll notice that the underlying sales pitch always plays on the emotions. Why? We want to be right; we want to feel as if our choices are being validated. We want expert advice, particularly when we’re feeling overwhelmed with too many choices. We want to feel as if we’re special and unique, as if the person we’re following is putting our needs first. We want to prove ourselves; to stand out; to be viewed as not only capable, but exceptional. When creating inspirational content, don’t try to manipulate the feelings of your audience only so you can sell them something. Focus on helping them achieve the transformation they long for. You can do this through: Inspirational or motivational graphics, videos, quotes, images Success stories – examples of how you’ve helped others Client testimonials Difficult situations you worked through Content Bucket #5: Entertain Sometimes, we need a break from all the serious stuff we’re confronted with every day, and we just want to laugh. The “Entertain” content bucket is closely related to the “Inspire” content bucket because you’re eliciting emotions. In this case, your goal is to make your audience laugh, cry, or say, aaaah. The most authentic type of entertaining content, in my opinion, is random stuff that happens during your day. Stay alert to what’s going on in your surroundings and post pithy reflections or snapshots about it. When posting in the “Entertain” bucket, you can veer slightly off topic – your posts don’t need to relate directly to your core service areas. But be careful not to veer too far off topic, because that will create confusion among your audience about what your brand represents. A lot of people post what I call “mindless memes” – pictures with text superimposed on them that are intended to be funny. And many of them are. Some of these folks see that they are getting a lot of likes and shares when they post memes, so they resort to posting only memes. Remember the 80/20 rule: Change up your content regularly. Content Bucket #6: Influence This is promotional content that motivates your audience to buy. It might include: Pictures and samples of what you’re selling Giveaways or free downloads that include an upsell for one of your premium products, services, or programs Coupon codes and discounts Sell a service, product, or program Be careful not to over-pitch but to follow the 80/20 rule: No more than 20% of your content – or 2 out of 10 posts – should directly sell something. Snackable Content The average social media user’s attention span is 2.8 seconds. Focus on creating bite-sized, easily digestible content that stops the scroll and offers instant gratification. Think of each social media post as a mini brand impression. Over time, all of your posts add up to create a “big picture” of your brand. Experiment with a variety of mediums: video, visual, audio, text. Mix it up: Create your own original content Curate other people’s content Massive Action Steps Decide which content buckets make the most sense for you to create content for – based on the core products, services, and programs you are creating that will bring about a positive transformation in the life of your ideal target audience. Get a bunch of sticky notes in different colors and put a sticky note that represents each of your content buckets on a large sheet of paper (or bulletin board or white board). On individual sticky notes, brainstorm topics and ideas for content that’ll go in each bucket and put them under the appropriate content bucket (with the understanding that most content you create can go in more than one bucket). Get a large monthly calendar from an office supply store or print one at print-a-calendar.com. Decide which content buckets you’ll feature on certain days of the week and begin plugging your sticky notes onto specific days of your calendar. This will ensure that you’re changing up your content weekly and are posting on a regular basis. Every piece of content you post on social media is part of your writing portfolio. Next week, in Part 3 of this series, we’ll talk about how to efficiently publish your social media content. Resources Mentioned Find Your Ideal Target Audience: During this 48-minute on-demand audio training, Laura will guide you through a series of questions that will help you discover and get to know your reader. Includes a printable workbook. Episode #14: Everyone’s Favorite Radio Station – Are You Tuned In? Episode #12: Setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals Episode #37: How To Destroy Your Professional Credibility in One Easy Step Free Social Media Business Plan Want a template to help you build your blogging and social media strategy? Click here to request yours or text BIZPLAN to 44222. How to Keep Up With The Show Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 40 - Create Winning Social Media Content first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
19 minutes | 2 months ago
39 – The Secret to Doing Social Media
This is the first in a 4-part series on practical tips for effective social media marketing. In this episode, we’ll begin creating a master plan for managing the time we spend on social media. In part 2, we’ll discuss how to create and manage our content. In part 3, we’ll talk about tools for scheduling our content. In part 4, we’ll discuss engaging with our audience, and how to monitor and adjust our master plan. During a workshop I taught called, “How to be more productive on social media,” I offered time management tips and helped my students choose the social media channels that would bring them to best return on their time investment. At the end of the workshop, one of my students raised their hand and said: “But I just don’t have time to do social media. My daily schedule is already packed.” This person had been hoping to discover a magical solution to their overloaded day-planner. Unfortunately, there is no magical solution. “Doing” social media requires old-fashioned commitment and hard work. If you’re wondering how to find time to do Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, the answer is simple… but not easy to accomplish: Give up something else. Whether that means abandoning watching TV or newspaper reading or spending less time on a hobby, you’ll need to sacrifice another activity in order to add social media marketing to your schedule. If you’re not prepared to make that sacrifice, don’t attempt to do social media. Many of us have good intentions to “do” social media marketing. When push comes to shove, we aren’t willing to commit to actually doing it. We get caught in an endless guilt cycle: I want to do it. I should be doing it. But I’m not willing to spend the time to do it. I feel bad for not doing it, because I really do want to do it… I’d rather that you step away from social media altogether than doing it sporadically and getting caught in the cycle of guilt and shame. You don’t need that. Your followers don’t need that. During the next four episodes, I’m going to show you practical ways to extricate yourself from the guilt cycle and begin forming good social media habits that will serve you well over the long-term as you grow your writing-related business. Do NOT sacrifice daily exercise. Exercise – even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes of mild stretches or hiking up and down the stairs in your home – will help your mind stay alert and will decrease the stress levels you may be feeling around doing social media. If you’re not in the habit of exercising, I recommend starting with 5 minutes a day. Make your choice of exercise so simple that you can’t not do it! It’ll be hard and possibly painful at first. You’ll be tempted to give up. But stick with it. The 21/90 rule That’s where you commit to a personal or professional goal for 21 straight days. It takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit. Then, for the next 90 days after that first 21 days, keep at it, gradually adding a minute or two to your exercise routine. I did this with swimming after I had a major episode with my back where I was flat on my back for 3 weeks. I limped to our local pool and ever-so-slowly got into the water. The first few weeks, I could manage about 10 painful minutes per day with a kickboard, moving at a snail’s pace. But the activity helped my healing process, and I gradually built up my strength, the strokes I was able to do, and my time in the water. I am currently able to swim just over a mile in 1 hour. I use this same “exercise” technique when it comes to social media marketing. Prioritize I recommended giving up something else that you are currently spending an inordinate amount of time doing. Ironically, that thing you’re wasting time on may be social media. In the U.S., the average social media user spends 2 hours and 3 minutes on social media each day! I’m guessing that the bulk of that time is spent mindlessly scrolling through the feed. Our goal, as business owners, is to eliminate the mindless scrolling and replace it with deliberate, intentional, efficient social media use. To do that, you first must know exactly how you’re currently spending your time. Massive Action Step #1: Track Your Time There are 168 hours in a week. For a full week, keep a log of what you do every hour of the day. After you’ve recorded 168 hours, break your activities into categories. How much time did you spend doing the following? (In the episode, I give examples for most of these.) Working Commuting Interacting with your family Exercising Sleeping Personal care Housework or household administration Watching TV Checking your social media accounts Weekly commitments Church-related activities Friends Organizations & associations Hobbies Education E-mail Gaming – video games, board games, sports practices and games Reading Next, imagine that you’re an attorney, billing your time to different projects. Ask yourself: Do these numbers reflect the number of hours I’d like to “bill” to these projects? Thinking in terms of the time you spend doing stuff in each category will help you discover areas in which your time expenditure is out of balance. Massive Action Step #2: Practice Managing Your Time Do some hard thinking about how you want to prioritize social networking time. Do you want to bookend your day, checking and updating your social networks for 10 minutes at the beginning of your day and another 10 minutes at the end? Do you want to devote a specific chunk of your day to social networking — say, from 10-10:30 a.m.? Do you want to spend 5 minutes, four times per day checking updates and interacting with your followers? Choose one method and test it for three weeks. You’ll feel tempted to cheat, so set a timer. If you plan to spend a 15-minute chunk of time social networking, set a timer for 15 minutes. If you can find an alarm or countdown timer that dings, bleeps, honks, or makes an unusual or obnoxious noise, use that. When it dings, you’re done. Period. No excuses. Recap of This Week’s Massive Action Steps Starting today, track your time for the next 7 days. Pay extra attention to how you are using your social media time. I did this exercise myself a few weeks ago and discovered, to my horror, that I was spending as much as an hour a day mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds. In Episode #37, “How to Destroy Your Professional Credibility in One Easy Step,” I explain the drastic action I took on my personal Facebook account, de-friending nearly half of my Facebook friends – everyone I hadn’t interacted with recently as well as everyone who was posting thoughtless political posts. That action alone tidied up my news feed so that I now see only a handful of posts per day from friends whose content I’m interested in seeing. As a result, I’ve decreased my time on Facebook from an hour or more per day to 5 minutes per day… 10 minutes tops. After you’ve tracked your time for a week, organize your activities in categories. That will give you a more accurate view of the areas where you might be wasting time so you can decrease time spent in those areas and increase the amount of time you spend in your top priority areas. Set a goal for how much time each day you will spend on social media, and decide how you will prioritize that time. Rewards are critical to the success of your time-management plan After you have completed this week’s action steps, reward yourself by doing something that brings you joy. In fact, you should spend a chunk of time each day doing this. Your reward should be something you look forward to doing each day – even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes – that gives you a mental health break and leaves you feeling energized. Be sure to join The Professional Writer Podcast Community and update us on the action steps you’re taking this week. We’re here to hold each other accountable for achieving our business-related goals, as well as to support and encourage each other. Next week, in Part 2 of this series, I’m going to introduce you to 6 types of snackable, shareable content you can create for your social media channels. Free Social Media Business Plan Want a template to help you build your blogging and social media strategy? Click here to request yours or text BIZPLAN to 44222. How to Keep Up With The Show Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 39 - The Secret to Doing Social Media first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
39 minutes | 2 months ago
38 – A Sip of Cold Water to Refresh the Weary Soul, With Grace Fox
“Are you ever going to write a real book?” The first time someone asked Grace Fox that question, she felt slighted. Grace, a popular and accomplished devotional writer, reveals how she worked through her internal struggle with writing devotions. In my interview with Grace (transcript included), we talk about: Her two-year journey from idea to book contract How she structured her upcoming 90-day devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions to Calm the Chaos How she has adjusted from writing 850-word devotions to 225-word devotions How she drafted ninety 225-word devotions in 20 days How she comes up with endless ideas to write about, and how nature inspires her writing Her daily writing rhythm – how she breaks up her day so she can “pick up speed” at the time of day when she does her best writing. How she balances writing devotional books and articles with marketing and connecting with readers. Grace, who’s been blogging 13 years, posts weekly to her blog and sends out a monthly “Growing with Grace” newsletter. Recently, she’s stepped outside her comfort zone to film “Devotions from the Dock,” short Facebook Live and YouTube videos she publishes four times a week. We also talk about Grace’s not-so-glamorous-but-always-interesting life on a sailboat in British Columbia, Canada. If you’ve submitted a proposal that hasn’t gone anywhere, here’s Grace’s encouragement: “Don’t give up hope! If we believe God is in control of every detail of our lives, He’s in control of our book proposals, too.” Scroll to the bottom of the page for the transcript. About Grace Fox Grace is a writer, speaker, life coach, and global worker whose passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life for her audiences. She’s a wife, mom, grandma, and sailboat dweller. In winter 2018, Grace and her husband took a step of faith, sold their belongings, and moved aboard a sailboat. She knows how to live simply, and she loves it! In her writing and speaking, Grace uses personal anecdotes and biblical teaching to equip her audiences so they can… conquer worry and fear to live as overcomers turn painful pasts into ministry opportunities discover and embrace their God-given purpose overcome unforgiveness and develop meaningful relationships experience the blessings a vibrant relationship with God brings Her writing includes hundreds of articles for magazines including Focus on the Family, and Insights Canada. She’s written nine books including Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, and the corresponding DVD-based Bible study. Grace lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband. They’re the national co-directors of International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in 26 countries and growing.’ Visit Grace at GraceFox.com Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions to Calm the Chaos Releases Feb 1, 2021 A diagnosis. Death of a loved one. A layoff. A broken relationship. Life changes in a nanosecond when storms sweep in, often without warning. With minds barely able to think clearly, we often set our Bible aside. However, in reality, that’s when we need its comfort and strength most. This devotional is written for those longing for hope, but are lacking the ability to focus on a lengthy Scripture passage. Each of these 90 devotions follows a simple pattern: Key Verse Pause (short devotion) Ponder (application question or action step) Pray (short prayer) Relevant quote Whether this is for you, a loved one, a friend at church, neighbor, or coworker, this book is for those who are in crisis. Crisis looks different for everyone. For some, it means facing the fallout of betrayal or divorce. For others, it means a cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, experiencing job loss or home foreclosure, or watching an adult child make choices that carry lifelong consequences. Some would say that hitting a relationship roadblock with a friend or family member constitutes crisis, while others would say it’s losing their family pet. Regardless, their greatest need is hope. They need reassurance that God’s love will never let them go, His presence will never leave them, and His strength will carry them through. Finding Hope in Crisis addresses these needs. How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 38 - A Sip of Cold Water to Refresh the Weary Soul, With Grace Fox first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
14 minutes | 3 months ago
37 – How to Destroy Your Professional Credibility in One Easy Step
Back in the day, when I checked my Facebook news feed, it was common to see selfies of people partying, stumbling drunk. As social media gained traction, business owners and HR directors made it a habit to check out the social media profiles of prospective employees… to do a little cyber-snooping to see how the candidate conducted themselves during their off-hours. A quick glance at a person’s feed can reveal a lot. In the case of the person posting drunken selfies, the employer would likely conclude: If this person doesn’t care about sharing TMI online, I can’t trust them to protect the privacy of the information shared inside my company. This drunk person is boasting about making a poor choice. How will that translate to their reliability in showing up sober to work every day, on time, and doing their job at 100%? Let’s flip that selfie upside down and say you’re the boss of your company – the CEO. You post a picture or video of you staggering around, drunk, and your prospective clients and customers see that in your feed and have a similar reaction: She has self-control issues! She doesn’t know – or doesn’t care – about what’s appropriate to post online. If she acts like this away from work, what kind of a disaster can I expect her to be as a boss? You might be wondering, “Laura, what does this have to do with me? I’ve never posted a drunken selfie and I never will.” Ah… but some of you would… and you do. Your version of the drunken selfie is a political post. Last night, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I spotted yet another meme (a meme is a graphic with words on it, intended for social sharing) that’s been making the rounds on Facebook. The meme was a two-sided chart with bullet points on each side, comparing two candidates who are running for office. The bullet points were riddled with inflammatory language. My summary of the bullet points: My candidate is God The other candidate is Satan My Facebook friend tacked on a random Bible verse that was taken out of context but was apparently intended to convince doubters that God was on the side of the candidate – and of the person posting the meme – and that anyone who thought otherwise were going to burn in hell. Based on the hundreds of comments this post received, it appears that a large number of people will be spending eternity in a fiery furnace. Political posts are the new “drunk-at-a-party selfie.” People of all ages, genders, and walks of life are thoughtlessly popping them into their personal Facebook feed. When I saw this political meme – posted by one of my Facebook friends who I know in real life – several thoughts swirled through my mind. My first reaction was disgust. “This person calls themselves a writer? They didn’t even bother to post an original thought!” (This meme was one of those mass-produced, knee-jerk, emotionally-charged graphics intended to wound.) The only “thought” this person put into the post was adding a random Bible verse, which was apparently supposed to make the nonsensical meme crystal clear. It did not. In fact, the addition of the Bible verse had exactly the opposite effect on me, and on most of the people who commented. My own knee-jerk reaction was to think, “This person does not know the Bible well at all if they assume that God is going to ‘vote’ for their candidate.” My next reaction was to vow, “I never want this person as a client in a million years.” In the past, I have snoozed people for 30 days or unfollowed them, but last night, I realized I was done. “I’m fed up with this and I’m not going to take it anymore.” I unfriended this person and then I got on a roll and unfriended about 1/3 of my entire list of friends – all the people who I rarely or never interact with. I realize that’s an intense reaction based on one Facebook post. But it’s been a long time coming. I joined Facebook in 2007 and my policy for my personal profile has always been to friend ONLY people I know in real life, and my extended family. As such, I’ve limited my account to 150 friends or so. A few people crept in under the radar, probably during one of my weak moments when I felt in need of a connection with a person I’d never met. Over the past year, I’ve been gradually unfollowing people and trying to wean myself away from the personal side of Facebook. Political posts have been driving me nuts for months, and the political meme that appeared in my feed last night was the last straw. You may be thinking, “Laura, I don’t like your judgmental attitude about posting political content on Facebook. I have every right to post my opinion.” I agree. Yes, you do. But I don’t have to allow myself to be exposed to it. If you feel offended and stop listening to my podcast or unsubscribe from my email list or unfollow me or defriend me on social media, I’m fine with that. Here’s why I’m fine with it: If you are unwilling to entertain the notion that there are thoughtful people of faith whose political views may not be an exact match for yours… if you’re willing to consign nearly 50% of the voting public to the fiery depths – that shows me you aren’t teachable. I don’t care whether your political views are far-left, far-right, or anywhere in between. I DO care that you are open to listening to viewpoints other than your own, thoughtfully discussing them, trying to discover commonalities you have with people who think differently than you. In a word, that you are teachable. Political posts can decimate a writer’s brand What bothers me about political posts is that many of the people publishing this type of content are writers who are working hard to build their platform and make a go of writing as a career. Why would you post content that you know will alienate half your Facebook friends, damage your in-person relationships, and destroy your professional and personal credibility? You might be thinking, “It’s my PERSONAL Facebook feed, Laura. No one notices or cares.” Yes, they do notice. And they do care. If you’re pitching a book project to a literary agent or acquisitions editor, what do you think is the first thing they do after reviewing your query or book proposal? They check out your website and your social media channels – both your professional pages AND your personal accounts. Editors and agents are on high alert for the 2020 version of the “drunk partier selfie,” which is the “thoughtless political post.” The words and pictures and videos they see in your personal feed give them a lot of information on which to base their evaluation of the way you’ll likely conduct yourself “on the job,” that is, when you are contracted to write a book for their publishing house. They are watching, and watching closely, to see how you conduct yourself online, personally and professionally. 3 tips to avoid getting a rep as an alarmist writer I have 3 tips to share with you that help me rein-in my own tendencies to publish reactionary political posts. I first provided these tips in Episode #23: Dealing with Rants, Ridicule, and Crushing Criticism: How to Avoid Getting a Reputation as an Alarmist Writer. Tip #1: You can’t please everyone. And you shouldn’t try to. All of us are going to say and do things – whether intentionally or unintentionally – that cause others to decide they do not want to hang out with us. They do not want to be our Facebook friend, read our blog posts, watch our videos, listen to our podcasts, buy our books, or become our clients. We enter the danger zone when we ignore the fact that EVERY WORD and EVERY IMAGE we post on social media has ramifications, not only for us personally, but also, for our brand. When we are so convicted about the “rightness” of our political views that we feel compelled to share them on social media, we do so with the awareness that we will very likely decimate our credibility. We must be comfortable with and prepared for that possibility. Tip #2: Resist the urge to retaliate. When I saw that political post in my feed last night, the Force was strong with me to break out my light saber and cut down this person. (And I did retaliate, in a passive-aggressive sort of way, by unfriending them.) I try – not always successfully – to abide by the 24-hour rule. I give myself at least 24 hours to work through my emotions privately so that if I respond, I feel more confident that I can be calm and rational, rather than emotional and reactive. Tip #3: Acknowledge and learn from opposing viewpoints. My first reaction, upon seeing a political post, is to jump straight to attacking someone’s character or shaming them. “That’s a ridiculous statement,” quickly morphs into “They’re just stupid.” When I catch myself saying, “They are SO stupid,” I remind myself that my self-righteous, alarmist, reactionary thinking is the very thing that I am condemning in the person who irritated me! My behavior is not conducive to acknowledging the other person’s viewpoint. I regularly remind myself: “You are not God. It’s not your place to judge. You cannot read this person’s heart. Stop calling them names and look for ways to engage in conversation.” It starts with one person, doesn’t it? One person who is willing to “agree to disagree,” but to have an honest, thoughtful conversation rather than making a strident, “I’m right and you’re wrong” pronouncement. I am vowing here, publicly, to be that one person. That person who tries – even though I fail often and miserably – to listen. To consider the ramifications before posting content that I know will be offensive and hurtful. To engage in conversation with people whose views I don’t understand. Will you join me? If each listener to this podcast committed to trying to do these things within our individual spheres of influence, imagine the positive impact we could make. How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 37 - How to Destroy Your Professional Credibility in One Easy Step first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
36 – Two Issues That Hold Writers Back, with Ginny L. Yttrup
“Writing is really hard work for me. In the midst of it I often find myself stymied. Blocked. Confused. Wanting to do anything but write.” —Ginny L. Yttrup Those words are from a professional writer with 25 years of experience! If you’ve ever experienced the slow tedium of writing – if you’ve ever felt like giving up – my interview with Ginny L. Yttrup is a must-listen. A non-fiction writer who mastered the art of penning fiction, Ginny is also an experienced writing coach. During Episode #36, Ginny helps us come to grips with the two most common areas where writers get stuck, and puts us on track to get unstuck. If you prefer to read, a transcript is at the bottom of this page. About Ginny L. Yttrup Ginny is the author of seven contemporary, issue-driven novels, including her Christy Award winning novel, Words. As a writing coach at Words for Writers, Ginny is passionate about helping both fiction and nonfiction writers discover and put words to the messages their lives have written. Ginny lives in Northern California with her rescue pup, Henry, and loves spending time with her adult children and the circle of friends who enrich her life. Visit Ginny WordsForWriters.net (coaching, manuscript critiques, and developmental edits) GinnyYttrup.com (author website) The Mendocino Village Series Invisible (book 1) Illusion (book 2) – released October 20, 2020 Four women in love. Four fractured romances. Through their friendships with one another will they uncover the illusion that’s keeping them from their hearts’ desires? Discount Code for Your Novel Map Your Novel Map takes writers through all the elements necessary to create a structurally sound and satisfying novel: Genre Title Theme Hook Character Development and Arcs Point of View Story Arc Novel Structure A Satisfying Ending Ginny’s digital map is built on a Trello board that gives writers an interactive space to track the elements of their novel. Use discount code PWPODCAST when ordering and access Your Novel Map for only $39.95. Recommended Resource Plot & Structure, by James Scott Bell (Ginny’s go-to guide when she was learning the art of writing fiction) How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 36 - Two Issues That Hold Writers Back, with Ginny L. Yttrup first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
8 minutes | 3 months ago
35 – 3 Easy Tricks to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog
If you have been blogging or podcasting consistently for a year or more, chances are that over half the people who visit your website or blog find it via an “organic search.” In other words, they’re not discovering it through clicking a link on a paid Google ad. In an organic search, they google a word or phrase when they’re looking for information about you or about a topic. In the search results, one of your blog posts or a page on your website pops up. Massive Action Step #1: Check Google Analytics Check your site’s Google Analytics to see what channels your traffic is coming from. Click the Acquisition tab, and under All Traffic, click Channels. It’ll give you a breakdown of: Organic Search – Includes traffic that search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) send to your website from search results. Organic means that a search engine includes your website in search results because it is a good match for the user’s search, and not because you paid for it. Direct – When someone accesses your website directly, either through typing in your website’s URL (website address) or through clicking on a bookmark or “favorite” they have saved in their browser. Social – Traffic generated through social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Referral – Visitors who come to your website after clicking on a link on another website. E-mail – Visitors who click a link to a page on your site that’s in an email they receive. Paid Search – You pay a search engine’s ad network (such as Google AdWords). People who click the ad land on a page of your website. Paid search is the opposite of organic search. My Analytics Results Before recording this episode, I reviewed my site’s Google Analytics. During the past 6 months, 72% of the traffic to my site came from organic search. This is likely because I’ve been blogging consistently about online marketing since 2007, so I have thousands of articles on my website. This gives people thousands of ways to discover me via a search. I also have an engaged email list, so I get a lot of traffic via email. Massive Action Step #2: Before Writing Your Post, google Related Keywords If you want to ramp up the organic reach of your blog posts and podcast episodes, do this: Before you begin writing your post, ask, “What words and phrases would I google to find my post?” Do a search for those keywords. What articles are listed in the search engine results? Do they relate topically to your article? Do they include keywords that you could add to your article or title to make it more discoverable? Massive Action Step #3: Follow my Foolproof Formula for Writing the Title When writing headlines for blog posts, ask yourself, “What words would someone google to find this article?” Include those key words in your post’s title. Simple, huh? FREE Blog & Social Media Business Plan Get my free action plan to create your blog and social media strategy. How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 35 - 3 Easy Tricks to Help People Discover Your Website and Blog first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
17 minutes | 6 months ago
24 – List Cleaning Gets Rid of Deadbeat Subscribers
I recall the time a salesperson from The Washington Post called and tried to sell me a subscription to the newspaper. They attempted to convince me that, as a business owner, I absolutely had to subscribe in order to keep up with the latest, greatest news and analysis on business. My reply to the salesperson: “You realize I live in the OTHER Washington, right? That is, Washington State, on the West Coast? “But, but, but… you need to subscribe to this newspaper for the business news! No business person anywhere in the United States can successfully do business without reading this newspaper.” “Actually, I’ve been in business for years and while I do occasionally read your newspaper, my business is doing fine. Thanks but no thanks.” This was an example of a corporation casting their net too wide, mistakenly assuming that their ideal subscriber is any businessperson anywhere in the United States, even if they live 2,768 miles away from where the newspaper is published. You may be wondering what this example has to do with cleaning your email list. Quite a bit. Many of us actively seek to grow the number of subscribers who are on our email list. Similar to what The Washington Post did with me, we reach out to people who we think would be interested in what we have to offer, and we invite them to subscribe. We don’t want to grow a list of the wrong subscribers. The wrong subscribers are people who sign up for our list just so they can download some random freebie we created, but who aren’t ultimately interested in our message and don’t care about connecting with us over the long haul. When I advise writers not to grow a large list of random subscribers, many of them balk, because they’ve been told by industry pros that a large list is essential for: Getting the attention of traditional publishers who want to see big numbers before offering contracts Selling your book (whether it’s traditionally or self-published) It can be helpful to have a large email list, if that list consists of true fans, readers, clients – people who feel a connection with you and eagerly anticipate what you have to share with them. Building a large list of people who are not in your ideal target reader demographic is a waste of time, and you’ll likely see little or no return on your investment. Your ideal reader is NOT everyone in the world You might be protesting, “But Laura, my writing appeals to everyone… women and men of all ages and from all walks of life.” I’m going to flat-out tell you, “No, it does not.” If you attempt to reach everyone in the world with your message, chances are that you will reach no one. In reality, the audience for your books, your blog, your podcast, or your email marketing is a narrow slice of the world. 3 ways ideal readers engage with you Even though you may have grown a list of 10,000, 100,000, or 1 million or more subscribers, a large list does not necessarily equal the right list. Even when you build a list of the right audience for your message, your ideal readers will typically engage with you in one of these three ways: 1. Passive action window shoppers Imagine going to the mall. You stroll slowly by each store, gazing at the window displays, peering in the door to see what kind of merchandise they sell. As you meander through the food court, you might taste-test the chicken teriyaki. You’re window shopping. This is the case with a lot of people who sign up for lead magnets or free gifts. They want something they can use right away and they’re mildly interested in what you have to offer. But they’re window shopping. They may step inside, but they most likely aren’t ready to buy from you. Many window shoppers will hang around on your list for quite some time. They’ll open your emails, listen to your podcast, read your blog, like your Facebook page, but you’ll rarely hear directly from them. 2. Intentional engagers These people want to get to know you better. When they receive a message from you in their inbox, they often reply to it. They comment on and share your social media posts. These subscribers are intentionally choosing to know you, like you, and trust you. They likely haven’t purchased anything from you, but they’re feeling open to it. 3. Massive action takers These subscribers are highly engaged. They have likely met you face-to-face, either at an event, conference, or via a video conference call. They may have taken a workshop from you or attended a webinar you taught. They have likely posted something original about you on social media – not just a comment on one of your posts, but an original post that references how much they like something you did for them. How to get the best return on your time investment A lot of entrepreneurs feel obligated to interact with the passive action window shoppers, in an attempt to nudge them into becoming intentional engagers or massive action takers. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but I recommend that you invest most of your energy into interacting with groups 2 and 3, the intentional engagers and massive action takers. Invite them to join you for a Zoom chat. Direct message them from your social channels. These are the people who form the backbone of your email list and are the people most likely to buy your books or other products, services, and programs, or “buy into” your life-transforming message. Lump-on-a-log subscribers There’s a fourth group of subscribers who haven’t even reached the “passive action” level. They’re what I call the lump-on-a-log subscribers. They’re just there, on your list, taking up space. There are three subsets of lump-on-a-log subscribers: 1. Freebie seekers They typically subscribe just to get your free gift or lead magnet, and then immediately unsubscribe. Some of them neglect or forget to unsubscribe, but after they grab your freebie, they never open another one of your emails. 2. Flash-in-the-pan subscribers These subscribers are your biggest fans… for a few weeks. They enthusiastically join in every conversation, email you regularly, and assure you that they’re going to buy everything you have to sell. But they quickly lose interest when the next shiny object comes their way and you never hear from them again. Word Nerd Moment The idiom, flash in the pan, has been around since the late 17th century. It was used to describe a flintlock musket, which had a small pan that held gunpowder. When an attempt was made to fire the musket and the gunpowder flared up but did not fire a ball, it was a “flash in the pan.” These days, the idiom refers to having an impressive or showy beginning, but ultimately, disappointing or failing to deliver. 3. “I’m just not that ‘into’ you” These subscribers have more stick-to-itiveness than flash-in-the-pan subscribers, but after a while, they lose interest. There are lots of reasons why this might happen, and it’s often a result of something you did, not something the subscriber did. Perhaps you shifted your brand messaging or started writing in a different genre or started writing for a significantly different type of audience than you were doing when you started your email list. Perhaps you transitioned from giving away everything to selling stuff, and your subscriber feels as if you’ve become overly salesy. Perhaps you significantly raised your prices. Perhaps you took a lengthy break from emailing your subscribers, and in the interim, they lost interest. Perhaps their own life circumstances or business circumstances changed – they retired, or switched career paths, or decided to take a break from writing to raise their kids – and your emails are no longer relevant to them. Whatever the reason, a shift happened and that subscriber is no longer “into” you. Delete lump-on-a-log subscribers, guilt-free! You can delete the lump-on-a-log subscribers from your email list today without feeling an ounce of guilt. Frankly, less than 1% of lump-on-a-log subscribers are likely to become passive action window shoppers, intentional engagers, or massive action takers. There are so many people out there who are a good fit for what you have to offer, that you don’t need to feel guilty about removing the lumps on a log from your list. Going through this process will free you up to go deeper with the people who do like the way you do business, the way you present yourself, and the expertise you have to offer. Why I deleted thousands of lump-on-a-log subscribers I’ve had an email list for many years and thousands of my subscribers joined my list when I first started my business. However, in October of 2019, I made a slight shift in my brand messaging and a significant shift in my audience targeting – from a general entrepreneur, small business owner to the owner of a writing-related business. When I made this shift, many of my early subscribers were no longer in my “ideal target client” range. If you visualize this in terms of a dart board, they were nowhere near the bullseye in the center of the dart board. They moved to the outer reaches of the board, or off the board altogether. On a monthly basis, I closely examine my email list to see who’s opening my emails and who’s clicking links in emails. Every three months, I clean or scrub my email list. How I clean my email list I search for subscribers who subscribed to my list more than six months ago but haven’t opened any of my emails during the last four months. Then I create a segment of only those subscribers. By going back six months or longer, I’m showing a little grace to those subscribers who recently joined my list but may not have gotten around to opening an email from me yet. But if someone has been on my list longer than 6 months, and I send them an email every single week and they haven’t opened any of my messages, that shows me that they just aren’t into me. Re-engagement campaign What you can do
29 minutes | 6 months ago
23 – Dealing with Rants, Ridicule, and Crushing Criticism
A writer I know who is visually impaired was told, “I would never read a novel with a visually impaired main character because I would assume the author had an agenda.” What did this person expect the writer to do? To not write a novel that features a visually impaired person just because one prospective reader might feel offended by what they consider the writer’s “agenda?” You could fill in the blank with pretty much any topic. Try it. Think of a topic or theme that’s close to your heart – one you have strong and well-researched opinions about. Then imagine someone is saying this to you about your topic: Fiction writers, try this: I would never read a book with a ________ main character, because I would assume the author had an agenda. Non-fiction writers, try this: I would never read a book about ________, because I would assume the author had an agenda. All authors have some sort of an agenda. In a novel, for example, they might be gently trying to help readers understand what it’s like to be visually impaired, adopted, divorced, LGBT, diabetic, or whatever. I recently read a historical novel set in 1776 America, told from the POV of a ladies’ maid. This maid was not a slave – she was a white orphan who’d gone into service as a young girl and had no opportunities in life other than being an unpaid servant to a mean, rich society woman. In a sense, she was a slave. The story made me think about the people of many colors who have either been forced into slave labor or who immigrated to my country with high hopes for a better life, and discovered that the only jobs available to them involved hard labor with wages barely enough to feed one person, no less an entire family; or the orphaned and poverty-stricken who had no other options in life but to be servants; and the way my nation was built on the backs of strong, determined people like this. If I had assumed the author would have an agenda, I would have missed out on all this. The novel helped me to appreciate people who were – and still are – in service. As writers, business owners, and leaders, we’re going to get discouraging negative feedback and complaints from: People who disagree with our stance on the topics we write about. Subscribers who think our emails are too long, or too short. Readers of our novels who find the protagonist unlikeable, or they don’t like the color of a character’s skin, or their accent, or they think the plot is boring. What are we supposed to do when people complain? How can we handle complaints like grownups? This is something I wrestle with, because, like every business owner, I, too, get complaints. Bright and early one Monday morning, after sending out my weekly email to subscribers that let them know about the content of my latest podcast episode, I received this email: I’m not interested in podcasts. Sometimes, with videos, there is a script provided giving the entire content in print. Or videos might have closed captioning. I am hearing impaired. I can scan text for content I need, but podcasts are so time-consuming. I received this message on the heels of publishing a new podcast episode – just like I’ve done every Monday morning for months – an episode that I spent eight hours planning, crafting, recording, editing, writing a transcript and show notes for, designing promotional graphics, writing and scheduling social media posts, and writing an email for the subscribers on my email list. Reading between the lines, I rewrote this person’s complaint in my head, and here’s my interpretation: I don’t like listening to podcasts because I’m hearing-impaired. Because podcasts are geared for auditory learning, they don’t work for me. I’m not willing to carve time out of my day for doing something that doesn’t appeal to me in the first place. Reading way, way between the lines, I sensed this person asking: Why don’t you make it easier on me? Provide a transcript of your podcast. Or better yet, axe the podcast altogether and stick with blogging. I could be interpreting this person’s complaint incorrectly. But a myriad of thoughts, questions, and emotions surfaced as I pondered their complaint. Why did they feel compelled to let me know they are not interested in podcasts? Did they think their missive would be a cheerful beginning to my week? They don’t listen to my podcast in the first place, so why do they feel compelled to let me know that? What is their expectation? Were they attempting to guilt-trip me into responding, “Oh, so sorry! I had no idea that anyone in my audience wouldn’t be interested in podcasts. I’m going to immediately delete every episode and I promise I’ll never podcast again as long as I live.” What do they want me to learn from their complaint? They stated that they are “hearing impaired” and that they prefer to scan a transcript for the information they need. It appears that they want me to be sensitive to the needs of the hearing-impaired members of my audience. My response Here’s how I responded to this person – and I’d love your feedback on whether you think I took the right approach, or what I could have done differently: Hi XX, Thanks for contacting me. I agree that business owners need to reach out to their audience through multiple mediums, including articles or blog posts, video, and audio. That’s why I have hundreds of blog posts on my blog (for people who learn best through reading) as well as several videos and my podcast. On the podcast, I alternate between interviews with guests and tutorial-style posts. I include written transcripts for most of my monologue-style episodes, because I know some people prefer reading or are hearing impaired. In this era, our readers and clients consume content in so many ways and each of us has our own preference. I’m committed to being an example to my audience of the multiple ways a business owner can reach out to and connect with their audience. I did my best to remove emotion and defensive language, and kept it as professional and neutral as I was capable of doing in the moment. Brain dumps help diffuse emotional overload Then I did a brain dump of all my swirling emotions and thoughts, first verbally with my husband, and second, on my computer. Parts of my brain dump became what you are now listening to as a podcast episode. But I didn’t immediately record my brain dump. I wrote it all out. Then I closed the file and let it sit for 3 days. For me, 72 hours is usually enough time to let my emotions simmer down and to give me a more objective perspective when I open the file and begin editing it. In this case, I discovered that 72 hours was not nearly enough time. I had done so much emotional baggage-dumping on paper – not just about this person’s mild criticism, but about the exceedingly mean-spirited negative comments I’ve been seeing constantly on social media and in the news. This person’s mild rant had alerted my brain that it needed to process a lot of pandemic-related emotions, so I wrote and wrote and wrote. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of writing I’d generated. So I set it aside for a month. I’m just now revisiting it, and I know I still don’t have this all figured out, but I think I’m far enough along in the process that I can share it with you. 3 tips for handling reader complaints I’m structuring this section as action steps because I don’t want you to just sit back and take passive action – in other words, listen to this episode or read the transcript and not do anything with it. I know that you also deal with reader complaints and client criticisms, so I want to give you some practical tips for handling reader complaints that you can take to heart and put into action. Tip #1: You can’t please everyone. And you shouldn’t try to. Some of your readers, listeners, viewers, and subscribers will not be a good fit for what you are offering. For example, in the case of my former subscriber who is hearing-impaired, I did a little sleuthing inside my email marketing system, and learned that this person had signed up for my list so they could get one of my freebies. They likely never visited my website to see the kinds of services my company offers. They probably never viewed the show notes of one of my podcast episodes, where they would have discovered that many of my episodes include full written transcripts. This person pre-decided that they didn’t like one aspect of the way I do business, and in that moment, they decided not to become my client. When I retooled the Blogging Bistro brand in late 2019 to support entrepreneurs who are planning and growing writing-related businesses, as part of my re-brand, I made a commitment to podcast every week for a year. I knew I’d lose a significant chunk of my subscribers and blog readers. Why? Because people who’d been used to getting blog posts from me for 13 years were suddenly going to be receiving my content packaged in a different format, and I knew that would make some of them uncomfortable and uninterested. When I was primarily blogging, my hearing-impaired subscriber was a better fit for what I had to offer. But now that I’ve transitioned to primarily podcasting, this person is no longer part of my ideal target audience. In the coaching I do with my clients, many of them get distressed when someone unsubscribes from their email list or unfollows them on social media or doesn’t participate in their Facebook group. But think about it. Have you ever subscribed to someone’s email list or joined their Facebook group, and the first few weeks or months, you avidly soaked up every tidbit this person had to offer? You liked many of their posts and commented on them. But then, after a while, you either lost interest, or the person’s content started feeling stale or repetitious or overly salesy, or your own brand or business shifted and you no longer needed
33 minutes | 6 months ago
22 – “Don’t write because you want to get published. Write because you enjoy writing.” (with Tessa Afshar)
I debated long and hard about what to title this episode: How to make a tattooed construction worker cry like a baby “This girl knows nothing!” “It sounds wrong for someone who makes up stuff for a living to write a Bible study.” Eventually, I settled on, “Don’t write because you want to get published. Write because you enjoy writing.” That’s the bottom line for award-winning author, Tessa Afshar. But it wasn’t always that way. When Tessa submitted her first romance novels to publishers, she assumed she’d get offered contracts and would immediately begin living off her writing. Things didn’t work out that way. In episode #22, you’ll learn: How Tessa’s “romance with romance” began Why she gave up her longed-for writing career when publishers said “no” How a life-changing event strengthened her resolve to return to writing How Tessa’s publisher believed in her writing, took pity on a newbie author who “didn’t know anything,” and helped her establish her author brand And yes, you’ll learn how a scene in Tessa’s first novel made a tattooed construction worker cry like a baby. Tessa’s first book, Pearl in the Sand, was published in 2010, when biblical fiction was in its infancy. As she was writing the manuscript, a voice in the back of Tessa’s mind kept taunting, “This will never get published. Nobody will ever want to read this. This is so boring! This is terrible!” Pearl in the Sand sold out in three days. Since then, it has been translated into eight languages besides English. In October 2020, a tenth-anniversary edition, with new scenes and a new cover, is being released. Tessa’s 8-year journey to full-time writing It took eight years for Tessa to build her readership and writing income enough to transition to full-time writing and speaking. During those years, she worked full-time in women’s ministry while penning eight novels and one non-fiction book in her not-so-spare time. Tessa marvels that writing and speaking is now her full-time job. Not only that, but she does it “in a language that’s not even my own”(Persian is her first language). “Switching Lanes” to Non-Fiction In June of 2020, Tessa’s first non-fiction book was published. The Way Home is a 6-week Bible study on the story of Ruth. In the episode, Tessa reveals why her publisher initially turned down her idea for this Bible study, but welcomed it a few years later. She explains how a combination of in-depth research, “what if?” questions, and imagination brings her stories – and her Bible study – to life. Drawing Fresh Eyes We also discuss Tessa’s marketing strategy. In a competitive marketplace, all authors “have to work harder and harder to sell our books,” says Tessa. “It doesn’t matter how established you are. You need to find ways to draw new readers and fresh eyes to your work.” “You have to be disciplined about what you choose to do and what you choose not to do,” she says. Tessa explains how the “free” writing and speaking she does draws new readers, and how she uses social media to encourage her followers to persevere. Ultimately for Tessa, this journey is about writing for the sheer enjoyment of writing. “Be mindful that small beginnings are powerful,” she says. And feel confident that God’s intention for your writing is specific, she adds. “It has nothing to do with your worth; it has nothing to do with your talent; it has nothing to do with the fact that He loves you or doesn’t love you…. “Receive whatever opening He gives you with gratitude and run with that opening. Do not grow discouraged. Resist the lies you will hear and do the thing God created you to do.” Word Nerd Moment Biblical fiction: Writing about a biblical character or event. Inspirational historical fiction during the time of the Bible – A biblical character is present, but the story isn’t about biblical events. About Tessa Afshar Tessa was born in the Middle East to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. When her parents divorced, she moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Tessa attended college in the United States, has lived most of her life there, and is a U.S. citizen. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa is the award-winning author of nine books – eight of them are inspirational fiction and biblical fiction. Visit TessaAfshar.com Tessa’s most recent books: Daughter of Rome (February 2020), a journey through first-century Rome and Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila. The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings (June 2020), a six-week, in-depth Bible study on the story of Ruth. An optional DVD contains additional teachings lasting approximately 15-20 minutes per session. Share Your Thoughts About This Episode Freebie of the Week: The 7 Biggest Website Turnoffs Prevent people from instantly clicking away from your website. My free cheatsheet and video training include quick fixes for each turnoff. How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 22 - “Don’t write because you want to get published. Write because you enjoy writing.” (with Tessa Afshar) first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
25 minutes | 6 months ago
21 – Steps to Take When Your Blog Content Gets Stolen (And How to Legally Share Others’ Content)
Has someone ever copied an entire blog post you’ve written and pasted it on their own blog? That has happened to me several times, and it also happened to Tim Fall, last week’s guest on The Professional Writer podcast. The issue of copying and pasting other people’s content has a lot of misconceptions swirling around it. I want to address the faulty reasoning used by people who do this, and provide guidelines to follow. We’re going to look at this issue from two perspectives: You’re a blogger whose content has been reproduced without your permission. What action should you take? You’re a blogger who discovers a great blog post and thinks, “I want to share this with my own readers.” What’s the appropriate and legal way to share someone else’s content? Let’s start by looking at what happened to Tim Fall. Tim, who’s a memoir author and avid blogger and social media user, wrote on Facebook that a man copied his entire post and put it on his blog. Not just a couple of lines, but the whole post. The man put a link back to Tim’s post at the end. How would you react if someone did this with a post that you’d labored long and hard to write and polish? Here’s what Tim did: He asked the other blogger “not to appropriate the whole post without permission.” The blogger replied, “It’s all right since we’re both Christians.” Then he added, besides, I attributed it to you. Tim insisted that this was not okay and asked the blogger to remove the post. The blogger acted affronted. Tim has had this happen more than once. He wrote, “One guy went so far as to tell me that everything on the Internet is public domain so he had every right to use it without my permission. I kept insisting anyway. He finally deleted it and then posted a special note on his blog telling followers that I was being unreasonable and that’s why he had to take down the post he copied from my blog.” As I was reading Tim’s Facebook post, my blood started to boil. Apparently, lots of other people’s blood pressure was skyrocketing, too, because his post received over 100 comments. Some people laughed it off with an “oh, well; what can you expect from the Internet” attitude. Others wondered where this guy was from, and suggested that his actions might be due to cultural differences. Several people asked for clarification: Did the guy share Tim’s post? In other words, did he click a “Share” button like you would do on a Facebook post? No. When you click a “share” button on a blog post, it doesn’t copy the entire post; it copies the title, possibly a short description or excerpt, and the link to the post, which is intended to be shared on social media. This guy manually copied and pasted Tim’s entire post as a new post on his own blog. Did he use quotation marks and attribute the content to Tim? Unsure about the quotation marks, but he put a link to Tim’s blog at the bottom of what Tim calls “the pilfered post.” One person suggested that Tim copyright his blog using a Creative Commons License and that might stop some of the blatant plagiarism. That advice, while well-intended, was inaccurate on three levels: First, Tim doesn’t need to put a © symbol or copyright notice on his blog or on any of the posts his writes that are published on his blog. Tim doesn’t need to register a copyright with some government agency. His blog and all the published posts on his blog that Tim wrote are instantaneously protected by U.S. copyright laws upon publication. (See Natalie Mootz’s article, “Blogging & Copyright Law in 2020”) Intellectual property that you create, such as a blog post, is automatically copyrighted. Second, a Creative Commons License is just that – a license to use content as-is or as part of a new work. But Tim would still own the copyright to his work and the person using that work would need to follow the specifications Tim outlined in the license. Third, copying and pasting someone else’s post onto your own blog is not plagiarism. Word Nerd Moment Plagiarism is when you pass someone else’s work off as your own. If you copied and pasted Tim’s entire blog post and put your own byline on the post, as if you wrote it, that is plagiarism. What happened to Tim is called copyright infringement. And yes, the correct spelling is copyright (not copywrite). An easy way to remember the correct spelling: copyright means the right to copy. A couple of Tim’s commenter’s didn’t see the harm in “quoting” Tim or doing what they called “reposting” or generous “sharing” – in other words, copying word-for-word his entire 1,200-word article – because the blogger who pirated Tim’s work gave Tim credit. Tim replied, “They can’t do it even if they do give credit. I wrote a blog post, he copied the whole thing and put it on his blog, and then added a link at the bottom back to my page. He stole my work.” That’s the bottom line. The blogger stole Tim’s work – infringed on Tim’s copyright – and couched his misdeed by “playing the ‘God card’ to justify his unethical and illegal behavior – we’re both Christians, so you should be fine with me stealing your writing. Tim was not flattered that this man was so impressed with Tim’s stellar writing that he appropriated the entire article for himself. My guess is that Tim was irritated. What can you do when someone infringes on your copyrighted content? Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. I am offering practical suggestions based on my own experiences and research. A situation similar to Tim’s happened to me. In my case, it was clear-cut plagiarism because the blogger reprinted my entire article AND put their own name, as the author, directly above my article. The plagiarizer did not link the article back to my blog. I took immediate action, posting the following comment on her blog, beneath my article: Please delete this article from your website immediately. The content, in its entirety, has been stolen from the Blogging Bistro website, where it was originally published on [insert date of publication] at [insert URL to original blog post]. You did not ask for nor receive permission to reprint the article; thus, you are breaking copyright law. In addition to posting a comment publicly on their blog, I emailed a similar message to the blogger. A couple of minutes later, I received the following reply: “I apologize as I wasn’t stealing your content – I linked to your website and state that it is your information in the post. I never took credit for it at all. It states clearly in the article that it is yours – with links AND images.” (Yeah, they copied and pasted the exact images I’d published with my article, too). I triple-checked my article on their blog and took screenshots of the entire article to see if I’d missed my own byline or that link to my blog that they claimed was there. Nope. No byline. No link. By now, steam was shooting out my ears. I replied: When you reprint an entire article without asking or receiving written permission from the author, that is stealing. Check copyright laws on this. I’m not seeing a link or any attribution to the original source — just your own byline and my article, reprinted wholesale on your site. For future reference, whenever you share someone else’s content, you are allowed to publish a limited excerpt (length of excerpt depends on the length of the original article — for a blog post, it’s usually a couple of lines or a very short paragraph) with an attribution to the author and a link back to the primary source. But you can never, ever reprint an article, song lyrics, poem, book chapter, blog post, etc. in its entirety without written permission from the author. Disguising “stealing” as “sharing” wouldn’t go over well in court. Please remove the article immediately. If you want to compose your own original promotion of the article along with my byline and a link to my site, you have permission to do that. That would be genuine and honest sharing. The blogger followed up six minutes later with this message: “I can remove it if you wish. Didn’t mean to ‘steal.’ I was simply sharing an informative article. If you don’t want the exposure, that’s your choice.” Thankfully, this person immediately took my article off her site. She replaced the reprint with an appropriate intro, link to my article, and credit line. But what if she hadn’t? What other actions could I have taken? Document Everything First, I would have made a copy of the plagiarized post on her blog. I would have also taken time-stamped screenshots, and saved the links of my content the blogger was using. I would have also documented where and when my content was originally published (including the date published and a link to the original piece). Issue a DMCA Takedown Notice Next, I would inform the blogger that I would be issuing a DMCA takedown notice. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The takedown notice is a legal document that you sign and can deliver directly to the perpetrator or to the service that hosts their blog. To find out who hosts a blog or website, visit WHOis.net, input the domain name, and you’re likely to discover some helpful information about the site. To learn the name of the company that hosts their site, look for “Name Server” on this list. You can then contact the website or blog host, let them know that a site they host is infringing on copyright laws, and ask them what their process is for issuing a DMCA takedown notice. Hosting companies are usually highly motivated to take action – in some cases, they may take the entire offending site offline – because the host can get in legal trouble for breaking copyright laws. File a DMCA Claim with Google In Google’s Legal Help section, there’s an area called,“Removing Content From Google.” Go there and file a claim.
31 minutes | 7 months ago
20 – “Get it said. Shut up. Post.” (with Tim Fall)
“It was an overwhelming experience to have someone want to take my job away from me,” says Tim Fall, a Superior Court judge in Northern California. During his 2008 election campaign, Tim was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Ten years later, Tim felt as if he had gained enough perspective, and he wrote about his battle with mental illness in his memoir, Running for Judge: Campaigning on the Trail of Despair, Deliverance, and Overwhelming Success. “A mental health diagnosis does not mean you are ‘less than,’” Tim stresses. Some people try to convince you that depression and anxiety are all in your head. His response? “Tell them this: ‘Of course, mental illness is all in your head. And a heart attack is all in your chest. Go see a doctor either way.’” Running for Judge encourages readers that they can survive and thrive… that anxiety resulting from what we call “pandemic fatigue” is completely normal. “But if it’s starting to interfere with your living life, it’s time to talk with your doctor.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim, like many writers, has been unable to put words to paper. Instead, he began recording his thoughts in short, unscripted videos. He uploads his daily videos to YouTube and Twitter and shares them on Facebook and his blog. Because Twitter limits video uploads to 02:20 or less, Tim credits Twitter with forcing him to be disciplined to: “Get it said. Get it said quickly. Shut up. Post.” A self-proclaimed “full-on egalitarian,” Tim posts on topics related to fairness, including sexism, racism, and women’s roles in the church. “Fairness is something I need to carry out and follow always, both as a legal and moral duty,” he says. “I have to be a fair person 24/7, because I am never not a judge.” An active blogger (he’s been at it 10 years) and social media user, Tim cares less about “building a platform” and more about “building a community.” “I’m not using social media to publish; I’m on social media, and if publishing fits in to that, than fine… I am connected with people online for purposes of community.” I know you’re going to enjoy this candid, behind-the-scenes discussion with Tim. About Tim Fall Tim Fall presents a 5-minute “lightning talk” at the 2020 West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. A Superior Court judge in Northern California, Tim also teaches judicial ethics to experienced judges throughout the state. Married for 30 years with two kids (both graduated, woo-hoo!) his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. Tim’s short story, “The Old Cowboy and a Horse Called Magic,” was published by Revell in the anthology, The Horse of My Dreams. His short ebook exploring the grief of his father’s passing, On Not Missing My Father: The Relief of a Parent’s Death, can be found at timfall.com. Get 40% off when ordering Running for Judge Use the discount code JUDGE40 when ordering Running for Judge: Campaigning on the Trail of Despair, Deliverance, and Overwhelming Success from Wipf and Stock Publishers Share Your Thoughts About This Episode How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 20 - “Get it said. Shut up. Post.” (with Tim Fall) first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
7 minutes | 7 months ago
19 – Three Irritants That Pull Readers Out of a Story
I inhale over 100 novels per year, fully immersing myself in the imaginary world… except when the author rudely pulls me out of the story. These three irritants yank me out of a story: Non-standard use of a common word or phrase Ignorance of geographic language differences Difficult-to-pronounce character names In this 7-minute “Learn With Laura” episode, I give examples from (unnamed) novels I’ve been reading and share tips to help you avoid these mishaps and keep your reader engrossed. Share Your Thoughts About This Episode How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 19 - Three Irritants That Pull Readers Out of a Story first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
18 – Swag Ideas for Your Book Launch, With Lindsay A. Franklin
Lindsay A. Franklin joins us for the second week in a row to continue our conversation about writing and marketing Young Adult (YA) fantasy. Click here to listen to Part 1, “The Delicate Dance of Writing YA Fantasy.” Today Lindsay reveals the disaster that almost happened during an awards ceremony, when her first novel, The Story Peddler, won a major award. Lindsay shares what she’s been learning during the book launches for The Weaver Trilogy (one book per year in 2018, 2019, and 2020). Who is my reader avatar? Who am I trying to reach in this book launch? What is unique about fantasy readers? What will they want to see from this unproven author? What feeling or vibe do I want to create with my launch? “Speculative fiction fans are very tribal,” she says. “We’re passionate fans of the stories we love and the worlds we love.” Not only are fantasy fiction readers tribal, they’re also collectors. With that in mind, Lindsay began creating fandom swag: Custom tea blends that tie in to the story Instagram-worthy art prints Small custom candles with a “magic forest” scent Creating swag was a risk, says Lindsay, because although you can get people’s attention through swag and collectibles, ultimately, readers have to think that the story is worth creating a fandom around. Lindsay mixes and matches the swag items that go in her “prize boxes” and uses them: As giveaways for people who purchase her books at events As pre-order bonuses As thank-yous for endorsers and tour hosts As prize boxes during blog tours, Instagram tours, book review tours, or in personal giveaways “Gifts are my love language,” says Lindsay. It brings her great joy to search for the perfect swag. However, she realizes that the methods she loves might be deeply stressful for other authors. “Whatever you do has to work for your personality and has to be sustainable,” she advises. Financing a book launch Lindsay is committed to building a platform for a long-term publishing career. She let her publisher know she’d be investing her advance on book royalties into marketing her books. Her publisher has been supportive, “on board for whatever I have planned.” Still, launching a book can be a significant investment. For authors on an extremely tight budget, Lindsay recommends coming up with “one small swag item that will get readers really excited, would be fun for you, and would be special to include in giveaways.” Items authors should budget for: Buying copies of your own books to use in giveaways (your publisher may provide you with X amount of copies to use for this purpose) Swag item(s) Packing materials to put book and swag in (make sure items are not heavy or easily breakable!) Postage Lindsay begins planning her book launches six months before a book releases. “I’m getting more efficient with each launch.” About Lindsay A. Franklin Lindsay is a Carol Award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman. Visit her at LindsayAFranklin.com Lindsay will be sharing more of her 10-year journey through traditional publishing at the 2020 West Coast Christian Writers Online Conference, October 8-10. The Weaver Trilogy The Story Peddler The Story Raider The Story Hunter Share Your Thoughts About This Episode How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! LauraThe post 18 - Swag Ideas for Your Book Launch, With Lindsay A. Franklin first appeared on Blogging Bistro.
27 minutes | 7 months ago
17 – The Delicate Dance of Writing YA Fantasy, With Lindsay A. Franklin
At age 11, Lindsay A. Franklin wrote her first fantasy novel about unicorns, dance camp, and an evil sorceress. “But it didn’t occur to me that I would do this as a career until I got into my 20s,” she says. Now celebrating the launch of The Story Hunter, the final book in The Weaver Trilogy, Lindsay joins me on the podcast to discuss: What attracted her to writing young adult (YA) fantasy Her strategy for creating a trilogy Why it’s difficult to break into the market as a fantasy author How she defines “Christian” fantasy How she handles criticism from people who don’t believe “Christian” and “fantasy” can co-exist How she weaves subtle Christian themes into her stories in a way that isn’t off-putting to readers who don’t share her worldview This episode will give you a lot to chew on! Lindsay will be joining us again next week to discuss strategies for launching a trilogy. About Lindsay A. Franklin Lindsay is a Carol Award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman. Visit her at LindsayAFranklin.com The Weaver Trilogy The Story Peddler The Story Raider The Story Hunter Share Your Thoughts About This Episode How to Keep Up With The Show Ask questions, meet our guests, and share breakthroughs in The Professional Writer Podcast Community on Facebook. Click here to join the group. Click here to join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts TuneIn | Podchaser | Overcast | Podcast Addict | Pocket Casts If you know a writer who would be interested in The Professional Writer Podcast, please share this link with them: https://bloggingbistro.com/podcast Thank you! Laura
24 minutes | 8 months ago
16 – An Easy Way to Show You Mean Business
I received two emails today from people I’d never heard from before. They were both pitching podcast-related services. One person offered to edit episodes and write show notes. The other offered to produce custom music for my podcast. I was intrigued by both offers, because they are services I’m planning to invest in. However, one thing made me instantly decide not to reply to the emails. Both messages were missing a signature. Your email signature, often referred to as a signature line, sig line, or signature block, gives recipients of your email messages a mini snapshot of who you are and how you can help them. Your sig line is a crucial piece of real estate that encourages people – particularly people who don’t know you – to take the next step. Had these two “pitch” emails included signatures, I would have visited their websites, perused their services and pricing, checked out the types of clients they’ve worked with recently, and learned more about them and their business philosophy in general. But I was unable to take that next step. One person’s signature line consisted of their first name. No last name. No business name. No tagline. No website link. Nothing that would enable me to ethically cyberstalk this person. The other person did include a signature line with their first and last name, their business name and location, and a link to one of their social networks. But the link to a social network, instead of a website, decimated my opinion of them. The home base of your business should never, ever be your LinkedIn or Facebook page. That’s like squatting on someone else’s property. It shouts, “amateur!” If you’re serious about owning a business, build a home base for your business that you own. Essential elements of an email signature The lack of an email signature line, or putting the wrong information in your sig line, can quickly sway the opinion of the person receiving your message. Every email client offers a way to create a signature (also referred to as a signature line or signature block). If you aren’t sure how to create one, search for “how to create a signature in [insert name of your email service].” Your signature line must include two basic elements: First and last name, and your business name, if it’s different than your name. Link to your business website. Embed the hyperlink in the address, like this: bloggingbistro.com. Do NOT include “www” in front of the domain. The prefix, “www,” simply identifies the address as a website. Almost all web servers will redirect users to the correct domain regardless of whether you tack on “www.” 7 optional items you may wish to include: 1. Title/Identifier/Tagline. What do you do? This info is most often on the line directly below your name. Your tagline might read: Author, Speaker Best-Selling Author of Inspirational Romance Award-Winning Author of Young Adult Paranormal Books 2. Business phone number. 3. Link to your online scheduling service, with an invite to book a discovery call with you. I use and recommend Acuity (affiliate link). 4. Logo. I choose not to insert my logo in my sig line because most email clients do not automatically download and display images. Instead, they attach the logo as an image file, and I don’t want everyone who receives an email from me to think I’m sending them an attachment. If you decide to include your logo or other image, here are three pointers: Don’t make your signature block ONLY an image file. In other words, don’t create a graphic that includes your logo, name, website address, social media links, and whatever else you decide to put in your signature, and send the whole thing as one image. When that image gets shrunk down to mobile phone size, it can become grainy and impossible to read and even more impossible to click on embedded links. If you do use an image, upload a PNG or JPG file that doesn’t exceed 15KB. Images should generally be up to 200px wide and about 80px tall, and must be optimized for mobile devices. Never include an animated GIF. Many email clients don’t support animated GIF files, which means that the animation won’t play. The recipient of your email will see only the first frame of the GIF, and a red X showing that the image is broken. Save the animated GIFs for your playtime on Facebook. Never embed a video. Similar to animated GIFs, most email clients do not support embedding videos into an email signature. It’s fine to link to a video that’s hosted on YouTube or Vimeo or other video sharing service. 5. Invitation to sign up for your lead magnet. Growing your email list should be a priority. No one is going to subscribe to your email list if your invitation consists of, “Sign up for my e-newsletter and get the latest updates.” You need to develop a high-value free gift (lead magnet) that compels your ideal audience to subscribe. In my signature, I promote this lead magnet: Free Ecourse! Email Marketing for Writers: 7 Days to Launch Your List Includes 22 (Wahoo!) Email Marketing Ideas for Writers 6. List/links to your key products, programs, and services. Your sig line is ideal real estate for you to do some light promotion. Mine says: Brand Coaching | Custom WordPress Websites | Content Writing & Editing A lot of people get carried away in this section. I’ve seen sig lines for authors who announce, “I’m the award-winning, best-selling author of 10 books, including…” and then they list the titles of all 10 books. When you do this, the first impression people will have of you is that you’re self-absorbed and that all you care about is selling your book. People need to be able to read your ENTIRE signature at a glance – in 1-2 seconds. If your sig line reads more like a resume, it’s time to put it on the chopping block. Replace lengthy sentences and paragraphs with short phrases that recipients can quickly skim, ingest, and click. For example, in my sig line, I could have said: I host a podcast called The Professional Writer. You can find it at www.bloggingbistro.com/podcast. During each weekly show, I provide practical tips to help people plan, launch, and grow a writing-related business. I also host a private Facebook group for the podcast called The Professional Writer Podcast Community. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProfessionalWriterPodcastCommunity Can you imagine wading through that convoluted mess? Here’s what I did instead: The Professional Writer podcast – Listen in + free Facebook community 7. Links to your primary social networks. I’ve seen author signatures that link to their Facebook page, their personal Facebook profile, their Facebook Group, LinkedIn, YouTube, Goodreads, their Amazon author page, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Remember how I said earlier that a social channel should never serve as your business’s home base? Your online home base should always be your website. When deciding which social networks – if any – to include in your signature, choose one or two channels where you and your ideal reader consistently hang out. Choose only the channels where you are currently active, engaged, posting several times a week, and are committed to growing a following. Avoid analysis paralysis When you give readers too many things to think about, too many decisions to make, or too many links to click, they get “analysis paralysis” and they don’t do any of the things you’re hoping they’ll do. Follow the KISS principle: Keep It Short and Simple. Formatting your email signature The KISS principle applies to formatting your signature, too. I often receive emails from people whose signature block is in a different font, size, and color from the body of the message. This is distracting, and not in a good way. Your signature is a key piece of your branding, so it’s important that your signature coordinates with the content of the message and with your brand’s color palette, font, font sizes, and messaging. Access your email settings and choose a readable font and font size that closely emulates the font family you use on your website and in your online and offline marketing materials. Use this same font in the body of your messages, as well in your signature. Most people will read your email on their phone, so choose a font that is legible when scaled down for a small mobile screen. In terms of colors, don’t use a rainbow of colors. Again, look at the color palette you use on your logo and website and choose one or two colors to use in your signature. Usually, the key info in your sig line (such as your name and your business name) will be black, as that’s the standard color most email messages use. Choose one contrasting color from your brand’s color palette to use as a contrast color. Double-Shot, Massive-Action Step I suspect that you have some work to do on your sig line! I certainly did, and as I was writing this, I revised my signature. Here’s the latest version: Laura Christianson Blogging Bistro, LLC | bloggingbistro.com | 206-588-5424 Confidently create a polished, professional online presence Brand Coaching | Custom WordPress Websites | Content Writing & Editing The Professional Writer podcast – Listen in + free Facebook community Free Ecourse! Email Marketing for Writers: 7 Days to Launch Your List Includes 22 (Wahoo!) Email Marketing Ideas for Writers Your mission is to create an email signature block, or fine-tune your existing signature. Share your shiny, new signature in The Professional Writer Podcast Community (Facebook group). Group members will give you feedback to help you finesse it. How to Keep Up With The Show Join my my email list and I’ll notify you about every episode. (When you subscribe, you’ll also get my free guide, Essential Resources for Running a Writing Business.) Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast listening app: Apple Podcasts | S
Terms of Service
© Stitcher 2020