Online self-promotion, done right, is essential to every aspiring writer’s career. Whether we like it or not.
I work with anywhere from 10 to 20 writing interns at one time, and while all of them come to me with great writing skills and passions for storytelling, their biggest hangup is always promoting their articles on social media – necessary, as far as articles in online magazines are concerned. (How else are people going to find them?)
They’re all worried about the same thing: “spamming” their friends and followers just by sharing their latest article.
It’s not spam if you take the time to learn to do it right. As a writer in a social media-dependent world, it’s a required, and acquired, skill.
Here are some tips for getting your work out there without going overboard or “selling” yourself too hard.
Promote once per day, or once per week (depending)
This strategy, of course, depends on how often you’re publishing. If you’re posting new content daily, it’s okay to promote once every day. If that seems like too much to you, you can try alternating social networks, promoting a new post on Twitter one day and on Facebook the next, and so on. Try not to post more than twice per day … you’re probably following certain Twitter accounts who post 100 tweets in what feels like four seconds. That’s spam.
If you’re on a once-per-week schedule, your followers will (hopefully) get used to your usual post day, which does a pretty nice job of wiping away the spam feel. They come to expect, maybe even anticipate a new post every Friday, so when they see it, it’s not bothersome.
DON’T promote the same article or page more than once, especially not more than once a day.
Create a Facebook group or public page
Make a group or page dedicated specifically to your writing projects. This allows family, friends and other followers to choose whether or not they want updates on your progress and links to your finished work.
Invite them to join (don’t force it or add your entire friend list without asking if they’re interested) – make the invite personal and give a reasonable incentive for joining. Post periodically, probably not more than once per day. You can even turn it into an opportunity for other friends to promote their work, too, making it a team effort in a more scaled-down environment.
DON’T make it all about you. Promote your “products” and save the personal updates for your personal profile.
Give your followers a reason to click
The publish/post/share or retweet/reblog button is a powerful tool, but dangerous if not used to its full potential. When you do share an article or post on social media, don’t just share it without adding a tagline – the short sentence or quote that appears above the accompanying photo.
Unless it has an attention-grabbing title and meta description, anything shared or posted without that tagline will probably get scrolled right over. Your followers need a reason to stop and either click on the article or hit ‘like.’ It’s okay to make it personal (“I really enjoyed writing this piece about…” or “I know I’m not the only one who can’t live without …”). Give them something to latch onto.
Committing to the writing life means letting go of a lot of fears and insecurities. These days, you just can’t make a name for yourself in the publishing world without a social media presence.
Share your work. If your friends don’t like it, and they unfollow your posts – their loss. For every person who rolls their eyes every time you share an accomplishment or a new piece of writing, there are five people who will like, click and share.
Don’t worry about who isn’t paying attention or who’s annoyed with you now. You’re taking steps toward a long, successful career every time you dare to share something amazing you’ve done. That’s much more important.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.