Become a Writer Today

Using Influencer Marketing to Find Clients and Promote Your Writing with Neal Schaffer

July 29, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
Using Influencer Marketing to Find Clients and Promote Your Writing with Neal Schaffer
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
Using Influencer Marketing to Find Clients and Promote Your Writing with Neal Schaffer
Jul 29, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Social media is an excellent way of finding readers and finding clients if you’re a freelance writer. And, if you create content for social media platforms like Quora, you can build up a library of content that you can use and refer to over time.

But, how exactly should you spend time on social media, what tools should you use, and how can you do it?

Neal Schaffer has the answer to these questions and more. He is an expert in influencer marketing and has written more than five books, including his latest which focuses on influencer marketing called The Age of Influence

Although Neal consults with B2B clients, the book is also relevant for anybody who wants to use social media to become an influencer. 

He explains how creatives can find the right network during our conversation, how to repurpose content and build an audience on social media. He also talks about finding a balance between creating content and being active on these platforms. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The definition of an influencer
  • Deciding on the right platform for you
  • Managing your time on social media
  • The benefits of using scheduling tools
  • Why write a book if everyone is on social media?

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Social media is an excellent way of finding readers and finding clients if you’re a freelance writer. And, if you create content for social media platforms like Quora, you can build up a library of content that you can use and refer to over time.

But, how exactly should you spend time on social media, what tools should you use, and how can you do it?

Neal Schaffer has the answer to these questions and more. He is an expert in influencer marketing and has written more than five books, including his latest which focuses on influencer marketing called The Age of Influence

Although Neal consults with B2B clients, the book is also relevant for anybody who wants to use social media to become an influencer. 

He explains how creatives can find the right network during our conversation, how to repurpose content and build an audience on social media. He also talks about finding a balance between creating content and being active on these platforms. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The definition of an influencer
  • Deciding on the right platform for you
  • Managing your time on social media
  • The benefits of using scheduling tools
  • Why write a book if everyone is on social media?

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Neal: I then realized that with the pandemic and everyone shifting that the core digital marketing is something that a lot of businesses lack, right? So, what do we do — if we need to engage with people digitally or we want to build digital influence, right? 

There’s three main areas that we do that in, even like — we go above just talking about social media and stuff. You have people are searching for information, people are looking at e-mails, and people are on social media. So, really, you need to have all three bases covered, meaning whether you’re a business or you’re a content creator, you have to have a website for those reasons, right?

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: Influencer marketing. What is it, how can you do it, and would it help you promote your writing or even find more clients? Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today show. So, I’m the kind of person who will say to you that you should always spend time in the morning doing something creative rather than firing up Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, because if you create something first in the morning, then you can go ahead and do all the other things that you need to do with your day and then, if you have any free time left, you can spend it on social media. 

But the thing is, social media is also a great way of finding readers and, if you’re a freelance writer, finding clients that you can work with. And what’s more, if you create content organically for social media platforms like Quora, for example, you can build up a library of content that you can use and refer to over time.

So, how exactly should you spend time on social media, what tools should you use, and how can you do it? Well, what I do is I write in the mornings and then I use a tool like SmarterQueue to share some of the content that I publish on Become a Writer Today and I’ve used that to build up an evergreen library of content that goes out over time. Now, the networks that I focus on are Twitter, Pinterest, and, to a lesser extent, Quora.

I get the most traffic from Pinterest, which is why I focus on that particular network; Twitter as well is good for engagement and I use it sometimes for outreach and for finding guests for the Become a Writer Today show; and I also use Quora because it’s a good idea for content generation. I did experiment with other social media networks like Facebook but, to be honest, I find Facebook a little bit depressing to use, and I also looked at LinkedIn but that tends to be more for B2B work or if you’re looking to find clients. Now, I get the majority of traffic for my site from Google so I’ve optimized a lot of the articles for SEO, putting relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and so on and that’s where I think my time is probably best well spent rather than figuring out how to craft a tweet storm.

But lately, I’ve been wondering, you know, are there more things that I could be doing on social media? Are there ways that I could create content organically for social media platforms? Like YouTubers, for example, who often turn, you know, blog posts and articles and book chapters into YouTube videos that they talk about. Or what about live streams? Maybe that’s something to look at as well. But I guess it’s hard to find time to do all of these things well.

Now one person who is an expert in influencer marketing is Neal Schaffer. He’s written over five books, including his latest book which is all about influencer marketing. It’s called The Age of Influence. Now, Neal mostly consults with B2B clients but some of the book is quite relevant for anybody who wants to use social media to become an influencer. And in this week’s interview, he explains how creatives can find the right network, repurpose content, and also build up an audience on social media and he also talks about how to find balance between creating content and being active on these platforms. So I started by asking Neal to describe one of the key ideas inside his new book, The Age of Influence.

But before we get over to this week’s interview, if you like the show, please leave a short review on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you’re listening because more reviews and more ratings will help more people find the show. Now, with that said, over to Neal.

Neal: Sure. So, you know, the book, The Age of Influence, is more for, you know, brands, businesses that want to better leverage influencers for marketing, right? And I go through the reasons why and how but there’s also a part that says — and when I wrote the book, I actually had this demand for, “Neal, write a book on how to become an influencer.” There’s equal demand for that so I include a chapter in the book, right? And really, it’s about reverse engineering the process.

So, you know, you might be thinking, “Well, what could I be an influencer? Why would I wanna become an influencer?” I think that, you know, digital influence has truly been democratized. I mean, the fact that, Bryan, you have a podcast that has listeners and you invited me to be on your podcast, we both have our own influence in our own world. We’re not Kim Kardashians with millions of Instagram but that doesn’t matter in our world, right? So recognizing that — the definition of an influencer — there’s two things that influencers need.

They need a platform. Now, 30 years ago, you had to be a celebrity or, you know, an actor or actress to have a platform but now with the internet and now with digital media, now with social media, we have places where we can build platforms and the easy way to look at it is are you a blogger, blogger/writer, are you a speaker/podcaster, are you like a video/Youtuber, or are you more of a general photos, reels, and that’s like Instagram, TikTok, right? So you begin to see that, you know, what your strength is, what your passion is, is where you end up building a platform.

And the second part of this then is that you are a content creator. Nobody builds influence without having content, and the beautiful thing for everybody listening is that you are a content creator so you are able to do something that a lot of people can’t do, that a lot of people will pay people to do for them, right? And you begin to see how, you know, this can start into — going from there and then deciding, okay, I’m going to go on this, you know, which platform should I go on and then what should I talk about? What content should I produce?

Then we get to the next level. At the heart of it, it comes down to those two things so since you’re already a content creator, if you’re listening to this podcast, I think the next logical step is, well, you know, what format or medium and then where and I think that the content format will decide where you end up investing a lot of time.

Bryan: So how does a content creator decide on that format and on the right place to publish it? Because one thing that many people have noticed is when you build on somebody else’s platform, they can change the rules and then suddenly you don’t have reach anymore.

Neal: Yeah. So, Bryan, you know, when we started, you had asked me about, you know, “Neal, you’re blogging a lot about e-mail marketing,” right? It’s like why is this guy who wrote this book on influencer marketing, I’ve written books on LinkedIn, why am I talking about e-mail marketing? And, really, you know, I am a marketing consultant, right? So I sort of — I pivoted like everybody else did with the pandemic. I still do a lot of speaking and now just I have something called a fractional CMO service so I do a lot of consulting and I have a lot of businesses that read The Age of Influence, they come back to me but they don’t really have a digital presence so they want to reach out to influencers but they themselves, they don’t have, you know — anyway, you need to be seen as a legitimate, credible business if influencers want to work with you. So I then realized that with the pandemic and everyone shifting that the core digital marketing is something that a lot of businesses lack, right? 

So, what do we do — if we need to engage with people digitally or we want to build digital influence, right? There’s three main areas that we do that in, even like — we go above just talking about social media and stuff. You have people are searching for information, people are looking at e-mails, and people are on social media. So, really, you need to have all three bases covered, meaning whether you’re a business or you’re a content creator, you have to have a website for those reasons, right? 

At the end of the day, you need to own some IP but, more importantly, you can’t ignore Google, you can’t ignore search engines. Over the last year, you’re talking to someone with 200 — you know, I have like 400,000 followers between Twitter and Pinterest and my Facebook page and LinkedIn and Instagram. I get 82 percent of my traffic to my website from search engines. That is how important SEO and search is and a lot of the SEO, you need to have content on your website for it to happen. So, because you’re a content creator, you know, that would be a key focus. Now, the e-mail is the second part and if we’re building a digital relationship with people that have never heard of us, we want to become influential, social media has its role, your website has the role, right? 

So the website is where, you know, the search engines may find your content, introduce you to people, and you can sort of force it by building your own community in social media, and we can talk about the different platforms, and you really want to be doing both. But on social media, ideally, you also want to be bringing people back to your website, right? Where you can own them. Now, they may follow you on social media, they may have come to your website, but there’s another journey that they need to take in order to become a customer of yours, whether they buy your book or whatever it is or they hire you for something or, you know, whatever you do, that’s where e-mail comes in because that’s where you really deepen the relationship with people. 

That’s where, if it takes 5, 10, 15 touches in order to, you know, convert, you know, followers or website visitors into a customer, that’s where you get them. And you can only get people in e-mail primarily when they come to your website and they trust you and you give them something of value. That something of value is usually called a lead magnet. Once again, it is a piece of content and because you’re a content creator, it should be a lot easier for you. So, that’s where all the different pieces fit together. 

And then, once they become your customer, once they become your fan, we have the advocacy stage where social media is huge, where people talk about you on social media, people recommend you on social media. That’s where we all want to get to but before, I believe we need all three of these pieces and they all serve different roles but I think, you know, knowing that we can’t guarantee our content being visible on social media, the only thing we can guarantee is our own website and, more importantly, our own e-mail list and that’s how all three of those things work together. 

Bryan: So if I was to apply the 80/20 rule, would now be better spending my time doubling down on SEO, on building traffic to a website, and having a really good lead magnet and working on an e-mail nurture series rather than trying to craft, you know, a Twitter storm?

Neal: Yeah. You know, in all honesty, you need to do it all but Rome wasn’t built in a day and your digital gateway to the world is your website. I would absolutely — and you don’t have to go overboard. The beautiful thing is, you know, WordPress, it is very easy now for a little bit of money or even with no money, just looking at YouTube, to build a pretty good looking website and to be able to have full control over editing that website without having to hire someone to maintain it for you. This is — 10 years ago, even with WordPress, it was still hard to do. Now, we have new technology called Gutenberg Blocks and we have themes that allow you to insert blocks here and there. I use one called Bloxy. If you go to nealschaffer.com, I just moved over like two months ago, it is so easy to maintain now. I don’t need to hire people. So, that part is just a lot easier than it used to be. 

And then when you have a website and you start getting visitors, yes, I mean, the e-mail is the next part so start with the website, start publishing content, and then just one lead magnet, right? It can be whatever, you know, whatever you do, whatever you want people to learn more about, that’s what it’s going to be. It can be a one- or two-page checklist. I mean, there’s a lot of different things you can create there. That would be a great place to start. And then, when you have some content and you have that lead magnet in place, if you start to ramp up your social media activities, I would start with one network at a time, you can’t be everywhere and you shouldn’t be everywhere, and those that do best in social are active consumers of the platform themselves. So, this is going to come down to your target demographic, right? I get — if I was looking at the amount of website traffic I get, I actually get the most from Twitter and the second most from Pinterest.

Bryan: From Twitter, really? Yeah.

Neal: Yeah. This — often, people look at me like, “Are you kidding?” And you need to understand each one of these social networks is very different in terms of the traffic they generate, the people that are there, the functionality that they have. So, here is really where it gets more one to one. If you’re B2B, LinkedIn is the place to be, obviously. If you’re B2C and it is an extremely young demographic, it’s going to be more like Snapchat, TikTok.

Bryan: Yeah.

Neal: If it is a younger demographic, it’s going to be Instagram. The problem with Instagram is it really doesn’t generate website traffic. I mean, it could but it’s a little bit harder. And if it’s an older crowd, it’s going to be Facebook. And then you have like Pinterest which is more female demographic, you know, B2C, very U.S.-centric, and I know you’re in Ireland so Pinterest is probably not nearly as popular there as it is here. If you have like a techie audience, Reddit is going to be a great platform. And Twitter is — I don’t consider Twitter to be the most strategic platform for anybody. It’s usually like a second platform, like, “Well, if we’re already publishing on LinkedIn every day, why not do Twitter?” So, really, you know, there’s two sides to this: publishing the content and the engagement of other people, proactively following people, commenting on their posts, building relationships, and that takes time so I would choose wisely but that would be just the general strategy that I would build for anybody listening. 

Bryan: That’s quite a lot and I know you say, “Choose wisely.” Would you have any advice about how people can manage their time? You know, they got to work on their business or they got to create something or pitch clients or find clients so, if they’re doing all this stuff on social media, that could fill the whole day.

Neal: Well, I’m with you and, you know, it doesn’t have to fill the whole day. So this is where you get into the process of, for instance, content batching. So, every Friday of the week is my content day. Now, I create a lot of content. I have people that help me with the process and, every Friday, I try to record a podcast and basically write or process three or four blog posts, right? That’s crazy. 

Bryan: Yeah. That’s a lot for one day.

Neal: Yeah, it is, it is, trust me. Like I said, I have helpers, right? I’ve worked with people that I trust that help fulfil this but, you know, pick a day of the week and this is for your content, whether it’s like a blog or podcast or YouTube video. That is what takes the most time. The engagement is just checking in. It’s creating a system of saying, “Hey, once a day, 15 minutes, I’m gonna go in, I’m gonna schedule new content that I have.” 

You know, everything you publish in social media can be scheduled in advance so you can do this on a Friday as well, schedule your next week’s worth of content and then, on a daily basis, go in and say, “Hey, I’m gonna respond to all the notifications I have, I’m gonna look for like five new people I can follow and I’m gonna look for five of the people that follow me that I can engage with,” and it’s really that sort of system that makes it manageable and it’s like, okay, I’m going to touch ten people today, five people I don’t know and five people that know me but I want them to become bigger fans, but I think if you do this approach over time, and maybe it’s you follow ten people and you comment on ten people, whatever the system is, in that way, if it’s just one or two networks, it doesn’t have to eat up your whole day. 

And, in fact, at the beginning, you’re not going to get any engagement, right? You’re going to be begging for engagement which means it eats up even less time. It’s when you get, you know, like me, I wake up and I have like 50 Twitter notifications, it’s pretty crazy and it can consume time. And there are tools we can use and other methods but, for the time being, just focus on doing that every day. If you don’t want to work on weekends, fine, you know? Tick them off, but Monday through Friday, 5, 10, 15 minutes a day, put a timer on, I guarantee, 15 minutes a day is all that you need to do this on social media.

Bryan: What’s your preferred social media tool at the moment?

Neal: So, wow, there are a lot of tools out there. What you need is a general social media dashboard that handles LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Instagram, it gets very tricky for a variety of reasons. Pinterest, most of these platforms don’t handle very well. But LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter is bread and butter. There are a ton of platforms out there. Most people start with Hootsuite. I personally do not like Hootsuite. I don’t like the whole user interface. I moved from Hootsuite to a platform called Sprout Social, which has gone more enterprise, it gets to be very expensive. 

I’ve also used a platform, after Sprout Social, I used a platform called Eclincher, which doesn’t have the greatest user interface but is a very, very powerful platform. The last two or three years, though, I’ve become a really big fan of Agorapulse and I exclusively use them. The problem is they also tend to be a little bit pricier. So there are other platforms out there. There’s, you know, I’m just trying to think, SocialPilot and Hopper and, I mean, there’s a number of platforms out there. You’re going to pay anywhere from between $10 to $50 a month but if you could afford $100 a month, which I think Agorapulse’s bottom price plan is, that’s the one that I would go for. 

Now, with Instagram and Pinterest, I use a platform called Tailwind and Tailwind is the default standard for Pinterest, if that’s your network, but they also offer scheduling for business and creator accounts in the same tool. So, if I was going to use an Instagram tool, I’d want to get the biggest bang for my buck and with Tailwind, you get Pinterest as well.

Bryan: Yeah, Tailwind is great. Yeah, I use that. I use Buffer as well and something called SmarterQueue. I’m also curious about your take on repurposing content because if you’re batching so much content, I presume you’re changing it for the different platforms, so how do you approach repurposing?

Neal: Yeah, and I just wanted to comment. Buffer, SmarterQueue is great. Agorapulse offers that SmarterQueue functionality so as you get more content, you now automatically have content to publish, evergreen content, you know, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis so it gets easier over time, right? Repurposing is huge. I am not — however, I don’t necessarily drink my medicine. I tell — I just was on a client call last night where I was telling my client they could use live streams to do repurposing to create blog posts, to create quote images, to create little 1- or 2-minute video snippets that they could post on social media, right? 

So, repurposing is great. What I found, though, is that a lot of people who try to repurpose, they miss the boat. And what I mean by this was I was recording podcasts using Squadcast and I was pushing it to Facebook Live so I was trying to record a podcast on Facebook Live and then my podcast editor was saying, “You know, there’s a lot of like — you’re talking about the comments on the screen and you’re talking about people,” and, you know, she said, “I think it’s gonna be very confusing for the podcast listener,” and I agreed with her and I don’t, you know, I’ve heard podcasts before where it’s clearly a live stream, they’re not talking to me, they’re talking to the people on the — and then I’ve seen YouTube videos of podcasts and it’s not what I expect in a YouTube video. 

So, I do believe, and I have full respect for repurposing, that’s a great way to do it, but for those reasons, I believe you should be creating unique content for each platform. Now, social media is a little bit different, right? With social media, a tweet for me is pretty standard. It’s a title of a blog post and its relevant hashtags at the end and it includes the username if I have a guest so this is something that I can hand off to someone to do. LinkedIn and Facebook, for me, has become the same. It’s not just the title, it’s a few sentences that introduce the topic with the link so, you know, repurposing, I should say, when you’re sharing in social media, it’s not necessarily repurposing, but I don’t do a lot of video, I do do podcasts, I don’t repurpose the podcast and the blog posts. 

I have a website page up where I list my most recent 25 podcasts and my most popular 25 after that so, you know, I believe repurposing is more an art and, theoretically, it’s a good thing to do but, in reality, it requires a little bit more extra time than I have to really craft it right for every one of those content mediums, if that makes sense.

Bryan: So, I mean, you’re a guy who’s across a lot of networks, a lot of great content out there, so what’s your reason for writing a book these days if people are more engaged with online content? 

Neal: And, hey, Bryan, I forgot to mention as well. I also did an experiment where I published a blog post for every one of my podcast episodes and those were some of my worst performing content because they weren’t targeting search engines.

Bryan: Yeah, I’ve noticed that as well. Yeah.

Neal: Every single blog post — when I blog, I am speaking to a — I’m not blogging for — I’m blogging for people, right? I’m blogging for businesses, but I’m speaking to speak and I’m strategically targeting the search engine, doing my keyword research, what have you, so I get the best of both worlds and that has definitely had an impact on my website traffic for my business. So, you know, for me, in the world that I am in and, you know, whether it’s consulting or speaking, a book still carries a lot of authority to it.

And I know there’s like millennials and Gen Z, “Yeah, you don’t need a book to be influential,” it’s true, right? And there are people who don’t have it, but what I realized, I published my first book in 2009 before the whole self-publishing boom. I self-published my second book in 2011. I was fortunate to publish with Wiley, the For Dummies author, in 2013 and then more recently with Gary Vaynerchuk and John Lee Dumas’s publisher, HarperCollins Leadership, last year so I’ve seen both traditional and self-publishing. The key thing is, what I’ve realized is a book gives you an excuse to reach out to people, right? Part of building influence is reaching out to people that are more influential to you and I noticed this when I reached out to other podcasters.

After I published The Age of Influence, I was on a mission to be on a hundred different podcasts. My publisher said this is one of the ways you can promote your book is to be on podcast so I go, “Okay, I’m gonna do this,” right? And the fact that I had a book that was relevant to that podcast or audience was attractive. They’re like, “Oh, definitely, we’d love to hear about your book. We love promoting authors with new books,” right? The other thing is it gives me something to send to someone, a physical thing. A lot of other podcasts were so happy that I sent them a copy of my book, right?

Bryan: Yeah.

Neal: And then the third thing is, I mean, it gives you an excuse to reach out to people. If I didn’t have a book, I’m going to say, “Well, I’m an expert on so and so, here’s…” It’s not the same as having a physical product and I’d say, if you had your own digital product, like a membership course or, you know, some sort of course, that might be the same as a book these days, but I do believe that when we think of business leaders, a book is an extremely popular medium in which they consume things and for all the other reasons — and speakers, you know, people are always looking for speakers with new books, right? It means you have fresh new content on a subject. So, you know, ideally, my next — my fifth book, as we speak, based on a lot of these things we’ve talked about here, but, yeah, I’m still a big fan and, you know, I’m a nonfiction writer.

Fiction is so hard to make traction in social media and it really is a challenge but if you’re a nonfiction writer, I think it becomes a lot easier, especially if it’s something business-related, you can imagine there’s an audience there and there’s a topic there and that’s a topic that, you know, content that people search for. So, my first book was actually my blog. That was my biggest repurposing was, you know, the first 25 percent of my book was my blog when I first started out and that is something that you can all do is to blog your book.

Bryan: Did it take you long to write The Age of Influence?

Neal: It was a 3-month sprint.

Bryan: That’s pretty fast.

Neal: Yeah. So the content was thought up well, you know — what I do is I don’t say I’m going to write something, I sort of think about it and I was already — like what I’m doing with my next book so I knew that when I pulled the trigger, I knew what I was going to write about. I already had the chapters, the outline, and I can use this blog post here, this podcast interview here and that definitely — and then just, you know, taking time on my calendar and saying, “Hey, you know, I’m committed to doing this.” So, my books have been pretty much I do a 3-month sprint. Otherwise, I’m going to get slogged down, I’m never going to write the books. So before you commit to it, I would definitely go through that same process. 

And you know what I tell people in the book, and I’m sure, Bryan, you have your own, you know, way of looking at it, it’s like, okay, if you’re going to contract with a major publisher, HarperCollins with 60,000 words, I ended up writing 72,000 words, but let’s say 60,000 words, right? That’s twelve 4,000-word chapters, right? What are 12 things you can talk about? And for each one of those 12 things, it’s like three bullet points and each bullet point is a thousand words, right? And if you stick to that format, that’s your format for creating a 50,000-word book, which is totally acceptable, especially if you’re self-publishing. But that’s, you know, if you can break down those ideas into this sort of outline format, you can write about anything. 

Bryan: It’s a good format. Must try that the next time. Neal, where can people find your book or where can they read more of your work?

Neal: Sure. Well, I am the real Neal, it’s nealschaffer.com. Neal Schaffer everywhere on social media. The Age of Influence is available everywhere. I also have a podcast called Maximize Your Social Influence and I even started a group coaching membership community called Digital First that you can also find on nealshcaffer.com.

Bryan: Thank you, Neal.

Neal: Thank you, my friend.

Bryan: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes Store or sharing the show on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you’re listening. More reviews, more ratings, and more shares will help more people find the Become a Writer Today Podcast. And did you know, for just a couple of dollars a month, you could become a Patreon for the show? Visit patreon.com/becomeawritertoday or look for the Support button in the show notes. Your support will help me record, produce, and publish more episodes each month. And if you become a Patreon, I’ll give you my writing books and discounts on writing software and on my writing courses.