How did successful content creators start? What are essential to their success? This episode’s guest reveals the secret for content creators and authors who want to build a platform. International content expert Sara Burke is the Founder of HLCC, a content creation firm dedicated to boosting small businesses worldwide. She has authored three books and ghost-written over 100 books, eBooks, and workbooks. In this episode, she emphasizes that you will be more comfortable in whatever you do by simply showing who you are, providing clear messaging to their audience. As a result, you can build your network through great relationships.
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Content Creation Is Essential To Building An Author Platform With Sara Burke
We have one of our magazine’s newest contributors, Sara Burke. Sara is going to talk to us about content. I’m super excited about it because this is the piece that you use to build your author platform before the book ever comes out. Before we get started with Sara’s introduction, I want to remind you to go over and get your free subscription to Breakthrough Author Magazine. You can find that at www.BreakthroughAuthorMagazine.com.
After you subscribe, you can take that quick quiz and find out if you are ready or do you have some missing pieces with your book writing, publishing, marketing, platform building, or whatever piece is there that you have to have all of these pieces integrated. See if there is something you are missing. If you are somebody who likes to watch the videos, go over to YouTube and subscribe to Superbrand Publishing.
Sara Burke is an international content expert and is the Founder of HLCC, a content creation firm dedicated to boosting small businesses around the world. Sara has authored 3 books and ghostwritten over 100 books, eBooks, and workbooks. Sara launched The New American Dream, a podcast dedicated to helping business owners understand how our changing business ecosystem can support their success. Now that I have introduced her, here comes the interview.
Sara, let’s jump into this. We have been talking a lot about author platform building. You and I talk all the time about what the big thing authors say, “I do not have time.” They are not doing it.
The things that we do not prioritize are the things that ultimately make us successful and help us sell books and establish our authority. Not having time can’t be a reason not to do it because you are going to be constantly spinning your wheels. Something you and I do talk about all the time is if it goes and stays on your to-do list and you are not getting to it, you have to delegate that out and find someone that can come in.
It does not have to be the whole piece. You made a good point about podcasting. You go through the whole process of recording and you need editing. Do every piece around that and hire someone to edit. Bring someone in to do even the chunks that you can’t do. I always say, “If I’m two weeks in, something is on my to-do list, it has been there, and it is not going away, I delegate it. I do not let it sit there because I’m not going to do it.”
You write all of my content. I had to get overwhelmed before I did it. We have grown so rapidly that I had to make a decision about what to let go of. We are talking about delegation. First of all, when you have that book and the platform items, you have to do the market research and have your messaging down and aligned with your products and services. The content comes on.
Let’s talk a little bit about delegation because there are so many pieces that the author brings platform together. Where we struggle is that we have to keep our eye on the moneymaker. What is it you do every day? Talk a little bit about that delegation and the kinds of things that you have to keep your focus on and let go.
Let’s go back one step because we throw these words around, and they get buzzwordy in the sense that we gloss over and we are not attaching meaning to those things. Your author platform is your ability to sell books based on two things. It is who you are and who you know. The very first step we are looking at is who you are. Who you are is your message. That is your brand. Every piece of content that you are creating has to attach to one of those two things. That is the first step. If you are not clear on your target audience, you are not going to have your messaging. If you do not have your messaging, you are never going to create effective content.Your author platform is your ability to sell books based on two things: who you are and who you know. Click To Tweet
To me, a lot of authors get stuck in that place right there. They do not know what to say. Content does take a long time. It is not effective because they have not built the platform. It is not there. Going back to that, if you know who you are, you have your messaging and audience down, and then you start looking at content, 1) It becomes so much easier to create and 2) When it comes to delegation, you could easily say to someone like me or who you hire to come in, “This is who I am. This is what I stand for. This is an idea I have.” They can run with that.
Also, people do not realize when they are trying to delegate, you do not have to have all ten pieces lined up in a row. Someone comes to me and says, “I want to write about this or focus on this.” I can turn that into 10 to 20 pieces of beautiful content for you that match and align with your messaging. That is a lengthy way of me saying, “If your brand and messaging are solid and you come to me, you are ready to delegate, and you have decided you are not going to get it done, you do not have to have everything all together.” You have to start somewhere. It doesn’t have to be perfect, well-planned, and thought-out.
I’m going to go back to something you said where I see people get hung up. You have to know yourself. You are not going to be able to sell products and services unless you are authentic. The word authentic is completely overused, but I’m going to give you a great example of why Sara and I work together so well. There are probably many people who do what we do, but people hire me because of who I am. I’m a ballbuster. That is why people hire me. I’m going to keep them on track.
There are many people who do what I do, but people looking for that are what action people hire. That is why I hire you. You need little to no delegation, which is not something I’m good at. I’m a ballbuster. I get people into action. As far as me, I do not want to tell my staff what to do much. It is, “Here it is. Go do it.” That is where you have to get authentic. What is your brand about? Are you in action? Are you a hand-holder? Are you somebody who is a good marketer? “To hell with you. You signed up, and you get what you get. I do not care if you are a repeat customer.” Be whoever you are going to be. Be that person.
Be okay being that person because online, we see so many influencers and authors and think it has to look a certain way. When it doesn’t, we think we are screwing it up. That is not the case. What you are saying is so true. Get comfortable being yourself because that is the only reason people are ever going to buy from you anyway.
The other thing that gets me is these big funnels. Do we need them? You and I have an event coming up in June 2022. We do not have a big funnel, “Here is the signup sheet. We are going to talk it up.“ I’m going to caveat that. You can’t do that if you are a beginner. Where everybody is putting the workshop on is pretty established. We are going to be able to tap and get referrals. Tell us about these big funnels. I have not used one since 2016. I was done with them. I didn’t feel like they were effective.
I do not do funnels. We were talking about this. I love my life. I do well in my business. I love what I’m doing. A network over a funnel wins every time because when you have a network that knows you, buys into your brand, they are loyal to you, and you have trust and that reciprocal relationship with them, that is going to be more effective to your bottom line than any funnel ever. Authors tend to wait until the last minute to get online. Do not do that because the minute you start on page one of your book and write the introduction, that is the minute you should be building up your network.
Also, we overcomplicate these things. It is simple. It is being online, talking to people, and having engagement and interactions that are real and authentic where you are talking about what you believe in. If that is solid, people are going to buy in, and you are going to have that. You are talking about how you are a beginner. You are not established. It is difficult to get traction. Where the focus and energy should go is in building up your network.
I’m going to even caveat that further. Networking groups, for the most part, are the biggest waste of time. What you need are power partners. What is the difference? In a networking group, I go and talk all about myself and then try to get you to buy something. In power partnerships, you get to know people. What are they doing? What are the products? You have a relationship.
I only heard that from you, but I love that. That is perfect.
That is from The Dames. We do power partnerships.
It is networking and showing up, especially if it is an in-person thing where everyone swaps business cards. You talk for 30 seconds, they are never going to remember you, and you are never going to remember them. The reason is they are not there to buy anything. They are there to sell themselves. That is their mentality and whole focus versus having even one-on-one interactions with people where the goal is not to buy or sell anything. It is to get to know somebody, have a real conversation with them and build a relationship. We cannot skip that part.If you don't have your messaging, you're never going to create effective content. Click To Tweet
Building relationships is the foundation for your network. It is beneficial to both people involved and every person involved because if I get to know you and I get to know that you are good with publishing and bringing authors to this place where they are ready to hit send, then I’m talking to someone else. They are struggling, or they are in this place. I think of you because I know that you can help them, and I trust in what you are doing because I know what you are capable of. Networking in the sense of what it used to be is not effective because we are not in the mentality to serve other people and build this cyclical relationship.
Power partners love these one-on-one engagements where it is like, “Let’s get to know each other.” We refer people out. I have referred people to you. You have referred people to me. That is so much more effective. It is simple to start having these conversations with people. You look on LinkedIn and Facebook. There are groups you can join and people self-identifying that have the same interest or are in the same market as you. Taking those small steps to get out there and establish yourself with people is going to do more than a funnel. I’m with you on funnels. Don’t do it.
I’m not going to say who it was. We got a kick out of somebody’s funnel that does what we do, where we jumped into the funnel and got the free gift. We were like, “Excuse me. WTF.” The emails that followed me were like, “She gets business. I have talked to her. She doesn’t.” This is how the power partner works. I found Sara because my good friend, Tracy, gets great results from Sara. Here is the flip side of it. Tracy referred somebody else to me, and I hated him. I went back to her and said, “Friend-to-friend, are you getting any business from that?” She was like, “I do not think I am.” She let him go because I was like, “He was horrible. All he wanted to do was sell me something.”
If you are a walking funnel, too, that is not going to do anything. Don’t do that. You brought up a great point. If you are giving away a gift or that is your in with people, “Sign up. Join my email newsletter,” or whatever that may be, and you give away a gift that is junk, the chances of me unsubscribing or even marking you as spam, which I sometimes do, are so high because that is irritating. You give your time and attention to something, and they give you garbage in return. If you are thinking about going that route or putting content out there, do not give away junk and do not try to sell the junk either.
In 2017, I bought a piece of $27 junk. Not only was it junk, but they had me on a list. They were having an event. I kid you not. They called me every day for 30 days. At 6:00 in the evening, the phone rang. They called. I was like, “I didn’t give you my phone number for you to harass me every day to go to your event.” You have to be careful about that. Back to the content, what would you say to people saying, “I’m going to give away a piece of something,” and then seven emails and try to sell you something?
Sometimes that works if you are more established. Your initial gift or that initial point of contact has to be so good that I’m going to stick around for it. Part of that goes back to knowing who you are and having something good to say. It is not going to be for everybody. You are not going to be for everybody. Authors get scared. They broaden when what they should be doing is minimizing and getting into that one lane where they are good, they know what they are talking about, and they are a full-on expert.
They are passionate about it. They could sit down, talk to anybody at any time, and walk away feeling like a million bucks. I did this class one time. This lady was helping people figure out their elevator speeches. I was thinking, “If you have built a business and you can’t sell it in a few minutes’ time, what are you doing?” The email series works. I do that for a lot of clients, but it has to be good. You have to be good in your messaging and what you are saying.
You mentioned the niching down. People avoid that. We work with a lot of psychologists on their books. The ones that say, “I do this and that,” are FOMO people. They do not usually do well. We did a quiz a while back for Samantha. She has this little bitty niche that is anxiety and daring to get over anxiety. She rocks with it because it is that little bitty piece that a lot of people feel, especially during COVID. Another piece of that content is narrowing in on what exactly you do because if you don’t, your messaging gets muddled.
It is so hard to create good content when you are not clear or trying to do or say too many things. I see that all the time. That is not to say that you can’t grow and expand. As you establish yourself and become successful and well-known, maybe you want to write a second book or venture out into this lane, but you do not help people with anxiety and then sell pineapples. It still needs to be about the quality of life. Your offering should align on some levels.
Take someone like Tony Robbins. He has got a ton of books, different courses, stuff that he offers, and live events. They are all about finding your purpose and living a better life. It is not to say you have to pick this one thing and do it the rest of your life. Expand on it and grow it as you grow and establish yourself but do not do it too soon and do not try to be two people in one body because that doesn’t work either. I do see a lot of people do that.
It is not only that. It is keeping all those pieces in alignment because here is what I used to see with the funnels. You have to remember from a neuromarketing standpoint. What I’m about to tell you is a huge disconnect. They would have a talk that led to a lead magnet that led to a course. Maybe that piece in the middle of the lead magnet didn’t match up to the course.
They had just created it at some point. When you go to a webpage or any piece like that, it is three seconds. Your mind is not even telling you why you are going away sometimes. It has to be all in alignment with who you are and what your brand is in that. A content specialist can help you with that and say, “That list is great, but it doesn’t match up with what you do.”Building relationships is the foundation for your network. Click To Tweet
We do try to mimic the people that we see having big success. What we are not realizing, especially if we are not on the same level as them, is they have a little more leeway to be a little more salesy or use some of that sleazy sales language to get more buy-in because they have already established their persona. If you do not have that and try to go that route and mimic that, it is devastating because people see it. In three seconds, they are gone and out of there.
Looking back when Danielle LaPorte did the stickies, everybody was doing stickies. You are not Danielle LaPorte.
It is not going to work for you because you are not her.
Talk about some of the things that you see that people could delegate out in their content.
This is so smart. I love podcasting and video for this. Once this video that we are doing is done, from this point, I love when people hand it over. Videos get underutilized. This right here, you can turn into. I know you will do a ton with it because you do, and I help you turn it into twenty pieces of content and snackable bits. It is smart to delegate from the beginning, “Here is a video. I need it transcribed. I need it as an article. I’m going to turn it into three emails and ten social media posts.”
That is number one. When you are thinking about delegating for content especially, you do not have to have the idea. I have a lot of clients that will come to me and say, “I’m not sure what to create.” I can give them ideas and say, “Let’s try something like this and see if it sticks.” I will give them a few options of something that they feel aligns with them. They make a decision, and we put it out there. I have said it, but I see this all the time.
People hold off, and I’m like, “You should have called me a year ago. We could have had you online, visible, and getting your message out there.” They are like, “I wasn’t ready because I didn’t have any ideas about what I wanted to write. I wanted to start a blog.” Blogs are amazing for SEO ranking and Google. You do not have to have all that. Delegating should be easy. It is not another task for you. When you find the right person, hand over what you can. It is a control thing too. I’m sure you have seen that. They do not want to let go.
I have lived that. Let’s take an example here because you brought up the to-do mine. I record this episode. The first piece of content break is I send this to Sara because this particular one is going to be a feature in Breakthrough Author Magazine. She writes the article. Second, I send this off to Podetize, who transcribes and puts it on all podcast platforms as a YouTube video. When you and I work together, I also send Tracy’s finished product to you every month. You write a social media post and an article for LinkedIn as well. We have repurposed that how many times?
There is so much life to content. Sometimes it does feel overwhelming because we think, “I already used that.” Everything is multi-use. You have to get the most out of that content because that is your time. It takes time to create these videos. If you are not doing video, you are doing audio and anything you write. If you work with a content specialist, they will tell you, “I can use this again and take it from a different angle.” You got to get the most out of the content.
Where can we find you if we want to find out more about your services and what you do?
If you are savvy on LinkedIn, I’m Sara Burke. HLCC.me is my website. Everything is on there. That shows you what I do. If it is not there, feel free to shoot me a message and ask through the website. There is a little contact form. I do anything content and everything. I used to tell people, “I write articles and do emails and this.” If it is content-related, there is a chance that I’m already doing that for numerous clients. Do not be afraid to ask.
Thank you so much.
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About Sara Burke
International Content Expert Sara Burke is the Founder of HLCC, a content creation firm dedicated to boosting small businesses around the world. Sara has authored three books, and ghostwritten over 100 books, eBooks and workbooks. Sara recently launched The New American Dream, a podcast dedicated to helping business owners understand how our changing business ecosystem can support their success.