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The LinkedIn Experiment

Why have I gone from zero interest in LinkedIn to heavily investing our studio resources in establishing a presence on the platform?

Invisible Ink charges $100K to ghostwrite a perennial seller, if I’m the one drafting. 

Screenplays sell for hundreds of thousands, and every script S&S produces has generated interest on day one. With Hollywood back up and running, we can’t produce these fast enough. 

In-house fiction assigned to me is engineered for mass eyeballs preceding a sale to film or television, or has a production partner waiting on the IP.

My queue of assignments is several months long. 

Even if it wasn’t, there are 100+ ideas in the Garden (our internal app) that I’m DYING to write, and every one of them will generate $100K+ over its lifetime. 

In 15 years, I’ve never missed a deadline. And yet I pressed pause on all of my internal projects this month, pushing everything aside except for client work.

I redirected studio resources, including brainstorming during our marketing meetings, design work from the art department, and admin to help pull the levers in WordPress and such. 

So, yeah, it was an expensive month of content creation.  

But I would make that investment again ten times over. 

The Campfire + LinkedIn is an entirely new flywheel, and one that pushes all of my interests forward. 

The foundation laid in March will generate untold millions for both of my companies over time. 

Here is what I did in the order I did it, why I did each thing, and what I learned by doing them: 

January: Niamh (CEO at S&S) and I realized we were grossly overdue in establishing a sister business that handled our ever-expanding calendar of client work. We want to be world best at whatever we do, and despite the overlap, treating these two clearly different entities the same was diluting what each of them could be. 

February: Thanks to an established network of fellow entrepreneurs, Invisible Ink was gaining traction fast. But Niamh and I decided that if the ghostwriting arm was to grow beyond us — which it absolutely deserves to — then I should at least dabble on LinkedIn.

March: But I don’t know how to dabble. My content marketer’s brain was fully activated right away, so I rolled into the month building a website, since LinkedIn is a hub, not a headquarters, and committed to posting daily content for the first time in fifteen years. Names breed identity fast, so I called my new site the Campfire. 

By the second week, I was stealing from TV like always, thinking in series and determined to pilot everything. It’s easier to get my ideas out in long form, so I needed to focus on creating sustainable content for the Campfire. Meaning, it had to be fun for me to make and offer value to the visitor. 

And of course it would need a newsletter. 

GODDAMMIT! How did I get here? A motherfucking newsletter? Three weeks ago I was supposed to drop in on LinkedIn a few times each week. We charge $25K+ for an email series, and are super picky about taking on those projects because they can be such a distraction.

But then all of a sudden, my newsletter had a name (The Campfire Mystery Box) and an identity (improving lives by way of story) and I was having an almost jolting amount of fun writing it. 

More idearrhea …

After three weeks of creating Campfire content (and wrestling with some shame at what felt suspiciously like self-indulgence), new ideas for LinkedIn kept scorching my brain. 

I saw what kinds of content were working, which styles resonated with me, and what was scaleable. In other words, what I could write on repeat that would feel fresh for readers and me both.

Last week, I created a month’s worth of content in multiple categories. These ideas are all over the place, while maintaining a consistent style. 

I cleaned up my profile. For example, this Storyteller | Bestselling Author | Premium Ghostwriter | Indie-Publishing Pioneer | Founder of Sterling & Stone | Co-Founder of Invisible Ink Media went to:

I help authors, thought leaders, and brands amplify their message, scaling impact and income with narrative design (better stories = better life). 

I tried a few LinkedIn specific tools and did not come remotely close to connecting with any of them, and ended up thrilled to be using Buffer again, ten years later. 

Lincoln’s adage about sharpening his axe hits home with striking force. Some ideas will flourish; others will be unceremoniously cut. But regardless of what happens in April, the LinkedIn experiment has already paid off. 

I’ve had messages or emails from 100+ people, old friends and a few new ones I would not be in contact with right now if it was not for my time on LinkedIn, already making a difference in my business and life. 

  • A pipeline of constant referrals for the exact kind of perennial sellers Invisible Ink specializes in.
  • One of Sterling & Stone’s oldest friends and partners is back with the studio, building tools that are worth much more than any revenue lost.
  • A partner looking to license an ungodly amount of IP for their platform.
  • Multiple leads for ghostwriting clients and studio talent. 

Best of all (I’m a dumbass for not seeing this sooner), LinkedIn has been a great place to socialize with the people I do business with, or can help tell better stories, outside the studio.  

I’ve lost some of that connection over the last several years, so this last month has also served me a heaping spoonful of self-care.

This week I’ll be posting 3-4 times a day on LinkedIn, and adding something to the Features Section no later than Friday. 

Last week I posted once a day on LinkedIn, immediately reversing my plan to post 3-4 times daily after some research made me feel like it was a 50-50 shot of being better than once daily at best. No reason to burn through my content otherwise.

I iterated on my header image several times, before landing on one that works really well, modeled after what Lara Costa’s hero image.

I added services: brand consulting, premium ghostwriting, and email marketing.

I added a link to join the Campfire Mystery Box up top in my profile, and below in the featured section.

I wrote a post about bacon after getting the idea from a Luke Matthews comment. I tagged him as bait, both in my own comment section and in reply to the comment I left earlier, but did not get a response.

I sent an email to the Smarter Artist list telling them that I was on LinkedIn and connecting with some peeps that way.

Posted daily content, and had every intention of starting a newsletter, but I got stuck on the angle I wanted to take with it. I don’t want any do-overs later.

I added an email signature (for the first time in seven or eight years) that prompts people to follow me on LinkedIn.

Continuing to experiment with content to see what will get the most traction.

I added my first offer: StoryStreams. Made a post about it then added the offer to my Featured Section.

Came up with a general concept for the Plotting Success Newsletter, but have yet to implement.

Changed the color of my listicles posts from blue to orange because they look more striking.

I’m getting more strategic in this next round of content creation, and have decided to make my lead magnet for StoryStreams a priority.

I’m not doing enough, and the little that I’m doing isn’t happening fast enough. I appreciate that LinkedIn is slow growth, but I’m determined to make my time on the platform matter.

I spent the week brainstorming content for May. I plan on starting out next week with a much stronger, and much more focused content calendar. The iteration is happening faster than I expected (there’s a shit ton of content left over in a stack from my last leg of creation), but that’s ultimately a good thing. I don’t mind the spoilage if it leads to growth.

Coming Soon: more carousels, more connections, and stronger hooks on the copy I’m dropping.

I am now officially in a second phase of content creation, filtering the new stuff in with some of the banked posts while crafting another wave tuned to specific growth. Including articles, lead magnets, and auto responders. The first one will be for Invisible Ink. It will be plotted this week, and ideally written next week.

Finally. The momentum is not there, but it’s coming. I wrote the Plotting Success post and first newsletter, plus the May 24 anniversary post. Also posted a carousel that and another post that got reposted, so the content drops are more on point.

Huzzah and a half! There will be a ton of movement this week, all because I stuck to my commitment and launched Plotting Success per my May 17th deadline. It performed better than I expected. I’ll be talking about my seven flywheels over there, starting with LinkedIn, which means that if you’re interested in how this experiment is going then you can follow the updates here.