Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Positivity, Challenges, and Hope — July 22, 2018

Positivity, Challenges, and Hope

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I feel the need to expand upon my recent post, entitled When Positivity Feels Fake.

The fact is, I continue to go through extreme challenges, health problems, and so much that I find terrifying and overwhelming. My positive outlook is 100% authentic – and yet, sometimes I don’t feel this way at all, or even close. The future appears dark and uninviting. At times, it’s hard to even see a future. And yet, I do – of course I do.

In terms of consciously appearing more positive online than I really feel – yes, I continue to do this. In many respects, it helps me. And I haven’t particularly reduced the time that I spend on social media, as I indicated I might. Social media can be draining at times, but on balance, it benefits me, and I deeply value the connections I’m able to make, in this way. It’s also a distraction. So, I don’t know which way I will go with it all, but for now, I will remain active online, as and when.

My novel? Not forgotten, but it’s not easy right now. I definitely don’t plan to abandon the project, long-term.

And the blog – well, here I am, right? I hope to start producing more writing craft related posts, in the future. Whatever happens, it would be good to continue with the blog, in some form. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who gives positive feedback, about the blog’s content. It means the world to me, and encourages me to keep going.

I would just like to mention how amazing I’m finding Pinterest. In recent days, my traffic has reached an all-time high, and almost all of it is coming from Pinterest. If you’re a blogger, and you aren’t on there yet, then you should start up an account right now. That simple.

More from me soon. Sending love and best wishes to you all. I appreciate you so much.

My post about health issues, self-acceptance, and being a writer relates.

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

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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

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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.

 

Tumblr for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — May 28, 2018

Tumblr for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

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December 2018 update: New Tumblr account for Paula Writes

I’ve been focusing more than usual upon Tumblr of late, so thought that I would build upon the information given in my Social Media for Writers post.

But, before we get into Tumblr for writers…

Google Plus

Thank you for the positive feedback and interest, that my recent post about Google Plus received. I am fully invested in this network right now, becoming more active, and improving the quality of my content. I have created more Collections, and am adding to some of my key Collections, as and when, instead of just letting them sit there.

January 2019 update: See my post from October 2018, about the planned closure of Google Plus.

Now, back on topic…

Tumblr: Is it a social media site, or a blogging platform?

Honestly, the answer is both. Tumblr is Tumblr, pretty much. Part of getting it, lies in using it. But it does fall somewhere between being a social media platform, and a blog hosting site. Understanding this is important, because it affects how Tumblr works, and how we should approach using the site, if we would like to make it part of our author platform.

Hashtags are effective on Tumblr, for increasing your reach.

As I mentioned in my Social Media for Writers post, I personally use 2 to 4 hashtags per post. The general ones that I recommend for writers are: #writing, #amwriting, #prose, #poetry, and #lit.

I use queues.

It’s kind of scheduling, except that you don’t have to specifically choose the times for each individual post to be sent. Tumblr takes care of this.

You need to set the systems in place, and let Tumblr know how many posts per day you would like to share, and between which hours. Tumblr will then space them out, and distribute them, within your specified time frame.

When you want to queue a new post, simply use the “drop down” menu, on the button that you would click on to post in real time, and select “Queue”, instead of “Post”.

If you can manage to do so, having between 10 and 30 posts sent daily will help your Tumblr following to grow. Simply decrease the frequency, during periods when you’re unable to maintain this level of activity.

Reblogs – which is what shares are known as on Tumblr – can be included in your queues.

The maximum number of posts that can be held in a queue, at any one time, is 300.

So, content: what to post on Tumblr.

Poetry, and inspirational and writing quotes, tend to be popular, and I focus primarily on these, personally. Links are less so. Don’t expect much traffic to your blog, from links shared on Tumblr. Some of this comes back to the fact that many people are actually using Tumblr as a blogging platform, in its own right. In that way, it might come across as equivalent to going on to a WordPress blog, and telling people to check out your site on Wix or Blogger instead. That said, you occasionally can encourage Tumblr followers to visit external links, and I currently do post links to this blog, on my Tumblr page.

Research Tumblr SEO.

This is a new area to me, and I certainly intend to learn more. A major advantage to the fact that many people are using Tumblr for blogging purposes, is that they then become interested in SEO. In truth, SEO for Tumblr blogs is never likely to compare with SEO for sites on WordPress, or even Blogger. However, there are always strategies for improving SEO rankings, and this applies to Tumblr. Google “Tumblr SEO”, and you’ll find some excellent resources, to build upon what I’ve merely mentioned, in this post.

I hope that this advice will be useful, if you’re hoping to use Tumblr, as part of your author platform. It’s a fun site, and very visual. If you enjoy Tumblr, it’s a great place to connect with other writers.

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

If you’ve benefited from this post, or/and know others who could, please consider sharing it, on any of your own social media platforms. I deeply appreciate your support, and sharing my posts, in this way, really helps me out.

Also, I have a posts about Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for writers, which might be of interest.

Google Plus for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — May 9, 2018

Google Plus for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

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Please note that Google Plus is closing down on 2 April 2019, meaning that this blog post is irrelevant and outdated.

 

I’ve already written a post about building your social media platform online. In this general social media post, I do touch upon the subject of Google Plus.  But my intention was always to write another post, focused on this platform, if only because I’ve found it difficult myself, to find much information on the subject.

People tend to dismiss Google Plus, but I have always believed it to be an underrated platform, and worth making use of.

Lately, however, I have had to question my own position. Being honest, it really does seem that posts on the site are reaching almost no-one.

However, for some time, I haven’t made efforts to actually check in.

I hadn’t been posting to my Collections at all. Also, I hardly use Buffer nowadays. The posts that I used to send fairly regularly, through this scheduler, were going, by default to Google Plus, along with Twitter, and my Facebook author page. I did discuss more about my current position, with my various social media accounts, in a recent post.

So, I don’t have a definite verdict, as to whether or not Google Plus is still worth using, as a writer.

For my own part, I’m hoping to experiment: become consistent on the platform again, and keep my content varied. Time will tell.

For now, I would suggest that it probably isn’t worth investing huge amounts of time into Google Plus, if you don’t already.

But I do feel that it’s worth paying attention to, not least because there’s some evidence that being active on Google’s own social media platform may have SEO benefits. As for Google Plus sending traffic to my blog – it has happened, but nothing significant. That said, I have heard of others who have gained a much more impressive amount of blog traffic through the site – and I believe that it can work particularly well in conjunction with You Tube.

For me, a major attraction of Google Plus has always been that most people do ignore it.

Yes, that’s the down side, in that there aren’t as many people to reach with our posts. But paradoxically, it’s also a positive aspect – at least, potentially – because it isn’t as crowded, “noisy” and competitive as more popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Even much of what actually is posted on Google Plus, tends to be spam. Anyone with decent content can definitely stand out, in a positive way.

Hashtags can be effective on Google Plus, so definitely make use of these.

Since not as many people post on each hashtag, your post can actually “hang around” for much longer. Use generalised tags, rather than some of the specific ones that work on other sites. For example, #MotivationalMonday might work for you on Instagram and Twitter, but probably won’t on Google Plus. Think in terms of “does what it says on the tin”. #Writing or #inspiration would be fine. As far as I can tell, #amwriting is a great hashtag for writers, on any platform where hashtags are a “thing”, so feel free to try that one.

My number one piece of advice is to make use of Collections.

They’re similar, in many respects, to boards on Pinterest. In common with Pinterest, others on the platform have the option of following one or more of your Collections, without necessarily needing to follow your account, as a whole. This can have definite advantages, because people are often more willing to follow along with you, if they don’t have to see all of your posts. It can make it easier to cultivate followings in multiple niches, using the same main account. Collections will be featured to other users, which is their major advantage.

Another tip is to browse other people’s Collections, and join any that are of interest. You can sometimes gain followers by doing so.

You might also want to explore Communities, which are basically the Google Plus equivalent of Facebook groups.

I lack experience with these, so won’t attempt to offer specific advice. The challenge, in general, would be discovering active ones.

The final point that’s worth mentioning, even though most people are aware of this, is that anyone with a Google account automatically has a Google Plus account.

If you’re on You Tube or Blogger, then you’re good to go. If the account is there already, why not try posting? If enough of us do, maybe we can make it into an active platform again.

And, of course, you’re welcome to follow me on Google Plus, or any of my other social media sites.

Also, I have posts about using Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram, as part of your author platform.

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

Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and All Things Social Media — May 4, 2018

Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and All Things Social Media

flickr-insta-fb-twitterinstagram-paula-puddephatt

I’ve written about various social media related topics, most of which relate specifically to the role that social media networks can play in building your author platform online.

The problem with these type of posts is that they soon become out of date, and will never be entirely evergreen, by their very nature. Social media is constantly moving and evolving. Because of this, I’ve been feeling that an update might be beneficial. I’ll mainly discuss changes regarding my personal approach to social media, in this particular post.

Firstly, Flickr – not a site I’ve previously discussed, on this blog.

I used to be extremely active on Flickr, but haven’t been able to access my original account for some time. Last year, I did set up a new account, but didn’t do much with it. I’ve recently added more images, and hope to post more consistently on the site, in the future – but time will tell. And I also now have a Pinterest board, exclusively for my Flickr images.

I have joined the various groups I set up originally, although I no longer have admin status on those groups.

Or, more accurately, I have the status, but not on the account I’m actually able to access. I did also set up a new group, called Colourful Chaos, but haven’t done much with it as yet, and not sure whether I will or not. Many of my original groups are actually still active, which is encouraging.

Now, moving on from Flickr: Instagram.

I actually adjusted the part about Instagram, in my Social Media for Writers post, to reflect that I am now using this platform. Somehow, I don’t feel comfortable with tweaking posts in this way, however – even though I have heard many bloggers advise doing so. To me, it would become endless, as many things do alter, over time. I prefer to say what I say, and then update the information via future posts. I just find that less confusing.

Anyway, Instagram…

Yes, it’s true. I’m finally using Instagram, and loving it.

My main problem has always been the practical side, and particularly the issue of Instagram cropping photos.

Anything taken on a DSLR or creative compact ideally needs to be resized, but right now, I’m working around these factors, in my own way – which is kind of what I do. My quotes, poems and other text images – such as, the one above – are actually created on the Paint package on my laptop, and any borders or colour filters are, in general, added later, on Google Photos, which I use on my Hudl 2. So, basically, the practical issues always made Instagram stressful for me, but I’m working around them right now, because the positive aspects make it worth the extra effort.  The community is amazing.

Hashtags are where it’s at on Instagram, and I’m in the process of discovering the best ones to use.

You can use up to 30 per post and, having watched many You Tube videos, and read blog posts, on the subject, I have to say that there’s no clear answer, as to how many you should be ideally use. I’ve heard 5 to 7. I’ve also frequently heard that not to use all 30 is to miss out. And I’ve heard pretty much everything in between. So, I’m experimenting, and learning as I go.

And, as with Pinterest, I’m not using any scheduling whatsoever for Instagram.

I post in real time, and that’s it, pretty much. I find consistency difficult, to be honest – but I also kind of like it, in some respects.

Now, on the subject of scheduling – having reread my post on how I schedule for social media, and the part 2 of this, I realised that I don’t schedule quite as much as I used to.

Buffer has made some changes, and I find it more difficult to use. I only occasionally use Buffer and Social Oomph nowadays.

I use Twittimer daily, and almost all of my Tweets now go through this app. It works for me.

Now that I hardly use Buffer, I post less frequently on Google Plus – which, honestly, really does seem dead, of late. And less on Facebook. More thoughts to come about Facebook.

In my social media scheduling post, I mentioned the Tumblr queues.

I still use the Tumblr queueing system, but am constantly varying the frequency settings on there, for different reasons.

So, Facebook.

I’m not currently treating it as a priority. I update my pages, as and when, either in real time, or by scheduling a post or two, via Facebook’s native scheduler. My group, Writing Forever, needs more time and energy than I’m currently prepared or able to give it. Music Forever, similar – but I’m lucky enough to have a few members who post, and that keeps it going, at a low level.

Twitter remains my main social network, and I love the community on there.

That said, I’ve been feeling that I need to vary posts more, and take things to the next level somehow. I did say, in my Twitter for Writers post, that I only use 2 hashtags on my posts now. In fact, I’ve recently experimented with using 3-4 on some posts, having noticed a trend towards using slightly more tags. I’ll probably return to 2 per post though, as it’s what I’m generally more comfortable with.

I’m not updating my 80s/90s Music Twitter page much at all. As with many other aspects of my social media, this is something that I’ve not made a priority.

In my Social Media for Writers post, when I listed the sites that didn’t use, and couldn’t advise on, I mentioned Reddit.

I don’t use Reddit, but I do have an account, and there’s a possibility that I will explore this site, in the future – but no immediate plans to do so.

So that’s my “all over the place” summary of where I’m at right now, in terms of my social media. See also: Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups and Twitter: Going Into 2018 and Facebook Changes, Pinterest and All Things Social Media. And I’ve also written a post, giving my opinions about secret Facebook groups.

July 2018 update: Please refer to my more recent posts, regarding Instagram and Pinterest.

Follow me on social media.

Twitter for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — February 9, 2018

Twitter for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

twitter-authors

I recently wrote a post about social media for writers – and, following on from this, I’m now focusing on advice specific to Twitter.

It’s the social media site, with which I’ve personally had the most success. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the best for writers. I hesitate to say the best, because everyone is different, and what works for each of us is going to vary. That said, if you asked me which one social media site you should really be on, as a writer, I would say Twitter, for sure.

So, let’s start at the beginning: Name.

Use your real name, or the pen name that you write under, unless there’s a particular reason not to do so.

Your profile picture should be a photograph of yourself – unless, again, there is a definite reason not to use your own image.

Use a logo, if appropriate – but no profile pictures featuring your pet dog or guinea pig, however cute said pet might be. If you want to feature your books, incorporate these images into your cover photo, whilst still allowing potential readers to see you, as the face of your author brand.

It’s usually advisable to use the same profile picture, for your various social media accounts.

It makes it so much easier for people to find you, if you look the same on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and so on. It’s generally recommended to use consistent cover pictures as well, although this can be difficult in practice, because different dimensions are required for each site. It’s certainly the ideal, but I must admit that my own cover images are currently not consistent, across the board.

Ensure that your profile information is complete, and that you include the URL of your website or blog, if you have one.

If you don’t yet have your own site, maybe link to your Facebook “fan” page, You Tube profile, or whichever site or profile seems most appropriate.

Consistency is very much key with Twitter.

This is the case with social media in general, but particularly so, when it comes to Twitter. You should definitely make use of scheduling and, if you can’t afford to pay for this, don’t worry. I’ve never paid to schedule my social media posts. There are so many free options and, for more information about schedulers, with an emphasis upon free alternatives, I recommend reading my post about how I schedule for social media. There’s also a follow-up post, in which I expand upon the information given in part one.

Post as frequently as 10 + times daily, for optimum results.

Yes, seriously. As long as you’re spacing your Tweets out, using some sort of scheduling system, it won’t be too much. Twitter moves fast, and you have to be posting regularly, if you want many people to see your content. You can recycle posts, much more so than on other networks, such as Facebook.

Post varied, quality content, such as writing and inspirational quotes, poetry, and links to blog posts and videos.

These links can be your own or other people’s, and should ideally be a mixture of both. If you include someone else’s link, you might want to tag the person, using their Twitter handle. Twitter is much more visual than many people realise. Aim to include images with the majority of Tweets, as this will increase the number of “likes” and Retweets that you receive.

Use hashtags.

They make a significant difference to your reach, and you will definitely be missing out, if you’re not including them. Don’t overdo it, however. 1 to 3 tags are the general recommendation. 4 is borderline. More than 4, and many people will view your post as “spam”. Over time, you will get to know which hashtags work best for you but, for anything writing related, you can’t really go wrong with #amwriting or/and #writerslife.

Another quick point about hashtags: Don’t just add them to your own posts, but “visit” them, too.

It’s a great way to find people in your niche, and make valuable connections.

Pin a Tweet to the top of your profile – a post that you particularly want people to see, when they land on your profile page.

It’s well worth the effort to do so.

Although scheduling can take care of most of your posting, it’s important to check into Twitter regularly – ideally once or more daily, most days.

When you do go on, make sure that you engage with others, and Retweet a selection of quality content, from the people you follow, or ones whose posts you find via hashtags, as previously mentioned.

So, those are the basics, in a nutshell. You’re welcome to follow me on Twitter, or any of my other networks.

I would also really appreciate it if you would share this, or/and any of my other posts, on social media. It makes a difference, and means a lot to me. Thank you for your support.

I also have posts about using Google Plus, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, as part of your author platform.

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform — February 1, 2018

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform

social-media-authorsAs writers, we should be building our online platforms.

 

In days gone by, there was no internet, let alone social media, and writers still managed to get their work out there. However, it was much more difficult to do so. Not to use social media nowadays, as a writer, would put you at a serious disadvantage.

 

The question is, where do you start?

 

There are so many social media networks now. Do you need to be on them all? I would say, definitely not. In fact, there are so many alternatives that 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.  Aim to include as much evergreen content as possible, on your website or blog.

 

 

Personally, my primary channel is Twitter.

 

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers. Post regular, quality content: a combination of links, writing and inspirational quotes, videos, and so on. Ideally, post a mixture of your own content, and that of others, in your niche, or related areas.

 

Definitely, make use of scheduling, as consistency is key with Twitter, but do also ensure that you make time to engage with others on the platform.

 

Checking in daily, or at least most days, will help, although it doesn’t matter, if you can’t always keep this up, as long as you remain active, via scheduled posts – and make the effort to engage, when you do go on.

 

And 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 them altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend using #amwriting or/and #writerslife, on most writing related posts. Others that I regularly use are: #writing, #writingforever, #writetip, and #poetry.

 

Then, of course, there’s Facebook.

 

With even more forthcoming changes, that will impact upon the, already limited, reach of our Facebook pages, many people feel that it’s no longer a viable channel. I personally believe that it’s advisable for writers to have Facebook pages, but not to rely upon them as a primary traffic source. That is, unless you’re in a position to run paid ads.

 

Facebook groups, on the other hand, are a different matter, and probably the way forward, for writers who want to remain active on the site.

 

They are certainly time-consuming but, as long as you love using Facebook, can provide that ideal space, in which to build a community. If you don’t fancy starting up your own group, it might be a good idea to join a few existing ones, and participate in those. My own group, Writing Forever, at the time of writing, is comparatively new, and welcomes new members.

 

Tumblr, a very visual site, has a strong writing community.

 

Poetry, and writing and inspirational quotes, are popular. Tumblr drives very little traffic to my blog, but I find the site inspiring and enjoyable to use, and have received positive feedback on my posts.

 

Hashtags are effective on here, but not exactly the same ones as on other sites, such as Twitter.

 

Try #writing, #lit, #prose, and #poetry. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I’ve heard that only the first 5 tags register on Tumblr’s search facilities. Beyond that, they only function to search within your own Tumblr page. I tend to use 2-4 tags on Tumblr. I do also find the queueing system – mentioned in my social media scheduling post – invaluable.

 

Google Plus – now, this is an interesting one.

 

In general, people tend to dismiss it, but actually, I really like it, and think that it’s worth taking just a little time to investigate this network. If nothing else, because it’s part of Google, and being active on here does appear to help somewhat with SEO.

 

If you have a Google account – which anyone who has a You Tube channel, or Blogger site, does – you automatically have a Google Plus page.

 

It doesn’t take much effort to update it, now and again.

 

Hashtags do work on Google Plus, but this platform tends towards descriptive, “does what it says on the tin” tags.

 

Many popular Twitter tags don’t work at all. #Writing, #fiction and #poetry will get you further than #MotivationalMonday. Sometimes I do end up using Twitter hashtags, simply because I send a percentage of posts via Buffer to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, simultaneously. However, when I post specifically on Google Plus, I opt for more generalised tags.

 

My main advice for using Google Plus successfully is to set up Collections, on topics of interest.

 

These are similar, in a sense, to Pinterest boards – and I’ll talk about Pinterest, in a moment. Collections are shown to other Google Plus users, and you can potentially end up with additional subscribers to individual Collections, who may not even follow your account, as a whole. They’re probably one of the best ways to get your posts seen on the site, and so easy to set up.

 

Communities may also help, but these are equivalent to Facebook groups, and potentially more time-consuming.

I don’t really have enough experience to comment upon their benefits or otherwise, but they may be worth exploring.

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

 

I more or less ignored Pinterest for years, but lately, I’ve become obsessed.

 

I’m building my Pinterest boards, and learning more about the platform via various blog posts and You Tube videos. And yes, You Tube is awesome, and coming next on my list.

 

As for Pinterest – well, I’m exploring it, and loving it, but am very much in the early stages.

 

It’s more of a visual search engine, rather than a conventional social media site, and I’ve heard amazing things about Pinterest, for driving website traffic. That said, I’m not using any sort of scheduling, Boardboaster or Tailwind, and haven’t got into group boards either, so can’t advise on any of that.  August 2018 update: I still pin manually, but should point out that Boardboaster has recently closed down. I do now have some experience with group boards. My Pinterest post elaborates.

 

July 2018 update: See my recent post about using Pinterest, as part of your author platform.

 

You Tube, as I mentioned, is awesome.

 

I watch many You Tube videos. I comment on a decent number. What I don’t do is to make them myself. Well, I did upload a couple, towards the end of 2017. Short clips of our pet cockatiels. But honestly, if you’re confident enough to make writing videos on You Tube, go for it. You Tube also, in common with Pinterest, has the bonus of being a powerful search engine. It’s a great platform for writers – probably one of the best. It’s also an excellent resource for research.

 

So, how about Instagram?

 

Or Linked In, Snapchat, Reddit, Stumble Upon – and all the others I’ve missed? Basically, yes – you can use any of them, as a writer. I simply can’t advise on them, because I lack experience on the platforms.  That said, I’m becoming more active on Instagram right now.  Oh, and I’m also on Flickr – although not on my original account, which I’ve unfortunately been unable to access, in recent years.

July 2018 update: See my recent Instagram for Writers post, as I do now regularly use Instagram, as part of my author platform.

 

There are so many options out there. Hopefully, you will find at least one or two that work for you.  Also, do take a look at my post about how to build your author brand. And there is now a new Social Media for Writers 2019 post, which may be of interest.

 

Keep believing.

 

Find me on social media.

 

 

Secret Facebook Groups: Should They Be Allowed? — January 23, 2018

Secret Facebook Groups: Should They Be Allowed?

secret-facebook-groups

Should so-called “secret” groups on Facebook be more closely monitored, or possibly discontinued altogether?

Following my own experience with a secret Facebook group, and taking into account experiences of others I know, and additional reports that can be found online, I seriously question whether the setting should be an option at all.

Facebook also offers both public and closed or private groups, and one of these should, I feel, meet the requirements of most users.

A public Facebook group is one in which content can be viewed by anyone on Facebook, whether a member or not.

Posts often appear in the newsfeed of members’ friends and families, and I believe that non-members have the facility to “like”, or “react” to, such posts, but not to add a comment.

In a closed or private group, non-members do not see any of the posts.

What they can do, however, is learn, via search, that the group exists, and request to join. Admins can accept or decline such requests.

As with any group, they can remove members who violate the terms and conditions.

Secret groups share many features with closed ones, such as the privacy of posts, but they take it to the next level.

They cannot be found via Facebook’s search facilities. A member’s friends and family, unless members themselves, would not be able to see that the person was in this group. A secret Facebook group is literally “invisible”, in all respects, to non-members.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this could easily be abused – and, in many cases, it appears that it has been.

I can certainly think of possible legitimate uses for secret groups, but am currently far from convinced that these are sufficient to justify their existence.

The potential good does not seem, to me, to outweigh the negative aspects, and very real dangers.

I know that online course providers sometimes use secret groups, but could they not use private ones instead? They would have to decline people who had found the group via search, and weren’t entitled to membership, but that is a minor inconvenience.

The secret setting might also be used by families and friends to share, for example, photos of a couple’s wedding. Yet, there are many other, and probably more suitable, ways to achieve this online. In any case, would huge quantities of random people realistically be discovering, and requesting membership of, “John and Jenny’s Wedding Photos”? And, again, the admins could easily decline any such requests.

In my opinion, the various options of public (“fan”/business) pages, public groups and closed or private ones, are sufficient.

If Facebook intend to retain the option of secrecy, they do need to start monitoring these groups much more closely.

I myself have three public Facebook pages, and two private groups.

My groups will always be private: neither public nor secret. It does bother me somewhat that many admins are continually adjusting the settings, meaning that members don’t know where they stand. 7 September 2019 update: I did adjust my Music Forever group to public today, which contradicts what I said here – but that’s the way it goes, and I felt that public was the best setting for that particular group.

You can find me on social media, via this post, which provides details of my Facebook pages and groups, as well as links to my other social media profiles.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

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