I have received several comments and emails from writers who are actively engaged in building an online presence. This is becoming an important aspect of getting agented, published, and selling your books if you choose the self-publishing route. But how do you do it effectively? This post will explore some of the no-cost avenues currently available.
Obviously, you're going to need a website or a blog. The former is not a no-cost option, but the latter is if you use Google's Blogger service, which is the platform this blog uses. It's simple to create a blog and quite easy to update. You can also use Wordpress. It used to have a cost associated with it, but it appears to be free at this point. Either of those two options will provide a good starting point for getting your name out there on the internet with no out-of-pocket expenditures. Free is good!
After you have a presence in the digital world, where do you go from there? How do you let people know you're out there and ready to share your wonderful information? This is where the power of social media takes over. Digital communities like Facebook and Twitter can get you into the flow and start traffic heading toward your site to read your informative posts.
But, what will I write about, you may be asking. Remember, it can't be all about you. Keep it topical, based on the purpose of your blog and your readership. You can include a poll to get a feel for the demographics and interests of your readers. When I started this blog, I wanted to provide other writers with help and information. I wanted it to be a place where we could share our work and offer suggestions and comments. I placed a couple of polling booths to determine what type of work my readers were writing.
The bottom line is that you need to provide some valuable content that will keep your loyal readers coming back to gain from your personal knowledge and experience and connect to the links you can provide them for even more information. It's also important to keep in mind that a blog is like a new puppy. It's cute and sweet at the beginning, but you have to feed it on a regular basis, usually every day. It won't survive for long if you don't give it the attention it needs.
When you create your blog, be sure to plug in one of those email subscription gadgets to alert your readers when you've posted something new. And if you haven't subscribed to this one, there's a link on the right sidebar just waiting for you to fill in the info. (Hint hint.) Also, Blogger provides a "Followers" gadget that readers can use to become a follower of your blog. (There's one of those on the sidebar of this blog also.) Encourage your readers to comment on your posts. That can provide new ideas for new posts and help build your web presence and increase your traffic.
You can also spread your knowledge around. Offer to be a guest blogger on other blogs, and try to leave comments on other blogs that are insightful. Another opportunity to get your work out there is to enter contests that other writers and agents are having on their own blogs. You may not always win, but sometimes agents may be interested enough to request material from you.
What I've included in this post is simply some of the most basic info on building your own platform. Hopefully, it will provide a starting point for you. Andrea Brown literary agent Mary Kole has an excellent post on the Do's and Don'ts of creating your platform that goes into a bit more depth than this post. On his blog, A Real Writer, Alan Miles provides another point of view with some interesting ideas.
And, of course, we're all curious. If you have jumped onto the I'm-building-a-platform bandwagon, leave a comment and let us know what you've done and what's worked for you.