Friday, October 11, 2013

How to set up a social media presence for a writer (Twitter, Facebook, linking, Blogger, YouTube, etc):


…by someone who had no idea what he was doing when he got into this:

TRUTH: pictures make people look :-)
As a writer who has been trying to learn about what I need to do to make it in the business, one thing I was told to do over and over was build myself a social media presence. Somewhere online, I read that the best time to start promoting your book was three years ago. So, as someone who didn’t even have a Twitter yet, this was tough news.

Before, I was a one-platform kind of guy. In high school, I used Xanga. Then Facebook finally opened to my University, and I made the jump (and got rid of my Xanga). That was it, though. For so long, I had only used Facebook and nothing else. Then I decided that my only goal in life was to become a professional writer, and that had to change.

So, this blog post will be beginning at the very basic level, and I won’t claim to know it all. If you have input on something I missed, please let me know in the comments!


STEP 1: Setting up your blog

I use Blogger, because Google owns my soul. I started out trying to use Wordpress, but honestly, I found that platform to be confusing and illogical in it’s setup. So, if you want help with a Wordpress, try someone else.

Blogger, however, is simple. Set up an account, push the button to start a blog, and then pick a basic design. Done! Now, my blog has a customized background image and banner. You can use the “Customize” button on the “Layout” tab to add a better background image. You can do what you want, but make sure your readers can actually READ the text on your blog. Don’t add so many glowing stars and half-transparent boxes that your blog is hard to read. Make sure you use high-contrasting colors for the text, for example, dark backgrounds need bright colored text. Dark on dark is bad. SEE???? White on white is bad. Reading is the most important part of a blog, right?

Also, for artwork and header banners, if you want a transparent background for any art you make, use .gif formatted images. These are the ones I use for my “Unraveler” logo at the top! I hand-drew most of the artwork for this blog, by the way. After drawing, I use computer software to color and darken it. I might do a post about artwork later!

BIG TIP! When you upload photos, upload them using the Google Upload button. DO NOT DRAG AND DROP. I’ve found out the hard way that if you drag and drop a photo into a blog post, it causes your blog feed to automatically cut off. That means that, even if you select “Display 7 posts at a time” it will only show the one with the dropped photos and then force readers to “Click to read more.” Using the Google Upload Photo option corrects this issue.

Also, when posting a blog, using “headers” will help Google file you in their search engines. Also, change up the size of the font, the colors you use, and other things. Visually striking blogs are always the ones that get the most traffic for me! Also, using that cut-paper icon will chop your blog up for the main scroll, making your blog look a little more clean! Speaking of which...

STEP 1.5: Adding links to that blog!


So, in Blogger, there is a “Pages” system, where you can add things like, “About me” and “Links” and other stuff. One tip I have for this is to create blog posts for these pages, and use the hyperlink option to add them to your menus bar. If your “Pages” are not the Pages option, but instead just a normal blog post linked through the menu, you can collect more statistics about who is viewing each post. For example, my “Welcome” splash page on the right hand menu of this blog is not one of Blogger’s “Pages,” it is a normal blog post that is linked through the Pages sidebar.

Remember, the best way for someone to jump around and see all you do online is to make links that are easily found right in your menu. There’s a careful balance between adding too many links and just the right amount, however, so consider making sub-categories or excluding links for the sidebar that you might not actually need. For example, I have a YouTube page, but you’ll notice that I don’t list it on the menu of this blog. Instead, if you click the “Who is Harrison Aye?” or the “About the Unraveler” links, you will find links to my YouTube there. Blogs should have focus, and if they aren’t apart of that focus, consider if that link should bog down your main menu. This blog is about writing, so all of my links are about writing. My other blogs, such as ClassCake and Oxyborb, have different links for different needs.

The sorts of links I’ve picked for my blog come from extensively studying all of my favorite author’s websites (by the way, if you want to see social media by an author done flawlessly, check out http://maggiestiefvater.com/ ). I cannot afford a professional web developer yet (although that would be the first thing I’d buy with a advance check, lol!), so I stick to using this blog for as my hub for all purposes. I did purchase “Harrisonaye.com” using Go Daddy. That website usually has a few discount codes they offer, and the discount code “comedy” worked for me. I wouldn’t whole-hearted recommend Go Daddy, but it served the one purpose I wanted it for: Cheap domain that can forward all people directly to my blog’s splash page.

OH YEAH. Never forget to add "labels" or "tags" and always, ALWAYS, preview your blog before publishing to check your formatting. Never hurts to read over it twice.


STEP 2: Tweeting up a storm!

Remember, as a writer, tweeting and blogging are just more examples of how you put words to use. Respect that! If you offend a group of people (even those stupid old INSERTPOLITICALGROUP), then you might just be shutting them out from reading your book/stories/etc. Personally, I mainly use Twitter as my comedic outlet. I’ve found that funny people are the ones I most enjoy following, so I emulate that.

Getting Twitter is easy enough not to explain here. However, the real trick is getting that Twitter feed to display on the side of your blog. To do that, go to Twitter, click on your “Settings,” and then go to “Widgets.” Create a Widget and then copy the code.

Then go back to Blogger. Go to Blogger’s dashboard. Go to layout, and click “Add a Gadget” where you’d like Twitter to go, then scroll through the basic Gadgets to where it says, “HTML/JavaScript” and add that. Paste that “Widget” code from Twitter, and submit. You should now have a shiny new Twitter feed on your blog.

While you’re at it, there are a few more Gadgets I would recommend. Get the “Google Friend Connect” gadget. This allows people to subscribe to your blog. I wish I had learned about this sooner, but I only recently figured it out. This is the BEST way to get people to return to your blog more than once. It never hurts to get a few “Share” buttons for your blog, either. There’s a “Google +1”
 gadget I suggest getting, because Google’s search engines are optimized with how many +1s a site receives. Get your friends to +1 you!

STEP 3: Don’t ignore Facebook


Even if you’re unpublished, it never hurts to think ahead. You should create facebook pages for your book project and for yourself as an author. Why? Why not? Facebook is the leading social media network, and you can’t afford to miss out on it. Even if you only have 3 “likes,” that doesn’t matter. You won’t get likes until your book is published, but so what? Here’s the way I think of it:

We call the Internet a “web,” right? Ever think about what that means? Every thing you do online is a point on a giant map. Every hyperlink you create between two of these points is a thread on the web of your social media presence. So, look at my blog. My facebook group is linked to my blog. My blog is linked from my Youtube. My YouTube is linked from my other blog. My other blog is linked from my Twitter. Etc. Etc. Everything I do online is linked to a million other things I do online. This is what “presence” is. It’s making a social network of YOU!

Now, about that “web,” for an aspiring writing (like me), what does that web mean? Think of a spider. A spider’s web isn’t for catching the flies that are already dead and on the ground. A web is used to catch the flies buzzing by, likewise, the “web” of your social media presence is someone you can create to “catch” people when they buzz by. If you’re unpublished like me, think of that magical day when you finally see your book on store shelves… think of it like the day that all of the flies will be BUZZING about YOU! Will you have a web setup to catch them? If not, then you might miss out on a ton of potential readers! So, promote yourself now, because it may be worth having it all setup for later!


STEP 4: Google +, and whatever that does for me


If you have Blogger, then you also have a Google account. The only thing about Google Plus is that nobody really uses it yet. Google is not giving up on it, though, and I don’t feel like Google can be ignored for much longer. Why not be ahead of the curve and just setup your G+ account now? Might as well. It’s just another point on your web, right? While you’re making a G+, make sure you’ve got YouTube going. I made a nifty little book trailer and posted it on YouTube. You can pull a ton of traffic to your blog just by posting on these other websites. Come to think of it, I have a Pinterest, GoodReads, and a Soundcloud account… but I don’t use those much. I guess I should get on that. Haha! But one step at a time!

Anyway, good luck to you! Follow me, +1 me, comment, etc. etc. You’re the best! Also, let me know where your blog is, so I can follow you!


Thanks for stopping by my blog!
UNRAVELSPACE UNRAVELTIME