Before you do anything you have to ask yourself: Is social media for you? That’s a BIG question only YOU can answer.
Before you make a decision, read the pro’s and con’s of blogging, tweeting and pinning to Pinterest, and read about my journey below. I’ve included some of Suzie Eller’s presentation from the Write to Publish conference, too. (If you missed What Makes a Blog Successful, Part One and Part Two are here.)
Before I plunged into Twitter, FB and blogging I told myself NO, no, no for a whole year. I wasn’t going to work on a platform until I had a completed novel ready to sell. Why did I need a platform if didn’t have a book to sell? (For me, waiting to dive into the social media world was a good decision. You might feel differently.)
But once I finished my first novel and landed an agent, I cringed at something different: How could I possibly learn all the ins and out of social media? I knew nothing.
Maybe if I took it one baby step at a time.
Over the spring, I bribed my journalist friend, Cindy BeMent (Once Upon a Loaf) an avid reader, blogger and social media queen, with lunch, coffee, and muffins and hired her as my tutor. With Cindy as my coach, I learned at mega speed and had fun. But it was partly because I made it a priority. (I had another motivation, too. I didn’t want to be left behind. I didn’t want to feel like an old lady who didn’t keep up with the times.)
But after I learned enough to get me started, one more question plagued me:
I knew it was a way for publishers to see that I was a serious writer. I’d been told several things: 1) That it wasn’t good enough for writers to sit in the corner and ONLY write. (Unless you had a big last name like SPARKS, COLLINS, KING–which I didn’t.) 2)That today’s writers had to prove they COULD and WOULD help market their books. 3)That for a publisher to trust the writer, the writer had to have a platform.
But this felt so FAKE to me–until I listened to Suzie Eller give her presentation. She said, Blogging is a ministry.
That was the way I needed to look at the whole blogging thing. I didn’t want to blog for the sake of landing a publisher. I wanted to blog to give back. I didn’t want to look at what others could give me. I wanted to look for ways I could give to others. Why? Because, for me, there IS NO greater reward. I prefer giving over taking any day.
But who was I going to minister to and how? What did others need that I had? (Totally loaded question. No, not money or good looks because I have neither.) So I asked myself, “Blogging Mama, WHAT are you going to blog about?” I had so many interests–animals, adoption, tennis, books, business, window treatments (I used to sew draperies), real estate, art, and writing–were among a few.
But writing was my first passion. (And I decided if I went with ONE type of blog it didn’t mean I had to STAY with that one. If I wanted to switch later I could. Did I want my initial one to work out? YES. But if it didn’t I was still going to learn along the way. So far, I’m loving this one.)
Okay, but what about writing was I going to write about? What did I have that others needed? I decided it was knowledge. I’d been working on the craft of writing for ten years. I’d taken literature, fiction and nonfiction writing courses. I had a degree in business. I’d teach others about the business of writing. (Or try.)
How did teens enter the picture? I LOVE being surrounded by young people. It makes me feel young. I enjoy them, and inside I still feel like one. (But please let me know if I start sounding like one. That’s NOT me.)
Fear edged my thoughts. What if I’m a failure? What if no one comes to my site? What if I suck at mentoring others? And then Suzie reminded us in class of the SCARIEST PART OF BLOGGING (but also the most rewarding): EVERY HIT IS A PERSON. Could I handle people peeking in on my writing? What if I let them down? A friend asked me, “You’re not a teacher. What makes you think others will listen to your tips on writing?”
Here’s Suzie’s advice for a successful blog:
- Keep it relational. Hits are people. And social media is about building relationships.
- When you’re writing a post pretend that a friend is seated across from you and you’re having a conversation with that person.
- Mix content with personality.
- Never spam.
- Never debate.
- Show your human side, not just your brand.
- Link, link, link – Link to others, Link hands with those who are doing what you’re doing, and Link your FB or blog or tweets so they automatically show up.
- Build a community. A community is a place where people feel they belong, where they interact and connect.
- In your community, post “shareable content” at your blog and FB page, share news and events. Stick with your brand but show a personal side. Build your community around a common FELT NEED.