How To Writer: Blogs & Social Media

Social media, honestly, is frickin’ confusing. There’s so many platforms and new ones coming and should you really be on *insert latest fad here* and what should you put on each and ARGH.

So, I admit, I’m not really sure what I’m doing with all this – I definitely don’t have “social media expert” in any job title. But I was chatting to a friend and helped them sort out some of the thoughts, and realised that I’ve been blogging for four years… so I can at least give some basic pointers!

1. Work out what what you enjoy doing.

For example, you want a blog because everyone has a blog! Great. But do you actually want to write longer pieces? Or actually, are you more of a “drop onto social media, have a chat, share some stuff, vanish again” person? (Twitter). Do you like images and interaction? (Instagram, Snapchat). Would you rather be doing your own little collections of images (Pinterest) or random stuff (Tumblr)? Do you want to chat about writing or book stuff? (Reddit). There’s loads of other social media out there and so you can pick and choose what suits your style!

It’s also what’s appropriate for your profession or what you’re intending to blog about. Instagram is great for arty stuff – for example, pottery? Whereas if I try to take pictures of my writing, it…really doesn’t work too well. Check out what your focus is and work out what’s going to fit that best, too.

2. Be honest about the effort and time you can put in.

It’s great that you’ve got all these thoughts and opinions, and you actually want to write a blog – but you never quite get round to writing them up, or there’s a whole load of drafts that never get finished…

If you pick a social media account, you’ve actually got to use it.

There are shortcuts – like doing a whole bunch of arty photos in one and then using them over a longer time period, or spending an evening writing draft posts and then taking 5 minutes to finish them as you need them. I’ve got a whole bunch of shortcuts that I use like doing review posts in bits; first stage is the title, book cover and link; second is the actual review, third is checking details and scheduling. Once you know what work is involved, it’s easier to break it down and get ahead of yourself if you need to.

But it’s all still time, and you need to be honest with yourself how much time you can spend. Having said that…

3.You can always build up.

You can start at 2 posts per month and then build up. You can do two photos of whatever per day and then when you’ve fitted those into your routine, add another and another. You can do one post a week. You can start at whatever you can cope with, and then add more – it’s better that than starting at posting twenty times per day and getting overwhelmed!

I started with one or two posts a month, and then slowly transitioned into more. I aim for three per week now, simply because that’s a pretty good fit for me; and more and I’d run out of ideas and time. But I didn’t start at three. And unless you’ve got a backlog of ideas and posts, starting at one every day might not work for you. Same with photos; start smaller, and then build up.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff…

There’s always a pile of ‘shoulds’ for all social media. “You must blog X times per week” or “you have to use a zillion hashtags” or “keep up with the trends by…”

Ok, yes. Hashtags help findability. Blogging 7 times per week would be great. Doing endless arty shots of your book (or dog, or clothes, or whatever) is excellent. Posts about X are really popular and will get a lot of people looking at your blog.

But they do all take extra time, or mean writing about something you’re not that interested in. And if you’re doing social media for you – not as a content mill, not as a grab-readers – then you need to be doing it for you, and that means writing (or taking pictures, or whatever) stuff that interests you. You have to weigh up the various ‘shoulds’ with the time they take, the effect they’ll have on you, and how much effect you think they’ll have.

5. But think about the bigger stuff.

There’s also a stack of ‘shoulds’ for the larger stuff. Things like, “writers shouldn’t get involved in politics”. Or “if you tweet about certain subjects you’re likely to attract trolls”. Or “don’t talk religion”.

But it’s also your blog. Your forum. Your space. If you want to post random rants, do it. If you want to blog about something different, do it. Just because your blog tagline says you’re an author doesn’t mean you can’t blog about an awesome game, or your hobby.

It’s all a balance between you and your readership. Your opinions, your online persona and your sanity. Public opinion – or the opinion of your readers and potential readers – and what you want to be able to say. And that’s a balance that you have to individually find.

Your social media should reflect you – or the parts of you that you want to show off, at least!

 

I’m kinda long at this point, so I’m going to do a part 2 – social media from the other side, or what it’s helpful to do for your reader!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.

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