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  • How to Make it Happen: How to Expand Your Reach

    Posted on November 8th, 2012 jean 8 comments

    I’ve discovered a secret.

    The secret to success.

    It’s so simple. So straight forward.

    Why don’t more people do it?

    Because it is this… With all the research I’ve been doing about the business side of writing and business in the past eight months is this (are you ready? Better sit down): Those who succeed, do so because they work really, really hard to make it happen. They take action. Every day.

    Damn. You were hoping for an easy answer, weren’t you?

    Okay, I’ll admit that can be a bit overwhelming. However… it doesn’t have to be crazy scary.

    How to Expand Your Reach and Succeed

    The thing about expanding your reach–whether you are a writer, a blogger, a business person, or even an Avon lady–is that the magic doesn’t happen overnight. One ‘thing’ is not going to suddenly make you famous. Think about how many songs Parry Grip put out before he suddenly became ‘that guy on YouTube.’ (Heard of the Duck Song? Baby Monkey Riding Backwards on a Pig? That’s him.) It is a slow, methodical build. One brick on top of the other. Chris Brogan is another amazing example of this.

    These tips may help:

    1. Don’t freak out at the idea of all you have to accomplish. Do one small thing a month. Don’t try and rock Twitter, Facebook, and guest posting all in one month. One at a time. Once one feels ‘old hat,’ move on to the next one.

    2. Be focused. What is your goal? What steps do you think you HAVE to take to get there? Not the ones you want to take because they are fun time-wasters.

    3. Make a plan. Evil dictators have five-year-plans. Do you?

    4. Don’t go whole hog on an idea and burn yourself out. Pace yourself. Make a realistic timeline.

    5. Research. Educate yourself. Don’t expect to know everything at once. And don’t let yourself off the hook. This is a slow, methodical, and INFORMED growth we’re doing to expand our reach. You can write the greatest blog post ever, but if you don’t know how to get it to an audience or write a compelling headline, you aren’t going to expand your reach.

    6. What motivates you to take action? Figure it out and use it to your advantage.

    7. Be patient. It takes time and experimentation.

    Want some proof that the slow, methodical planned approach works? Check out author Ruth Cardello who made it happen for herself last fall. She hit the New York Times Bestseller list for three weeks with her self-published romance.

    How? How? How?

    By trying something new every day when it came to publicity and marketing herself, her brand, and her books. Day after day. (Not sure if she includes weekends, but even if she doesn’t she’s doing at least 20 things a month to get her books out there.) She was patient and experimented. And it paid off.

    She’s now a full-time author.

    Small Steps to Success

    Yup. We all want it now. That’s natural. Completely natural. And so is the–everyone else is rocking this, why can’t I?

    You want to know ANOTHER SECRET?

    Those who want it, find a way to go get it. They make it happen.

    Okay, that wasn’t really a big secret after showing what Ruth did!

    And while you may only see all their successes, there are failures too. There are always guaranteed failures. The thing of it is, people who succeed take flub-ups and leverage them. They add them as part of their growing expertise.

    Let me share a small, personal example. (So you don’t think I’m yakking out of turn.)

    I read about this thing about ‘drafting.’ Basically, the idea is that you use some popular blog/post/news topic and draft off it. You find a way to slide yourself in there and get a slice of the publicity. But in a non-slimy way.

    About a month ago, I thought I would try it out. I spent an hour sending out emails to about 5-7 blogs/news sites, contacting the writer/reporter. I *tried* to create intrigue around this other angle I had on the news story they had reported on. Whether my emails were read, whether I was too late to ride the wave, whether I was too ambiguous, whether I was wasting their time and didn’t hook it right… I don’t know. But I didn’t hear back. An hour of my life I will never get back. (Maybe that’s the problem there–maybe it was too much of a slap-dab-and-slash appreoch.)

    BUT… last week the publication of The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy. Aha! I thought. This is an opportunity. I might be able to make something happen.

    Because I had been researching (see #5 above) how to write press releases (don’t ask me why, it just seemed like something I should know) I decided to write one using the Hurricane Sandy angle to ‘draft’ off a news topic.

    Did it work? Well, I think so. As ‘big’ as I had hoped… well, maybe not quite. However, of the six newspapers I contacted with my press release (with minor tweaks to provide a local connection for each paper) I was (so far) granted one interview which has appeared online and will come out in today’s physical paper. So, not bad. Better than my first attempt at drafting and always better than a kick in the pants with a pair of cowboy boots.

    Lesson: I didn’t wait for them to come and find me. I went to the papers and shared the news. And I was prepared. I had taken headshots a few weeks ago and I had a press page on my site with more information which I linked to. I had cover art ready as well. All my gathering of resources and knowledge came together for me, expanding my reach and making it happen. I’m in the paper! And it’s not for starting kindergarten! (I really was in the paper when I started kindergarten. Yeah, slow news day or else I am actually a princess in hiding. Or, you know, from a really small town. Your pick.)

    The indie Chicks Contributor

    Another quick example of behind the scenes work coming to fruition? Today I am on The Indie Chicks.com. Get Ahead Girl is a new series I pitched a few weeks back, but had been thinking about and honing in my mind for months. I had previously answered their call for submissions when they first started in May. While I didn’t have anything for them after my first post, I continued my connections with them and waited until I had something well-suited to their brand and could help mine as well. Today, “Who to Follow on Twitter” is out building their brand as Chicks Who Make it Happen as well as mine which is The Helpful Writer. (Okay, still working on that brand!)

    The overall lesson here:

    Sometimes things come to you, sometimes you have to make it happen. <– Tweet this.

    You can do it! Get Ahead! Expand Your Reach! Make It Happen! You can do it! I’m cheering for you! <rah, rah, rah!>

    What have you always wanted? Can you use the tips above to create a plan that will take you there? Do you have tips to share as well? Share ’em in the comment section!