Well, I’ve made a huge mistake. But it’s okay, I can fix it. See, I read this article about a big mistake someone made creating their writing website. (And this is someone who has made a career out of helping authors build a platform, so if she says it’s a mistake it’s something to at least consider.) This mistake is to start with a free website. Continue reading
There are so many writing blogs out there, and so many helpful people full of great advice that is well written and readily available for perusal. Sometimes it feels like too many. I get overwhelmed by the information available, or else I fall down a rabbit hole and spend hours searching around for the next post. This is not all that practical for getting my own writing done, so in recent months I’ve had to severely curtail my blog reading habits. But there are still a few that I read regularly. Continue reading
The initial design of a blog is important, and I honestly did not spend very long on mine. For once, I can honestly say this was not out of laziness but more because the sheer array of choices (even among the free options that are all I can afford) is bewildering. I went with the first design that caught my fancy and that’s what I’ve stuck with since then. Now it’s time to do a little better. Continue reading
In the world we live in, I think people tend to gravitate toward things that shock us out of the normal groove, and that is evident in the kind of content we consume. The shocks can come from harsh politics or things that drive outrage or sympathy or any number of things, but my personal favorite is humor. Usually zany, subtle, ironic, self-deprecatory humor. Not all at once, because that sounds difficult to manage, but that’s my taste. Since a platform is built on me (or at least the parts of me I choose to share with the world), it stands to reason that my content should also have a certain element of humor. Maybe not all comedy, all the time, but I like it when a sudden joke lightens the mood or breaks up a dry, serious piece. (Probably why I tend to like Marvel movies.)
Being funny is harder than I thought. Continue reading
Part of having a blog is finding the niche in which your blog belongs. This is essential for finding one’s audience, which in turn allows you to better interact with that audience because once you know it you can tailor your content to that audience. It also gives you an avenue to interact with other people who are in or adjacent to your niche, which allows for finding mentors and peers and all those good things that successful careers need. Continue reading
I’m still just a writer (can scribble semi-coherent words), not quite an author (published for money) yet. Along my journey thus far I’ve collected a few websites that I find really useful. This is not to say that everyone will like them or should use them, but I find these ??? worth the time and occasionally money. Continue reading
(This is what happens when I make no real progress in a week)
Building a platform takes time.
So in the meantime I just have to keep writing posts and building what I know to build.
I also have to keep doing my day job, learning more about my craft, and keep fixing/editing my work because it will never be perfect.
But maintaining a presence and careful editing will make things better in the end.
This is doable.
As a part of building my platform, I’ve been trying out Twitter, to mixed results. But one question occurred to me as I was looking for people to follow: when exactly should I follow literary agents on Twitter? It’s useful for getting to know them, certainly, but is there a protocol involved? Should I blindly follow all those agents who I might pursue? How does this work? Continue reading
A platform is showing the world that I am, first and foremost, a normal human being except online, and one of the things that normal human beings do is interact with other normal human beings. Therefore, building a platform involves not just creating my own content but interacting with other people’s content. I am not a social person in real life. Thus, I am not a good online social person either. Luckily, there are a few workarounds.
Rule Number One: To build a platform, just reading other blogs doesn’t count. You have to interact somehow. Usually, this means commenting.
Step Number One: Make yourself do the thing. I have to schedule myself reading and commenting on other blogs. Someone else might not have to go to those lengths, but it’s something you have to do at least a little bit each week to increase the chances that one of those other bloggers will reciprocate. (Hint: it’s hard to reciprocate if nothing happens in the first place.)
Step Number Two: Even a “nice post!” comment will work. Think of what you would like on your own posts. The long comments and personalized details are nice, but sometimes it’s just good to have evidence that someone other than your mother is reading your words. (And when I say “you”, we all know I mean “me, but this could apply to someone else and I’m in denial a little bit.”)
Step Number Three: Yes, this is almost as bad as calling up a random person for no reason. Don’t ask me why. It just feels weird. Work through it anyway! Bare minimum, hit the “like” button when you enjoyed a post. Let people know their words did not go unheard.
Step Number Four: Reward self for going through traumatic activity. Read three more posts without needing to comment. (Unless of course you’re on a role and it’s good stuff and you really want to comment, in which case go for it.)
Step Number Five: Practice! Writing a decent comment is a skill, as much as anything else is.
Step Number Six: Build a collection of blogs you like. It is ten times easier to comment on a blog when it’s someone you’re familiar with, where you’ve commented before and they might actually know who you are. Take the time to search and find blogs you will find interesting in the long run, and not just follow whoever comes along. (Or if you do, at least organize it so you know which ones you’ll really want to read.) Keep in mind that not every post is always going to speak to you. It’s okay to follow someone for a particular kind of post. The other stuff might show you to something new and interesting.
Rule Number Two: Don’t go too far the other way. After a certain point, if you’re following or commenting on too many things, everyone will know you’re not really engaging. Being genuine is important, and also hard work, so don’t overextend.
Read other people’s blogs! It’s good for you. Expands the horizons, all that stuff. It also shows the internet and thus blog readers that you are willing and capable to engage and be worthy of the trust readers bestow on those blogs they like.