Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Social Media for Writers 2019: Author Platform Tips — January 28, 2019

Social Media for Writers 2019: Author Platform Tips

social-media-authors-2019

Most of us, as writers in 2019, recognise the need to build author platforms online. Ideally, we should aim to do so in advance of launching any books, although it doesn’t always work out that way in practice.

This post is about how I use social media as part of my own author platform, and includes tips to help you build your online presence, as a writer.

I wrote a post, in 2018, about various social media platforms that authors can use, and shared my personal experience on how to use each of these effectively, as an author. I have decided to create an updated version, which is what you’re reading right now.

Disclaimer: I’m not a social media expert. I don’t have huge followings on every site I give advice on. I wouldn’t say that I have “huge followings” anywhere, but I’m definitely more successful on some sites than others.

It’s one thing to know what could theoretically lead to success on a particular platform, but time and energy are limited.

I offer what I can, in the hope that it might be of use to other writers.

 

The question, when it comes to social media sites, is: Where do you start?

There are so many social media networks nowadays. Do you need to be on them all?

I would say, definitely not, and I have definitely been guilty of trying to be active on too many myself. I’m still trying to find the right balance, in that respect.

The reality is that there are simply so many alternatives. It’s hard to imagine anyone – who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already – being successful on every platform.

And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.

Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error. The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with.

There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind.

I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.

Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.

By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.

A static website is okay, but having a blog is ideal, as you’re giving the search engines more fresh content to find. Even if you blog infrequently, it can help with your online presence.

In terms of generating blog traffic, my primary channel is definitely Pinterest, at the time of writing.

Pinterest is actually more of a visual search engine, rather than a traditional social media site.

I create multiple Pins for each image, using Canva. (Unfortunately, I’ve recently had technical issues with the free version of Canva, but that’s a whole story, in itself.)

I have created various boards, covering my subjects of interest, with the primary focus being different aspects of writing craft.

I’m also a member of four group boards, three of which are entirely writing related.

My Pinterest for Writers post gives more information about using this site, as part of your author platform.

The social media site I focus on, alongside Pinterest, is Twitter.

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers.

It’s important to post regularly on Twitter, an intervals throughout the day, so I use Twittimer to schedule posts. The scheduling helps, although it’s vital to stop by regularly and interact in real time: daily being ideal, although not always possible.

I currently post mainly links to blog posts, and writing and inspirational quotes. Random thoughts and questions can sometimes perform well on Twitter, but keep them writing related, if that’s what your account is supposed to be about.

Use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation. I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”.

But don’t miss out by omitting tags altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend the following: #writingcommunity, #writercommunity, #writetip, #whyIwrite, #amwriting, and #writerslife.

Right now, #writingcommunity is the absolute best. If you only use one hashtag, make it that one.

For more about using Twitter as a writing platform, read my Twitter for Writers post.

Instagram

I’m using Instagram, and it definitely has an awesome writing community.

Personally, I’m finding it difficult to grow my follower numbers, and post reach is inconsistent, due to constant algorithm updates. I’m not focusing upon my numbers right now, however: more so on staying connected with the valuable community I’ve been able to build on there.

My Instagram for Writers post gives more information, which may be of interest. Incidentally, since writing that post, I’ve reduced the number of hashtags I use, as I feel that 20 or more tends to be regarded as “spammy”. I currently use roughly 8 to 12 per post, and my recommendation would be to stay within that range.

I do still post on Tumblr, but have been through the stressful experience of having my account suspended and subsequently restored, over the Christmas 2018 into New Year 2019, period.

It’s a highly visual platform, and does have a vibrant writing community. The ability to queue posts is a useful feature. More about Tumblr on my Tumblr for Writers post.

Facebook?

Well, I’ve had a surprising recent success with my 80s/90s Music page on Facebook.

I think that, at this stage, I would advise all writers to maintain at least some low level presence on Facebook, if possible. Organic post reach does tend to be very low.

When scheduling to Facebook nowadays, I definitely recommend using the native scheduler, as your post reach will be better than if you had used an external app, such as Buffer.

I have a Facebook author page, and my poetry page, Vibrant Darkness. Any page “likes” would be very much appreciated.

 

I dabble in other social media sites, such as Reddit, but I’ve learnt that you can’t be everywhere, and I often can’t cope with maintaining even my primary sites.

Blogging and SEO is a high priority for me, at the moment. And my WIP – well, it should be…!

Check out my May 2019 post, in which I honestly discuss some of the stressful aspects of blogging and social media.

 

Hopefully, this updated Social Media for Writers post will be of interest.

My old post contains different information, and I will keep it “live”, as much of it is still relevant.

But, for example, I had a section on Google Plus in that post. I discuss the planned closure of Google Plus in a post from 2018.

 

Follow me on: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Paula Writes on Tumblr: Current Position — January 24, 2019

Paula Writes on Tumblr: Current Position

the-paula-writes-tumblr

This update is further to the following posts:

Tumblr: New Year, New Start

Multiple Tumblr Accounts?

The current position is that I’m struggling to keep up with even the one Tumblr account.

I will try to post on all three eventually, but for now, my main and original account is the one to follow.

I did receive an email from Tumblr, a fortnight into the New Year, stating that the account had being reinstated – which, in fact, had happened on around 1 January. I discovered this by chance.

All things considered, I feel that my best option is to stay with this account. It’s extremely difficult to build any sort of Tumblr following from scratch – or, at least, it has been for me.

In other news, I’m having technical issues with the free version of Canva.

This, along with other ongoing health and personal challenges, does mean that my social media, in general, is suffering.

But not. Apparently, my Facebook 80s/90s Music page.

This Facebook page somehow grew to over 900 fans, even though I hadn’t posted for months.

Days later, it’s at over 1k and – touch wood – growing. I do also have an equivalent retro music page on Twitter. I hope to start posting more consistently on both.

Blog post, written shortly after this one, specifically relating to the unexpected, sudden success of my 80s/90s Music Facebook page.

 

More writing craft posts should follow, in the near future. Keep believing.

Multiple Tumblr Accounts? — January 2, 2019

Multiple Tumblr Accounts?

paula-writes-on-tumblr

In my Tumblr: New Year, New Start post, I explained that my original Tumblr account had been “terminated”.

The Tumblr account in question has now been reinstated.

I didn’t receive a response, as such, to the message I sent, regarding why it had been closed down. I believe that it was connected with overall changes that Tumblr is implementing, and nothing specifically to do with my own content. But, anyway – the account is back, and I’ve been able to access it again.

I had started again, and was, in many respects, happier with the fresh, alternative Paula Writes Tumblr account.

Except for the fact that it really is an uphill struggle to rebuild from scratch, and people aren’t (yet) following the new page. I’m effectively posting to myself on there, and I don’t know whether this will improve or not, or how long it will take.

Since I don’t know what the future holds, I’m going, as far as possible, to keep both accounts active – and also, one for inspirational and motivational quotes, called Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams.

So, somewhat messy and confusing, but for now, it’s how it is. I have multiple, active Tumblr pages. Please follow any or all of them. It helps.

Writing craft posts should resume, in the near future. Watch this space.

Happy New Year.

24 January 2019: Latest update regarding Paula Writes on Tumblr.

Tumblr for Writers

Paula Writes on Tumblr: New Year, New Start — December 31, 2018

Paula Writes on Tumblr: New Year, New Start

paula-writes-tumblr-2019

My original Tumblr account was, for no apparent reason, terminated, just before Christmas 2018.

I hope to rebuild from scratch, on my new account.

Any support, including follows, and spreading the word, would be deeply appreciated.

As with all of my social media accounts, the primary focus will be upon all things writing related, and I will also regularly share inspirational and motivational quotes.

I’ve also set up a page on 500pix.com, and remain active on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

Very best wishes for 2019.

1 January 2019 update: My original Tumblr was reinstated. Will try to keep posting on both this account, and the new one, for a while. I need to decide what to do, as I like the idea of a fresh start, but gaining followers isn’t easy, on an account which has close to zero. You need followers to get followers, for sure. And more support from family and friends than I’m likely, realistically, to receive – but that’s it’s own story.

2 January 2019 update: Why I Currently Have Multiple Tumblr Accounts

Tumblr for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

Is Google Plus Closing Down? — October 10, 2018

Is Google Plus Closing Down?

google-plus-sunset-close

The Google Plus social media network closes on 2 April 2019. My brief March 2019 post will be my last on the subject.

 

Yes, apparently – Google Plus, Google’s social media network, is being closed down, or closed down for consumer users.

It was announced this week, with security issues with the network being one of the most significant reasons.

It’s ironic that I’ve only recently discovered the power of Google Plus Communities. I actually set up two new Communities of my own.

I’ve heard that Google sometimes do announce “closures” of this nature, when in reality, they don’t occur.

For instance, Blogger should supposedly have finished by now, but hasn’t so far. So, maybe there is hope for Google Plus? Or perhaps that is just wishful thinking.

I’ve always regarded Google Plus as an underrated social media platform.

Compared to its main competitor, Facebook, Google Plus has many advantages.

Facebook has limited reach on business/”fan” pages, to the extent that it’s hardly worth bothering any more, outside of paid advertising.

Facebook groups aren’t doing much better, unless they’re large and established, and you’re able to devote a great deal of time to them.

To me, Google Plus should have been a viable alternative to Facebook, but never really was.

In some respects, being a very visual platform, it should also have been competing more than it ever did with Instagram and Flickr.

 

I’m still posting on Google Plus, and will probably continue until I’m physically prevented.

RIP Google Plus? Quite possibly, but not yet.

 

See my post Social Media for Writers 2019.

Find me on social media.

Google Plus Communities and Your Author Platform — October 6, 2018

Google Plus Communities and Your Author Platform

google-plus-communities-writers

Please note that Google Plus is due to close on 2 April 2019, making this post irrelevant.

 

I’ve already written a post about how to use Google Plus, as part of your author platform.

I did discuss the central role of Google Plus Collections, and touched upon the fact that Google Plus Communities were also very much a feature of the platform.

However, I wasn’t in a position to comment on Google Plus Communities, as I hadn’t really explored them.

I still have very limited experience of Communities, but have reached the stage of wanting to learn more about them. Along with Collections, I believe Communities to be a vital aspect of success on Google Plus.

Google Plus Communities are roughly equivalent to groups on Facebook.

There are also notable parallels between Google Plus Communities and group boards on Pinterest – and also, I would suggest, between Collections and regular Pinterest boards.

Collections are made up of our own posts, on related themes or subjects.  Communities, likewise, are groups of posts on related subjects, and visually, in terms of format, they appear almost identical to Collections. However, as the name suggests, Community posts are from multiple contributors.

I’ve started two of my own Communities.

One is called Google Plus Writers, and is intended to bring together writers on the platform. It’s a place to share all things writing related, including blog posts, videos, and writing and inspirational quotes.

The second is called Writing Quotes and, as the name suggests, will focus purely, or primarily, upon sharing relevant quotes.

The Communities are very much in the early stages, but hopefully they will grow and develop, over time.

If you’re a writer who uses Google Plus, I invite you to take a look, and consider joining one or both of the new Community groups.

Even if you’re not a fan of Google Plus, you’re welcome to mention the Communities to any writer friends, who do use the site.

09/10/2018 update: I was sad to learn that Google Plus is apparently closing next year, as a consumer website.  

Find me on social media.

Tips for using social media, as part of your author platform.

Building Your Author Brand: Personal Branding For Writers — August 27, 2018

Building Your Author Brand: Personal Branding For Writers

author-brand-building

I’ve discussed the role of author blogs, and how to effectively use social media, as part of your online platform.

And I’ve written specific posts about using Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, Instagram, and Pinterest, as a writer. So, now let’s talk about personal brands, in relation to authors.

Not entirely sure what people mean by the term “personal brand” – or wondering whether you even need one at all?

Well, here’s the thing. You already have one. We all do.

Your personal brand is the way that you present yourself, and the associations that others have, when they hear your name. Reputation – image – call it whatever you like – but you definitely have a personal brand.

The only question, then, is whether or not you actively and consciously take control. Taking control, as in, taking steps to ensure that your brand – your projected public image – is something you’re happy with.

Some people struggle with the concept of personal branding, because they view it in a negative light – or simply don’t feel that it’s appropriate to refer to people as “brands”.

I mean, we aren’t jars of Marmite, or cans of Heinz Baked Beans, right? But personal branding isn’t about that. It’s not about labelling ourselves, and what we do, in a limiting way.

And there definitely doesn’t need to be anything cynical about this.

A central aspect of personal branding has to do with our core values and beliefs, and those can be incredibly positive, and powerful.

In my Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams post, I talk about my own core message – which is, and always will be, at the heart of my personal brand. It’s why I do what I do, day after day.

Target audiences are important.

Personal branding isn’t simply about defining who we are, as individuals. It’s about the people out there – those we’re hoping to reach, and connect with.

Ultimately, for writers, that’s going to be readers – and I don’t refer primarily to casual readers, although they’re also valuable, but more so to those who will return. Buy any books that we publish – read our blog posts, on a regular basis – support us, in any way they can.

We can call them fans, although it’s probably more helpful to think it in terms of building a community.

Some authors will actually have a customer avatar – one ideal reader.

This is a fictional person, not unlike the characters in our stories, except that this particular invented person reflects our ideal reader – someone with whom our work is likely to resonate.

It can be easier, and more effective, to “speak to” Charlotte, aged twenty-three, from London, England, than to – well, anyone who happens to be listening.

And, no, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your message won’t reach – and appeal to – Ellie, aged seventeen, or Jason, aged fifty. But Charlotte – or someone very similar to Charlotte – will be much more likely to respond positively to online content, created with her in mind.

Another important aspect of personal branding is consistency.

Of course, when it comes to blogging, and posting on social media, it’s important to be consistent, in the sense of posting regularly.

But consistency also applies to profile images, types of content shared – and beyond that, the colours and fonts used in our graphics. It can take time and experimentation to find the right style, to reflect what we offer.

And, with regard to colour – learning, and keeping in mind, the principles of colour psychology, can be beneficial.

Personally, I’m definitely experimenting with the colours I use, at the moment. In terms of fonts, I use Lucida Calligraphy, Lucida Bright, and occasionally, Lucida Handwriting, on the majority of my online graphics.

Individual projects may need particular, individualised attention – such as, specific branding for each novel or book series.

A novel can have its own identity, and yet, should still be identifiable as part of our brand, as a whole.

The subject of author brands is vast, and I’ve only touched upon it here. I’m still very much in the early stages of figuring this out for myself, but would encourage you to learn as much as you can about personal branding in general. This should help you to gain a deeper understanding of the various aspects, and you can then apply what you’ve learnt to building your author brand online. Oh, and offline too, of course.

Find me on social media.

Instagram for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — July 9, 2018

Instagram for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

instagram-author

Okay, there’s a part of me that would prefer to wait until I had more experience, and more followers, on Instagram, before writing this post. And yet, if I’d waited to “feel qualified” to discuss social media related topics, my posts on Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus and Pinterest wouldn’t yet be out there. Or my Social Media for Writers overview, or my post regarding secret groups on Facebook.

So, I’m going with this, anyway: using Instagram, as part of your author platform. Here goes.

I mentioned Canva in my recent Pinterest post, and this website has helped me out so much – and especially so, with graphics for both Pinterest and Instagram.

Although other platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, do have ideal image sizes, this is much more significant, in practical terms, for Pinterest and Instagram.

Until you can get your images looking great, in appropriate sizes and dimensions, you will struggle on Instagram, and be continually trying to “work around” Instagram’s automatic cropping. Or, at least, that was how it was for me.

Once you have your images optimised for Instagram, you can focus upon the most enjoyable part.

It’s awesome for connecting with other writers, and creative artists in general.

As with other social media sites, it’s generally better to stay within your niche, as much as possible. Random posts may be fun but, if you want to grow an author platform, it’s best to keep posts mainly writing related, to avoid confusing your audience.

For inspiration, definitely pay attention to other writing accounts, but ensure that your own content is unique, and feels like “you”. Also, keep it consistent with your brand elsewhere, such as on your website, and other social media sites.

You need to be using hashtags.

In terms of potential post reach, Instagram is much better than many other social media sites – notably, Facebook. But, in order to reach anyone beyond your own followers, you must be including relevant hashtags on every post.

As for number of hashtags – you can use up to 30 per post. There are many differing opinions, as to how many you should ideally be using, in practice. I’ve heard that you’re missing out, not to use all 30 on each post. Also, that you should only use about 5 to 7. And pretty much everything in between. Personally, I use roughly 24 to 28, depending upon the particular post. I don’t like to use 29 or 30, simply because I sometimes miscount, and am aware that you render every hashtag invalid, if you include 31+ on a post.

I currently put my tags in the description, but many people prefer to place, either them all, or a percentage, in the comments.

Finding the best hashtags is an ongoing process, for most of us. There are dedicated websites, listing possible hashtags, as well as many blog posts that provide lists, that may well be more niche specific.

I personally find it easier to experiment on Instagram itself. Often, I guess potential hashtags, or try out ones that are popular on other sites, such as Twitter. Sometimes I notice them on other people’s posts.

Instagram will tell you how many posts, in total, there are on a given hashtag, and it’s worth looking at a selection of posts on the tags you’re using, or considering, to compare the content on there with your own.

When we’re starting out, the natural tendency is to go for obvious tags, such as #writing and #inspiration, but these are huge hashtags, and the chances of your posts being discovered on these are extremely low.

Tiny hashtags may not give much better results, as the search volume will tend to be low, or even non-existent.

On the whole, you’ll get the best results from hashtags that are somewhere in between, in terms of popularity, but choosing a decent range will usually lead to some success.

Just have fun with it. To some extent, it will always be random, because someone could suddenly decide to look up quite an obscure tag you used months ago, and discover a post you had almost forgotten about. And yes, that definitely happens.

Now for the not so fun part: fluctuating follower counts.

It’s very much a thing. In my experience, Instagram is the worst social media site for this. It does occur on social media sites in general – notably, on Twitter – but somehow, it’s most prevalent on Instagram. The main cause is probably the emphasis upon “follow-unfollow”, which some people still view as the ultimate “growth hack”.

The only solution that I’ve found is to try not to take it personally – to focus upon posting the best content I can, interacting in a genuine way myself, and building authentic relationships, over time.

In terms of driving traffic to blog posts, Instagram isn’t the most ideal platform, because the only link you can post is the one in your bio.

Many people do successfully promote specific blog posts via Instagram, and the usual method is to adjust the link in the bio to that of your most recent post. You then direct people to this link via a related post. I haven’t yet tried this, but understand that it can be effective.

As with other social media sites, it’s important to engage.

Regularly “like” and comment on posts, from your own followers, and also on relevant hashtags. And reply to, or at least “like”, comments received on your own posts.

When possible, engage directly prior to posting yourself. In practice, I often post myself and then engage, but when I manage to engage first, I do tend to see slightly improved results. If you’ve just been chatting to a follower on their post, Instagram is more likely to show that person your post.

 

I hope that this Instagram for Writers post was useful. For more information on Instagram, take a look at my Instagram board on Pinterest. This will guide you in the direction of many more blog posts, as well as a selection of videos, on the subject.

I do highly recommend the post from Mixtus Media, about how to build a solid Instagram following in ten minutes a day.

You’re welcome to follow me on Instagram, or any of my other social media sites.

Pinterest for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — July 6, 2018

Pinterest for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

pinterest-author-platform

So, let’s talk about Pinterest for writers.

On 13 June 2018, I was offline for most of the day, due to issues with my internet connection. And yet, when I subsequently checked my blog stats for that day, I noticed a significant spike.

The majority of the traffic came from my Pinterest account. And, since that happened, I’m getting more traffic from Pinterest, on a consistent basis, than from any other source.

Pinterest is awesome for creative artists, including writers, as it’s such an inspirational space.

It can have some advantages over time-consuming platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. Forming personal connections is definitely fun, and important, but sometimes, it can take over, leaving very little time for actual writing. Not exactly ideal, right?

Pinterest is much more content focused, without the usual emphasis upon engagement.

So, what is Pinterest?

The answer lies in the name itself: a blend of the words “pin” and “interest”. It’s basically an online pinboard. Yes, as in, cork boards – noticeboards.

On a Pinterest account, you set up different boards, representing your different areas of interest. If you’re familiar with Google Plus, think in terms of Collections, because these are roughly equivalent to Pinterest boards. This analogy can be extended, because group boards on Pinterest resemble Google Plus Communities – but more about group boards later.

The usual way in which to “pin” is to capture an image from a website or blog. Pins can also be uploaded directly to Pinterest.

I had a breakthrough, very recently, when I learnt to use Canva, a website providing free – as well as paid – online graphics.

I had tried to use this site via my Hudl previously, but it’s best used on desktop, and runs more smoothly this way.

Through Canva, I’m easily able to create customised images for various social media sites, including Pinterest.

With Pinterest, images should ideally be vertical. There are also specific dimensions, which tend to work best on the platform. And I don’t know what these are, off the top of my head – but Canva takes care of all that for me. If you do want to know this information, it’s definitely out there, so just do a Google search.

I personally use my own photographs or artwork, and quote images, and only use Canva for the backgrounds, and to correctly size my images.

But I still haven’t adequately explained what Pinterest is.

Although it’s generally considered to be a social media site, it really isn’t, in the conventional sense. It’s more of a visual search engine. In many respects, it does fall somewhere between a social media platform and a search engine – and, in that way, can be compared to You Tube.

Because Pinterest is a search engine, keywords are vital to success on the site, just as they are on Google and Bing.

Pins tend to have a longer lifespan than posts on conventional social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

It can also take longer to gain momentum.

There is much less focus upon follower numbers than on other social media platforms.

With the introduction of the “following tab”, however, it’s now easier to see posts specifically from accounts you follow.

Hashtags?

Technically, hashtags do work on Pinterest, and you can use up to 20 per post. However, they aren’t generally well-received on the site, and using 20 on a single post would definitely be considered “spammy”, by the majority of Pinterest users.

Using 1 or 2 hashtags, on a newly uploaded post, can apparently help its visibility.

Personally, I’m not using hashtags on Pinterest, at the moment. Keywords remain significantly more important, and these are generally sufficient to get your content found.

Schedulers.

The two main schedulers, specifically for Pinterest, are Boardboaster and Tailwind. Other scheduling apps, including Buffer, can also be used to schedule Pins. Personally, I’m moving away somewhat from scheduling social media posts, in general. I’ve never used any automation tools for Pinterest, so am not in a position to give specific advice. I would recommend doing Google or/and You Tube searches for both Boardboaster and Tailwind, and researching what each can offer.  August 2018 update: Boardboaster has recently closed down, so Tailwind is now pretty much the main scheduler for Pinterest.

If you’re interested in scheduling social media posts for other networks – specifically, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr – I did write a post a while ago: How I schedule Social Media Posts. There is also a part 2 to this, giving further information, particularly in relation to Social Oomph.

This is a new area to me, but I have very recently joined a few Pinterest group boards.

These boards look similar, and operate in a similar way to, your own boards, but have multiple contributors, and often, many additional followers. They can be an excellent way to reach a much wider audience, with your content.

You can find group boards via pingroupie.com, or simply by browsing Pinterest. Look at the profiles of individuals and organisations in your niche, and you might find that they are members of group boards, that could be of interest.

Although, at first glance, group boards look like any other Pinterest boards, you can tell the difference, because they have multiple profile images in a circle. On other Pinterest boards, there will only be one image in this circle: that of the person or business, whose board it is.

When you do find a group board that interests you, read the information given in the board description. This can tell you whether or not they are accepting new contributors and, if they are, how to request to be added.

There will often be an email given, or sometimes, the group owner will ask you to message them through Pinterest. Just follow any instructions provided, and make sure that you follow the board itself, and the profile of the owner. That’s both good practice, and also makes the process smoother.

I’m aware that Pinterest group boards is a huge topic, but there’s so much excellent information out there – so, if this has left you confused, I definitely advise you to read articles that deal exclusively with Pinterest group boards. You should find some that will help on my own Pinterest related Pinterest board.  Yes, as in – a Pinterest board about Pinterest. Why not, right?

Oh, and it’s kind of obvious, but I’ll mention, anyway – that group boards only work if it’s reciprocal. Repin others’ content, as well as pinning yourself. And, when it comes to your own contributions – don’t overdo it. In addition to ensuring that you comply with any actual rules, use your initiative. Don’t post too many times in one day, or way more than the other group members.

 

I hope that this post helps somewhat. I highly recommend Pinterest for writers, in general – and would consider a Pinterest presence to be almost essential, currently, for those of us with author blogs.

The best way to learn about Pinterest really is to use it. Have fun with it. And hopefully, Pinterest will drive traffic to your blog.

My SEO for Bloggers and Social Media for Writers posts may be of additional value.

Find me on social media.

SEO for Bloggers: The Basics — June 5, 2018

SEO for Bloggers: The Basics

blogging-seo-beginners

Firstly, SEO – or Site Engine Optimisation – is a vast and complex subject.

I’m simply aiming, through this post, to cover, as the title states, the basics. There are many resources out there, that can help you to better understand SEO, and how it can help you to increase traffic to your blog.

When people talk about search engines, they refer primarily to Google.

This is understandable. I mean, we even talk about “Googling” something, making the brand name into its own verb. (“Hoovering”, anyone?)

However, many people, myself included, still use Bing, on occasions.

And there are other search engines to keep in mind, such as Yahoo.

It’s also worth remembering that, in addition to being social media sites, both You Tube and Pinterest are powerful search engines.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, specific to Bing, You Tube or Pinterest, that information is out there. Just Google it – or maybe utilise one of those alternative search engines…!

The starting point with SEO is to write quality content, that meets the needs of your target audience.

If you’re not doing that, then SEO can’t really help you.

When you produce poor content, even if you do gain visitors through search, they aren’t likely to remain on your site for long – meaning that you will have a high bounce rate, and search engines won’t be inclined to show your content to future visitors.

Keywords are vital for SEO, and there’s definitely an art to constructing keyword optimised titles.

The process begins with keyword research and, whilst this can potentially be a long and agonising process, for which multiple tools are used – it doesn’t necessarily need to be.

Many people use Google Keyword Planner, and I have occasionally delved into the free version of BuzzSumo.

However, Google itself provides much of the information that you need. Experiment with typing in potential keywords and phrases, and seeing what results come up.

Notice the suggestions that Google’s autosuggest facility offers – as in, when you type in a word or two, and a space – right before you press enter. Sometimes, these suggestions provide invaluable inspiration.

Equally, the related searches section, near the bottom of the page, can give further ideas.

The process of keyword research definitely helps you to come up with fresh ideas for blog posts – in addition to ensuring that you use the best keywords possible, in those posts you’d already planned to write.

Identify relevant long-tail keywords.

These will tend to be phrases, maybe three to five words each, and very specific and targeted.

For example, I write fiction, but the term “fiction” is incredibly broad. “Historical fiction” narrows it down somewhat, and “modern historical fiction”, still further.  Or even, “writing modern historical fiction 1980s”.

The disadvantage of becoming too specific is that there may not be sufficient search volume for a particular phrase. It’s generally advisable to look into both popular and long-tail keywords.

Your keywords, and variations of these, should be included in your headings, and sprinkled throughout your text.

But don’t overdo it. This is known as “keyword stuffing”, and search engines penalise sites that do this.

It isn’t always easy to find the right balance, but what you’re aiming for is a piece of writing that sounds natural. Write with the reader in mind, first and foremost, but with an awareness of search engine requirements. That way, you should be fine.

Optimise your images.

If, like many of us, you have a tendency to name image files poorly, when saving them initially, you will need to alter this. I have often had to do this myself, within WordPress.

The title needs to explain what the image is, even if there is text in the image itself – because search engines can’t “see” your pictures, or read the text within them. Separate individual words with hyphens, in your image titles.

Including variations of your main keyword phrase in the Alt Text can also help with SEO.

Links are important.

There are internal and external links, and both can help with SEO.

Internal linking is linking within your own site. This is great, as it helps visitors to navigate the site – and encourages them to stay on there for longer. In my own posts, including this one, you can see examples of hyperlinks, leading to other pages within this blog.

I do also occasionally include outbound links, to relevant external sites.

It’s worth noting that anchor text – the text in your hyperlinks – is taken into consideration by search engines. If your keywords appear in anchor text, this tends to be positive. Avoid linking a phrase such as “See this post”, because that doesn’t tell search engines anything.

Backlinks from other sites to your own can be invaluable, and people place varying amounts of emphasis, on the importance of gaining backlinks. Links from high authority sites, and/or those relevant to your niche, are definitely the ones that will benefit you most, both in general, and for SEO purposes.

People tend to think of social media and SEO as distinct from one another.

However, links from social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, can be powerful, from an SEO perspective. After all, Twitter and Facebook are clearly high authority sites.

When it comes to Google Plus and Pinterest, the potential SEO benefits are a major advantage of posting on these particular platforms. November 2018 update: With regard to Google Plus, please see my post, written last month, in which I discuss the planned closure of this – in my view, generally underrated – social media platform.

I also touch upon the subject of Tumblr SEO, in my recent post about Tumblr for writers, so that’s another site to consider.

In practical terms, I would suggest posting your own links regularly, on as many social media platforms as can manage. Also, encourage others to share your content, by including facilities to do so, on your blog.

And one more quick point, before I close: Consider the loading speed of your site.

Fast loading sites tend to rank better in search engines. Obviously, from a user perspective, a site that is slow to load is going to cause frustration.

 

SEO is so important, and learning SEO is an ongoing process. I’m very much a beginner myself, but hopefully, this information will be of use to some of you. Keep in mind that this was written in June 2018, and SEO is constantly evolving.

My posts about author blogs, and the benefits of writing evergreen content, might be of interest.

Follow me on social media.

 

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