One question people ask me more than any other in regards to my freelance writing business is how to promote your online writing through social media. Social media is incredibly popular today. It keeps us connected in ways that didn’t exist before. It’s an excellent platform for writers, journalists and poets to promote their work, connect with readers and network with other writers. However, most of us know that social media can be a real time sink if you’re not careful.
How do you learn to effectively promote your writing through social media while also managing your time efficiently so that you still have time for writing? This is a balance that many writers don’t yet know how to pull off but with some simple tips and tools, you can make it work for you.
First, let’s explore the ways to use social media to promote your writing.
Ways Writers Can Promote their Writing via Social Media
You can promote your published articles, posts, stories, e-books and other writing or you can promote the services that you provide as a writer. You can promote via link-sharing on sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also use LinkedIn to post a writer’s resume and also to share links and connect with other professionals in the industry.
The main social media sites are Facebook and Twitter (in terms of the volume of people using them) but there are so many other that you can take advantage of. The real trick is to find the ones that work for you and that you are most comfortable with and then learn all you can about using them effectively. For example, on Twitter, you want to make the best use out of hashtags and other tools to get your tweets noticed.
The first step is setting up accounts that work for your needs and that paint you in a professional light.
Setting Up Your Accounts
Most writers use their own name or penname for their social media accounts. This helps create brand recognition and it helps people find you more easily. The only exception might be if you write under an umbrella company name and wish to promote your company name instead.
When setting up accounts, it’s important to choose something distinctive but professional. Cutesy screen names like “writerchick” or “writes4cash” may sound witty but they reek of 90s chat room vibes. They don’t give you the professional image you’re looking for and they will be easily forgotten. Choose a name and a standard avatar that expresses well who you are and that you can use across multiple platforms.
You should take the time to create solid but to-the-point bios on your social media networks that are consistent across all platforms. Be sure to accurately describe what you do, especially if you are looking for work. When everything is set up, you are ready to begin making connections and promoting your writing.
Promoting without Spam
This is by far the biggest mistake I see writers making when they try to promote their work via social media. They simply spam their links all over the place on every network. There is little to no engagement and when on the receiving end, it feels like you are being blasted with a bunch of stuff you don’t even know if you care about. I have unfriended or removed fellow writers for spamming too much and too often before and still many other writer friends get ignored because all I see in their feeds is link after link after link.
Another “spam” method is begging people to read your stuff. It’s made even worse when you tag or link to the person you are begging to read your writing. You should not have to beg all of your Facebook friends to read every blog post you put out or every article you publish. Good writing should relate to the reader and invite them in because they genuinely want to know what you have to say. Every article, post or poem is not going to appeal to every connection you have.
The key is to put the content out there without spamming and allow the readers to pick and choose which ones they feel worthy of that click. So when posting links, say a few words about the piece, use relevant hashtags and post the title. This lets the reader see what it is and decide for themselves if they want to click.
In addition to just posting links to your writing, you should make posts about what you do. Status messages like “busy writing day” or “working on a new interview” help keep people in your feeds abreast of what you do. The next step is to engage your connections in non-selfish ways.
Engaging Your Readers
When engaging people in your social network, they will learn more about you. It’s not necessary to mention that you are a writer. You don’t need to shove it down people’s throats. Instead, you need to form real connections with people of value to your network. Comment on their posts, like their status messages, ask questions and answer questions and be engaging. When you do, they will begin to associate the name with the avatar and then connect this with the bio. They will remember you for your personality and when they need a writer, or known someone who does, you will be the first who comes to mind.
When promoting your writing via social media, don’t forget the importance of making time for your writing. Some people get so caught up in the promotion process that they neglect the actual writing, which for most of us is what pays the bills.
Create a system for social media marketing that outlines what sites you will use and what you will do on each one. I designate a time in the morning and a time in the afternoon to log into my account, respond to messages, post links and messages and interact and engage. You can also use social media tools to help make your job easier. There are tools for every social media site and some like Buffer and HootSuite allow the management of multiple social media sites from one interface. Here are some Twitter tools to check out:
The bottom line when promoting your writing online is to avoid spamming links everywhere and to work on relationship building instead. Form solid connections online, publish content people actually want to read and network with those with like interests. To stay on the cutting edge of social media marketing as a writer, it also helps to follow websites, ezines and blogs in the industry so you know about new tools and fads when they come out. Try to remember to have fun with your promotion- it will show in your posts and readers will be attracted to this.