for the Creatives

Learning marketing from the best: Lady Gaga

I’ve been obsessed with Gaga – as a musician, but moreso as a businesswoman – for quite awhile. So as I plan to launch a book, why would I learn marketing from anyone else?

Unfortunately at this point, Gaga doesn’t know I exist. Maybe if I learn her marketing strategies, it’ll change that 😉 But I can’t just hop on the phone and ask her how she got so big yet.

So I googled. A lot. (Links to all the articles I read below, so you can check them out yourself!)

Here’s what I found:

  1. She’s more than just music. Or in my case, more than just the books. She has a whole identity that surrounds it. You don’t just think of a song when you think of Gaga, you think about the whole shebang, her brand. You think of her outfits. You think of her activism. You think of her Little Monsters. You think of her meat dress. Maybe you think of her social media interactions.
  2. She’s all about spectacle. She’s memorable. She intentionally sets herself apart from the crowd. She gets people to talk about her. Whether they like her or not, they’ll be talking. That’s marketing, when it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad press, it’s still spreading the word. Shock and awe. I’m alllllll about that 😉 Causing an emotionally charged response from the audience gets people chatting.
  3. She partners with other brands. Which despite being mentioned in multiple articles, I still wonder if the fame is more the cause of the partnerships than the partnerships being the cause of her fame. But still. Collaboration and partnerships are a great thing. I am working on collabs with other artists more, but I don’t have a partnership with a perfume company yet, so *sigh*.
  4. She created a community. The fans are a family, they really feel connected to Gaga. She interacts with them through social media. They have a name. They have a symbol, the “paws up” hand gesture. And they have a cause. When they become a fan, they really become a part of something.
  5. She has a message, a cause. She fights for the misfits and outcasts. Besides just having a cause, which in and of itself helps, she went for the super-cause. The underdog effect gives the world something to root for, and she goes right for that.

Bonus: this student studied 100 Gaga tweets to analyze a strategy, so make what you want of this. I’m noticing that a whole lot more tweets are about fans and causes than about awards and albums.


Caveat: Unfortunately people tend to study how people become famous after they became famous. Darn it! AmIright? At that point it’s hard to sift between what actually made them famous and what they now do since they are famous. I tried to study articles from throughout her career a bit, but that doesn’t mean any of it is necessarily what launched her fame of course. So I guess what I’m saying is *results may vary,  don’t sue me or her if you’re not famous next week*. Oh and on that note, this isn’t an all-encompassing list, because also she’s talented and smart and worked hard and a billion other things I didn’t take the time to write about as well.

Here’s where I found all of this stuff, so you can study more:

I wanted to approach moreso like a scholar than a fangirl, so of course I started with the textbook about her, from the Lady Gaga & the Sociology of Fame university class. And by I started there, I mean I read the free part on Amazon since purchasing the full item is out of my pricerange. There’s a whole bunch of it that I didn’t get to read and study, so maybe I’m missing the coolest part and you should check it out 🙂

Then I read articles by the author/professor of Gaga & the Sociology of Fame. If I can’t get the book, I’ll still get some of the good stuff 😉 Those articles are here, here, and here.

Then I expanded to what other people said about the Gaga effect:

And finally I stumbled across a student’s honor’s project on Lady Gaga. Finally, someone else who had this crazy idea that someone could learn something from her! Sooo if you’re looking for scholarly but accessible, this is it 🙂


What that means for me and you:

I’m all about the spectacle and the costuming. I want to run with that even more than I already do.

I have some ideas for making my book launch a little different, but gosh I could use extra ideas.

What’s a great spectacle way to launch a book? Tell me your ideas, and tell me how Gaga inspires your marketing.


for the Creatives

3 practical strategies that keep me hustling

My writerly dreams battle against lovable nuisances like a day job (Cha-ching$$$$), family & friends, self-care, and of course household chores. And I have found three strategies that keep me writing even amidst ALL THE THINGS that will squeeze their way into my calendar.

I am beyond THRILLED to be featured on Ksenia Anske’s blog. My five years ago self would never suspect that I would one day have this opportunity to work with and learn from this writerly genius I admire so much (Oh btw, awhile back I also wrote about all the reasons I love Ksenia). Okay, I’m going to stop gushing now. Keep dreaming and working, and go steal my tips from Ksenia’s blog for your own world domination plans.

for the Creatives

An experiment saving $$$ with Qapital app

Always one to shirk away from traditional New Year resolutions, I’ve come up with an improvement-related experiment instead.

I’m all for finding motivation to save without too much spreadsheet work. Ech, spreadsheets, am I right?

Enter Qapital app.

(Psst… Sign up using my referral link, & Qapital gives us both $5)

Qapital is kinda like a saving $$$ game. You set “rules” for how to save and then you rake in the dough – or at least the dollars and cents and sense.

The great savings experiment numbers data stuff:

I already save each month, so my skepticism reared its actually-quite-beautiful head when I first heard of Qapital. “But wait… To save that money, you have to already have that money, so it’s just moving money at certain times to ‘save’ it when you already had it.”

Since I’m not a numbers person, I budget with Mint which tells me my net each month of the past calendar year. See below: The green is income, the red is spending, and the black tumultuous line is my net. bargraph.png

I’m not super consistent, because income fluctuates, payments fluctuate (somewhere in there I paid off loans, woohoo!), and okay fine, Starbucks and Lularoe addiction fluctuates. But I used excel formulas to find the monthly net average/median (which is the best to track here? I don’t know!).

I’ll be testing if Qapital app helps me save more than my average or median. My average/median are both just over $1000. If I save more than that, I call this a possible success, while realizing there are a bunch of other factors that affect how much I’m saving. (I’m no scientist with a control case and laboratory or anything here… ) But it would be the start of an indicator.

If I don’t save more than that, it may have been a flop *for me to choose to use it in this way.* Note that doesn’t mean the app is a flop. My next option would be to automatically deposit my average into savings each month, and then only after that point do Qapital savings beyond that average.


How I’ll be saving through the Qapital app:

I set up two savings buckets in the app:

  1. Money for my book launch – I figure I’ll need some money for ads, giveaways, book launch party, something, though I don’t have details figured yet.
  2. General savings – because I should save money to just save money too of course.


I’ll be saving money for my book launch in relation to groceries & visits to Starbucks:

  1. If I spend less than $40/month at Starbucks, the remainder will go toward my book launch (so I’m incentivized to not go to Starbucks as often)
  2. Every time I buy Starbucks, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving even if I cave and go to Starbucks)
  3. Every time I buy groceries at Walmart, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving throughout the month regardless, just by living my life)


I’ll be saving money for just saving based on bigger rules:

  1. The 52-week rule reversed, meaning each week an amount goes into savings counting down from $52 the first week, $51 the next week, $50 the next, and so on through the year.
  2. The round-up rule, meaning every time I spend money, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar and the change put into savings.
  3. Plus, 1% of my income will automatically be deposited into savings.


We’ll see how this goes. I’ll update you in about 3 months on my experience. I may keep it the way it is or adjust depending on results. I could definitely move more into savings, but I want to start small and see how it goes.


How are you saving $$$?

Tell me your best tips and tricks to savings in the comments below. And if you used the Qapital app before, let me know your experience.

Want to try the Qapital app?

Use my referral link anywhere in this post and Qapital app will give us each $5

Want something more simple for saving?

My friend Kathryn is using the Qapital app in a set-it-and-forget-it way, because she’s all about the simple life. Check out her post and see if it’s something you’d want to try.

for the Creatives

When to hire a ghostwriter

In my class Do You Have a Book in You? I don’t coddle. Just because you’re taking the class doesn’t mean you automatically get the “YES, you should write a book!” answer.

Some people have a story but not a book. They don’t have a passion for the writing; they have a passion for the message, the story.

If you fall into that boat – the “have passion for a story, but not passion for writing” boat – then ask yourself these questions:

  • If writing isn’t your dream, are you willing to devote time and energy to writing a book instead of devoting that time and energy to your actual dream?
  • Since you likely aren’t trained in writing since it’s not your passion, are you willing to sacrifice quality in getting your book out there – sacrificing the number of readers and the impact of the message?
  • Alternatively, can you devote the adequate time, effort, and income to receive the training necessary to clearly communicate the story you want to tell with the quality it deserves?
  • If you do choose to devote time, energy, and income towards receiving training on writing, are you willing to chance diluting the passion of the message with the obligatory monotony of a medium you aren’t passionate about working in?

If you answered “No” to these questions, take a moment to consider hiring a ghostwriter. There are options other than hiring a ghostwriter of course: Telling your message in a medium you *are* passionate about, but that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost – or actually, it’s a 30-minute online course of mine that you can take for free 😉

If you decide, “Yes, I must have a book out there, but no, I can’t write it,” then don’t devote time and energy to writing; instead devote some finances to hiring a ghostwriter. In a couple weeks, I’ll talk about the awesomeness that is the supernatural ghostwriterly world. Keep an eye out for it 🙂

for the Creatives

Sorry, but there’s no market for your idea…

Many artists, entrepreneurs, and dreamers hear that there’s no market for their dream. It’s dire, folks, but here’s some hope for ya.

Psst! I heard that some odd sort of people prefer watching videos over reading articles. Super weird. But weird people are my type of people, so I made a video preview of this blogpost. Now you can go watch the great quirky awkwardness of me instead of reading my awkwardness in blogpost form. 


So I was walking through Barnes and Noble and stumbled across these books:


They were on the shelves in the front, the money-maker shelves. You know what I’m talking about, the shelves that mean publishers have bought into this book, that have said “Yes, these will make money, put them prominently on display for all to see!” Those kind of books.

But these aren’t your typical money-maker books.

Exhibit A: poetry.

Let’s be real, I totally judge books by covers, and I bought “The princess saves herself in this one” without even opening it. But when I did open it, I found poetry. A story in poetry form.


Poets are notorious examples of being told “there’s no market for your work.” When’s the last time you read poetry from a book? Probably high school. Poets are told they’ll only get interest on cutesy Instagram or Facebook images, and they’ll never get a publishing deal, and if they self-publish, they’ll never have any readers. Yet Amanda Lovelace, I don’t think she listened to that. At least not entirely. Because she wrote poetry and convinced probably an agent and a publisher that her work was worth front shelf placement at Barnes and Noble.

Exhibit B: Cartoon drawings with bad spelling, for adults not kids.

Like seriously, how do you pitch THAT to an agent or publisher? Got me! I’m still trying to figure out how to describe it on a blogpost.

It’s a book of cartoon drawings. An alien comes to earth to study humans, but the alien is bad at spelling and grammar so the book is full of cutesy misspellings, and the alien is actually befriending non-humans like rocks and animals and trees, but it’s insightful and philosophical into what actually makes us human. Oh yeah, it’s not a children’s book, it’s for grown-ups.


Okay, I have no idea how he pitched it, probably better than me, but I’m just saying if your dream sounds crazy, you’re in good Barnes-and-Noble-front-shelf company.


The business guy top secret insight:

After posting that Facebook video about these books, my business school brother messaged something insightful.

I had mentioned that poets often hear stuff like, “Nobody buys poetry anymore, they only read it on cutesy Facebook or Instagram posts.” I had said these authors didn’t listen to that negativity.

My brother noted my claim isn’t quite correct. They did listen to that. They noticed where the audience was and went to it. Amanda Lovelace started on Tumblr before ever being published, and I heard that Jomny Sun was on Twitter before being published. They both went to their market to get their big break. You can find your market and build interest now, too.

There’s a step in the right direction for ya. Past the dreaming and onto a practical tip. This is why my bro will make the big bucks 😉

for the Creatives

The super simple way to build your creative community

Sure, some of it is luck and location, but most of it is YOU.

There are creatives out there, I guarantee it. They just need someone to call them out and make it happen. That someone can be you.

That someone has been me. Unintentionally, I just kind of stumbled upon it.

This is simple, but it is not instantaneous. Each step is important, and it’s kind of a snowball effect.

The more you do this, the more it grows until you have your avalanche of an arts community.

But it’s so simple,  you can get started today, I promise.

(I’ll be taking this from the angle of writing, since that’s my experience, but this applies to any type of creativity.)

  1. Talk about your creating ALOT.
  2. But not like spammy, sales-pitchy, or over-excessive. It’s not all about you.
  3. Examples:
    • “How are you?” “Great, I had a breakthrough in my writing last night and am excited for my story!”
    • “Sorry, I can’t make it that day. That’s my writing day. Can we do Thursday?”
    • “What ya got going on this weekend?” “Trying to figure out the next part of my story… Here’s where I’m stuck. Any ideas?”
    • “Nice to meet you! What do you do in your free time?” “I enjoy writing. I blog and I’m working on a novel I hope to one day publish.”
  4. See, non-spammy, normal conversation. Don’t get too chatty about it unless they keep prodding.
  5. (Psst! You can do this in person or on social media.)

Your results from this will vary, but here’s a few responses you’ll encounter:

  • The more you do this, the more you’ll find people who say: “How cool, I like to write, I just never have the time” – or insert some other excuse…. Not quite your writing community you’re looking for, I know.
  • Occasionally you may get lucky and find a committed writer too.
  • You’ll also stumble upon people who bring up their non-writing creative pursuits. More creative community, woohoo!
  • And you’ll also stumble upon people who say, “Oh cool, I know my sister/son/friend/acquaintance writes too.” Let them know they’ll have to introduce you sometime so you can chat writing with each other.

So the next step for all of these responses you get:

  1. Talk about THEIR creative pursuits. 
  2. (Psst! This can also be in person or on social media.)
  3. You just got them to open up about their creativity, whether it’s consistent or not.
  4. Ask what they’re working on.
  5. Ask how it’s going.
  6. If they “don’t have time”, ask how they can make time.
  7. Ask them what their goal is for this week – can they write for 15 minutes tonight? Tomorrow? this weekend?
  8. Come up with a joint goal – “Tell you what – I’ll write 15 minutes tonight and you write 15 minutes tonight; then tomorrow we have to tell each other how it went.” Or “Tell you what, let’s both write a short story this month and share it with each other next time we get coffee.”
  9. Hold them to their goals. Encourage them. Keep them going.
  10. Be fascinated about their project and their success.
  11. Listen. Most of this is listen.
  12. When relevant, bring up your work, but that’s not the point. Their work is the point. Keep them going.

And the final step. How does this help you? You’re looking for people to hold you accountable to your goals, not vise versa. You don’t need more slackers to deal with you may say.

But here’s the secrets. You know all the above stuff. It’s super simple. But the most important part is here,  your mindset.

You see, you can’t do the above stuff well without writing yourself. Here’s why:

  1. You can’t talk about writing all the time if you’re not writing to begin with.
  2. The more you talk about writing, the more people know you’re a writer and expect you to be writing. Even non-creatives may latch onto your story and want updates.
  3. The more people ask about your writing, the more accountable you are to having to write consistently.
  4. As you start encouraging and motivating other creatives to keep writing, you’ll realize you can’t tell them they should be writing this week if you’re not writing this week too.
  5. #Protip: the more you have joint goals – sharing a story in a month or writing for 15 minutes together – the more you benefit from this.
  6. If you slack off, they’ll realize they can slack off, and your encouragement and motivation will be diluted. “Oh you didn’t write this week? Me either, that’s okay, we’ll hit it next time…” Only you don’t hit it next time, because you know you’ll both slack off every so often – which turns into semi-regularly – which turns into regularly until you just stop writing all together. Stop that cycle right now! Be consistent so your motivation to others has potency.

Some of those people you’re encouraging will seep through. They’ll keep going because you’re inspiring them. And they’ll care about you. Because you know stuff and you do stuff, and you think they’re worth the time (because – reminder – THEY ARE!)

And voila – you’ve built a community of creatives that keep you going and that you keep them going. It’s a beautiful thing.

Art is happening. And now you’re a part of that.