Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Understanding The Ben Franklin Effect (And How It Can Help Your Career)

It isn't easy maintaining your hustle as an author. Any time you don't dedicate to writing new stories is taken up by marketing, fishing for reviews, talking to your beta readers, trying to get interviews, and the dozens of other activities that keep the engine churning. Sometimes it can be hard keeping up that energy, especially if you aren't getting the kind of results you feel you should. If you've been struggling to get those results, then you might want to explore an odd bit of human psychology known as the Ben Franklin Effect.

Cause it's all about the Benjamins, baby.

What is The Benjamin Franklin Effect?

The basis of this psychological tic goes against everything you know. For example, say you had a coworker you've been at odds with. Ask them if you can borrow a book, or if they'd be willing to help you with a minor difficulty at your desk. Then keep asking them for progressively bigger favors. Psychologically, this co-worker is more likely to do those bigger favors for you specifically because you've already persuaded them to do smaller favors for you in the past.

Look Sharon, I know it's a big inconvenience, but will you kill Dave for me? Thanks.
Most of us treat other people's goodwill like a pool, and every time we ask them for a favor, we take a little goodwill out of the pool. However, according to the Ben Franklin Effect, by asking someone to do you a favor, you're actually building a response in that person.

The weird thing, though, is that by asking someone else to do you a favor, you will get better results than if you were doing them a favor.

How You Can Make This Work For You

The hardest thing for an author to do is to convince people to follow them. You could create the best content in the world, but you need to grab someone by the lapels to make them look at it. However, the Ben Franklin Effect can do at least part of your job for you.

How, you may ask? Well, all I have to do is ask you for a favor. Something small, like asking you to go check out my book New Avalon: Love and Loss in The City of Steam, and to read the free sample by clicking the "Look Inside" option on the cover image. Now, not all of you are going to do that, but those who do have taken a step closer to becoming fans of mine. Not because they like my book, but because I asked them to do something, and they did as I requested.

Seriously, though, don't you want to know what the stories in this book are like?
If you did as I asked, and you liked what you saw, that has made you more positively inclined toward me as an author. I didn't help you, you helped me, but your brain still gets tricked into being more likely to help me out. So if, at a later time in this post, I asked you to follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter, you'd be much more likely to do so if you'd already acquiesced to my first request. Even though you following me boosts my numbers, helping me out, instead of me doing something for you. And, if I managed to persuade you to do all those things, then later on when I ask you to consider going to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to donate $1 a month so I can keep this blog running, you'd be much more likely to do it. Especially if I offer you a free copy of New Avalon as a reward for becoming a patron.

Now, maybe you did some of those things. Maybe you did all of them. Maybe you did none of them. The important thing to remember, though, is that the Ben Franklin Effect isn't a one-time thing. Anytime you ask someone to do something for you, that's a new chance for you to tug them into your gravitational pull. So every time someone stops by this blog, I have a chance to ask them one more time to become a follower. If they're already a follower, I can ask them to become a reader. If they're already a reader, I can ask them to become a patron.

And, sooner or later, repetition is what gets the job done.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing post. Happy hunting, and remember, start small when asking for favors!

No comments:

Post a Comment