I’ve learned so much from this experience with my new independently-published GRIME BEAT. Today, I’m delighted to be visiting with Sandra Ardoin on her Seriously Write blog, sharing some of the things I’ve learned and others that I’ve gleaned from those with even more experience. I hope you’ll say hi if you stop by to visit!
Yeah, I’m in an imagination zone right now and the ideas just keep coming. My experience with Write Integrity Press and The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt along with Tracy Ruckman and all of the other authors just inspired the tar out of me. I shared four main types of marketing last week. Continue reading
I’ve been hearing lately that blogging has little effect on a writer’s career. Really? Because when I started this journey, the first few media gurus I encountered insisted that a regular blog was essential.
Twitter is a great tool for writers and a great place to connect with people who share like interests. I’ve chatted about how it needs to be more social than billboard-ish. I’ve even mentioned how hashtags can be used to promote your tweets.
But I’m going to share about them again. Mostly because I keep seeing them misused. I did plenty of misusing myself when I first started, so the message remains needed. Lately, I’ve seen some very clever twitter buds who would use the hashtags as the punchline of what they were saying.
Clever yes; useful no. Unless you think #mycatthrewuponme has a good following. I read a blog the other day about marketing and one of the quotes has a direct correlation to the use of hashtags on Twitter. (I SO wish I could remember where I got this note. Please leave me a comment if you know who said it so I can properly quote and credit the saying.) Find out where your audience is, then go stand in front of them.
1. First Suggestion: Find Your Audience.
That’s what hashtags are all about. #mycattrewuponme is a lousy use of space because no one will be watching that grouping of words. No one uses the hashtag, so why would anyone watch for the words to come across? Spelling it out: no audience. On the other hand, #Catjokes works! Hot hashtags include #avengers, #castle, #psych; all have quite a following of people who watch for the posts with those words and comment/share what they see.
Let’s say you aren’t a writer. How about you’re a camera nut and you want to see what other photographers are saying or thinking, or you want to find some informative blogs about becoming a professional. #photo #photographer #photography. You can do a search on Twitter and find all the recent tweets that people have made using the hashtags. Watching them and interacting with the tweeters places you within a loosely defined group of people who like photography. (BTW, #cameranut is a strikeout.)
The same can be said of any number of hobbies: #scrapbook #NASCAR #Olympics #Labradors #homeschool are a few of mine. Those are the places where I find folks to connect with who are interested in things that I’m interested in. In fact, I love being on Twitter during a NASCAR race because everyone comments on what they’re seeing. Even some of the things the drivers are saying to their crews get tweeted by their teams. What a fun idea!
Find some groups who will respond to the book you’re writing. Is it historical? Try a hashtag for the era like #Civalwar, #Regency, or #Medeival. Does it interest a special group of people like #Trekkies or #military? Try to find some hook, some common category that people who will like your book might congregate near. I have a problem with this because mine’s contemporary romance/suspense. The hashtags of romance and suspense are used a LOT, along with Christian and fiction. I’m still working on it though and hope to come up with some ideas.
#faithdrivenfiction is a great tagline, but on twitter, it’s where the crickets convene. And it goes back to my point about not using a hashtag as a punchline. #slickerthansnot might be the perfect ending for your tweet, but it won’t get you any extra views. If you want to be seen, usually the point of twitter, then use hashtags that people look at.
And if you’re wanting to connect with other writers, (I use these hashtags when I’m posting about anything to do with the life of a writer) you could use #amwriting #writetip #pubtip #writer. You could also use special group hashtags, like #mywana or #ACFW, but only if you’re a member of the groups.
2. Second Suggestion: Visit the Hashtag BEFORE Using!
You will get fussed at for using #hashtags incorrectly. Yes, I’ve been there!
Having seen the label #wordmongering, I assumed it was another general writing group and used the hashtag on a blog article that I wrote about writing. Sure, they want to read it, right? … Um … notsomuch. See, #wordmongering is a challenge group of writers who use the hashtag to encourage each other to keep writing through half-hour sprints. I received a very nice note from the gal who created the hashtag and an invitation to do some word mongering, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. But I don’t post my blog ads there!
Oh and I must share a great article – short and sweet – about gaining followers on Twitter. http://aheartforgod.blogspot.com/2012/01/10-ways-to-get-more-followers-on.html I swear the image looks like a magazine cover and I was totally inspired! So cool!
Your turn! What are some hashtags you’ve used or some that you watch?
Like I mentioned last week. Twitter is supposed to be set up like a virtual party. Only without the high heels and heavy makeup. Folks make a short comment and others respond to it. If it’s a good point or a poingnant idea, they might share it with their friends.
It’s social. It’s networking. And last week, I explained how it’s not a billboard. It can also be a reminder to people that you’re still around.
Last week, I attended a bridal shower. One of the bride’s best friends, on mission out of the country, called in to say hi, delighting the bride and her other friends.
Some folks use a scheduler (I prefer Hootsuite) to send out periodic quotes and bits of cleverness. These generally say, “Don’t forget me. I’m still around.”
Other people’s quotes don’t give a lot of information about the tweeter. At the most, they show the tweeters taste or values. However, if that’s all the tweeter posts, they are establishing themselves as a prom queen who can’t abide mingling with the little people. Either that or they are just twitterfied and aren’t sure what to say.
The bits of cleverness show more of a tweeter’s personality. That’s the clown in the room who’s major goal is always to make people laugh. That tweeter thrives on being the center of attention. But again, if jokes and practiced lines are all that person tweets, they might as well be a Bill Cosby recording. (I know I’m dating myself, but he’s still my favorite.)
Schedulers can also be used to promote books, blogs, or other links of benefit. Working best with the use of hashtags, these posts can be extremely beneficial. They offer little about the tweeter, unless that’s all the tweeter sends. Then they shout that the tweeter could be a Type-A personality who doesn’t have time for the minions around him and only uses Twitter as free advertisement.
Ouch. Yeah, I’ve been in that pod, though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Hopefully my mistakes will help you out.
- Space your tweets out well. Whether they are quotes or cleverness or advertisements, don’t hog the feed. Put an hour or two between your posts. This lets people see that you’re there without making them want to strangle you.
- Use specificity when selecting hashtags. One of the tags I follow, when I follow, is #mywana. A writer’s group based on the book, We Are Not Alone, by Kristen Lamb. I’ll use this hashtag periodically when I’m scheduling something that would be beneficial or interesting to other writers. But I don’t use it when I’m responding to a NASCAR event or tweeting something about my faith. The folks at #mywana will be more apt to listen to me, if I care enough about them to share things they can use. Likewise, I don’t use the #NASCAR hashtag when I’m tweeting about a writing blog. They don’t care. (No I didn’t say they don’t read!) It would be like advertising a car wash in an Amish village. Just a waste of time.
- Vary your message. Don’t post the same tweet over and over. Especially if you’re a writer, this is your opportunity to be creative! I schedule for my blog posts. I create three different posts and use six different hashtags. (Only two per tweet.) I space them out, focusing on the busiest Twitter times of the day (according to other posts I’ve read). Then I stir it all up so that each different tweet goes to the 6 hashtags throughout the day without going to any of them twice. I know that seems ridiculously complicated, but I don’t want to be known as a billboard queen.
And above all, whether you schedule your quotes, cleverness, or promotions or post them all yourself, make sure you interact. Comment on other people’s tweets. Retweet them to your followers. Tweet about blogs you like.
Actually, I imagine the life of an author back then was terribly difficult with all of the travel involved. It just looked glamorous. Nowadays, the life of a writer has changed. While there is still often travel expected, the optimal means of marketing is online. Social networking. Trouble is, finding that ever-elusive niche, a spot in the world wide web that all of the media gurus holler about, is like a sneeze that’s about to happen and never does. All anticipation and no satisfaction.
I was about to charge that actual authors or about-to-be authors have an easier time of it, but that’s not entirely true. While they do at least have something to promote, a reason to be around, they still have to find a niche just like the rest of us. Historical authors or those that stay in a specific situation like medical or military dramas have a ready-made audience and a plethora of topics to choose from. It’s also easier for non-fiction writers because they are experts in their fields and they have a vast list of discussions they can hold.
But the rest of writerdom tends to either flounder from one random topic to another or focus on topics that won’t necessarily help in the draw to their stories. I’m so there. Chomping at the bit to get my career moving, but at a stand-still for lack of direction. I’m working on it. My direction isn’t entirely honed, but I’ve been paying attention to the websites that are the most satisfying to read, even in the non-fiction world. They hold to the mantra that it’s okay to give it away once in a while. And I’ve found blogs that have so completely explained the Facebook situation that I actually understand it. I learned enough about Hootsuite to want it and USE it. And I’ve even learned more about blogging than I ever thought possible.
All because the experts were willing to give a little of their expertise away. Enough to make an impression on me, anyway, and get me to bookmark their sites and follow. And when I do get some media money, they’ll be the ones I spend it on.
But how does that really help me. I’m not an expert on anything. “Jack of all Trades; Master of None.” And even if I was an expert cook, I’m not going to be selling cook books someday. I’m a pretty decent scrap-booker, but I don’t WANT to sell how-to books in crafting or anything else. And though I know some things about writing, for the most part other writers won’t make up the majority of folks that will want to read my books. How can I make my genre into a niche?
No, I don’t have an answer – yet. It’s forming and I’m giving one idea a chance to blossom a little before I act on it. Would hate to jump into the water with both feet only to find out it’s quicksand. And besides, my niche wouldn’t work for anyone else. That’s the definition of niche anyway: a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing.
No wonder it is so elusive. I’ll find it, though.
How about you. Do you see a goal for your blog or a niche where you focus your articles?