If you don’t have an online presence, now is the time to create one. First, decide which sites you will use and how you will use them. Literary agent Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency teaches workshops to help writers create a social presence and promote themselves. She asks writers to think about whether they want a personal, professional, or mixed account for any of the social media sites they would like to use.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your online presence. Before you became a writer, you likely used social media to connect with friends and family. Now, you may work to make yourself an attractive candidate to editors and increase your name recognition. Some other possible goals are gaining followers, interacting with readers, and promoting your work.
Decide which, if any, of your personal beliefs or activities are going to be kept out of your online presence. You may also have friends or family members who don’t want to be mentioned online. You must respect that preference and ensure you are not writing about anyone’s private matters.
If you are going to discuss your friends and loved ones, think about what you will call them. Nicknames are a good way to protect privacy and help your readers understand to whom you are referring without having to memorize a list of your acquaintances.
Your online presence is part of your public face. It can help you succeed or help you fail. If you want to express controversial opinions or use crude language, remember that it may have a negative effect. And, above all else, use good grammar and punctuation. You will hardly seem trustworthy as a writer if your social content is riddled with errors.
It’s important to balance self-promotion with engaging content. Don’t just repeatedly share links to your own articles. If your posts get boring, your followers will unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe. Make sure you are constantly engaging with your readers and followers. When you have a connection with them, they will be more interested in what you have to say.
Young adult novelist Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) is one of the most popular writers on Twitter. Though she posts about her books, the majority of her posts are about other topics: writing advice, her puppy, her daily experiences, her writer friends, causes she supports, and fan interaction in general.
Likewise, Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) is one of the most popular and followed writers on Twitter. His feed is so popular that the hashtag #NeilWebFail has been coined to describe a website that crashes because so many of his followers visited the site after he tweeted a link to it.
Your social media presence is a great tool for helping you get new assignments. Make sure you are giving it as much care as any other part of your professional life.