9 Ways that Marketing (Should) Differ for Spiritual Writers

Many spiritual writers are reluctant to “market themselves” because either they feel like they are boasting, or because they are introverts.  I encourage you to think of it from a different perspective: if you truly believe you have something useful to offer the rest of world, the only way anyone will ever know about it is if you let them know!  Here 9 recommendations for how to market in a way that is (hopefully) consistent with your spirituality:

  1. Be modest and humble; not boastful
  • Avoid coming across as a know-it-all
  • Avoid telling others what to think
  • Describe what you’ve experienced and what it means to you
  • Don’t be pushy
  • Don’t be sensational or exaggerate
  • Praise others
  1. Avoid being viewed as being too commercial
  • Don’t overload with posts promoting your book
  • Don’t overload with posts promoting your speaking events
  • Instead, feed your audience what they want: your nourishing content
  1. Professional, not too personal
  • Don’t discuss what you ate, where you vacationed, how great your children are
  • Exception: telling a personal story that relates to your bigger point
  1. Not too frequent; not too noisy
  • Example suggestions: Facebook posts once a day; Twitter tweets 2 or 3 per day; more Twitter retweets than Facebook shares
  1. Engage kindly
  • Be overly gracious
  • Not too argumentative
  1. Be artistic
  • Typical expectation for a writer
  1. Be balanced
  • Not too negative
  • Not too positive
  • Emotions are fine as long as you keep them under control
  1. Partner frequently
  • With authors who are similar to you in terms of writing, career stage
  • With writing groups
  • With churches
  • With organizations
  • With online forums, blogs, etc.
  1. But above all, you MUST be true to who you are

Feel free to contact us with your questions!

Forming Content Partnerships

Forming Content Partnerships

If you want to expand your content pipeline, consider partnering with another pipeline. This technique is commonly called brandscaping. For example, the insurance company Geico ran a series of commercials featuring icons from other companies, like the Pillsbury Doughboy. This strategy makes Geico appealing to Pillsbury fans as well as its own.

Another example is the blog you are reading, where Writing for Your Life has informally partnered with Mark Schaefer to bring you the above paragraph (from “The Content Code”).  Writing for Your Life does not receive any compensation from Mark; we simply believe that much of his content is applicable, and more importantly very helpful, to our audience.

Creativity Is Whole-Life Engagement

You can’t engage with a creative process and not engage other processes. When you are exploring and unveiling, your emotions get hooked, your intellect gets hooked, and your deepest beliefs about life get hooked. If creativity is nurtured well and allowed to grow, it will grab onto your life in multiple ways.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

Examples of Outstanding Social Media Success

Today I would like to share two examples of outstanding social media success.

Example 1: an established author

In this case, the author had written many books over a period of decades, but he had no website and no social media presence whatsoever.  Here is what he did over a period of four years:

Starting point:

  • Facebook fans: 0
  • Twitter followers: 0
  • YouTube views: 0

Four years later:

  • Facebook fans: over 1.8 million
  • Twitter followers: over 300 thousand
  • YouTube views: over 140,000
  • Book sales increased over 40%

How did this happen???!!!

  1. Amazing content for us to reuse
  2. Experimentation and refinement
  3. Consistent social media posts
  4. Strategic selection or content formats
  5. Social media advertising

 

Example 2: a brand new business

In this case, the business was starting from scratch: no brand awareness (it did not previously exist!), no online presence.

Starting point:

  • Facebook fans: 0
  • Twitter followers: 0
  • Revenue: 0

Four months later:

  • 136 customers at $99 each

The lesson from these examples? Yes, it is quite possible to use social media to grow your following and your business!

 

Look for Opportunities for Newsjacking

A term coined by David Meerman Scott, newsjacking describes a process to align your brand message with breaking news events so you ride a wave of traditional media coverage. A few years ago, when the Catholic Church was about to name a new pope, Notre Dame University informed all the major news outlets that it would have expert commentators standing by when the news broke. When white smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel, the Notre Dame experts showed up on every major new channel.

Real time marketing can drive conversions and sales, says Scott. When MultiCare Health System identified a trending topic, eclampsia, during an emotional episode of the hit TV series “Downton Abbey,” the healthcare network published a blog post about the condition within hours of the episode’s airdate. MultiCare Health saw over 1,000 page views, with people spending an average of five minutes on the page. They also received 30 click-throughs to their online appointment system.

– from “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer

I also recommend David Meerman Scott’s best-selling book: https://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Marketing-PR-Applications/dp/1119070481/

The 2 Most Important Things

Last week I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at the Culture Care Summit, led by Mako Fujimura, Director of the Brehm Center for the Arts at Fuller Seminary. I gave two back-to-back presentations on “Social Media for Creatives” – the attendees were great – many good questions and relevant discussion.

By the time I got to my last slide of the second presentation, a summary slide, I realized that it was missing what I really wanted to say:

“Here are the two most important things for you to remember from this presentation:

1. Find your market niche – that open space in the market where you have expertise and can become known

2. Consistently and persistently create content to position yourself as a thought leader in that niche”

Of course, neither of these relate directly to social media; they are part of the broader strategic positioning of yourself as an author. Social media is simply a means to an end. Before you worry about social media, figure out how to become known!

Creativity is Natural

I make the point that creativity is inherent to human personality because we tend to recognize it only in certain contexts, such as the arts. And when we see it as special to only some people or personality types, it becomes to us a mystery that is often more intimidating than it has to be. The creative process does have its mysterious aspects, but overall it is natural, and we are designed to work on it joyfully and fruitfully. At a basic level, we use our creativity to live within budget or plan a garden plat. At a more specialized level we develop our gifts for mixing colors on a canvas or crafting sentences on a page.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

Why Social Media Matters for Spiritual Writers

As an author or author-to-be, social media is VERY important to you for many great reasons:

First and most importantly, that is where your audience is!

  • Jesse James was famously asked “Why did you rob the bank?” His response: “Because that’s where the money is.”

Social media has immense reach:

  • Over 1.1 billion daily active users on Facebook
  • Over 310 million monthly active users on Twitter

Publishers care (a great deal!) about the size, engagement and breadth of your platform

  • Key criteria for author selection
  • You may not get a book deal without a meaningful platform

Social media is made for content

  • Writers produce content; this is made for you!
  • It is an important opportunity to define your own unique brand (Messaging, Color selection, Picture selection, Tone, Focus, etc.)

It is an amazing way to be found or “discovered”

  • High degree of targeting is possible
  • Cost effective
  • Author discoverability used to be primarily bookstore browsing; now it is online browsing

Social media removes the gatekeeper; now you enjoy a direct connection to your audience

  • No one decides other than the end consumer
  • Frequent opportunities for engagement and relationship building
  • Target who you want
  • No delay

It is a great testing ground

  • Get feedback on your ideas
  • Try things out / experiment
  • Try partnerships

Remember, “if you’re not online, you don’t exist!”

5 Ethical Ways to Increase Your Social Proof

We use social proof as a shortcut in our real-world decision making every day. Things seem easier to buy when others validate that it’s a smart option. Social proof is powerful in situations where people don’t have the facts they need to make an informed decision. To help resolve uncertainty, people look for clues in their environment to help them determine their best guess at “truth.” They assume the actions of others reflect the correct behavior for them, too.

Here are 5 ethical ways to “prime the pump” on social proof and improve the perceived credibility of your content:

  1. Promote your content “As seen on …”: Have you been quoted or featured on a well-known blog, newspaper, or television show? Don’t keep it a secret.
  1. Request endorsements
  1. As your friends and family to Like or Follow you
  1. Collect and highlight testimonials and reviews
  1. Collect kudos tweets: When people tweet nice things about you, start saving them as a “favorite” tweet. Then you can link to the list of nice recommendations as an entire stream of public, published social validation, as in “Don’t take my word for it, click here to see what others are saying about my (book, blog, podcast …).”

– from “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer

What Does It Mean to Be Creative?

In a general sense, every human being is creative. This trait is not always flashy. Often it’s not called by its true name. But when you take the stuff of life and rearrange it so that it matters, so that it does good things, you’re acting creatively. At those times when you are breaking a sweat to make life work better, you are most like the God who created you. You don’t have to come up with a new idea in order to be creative. All you have to do is find an old idea and apply it to a new moment or group of people, a new problem or situation.

And so creativity is at work in the parent of preschoolers who must come up with ways of occupying their exuberance for hours, even days, on end. It is also at work in the entrepreneur who can make a buck before she even has a buck. Likewise, the person at the office or the church who never misses an opportunity to make a program or system more effective is exercising creativity. And it’s alive and well in the guy who, like my late father, works at a factory job all day and then comes home to tend a garden.

 

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

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