Updated: Jul 17
Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships. David Alston
When I started on my journey to become a published writer, I knew there was a lot to learn.
As technology changes and develops rapidly over time, it has become an essential element of my writing journey.
Technology has changed our world enormously. We have had more remarkable technological changes across two decades than we did across a whole century. Technology has been instrumental in reshaping the publishing industry and the world of the author.
Deciding to become a published author was a big step. Since I work full-time as a teacher, I knew that writing would become a part-time gig and a second job—a second profession.
I sat down and researched what I needed to do. Building your author platform is advised often. To stake your online presence before you are published—to begin while you are drafting your first book.
I took heed and enrolled in the Australian Writer’s Centre's course Build Your Author Platform. It has been one of the best courses for a professional writing career I have ever completed.
In this course, social media was covered extensively.
One important point. Social media is not for everyone, and there is no size fits all. Some people love Facebook. Others rock Twitter, and some prefer the visual appeal of Instagram. Some people even dabble on Pinterest or YouTube.
One thing to take away is this. Only use social media if it works for you. Try all platforms and use the one you love the most. I have a writer Facebook page because I want a platform where my potential readers can build a community around my books and stories. They have the option to chat about a topic and share their thoughts. There are no word limits, and you can add URLs, photos, videos and GIFs to your heart’s content. Hopefully, if you are reading this article in the future, this is still the case. If not, consider it a historical document.
I love Instagram because I am a visual person. My favourite posts are quotes I create from inspiring writers and people of significance with wisdom across various professions and experiences. I also like to add a cocktail photo when I do venture out amongst other humans. Twitter is where I have made a lot of beautiful connections with other writers and industry professionals. On Twitter, I can check-in and see what’s going down.
It all sounds like I'm a big fan of social media.
Yes and No.
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I can see its benefits, and I am aware of its downfall. For me, the negative side of social media is the time wasted and the feelings of inadequacy I sometimes feel when I see all those extraordinary, exciting lives other people have. On the positive side, I am aware of this.
I prefer not to add any gloom and doom from my personal life online. I don’t want to put a damper on anyone’s day. If I need to vent or share a personal issue, I do it the old fashion way. I talk to my family and friends privately. And halleluiah for technology because I can FaceTime, Zoom or Skype. I get to see their faces, and it’s a bit more personable.
I have also changed my mindset and have have cured myself of comparititis—comapring yourself to others. I find joy in, and celebrate people’s successes because we all need a little bit of gold and sparkle in our lives. I have also taken on board Jennifer Probst’s advice I read in her book Write Naked. I only spend time on social media in the evenings—after all, my writing, editing, planning, and learning is done. As Probst shares, you can celebrate others success when you know you have spent the time on your writing and journey.
How about the time wastage? I limit my time to 60 minutes per day.
But how does this all work as an emerging writer?
One word. One magic word that makes it all doable for me. Scheduling.
I schedule my week.
Below is a loose outline of my week. Please note that this is a guide. Sometimes the best-laid plans do, and always, go astray. Life has a habit of throwing you a curveball. Sometimes the administration of life needs more of your time. Sometimes, time just runs out. Either way, I find that this schedule helps maintain my social media presence without falling down time-sucking rabbit holes.
Each morning before I sit down to draft, I scan my emails. I pick out an article to read. If I love it, I share it. I use Buffer to schedule the article to be posted on my writer Facebook page and Twitter. I do have a rule—I only share articles I read and love.
When I get to work, I sit in the car for 30 minutes and post my daily quote onto Instagram, Twitter, and my writer Facebook page. Then I spend some time looking at other posts on Instagram and Twitter. If I am running late, I do it on my lunch break.
During the week, after dinner, I schedule social media time. I only allow myself 30 minutes which adds to my daily 60 minutes quota. Maybe if I didn’t work full-time as a teacher and writing in my spare time, I could allocate more time—this may come when I'm a career writer. I schedule one social media platform per evening and share the love across the week.
On the weekends, I give myself 60 minutes per day. I allow myself to meander around where I wish.
In between, I might publish posts if something comes up—exciting moments of my life that I want to share. I don’t lead an exciting life all the time, so when something fun comes up, I share. A great meal, a cute photo of my dog or cats or a book I am reading because great books must be shared.
Every Sunday. I go through all my emails and curate articles to read. Sharing the ones I love or find helpful for other writers. Again, I use Buffer—it allows me to schedule posts in advance. Sometimes I have a theme. Buffer does have a free version which I use.
Scheduling my social media time allows me to connect socially (there’s that word again) with writers and professionals in the writing world. To see what’s going on without taking me away from the time I need to write, edit, and plan. After all, it’s finishing a book that will get me published.
I have made so many great friendships on social media. This is the magic—the positive side of social media.
I do have one more piece of advice. Don’t come across as spammy by constantly posting about your books, courses and your business.
I discovered the 80-20 rule in the Build Your Author Platform course. Spend 80% of your posts and comments on other writers or people’s posts—commenting, liking, sharing, or retweeting. And 20% on you. It’s a good guide. Of course, when you have a book launch, the focus will be on your book. But if you have helped other writers, they will help you.
I mean, we writers must stick together.
Image courtesy of Melpomenem @ Dreamstime.com