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Q&A with Chris Smith, Co-Founder of Prolifiko

Earlier this week, we spoke with Chris from the writing productivity app, Profliko. He explained just how their tech helps writers and creatives develop posititve habits, and get to know their writing practise…

Can you tell us a little more about Prolifiko?

Prolifiko is a digital writing coach which helps anybody start and stick at their writing projects. We know that people want – and need – to write, for work, for study, professionally – or to scratch a creative itch. But knuckling down, doing the work, finding the time and getting a routine is often the hardest part – and stops people from progressing. We’ve been developing the system behind Prolifiko for over three years and it uses persuasive technology to remove the blocks to writing and keep people progressing. Whatever you want to write, we give you the tools, motivation and encouragement you need to write it. Our technology makes writing coaching more accessible, available and affordable and our lofty ambition is to help millions of people get their ideas out of their heads and into the world.

What was your motivation for starting the platform?

The original idea for Prolifiko came from my co-founder Bec Evans who was taking a break from her publishing career, managing a writers’ centre for Arvon. She used to work with big name writers and budding authors and saw that one of the main things people struggled with wasn’t finding the ideas, it was finding the time, routine, discipline – and the self-confidence – to write. At the same time, we were both using Fitbit style tracking devices to monitor our exercise and fitness and were finding these very motivational as they enabled us to understand our progress and keep going. So, we asked whether we could take the same kind of methodologies used in these products and apply them to a creative practice like writing. And that’s what we did…

We first knew you as Write Track. What inspired the name change?

Prolifiko is all about helping writers develop the systems and routines that keep their writing flowing, clears away their blocks and keeps them motivated – because that’s how your confidence grows and your skills improve. We’re still the same people with the same passion to help writers – but we decided on a name change because ‘Prolifiko’ better reflects our core values and what the product actually does. If you want to improve as a writer – or even if you just want to make the whole writing process easier and more enjoyable – the single best thing you can do is to keep going and be unashamedly prolific.

How has the platform grown since then?

The original product was an amazing way to help people log their writing process but we realised that we needed to provide more support to writers to get them started and crucially, keep them motivated. So we now enable writers to approach their goal in small steps and give them far more structured productivity advice and support via email. People love this! Our writers told us they wanted more reminders, nudges and deadlines so we built them in too – plus we give people a challenge get them off the starting blocks. We’ve also streamlined the community element of the product by adding a Facebook group which enables writers to share their top tips and successes.

Theories of behaviour and habit formation seem integral to Prolifiko. How does your tech enable users to adopt positive habits?

Writing anything can be a daunting prospect – and if it’s something like a book, it can be terrifying. People don’t know where to start so they prevaricate and procrastinate and never start. But this is where psychology the science of behaviour change can really help. Our system uses a combination of hooks, triggers and rewards to get people writing – and keep them writing. We hook people in by challenging them to write a project of their choice for 5 days. We introduce ‘stakes’ by giving them two writing ‘lives’ to use in case they need a day off – but we make it clear that if they use both lives they’re off the challenge. We make it less intimidating by encouraging people to approach their large goal in small steps and we incorporate a system of reminders so people receive external nudges. We also ask that writers check in with us and share their goals – which makes people feel accountable and committed. Lastly, once people achieve a 5-day writing streak they feel rewarded, motivated and we hope inspired to continue – which they can also do through moving through the product.

How does Prolifiko’s tracking enable users to get to know their own writing practice?

When you’re in the middle of a writing project you’re too close to understand what your ‘writing process’ really is – especially if you’re starting out. But understanding how you write and what works (and doesn’t work) for you is vital in helping you to stay motivated and moving forward.

Tracking your progress – logging it over time – helps you get to know your process better. It helps you spot patterns in your behaviour and so, able calibrate your writing process as a result. But not only that, tracking means that you can also see how far your writing has come. I cannot stress how motivating it is for writers to see that they’ve written for 5 days, 10 days in a row – that they’ve met their goal. In future we want to display this in a graphical way so people get an instant overview of their progress over time.

Will audio be integrated? And what do you think the benefits of this will be to users?

Absolutely! – but we need to perfect the productivity system first. In time, we have plans to add a micro-learning element into Prolifiko that will be audio-based. These audio ‘lessons’ would be genre specific and sit along side the more generic productivity focussed advice we already provide. Users will be able to subscribe to an audio lesson that fits with their writing ambitions – whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, essay or blog writing – the sky’s the limit! We already have a free audio prototype available of a 5-day writing prompts course for anyone who wants to try it. Aimed at creative writers, the course was written by and features Julia Bell, novelist and creative writing course director for Birkbeck University, London. Check it out on Soundcloud for free if you’re interested.

Finally, what’s next for Prolifiko?

Lots of exciting things! We’ll be announcing a new writing productivity webinar and ebook which will be using to deliver all our learning around behaviour change and habits. We’re also writing a book (using Prolifiko of course) to accompany the webinar. Last but not least, we’ll also be offering our Prolifiko system and methodology as a white-labelled B2B product to course providers, content producers and publishers. We already have some hugely exciting projects in the pipeline with some global organisations. This means we can extend the support we can provide and through our partners, help even more people finish what they start.


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