Blogging is the modern mode of connection. Some people love blogging, some people dread blogging and some people do not know how, what and why to blog. So what are your thoughts about blogging?
These are some pointers for successful Blogging:
Find a subject that you are knowledgeable on first.
Decide on the slant you want your blog to take.
Do you want to create conversation, debate or controversy?
Do you know what reader you are looking for?
Is your blogging interesting?
Do you have a regular blogging schedule that you stick to?
Does your blog have a unique selling point or unique theme?
Do you enable/encourage commenting on your blog posts?
Is your blog easy to navigate and clearly headed?
Do you have an “AboutMe” page and is it attention grabbing?
Are your blog titles eye-catching, topical or controversial?
Is the theme of your blog tied in to the subject of your blog?
Blogging, like twitter, is a two-way conversation. The conversation is between you, the blogger, and the readers, your potential followers. The easiest way to gain a readership and therefore gain a following besides following all the top tips above is to follow other bloggers and to comment on their posts. Successful blogging is all about common courtesy and respect. Unless your blog’s selling point is creating controversy or snarkiness – some bloggers excel at this unique selling point – it is important to be courteous and respectful at all times. If you start blogging with the idea that everyone is going to love you and agree with you, you will wake up with a rude surprise. There are going to be people who don’t like every one of your posts nor will they agree with you. This does not mean that you should delete their comments but rather use them to open up new discussions. You may find a new way to look at a subject. Remember everyone is entitled to an opinion. It also helps to acknowledge the comments on your blog posts by replying individually to each one.
I mentioned “Unique Selling Point” earlier in the post. This is a sales term that is used in sales and marketing but can be used for anything wanting a following or a market. A “Unique Selling Point” or “USP” is something that makes a product more desirable than other products of the same calibre. Finding a “USP” will make your blog stand out from the crowd and will guarantee you some loyal followers.
Remember to also personalize your blog to reflect you and your personality. Blogging is about various topics and subjects but bloggers are people. People respond to people. Therefore readers will respond to a person who blogs. This does not mean you have to diarise or publicize your life. Instead throw in a few posts that are personal to you or relate the topic of a post back to your own life and your own experience. This will create more of a conversational environment on your blog.
So today’s exercise:
Give your blog a critical look-over and see whether it meets the top tips.
Is your blog fresh to the eyes or is it feeling a little stale? Perhaps it is time for a blog makeover…
Do you follow a regular blogging schedule? Maybe you should think of creating one if you don’t.
Ask your followers what else they would like you to post blogs on…they can be a wealth of ideas.
It’s all about the tweeting quality of your conversation…
Are you talking?
One of the most underused and abused of the social networking/media sites is Twitter. I will admit that Twitter completely overwhelmed me and baffled me when I first heard about it. Someone suggested I should sign up as the only way to understand Twitter is to dive right in. Well I signed up. I was lost. For the first couple of months my account remained inactive. So did the conversation. I was not talking to anyone on twitter so nobody knew I was there. I decided I needed to educate myself. I quizzed friends already on Twitter, I read up blog posts on Twitter and then I started a conversation. Someone tweeted something that interested me and I responded. Within seconds there was an echoing response from the tweeter and they had started following me. So I continued talking. Before I knew it I was involved in multiple conversations and had more than a few followers who I followed in turn.
Suddenly a lightbulb had been turned on and I could see the whole room. It was a room full of people talking and connecting over shared interests. I turned around and saw a whole lot of smaller groups. Over there, there was a crowd talking about publishing, just across from them another crowd spoke about music, just across from them another crowd spoke about politics. Turning around I also realised there were celebrities in the room but they didn’t have any “minders” or “publicists”, they were just people like you and I talking about things that interest them.
Twitter is a social tool that breaks down all barriers of fame, wealth, class, age, geography, language in one huge online room full of people having conversations. That is the trick of Twitter if there is a trick. You have to engage in conversation with another person. There is no way that being a wallflower is going to get you into Twitter. But in Twitter there is no need to be a wallflower because conversation is easy. All you need for a conversation is at least two people and a topic that connects them. That is the great secret of Twitter. You need to be part of the conversations in the room to be accepted, followed and friended.
Yes Twitter can be a great marketing tool in that you can tweet links to your blog – to draw in new readers – or you can tweet links to your upcoming products and a site where people can buy them. But if you are only tweeting links to blogs or tweeting product promotion and self-marketing, you have lost the point and the true charm of twitter.
Think of Twitter more as a cocktail party you have been invited to by an acquaintance. Why did they invite you? Did they invite you so that you can climb aboard a pedestal and promote who you are and what you do? Or did they invite you because you peeked their interest and they want to learn more about you, the individual, the person? When you think of Twitter in these terms you will see Twitter in a different light.
However there are so many different conversations going on in the rooms but you may want to leave the main party room and enter a smaller party room to zone in on one specific conversation/debate. This is when Twitter chats come in play or as they are known on Twitter as # (hash-tag chats). For instance if you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month, if you sign up to a TweetChat account like tweet chat or TweetDeck and enter #NaNoWriMo, you will enter a room where everyone is chatting all things NaNoWriMo. To continue in this conversation, you tweet as normal but make sure that somewhere in each tweet there is the same #NaNoWriMo, this means that all your tweets will be seen by the people in the smaller #NaNoWriMo room.
As you explore more in Twitter chats you will realise that there will be regular chats in your industry throughout the week. Now for writers, twitter is a perfect hangout and brainstorming session with fellow wordsmiths. There are weekly chats on the craft of writing, on the marketing side, the creative side, the brainstorming side and the critiquing side. You just have to search them out. If you have not joined in on one of these chats, I urge you to do so. Not only will you meet many like-minded people but you will learn a lot too. On my writing blog, Wrestling the Muse, I have a page devoted to the different Twitter chats called #Twittertalk. On here you will find the most regular and popular twitter chats targeted towards writers. Try one of the chats out. You may just enjoy the conversation more than you thought and start understanding the unique charm that is Twitter.
I hope that this post breaks down Twitter in simple terms for you as one more great social media tool. Remember that people will take more notice of your blogs, websites, products and talent if they like talking to you anyway. If you can interest them on Twitter, they will follow you to your other places in social media. Try Twitter out if you have not had the courage to yet. If you have and have been overwhelmed, break it down. It is just a conversation after all. You have those all the time every day. Good Luck with your twittering.
Tell me how you find Twitter? Do you enjoy it? Has it baffled you? Will you give it a chance if you have not yet? I would love to hear about your TwitterTalk. Tell me something. Better yet: tweet me@last_lines or @AuthorKimKoning . I look forward to having many conversations with you in Twittertime. Don’t be shy. It is just people talking.
Join me here tomorrow for Part 3 on social media…Tomorrow we are going to talk blogging.
In real life you may fall into one or the other category but what about in the virtual and digital world of social media? Are you a shy and retreating Wallflower or are you the life of the party and a Social Butterfly? You may wonder what it matters whether you are shy in social media or not but if you want to network and you want to make connections – you need to become a social butterfly if you aren’t already.
Social Media is called “Social” for a very good reason.
You must be social for it to accomplish its task.
Not only has social media changed the business world but it has changed and continues to change our personal lives. If you meet someone new at a party and you want to meet up later in the week, how do you get in contact with them? You ask if they are on Facebook. There are two reasons why people are more willing to give out their Facebook profiles rather than their home address or even mobile phone number. If you friend request them they can learn all about you from your Facebook profile before choosing to accept. Secondly it is safer to give out your Facebook profile than it is to give out more personal information, like your home address, to a virtual stranger.
In this modern day and age more networking and more connections are made and forming through the social media and social networking sites. There is no point in being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand hoping that life will just go back to being simple.
Most industries rely on marketing savvy and promotion savvy. Everyone and every business has something to sell. Whether this be a service, their name or a talent. The way this is accomplished in 2011 is through social media and social networking. It simply has the largest exposure without a very high monetary cost. An effective and engaged social presence on the internet is more beneficial and powerful than advertising copy in a magazine or on tv.
So what is your presence in social media? Do you have a presence or are you scratching your head as you read “social media”? If you do have a presence, is it effective and engaging? Are you using social media to your best advantage? Do you know why you need social media and what you want from it?
If you are a creative; a musician, an artist or a writer, social media can be either your friend or your foe. This is even more important for a relative unknown or an up-and-coming-not-quite-there-yet star. The creative industries are one of the most difficult industries to get a foot in the door. They are completely subjective industries where most times you are judged on yourself and the impression you give before they will give you a chance to be judged on your talent. This brings us to the old scenario where a young and hopeful graduate is ready to enter the work-world but in countless interviews is told that though they have the qualifications and the look, they don’t have the experience to get the job? This always leaves the young graduate despondent because how does he/she get experience if they can’t get a job in the first place?
So as a creative wanting to break into your chosen sphere, how do you get the bigwigs – these are usually corporates who think with their wallets and guard their time jealously – to sit up and pay attention to you?
You get online! You could do a number of other cost and time consuming activities to engage their attention but at this point your cost and your time is probably limited. So the easiest way is to build an effective and engaging social media that is market-savvy to your specific industry. How? Below is the set of tools available to you in social media…
Now you may be looking at this and think there are way too many options up there and counting away the hours it will take to build a social presence in each of these media tools…Fear not! These may be all the tools available to you but you do not need to use every one of these tools. You need to choose which are the best tools. When considering that, you need to focus on these factors:
What is best for you as an individual?
What is best for your talent/service as a marketing tool?
It is all about who you know in this world so what is best for your talent/service as a networking tool?
What are the most popular social media sites used by your future colleagues in your industry?
What are the most popular and watched sites by the bigwigs and decision makers in your industry?
So before reading on, take a notepad and a pen and write down these 5 factors. Then answer them.
Are you starting to form a picture of your social media presence yet?
I am going to tell you about what I use in social networking. I am a writer and my product is my words. So the social media sites are perfect for someone in my industry. I am however also an experienced sales and marketing manager so I have a little more of an insider track on how to sell a product and how to market it.
The social media/networking sites I am listed on are, from longest running to newest:
Facebook (personal profile)
WordPress – Blogging
Twitter (personal profile)
Facebook groups (related to writing)
Facebook group admin / creator (related to writing)
Facebook Fan Page
Twitter (writer account)
Facebook (separate writer profile)
Twitter chat host (a weekly writing craft chat)
Now from the above you will see that I have two Facebook profiles and two Twitter accounts. I also have 4 WordPress blogs. Now although writers and most creatives can be accused of having multiple personalities this is not the reason why I have different profiles / sites on the same social media/networking sites. I have a private life and a professional life. I use my personal profiles for personal networking with friends and family and not necessarily friends who are in the same industry as me. I use the professional profiles for anything and everything related to my writing business.
“Writing business”? But you thought writing was a “creative” industry and not sullied with the muddiness of “business”? Wrong! If you are writing as a hobby then yes it is purely creative. But if you are in this for the long haul and hope to make a living from your creativity than you MUST look at writing just like you would any other job or any other Business. Believe me if you want to get noticed and make it in this business, you will need to work harder than at anything else you have ever worked at.
For me the most effective methods of getting noticed and building a readership/following as well as networking with decision makers has been Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. Facebook is still one of the most preferred and effective tools out there. As we hear constantly in the media, if Facebook were a country it would have the third highest population in the world. The next effective method, especially in the writing and publishing world is Twitter. With Twitter you can reach hundreds of followers as well as follow and connect with the who’s who in whatever industry you want to break into.
Then there is blogging. Blogging is incredibly effective to market your actual product – which in a writer’s world is our words and our ability to hold a reader’s attention so that they keep coming back for more.
I have 4 separate blogs that are all writing related but differently marketed. This blog is my creativity and inspiration blog. I blog here on creative exercises, creative tips and tools as well as spotlighting up and coming authors and creatives in the industry. In my other blog, Wrestling the Muse, I blog about my lessons learned while undertaking the adventures of full-time writing. Then I have a poetry portfolio blog, Soul Photographs, where I blog poetry and all things related to poetry. Just recently I started my fourth blog, Amazon Wanderings, where I will be blogging about my adventure traveling. You probably wonder why I need 4 blogs and why don’t I use one blog with 4 different uses. I have done it very specifically to create niche blogs and niche readerships/followings for each blog. Yes it means I have more blogs to upkeep but this is when a blogging schedule comes in handy.
So in answer to my initial question: If you are a Wallflower when it comes to social media, why are you retreating? How are you planning on getting noticed in your industry?
Watch out for Part 2 coming tomorrow on how to stop retreating and how to become an effective social butterfly…
Tell me in the meantime: What social networking do you find works best? What social networking baffles you? What social networking do you dislike or find unnecessary?
Join me here tomorrow when I share with you how to effectively market yourself. Remember writing and publishing is big business. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. It is time to get market-savvy in social media….
This week I have been considering the reader which brings me to consider the writer. Too often as a writer, we tend to underestimate our reader. We do this by adding too much exposition in our dialogue or by explaining feelings. Sometimes you have to give the reader the benefit of the doubt. To be a successful writer you need to remember the skills you have learnt as a reader. (Please tell me that you do read!)
I have spent the last couple of week’s, since the Writers Conference, editing. I have been editing and cutting a lot of my own WIPs. I have also been editing and critiquing my critique partners’ WIPs. To be able to edit, you need to put on your reader’s eyes. As a writer it is so easy to get caught up in the story you are telling. It is too easy to forget, that if publication is your goal, strangers not familiar with your thought processes will be reading your story with the hope of getting caught up in it as well. Since they are not familiar with you as a writer, how will they be judging or critiquing your WIP? They will be judging from their experience as a reader of other writers. In the end, they will be holding up your story in comparison to other stories they have read.
As a fledging writer, you often read and hear, via blogs or direct advice, that you need to know your peers: your market. Does this mean you must copycat other published authors? No. But for anything to be saleable it has to find a market in which to base its pitch.
Think of a bookshop. Is everything just alphabetically arranged like a library? No. The books are arranged by genre and comparative authors/storylines. I love libraries as much as any reader but I do get frustrated when I am just browsing the books without knowing where the genres that I love are placed. If a bookshop were like a library, you would have very few sales in books.
In my day job, I work in sales management. In my daily day-to-day duties, my whole goal is to maximize both the buying experience for a customer as well as maximize my profits by increasing salability. No matter how great a product may be, if it is not marketed correctly – through visual merchandising and advertising – it will not a find an appropriate market for customers. This is particularly true with a brand new product. The customer needs to know what this product is comparative with. Once they have something known to compare the unknown with, you have hooked them much like a fish on a hook.
This brings me back to knowing your peers. Your WIP is finished and is perfectly edited. It is submission time. First you look for an agent. Do you approach any agent? Do you hold a lucky draw for the agent that will love your work? If you submitted your YA fantasy to an agent that specialised in medical thrillers, do you think your bait would take? In all probability, even if the agent is intrigued, the agent will reject your WIP. So how do you know which agent to submit to?
You research. You compare. You do your homework. It is safe to be said that the largest accomplishment of actually finishing your WIP is the hardest part of writing. Suffice to say, the creative end of the process is basically complete but now the business end of the process begins. Your precious WIP that you have spent hours of grueling energy over is now just a “product” in the “shop of publishing“.
Firstly you need to have decided which market you are writing for. Hopefully this thought entered your mind before starting your WIP. So you have decided that your book is going to be the next “Harry Potter” of the publishing world. You need to approach the agent that took on JK Rowling. You will not be approaching John Grisham’s or Danielle Steele’s agent.
You have made a choice on which agent you will be pitching to. Now comes the query letter and the submission. This query letter is your first rung on the sales game. You have to consider that your prospective agent has very little time to waste on reading every submission on the “slush – or unknown writer’s – pile”. So this is your chance to sell your novel. First you have to give them a marketable audience. Tell the agent whose writing you most compare to. Then give the agent a killer sales line that will make them sit up and take notice. In this query letter it is important that you not think like a writer but that you think like a salesman. If you have followed all the rules of submission for the particular agent, you can leave the rest up to them. If they decided that yes, you may have a story that will market to Harry Potter fans but is a different enough story line that it will leave the reader entertained and not bored, you will have hooked your first customer for your book. It is then up to a collaboration between agent and writer to take it to the next level and submit it to a publisher.
Each step of the publishing game from submission to an agent to being accepted for publication is a sales game. It takes market savvy to be able to market and sell your book. You have to realise your prospective reader is going to put down hard-earned dollars to buy your book. Give him something he recognises and then WOW him with something fresh. Think like a reader throughout the entire process of writing your WIP. Are you talking down to the reader? Are you entertaining/boring the reader? Are you antagonizing the reader? Are you leading the reader into a maze in your imagination or are you giving the reader tools to solve this puzzle? Are you giving away too much/not giving away enough of the story? Are you giving the reader the benefit of doubt? Are you respecting the reader?
The reader is ultimately your customer in the business of publishing. Do you want your book to be published and sold? Then respect the reader’s credibility as a customer first and a reader second. After all they have to buy your book before they read it. Writing your book is a creative and personal process. Submitting your book for publication is a marketing game. Publishing your book is a sales game.
Give them something they recognise but give them a new way of looking at a familiar subject. Be market savvy. Be reader savvy.