To Blog or Not To Blog? That is one question every writer must ponder.
I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. It’s not that I mind doing it, but I resent the time involved that takes me away from writing, and I’m not sure blogging has been worth my while. What I am sure is that I haven’t gone about it in a very systematic or effective way, though I try.
My big project for this year is to launch a new website and blog combining both of my writing names into one site, for easier maintenance. In the meantime, I’m still learning as much as I can about author branding, platforms and the use of blogs.
In January, I read Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb, the well-known blogger and social media maven. The first chapter, The Changing Paradigm, was fascinating. She talks a lot about technological change in general, often quoting from Neil Postman, author of several books, including Technopoly. His contention was that technological change isn’t “addictive or subtractive but ecological”. Advances in technology change everything, including the way humans think, certainly changes the way we talk and write. Hashtags, emoticons, text speak… You all know what I’m talking about, like the changes or not.
Lamb is a big proponent of blogging, and while I value her advice, I’m not sure I can manage to do everything she recommends. But after reading her book, I think I have a better notion of what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do. Some of her advice includes:
Be present on social media, at least some of the time; don’t automate everything.
Your name is your brand; use it in some version. Don’t tweet with a silly handle that no one will recognize.
Be careful what you share, esp. where politics and religion are concerned.
I wish her book had been available eight years ago when I started blogging, but as Kitty Bucholtz said in her time management class, it’s never too late to hit the Restart button. I’m hoping to do better when I get the new, better blog later this year, and I’d love to take a branding class from her some day.
In the meantime I have finally joined Triberr, the “Home of Influencers.” If you’re not familiar with Triberr, it’s a blog amplifier. Bloggers ban together in tribes and tweet each other’s blog posts, giving everyone an enhanced range. Since I joined, my blogs are getting tweeted more often, my page stats have shot up, and I’ve picked up new followers at Twitter. I’m still not getting a lot of comments, but I think that’s somewhat normal. Unless there’s a giveaway or a controversy, people are not inclined to comment a lot, esp. where the dreaded Capcha is involved. Personally, I hate those things. So does Kristen Lamb.
So to blog or not to blog? What is your answer. Leave a comment if you can get past the Capcha!
And if social media generally has you befuddled, OCC’s own Elena Dillon will be teaching an online class on Social Media for the Confused and Terrified from April 14 â€“ May 11, 2014. I’m not terrified, but I often find myself confused, so I’ll be taking the class.
Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont
by Jenny Hansen
Then, last night, my critique partners and I had a little pre-party getting ready for the launch over at Writers In The Storm later today.
Where else is the party breaking out today??
And of course, it’s all James, all the time over at my site, More Cowbell. 🙂
Iâ€™m thinking a picture of my Little Devil will be in orderâ€¦something with her Elmo chair, since itâ€™s redâ€¦. Hmmm, I DEFINITELY want to be on that wall!
What about you? Are you a James Rollins’ fan? Do you plan to come play with the rest of us on #DevilColony?
by Jenny Hansen
A few months back my boss at the part-time job (that is really a full-time job) asked me to research Twitter. And oh, the rapture of getting paid for doing something that benefitted my writing career!
In the last 10 weeks, the traffic level at Writers In The Storm (my group blog site) has risen more than 500%, my exposure to amazing writing links has risen at least that much and Iâ€™ve met some fantastic people who have been more than generous with their knowledge (Elizabeth S. Craig and Kristen Lamb both come to mind).
Most important of all, my creativity is soaring. Iâ€™m thinking about writing and connecting to my fellow artists ALL THE TIME.
Writers need to interact with other people who write and are creative â€“ to learn, to commiserate, to brainstorm, to vent. By the end of my first week on Twitter, it was clear to me that all of the new information available on Craft and writing tools is equivalent to attending a conference each month. Even if you are a multi-pubbed author and arenâ€™t as into the Craft information, you need readers and exposure, donâ€™t you? Facebook should not be the only social media tool in your author platform.
For those of you that get jazzed after this blog and want to get started, here are some tips that I sent my boss as well as some observations of my own.
â€¢ 7 steps to plan BEFORE starting your Twitter account: http://ezinearticles.com/?7-Tips-For-Starting-on-Twitter—The-Deceivingly-Simple-Social-Media-Platform&id=2501605
â€¢ Sign up for a Twitter account: http://www.twitip.com/how-to-set-up-a-twitter-account/
â€¢ Last of all, 10 Basic Rules of Twitter: http://www.influentialmarketingblog.com/weblog/2009/08/10-basic-rules-of-twitter-and-how-to-avoid-being-a-twanker.html
â€¢ Expert: Chris Brogan is thought well of in social media circles and has great things to say about business and writing â€“ you might read him when you have time: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/category/socialmedia/
Here are some highlights of the 10 Basic Rules:
As you start Twittering, remember to focus on engaging in conversations with your followers rather than pushing or selling your own products and content. If followers feel they’re being sold to, they’ll unfollow and block you faster than they’ll hang up on your annoying IVR (and then Tweet about it). A few guidelines:
â€¢ Use @ replies to comment back to your followers’ Tweets
Note: You cannot send direct messages (DMâ€™s) to people who donâ€™t Follow you so the @ replies are often the only way to get info to someone you want to speak with.
â€¢ ReTweet liberally. To reTweet a user’s Tweet, simply write “RT @username” and cut and paste the content of the original Tweet. Or just use the RT button if your desktop or smartphone app has one.
â€¢ Post links to articles and content you think your users would find interesting. A good guide is Chris Brogan’s rule of promoting other people’s content eight times more often than you promote your own.
â€¢ Post links to your own content, but see above.
Last but not least, You might enjoy â€œTweetie,â€ the iPhone app for Twitter: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twitter/id333903271?mt=8 (there is also Twitter for the Android).
What the experts say:
OCC was lucky enough to hear marketing guru Penny Sansevieri, the author of Red Hot Internet Publicity, speak several months back and I subscribed to her newsletter. Below are her Six Quick Tips for Twitter Success:
1. A bio is a must. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that 82% of unsuccessful Twitter accounts have little or no bio information.
2. You should provide more than 3 links per 20 tweets and you should update more than once a day.
3. If you don’t provide links in your tweets, you should plan to post more often (studies suggest as much as six times a day). You should have no more than 15 updates a day.
4. Twitter names are becoming like URL’s were in the early years of the Internet. Make sure and grab all your branding and your name.
5. Don’t use underscores_ when you’re creating a user name. Not only does it look amateurish but a number of spammers have hacked into Twitter that way. You don’t want to look like a spammer.
6. Always engage and reply to the @reply responses on Twitter. Why? Well first off it’s important to engage your followers, but second, those @replies help with your Twitter ranking.
Happy Tweeting â€“ Iâ€™d love to hear about the successes and pitfalls you stumble across in your own social media journey!
Jenny Hansen fills her nights with humor, writing memoir, womenâ€™s fiction, chick lit and short stories (and walking the floor with her new baby girl). By day, Jenny coordinates training for two accounting firms. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, itâ€™s nice for her to be able to sit down while she works.
Stay tuned every month on the 17th for Jenny’s blogs on software, computer how-tos, new parenthood and the latest works in progress. The rest of the time you can find her on Twitter at jhansenwrites or over on the Writers In The Storm blog.
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