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  • djbowmansmith

Websites, social media and blogging: a post about writer's platform

This blog post is going to focus on two things which are related. The first is the writer’s platform, and the second is a writer’s website. Because whichever way you look at it, you need a website, and you need to be on social media.

Let’s begin then with the first. The writer’s platform. What exactly do you need?

You need two things: you need to have a presence on social media, and you need an excellent website.

There are lots of different opinions about how to go gain a social media presence. I’ve often heard it said that it is better to concentrate on one social media platform - make a good job of it, than try to be on many at once. Whilst this seems like excellent advice on the surface, I think the changing face of social media makes this a bad idea. No social media platform stays the same. They constantly emerge and change, and so does their popularity. I believe, therefore, that it is much better to spread yourself over a few platforms than concentrate on only one. In this way, if one platform becomes problematic, you have others to rely on. Apart from this, when promoting your author self and, indeed, your books, surely it is better to put your ideas out in as many places as possible to reach readers and influencers.

The trouble with all social media is it is very hard to quantify the effect that it has on sales. However, in my experience, I have noticed that if I let my social media presence lapse, then I notice a dip in sales. What’s important to understand is that the more people that see you work and interact with you across the different networks, the more curious they become and eventually, they will visit your website or go to a place where they can buy your work. Or they may reach out to you in other ways, such as inviting you onto a podcast or blog tour.

This is an important point. Too often, I see accounts with direct messaging switched off. I understand people do this because they fear being contacted by one or two weirdos. It might feel safer keeping all your messages closed, but you’re really missing a trick because whilst you might get contacted by one or two odd people, and there are certainly many on the social media platforms that seem to think it is a dating app, nevertheless, a locked door is a locked door, and nobody can contact you even those who could help you with your author business.

My advice about social media is to find a platform that you enjoy using. Make a point of interacting with people like yourself. By that, I mean other writers and readers who read the sort of books you write. This is often easier said than done. But not impossible. These days, many social media platforms are very sensitive and will quickly pick up on anything that you have interacted with and then show you more of the same. If you’re on there like myself with almost the sole purpose of promoting your author self, being shown videos about cats for two days might be funny, but it is unhelpful if you write grimdark fantasy.

Exercise caution, then. Consider who it is you want to want to interact and connect with. While we’re on the subject, there’s also a lot of twaddle spoken about the difficulty in contacting and connecting with people who might read your work. It is often said that interacting with other writers is pointless. This has not been my experience. Every writer is a reader. And we all read more than we write - a lot more. The other good thing about interacting with writers is that we’re all in the same boat, and most writers are happy to promote each other. It’s all about spreading the love at the end of the day.

In a nutshell then - find a platform that you like and use that as your main one. From most platforms, it is possible to share posts onto others. This is a great time saver. Often when I’m busy, I make one TikTok and bounce it into Instagram and Twitter. However, it is always a good idea over the course of a week to get onto each of the platforms individually and make some specific content and interact with the people there.

Let’s talk about websites.

As a podcaster and someone who’s been in the independent author space for quite some time, I’m often shocked by the number of authors who do not have a professional website. In my opinion, this is one of the key things that every author needs, whether traditionally published or independently published. I know many may be put off by the extra expense and work involved. These days a lot of website builders are simple to use and have a free option to get you started.

Your website can be very simple, with examples of your published work and buy links. A picture of yourself and an author bio is always nice for readers to find. I would recommend looking at other people’s sites, particularly focusing on authors who write in the same genre as yourself. How do their websites look, and what do they include?

A website is an ongoing thing. It is never truly finished. Every few months, it is a good idea to look back at it and check that all your links are working and that the website appears to be up to date. Whilst we’re discussing being up to date, I would advocate providing something like a blog. In this way, visitors can see that your website is fresh. If they make a return visit, there is something new for them to discover.

So let’s talk about the blog.

Recently I have often heard it said that blogging is a thing of the past, yet I would still recommend it as part of your author platform. If you intend to use a multi-income model, people like magazine editors can come and find a short piece of writing that they can read and get a feel for your personality as well as your prose. It keeps your website looking fresh. Gives you a place where you can air your opinions and share anything which interests you, and indeed, you can share any expertise you may have.

Remember, a blog post does not need to be a huge amount of work. A post can be short, and it could even be a few sentences and pictures and/or artwork. Time - as an indie author - is the biggest constraint. Most independent authors like myself have far too much to do. A blog post can feel like just another job with unquantifiable benefits. I get around this is By keeping a note of blog ideas, and if I get a moment, I write a quick post. Or better yet, speak it into dictation software. I never intend them to be long - most attention spans are quite short for this sort of thing. Regularity is an important aspect of both social media posts and blogging. I know from experience that trying to produce a weekly or monthly blog post is a tricky thing to do. My answer to the problem has been to take the aforementioned notes and deal with the matter in the dead area between Christmas and New Year. Here I work up any blog posts I have written and write others until I have 12. These 12 I then schedule on my website to come out on the 1st of every month. Unless I have a photograph which I can readily use, I save time and use stock images from my website provider. In this way, I have fresh blog posts I can advertise across social media, and it is a small yet vital part of my writer’s platform. In my mind, it is just one more piece of the author's puzzle.


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