author platform

Mapping Your Complex World

Have you tried mapping the complexity and richness of your life (and career) with an overlapping Venn diagram?

Here's what turned up when I did one for GlobalNiche -- you can see all the relationships of our personal and professional influences and communities as we operate at the intersection of content, culture, and identity.

There's power in your diversity, how you combine your worlds, and the hybrid result!

If you've attempted a Venn of some part of your life, you're invited to share it on the GlobalNiche Facebook page here.

Masterminding An Expat's Reluctant Entrepreneurism

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Each participant presents her case study and we brainstorm next steps.

Here are some of my thoughts on an expatriate writer's mention that if she weren't an expat and forced to find ways to make a living outside the norm, she wouldn't be an entrepreneur.

It reminds me of the Dialogue2010 conversations at expat+HAREM, and how our hybrid lives have *forced* us to be flexible about a lot of things most people (especially those in our 'previous lives' if we're living outside an original territory, including who we might have been if we'd stayed) never have to deal with. Our careers are one of those things.

The beauty of being a creative entrepreneur is that it's about making your work type and situation *work* for you, for the type of person you are, and the situation you face. That doesn't mean it's the easy choice, just that it has the potential to deliver much more than you'd get from being a cog in someone else's wheel.

Was also reading something the other day about how we don't have to make money from everything we produce (or even try to sell it), but if we're professionals (or hope to be, that is, we're not hobbyists) earning money for the work we do has to be part of the larger plan.

Writing ONLY for money is different type of job than writing what you want to write and receiving money for it (at some point on the journey, and maybe not directly from the writing).

If your interest in writing dries up at the prospect of selling it, or using it as a form of content marketing for something else you are selling, then maybe writing is not an element of the paid work you want to do. Maybe you want to keep it as a hobby, a special form of personal entertainment. That's totally cool.

But, if you harbor dreams of yourself as a professional writer, not only sharing your work widely but receiving compensation for it, then writing *is* an element of your livelihood. If you have the luxury of already knowing what you want to write, and already writing what you want to write (some people are on a different carousel, where they write for hire and dream of writing from the heart and soul and it's hard to get off that carousel for the very reason that it's scary and hard) then all you have to add to your picture is a strategy to get paid for what you are already doing.

Will you have to make changes in your plans, will you have to improve to be competitive, will you have to be sensitive to your readership? Will you have to be aware of the market and how it works and what the shifts are in publishing? Will you see clearly whether you have achieved your professional writing goals or not? Yes.

In fact, writing might suddenly seem like a different kind of work if all that stuff I just mentioned has previously been kept separate from your writing life. I think this might be the key for you. Integrating in small steps your writing as professional, and with a market purpose.

++

Another participant of the group points out this post by creativity coach Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action that if Shakespeare had continued to work for a patron, we may never have heard of him.

Masterminding Optimizing A Writer's Online Presence

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Each participant presents her case study and we brainstorm next steps.

Here are some of my thoughts on optimizing a writer's presence online, including consolidating her blogs and deciding on which social media services to use and how.

I changed my anastasiaashman.wordpress.com blog to my own domain and there were no posts lost. it took a hour or something, no big investment! The method is actually easy and since so many people before you have done it, there are tutorials too. do you have a domain and host ready to go? if so, i think there is even a option inside your wordpress.com dashboard to take you through the steps. If i find a tutorial i'll post it. Here we go, first returned on google: http://www.labnol.org/internet/migrate-wordpress-blog-to-own-domain/12776/ Here are more considerations but an older post: http://remarkablogger.com/2008/03/18/moving-wordpress-com-self-hosted/

Actually if you read the second post above, you'll see a good reason to consolidate your site and blogs under one URL: "search strength". Will be talking more about this soon, but it's something to consider -- bring everything under one umbrella, with a menu that sends us to different areas. And if you're not blogging often, you don't need a separate blog for those different interests. just use categories to separate them, and one blog with unlimited static pages.an idea for what to do on twitter (which i think is best SM platform for you to be active on besides your own blogs) -- focus on twitter chats for writers.

Here is a list of Twitter chats by Inkygirl. Look thru the schedule, pick the ones of interest and then show up for them. Participate. Use the hashtags, talk to the people there, follow them.

This way people will get to know you, and your time on twitter will be spent in groups of professional interest to you.

 

There are also agent chats and book seller chats and publishing world chats. Branch into them as you see fit. Talk about your work in the context of the chat, but also just be engaging with others and people will check out your profile, follow you, and see what you've got going on. Talking to other writers who have books they want to publish is a way to talk about your own...

I wouldn't spend a minute more on LinkedIn (besides this group, I mean). Facebook is nice but if you're going to put in time or drive traffic it should be to your own site. Twitter + blog/site it is!

Alexandra Samuel is a woman who knows what she's talking about: "How to sustain a social media presence in 3 hours a week." Take a look at her suggestions and see what you can do to set up a system like this.

Also, look at this "Strategic tweeting for authors: If you’re an author who isn’t active on Twitter, you’re making a huge mistake, say savvy book-marketing gurus."

If you're going to tweet add a twitter widget to your site so your more ephemeral activities and the conversation and info you share can be seen by visitors to your site. It makes it look like someone's home. Here's how.

Insights From Last Season's Mastermind Sessions

My fellow admin in the Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group at LinkedIn prompted us for insights from last season's private mastermind sessions. "List one thing you applied using the feedback you received and the results you witnessed after putting it into practice," writes Tara Agacayak. "If you did not have the opportunity to present your case study, you are welcome to list one thing you applied that you learned in the process of this mastermind that has brought you results."

My response:

My mastermind question was about monetizing expat+HAREM (and I got tons of great suggestions and debate from you all!). The most impactful thing that emerged was that regardless of what my people will tell me they want (when I send out the survey!), my success will hinge on the idea of partnering with people who have related yet different businesses and have high-quality, appropriate products and services to offer.

I may know something is valuable in my arena when I see it -- but that doesn't mean I have the time or energy to create it from scratch myself. I can be a conduit for that product or service, and in partnering with others I can co-brand the thing. And over time, I can grow my community based on those offerings rather than the free ones -- "a small band of givers rather than a lot of takers".

An example of where you see that impact today is in the "Build Your Global Niche" program I am creating with Tara, the mastermind demo we did this month for the International Pro Women of Istanbul and the tutorial mailing list we started. They are early steps to a larger plan for eH, which is about preparing expat+HAREM readers to be a cohesive, actualized community putting a creative entrepreneur web platform to use in their location (and monoculture?) independent lives. To solve their problems with the very tools that are solving ours. To give them access to the people who ring our bells...and in turn to give those bell-ringers access to an appropriate community for their offerings. Win-win.

+++

Among the other enlightening, and empowering results reported:

"I have integrated the main social media tools with my website and I have added posterous to the main tools to work with."  (To this I say: that's some integration that not only makes you more visible but also saves you energy in the syndication of content!)

"I re-organized my twitter, creating more strategic and useful lists. I started tweeting other things besides news." (To this I say: I felt your presence on Twitter so much more recently. Kudos for finding a Twitter third party service that lets you do things your way.)

"With your suggestions and guidance I simplified my offerings into two categories - Free and Premium."

"By creating a website for purely professional purposes I ended up getting a great deal more interest in my services on eLance. By redoing the header on my site I find that people spend more time on the website than they had been doing." (To this I say: great you're able to point to those concrete, quantifiable results from the advances you've made (email responses, view time on site).)

"I had a fairly fixed idea of how I wanted my site to be before the session. Afterwards I was questioning every single aspect of it! It really helped to have other people's input, to see where they thought I should head and how to arrange the site. That's the beauty of this group, positive criticism that can change how you approach things." (To this I say: can't wait to see how your site turns out with those added dimensions in the process of creating it!)

"My biggest win has been creating a cohesive visual hub. From that unity, I've been able to start weaving a very colorful picture in images, not just words. Using fun tools like Picasa/Picnik, Animoto (my new fav way to tell stories, which you'll be seeing with my Kickstarter relaunch this month) and taking new photos of our product on Etsy as well as new portraits of our main product - us! - have changed the site dramatically and increased Etsy sales. So, pulling together the visuals our brand projects to the world has been key, thanks to all of you!"

 

 

 

 

Masterminding A Writer, Artist & Cultural Curator Platform

Along with Tara Agacayak, I run a private mastermind group on LinkedIn (it’s a subgroup of my Creative Entrepreneurs & Social Media group). Once a week someone steps into the center with a case study and asks for feedback and suggestions on their next steps. Here are my thoughts on building out a writing and artist platform:

I use Wordpress and Tumblr (simply as a feed of my blog, microblog and Delicious activities). It seems moving to Tumblr or Posterous might make things much simpler for you as a blogger-- they seem easy/breezy as blogging platforms -- whereas Wordpress's wider capabilities will encourage building a bigger site with more going on. So, since you're talking growth and not just 'make it easier' then I'd say Wordpress.

As for platform building, where are you meeting and engaging with potential readers of your novel (besides Twitter, SheWrites, Facebook, LI, your blog)? Any communities out there specific to the topics in your novel? Taking part in reader-based litchats on Twitter would be another way to start being known as the woman behind the voice that people will be able to read when your book comes out. (Consider posting small excerpts of the book so we know what it's about and grow connected to it?)

Maybe someone here can share leads to artists, writers, cultural curators that you are aware of online -- if you know of them, they're doing something right to get your attention.

As for making the hybrid nature of your work clearer through your platform, I'm reminded of the blog convention of another multifaceted woman: Ruth Harnisch.  She breaks down the different channels of her being and lets that be the structure of her site. "The Maker of Mistakes". "The Philanthropist". "The Catalyst". "The Recovering Journalist". Perhaps something like this might allow you to indulge your interests and help a visitor to your site/blog comprehend your better?

The expatharem site has sold books through its Amazon link -- in the first couple of years of the site. The #s since I relaunched the blog are too tiny to count for anything and that may be a result of the maturity of the book or the fact that I don't push it much on the site, and/or people aren't coming to the blog to buy the book or learn more about it. However, yes, making things available to our interested parties is part of making what we do a business. We have to make the offer. It's relevant. However, I also know being on twitter has sold books. People I met there, people who found out about the book on twitter (like during #litchat on expat lit).

Also: here's a great interview with a 'unmarketing' book author about how he built both a support system and a target audience on Twitter and presold 3,000 copies of his book. Good lessons there about how to engage and when to sell. 

In response to your question about using your own name as a brand, an SEO specialist I know from ThirdTribe (@CraigFifield) just offered an impromptu SEO consult on Twitter before the end of his workday/workweek. I took the liberty to ask him for an opinion on this, in general terms. Here’re the tweets (which overlap, as Twitter does)....

CF: i have 15min before I quit for the day -- how can I help you with SEO or your Blog?

AA: wd someone's name be a better blog name for SEO than tagline about art and the creative life?

CF: in terms of SEO I would use a keyword that people are searching for. Or, I would go for branding and ignore SEO

AA: that is, are proper names SEO at all? and generally used words and phrases amount to very little in SEO world?

AA: so in researching keywords "creative life" what result would prompt good use of that phrase in blog title?

CF: depends how your audience uses those words. I would do some keyword research to decide. do you have an example?

AA: ok think i got it! (branding with a proper name means SEO considerations unnecessary)

CF: well, unless your brand will eventually be big enough to be searched on :) make your brand name unique to win there

Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

From Andrea Martins' ExpatWomen.com Creative Entrepreneurship Through Social Media: The Case Studies of Anastasia Ashman and Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia and Tara are expat women entrepreneurs who have used social media to successfully grow their businesses and online profiles. We asked these two progressive business women to write an article for us, sharing their experiences and tips. 

Interestingly, whilst they both herald from the same part of Northern California and both currently live in Turkey, their paths did not cross until they met on Twitter.  

Creative entrepreneurship means thinking innovatively to both create a business and to promote it.  Expatriate women make ideal creative entrepreneurs because they usually require flexible and fluid work to fit their lifestyle (which typically means that they need to be creative in their business concept) and they are increasingly internet and social media savvy (which means that they are typically more willing to use social media creatively, to promote them themselves and their business).

Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, together with easy-to-use blogging systems remove many of the personal disempowerments far-flung expat women have traditionally experienced.  They can also be powerful professional tools, especially for expat entrepreneurs.  The niche nature and 24/7 cycle of the web can diminish cultural, linguistic, geographic and time zone disadvantages to both career development and entrepreneurial endeavours abroad.

Social media makes it easier to create these one-of-a-kind businesses by helping define and embody your brand, whether you are a writer, a coach, a consultant, a photographer or so on.  Applications and tools such as blogs, Twitter and YouTube enable you to extend your brand across the web and convey your multi-media message in text, video or graphics. You can monitor your brand, see how others connect with it, and evolve it as your expat journey transforms you. Well-curated Tweetdeck and Hootsuite columns and specialized LinkedIn groups provide access to state-of-the-industry practices, trending thought, and leading players in your field of business, as well as the opportunity to become known as the experts that you probably are.

 

How Do We Use Social Media?

The best way to explain how social media might be able to help you and/or your business, is to share with you our own real-life case studies…

Case Study One: Tara Lutman Agacayak

Anastasia: Tara, going online solved your information technology (IT) career disruption after accompanying your husband to a small town in Turkey. How?

Tara: I first started experimenting with online sales by offering trinkets on eBay. Shortly afterward I started Citara's, an online boutique selling handmade Turkish products with my husband. Setting up an independent retail site was entirely different than selling through a hosted site like eBay. Getting our products in front of the right people required a unique set of tactics on the web. In this new attention economy, social networking and content marketing became vital to our online business. Citara’s started as a static website, but the brand has extended to a Twitter handle and Facebook page. We have also partnered with a non-profit called Nest where we donate a portion of sales to their microloan program generating funds for women's craft-based businesses. The work we do is editorialized through our blog and disseminated through channels we have set up on Twitter, Facebook and Kirtsy.

After building an offline network of artisans in Turkey I partnered with my expat friend Figen Cakir to start Behind the Bazaar, a site promoting independent artists and designers in Istanbul. It relies solely on social networking for digital word of mouth marketing. Using our blog as a content hub we offer a unique perspective on the local creative community. Content is then re-broadcast and re-packaged through Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and our Facebook page. We also act as experts on Localyte providing – an alternative view of Istanbul through the eyes of its artists.

Last year, Figen and I also started Intarsia Concept (IC) as a place for people to congregate and share resources for building creative businesses. Many creative entrepreneurs are their own entities. They manage their own PR, define their brand, and handle their own marketing and customer service. We envisioned IC as a supportive and informative environment for those starting their own creative businesses. Using our blog to centralize content we extend conversations out to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and bookmarking sites like Kirtsy and Delicious. I monitor HARO (Help A Reporter Out) requests for press opportunities and respond to questions on LinkedIn and Twitter. I engage in forums and groups on Ladies Who Launch to look for opportunities to collaborate or barter services.

Social networking is not just about getting your message out, but about opening two-way channels of communication and listening as much as you speak. It is the opportunity to learn from the greater community and create win-win opportunities.

Case Study Two: Anastasia Ashman

Tara: Anastasia, your writing and cultural entertainment-producing career is built on the publishing world's "author platform".  What does this mean and how is it related to social media?

Anastasia: I have been location-independent for eleven years, arriving in Istanbul from New York City in 2003, after Southeast Asia in the ‘90s where internet access revolutionized my estranged life. I virtually compiled and edited the book Tales from the Expat Harem with Jennifer Gokmen,  through email with more than 40 people in four different time zones. My second book and cross-media projects like intellectual global nomad salons and screen development of Ottoman and Byzantine princess stories require a vast rebuild of web presence and activity.

The publishing concept for launching a career – the author platform –  is a good model for the globally mobile woman entrepreneur. In order to make sales, land assignments, get project funding, attract collaborators and partners, a professional needs to demonstrate her platform of influence and credibility. She needs to pinpoint her market, get substantial attention, deliver the goods, including: a targeted mailing list; an audience; and alliances with others with similar audiences; access to media outlets (generating her own newsletters, blogs, podcasts); making appearances; and other speaking engagements.

To this end, social media offers opportunities to build a more robust and far-reaching platform with fewer resources. I interact with readers, agents, marketers and publishers in live chats on Twitter, meet peers in networks like SheWrites, TravelBlogExchange and the small business community Biznik, while SocialMention and Google alert me to people discussing my subject matter so I can join the conversation. I share thought leadership with fellow writers, travelers, globalists and culturati by posting favorite web finds to Twitter and Facebook feeds, and bookmarking them at Delicious. I upload presentations to SlideShare, and contribute to LinkedIn groups for: filmmaking; my college alumnae; the expat life; Turkish business; blogging; and digital publishing.

On my main sites I develop my own material, community and skills. I revolve ideas about female identity, history and culture at my individual blog, and foster relationships with my global niche of Turkophiles, intentional travelers and hybrid lifestylers as founder of the expat+HAREM group blog. Technology helps me amplify with syndication to Networked Blogs at Facebook, to Kindle, my LinkedIn profile, and Amazon Author Central. My ultimate goal is to create viral events – a worldwide rave for my most shareable ideas and properties – where my network voluntarily distributes my digital content to their connections, deriving their own meaning and use, telling my story their way. As I locate, interact with and help interested parties across the web, I create my ideal word-of-mouth market worldwide.

 

Anastasia & Tara’s Social Media Tips

 

Do:

  • Present yourself thoughtfully, accurately and honestly;
  • Mind-cast, not life-cast: aim for a high signal versus noise ratio;
  • Provide value: offer your expertise and knowledge, solve problems, be generous, connect people, be authentic; and
  • Monitor who is following you (be aware of who you are congregating with).

Don’t:

  • Allow incriminating words and images to be attached to your name;
  • Believe get-rich-quick and get-followers-fast schemes;
  • Use your birth year or publish information people can use to find your physical location; and
  • Use copyrighted material without permission.

Think Long-Term

 

        • Social media is a way to carve out your niche and congregate with like-minded people. Whilst this can happen quickly, it usually does take time – so think long-term.
        • The good news is that if you are patient, dedicated, committed, giving and authentic, you

will 

          find allies in your field. Your networks

will 

          support and promote you. They

will 

        offer solutions and encouragement and challenge you to be better. And the best part is… just like your own ‘career in a suitcase’, your social media contacts are portable and they will go with you wherever you go.  So good luck and happy connecting!

 

 

Anastasia Ashman aims to further the worldwide cultural conversation, raising the feminine voice on issues of culture and history, self improvement and the struggle for identity – from one family to entire hemispheres.

Tara Lutman Agacayak works with creative entrepreneurs around the world in multiple facets to craft viable and lucrative businesses.

 

January 2010

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

How Use Twitter As An Author

As the coeditor of an anthology by foreign women in modern Turkey, and an American living abroad in Istanbul, Twitter has been an invaluable tool to bring me closer to the world I work in, and up to speed on my industry. I meet my readers (fellow expats, travelers, writers, and culturati among them) and my publishing world colleagues (agents, authors, editors, publishers) to discuss not only issues relevant to my first book, but also to the memoir I am currently writing, and the rapidly changing state of publishing. I’ve also connected with professionals who are giving me feedback on my work in progress.

Some examples of how I use Twitter as an author:

1) On May 29 at EST 4pm, I will guest host #litchat, an open discussion series founded by a fellow author (@litchat), on the topic of expatriate literature. (#litchat is an hour-long open discussion on a topic, three times a week. You can follow it in Twitter search or on www.Tweetchat.com using the term “litchat”.) I’ll be guiding the discussion, soliciting opinions and offering my own based on this view: Expatriate literature may be stocked in the travel section, but does it deserve a shelf of its own? Living for extended periods in foreign locales, expatriates struggle to reestablish themselves and find meaningful access to their new home. Travelers passing through often have the luxury to avoid the very issues of assimilation and identity that dominate the expat psyche. We’ll talk about the unique depths this can bring to expat lit’s combination of outsider-view-from-the-inside and journey of self-realization. See litchat.wordpress.com for more info.

2) #editorchat – I follow the illuminating transcripts at editorchat.wordpress.com since the chats take place at 5am Istanbul time and I haven’t managed to be awake during them yet!

3) Through Twitter I’ve also been invited to write a guest post for an editor’s blog, voted in the top 100 publishing blogs, about my experience as an author abroad trying to get up to speed with my traditional and digital publishing options and comparing today’s conditions with those I once reported on the e-publishing beat at Internet World trade magazine in 2000.

4) #queryfail and #queryday – these discussions (also found by Twitter search and Tweetchat) have been consistently good to refresh my own agent pitching techniques, especially as I prepare a package for an agent this month

5) A pop physicist I met on Twitter is currently vetting some popular science in the foreword of my current memoir, and I’ve discussed some of my emerging theories about online psychology (also in current memoir) with a group of psychologists championing it, including the founders of #mentalhealthcamp

I wholeheartedly recommend authors use Twitter in these ways and all the others you’ll likely be inspired to pursue.