Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Expanding Your Audience Through Self-Promotion - Six Tips

Hi everyone. Yes, I am still alive. This post is going to be a little different from my previous ones because I'm combining yet another update with some tips and resources for self-promotion.
First comes the update part. I've just created my profile and first gig on a website called Fiverr, which allows people to sell their skills (such as writing and art) as "gigs". Basically you promise to complete a task within a certain timeframe for a certain cost, include descriptions and variations on your gig "package", and then upload it to the site. People looking for someone to complete a task similar to the one you uploaded as your gig can search and find your gig and hire you to complete said task. If you're an observant follower you'll see that there is a shiny new link badge in the sidebar leading to my Fiverr profile. If you're interested in starting to do a bit of freelancing, you may want to check Fiverr out.
Now a litle blurb on self promotion and what to do. Running this blog has given me the most experience with self-promo, and I have a few tips for you if you're wanting to expand your audience.

1. If you are running a blog, respond to comments.
This is one surprisingly few people do. Just take ten or fifteen minutes once a week to check your emails and see what comments have been left on your blog. Then, respond to them. All of them. Even if all you can think of to say is "Thanks for reading!" It shows that you're interested in interacting with your audience and also opens you up to being asked questions or for your opinions and advice. I've had several people ask my advice about their writing through comments threads, gotten into discussions about cliches in popular movies and books in comment threads, and also had people shoot down examples to points I made in my post. It can be difficult to respond to comments sometimes, but put in the effort and it really makes a difference.

2. Interconnect your social media accounts.
And by that I mean, provide links and buttons to your other social media accounts, online shops, webpages, blogs, facebook pages, etc. on ALL of those said pages and accounts. You don't want any account or shop or page which has anything to do with your online publicity isolated. Connect everything so that the audiences you accumulate through one account don't just stay stuck at that one account. Get them to explore your Facebook page, or your blog, or your Etsy shop, or your Pinterest. Allow people to explore you.
Now, I wouldn't reccommend linking your personal Facebook profile to all your public accounts and letting everyone see your private life. If you want to involve Facebook, I'd create a page for your followers to interact with you on instead. That keeps your personal information safer and keeps your accounts focused on whatever you are promoting and not your personal life.

When I first started up this blog, I checked the self-promo rules of the Facebook writing groups I was part of and then shared whatever new posts I had during the weekends, when self-promo was permitted. I shared to my groups and my personal profile on Facebook, pinned my new posts to my Pinterest account as soon as the post was published, and shared new posts on Google+. Facebook got me started, since I was already part of several groups which had interest in my blog topic of creative writing. But once the blog was up and running, Pinterest became the website that brought the most readers into my blog. I started seeing my blog posts popping up in my own newsfeed because I'd followed people from the Facebook writing groups, they had followed me, and they were circulating my posts to the point where I'd see some of my more popular posts pop up three or four times in my newsfeed. I got curious one day and searched my post popular post at the time on Pinterest and got about thirty or forty results for people who had pinned the post! For a beginning blog that isn't too bad.

4. For blog posts, include title images in every major post.
This post doesn't have one because I don't have the time nor do I expect this post to be popular, BUT, if you noticed, all my posts from back when I was publishing new posts regularly had an image with the post title on it. I copied that idea from the blog The Write Practice, because it made the posts look so much more clean, professional . . . and shareable. Text won't capture the attention of potential readers just browsing through the internet on it's own. It needs the help of visuals. What I would do was search for images I could use on Google (make sure to check the copyrights!) or a website called Unsplash, a site that has hundreds of images free to use without worry about copyright. Then go use a program such as PicMonkey to spruce the photo up with special effects, banners, stickers, and a title. I personally also always included in smaller text the url to my bog's home page so people could find my blog if clicking through the image on Pinterest wasn't working. If you're going to do that, make sure you are consistent with your font and that it is easily readable.

5. Create a brand.
Your displayed name/username as well as any displayed picture associated with your accounts and websites needs to be consistent if you want to be recognizable. This is as simple as choosing a single clear picture of yourself or, if you have a little experience in digital art, creating a logo for yourself. I'm admittedly still working on this as I didn't try to bring all of my accounts together until recently and some places won't let me change my public name.

6. Socialize online with some people who are interested in whatever you are trying to promote. 
For me that is writing (no duh). My involvement in several Facebook writing groups, my connections to other writers over Pinterest, and my active commenting on other writer's blogs (NOT just leaving a comment with a link to my own blog in it! Say something about their post!) made me part of a writer community. Spreading yourself around will also spread what you're trying to promote around. Even if you're an introvert . . .you can do ALL of your socializing for this nowadays online. You don't even have to open your mouth to talk. Just be involved.

That's it for my self-promo tips. A lot of them are pretty common, so if you have any other tips for expending your audience, leave them in the comments!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Life Update & Some Things to Think About

*walks slowly in cautiously looking around* Well it's been a while since I've been on here. I see not much has changed . . . my fault I suppose. First off I want to (kind of?) apologize for the complete lack of updates all school year. I have very valid reasons including an 18 credit workload, a trip to Israel, a boyfriend who is now my fiance, and family drama. I'm disappointed I wasn't able to keep the blog up despite all of that but it truly was impossible. So, I am sorry I couldn't update . . . but there wasn't much else I could do to help.
Next. . . I probably will not resume my normal scheduled updates from last summer. I am hoping I can at least update sporadically this season but in the last three weeks I've gotten engaged and moved states, and am now looking into getting a job in addition to starting up a small home business-y kind of thing on Redbubble. Life is absolutely berserk and I'm waiting to see how the blog fits into all of that. It could be months until I find myself with enough time to start updating regularly again, but let it be known, whether it takes me one month or twelve I do intend to resume regular updates. As soon as life gives me some more free time.
There are so many things inspired from my last few months of life that I could write a short reflective post on that I don't even know what to say. So I'm just going to summarize a few points in a list.

  • Be careful who you trust for advice, and don't just take one person's advice. If something feels wrong even if you can't pin it down about following that advice, don't let yourself be pulled into following along. Trust your instincts. 
  • Long distance relationships are hard, and once the distance is closed, you're not going to really be willing to go back to the long-distance thing . . . ever. 
  • Sometimes all it takes for life's chaos to settle into a calmer calm than you've had in months is to make it even more chaotic with one big step outside of your comfort zone.
  • It is possible to belong to multiple families at once and all of them are invaluable no matter what problems exist.
  • Don't be afraid to grieve life and allow those around you to help you through things. 
  • Fears of dogs can be overcome by living with a dog who protects you from your fiance's tickling attacks.
  • Never stop praying, even if you feel you have no time, even if you haven't for days or even weeks, go pray, because it's the most important thing you could be doing. 
  • God truly does provide for every true need.
  • Sometimes the idea of talking to friends and explaining the decisions you've made is positively the most terrifying thing in the world because you're scared of being judged. If they're true friends, they may disagree, but they will still care about you and ask if you're okay.
  • Hugs help. Anytime. Any place. Even if you're INTJ, as long as they come from the right people.
One of these days I'll have to write out this year's entire story for you guys, because it really has been wild and heartbreaking and wonderful and the. hardest. year. of. my. life but looking back on it is nearly breathtaking and I've learned so much. I never realized someone could experience so much life all at once in so many different ways. 
Buuuuut that's enough from me for now. Hopefully I will be back again soon. If you have any desire at all to keep up with me, you may want to go check out my Redbubble shop since that is where I'm putting most of my energy right now. If you've never heard of Redbubble, it is a website that sells a whole range of different products (t-shirts, leggings, mugs, posters, pillows, duvet covers, phone cases, laptop sleeves, notebooks, and more) printed with designs uploaded by artists. The products themselves are made and printed by Redbubble, but the artists who uploaded the designs get royalties from every product with one of their designs on it sold. So far I have a lot of Fall Out Boy lyric art uploaded, as well as a decal with some Bastille lyrics and a few other random designs.

Those are two of the designs I have up. :)

I'm working on diversifying right now but I have ten different designs up so far, with more coming out every day, so if you're interested, go take a look-see. There's a link in the sidebar. :) The site also has a ton of fandom designs on there so you may also have fun just searching your favorite fandom and seeing what comes up. 

Has life been crazy for any of you this last year as well? Is anyone else starting to feel that instead of putting energy into writing fiction, you should just write down your life? What about digital art; do any of you dabble in it (or more)?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Snazzy Snippets

I saw this thingy and decided I wanted to do it, for two reasons: (1) it looks fun, and (2) this blog needs some new content at this point even if it is just a linkup. So. You people get to read my lovely first draft writing today.

Click on picture to go to linkup.

Your First 500 Words
This comes from Taken, since this is probably the piece of writing I've revised most in my short writing career and is probably a little bit better than other portions I could share.

“So who are we meeting again?”

Tyv’s eye twitched as he restrained what would have been the fifth eye-roll of the short conversation. The sun was hot and dry, and he was too deep into the cobbled network of streets to feel the sea breeze. The sun was setting, but it was still high enough to scorch Tyv’s eyes over the plastered buildings. He had to squint to see, and sweat was sticking to his skin under his threadbare shirt. He wanted to eat, and he needed a drink, but he’d get neither until he made it back to the abandoned inn. He wouldn’t be able to go there until he had gotten through the day’s work, which wouldn’t be over for another couple hours. All this meant he did not have patience to deal with Nitri.

Nitri didn’t notice and tossed his knife into the air, effortlessly catching it on its way down. He glanced at Tyv, waiting for an answer.

Tyv withheld a growl. “The two brothers you threatened a couple months ago.”

“Sh. I made a deal, Tyv.”

“There is a difference between those two words, you know.”

Nitri grinned, his impossibly white teeth providing stark contrast with his dark honey skin and curls of hair black as pitch. 

“Not where I’m concerned!”

Tyv couldn’t stop himself from rolling his eyes that time.

Nitri just grinned a little wider, satisfied that he’d provoked a reaction. Then he looked away and gave his knife another toss. 

“I think I remember them. Scrawny?”

“We’re all scrawny.”

“Speak for yourself, scarecrow,” Nitri said, using his free arm to flex his arm muscles under his black captain’s coat.

Tyv resolutely stared straight ahead and sped up the pace, feet brushing over the bumps of the cobblestones and hands hovering over the pair of knives he had sheathed at his own belt. His eyes darted around, watching for danger - they were in their home turf, after all. The twisting alleyways and dead-end streets coated in layers of dirt were littered with broken crates and barrels, piles of rotting cloth, splintered buckets, frayed scraps of rope - anything that was so broken that not even the homeless could find a way to use it. The lowering sun created dark shadows in the side streets, places for people to hide. Tyv’s skin crawled as he felt invisible eyes watching.

“Aw, come on Tyv!” Nitri said, slapping Tyv on the shoulder and making Tyv jump. “Lighten up. We’re collecting tribute!” He gave Tyv a moment to respond, which Tyv did not take advantage of. Nitri continued. “It might be some food! We’ll have a good meal tonight.”

Tyv had to admit that that would be nice, but he wasn’t optimistic.

“We don’t know what it is.”

Nitri sighed. “It had better be good. I don’t leave them alone for nothing.”

“This isn’t exactly leaving them alone.”

Nitri waved away the correction. “I’m not attacking them, am I? Taking everything they get by force? They should be happy to give me things.”

A Snippet You're Really Proud Of
This comes from later on in chapter 1 of Taken, and yes, I just love Tyv and Nitri banter. They're the best and that is why I love this scene.

“Come on,” Nitri said, putting his hands in his pockets and strolling down the alley. “Let’s head to the docks. After that we’ll be done for the day and we’ll head over to the market. Ambyr is down there, isn’t she? You can snatch her a knitting needle or something.”

Tyv jogged a few steps to catch up, then slowed to a walk next to his friend. “Ambyr wouldn’t have much use for just one knitting needle.” 

Nitri slung his arm over Tyv’s shoulders, and used the other arm to gesture as he spoke. “Whatever. Steal five if you need to. I’m sure that you’ll cheer up if she gives you one of her oh-so-pretty smiles.” Nitri grinned and leaned his head on Tyv’s shoulder, then looked up and Tyv and batted his eyelashes.

“That was a really bad imitation of her,” Tyv said, fighting a grin and shoving Nitri away instead.

“Oh yes? Well how about this then?” Nitri stopped walking and placed his left fist on his hip, then pointed at Tyv with his right hand. “Tyv!” Nitri’s voice was comically high-pitched. “Why do you insist on stealing? It’s wrong! Why have you let that dashing Nitri lead you astray?” 

Nitri struck a dancer-like pose, with the toes of his right foot pointed and barely touching the ground and his weight entirely on his other foot. He pressed the back of his right hand against his forehead while his other hand stayed on his hip, and he turned his head away from Tyv dramatically.

Tyv struggled not to smile, or worse, laugh. He wasn’t going to give Nitri the satisfaction. Instead, he leveled a glare at his friend. 

“That was even worse.”

Nitri’s pose dissolved and he pouted. “I thought it was pretty accurate.”

Tyv started walking again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard Ambyr call you dashing.”

It was Nitri's turn to jog in order to catch up.“Well she thinks it. Everyone does.”

Tyv snorted. “I certainly don’t. And I doubt that Ambyr would find any thief dashing, despite how supposedly handsome you are.”

Those two are my favorite duo ever.