Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Step Right Up - Selling Writing Solutions!

Hello fellow Muse Hunters!
I'm very happy you made your way here and I'm looking forward to sharing some of my recent thoughts with you, which may help you in your writing journey.

This post could also be called, Dangers in Podcasting.

I've been listening to a lot of great writing podcasts lately and I just wanted to touch on a few things that have been weighing on my mind. Hopefully a frank conversation about some of these issues will help both of us.

First, why listen to writing podcasts?
That's an excellent question. While many will recommend the conference circuit for networking and building your writing toolbox, that life isn't always a reality for some of us.

Sure, there's the argument that if our writing career is worth it, we will make things like attending conferences a priority, but let's get real. That answer is a cop-out. While listening to another author talk about their writing process might not be the same as watching them talk on a panel in person, it isn't without benefits.

For those of us who have other responsibilities, other demands on our time and money, selecting a few good podcasts to listen to regularly can provide a deep sense of belonging, in a way. It isn't the same as a writing mastermind group or a critique circle, but it can certainly be a useful tool in the digital age.

For folks who do attend conferences and workshops, a podcast can be a great way to keep track of their favorite writing mentors between speaking events.

Most writing-centered podcasts are free to download and consume and can be a great way to add useful tools to your writing toolbox.

The danger of podcasts.
Now, here's where the duplicity comes in. When you listen to a podcast regularly, you put yourself in-line with the thoughts and beliefs of the podcast personality. That's sort of a funny way of putting it, isn't it?

The podcast personality.

Think about that.

When we listen to a podcast, we're usually tuning in to a persona of the person or people hosting the show. While they are present with us in a very unique way, we're only getting part of the picture, the edited truth of their character, most flaws removed, and generally devoid of annotations of their actual intentions.

I've thought about creating my own writing podcast for some time. It might be something I do in the future, but I still haven't worked out how I can do it without it taking away from my writing endeavors at this point. Aside from having a conversation about writing with people who are interested in the topic, what are some other benefits?
  • Building a Sound Platform.
    • This is the most logical benefit of being a part of a podcast. Listeners will have direct access to your writing process, your working projects, and release dates for improved product launches.
  • Increased Exposure.
    • Being a part of a, or hosting your own, podcast is an incredible way of increasing your exposure and leveraging your marketing potential.
  • Creating Strategic Alliances.
    • No joke, podcasts are a great way of networking with other authors and producers of writing products. The benefits include further increased exposure from joint endeavors and possible alternate streams of income by recommending books or products (possibly affiliate marketing).
Now, before any of you start thinking I'm purely extolling benefits or preparing a pyre for the podcast, let me be clear: a well produced and informative podcast takes a lot of time and effort. Some would argue the benefits are part of the package for creating helpful content. I'm not trying to argue one way or the other.

Your journey, your tools. 
What I want to address here is the notion that, even with podcasts, we must take everything we consume with a grain of salt. (Including the posts here on this blog or on my site, www.rbradyfrost.com.)

If you really want to be a writer, to call yourself an author, there will be useful things you can learn on your journey and tools you can pick up to carry with you, but there will always be pitfalls and distractions.

Do you need to pay for that online workshop for building your tribe or learn how James Patterson co-writes his books? How useful is that webinar on Facebook advertising to you at this point in your writing career? Should you invest hundreds of dollars to get people to sign up for your email newsletter?

These topics and specific examples aren't necessarily all bad and might even prove useful to certain writers at specific points in their career, but that doesn't mean they're suited for you where you are right now. And the truth is, you're the only one who can determine what's right for you at any given time.

People are making pretty good money writing and producing books and e-books today. The writing profession isn't dead; and some say it's actually seeing a remarkable resurgence. You know what else makes pretty good money these days? Tools for writers. Books on writing. Webinars and workshops based around writing topics and book marketing.

In closing.
Enjoy listening to your podcasts. Enjoy the fellowship they help foster. Take the good advice and parse the bad and the distractions. Don't get caught up in things that detract from your writing goals. Don't allow the law of reciprocity to govern your actions.  

Don't go out and buy dictation software and books on how to train it if you think that's the only way to get your writing done because you're hearing it from multiple voices. (If it's something that might help you, then go for it. Just be aware of your motivations and reasoning.)

Don't spend your time and money on a webinar you don't need when you could save the money and use the time to actually write.

Don't convince yourself that a product will somehow solve all your writing problems. Elbow grease is still the single best answer to most difficulties when it comes to writing.

There are some great podcasts out there. There are some great podcasts out there that depend on product advertisements as revenue. Be prepared to separate the writing advice from the promotions.

(Writing Excuses [not a paid or reciprocated endorsement] is an example of an amazing writing podcast which doesn't schlep tools and solutions...) 

{While I haven't started a podcast, I did begin posting weekly writing updates to YouTube. If you'd like to tune in, you can find my first episode here. If you'd like to follow the playlist of my updates, you can do so here.)

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