I’m a member of a few different writing groups on Facebook, and last month, the admins of one group invited me to put together a social media workshop for the other members. We’re heading into the final part this Saturday with a discussion about general tools, tips, and guidelines for developing an overall presence as an author.
One thing that I’m going to address, briefly, is the importance of balancing time spent marketing with time spent writing. If you spend a half hour each day using social media to connect with readers and build your marketing platform, that’s a half an hour each day that you aren’t using to write. So, when I hear authors say that they don’t have time to market themselves, I get it.
On the other hand, you need to market. You need to build up an audience. You need to get your name out there. Marketing isn’t optional.
I tell people to start with 15 minutes twice a day. That’s it. Post a short update to your Facebook page, spend a few minutes on Twitter, check out any other writing or social media sites you’re active on (Google+, Wattpad, and so on), and interact with a couple blogs. It doesn’t take a huge investment of your time. The key isn’t to spend hours on social media; if you want it to work, spend less time, but do something every single day. Consistency is important. Set an alarm on your phone if it helps, or work it into your regular schedule (15 minutes after breakfast, 15 minutes after dinner, for example).
One of the easiest ways to minimize the time you spend on marketing is to use a social media management tool. I’m partial to Hootsuite. It’s free, and I can cross-post to various sites, schedule my posts in advance, and get analytics on how well my tweets and statuses are performing. It also has a built-in link shortener and a browser extension, which makes it super easy to share any interesting articles I happen across.
I’m as bad about remembering to log in every day with the social networks I’ve joined as any other writer. Probably worse. And it’s okay to slip up as long as you get back out there as soon as possible and go back to interacting with your community. The trick is to just keep moving forward with it.