Today we start to walk through author snapshots (and then chat about those and other marketing things). If you’re not doing a monthly snapshot, this is an easy place to start!
<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href='https://acast.com/privacy'>acast.com/privacy</a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>
Hey, good evening, everyone. It is Tuesday evening in my part of the world, this is To Write And Have Written. I am Laura VanArendonk Baugh and I still don’t have a catchphrase.
OK, thanks for indulging my little. Yeah, we’re going to move right on past that. So hello, ShyRedFox, thanks for stopping by. Oh, and thank you for subscribing. I appreciate that. And I’m going to find a way to mute this since. I have not done that yet. OK, here we go, don’t want an endless audio loop coming through here. Fantastic.
All right. So tonight is a little bit of a work-along night. I don’t think I actually gave you guys proper notice of that. So surprise. This is the homework session. So everybody get comfortable, pull up a favorite snack or a beverage. Grab an Excel sheet — dundundun, Lightning, Lightning, Thunder. And we’re going to do a little bit of a work along tonight. So and hey ShyRedFox, while you’re here, throw yourself a link in the chat, because when I tried to give a shout out to your upcoming release on a previous stream, you turned out not to be here. So we’re going to give you a chance to go ahead and do that.
Yes, I still don’t have a catchphrase is probably my catch phrase. I’m probably just going to be stuck with that. Yeah, that’s how that’s going to go down. I will be stuck in history as I still don’t have a catchphrase, so. Yes. All right. Um, yeah.
So we’re going to go ahead and we are last autumn. So flashback to twenty twenty. Oh, hey, thanks for stopping by. Hello. Hello. And I talked a bit about, uh, marketing and branding and we did all of those things. And I mentioned author snapshots. Snapshot is it’s not just my word for it. I don’t know that it’s a very popular word for it, but it’s one that I’m going to use. So I’m going to go ahead and describe that.
And so sorry. Yeah, I’m getting officially catch phrase’d in the chat. This is great.
So a snapshot is just a way for me to know where I am at this time. I do them monthly. There are people who do them more frequently with that than that, which I think is just, you know, anxiety in a jar, like waiting to you know, you don’t do that to yourself. You don’t need to you don’t need to drink that, from that jar of anxiety.
Don’t do that because you’re going to get fluctuations. You know, it’s it’s like, oh, my gosh, it’s like any organic thing. It’s like if you’re trying to lose weight and so you weigh yourself 12 times a day, you’re just going to make yourself crazy. Right.
you’re burying useful data in just too much data. Right. Because there’s going to be fluctuations. So anyway, whatever. I do mine monthly, I think that’s a pretty good rate. You’re welcome to do them more or less, but not too much more and not too much less, because then I think you start losing the trends that you want to do. Also for me monthly, I just do them on the first day of every month. That makes it super easy to remember. It doesn’t feel like a huge task. And honestly, once you’ve got this set up, it’s less than ten minutes to get through it. So I spend somewhere between five and ten minutes on the first day of every month to track this information.
So, yeah, thanks ShyRedFox for throwing a link. Yeah, I’m sorry I wasn’t clear, but any link that leads to your release, we’re going to we’re going to go that way. All right.
So let me see if I can bring it over. I’m so excited. I’ve got my lovely new machine up and I’m still adapting my streaming setup on it because believe it or not, I did not just do nothing but set up streaming all week. Yeah, I know. Hard to believe. Right. But we do have this now where I can actually see what I’m working on and see you guys at the same time.
This is fantastic. All right. I’m happy to share an image later of my my my glorious, huge screen. You guys, it’s so big. I think I’m good now. OK, so, yes, I have a new machine. I love it. I love it. OK.
That said, go ahead and grab either Excel or Google Sheets or you can do this outside of a spreadsheet as well, you can do this in your regular word processor. You can do this on a notebook with with your favorite pen. There are so many ways to do this. I like doing it in a spreadsheet because it’s very easy to organize. And I am lazy. I want to see, I want to see progress. I want to see good things.
I want to see everything at once. In the chat. Yes. My huge screen. I can see everything at once. Yeah. Yeah. We like big screens and we cannot lie.
OK, I pulled up a spreadsheet when I got my new screen up, my new monitor up last week and I’ve always had to, you know, scroll back and forth to see where it was. Like I can see the whole thing at once. It’s beautiful.
All right. So you’ve got options here as we’re getting set up. I have put these items along the left in column A. That is an option. Or you can start in column B and fill across the top. Either of these will work. Do whichever one makes you happy. If I were an immortal starting this for the first time and I planned to be doing monthly snapshots for the next millennium or so, it would be a good idea to put them across the top because I can basically have an infinite number of rows in Excel and at some point I will run out of columns.
So if I were going to be doing this monthly for the next thousand years, I would eventually run out of columns. Most of us probably aren’t going to be in that situation. So you can do it whichever way makes you esthetically happy.
So, oh, hey, Bridger, you’re fine. You you missed nothing of of great import. I don’t have a catchphrase and that is apparently my catch phrase. That is now where we are. So, yes. Thank you Kate, for column A and try all of Column B. I definitely will take a genie reference any day of the week.
So in now if you’re doing this. In column A start at row number two, leave number one blank, and if you’re doing this across the top, start at B and leave column A blank. So you just got that little space that’s going to be where your little grid space goes.
What I would like you to do then, now that you’ve have that, is start listing every place you have a presence. So if you think back to, we talked about the author platform and I said, any time you’re interacting with other people we’re going to count that as a piece of your platform for now. That’s what you can start listing here. So things I look at, I don’t care if you have this information or not, OK, right now we’re just we’re just word vomiting it out. Right. This is our first draft. It’s fine.
So total number of books that you have sold. I personally, I don’t track free downloads. I don’t think they’re that that useful to me. I don’t tend to offer them very often. I just don’t care. So I’m much more interested in the books that I actually sell. I’m very interested in how many people subscribe to my mailing list. I’m very interested in what the open rate is on that mailing list. If I get a lot of people subscribed and two percent of them open it, it’s not doing me a lot of good.
OK, and so Twitter followers, Facebook followers, you can see on the screen the things that I have put down. It only just occurred to me as recently to add World Anvil followers to my list. Even though I got a World Anvil account about four months ago, I didn’t even occur to me to put that on my snapshot list. So, hey, this is for me, too, you know. Coffee, Ko-Fi, whatever, however you’d like to say at Patreon, Patreon, how you’d like to say it — anything that you have or you’re interacting with people, go ahead and fill out your form. And then in the chat, you can let me know when you’re done with that.
And if at this point, if you’re wondering, do I write this down or not, the answer is yes, OK, we’ll clean it up later right now, any any anything that you can think of, go ahead and put it in.
Yes, World Anvil is very interactive and the doing the plant challenge right now, which is a lot of fun and I’ve gotten a few comments on mine, which I appreciate.
Thank you, Bridger. Yeah, I, I, I hear people say “coffee” and I look at them, I’m like, there’s no way that makes coffee in my head. I’m sorry. It’s, it could be coffee. I’m fine with coffee that also also I don’t drink coffee so like I don’t even really think so.
Oh eating is good. Please eat. So I just don’t want to move on too quickly if people are trying to write stuff down, I would like I would like this to be an actual work with me. And even though I cheated by having a list to start, sorry. And and so, yeah, I’m not going to rush ahead. I’d rather let people take their time and get this.
So. I am well, I’m just going to talk while you’re working, I am so overbooked right now. So I did my snapshot, my own snapshot. Yeah, OK, great, great, great. Kate, thank you. “I did one of these and then totally forgot about it.” Yes. That’s part of the reason this is coming back here is, you know, we talked about this last autumn, but one I know there’s quite a lot of people who are catching this now who weren’t with us when we did this. Oh, I think it was in August or September. So, yeah, like, why would why would you know this?
And then two, yeah. Remember the homework last time was just to make it, right, and then not to stress about it. So congratulations. You did it. You made it. That’s all we needed. Now we’re going to start doing this. So and PJZooFi asks about, I have abysmal rates on Patreon, tips for attracting peeps? I’m not even on Patreon. So I’m probably not the best person to ask. There’s a good topic that I could grab, a Learn With Me Patreon. So somebody who’s been successful on Patreon to come and talk, because that might be a good subject to explore. And I am 100 percent not qualified to speak to, it because I support other people on Patreon but I do not have one myself. Oh yes, Kate, if you would like to volunteer a person, I will always take it.
Grace, I will attempt to make the screen bigger. Let’s see if I can do that. But ultimately, I don’t really care if you are using my suggestions or not. Oh, there we go. Because these are things that I’m on. And if you are not, you know, if you’re not on Pinterest, then it doesn’t matter. And I’m only barely on Pinterest, which is going to come up here shortly. But again, just so you’re just writing down like, you know, if you have an account on Goodreads that you maintain, you know. I’m not talking about stuff that you haven’t if you haven’t logged in in the last three years, you’re excused. OK, that does not have to be on this list. But if it’s something that you at least interact on, that’s what I’m looking for, to go into this list here. So I am I am active on Instagram. I’m not really that active on Pinterest. OK, so so those are things to to be aware, OK. Yeah.
And again, like this is something that if, you are going about your day next Friday and you log into a website or you check a social media app or whatever, and you’re like, oh hey, that’s not on my list: great. Go ahead and add it at that time. Right? Like, you know, as much as I joke about this being homework, I’m not actually in your living room grading. OK, so these are just suggestions things to things to look for here. Yes.
So jumping back, Kate, I’ve got, I know a couple of people who do well on Patreon, but I will absolutely, definitely take suggestions. If you’ve got someone successful to recommend who might be willing to chat with me, please message me that contact information. That would be great and I’m fine with I might ask a couple or three people to come in and turn it into a panel and we can get all the information from because a lot of times when you have people talking together, you get you get different things.
So. I’ve got my cranberry ginger ale tonight because. I thought I was going to start the stream weeping again. I got some wonderful Indian food tonight, and you don’t understand exactly how big a wimp I am about spicy foods. I’m a true coward. But I’ve eaten from this place before and it’s been good. But they had somebody different in the kitchen tonight. And so it’s perfectly great food. It’s just a little spicier than I was anticipating and I’m standing in my kitchen sweating and crying. And I’m like, OK, I can eat some — oh, guess who’s out of milk. And yeah. So I made it though. I made it. I’m here.
All right, and then one of my favorite tricks is you can see, like I’ve got my text is spilling over into Column B and it’s my own personal hang up. I know lots of people who are who can function perfectly well without this. But for me, once it starts spilling over, and if I start like, let’s say I’m typing here, I’m going to make up, I got one hundred twenty five things. And so now those are disappearing. OK, this is just getting a mess.
If you come up… Can you see my cursor? Yes. It is showing up here. OK, if you come up to this line between A and B and you’ve got the little slide-y, that’s the technical term, the slide-y that will drag that back and forth. Or if you just mouse over it until it turns into that arrow and double click, and the double click will automatically size that column to accommodate all of your text with a little bit of padding, which makes me happy.
So, yeah. OK, thank you Bridger. Yeah. OK, yeah. Cannot handle the spill over text. No it just makes it very, very distracting. OK, it’s just, it’s intrusive, it’s distracting and it’s so easy to fix it. So there we go. OK, ok. Grace is doing it as the immortal. Fantastic. So you’re running it across and Grace is well you’re in a different unit of time anyway in Auckland. So yeah, you’re in the future already, you can have all the all the time.
So, OK, so at this point we have our list of everything we are interacting with and now we’re going to start that winnowing process. Right now what we’re going to start to, — oh, I just saw this, Kate says, “Books sold, LOLOLOL, Hobby writer.”
Hey, you know what this is? This is first draft. We’re putting out absolutely everything here. And I don’t care if these are good numbers or not.
OK, first of all, just going to put this out. This was coming up later, but it’s coming up now. OK, this is just data when I fill in this in every month. These are just numbers. It’s just data. Data does not judge me.
OK, so any feelings or judgment that come out of the spreadsheet did not come out of the spreadsheet. OK, so I can make my own decision on how I want to react to these numbers. But the data does not judge me.
So and this is especially important in the beginning, because these are going to be things, you know, especially when we’re getting started. And I’ve got a couple of things in recent months where I’ve just added a new platform. So it’ll be like Twitch followers, three! Or whatever. And if I look at that and I’m like, what am I even doing? How am I, you know, how am I going to ever become a real whatever I want to call it, a real writer, heavy air quotes or whatever. And I’ve got twelve followers on Facebook and one of them is my mom. OK, like, you know, if you start doing that to yourself, well, no, you’re not going to get anywhere because you’ve already talked yourself out of it.
OK, thank you. Awesome, awesome, no, no, this is great, this is great, the chat is awesome. So Grace is saying I do not have any of this information at hand. Totally clueless, right? Exactly. That’s why we’re doing this. Like, I don’t keep these numbers in my head. Why would I?
OK, and I love that PJZooFit says this is how I talk to my clients about collecting date data from body measurements and weight. Yeah, OK. But it’s hard to take this advice in this area marketing and platform. I know, it’s so much easier when we’re coaching someone else than when I have to take my own advice. All right. So here you don’t have to take your own advice. You’re going to take my advice. There we go. Yeah.
Data does not judge me. Yes, yes, yes. I say this to my clients a lot. The data does not judge you. It’s just a number that you wrote down, OK? You get to choose how much meaning it has. You get to choose how to react to it
Kate says, do I record my mom is half a subscriber or two? Your mom counts as one. OK, so does your sister. So does anybody else that you’re going to put in there. So OK.
Yeah, I will, I will release an MP3 of “it’s just data” and then we’ll get a really cool remix of it and yeah it’ll be great. OK. OK, OK, OK, there we go. Yes, word count is also just data. Right? I get to choose how to react to it. Right now I’m celebrating it because it is Camp NaNoWriMo this month in April. And right now I am on schedule like I am. I am where I’m supposed to be. That’s only because it’s not yet midnight and I haven’t done today’s words yet, but I’m going to pretend that I have or at least that I will. So but as of last night, I’m caught up. So yay on schedule. Yeah, right. Big deal. And if I’m not, it’s just a number and then I can choose how to respond to it, so.
All right, let’s get back on task, which I — you know, we’re very free form tonight, but we’re 20 minutes in. I’m going to move to step two. OK, step two now, this is where I’m going to start. We’re going to do a little bit of editing of this first draft that we have created. For Grace’s across the top. So things like email subscribers, this is this is really, really important. I talked about why we want a direct way to contact our people in the platform. And it’s not that I can’t have any other great thing, but I need to have some way to contact them directly. So e-mail subscribers and average open rate are things that I’m going to very definitely keep here.
Twitter. I’m reasonably active on Twitter, it’s not it’s not my strongest point, but I’m there, so I’m going to go ahead and keep that. Facebook. Yeah, there. Goodreads? I’m really pretty lame about Goodreads. Like I don’t cultivate a Goodreads presence very much, but but I can keep it on there because it’s just numbers and I’ll just know that those numbers are less important to me than maybe Facebook or Twitter might be.
OK, Pinterest, that’s another one where technically I have an account but I’m not doing a lot with it. So this kind of thing where OK, what actually — and I’m just gonna jump down here. Tumblr, I have a Tumblr account. I don’t do anything related to my writing on Tumblr. I think it automatically reposts some things, but there’s nothing I’m actively doing to promote things. So I could just delete that because that. I’m not trying to grow that, I’m not really interested in seeing how it works out for me because I have no interest in being there and making that work for me. So that’s where I’m just going to delete that.
So that’s where you guys can start going through here and be like, OK, Instagram, I’m on Instagram nearly every day. So that’s I’m going to keep that. Pinterest? I’m on Pinterest once or twice a month and I’m not really trying to grow it, so I’m just going to delete that. OK, so here’s where you’re just going to start going through that. And we’re going to check out the chat.
OK, so. So P.J. is asking, how do I tell how many books have sold for this moment? Don’t worry about it. We’re going to we’re going to fill in numbers later. I have set up, for example, with my fake YouTube numbers here. So there we go.
But oh, hey, great. ShyRedFox got the “data does not judge you” clipped. Fantastic.
So once once we start filling things in, we can go site hopping and actually start looking things up. And so how you’re going to grab those numbers will depend on which numbers we’re grabbing. It depend on what your platforms are, where you’re retailing and that sort of thing. But yeah. So ultimately we will get that.
And speaking of vanity metrics that we don’t care about, we can become famous and buy some followers in the chat. Thanks, guys. No, don’t care. OK, where are we?
Oh yeah. Thanks, Kate. Maybe if I had a Discord with members — members, followers, I don’t know what do we call them on Discord? I could have people on my Discord, which I still like, keep talking about, have technically opened, but I’m not actually promoting yet, which is why I completely forgot to put it in my snapshot. But that is a perfect example of something that needs to be in my snapshot. So thank you very much, Kate. This is why this is good for me doing this as well.
So like here I track how many hits my website will get and this is great fun to see. Like pretty low in October and it’ll go up in November and then in December it’ll totally spike and then it’ll drop again in January and you can watch that and you just get to know the patterns after a while, which is another reason again you don’t doing this on a daily or weekly basis. It’s just a way to make yourself crazy. Don’t do it.
But in every December, I do a blog tour for charity organized by Rhonda Parrish and we raise funds for, there’s an actual word for this. What am I saying? It’s a food fund for families who need food for the holidays. There is a word for that, but that’s what it is. And where is it going anyway? So I know that in December, during that charity event, I’m going to get an influx of hits to my website. And so, you know, I’m doing that obviously primarily for charity. But if I make sure my website looks good when that happens, some people say, oh, well, while I’m here, let me go ahead and subscribe to the newsletter or something like that, then that’s a way for me to benefit from that event as well.
So. Oh, hey, thanks for subscribing Bridger. I appreciate that. Food bank! Yeah, see, thanks, Kate. I knew there was a word. I just needed a chat full of writers to give me the word. OK, all right.
Grace asked a great question. What about the number of likes or comments on social media? Could that be a useful metric? Really good question. The answer is a solid maybe.
OK, so if it’s just like how many people have liked my Facebook posts or something like that, I don’t care. Like, I don’t care for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t think — engagement of that kind is so cheap and I don’t think it converts into sales. It’s not a good indicator that it’s going to sell me things. I like stuff all the time that I have no intention of buying. OK, like there’s there’s lots of things there.
And then the second reason is that it’s going to be such a big pain to count up and manage. And there is so little value in that number compared to the enormous effort that it would be for me to calculate. How many likes did I get on Twitter this month? I just don’t care. I just don’t. That said. There are kinds of engagement that I am going to be interested in, so let me be… Here, I’m going to say click through.
And so this could be something where if I put a link in a tweet and I see how many people have clicked on that link. That gives me useful information on are people reading the tweet and just hitting like because they’re being supportive or it made them smile or whatever, or they actually like, oh, no, I want to actually click through and look at this, OK? And if I get a lot of people clicking through and then only two sales, that tells me something about what’s going on on that landing page or sales page or whatever.
I need to look at that, that I’m I have a lot of people coming in, but nobody actually making you know, it’s not selling once they get there. And if I have nobody clicking through that, I know that that’s probably a waste of my time to be pushing it on that particular venue.
And remember, we talked about social media is has a purpose, but selling is not its purpose. So sometimes the numbers can really bring that home where it comes conceptually, but you’re like, “but I see all these people tweeting links all the time. Surely I should be tweeting links as well.” And no, they’re wasting their time. You now have hard numbers to prove that it’s not working for you unless it is working for you, in which case have hard numbers to prove that it’s working for you.
So there we go. All right. And Bridger is pointing out the scale of how much is a lot? It’s going to hugely vary. Like I’m always going to get more likes on my cute dog sleeping than I am on me saying, “oh, I can’t believe this character’s giving me trouble” or whatever the case may be. So.
But I’m going to just detour for a second. If you have not found a way to try to track the links and there’s several several ways you can do this. But I’m going to recommend that you have something. I used Switchy because I was able to pick Switchy up for a fantastic deal. So Switchy is not a cheap solution, but I got it for cheap. So that’s why I use Switchy.io and it is it’s a link shortener, but it comes with all the analytics built in. So I can take this, you know, Laura VanArendonk Baugh dot com slash subscribe to the newsletter slash now please dot HTML or PHP or whatever, and I can put that into Switchy and that comes out LauraVAB/News or something like that. That’s something that I can share on Twitter or in a Facebook video description or whatever, and then I can log into my Switchy dashboard and see how many people clicked it from what source, et cetera, et cetera. So I can say, oh yeah, this is, this is great. I should make sure I definitely have this in my World Anvil, world descriptions, but absolutely nobody on Instagram is clicking it. So I should probably try something else there. OK, and you can get that information.
And people in the chat are appreciating my cute dog. Yes, she is really cute and adorable. I know it’s a good thing too, because that’s the only way she keeps my engagement up on Instagram. So. All right. So yes. Switchy is one, Bit.ly I’m sure you’ve seen. Bit.ly is one that’s pretty popular and it does have a free version so you can go to town with that. If you’re doing just book links, Books2Read.com will make universal book links to retailers. They won’t track anything to your website or whatever, but you can see how many people are clicking through when you tweet a sales link. You know how many people clicked on that link and how many of them went to Amazon and how many went to Barnes and Noble and how many went to Kobo or whatever. So.
Oh, look, a new newsletter subscriber. It’s your mom doing using a different email address this time. OK, yes. All right. Sorry, this is this is great. So sorry, guys.
I’m talking a lot. But if you have progressed to the point where you were filling in numbers for these. Great. That’s the next step. I just was talking through there. But I just wanted to say that it is fine at this point to start making some judgment calls on which which metrics are actually more important for you. And again, things like how many Twitter followers do you have? Those don’t really indicate anything about how many books you’re going to sell or something like that. So I, I track that. But that is not going to be something I care about in the way that I would care about my email subscribers or my open rate. OK, so Twitter followers is a little bit more of a vanity metric and I just big numbers make me feel good but not really mean anything. They just make me feel good. Email subscribers, open rate, that kind of thing. Those are going to be numbers that actually are going to matter as far as turning your marketing around.
So. OK, we’re trying to figure out if a mother unsubscribed from a newsletter that is — I am not I am not qualified to deal with that level of drama. I’m like, oh, my gosh. All right.
But Kate does agree that Books2Read is awesome. So that’s great. And hey, you know what? There are newsletters — I’ll just put this out since since ShyRedFox asked if she opens a newsletter from both e-mails — there are a couple of newsletters I get on multiple email addresses, and I have guilt every time it comes, like, should I unsubscribe from one? If I click to open from this one, but not from that one, I am affecting the metric. So should I open from both. But then that’s artificially inflated. I saw a shirt yesterday, somebody in one of my meetings had a shirt on that said, “hold on, let me overthink this.” And I’m like, can I have that shirt? That would be great. All right.
OK, so if you have not started already now, we’re going to go ahead and start filling in numbers. Don’t even worry about how many books sold. Yeah, that’s the most complicated one. So we’re going to skip it right now. Let’s go with email subscribers. If you’re using a mailing list service, such as I’ve talked about, Sendy is what I use or, you know, MailChimp or ConvertKit, aWeber, pick, pick, whatever. There’s a zillion of them out there.
When you when you log into that and check your list, it should give you that subscriber number right up top. I look for the number of active subscribers. A lot of lists will list… Because they track who has unsubscribed as well. And which is good because it means then that that email address does not accidentally get added in later. If you bring in a backup or something, you don’t want to accidentally resubscribe somebody who had previously unsubscribed unless they resubscribe themselves.
So but if you just look at a total number of everything, including the unsubscribes, you might have five thousand email addresses. But when you look at the number who is active, that might be twenty eight hundred. OK, that’s fine. Like unsubscribing is fine. I would rather people unsubscribe than stay and I have to pay to market to them. And then if I’m going to buy anything, that’s fine, but I need to know which number I’m looking at. So just make sure that you’re looking at the active subscribers when you’re checking what your subscriber number is.
And then let me. I did not prepare for this part, but let me see if I can bring that bring this up really quickly. Um. Me a second here. Two factor authentication is the bomb, except when you’re trying to do it, live on the stream. Why do you don’t like? That was a perfectly good authentication, no good. All right. All right, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to bring this over very quickly. All right. You know what? I’m sorry. I’m just going to read it to you because I don’t want to make you wait while I fuss around with the. Oh, yes, sorry, words nouns.
OK, so if I were looking, if I open up Sendy and I look at all the campaigns I’ve sent, all the newsletters that I’ve sent or all the messages I’ve sent to whatever your individual platform calls them, they’re all the whatever you have sent out. It should list “unique opens” is the term that you were looking for. And that means if I send a newsletter and Kate opens it three times and Bridger opens it twice and, you know, just to reread it or because it was that good, you know, whatever it was, it’s still going to count each of those as one opened. It’s not going to give me a number of five. It’s going to give me a number of two, which is a more accurate representation because five people didn’t see it. Two people saw it.
OK, so you’re looking for — everybody’s getting into this! You’re looking for the number of unique opens. I get both a number and then a percentage, so I’m going to look down here and say, OK, my last number of unique opens was 21.28%. That’s a bit low. But I also I think I sent that yesterday, and it usually takes me three or four days to ramp up to everybody getting around to my newsletter. So it’s not that surprising yet. If I had sent that a week ago, I would be worried. Why is it that low? Because I know how this works. I’ve been tracking it, so I’m not scared when I see something a little bit, I can say, OK, yeah, I’m going to look at that in a couple of days and see where it is.
The one before that I sent was 29.38%. OK, that’s that’s a little bit better. And when before that I said it was 26.8%. But I also sent that like right about Christmas. So expect a little bit of drop there. But, you know, again, I’m tracking and then the one before that was 31.66%.
So I’m looking at those numbers. I’m going to take the last three or four, whatever you would like to do, just be consistent about it. I’m going to average those and that’s what I’m going to put in as my open rate.
OK, Bridger asks, does it show you how often people open a newsletter? Not individual people, no. OK, no, it’s OK. I’m looking for this is an aggregate number of how many individual people opened a newsletter. I if you’re asking, can I go into my list and look up what is Bridger’s email address and how many times did this person open my newsletter individually in the last week? I don’t think I can do that. There might be something somewhere that can do that. But honestly, I have no idea why anybody would want to do that.
So if that’s fueling, that’s your social anxiety level can can drift back down because that’s not what anybody’s seeing. Yeah. But honestly, if I did see that, I would just be really flattered. Yay, somebody wanted to read what I wrote.
OK, so. So anyway, that is that’s where I’m getting that number, where it says email subscribers and then average open rate, I am literally averaging them to get that open rate. There will be variations again, like like anything else. You know, you’re dealing with organic beings here. There’s going to be variation.
And that’s why I take an average of the last three and you can make up whatever numbers you like. I just like to do the last three. Because they are going to be things where I sent this one really, really close to Christmas and so people just weren’t sitting on their email with nothing else to do. And I sent this one on a weekend and I sent this one on Monday and, you know, whatever. So you’re going to get a little variation. I’m looking for an average now. Excuse me.
Some people are really much better than I am about my newsletter goes out on Monday and only goes out on Monday and so I’m taking some of that fluctuation out of it, still going to have holidays and whatnot. But, you know, that’s not how I do it. I send a newsletter when I want to. So. So, yeah, there we go. And.
OK, yes, Kate, I can go in and see who does and does not open a newsletter. Honestly, even I have more of a life than to go through my entire subscriber list and scroll through thousands of people and see who does and doesn’t. Now, the only time that does come in is, I can filter a list. I can. And you should be able to do this on whatever email platform you’re using, where I can go through and say, OK. Pull out everybody who has not opened any email at all in eight months, and it will pull that group out and then I can send those people a sunset email, basically saying, hey, looks like, you know, this hasn’t been really your thing. Would you like to be unsubscribed or would you like to stay? And if they don’t answer, they get unsubscribed.
If they do answer at that point, hey, you’ve responded to an email boom, you’re back and I keep you, but especially for something like Sendy. I love Sendy because I’m it’s so much cheaper for me to to run a newsletter list on. But if you’re paying one of the other major, major platforms like MailChimp or Convert Kit or Aweber, sendFox, or any of those where you’re paying for every person you send to, having that dead wood on your email list is costing you money.
And it’s not only costing you money. The email goblins that live in the servers and do the things like track how many of your messages get opened and if so, if only, you know, if you send 50 messages and three of you open, they look at that and they say, OK, email from this address is not valuable, OK? It’s probably promotional, it’s probably spam. It’s more likely to start getting filtered. And in some places it doesn’t arrive at all. So that’s when you start living in spam filters and promotional things rather than in boxes and all of that. And it’s because you’ve got, you know, in great part because you’ve got that dead wood on your list. So filtering those people out is useful and don’t ever feel bad about. Oh, no, I’m I’m cutting people off of my list and then I guess nobody loves me. No, no, no. You are, you are pruning. Hey, this is a good thing.
You know, again, I would rather have, I would rather lose the people who are not my audience earlier than later, OK? I want to filter them before I pay to market to them. I definitely want to filter them before they end up buying my book and realize, “this is something I hate and now I’m going to write a review about it.” OK, like like half of marketing is getting rid of the people who are not your audience. The other half is getting the people who are. OK.
So anyway, that’s a very long way of saying that’s the only time that I ever would go through and see. And even then, I’m not scrolling through things. I just tell them, tell the software to do it for me. Hey, everybody who has opened an email in eight months, pull them out now. Send only those people this message asking if they want to stay on the list. So there we go.
OK, sorry, I didn’t realize this was going to be a exciting, exciting thing, so. Yeah.
So Grace Grace makes a great point. “I hate getting email newsletters, not yours. Laura, you do a good one.” Thank you. I really hard to not be annoying so I feel awful about sending them out. I am in that boat. I get so many newsletters that are… Oh, my gosh. You may remember, jump back 10 years ago when when the thing was everybody was like tweeting their meals all the time? And I just don’t care. OK, and I think sometimes some newsletters are still in that mode.
So personally, I try to only send a newsletter when I have something fairly fun, fairly interesting, and an offer for people. OK, so like my newsletter that went out yesterday was like, hey, by the way, you can now get audio books directly from me. So here’s here’s a link to do that. So if you’re concerned about the ethics of Audible or if you’re just trying to be more supportive of more money to the author, less money, no middleman, whatever the thing like I got, these are your options.
Also, here’s a promo I’m currently involved in where you can check out some books that might be similar to mine or might be something that you’re interested in and you can pick up some stuff on a good deal. So. Those are kind of my unofficial rules for newsletters, is I need to be able to share something useful and make some sort of offer. It doesn’t have to be free stuff like a lot of times sometimes things will be free. But that’s not the rule. I just want to have something where it’s not just, hey, today I got up and I made my bed, so.
Yeah, so even when I’m clearly the audience, yeah, because because it needs to feel like I’m getting something for my time, right, I totally get that. And it’s it’s. I am I am signed up for quite a lot of newsletters, I don’t read all of them. It’s a good way to say that. And and so, yeah, it’s something that I’m trying to consciously be aware of, when I do read somebody’s newsletter, what is it that made it interesting to me? How can I take that and use that when I’m sending my next newsletter?
And I also send mine pretty infrequently. There are people who do really well with sending regular newsletters and by regular I mean much more frequent than mine. Mine are monthly and most often are quarterly, and there are other people who are even weekly and wow, more power and more power to them.
But as long as there’s useful information in there. Zapier! Zapier sends a newsletter every week and I’m not even a paid subscriber of Zapier, I use their free tier. I use just a few apps. But when the Zapier newsletter comes, I read it because they don’t just talk about Zapier.
Zepps is a is a automated thing where I can connect Gmail and Twitter and Excel and they will all do things automatically without me ever having to touch it again. So it’s, it’s great for automation. I’m not going to go into detail on that now and I just use it for what, like things that I have used it for, like when I did a preorder campaign so people could email and add an address that I set up just for preorders. And that would collect their address, roll it onto a preorder distribution list, and so I didn’t have to manually convert, you know, how many hundred things, itall could happen right there.
Anyway. But the Zapier newsletter, which is what I was trying to talk about. They don’t just talk about their product, they do a roundup of all kinds of things related to productivity. You know who likes productivity? People feeling buried by projects right now, OK? Those are people who like productivity.
And I don’t, not every article is useful to me at all, but usually at least one every week I go, oh, I didn’t know that. I’ll consider that. OK, so I’m going to open up and read that newsletter for that brand and their product, even though I’m only a marginal user of their product because they provide me something useful in the newsletter every single time. OK, so that’s kind of where I’m going.
OK. Yeah, okay, so Grace is saying, “I subscribed to a bunch of stuff to get free books, but most of them send emails way too often. And I end up unsubscribing, though I liked the book.” Yeah, that’s why I don’t send things very often, but I think the key there really is not how frequently you send, but the utility of what you send, because, again, Zapier is sending stuff every week and I’ll read them every week. Right. Because they’re really useful to me. But I think sometimes you can tell somebody is like, “well, it’s Tuesday. I guess I better send a newsletter. I don’t know, my dog scratched her ear today. I guess that’s the lead story.” You can kind of feel like it was just forced to find something. What I want is when people get my newsletter and they go, “oh, what’s in it this time?” OK, that’s the feeling I’m trying to generate.
So sorry, this wasn’t supposed to be on newsletters, but here we are. OK, let’s go on. And what’s the next thing we’re talking about? Let’s see. OK, yeah, so these are things where you can go through. For Facebook followers, what I mean by that, that’s not my personal account. That’s how many people have liked my author page. OK, so I’m looking for an Facebook terminology. It’s a little weird because every couple of years they re-do everything.
But I’m looking for the number of people who have actively clicked like on my page, not the number of people who follow it without liking it. That’s just the arbitrary, I had to make something because Facebook kept throwing different numbers around. So that’s that’s what that means to me when I track it. So I just make sure I get the same number every time.
Website hits again, I’m looking, what does Jetpack — that’s one of the plug ins on WordPress — what does jetpack tell me my numbers are. I’m just going to track that every time. Because a lot of, some of these things you can take from different ways. But as long as you are tracking it the same way every time, it doesn’t matter which one you’re doing, as long as you’re not jumping back and forth and then screwing up your your data.
So yeah. And PJZooFit. I don’t honestly know if one is more important than the other. I just know that I need to be consistent in tracking it. So for me, the one that you know, if they’re going to click like, OK, I’m going to take that, I like that a little bit better. But obviously if they followed, there was some engagement level there, too, I’d say probably just pick one. If you if it really makes you happy, you can track both. I’m feeling lazy. I’m not going to do that.
So. Yeah, OK. Yes, Kate is pointing out Facebook has followers and likes so write down which one you’re tracking. Yeah. So just be consistent with it.
And then you can have things like Twitch has followers and subscribers. I actually track both of those separately because I’m going to grow followers more than I’m going to grow subscribers because following is free and subscribing costs money. Unless you’re using your Amazon account to do it, in which case, thank you very much. But, you know, so I’m going to track both of those because they’re going to grow at different rates and that’s fine.
YouTube subscribers. Again, I’m going to I’m going to track that. And that’s been really fun because, you know, YouTube and Twitch, I’ve been seeing those numbers get really much bigger over the last six months because this is a new show. So I’m going to when you start with zero, everything is big growth. OK, but but it’s been fun too and that’s part of the reason that I want you guys to do this is, you know, even when you’re starting and you’re like, OK, yeah, I got three subscribers and one’s my mom, OK? But the next month it’ll be five. In the next month it’ll be 12. The next month it’ll be twenty three. And you can be like, oh my gosh, look at this. OK, and, and it is a nice little jolt of adrenaline. It can help so.
Yes, OK. Kate, please bring enough cake to share, so, OK, so and as I mentioned, I don’t even have a Patreon. I just put it on here as an example. I have a Ko-Fi. I don’t know what the heck it is anyway. I have that but I don’t do that much to promote it. I think, honestly, it’s on my prep screen here on the livestream. I think I’m sure it still is anymore. Let’s find out. No, it’s not even on here. Yeah. So clearly I’m not doing a lot to promote that. And it is mentioned in a footer on my website, which is not really prime real estate either. So yeah, my my those numbers are not growing, but I got nobody to blame for that but me because if I wanted to grow it more, I’d have to put more effort into it.
So again, this is all just stuff where you can feel things, feel things around and some of these numbers you’re going to decide to care about more than others. I’m going to tell you, you should care about email subscribers and things like that. But then, like, if you’re like me and you’re like, uh Pinterest and I’m not spending time there, I don’t care if it’s working or not. Great. Make that call.
The only thing I’m going to tell you is you positively cannot care about all of this. Like them’s the rules. You don’t get to care about all of it. Because this is way too much to care about. OK, this is a lot of effort here. And if you’re trying to stress about, I need my Twitter followers to grow up and make Goodreads followers to go up and my Facebook followers to go up and my Instagram followers to go up and my YouTube subscribers to go up, at some point you’re going to set things on fire and that’s a reasonable response and we’re just not going to put you in that situation.
So. Oh, hello C’est Moi. “sticks you in her ear and makes dinner” that’s great. I think that’s that’s a great plan. So, OK.
Yes, Bridger, I am suggesting there is a natural limit of how many things you can stress about it once more than that, I am suggesting there is a natural limit of how many things you should stress about it at once, and you should limit your opportunity to engage in that unproductive behavior.
There we go. OK, yes, really wanting to set things on fire is a totally reasonable response in that situation, which is why we’re not putting you in that situation. But if you want to get in that situation and set something on fire, I do have a smores cookbook that I would like to sell you, so.
OK. All right. Where are we going? OK, so up here. Sorry, I probably should have done this like 20 minutes ago. This is where you can see Excel went ahead and made this data for me, so I’m going to go ahead and fill in for me. I do it the first of every month. You can do it, however, makes you happy. Oh, look at that. So Excel, when I dragged that over, Excel went ahead and made April 1st, April 2nd, April 3rd.
Thanks, Excel. But honestly, that is in the category of what I said was too much. So we’re going to make that. May 1st and June 1st. OK, and then now. In theory, yeah, so I can just make that fill all the way across and and then I can just continue to fill in my snapshot, so every month on the first of the month or whatever date you pick. But for me, it’s the first because it’s just easy to do. I just run down this list and I fill these in. It takes me, like I said, less than 10 minutes to do all of my numbers at this point, because all I’m doing is I’m opening Goodreads, copying, opening Facebook, copying, and opening Twitter, copying. Those follower numbers are going to be on your profile in almost all of those cases. So it’s going to be something that’s going to be pretty quick.
Oh, my gosh. Now my catch phrase is “wanting to set things on fire is a reasonable response.” OK, I’m good with that. That’s fair, I can go with that.
So what I am looking for is as I fill across this, I’m gesturing at my glorious big screen here. As I fill across this spreadsheet, variations from month to month are not going to be a big deal. Again, stuff is going to happen. That’s fine. I lost for — I have a guess, but I don’t know. I lost six months’ worth of followers off my Facebook page. So I just noticed that when I did my my snapshot this month, I was like, OK, wow. And I don’t even I don’t put politics on my author page or anything. So what what happened there?
My guess is that because I looked at it like, OK, what is what has changed? What I’ve been putting these videos when they when they render into the replay on YouTube and then I’ll go ahead and share them on that author page, which was a bit of a choice that I made. I was like, I do I put them on there or not? Because that’s my author page for readers of my books. And this is business of creativity for people who are creating, which is not exactly the same market. I wonder if that’s going to be a mistake to put them on there. And then now I’m wondering, hey, was it a mistake to put that on there? Because I lost like a lot of people.
So then I put a question on the page saying, OK, hey, you know, those of you who are not professional writers who are just here for reading, you know, do you want to see these videos or not? And surprisingly, all the all the responses I got one on one side. Yes. And then the other one, the one remaining, I believe, just said, you know, it’s fine with me either way.
So did I ask that question too late because I’d already lost people, and so the people who were who would have said no are no longer there? Possibly. I don’t know. We’ll never know because I don’t have a time machine. But at this point, everybody who responded said, yes, keep the videos on. So I’m going to keep the videos on.
But, you know, that’s kind of thing where I can look at and I can say, OK, I saw a significant shift in numbers, you know, what happened, you know, and sometimes I can find what went wrong and plug that leak. And sometimes I’m like, oh, well, actually, you know, kind of everybody’s up in arms about a particular thing. But I do feel strongly about it. So I’m going to keep you know, it’s fine that I clearly those people weren’t whole heartedly into what I’m branding anyway.
So that’s that’s filtering. So that’s fine. And oh, OK, so C’est Moi, thank you, is pointing out that Facebook had a data breach recently, perhaps their user base shifted or they changed their algorithm to deal with that. So it might not be within your control. Excellent point, because, you know, when we talked about the author platform and I said, remember how volatile social media is. That’s why it’s not a great platform, and really good point about they may have just done some number crunching and, you know, stuff happens. Like, you know, you log in Amazon and 40 percent of your reviews are gone and you’re like, what happened? OK, well, they they just did a purge of things in their review system. So all kinds of stuff. Anyway.
But I noticed over the same period I added like three or four hundred people to my email list. So it wasn’t that there was a mass exodus away from me as a person or as a brand. It’s that this part of the platform is going this way and this part of the platform is going that way.
And so that’s why I like having things where I can just kind of get a better view rather than noticing one number shift and go into panic mode when I maybe have no reason to be doing that.
So anyway, so I’m looking for trends. I want to keep my average open rate pretty high. For me, it’s sitting around 30 percent. I would like it to be higher than that. But honestly, I think I think officially industry average is like 18 percent. So I feel I should feel pretty good about that 30 percent. I just would like to get a little bit better, but I’m working on it and I want to see email subscribers continuing to go up.
That’s one that’s important to me. Website hits. That’s great. I’d like to do that, you know, but again, like if Twitter follows fall off, I’m not really using that as a sales platform anyway. So, you know, that’s that’s more of a vanity metric. So, again, these are the things we’ve all talked about before. But now I’m just putting it in a picture, in a place where I can get that picture all at once.
So here’s your homework now, because it’s now eight o’clock and I’m sorry, I really thought we were going to move through things more quickly, but I’m happy, happy, happy to talk, talk the way we did and and just take things as they come up. So that’s that’s totally fine. I got a lot of Tuesdays left.
But whatever your task list is, whether that’s the notebook with To Do at the top, whether I use ToDoist, which is an app that I love. I know Bridger has got another to do list app that she’s recommended before. Anyway, find whatever one day a month that you want to do your snapshot and put it on there as a repeating task. Again, for me at this point it takes, once I’ve got all this built out, I do my entire snapshot in less than ten minutes, less than 10 minutes a month is a worthwhile investment to have this data and to see these trends.
So that is fine. So there’s your homework. You’ve got this. Now hit save! And then put it on your repeating, your bullet journal, your phone reminder. Whatever makes it happy or whatever makes it happen is good.
So questions, comments, funny stories, whatever before we wrap. OK. And so I’m going to officially, call it eight oh three, we’re going to wrap here. We are not going to jump over to Alena’s stream tonight. She actually suddenly got food poisoning last night and was up much of the night vomiting and tearing up her throat. So she is not speaking on the stream tonight. So she is just going to take that night off. Yeah, she’s she’s OK at this point. But, yeah, she was like, I’m not talking, you know, I don’t want to talk for an hour or so. Yeah. I think she’s already feeling better. Thanks, guys, for your concern.
But so it’s like just — here’s your here’s your horrible, sad, funny, terrible story. Because she and I were chatting last night and she was like, yeah, I want to get a burger. And I’m like, oh man, I want a burger. But I ended up having short –irrelevant points, but Jon had a time constraint. So instead of ordering and going out to pick up because we have to go out, pick stuff up because where we live, we didn’t have time to go to the cool places that were going to take way too long to make stuff. So we ended up driving, I don’t remember where we went, but Alena did go ahead and order this beautiful gourmet burger, and she sent me a picture of it and I was like, oh, burger envy. And then she got sick of it.
And I’m like, I tried to order from the same place, but it was going to take too long. So I just dodged that.
And then I feel a little bad because she got sick off of it. So but yeah, she’s she is feeling better. She just, you know, her throat is kind of torn up and she didn’t want to try to talk for an hour or so. Yeah.
OK, so remember to send me if you have a suggestion for a Patreon guru or Ko-Fi cofi what you call it anyway. Any of those subscriber based excuse me, subscriber based fundraisers, feel free to send me a suggestion for someone.
Yeah, that’s it, and then I will see you guys next week. Next week is a craft theme and I think I want to talk a little bit about Camp NaNo. That’s my plan at this point. By next week, we will be another seven, seven days into Camp NaNo and my feelings may have changed. I don’t know. So we’ll see. We’ll see what mood I’m in when we hit next Tuesday and I’m ready to go, so.
Oh, yeah, ShyRedFox. I was actually thinking that. She points out the World Anvil Sage Hall will be good for Patreon and Ko-Fi groups. And yeah, I was actually thinking of a couple of them because I’m, I’m in the Sage Hall. Not monetizing in the way that they are, but I can definitely go and ask a few of those people and then whoever Kate has just suggested be great and we’ll see if we can set up a panel and pick some brains. That would be fantastic. So, OK, that is it.
Guys, thank you very much for joining me. And I will see you next week. Have a fantastic. Evening, morning, whatever it is where you are. Just go be awesome, OK, take care. Thanks, guys. Bye.