How To Be A Writer: An Interview With Jeff Goins

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with a friend that I’ve followed in the blogging world for quite some time. That friend is Jeff Goins of GoinsWriter.

He’s been an inspiration as I’ve watched him grow his audience to over 100,000 people. His journey has been amazing.

My interview with Jeff Goins

Today, I want to share with you the video of our interview and a transcript of what we talked about.

After you’re done viewing the video, I think you’ll have a new vision of what being a writer really is.


Jeff Goins Interview

Q1: Hey Jeff, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Jeff Goins: I am a writer who helps other writers. That’s probably the simplest definition of what I do. I write books and teach online courses helping other writers and creatives use online marketing to succeed.

Q2: What does it look like to be a writer to you?

JG: I think that a writer is simply somebody who writes. For the longest time, I attached a certain meaning and significance to that word that wasn’t necessary and actually kept me from doing my best work. What I mean by that is that I was writing but I wouldn’t consider myself a writer.

And then I had a conversation one day with a friend of mine who asked me what my dream was, knowing that I was blogging on the side and doing all these things really wanting to be a writer but not willing to call myself one. So he said “What’s your dream?” and I said, “Oh, I don’t know…” and he said, “Well, I would have thought that your dream would have been to be a writer.” And I said, “Yeah, I guess I’d like to be a writer… SOMEDAY but that will never happen. He said, “Jeff, you don’t have to want to be a writer. You ARE a writer. You just NEED to write.”

And so the next morning I got up at 5 AM and I started writing. I did that for an entire year. When people asked me what I did, I would say that I’m a writer. And I wasn’t getting paid to do it. I hadn’t published any books. But for me it was really important to own that identity before I started doing the serious work of a professional. I learned a principal through that. I think it’s true for most people. It’s that activity follows identity. Before you can do something, you have to become someone. What we believe about ourselves affects the work that we do.

Q3: With being a writer, you need to build an audience, correct?

JG: Yeah, I think so. I think that if you don’t do that, you’re kind of rolling the dice. Today, it’s harder than ever to get your work noticed. And technology makes it so easy and so accessible to start a blog, build an audience, create an email list, and begin interacting with your tribe, your audience, the people who want to hear what you have to say. I think that makes everything else easier and if you don’t do it, not having a tribe, not having an audience that you’re committed to who has given you permission to communicate with them, it makes everything harder if you don’t have that.

So, because the technology that is there is accessible, it’s free, Twitter is free, Facebook is free… So many of the tools that we use to connect with people are free. The barrier to entry is very, very low and I think because of that, there’s no reason not to get serious about building an audience. Because don’t you want to interact with the people who read your books or need your message? I think that blogging and social media are great ways to connect with those people before you write that book. Before you spend a year working on something that you want to share with the world. And I have found that interaction to be incredibly valuable and fun.0

Q4: Reader question from Jill Pate Barlow– How do you actually get people to subscribe to your blog?

JG: I think that’s a great question, Jill. The best way that I found is to reward people who subscribe to your blog. There’s different names for this, a lead magnet. Seth Godin calls this an ethical bribe.

The bottom line is people who sign up for your newsletter, your blog updates, whatever you’re going to send them when they subscribe, I think it’s important to reward. I think of it as a thank you for giving me your attention.

My email inbox is valuable. So, the people to whom I give permission to fill up that inbox, that’s a lot of trust. There’s a lot of value there and I just don’t give that to anybody. Similarly, somebody’s that’s going to give that to me, I want to reward them, I want to thank them. And that’s also an enticing way to get someone who is on the fence or isn’t quite sure who you are or what you’re about.

Q5: Reader question from Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg – What’s the most important thing you can do to build an audience? Is it blogging regularly, posting on Twitter, social media outlets? How do you do it?

JG: I think the best thing that an undiscovered no-name writer can do is to guest post. Blog on other people’s blogs. Post content on other people’s blogs. I’m not talking about comments. I’m talking about building relationships with bloggers through email, in-person interactions, however you can do that. Get to know the editor or the blogger, whoever is in charge of posting content to the blog. And submit a guest post.

I have articles for free on my blog that people can check out. Submit an idea for their blog that they haven’t blogged about that can add value to their audience. If you do that enough in the right places, where you’re reaching people that you’re not currently reaching, linking back to your blog, I think that is the best, fastest way to grow the highest quality audience for free. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s free advertising for your blog and you send qualified traffic.

If they read something that you wrote somewhere else, and they click a link going back to your blog. There’s a lot of trust there.

If I’m randomly doing a Facebook ad or interacting with someone on Twitter, the quality of that lead coming into my blog and how committed they’re going to be to subscribe to the blog, reading it, sharing, or if you’re going to be selling something at some point, it’s going to be lower. I think guest posting is going to be the best way to get the highest quality traffic that actually converts to long-term readers, email subscribers, fans, and advocates of your work.

Q6: Reader question from Melanie Pickett – What piece of wisdom would you give to somebody just starting out writing.

JG – I would say: Don’t measure too early. I think that’s one of the things that lead to my failure for 8 years. I had these 8 failed blogs before I finally had a successful one. I think measuring things is good. In other words, looking at your traffic, your email subscribers. I think it’s good at a certain point.

But there’s a really steep learning curve for any skill when you get started. You’re riding the bicycle uphill. If keep stopping the bicycle to check the gears or something, you’re not going to get up the hill.

That’s what I did with blogging for a long time. I’d write a blog post and then I’d go “Is anyone looking?” and then I’d beat myself up because no one was paying any attention.

Early on you need to work, work, work. Work on your craft. Understand how blogging works, how your niche works, what are the rules in your particular industry or your style of writing. Like how do you reach people? It’s different in different kinds of niches and areas of the internet. The rules are different.

One blog you can be really salesy. Another one you can’t mention selling anything. Another blog you have to be very personal. Another one you have to be very informative.

Understand what are the norms for the kind of blog that you want to have. And then working at that until you get to the point that you’re hitting your stride.

To quantify it: At most, once a week look at your stats.

Looking at your stats isn’t your job. Your job right now is to get good enough that people need to listen to you.

Q7: Can you tell us a little bit about your Tribe Writers course?

JG: Tribe Writers is a course that I’ve been teaching for 3 years now. We’ve had over 4,000 students and it’s a course about how to become a professional writer, how to get paid to share your message with the world., and I teach this 4-part framework that I learned through those 7 or 8 years of failures and these 2 ridiculous years of success where I grew an audience of 100,00 people in a year and a half, replaced my income and my wife’s income. We quit our jobs and tripled our income and it’s been kind of a crazy ride ever since.

Tribe Writers is a course that helps you get unstuck. There’s a lot of information out there. If you Google long enough, you would know what to do. You would even know how to do it.

But I think what I offer at Tribe Writers is a process that we will walk you through to reach your goals of publishing a book, building an audience, sharing your message with the world, and getting paid to do it.

And money isn’t everything. But it’s not nothing either. And I think writers deserve their reward. I love the Walt Disney quote:

When you start getting paid as a writer, it buys you time, it creates an opportunity for you to do more of the work that I think you were born to do.

Q8: Do you have any parting advice to the listeners?

JG: Just keep listening to Joe. Thanks for having me, Joe. It was a pleasure and a privilege.

If I’m forced to give advice which I try not to, I think the best advice I ever got was just don’t quit. So many times we taste a little failure or a little success, we get our hopes or we get let down, and we just get distracted by the short-term when it’s the long term that really matters.

I don’t think I could have had those 2 years of success without those 7 or 8 years of failures. I don’t think YOU have to fail for 8 years. And that’s the whole point of Tribe Writers. You get to circumvent all that and fast track it and avoid all those things I had to stumble through.

But I think the secret to success, if there is just one, is to not quit. It’s to keep going.

If what Jeff talked about today inspired you, you need to check out his Tribe Writers course. He will help you believe that you are the writer you are and build the audience you desire.

Question: What’s holding you back from being a writer? Let’s talk about it in the comment section below.

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