Lessons for Writers from 100 Daily Videos

Last week I talked about the pros and cons of focusing on growing followers online. Today I want to explore that further, and use this as a framing: this week I celebrated sharing 100 daily videos on Instagram. Each day I recorded a 1-minute video with advice on creating and sharing. This is what all 100 of them look like:

Dan Blank's Instagram Reels

You can see them all here. Of course the first thing to notice is the content. Every day I showed up on camera. This aligns with a lot of traditional “best practices” around content: making it frequent, original, keyword-rich, and aligned to the work I have done in helping writers full-time for 13 years. Here is a sampling of some of the video topics:

But the value here is not just about the content, it’s also about the connection with others. As I’ve said many times, the work we do in sharing what we create is about communication and trust. The things that are inherently human.

My methodology for helping writers share what they create focuses on this. It’s a system, and baked into it all is a focus on effective communication, meaningful relationships, collaboration, and how what we create connects us to each other.

The Creative Success Pyramid

Let’s talk about some lessons from sharing 100 days of videos…

Growth in Engagement and Audience

Of course, the easiest way to talk about “results” is to discuss numbers. I didn’t have any specific goals when I started sharing daily videos, but I began tracking some basic data midway through. The results? I’m growing followers way faster on Instagram than I ever have.

Since March 1st when I started this, I’ve had about 20% growth in followers. For comparison, it previously took an entire year to see that kind of growth before.

But more than that: engagement is way up. More likes, more comments, more people mentioning the videos to me via phone and email. It feels amazing when someone comments or mentions a video or reshares it. Just to know that I did something that inspired or helped a writer or creator.

It’s been neat to see which videos reach more people. Most of them get hundreds of views, but one had nearly 15,000 and plenty of others have had 1,000+ views. Is the goal MORE NUMBERS? Of course not. But it is a useful metric to see if my message is reaching people.

And for those of you who are more business-minded, these 1-minute videos fit into a traditional marketing funnel as well. Right there at the top, the widest part:

The Marketing Funnel

The videos helped people consider how they can create and share their writing. In doing so, it made more people aware of my mission. The videos give a nice open “way in” to what I do.

Could someone see a video, then follow me? Then like what I share and see that I have a podcast and listen to that? Then hear me mention my newsletter and subscribe to that? Then read my book? Then maybe one day hire me, or recommend my work to a friend? It’s all possible. And it can start with a simple 1-minute video.

I would encourage you to think about this for your own goals. What are the things you can do that lead people toward your work, then to engage with you in ways that matter to you. A marketing funnel is rarely one step. It takes time for people to become aware of your work, to understand it and see if it aligns to what they value, to consider if they want to make it a part of their life, to actually take the step to buy your book or read your essay, then to choose to hear from you again, and potentially recommend your work to others, perhaps throw a book review. That is why the concept of having an author platform even exists, to provide writers a variety of ways for readers to learn about your writing and consider if it is for them.

Even though I’ve shared online since 2006 and this has been my full-time work since 2010, I would say I’ve learned a few things through these 100 daily videos:

  • I am finding new ways to share my voice. The limit of a one-minute video turned out to be a wonderful way figure out new forms of expression. I’ve often said that art thrives with limits, and this is no different. To share one useful thing for 1-minute a day became a challenge at first, then a nice creative canvas.
  • Sharing my actual voice and face each day felt really nice. To show up in someone’s feed, just me being me. Perhaps it reminded me of walking into a local coffee shop and saying hello to all the regulars. Talking about how we can create and share is the real me. I’m not here to entertain you. I simply admire people who write and feel that magical things happen when they share. So I’m gonna talk about that every day.
  • Sharing frequently increases the chance of luck. What kind of luck? Reaching more people in a manner that is meaningful to them. The difference between sharing once a day and once a week over the course of a year? 313 more chances each year to connect with another human being.
  • It feels great to have created an archive of helpful videos so quickly. I mean imagine this: going from “Ugh, I’ve never really done much with Instagram Reels,” to “Wow, I’ve shared 100 Reels, all aligned to what I love talking about, within a 3 month period.”
  • Sharing gives people new ways into your work. Each video is a seed. In some ways, I never know when it inspired someone, when it helped them, when it may encourage them to take a positive action that I wouldn’t be made aware of. This is why we share what we create.

As I write this, something I’m noticing is that so many of the “results” I am talking about here are internal. Creating these videos and sharing them has helped me as a creator, and as a human-being. The results of what we create and share need not always be measured as an “impact” in the world. Sometimes the most powerful results are what changes inside you.

Why Vertical Video Matters Right Now

So why am I doing these kinds of videos? Well, I would describe them as “vertical video.” These vertically framed videos (thin and tall, instead of short and wide) are the lifeblood of TikTok. And the success of TikTok has caused YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to not just embrace vertically oriented videos, but prioritize them.

What I have found in the process is this: when I share vertical videos through Instagram Reels, they show it to more people who don’t follow me. So what this means is that it is solving for the issue that so many people face on social media: “how do I extend my reach?”

There are other benefits:

  • Since all the major social networks now have vertical video, you can create a video for Instagram Reels, then also upload it to TikTok, Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts. This is also partly why I kept my videos to a 1-minute length, YouTube Shorts still has that time limitation.
  • Since Instagram doesn’t want to lose audience to TikTok, they have been embracing Reels and from what I have seen, they are promoting this content to new people more than other things you share on Instagram, such as photos on the main grid feed, or Stories.
  • Because of this, it feels more likely to go “mini-viral” through Instagram Reels than their other feeds. I say “mini-viral” because I know I’m not posting something that goes viral. But it feels good, when a video suddenly gets 10,000+ views, which is more than my average views to a photo.
  • When you create an Instagram Reel, you can easily share it to Instagram’s other two feeds: the main grid, and the Stories feed. I find that some people primarily look at one or the other, so it’s nice to feel that I am “covering all my bases” on Instagram and their somewhat confusing system of feeds.

Do you have to do vertical videos? Nope. Do you have to put your face in them like I did? Nope. But I have found that people resonate with video, and vertical video in particularly has been engaging to people in new ways. Using them is a communication skill you may want to consider developing.

My Step-By-Step Process for Creating Daily Videos

After just a few days of doing these videos, I fell into a repeatable process that I stopped thinking about. This is exactly how I create a 1-minute video each day:

  1. Think of an idea. Sometimes this happens as I’m turning on my studio lights just before recording. While I have started a spreadsheet to plan out some video ideas, I still find on most days I am simply recording a video of a topic I am thinking about at the moment.
  2. Turn on 2 studio lights, my camera, the teleprompter monitor, and move my mic over to be in front of me. These tools are all set up and ready to go at a moment’s notice, so it’s just the matter of a few small movements.
  3. Write a brief script in a text file. I open up a file and jot down an idea for the title of the video, and then just a few points I want to cover.
  4. I open up my web browser and type “stopwatch” into Google and one pops up. This helps me time if I am coming close to the 60 second limit.
  5. I open up Quicktime to check the lighting, if I am framed well, and if my hair is doing anything weird.
  6. I record these using a program called Screenflow. But honestly, any basic video recording app would do, such as Quicktime.
  7. I start the stopwatch and click record. Mostly I do one take. Sometimes I have to do two if I mess up, or find I am running over the 1-minute mark.
  8. I do a simple edit of the video within Screenflow: cropping the video to 1080×1920 (the vertical video dimensions), cutting off the very beginning and very end, and then exporting it.
  9. I open up thumbnail image template I created in Photoshop, change the text to the title of today’s video, add in new screenshot from video, and save that.
  10. Then I move the video file and thumbnail file to Dropbox.
  11. On my phone access those files via Dropbox app and save to my camera roll.
  12. Then I open up Instagram, click to create a new Reel, and select that video file.
  13. I use the “transcript” sticker, double-check for any small changes I need to make in the transcript, and reposition it.
  14. I upload the thumbnail, then type out the title of the video. I rarely bother with hashtags.
  15. I keep the box checked that also posts the Reel to my Instagram grid.
  16. After it uploads, I click the little paper airplane icon to also share it on my Instagram Stories.
  17. Then on my phone, I upload the video to TikTok, Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts. I don’t bother with a transcript or thumbnail for any of those.

Do you have to use this process? Nope. You can just take out your phone, open Instagram, record a Reel and post it in a few steps.

How long does it all take? I recorded the time one day this week, and it felt like the average time per day: 15 minutes in total. This is how it broke down:

  • 2 minute to think of an idea, write the script, and turn on the equipment.
  • 4 minutes record and edit the video.
  • 9.5 minutes to upload the video to all four social networks.

It is certainly funny for me to reflect on what this says about the process for someone to write, prepare to publish, and then share their work. Writing is work. But so is preparing to publish. And of course, sharing is too. Sometimes the writing can take 4x longer than sharing, but sometimes it works out the opposite. To me, I see this all aligned to the same goal: sharing your voice. Each part of this process feels essential to that purpose, regardless of how long one step takes over another.

Is it Worth It?

I think so. Instead of thinking, “Will I stop?” I more often ponder the opposite: “What would happen if I did two videos per day? Or three?”

A writer I’m working with recently said to me that since we began working together her sense of belonging to, and engagement with her literary community has increased. That is what I have found in this process as well. It just feels wonderful to be engaged with the people who inspire me.

While one could view this as a “content strategy with measurable metrics, aligning to the Instagram algorithm,” I think it is about so much more.

It’s how we share what we create. It’s how we make our voices heard. It’s how we connect with others. It’s how we learn what it means to be public with the writing and art that matters most to us.

And of course, if you ever want help with any of that, you can learn more about my process of working with writers here.



Will 10,000 followers get you a book deal?

I have heard versions of this from many writers over the years:

“An agent told me that if I had 10,000 followers, they would sign me.”


“The publisher is interested, but wants to see 10,000 followers before they commit.”

In every case, the writer was clear that the primary interest of the agent or publisher was that they truly liked and wanted to represent a specific book. The writing came first. But the question of followers came up in the business side of making the decision to represent an author and their book.

Do you need 10,000 follower to get a book deal? I don’t think so. Largely, I think this number is entirely made up. Nothing magical happens for you, for your book, for the agent, or for the publisher when a writer gets 10,000 followers.

But it is not uncommon for someone to say something similar to the statements above, indicating that an author’s platform, and their ability to illustrate that they can reach readers is very important for business partners to consider if they can invest in that book. What are they looking for? Help in bringing this book to readers. And sometimes “followers” is simply a convenient metric to represent that.

Agents and publishers are amazing. They are people who truly love books, believe in the power of books, and work all day to celebrate them. Why would they ever hope that a writer has done the work to grow their platform or following? Some possible reasons:

  • The author is well positioned to share the book with readers. Why? Because how people can learn about a book goes beyond basic jacket copy. An author shares the deeper reasons as to why they wrote the book, what the themes are and why they matter, as well as the human side of what it means to create it. I had dinner with an artist earlier this week and we were discussing why she will travel halfway across the country to see a single art exhibit. She talked about the difference between seeing the actual brush strokes vs a flat digital recreation on a screen. The trip allows her to immerse herself in the painting and consider the artist’s intentions. Of course, she will also be in conversation with others who helped organize, or are viewing, the exhibit.
  • Ideally, because the author has spent months/years writing this book, they understand the marketplace around these books. There may be an expectation that they have either read widely in a certain genre or topic, or that they understand these themes in deep ways. In the process, perhaps this author has developed relationships with other writers of comparable books who they could be “in conversation with” for an online or offline event. Or they are aware of the podcasts they know they should be on, or have essay ideas (and where they would like to publish them) that would lead potential readers to the book.
  • Part of how people find out about books is through their network. You as the author have spent a lifetime developing relationships with people who would love to support your book. This is partly why the Author Questionnaire that a publisher send to you after you sign with them is kind of like “This is Your Life,” filled with every meaningful connection you have ever made. The people who know you are those who will be the first to support this book. They have some incentive in bringing it to the world.
  • Even though books can easily sell for years and years, the publishing industry still focuses a lot on a small book publication window: a few months around release. Here, seeing bigger numbers helps make the case that the book can possibly reach readers quickly. It’s not hard to do back-of-napkin math that if an author has 10,000 followers vs 10 followers, that there is a better chance of them selling more books when the book publishes. Developing a following can show preparation for this moment of sharing one’s book with others.
  • Since the book is so important to a writer, I think there is often a hope that the writer will put a lot of energy into wanting to share it and talk about it with others. Not just for the promotional value of that, but for the experiential value of that. If a writer writes about _____ themes, or in ____ genre, wouldn’t they love if their life was filled with conversations about those things? I have spent my entire life as a creator of one sort or another. When I think back, sure I can remember what I created at a certain time. But I also remember the conversations I’ve had and relationships that have formed around this creative work.
  • Let’s face it: the people who work at a publisher are busy and working across many books. They will provide dedicated resources to every book, but doesn’t always mean that they can provide 100% customized support consistently for a long period of time. If an author has shown that they have developed a following, it helps illustrate that they are invested in sharing their writing with others.

Is everything written above true for all publishers? Of course not. Is this an exhaustive list? Nope. But it is meant to make a point: while the number of “10,000 followers” doesn’t matter, the more foundational reasons why having an author platform does matter.

I think a lot of writers are shocked to hear that a publisher thinks that they the author is well positioned to help promote their books. This is where the common refrain comes in: “I just want to write, isn’t marketing the publisher’s job?” While there is no definitive answer on that, I try to always keep something in mind…

You can always just write simply for the sake of creating. And I can show you boxes of art and writing I have created over the years that I did just for the sake of doing it. Care to join me to the dusty boxes in my house’s 100 year old attic? But when you want to publish, you are partly engaging in the business side of the marketplace around creative work. When you sign with business partners (agents and publishers), the expectation around that writing changes. This is where the very concept of “what is the author’s platform?” or “how many followers/subscribers does the author have” comes in.

The Pros and Cons of “Followers”

By itself, the metric of followers doesn’t say much. Too often, we look at it like a lottery ticket: “More followers means more chances, right?” Chances for… people becoming aware of your book. Of considering buying it. Of actually buying it. Of reading it. Of being moved by it. Of posting a review for it. Of showing up to a book reading. Of telling others about it.

Yet, I have spoken to many writers who have 10,000 followers or more who tell me this:

“Oh, I have no idea who those people are. I don’t know what they like, or why they follow me. I don’t even know what to say to them.”

This isn’t just someone being humble, I’ve sensed the total confusion and fear that they have. So to these people, followers weren’t a sense of total validation and connection to an audience that will support them and their books. It was one of distant apprehension. For some of those writers they even admitted: “I’ve stopped posting.”

I’ve also seen writers who have thousands upon thousands of followers, but very little engagement. There are times I would do side-by-side comparisons of someone who has 10,000 followers vs someone who has 500 followers: they each had the same level of engagement on their posts, with the same number of likes and comments. In other words: an author with 10,000 followers would consistently have 20 likes per post, and an author with 500 followers also consistently having 20 likes per post. Which is “more effective”?

In other words: the metrics of how many followers you have can sometimes be hollow, if it is not an engaged audience. And if we consider just one possible goal here: followers who buy your books and support your writing, isn’t an engaged audience the one you want? Which begs the question: would a small but engaged audience be more valuable than a large unengaged audience?

Is having a lot of followers good? Sure. Some benefits:

  • The more people you reach, the more potential you will feel you have to spread the word about your writing.
  • The more people you reach, the higher your chance of luck. So much of how buzz around books happens is about luck and engagement. Being seen at the right place at the right time by the right person.
  • When one metric is higher (in this case, followers), it becomes more likely for other metrics to be higher. For instance, a higher conversion rate from a social media follower becoming a newsletter subscriber, who then buys your book, and then posts a review of that book online.

Connection and Engagement is What Matters

What writers dream of is someone being moved by their writing or books. That it helps someone escape, to understand the world better, or themselves better. That it can inspire them, change them, and heal. It is about the depth of human connection.

This is why everything about how I help writers connect with readers is framed around the concept of Human-Centered Marketing. And why every step of the methodology I use focuses on writers forging meaningful connections with readers.

I’ve often heard that “word-of-mouth marketing is the only marketing that works,” and that has always resonated with me. Even though we have powerful tools we can use to share our writing, in the end it is about a person resonating with what you write, and then taking an action to share it with someone else.

We can try to measure these connections via followers, subscribers, likes, reshares, views and the like — but those individual numbers don’t reflect the true purpose or value behind the connections we seek.

All things being equal, if someone gives you the choice between having 10,000 followers vs having 10 followers, it is reasonable to choose the larger number. But I want to ask you a question. A writer reached out to me who said they really appreciate the way I talk about human-centered marketing, and focusing on authentic connections with real people in how you share your writing. They even shared with me the story of a deeply meaningful connection they had with someone through social media. They said: “[That experience] was a tribute to the power of giving and the personal reward that ensued. It reframed the value of social media in a very Dan-Blanky way.” What they said next was fascinating:

“But I would trade that experience, as valuable as it was, for 10,000 followers.”

Oooooooh! That statement fascinated me. Which would you choose? One meaningful experience, or 10,000 followers? As I considered this, I understood that baked into the phrase “10,000 followers” is the hope that it will lead to many meaningful experiences.

A writer Lori Fontaine recently reached out to me and said:

“I’ve [shared my writing] for over 20 months now and through your encouragement I’ve learned to have the courage to open up and reveal the person behind the art. You’ve taught me that what is swirling in my head actually matters. Thankfully, I’ve heard from subscribers that are grateful.”

Your voice matters. Sharing and connecting your ideas and writing to others inherently changes their lives. It makes the world better. Is having 10,000 followers a good goal? That’s up to you. But regardless, I encourage you to focus on sharing what you create and why in a manner that feels authentic to who you are, and truly touches the hearts and minds of others.

And I think if you can prove that you are doing this to any partner you have in publishing, be that an agent or a publisher, it helps them understand how you are able to support the book you wrote.

What I think some agents and publishers want is not 10,000 followers, but rather this: “Can you give me some kind of indication or proof that you can meaningfully work to put this book into the hands of readers? Because that is difficult. We are going to try really hard. But you know what helps? If you — the expert on the topic, the person 100% embedded in your niche, genre, or industry — have spent a few years developing the relationships needed to help us out.”

Does anyone really know what to do with 10,000 followers? Will they really publish you just with that metric?

Probably not.

Instead, it is an indicator that you are a partner that can not only write a great book, but help it connect with the people who will appreciate it most. Do you know what else they would care about just as much, or perhaps MORE than 10,000 followers? For starters:

  • If you speak at 30 events per year.
  • If you are actively a part of groups and organizations that your potential readers love.
  • If you run a business that has successfully served your market for years.
  • If you show them ANY metric that indicates that you have developed a meaningful connection to your ideal readers – be it a newsletter, blog, forum, in-person events, or so much else.
  • If you show them a marketing plan more thoughtful and strategic than “I’ll Tweet about my book. Then Tweet again.”

Here are some essays I have written previously on this topic:

Thank you!


Why take the risk of sharing?

If you are a writer, why bother sharing? Why spend your time and energy sharing on social media, starting a newsletter, or vying for attention at all? Many writers have good reasons not to:

“I want people to notice my writing, not me.”

“Social media doesn’t sell books.”

“I want to spend my time writing, not marketing.”

Even beyond these reasons, we can add to that list: sharing is a risk. There are concrete risks, that maybe you’ve read about: a newspaper article about someone who shared something online and got fired from their job, or who were shamed by others. Then there are the other risks: loss of privacy, managing distraction, how it may affect your mental health, and so much else.

None of these arguments to not share are wrong. They are all logical, and often backed up by with compelling statistical and/or anecdotal evidence.

Yet, I find that sharing what we create and why opens up the possibility for so many good things. I believe that sharing deeply matters. Not just for marketing what you create, but for filling your life with moments and experiences with inspiring people, and for ensuring your work has a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

I grew up as an artist and writer, and in some ways, my whole life has been about exploring the question of how we connect what we create to the people who will appreciate it. And how doing so makes our lives better. Today, I want to share some examples of that. Let’s dig in…

When We Share Our Lives, We Impact Others

I went to YouTube earlier this week and saw a video headline and thumbnail that stopped me in my tracks:

Hank Green

This is Hank Green. He is a bestselling author, who does so much else that it’s hard to even describe succinctly. Here is his Wikipedia page. His brother, bestselling author John Green, and he have shared videos back and forth to each other on YouTube since 2007. Their channel has 3.64 million subscribers. Over the years they have shared more than 2,000 videos, accumulating a total of… okay this is a big number… 940,608,988 views. Yep, that is nearly a billion views.

Hank and John are always very positive, and have developed an amazing community. I don’t just mean “followers,” I mean community.

What Hank and John share is sometimes — oftentimes — personal. John has always been incredibly open about his mental health journey, and here Hank is sharing his news of his recent cancer diagnosis and treatment. It would be reasonable for them to not share at all. Or to only share about specific topics, without inserting their own personal experiences into the narrative.


I’ve been thinking about Hank all week. Of course, first and foremost I’m starting with empathy for what he and his family and friends are going through. But I’m also considering how Hank has impacted my life. How what he shares has made my life better in so many ways. I’m reading some of the 56,000 comments his video received and considering the myriad of ways he has impacted the lives of so many others. I’m considering how sharing his journey with cancer could possibly help others who are dealing with it, how it could help raise money for cancer research, and so much else. Hank and John have previously raised millions of dollars for charity (full details here), including more than 3 million dollars raised already in 2023.

It’s overwhelming to consider how much Hank has created and shared. But to me, it is a reminder that too often, I don’t share enough. There is more that I could share that would help others. More that I could share that would make someone feel seen, or validated, or provide a solution, or even simply create a meaningful moment in an otherwise stressful day.

If you are a writer, of course, I want you to share so that others can experience what you create. But I think there is more opportunity that that. Not just career or business opportunity, but opportunity for your life to positively affect the life of someone else.

People Resonate With the Person Behind Creative Work

If you have followed my work for awhile, you may know that I have a book called Be the Gateway, that helps you frame what you create as a gateway to ideas and stories that resonate with people. Or maybe you have heard me use the phrase “Human-Centered Marketing” to describe my methodology for helping writers reach their readers.

I know that many writers and creators want their work to speak for itself. They want the entire focus of people’s attention to be on what you create, and never on them. Of course, I respect that, and am a huge believer in having firm boundaries (more on that below.)

But I have always said that one’s platform is about communication and trust. This is different from how many view it, which is often more focused on one’s “Unique value proposition” or their “personal brand.” Bleh.

You are a gateway. And once you consider that, the question becomes… “a gateway to what?” You get to define that.

For years I have followed Nuseir Yassin and Alyne Tamir, two video creators who share on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Nuseir has 21 million followers on Facebook, and Alyne has 2.8 million followers there. They share videos on travel and culture and so much else. For the past 6 years, they have been a couple. Then this week, they announced that they are breaking up. They shared a video explaining it:

Nuseir Yassin and Alyne Tamir

This of course, is incredibly personal, yet in the video they share the reasons they are splitting, and even address each other directly in the video. They have been clear about remaining friends, and about supporting each other. But of course, it is clearly a very difficult time for both of them. They didn’t have to share any of this.

Yet, they did.

What you see above is not people oversharing. It is them honoring the level of trust and connection that others feel with them. If you have followed Nuseir or Alyne over the years, chanced are you resonate deeply with them. Not just what they say, but with them as human beings. Them choosing to share in this manner is, to a degree, similar to how one would share with a friend.

They are honoring the communication and trust they have spent years developing.

I am not suggesting that you need to be sharing publicly about your relationships, about your physical health, about your mental health or anything else. I am sharing the stories of Hank, Nuseir, and Alyne because too often we see sharing only as a risk. And while it is, I think it can be more than that.

We resonate with the human-side of what it means to create. The journey, the voice, the thing that makes you unique in all the universe. When you share that story, you are giving people so many more ways to discover and connect with what you create.

Establish Clear Boundaries in What You Share

I am a huge believer in establishing boundaries for what you share. When I’m working with writers, this is always something we discuss and get very specific about. Too many writers and creators feel that if they are going to share on social media, that they have to share about family, or how they spent there day, etc. You don’t.

Establishing boundaries for what you share and how you engage are critical for physical safety, mental, and psychological safety. Be proactive in determining what you will share and why, and then what you won’t share and why.

Having boundaries is the first step. Communicating them is the next. You don’t always have to do this, but I think that there are times it can be very useful and respectful to those you connect with.

For instance, I remember years ago reading about how Neil Gaiman would sometimes go to a cafe to write. But then he said he has this rule: if anyone did anything to acknowledge him, even in a subtle and positive way, he would never return to write at that cafe again. I don’t think he was trying to punish that person or the cafe, but rather, his goal seemed to be to set a boundary to protect himself. Perhaps he knew that if he was acknowledged, that fans would begin camping out there waiting for him to return. Or perhaps this was just his way of trying to have a “normal” existence in public.

If you share, be clear about your boundaries. When possible, communicate them to others.

Why Take the Risk to Share?

When I was active in writing and arts communities back in the 1990s, I noticed that those who showed up and shared their work, tended to be the ones whose work spread. They understood how to talk about their work, because they were often in conversation. That opened up new ways for people to find a connection to it. Even when one piece of work didn’t resonate, oftentimes people supported the writing and art anyway, because they were supporting the writer/artist themselves. Can the art stand alone. Yes! Does it always need to? Maybe not.

But more than that, these writers and artists lived in active creative communities where conversations around, and appreciation of, the arts was a constant in their lives.

And to me, that is a wonderful vibrant way to not only live a good life as a writer, but to develop a career or hobby in the arts.

Why take the risk of sharing? Because so much more is at stake if you don’t share what you create.



A 6-Step Guide to Publishing a Bestselling Book

Today I want to share a step-by-step guide to publishing a bestselling book. There are just 6 steps, and I will be clear about each one. As a model for this guide, I am going to use one of all-time favorite stories of creative success. Please bear with me here… I want to use the story of Meat Loaf’s 1977 album “Bat Out of Hell” as a guide. Why? Because this story is one of my all-time favorite stories of a creator who persisted through rejection to find massive success on their own terms.

Is a 1970s rock album the perfect guide for selling a bestselling book today? Maybe, maybe not. But I feel there are important lessons here that absolutely apply to the journey that authors take in creating, publishing, and sharing their books.

It’s worth noting that I’m not particularly a fan of this album or artist. I respect them, I can appreciate their music, but I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly played their music on purpose. I share this story because it holds some deep truths about creative success. Okay, let’s dig in…

Step #1: Totally Commit To Your Idea

The album was a concept put together largely by writer/composer Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf as the singer, and Todd Rundgren as producer. The idea came from Steinman and was big and bold. It didn’t fit within the market. It would be expensive to create. It was just… different. But Jim, Meat, and Todd all believed in it completely, and spent years making it become reality, even as the rest of the world ignored them. At times, laughed at them. Worth noting here is that they weren’t chasing trends. They didn’t envision how this work would be so easy to fit into what everyone was already talking about. They were reminded again and again that they should abandon this work because it simply doesn’t fit in. When you choose the book you want to write, I encourage you to commit to it completely. What you are capable of creating is unique to who you are. Believing in that is a gift you can give yourself, and the world.

Step #2: Collaborate

The most certain path to failure is to try to do everything on your own. Now, I completely understand that writing a book is often a largely solitary endeavor, at least until you get to the editing phase. Of course, create in a manner that feels right to you. But collaborators are a critical way to ensure your work gets finished, gets published, gets shared. So many doors open when you collaborate. In the case of this album, Jim found his muse in Meat Loaf. Then they found unwavering support (financial, musical, and otherwise) in Todd Rundgren. I encourage you to have colleagues: others who create work similar to yours that you can at least talk to. As you move down the path to publishing and sharing your work, consider the kind of help you may need along the way. This is important regardless of the publishing path you take: indie, hybrid, traditional, etc. These are relationships that will open up opportunities in ways you least expect, and most need. They also become the foundation for your support system as a writer.

Step #3: Be Persistent and Get Used to Rejection

I know, I know, this one is so difficult. In the past, I’ve written about successful authors who found their agent only after a long search. This was the case for Janae Marks. Today, she is a New York Times bestselling author. Back when I interviewed her, she told me how she had to query 70+ agents before she got one. Imagine that: you create your list of “top 10 agents” to query. Then have to research 10 more. Then 10 more. Then 10 more. Then 10 more. Then 10 more. Etc. You would feel reasonable at query number 35 to conclude: “Why am I wasting my time? The world is giving me a clear message to stop.” But 35 rejections was only the half-way mark to success! And thank goodness Janae kept querying! Her writing is making so many readers happy today.

For Meat Loaf’s album, every record label heard it, and every one of them rejected it. Sometimes in an offensive manner. There is a famous story of one of the biggest record industry hitmakers of all time telling Jim and Meat that they don’t even understand how to write music. They tried to get someone to make this record for years, and people kept rejecting them.

How did the album eventually get made and released? It was because of two people: Todd Rundgren heard it and decided to pay for producing it. But even though he tried, he couldn’t get it released. After rejection after rejection, finally record executive Steve Popovich decided to publish it after hearing only part of one song.

If you are struggling with your work, remember it only takes one person to change your life and get behind your work.

Step #4: Don’t Compromise in Order to “Fit In”

Every record label and producer who this album was presented to wanted to change it. Jim and Meat didn’t even consider the changes. Once the album was released, it didn’t really fit in to the marketplace. The songs were incredibly long. In an age of the 3 minute pop song, the songs that became hits for this album were 5 minutes, 8 minutes, and 9 minutes each. Even edited down for radio, they were much longer than other songs the stations would play.

Likewise, the album never cracked the Top 10 in album sales, and none of their singles did either. As measured by big short-term metrics, this album didn’t “make it.” But, it sold, and it kept selling for years. This album didn’t “fit in,” yet, it somehow worked. For writers, there are countless examples of this. It is absolutely fine if you want your work to fit in. But don’t worry if it doesn’t.

Step #5: Give People Something to Talk About

When listening people describe the album, you often hear words like: cheesy, theatrical, over the top, a guilty pleasure, and so on. This album succeeded because of these things, not in spite of them.

Meat Loaf as a performer didn’t fit into norms at the time. The music was theatrical, and Meat Loaf’s performance took that to an entirely new level.

Meat Loaf

Meat was an actor, and if you watch a performance of him from 1978, the parts he isn’t singing are just as engaging as the parts he is. He is embodying the characters in the songs completely. (Go ahead, watch some of this 1 hour and 45 minute concert to see for yourself.)

The album didn’t do well at first when it was released in October 1977. When did it take off? After the world saw Meat Loaf perform on Saturday Night Live in March of 1978. To me, this is a reminder that we want creative work to stand on it’s own, but sometimes it needs help to get noticed. Give people something to talk about.

Step #6: Bring Your Creative Work to the People

Producer Todd Rundgren has said that a surefire way to sell records is to play live shows at towns again and again and again. This has been a standard part of how the music industry has operated for decades: get in a van and play small shows to 20 people. Then return to those towns a few months later and play to 40 people. And so on…

For writers nowadays, you have more opportunities than ever to bring your writing to the people. We have Substack newsletters, Instagram Reels, online webinars, in-person events, conversation series, collaborations, and so much more. Do you have to use any of these? Nope. But I find that sharing your work regularly, connecting with real people, sometimes create wonderful moments that build awareness of your writing.

To me, all of this is an important reminder to follow your own path, and to remember that if success isn’t happening at the moment, that it doesn’t mean that you are failing. Keep going.



How I help writers find their audience

I’ve worked with writers and creators full-time for the past 13 years. It is a joy and privilege to spend my time with those who create. The work we do focuses on practical outcomes: establishing and growing a writer’s platform, creating marketing campaigns, launching books, and more.

But I find this work also goes very deep. It’s common for a writer I’m working with to say, “this is like therapy.” Now, of course, it is not therapy, I have no credentials in that field. But I think I hear this so often because it is inherently difficult to put one’s creative work out there. To know how to talk about what you create and why, and to ensure it truly connects with others, goes to the depths of what it means to be human.

The benefits, of course, are huge. It opens up possibilities such as:

  • Knowing exactly how to describe your creative work
  • Having a clear sense of your ideal audience is and how to engage them
  • Feeling total clarity on how to launch your book from start to finish

For those I work with, I bring a comprehensive system that we work through together step-by-step. Sometimes that has us ideating big bold ideas to engage readers. Other times, I am deep in the weeds of technical assistance.

The results? Here are what some writers have said recently about our work together:


“I began working with Dan almost two years after publishing my memoir. Working with him opened my eyes – and my curiosity – to all of the possible avenues to reaching my potential readers. He encouraged me to constantly think outside of the box by broadening the scope of the key messages in my story.” – Rachel Michelberg

“Dan was a beacon of kindness in an industry which is so often tough. His wealth of knowledge is exemplary, and he has a way of encouraging you to put yourself out there whilst holding your hand in his very own gentle, supportive way. It was such a comfort to have someone to brainstorm with and bounce ideas off, someone who was really, genuinely rooting for me and was in my corner. Dan truly cares. It’s like your book is his book, he’s truly invested, and he’s constantly working away for you behind the scenes.” – Ingrid J. Adams

“When I started working with Dan, I felt overwhelmed by all of the things I thought I should be doing to market my books. Dan helped me focus my energy and pinpoint what strategies would work best for me. He also gave me the confidence to pitch myself and my work in ways I might not have before. I now have tools I know I’ll use throughout my career.” – Kathryn Holmes Marshall

“Dan gave me a plan, helped me develop the key messages I wanted to share, and showed me all the aspects of marketing I needed to consider. Now I have a handle on what I’m doing and my confidence is soaring. I feel like I’m presenting my authentic self to my readers.” – Josephine DeFalco

“Dan provided a framework that demystified platform and social media, and helped me navigate this unfamiliar landscape. More importantly, his guidance empowered me to clarify my priorities, both as a writer and a human being. That clarity is essential to developing sustainable and effective marketing strategies. What I viewed as obstacles, I now see as opportunities for meaningful engagement with potential readers.” – Margaret Whitford

“Dan works his magic by shifting your mindset. When I first came to him, I had rather shapeless ideas of how to reach my audience. Dan was a wonderful teacher, not only guiding me on how to share my work with readers but, most importantly, encouraging me to home in on who my readers are and why I want to share my work. His patience, insights, kindness, and great sense of humor made our sessions a delight. Dan helped me understand the many tools to building a platform and taught me to approach each with focus and intention.” – Leah Redmond Chang

“Dan is an anchor in the sea of social media and marketing. He helped me change what I saw as tasks into the pleasure of sharing things that mean something to me. Working with Dan keeps me focused on connecting with others rather than checking boxes, which makes me feel grounded and keeps me calm. And, bonus, he loves what he does.” – Cynthia Newberry Martin

“Working with Dan provided a strategic point of view that goes beyond the obvious. By turning themes in my work into messaging, I’ve been able to connect with readers more organically. His approach really is a new and different way of facing the dreaded tasks of promoting and selling.” – Michael Mullin

Of course, every engagement is unique and personalized to the goals, challenges, and styles of each individual writer. Let me take you behind the scenes in how this all works…

Who I Work With

It’s most common for someone to reach out to me when:

  • They want to ensure they give their book the best possible chance to reach readers.
  • They don’t want to struggle alone through a hodge-podge list of ideas on how to share their writing. They want a strategy and a collaborator.
  • They want their writing to truly connect with readers, and have a positive impact on their lives. They aren’t looking for hollow vanity metrics.

I work with a wide range of writers. Each week I’m working with those who are pursing various publishing paths: traditional, hybrid, indie, and those who are not yet sure. I work with writers who are at different points on that path: still writing the book, looking for an agent, looking for a publisher, pre-book launch, book launch, and months/years after book launch. These people write fiction, memoir, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and so much else. I’ve worked with authors in seemingly every genre.

Does this sound too broad? Well, I grew up as the art kid. My life has been surrounded by creators. Even at home, my wife is an amazing artist. I believe that working across all areas of writing makes me better at helping each individual writer. There are ideas I will see in one area that can be applied to another. What I care most about is that the writer strongly believes in what they write. That is what lights me up, and why I love — LOVE — working with writers.

I tend to work with people as early as possible in their process. Why? Because to establish your platform, find your ideal readers, and ensure your work reaches them takes time. What we work on can deliver better results if you set the foundation right, then focus on effective communication, and developing trusting relationships around your creative work.

What I Do

I help writers develop their author platforms, launch their books, and create marketing strategies that work. I work collaboratively with writers, meaning that I’m in there doing the work with them. We work through my system together, and customize the strategy for each individual author.

So on a day to day basis, that can have me:

  • Doing research to identify comparable authors
  • Identifying which podcasts that author can pitch to become a guest
  • Editing the author’s bio
  • Developing the marketing section for a book proposal
  • Creating a content strategy for a newsletter
  • Digging into the backend of WordPress or Substack or Instagram ads a wide array of tools for the writer

… and so much else.

Having worked with thousands of writers, I specialize in developing clear strategies and giving writers a step-by-step process.

How I Work

So how do I collaborate with a writer to make it all happen? Several ways:


The first is that they receive access to my 15+ tab spreadsheet that outlines key aspects of my system. This is a shared document that we will be working in together. Step-by-step, we move through it, with clear instructions that lead to a solid game plan. This is a key deliverable that the writer gets to keep and use long after we stop working together. It is a living document that will comprise their messaging, audience research, marketing plans, book launch timeline, and so much else. By the time we are done, this document is packed with total clarity about how to reach their audience, and also streamlined so they know exactly what to work on, and when.

Dan Blank

We have phone calls every other week, which are usually an hour long. I come in with an agenda, but we also talk about any questions or topics the author wants to dig into. So, even if we are working on podcast pitching and newsletters, if they have a question about TikTok or their book proposal or social media ads or anything — we dive into it.

Each call ends with a clear set of tasks that we will be working on. Sometimes they are shared tasks, other times tasks for just the author, other times tasks for me. The writer is never guessing what to be working on or where we are in the process.

Between calls, we are checking in via email. Writers have unlimited access to me via email. This is where we can share progress, get direction, ask for help, or explore new areas.

Dan Blank video

I will often reply back to an email with a video. Here the writer can see me work through problems, learn exactly how to do things by seeing and hearing me do it, and experience the collaboration in a new way.

I have honed this system over the course of 13 years. What it is optimized for is getting the work done, and feeling a sense of calm and clarity along the way. This, as opposed to what I want to avoid: just dumping information on a writer as many courses do, leaving them drowning in ideas that they don’t know how to execute. In working together, we get the work done and level up their career.

My Studio

I work out of a private studio here in New Jersey. I’ve ensured the place is two things: incredibly practical, and filled with beautiful things. Namely: books and typewriters. Here I am in the studio:

Dan Blank

I have a pretty advanced technical setup so that I can easily create videos for the writers I work with, showing them exactly how to create marketing campaigns, newsletters, use social media, and so much else. They can see me, my screen, and anything else that is needed to illustrate how to get it done. Here is a behind the scenes photo you don’t often see:


What is in the photo:

  1. Computer with multiple redundant backups. If the computer suddenly dies, I’ll be back up and running within minutes. If a tornado destroys the studio, I’ll be back up and running in 15 minutes.
  2. Coffee. I mean, is there a more essential ingredient to creativity?
  3. Video and audio controller.
  4. Teleprompter with monitor.
  5. Sony camera with ultra wide angle lens.
  6. Overhead camera setup with a Canon camera and wide angle lens.
  7. Microphone.
  8. Compressor for audio.
  9. Large display so I can monitor all video and audio feeds at once.
  10. Studio lights.
  11. Locked door. Every creator needs one of these!
  12. Guitar amplifier so I can practice during my lunch break. (guitar is placed just behind my chair, out of frame)
  13. I have redundant backups for everything. This is my backup mouse. If my mouse battery dies midway through a workshop, the backup is just inches away.
  14. Sunscreen. SPF every day.
  15. Vintage electronics remind me that all of these things are mere tools for creativity. The point is human connection. Here I have a 1972 Sony TV, an Atari 2600 videogame system I had when I was a kid, and a 1990’s component stereo system.
  16. A chair to rest, read, and nap. Creative breaks are important.

My System

I have a system that I developed to help writers get clarity, identify their ideal audience, build their author platform, create compelling marketing campaigns, and launch their books. It’s called the Creative Success Pyramid. It is having a plan for what you will do, and when. It connects all of your actions to a cohesive whole. It also helps you determine what you won’t waste your time doing, thereby conserving your energy to just what matters to you.

See below, and click here to see this full-sized in a PDF:

The Creative Success Pyramid

It’s composed of seven basic parts, you start at the bottom and work your way to the top:

  1. Define your identity for what you create and why.
  2. Find your ideal audience.
  3. Develop your channels, building the platform that opens pathways to your work.
  4. Connect with your ideal audience.
  5. Launch and market your work.
  6. Establish systems to find more time and focus.
  7. Find fulfillment and growth in your creative work.

How to Work With Me

You can learn more about working with me here.

Ready to take action? Questions? Email me directly at dan@wegrowmedia.com and let me know what you are working on, the big challenge you are facing, and how you hope I can help.

(Bonus points if you add the subject line: “Dan, I’m ready to get it done.”)

I will send you a 12 page PDF that outlines my consulting process.

Consulting Packet

If you are interested, we will schedule time to talk via phone and explore a customized plan for you.

I only work with a very limited number of clients per quarter. This is your chance to take meaningful action.

And of course, if working directly with me isn’t the right fit for you, I try to share free resources every week in the following places: