Sara Burke and Kristy Boyd Johnson are back for their monthly talk with Juliet Clark to help you go from struggling writer to established author! In this month’s installment, they dive deep into the challenges in content creation and share tips on building your platform with marketing strategies to build a following for your work before it’s even launched. So if you are just getting started or getting caught up in building your content, you can’t miss this episode!
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How To Go From Struggling Writer To Established Writer With Sara Burke And Kristy Boyd Johnson
Before we get started, I want to talk a little bit about what we are up to. As a group, Sara Burke, Kristy Johnson and I are doing a monthly live stream on different topics to help all of you understand what it takes to be a published author. I am going to be sharing the first one we did, How to Go From Struggling Writer To Established Writer.
If you want to see this, you can catch them over on LinkedIn because we do them on LinkedIn Live. Just follow us at Superbrand Publishing or connect with me and say, “Give me the link or invite me to Superbrand Publishing.” We usually do them on the first Friday of every month at 9:00 AM Mountain time. If you want to participate, we will get you a link. It is usually publicized over there.
We do them through Zoom and Restream. They are livestream but if you cannot make it, reach out to me at Juliet@SuperbrandPublishing.com and say, “Put me on the list so that I get notified that there are going to be livestreams every month.” You can go over there and catch the replay. That is the beauty of it. I do not have to provide a replay because you can go over to that page and catch it any time. Go over and get a free subscription to Breakthrough Author Magazine.
We are going to have Sara talk about content because all of us, in the beginning, struggle with content. It is all about finding your voice.
About one million other things but yes. More than hammering information, I want to have an honest conversation about content. With the more people I work with and I am talking about hundreds of small business owners and a lot of authors, what I am seeing is they are looking at content the wrong way. It is a chore. They do not know what to do with it, are confused about it and do not know what works. The list is 1 mile long. You hear this too from all of your clients. I want to pivot the conversation around content and talk about that a little bit.
Before you get started, can I add in about authors?
I would love that. I also want to say something about content calendars before we jump in.
The reason we are doing this is that most of our business is referral and publishing. I maybe get 1 out of 10 authors who have had good content out there and been nurturing for at least a year before. That is where we are struggling to get books on the bestseller list. When people bring us a book, they have written a whole book. They have had all of their messaging ready but they either do not know how to use social media, do not have developed content or have not built an audience. It becomes even bigger. They do not know how to lead people to the next steps. We are starting from square one without that because these people do not have a consistent, engaged audience.
1 out of 10 is good. Sometimes it is a little bit worse odds than that that you get someone who has a platform, thought about putting content out, is comfortable putting content out and knows what they want to say. Here are a couple of things about content and three things that I like to break it down into. People are like, “What do you mean by content?” It is everything. Marketing is your house. Content is all the decorations inside.
Marketing would be your website, author page or Facebook group. Your content is everything you are going to put inside that house, on that website or you saying, “This is who I am.” Content is the thing people are looking for when they are trying to answer a question, fill a void or try to figure out whether you are legitimate or full of crap. They do not know. On the author’s side, content seems to be the thing. I love talking to Tracy Hazzard about this. People say, “It takes the most time but gets little results.” It is wrong.
Let’s address that because when we talk about results, we are assuming that result equal sales but what result equal is conversations and engagement. That conversation and engagement lead to sales. People are forgetting. They are going from A to C, skipping B and not understanding here. That is the fault of digital marketers everywhere who have given people that this is an instant gratification thing. You put out A and get C. You have to do this for quite a while because you are building trust. It is starting those conversations. I do not mean a click. I mean, “Sara, let’s talk about this.” Not even calling it a strategy session.A content calendar keeps you consistent and organized. Click To Tweet
It bothers me when we say strategy session because when I jump on with people, it is not a strategy session. It is like, “Let’s hear what you have. Here are some suggestions.” Usually, when you approach it as like, “I care. I am not going to sit here and sell you something,” you will find that they will come and say, “How much are we talking about here?” All of a sudden, that awkward sales thing comes out because you already built their trust with the content.
That is part of the reason I despise funnels. You see these ads. Everybody is a coach on Facebook and Instagram. It is seeping into LinkedIn too. The whole thing is done for you like, “We will take care of everything. You will make six figures.” They are skipping the part in the middle where you have to build relationships and trust. Let’s say you get a sales funnel and it does what it is supposed to and then it falls off after you ride the wave for a few months. Then what? You have no platform, engagement or community. You are not consistently posting and have not gotten any better at creating content. What did you do? Nothing.
There used to be this guy over on Facebook who had a group. Every three months, he would reach out and say, “Juliet, are you interested? I have this program that is 6 figures in 6 months doing things.” Every time I would go back and say, “Can I talk to some of your satisfied people?” He would go away. He would come back six months later and I ask the same question. He was a very popular person over there. I do not know if people were not getting results or the big juicy promise but it was hilarious that every time I asked for that, I got answers like, “See you in six months.”
I see that all the time. What you said is the way we should be thinking about it. If I am saying your marketing is your house and your content is all the decorations in your house, you are not trying to sell your decorations when people come in. They are there because you want them to get a sense of who you are. You want them to feel comfortable. You want things to look nice. You want some cohesion and foundation.
It does not have anything to do about sales in the beginning. That is where things go sell so quick because that is what a lot of people are telling authors to do. Let’s go to content calendars for a minute because you and I have gone on major ranting sessions about this. We will save the people of LinkedIn from that but National Hotdog Day does not need to be part of your content strategy.
I saw that. That was a real suggestion on a gift or a free guide that an author coach or a book coach was giving out. I am sorry but slapping up the same garbage posts that everybody and their brother is putting up for the sake of putting content up, you would not randomly put a picture of a hot dog in your living room because someone told you to. It is your decorations. Why are we doing this? Some people might.
That was crazy because the gift was a calendar with all of these holidays on it. In my content calendar, I will put a graphic for Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Easter and maybe Fourth of July. I put one for Memorial Day and Veterans Day but it is not the rest of the year. Unless a hot dog is part of your messaging, there is no reason to understand that.
What you do need to understand about the content calendar is that you need one because it keeps you consistent and organized. If I’m doing it the right way in developing content, it takes me about an hour to put one together. I have to do it over a little bit of time because some of the assets of our magazine are late but there is no reason, if you are creating content, why this should be such a big deal.
One of the things is getting over that hump because the more you do it, the better you get at it. The easier it becomes, the quicker you build out your calendar and the better you get at coming up with content that is consistent with your brand or book. You have to take those first few baby steps that everybody wants to skip.
In the 1st month of your content calendar, maybe it takes you 2 hours to sit down and do. 2 hours for 30 days’ worth of posts if they are authentic and genuine is not a bad time sync because those relationships are going to be monetized down the road. Just because they do not have a dollar sign on them, they are going to turn into a piece of your monetization down the road.
That is something also when we are talking about the process. You spent a couple of hours building a calendar. You got it down to an hour. One hour a month for relationship building is nothing. I do this for 45 minutes every morning with my coffee. I have dedicated engagement time where I set a timer, get on LinkedIn and scroll.
Instead of scrolling Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, puppies or whatever is going on for an hour mindlessly, I set a ten-minute timer and search on LinkedIn hashtags that I align with my brand like #WritersCommunity or #AuthorLife. There are twenty that I jumped around from. I do that. I see what other people who are using those hashtags are doing.
I engage with them, like their posts and comment on their posts. If I see something I like, I will save it. Maybe I want to do something like that down the road that resonates with me. This in-between relationship and building time where you have to slow down and not put a price tag on it cannot be skipped. It is more important when you get to your sales pitch, whatever you are selling at the end.
We talked a little bit about that content calendar, content and repurposing. I had Nina Froriep on one of my episodes. She did a post because she is a fabulous repurposer about how well we repurposed our content. It was because we took a simple recording of a podcast where it is transcribed and is over on YouTube, our website and every podcast platform but then we had Sara write it into an article for the magazine. We made posts out of them. It went on and on and even further, which I do not do well but I know other people do is taking snippets of those podcasts and doing audiograms.
There are so many ways that you can do this once you have that initial content created. For us, it is the show. I spent 45 minutes recording and uploading and then I am done. It is on my content calendar and then finding those ways to repurpose it. How long every week would you say is a good amount to spend on creating the content, the initial piece?
We need to talk about video with repurposing because nobody wants to talk about video but it has to happen. You got to get over that hump. If you were doing that for yourself, you would set aside 2 to 3 hours a week. If you are going to record an episode, it’s the time it takes you to record and also if you are doing any amount of editing, which most people starting are not. They are just uploading their sound, audio and video. From there, the apps and platforms that you can use for the audiograms, putting things on YouTube and transcribing, they do all the work for you.In podcasting, once you record that first episode, that piece of content is like a vampire. It literally will never die. Click To Tweet
You are talking about minimal fees, if not, free memberships on some of these. Start as a brand new, fresh newbie, newborn baby for three hours. That is it. To me, that is not that big of a time commitment. I do content 24/7 so I understand but I do not think that is too much to start building up an author platform.
We are using Restream, which is a great way to do this. We are streaming on my YouTube channel. When Sara and Kris jumped on, there is a mechanism where the hardest part about having a podcast is getting people to share or having a webinar. When they logged in, they hit a button to share on their streams as well. They are on LinkedIn and YouTube. Are either of you on Facebook anymore?
I am streaming on Facebook.
Sara, that is hard too as you create this content and you have people on your podcast. I will tell you something, folks. Sara, share if you have had this too. I cultivate my guests on my show because I want them to be educational and interesting. Here is what I do not want. I do not want that famous person on there because every time I get roped into, “This guy is huge,” they are not going to share it.
Have people on that are interesting that you give that exposure to that will be grateful, will share and do have audiences. That is key too. I am not going to mention the three people that I have had that are big. One of them was a favor. One of them I was excited about because I used the principles in his book. With the third one, I am not even sure where I got him but he was an egomaniac. None of them shared.
The point of a guest like that if you have a network and you can pull some people with big recognizable names is to get more guests and give you a little bit of finesse so people are like, “She talks to those people. I want to talk to her too.” They are never going to share your crap ever. They have whole teams of people that could share it too and they are still not going to do it. You have to have meaningful guests.
I love podcasting because there is so much opportunity, especially for women. The females that are coming into podcasting are making big waves, doing big things and taking over. It is a gradual thing. Tracy Hazzard and I have talked about this so many times because she has Podetize and Feed Your Brand. As an experiment, every single year, she starts a new podcast to see if she can still do it and how difficult it is.
With podcasting, once you record that first episode and you do it with audio and video, that piece of content is a vampire. It will never die. It lives on YouTube as long as your channel is up. If your hashtag is good and someone searches it in ten years, your video is going to come up. It does not matter what the date is. If you can get your foot in the door on podcasting, that is the content where it can become a lifetime of content. You were talking about using it everywhere.
Here is the other thing too. Be careful who you engage to do those podcasts because there are a couple of platforms out there that you do not realize. You know that thing you click and go, “I accept everything?” They own your rights. Be sure that you are using the right platforms. Kris, what do you have to say about content? You jumped in late. We have been monopolizing here.
What I have been experiencing with the authors that I have been developing their books, helping them with that, is we are able to take snippets out and use them for things like video trailers or other kinds of trailers. One of my clients contacted and she needs help with that. She told me what she wanted to focus on. We pulled something right out of her book to help her. There are so many ways you can repurpose content. One thing I want to tell people is, “Do not worry about getting everything you know in a book.”
You are not going to get everything you know in a book. You are better off focusing on one thing and going deep. If there is another aspect of your business that is important, do a second book, take that piece and go deep. There are so many advantages. You do not have to write a book that is a Shakespeare volume. You got to focus on one thing, which is much easier to write. You end up with a whole bunch of titles under your name instead of one. When you start taking those pieces, when you go out on as guests, you can do it multiple times for each piece.
You have got lots of opportunities to use repurposed content. People think they have to come up with something new all the time. I am sure you have touched on that already. People do not know what you know. They have to hear it over and over so that they’ll get it. Do not be afraid of that. Breathe and think in terms of taking what you know and making it work in many different ways. We can help with that. I help my clients all the time with that. If I get stumped, I call Juliet or Sara.
I was talking to a client. She is like, “I do not know where to start.” I am like, “Pick up your book, hit record on your phone and read a 30-second snippet. You already wrote it. It belongs to you. It is already there. Start sharing it.” She was like, “I can do that?” I am like, “Do that.” Also, you are not the Atlantic. No one is expecting these 1,500-word op-ed or blog posts where you are doing research.
Come on, keep it simple. Talk about what you know. It does not have to be this overdone massive thing. Be yourself. As you learn, grow and get more traction, more of your voice out there and audience, start sharing more or maybe you do not because you to keep it simple. If you start there, it does not have to be this hard.
Do not overwhelm yourself. Overwhelm is the enemy no matter what you are doing. We are entrepreneurs. We are busy. We have lives and families. We are women so we have eight million things coming at us. Take one thing and it grows. It starts to snowball without you having to do so much work all the time.
I want to mention that the author that Sara is talking about used that clip to go get herself a TV interview. She is working with our media experts. That was something simple. I am going to go back a little bit. Kris and Sara are book developers. People think when they come to me, “We are going to start marketing,” since I am a publisher. I always have a problem at that point because we should have been doing this the entire time we wrote the book.Don't worry about getting everything in a book. You're better off focusing on one thing and going deep. Click To Tweet
People want to know when you start on this is when you start because that book developer is going to develop your messaging. The book is going to be written along the lines of that message. You need to be able to create content that leads people to that message. Even bigger, not only do people come to us and not have that. They do not have the next step after the book.
The book is not going to make you millions of dollars. You are not Jack Canfield. What it will do is to be used as the nurture tool along with that content to whatever is next that is your moneymaker. You need that plan in front of you from the beginning so you know where you are going with all of this. What assets do you need? What is that content? Where can I get that message? Who are the people that are in our hybrid publishing that work with our media expert? We tell the media expert, “This is where we are going with this.”
We have someone who has a book on feminism, diversity and equity. She is out on TV talking about Roe v. Wade and what is going on with that. The media expert has those topics and understands so she has the opportunity to look for those other opportunities for her to get her face on even though that book is not coming out until the end of July 2022. We are building that audience for her. It is crucial that you start with these from the beginning.
It is like building an ecosystem almost. When you start with chapter one of your book and you also start building a Facebook community at that time, you are going to start engaging with people and feel a renewed sense of energy about what you want to create. It drives your content. As you are even working through the chapters of your book, you are engaging with people.
It is giving you the energy and that hype that you need to keep finishing your book and working on it. At the same time, you are getting consistent messaging. What you are sharing online is what is going on in your book and vice versa. It solidifies what you are saying. Kris, this is you every single day. People are afraid before their book is done to jump in. Do not wait. Start now because that is going to help solidify your book’s message.
Here is the other thing. Not only starting and working through that at the beginning but being able to test your message along the way like, “Is it resonating? Am I in the right place?” Years ago, I had a woman who had a program called Solo to CEO. She insisted because she knew Facebook that it had to be over there. Her audience is clearly on LinkedIn. The whole thing failed because she did not test and was stubborn about not learning a new platform. That was the kiss of death. People and women on LinkedIn would have loved that because the biggest struggle is, “How do I grow into a real CEO and get myself out of my business?”
I am going to reveal that I am a huge nerd. One of the things that struck me from one of the Star Trek movies was that people think too dimensionally and linear like, “I do this first and then I do that. I will write my book and then find my audience.” What we are creating here is more of a three-dimensional thing where they exist simultaneously.
When you create a book and you are creating content and building your business, it is not linear or one thing at all together. That sounds overwhelming but it is less overwhelming. Like your client who read a snippet of her book, that is huge and very simple. Juliet is the most brilliant person ever about marketing and getting your author platform built.
When people say, “I cannot do both,” what we are doing here is building a little bit of digital marketing too. Anybody who tells you, “You are going to get in a digital marketing course and know it inside and out within 3 to 6 months,” is selling you a bill of goods. The thing is all of this has to be integrated but it does not happen overnight too. Most of the time, you are integrating platforms and a lot of new stuff you are creating. You need to give yourself and your book launch the time to get all of that integrated into place because it is a big learning curve.
When COVID hit, our business exploded but one of the things that happened with that was people would get on the phone with the sessions and say, “I do not have an online strategy or a digital strategy. Can you have me up and running and monetizing within three months?” It is like, “No, we cannot.” There were a lot of unrealistic expectations going on because, for some people, it takes years to integrate all of those things.
Think about this. When you are an author and you write a book, everything in that book, you have cultivated through a lifetime of experiences. You have to create space and time to do the same thing online in your digital world. It is never going to happen overnight or somebody else can 100% do it for you. People can help, guide and teach but ultimately, it is you saying, “This is who I am and I am okay telling people that.”
When you hire other people to do it for you, that does not mean that you can skip your authenticity and messaging because one of the biggest failures I see when people hire a marketing company is they get this little questionnaire that says, “Who is your audience? What is your message?” I hate to break this to you but if you are disengaged from your marketing, it is not going to work.
People know. They can sense it. We are great detectors of false truths, half-truths, lies or whatever it is. It does not matter. We have built-in lie detectors so we know right away if something is off with the marketing. I love doing that with clients. When they come to me, they are like, “This is not working.” I will be like, “Here are a few things. First of all, let’s talk about the hot dog in your logo.”
Here is a great example, Sara. Kris and I were at an event. I was the keynote there. It was funny because we talked afterwards and there was someone there that everybody thought was so amazing because she was a name-dropper like, “I have got this and that.” When we went to vote on something, I put forward, “She is a name-dropper. Is she an action taker? She is not monetized. How connected is she?” You will see a lot of that inside this business where people come and tell you how amazing they are but they are not monetized. It is like, “If this was such a great idea and you are so amazing, why is it not working?”
That is the whole mentality too of online marketing where instead of putting in the grunt work where we have all done and spent 10, 12 to 15 years in the dirt building an actual business, they want to skip that part and be a consultant or a coach that teaches other people how to build a business. You cannot skip that part. It is like content in a book. You cannot skip the platform building.
I want to share. We have a content creation crash course coming up in June 2022. This is for that person who wants to get their book developed and got a great idea. This is the kickstart of working with Kris on book development. She has an amazing system that is so easy to use. It is very similar to what I used to use for my fiction books as well. Day one is all about her helping you develop your book. Day two is me working on who is that audience. Let’s get that deep research in. Day three is Sara working on your social media and posts.People can help. People can guide and teach. But ultimately, it is you saying, “this is who I am.” Click To Tweet
It’ll be on June 15th, 16th and 17th, 2022.
It is two hours a day in the morning. We are going to be working with you on that. It will help you get your book started, heading towards being finished but also getting yourself out there and getting known. It is for those that are struggling, tired, not sure how to finish their book and confused about social media. This is that bring-it-together type of situation. What is the URL, Sarah?
It is www.ContentCreationCrashCourse.net.
We are running this in beta. You get lots of time with that beta because it is only $7.97. I can tell you once we get it going, the price is going to go up. I would take advantage of it in beta. We have a 55 to 80 demographic who are struggling with social media so we are starting our first content course right after this. We will be running it again. It is for those people who have written a book or writing a book that is like, “I do not know how to use YouTube.” I had a client and we spent three hours getting a YouTube video loaded. It was crazy.
He did not know where his passwords were and how to get into Gmail. It is that thing where, in the beginning, we tried to spiff up his LinkedIn page, the email and how to do it five times. As much as it frustrates us, we know it frustrates you more. We will be making some announcements about those courses as well. We will be running the next one in July 2022. We might take a month’s vacation too and not have any classes.
Once we get rolling with those, those classes are going to be so vital to the new authors that we are bringing in.
We are going to get that three-dimensional holistic approach started right from the start so that you are being nurtured in it, through it and all right from the start. In that way, you do not have to struggle and figure out the next step. We are right there with you.
It’s www.ContentCreationCrashCourse.net. Get yourself signed up. As soon as you do, we will be reaching out to get some pre-work done and find out a little bit about you. We do want this course to be very personalized to what you are doing. We want to look at what you are doing in advance before we get started. Thank you, ladies.
- Sara Burke
- Kristy Johnson – Facebook
- Superbrand Publishing
- Breakthrough Author Magazine
- Nina Froriep – Past Episode
- YouTube Channel – Superbrand Publishing
- Feed Your Brand
About Kristy Boyd Johnson
Kristy Boyd Johnson is an award-winner author who developed a serious interest in writing for kids and teens as a young teacher. Over the years, she has ghostwritten over 30 non-fiction books for entrepreneurs. She now consults as a developmental editor to help entrepreneurs turn their vast knowledge into transformational books that sell.
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.
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