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There’s a lot of talk about the need for writers to develop an online presence, but what does that mean exactly?

If you ask me, developing an online presence is actually two distinct jobs.

The first (and by far the easiest) task is to provide a place on the internet where, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, people who know you or know of your work can find out more by simply typing your name into a search engine.

The second (much harder) part of developing an online presence is the ongoing task of ‘meeting’ new people. After all, for most writers, the list of folks who know us is microscopic compared to that great roster of those who aren’t even aware we exist.

The question is: How do we meet those people?

A blog can help, though how much of a difference it makes depends on how you use it and where it is. I’ve talked about this before, but
I think it’s a mistake for a writer to only have a blog on his/her website. By all means mirror it there, but somewhere like Live Journal is much more visible to folks who don't yet know we exist. Casual, online acquaintances are more likely to read your journal entry on their friends page than they are to seek out your website-based blog or sign up for an RSS feed.

By making regular (and hopefully interesting) entries in your journal, doing (or hosting) guest blog posts and interviews etc, you can add to that ‘Folks who know of you’ list.

Some people recommend operating in several online venues at the same time. I have accounts at
Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Twitter and numerous Yahoo groups. That said, I focus most of my online efforts here on Live Journal. 

Many writers use their blogs almost exclusively as a publicity tool, which is fine too, though I think a journal has so much more potential than that.

How about you?

What’s your take on this ‘online presence’ thing?

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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
I keep hearing how Twitter is the way to go, but I enjoy blogging so much more.
kmarkhoover
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
Twitter and FB helps with networking, but I find I have deeper and more meaningful discussions on LJ. Plus, you get a lot less "Buy My Stuff" garbage on LJ than you do on Twitter....so that's another plus.
temporus
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
My only real take on the online presence thingy, is this: please don't be one long freaking commercial. If all your online presence consists of is marketing spiel about your material, I don't want it. Yes, the occasional bit about your work is cool. Excitement about your upcoming projects, yes that's fine. And of course letting me know about what is coming out, and what you're working on is a part of why I probably follow you through various media. But if all you do is promote promote promote....I'll go elsewhere.

Or to (ab)use an old writing adage: Show it, don't tell it.
jongibbs
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
"But if all you do is promote promote promote....I'll go elsewhere."

you and me both, Ed. You and me both :)
msstacy13
Jun. 22nd, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what the amazon page is for,
with frequent drumming it up on FB or twitter...
TV weather personalities have FB and twitter,
but not LJ....
lyonesse
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
my online presence is much, much for social purposes (esp. keeping in routine contact with friends thousands of miles away) than it is in support of my writerhood.

if i ever wanted to do a "real" writer-specific online presence, i'd probably start entirely anew with it. but as it is, my writer-stuff is already so varied and random (promote self-published anthology, await novel feedback, look forward to textbook chapter coming into print) that that seems a little.... too variable too. so i'd really have to pick one (self-publishing? stuff i hope to get others to publish? nonfiction from other professions?) to even do that justice. sigh.
jongibbs
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Lol, sometimes it's best not to think too much about this sort of thing :)
kmarkhoover
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
An online presence is just one more necessary evil the modern writer must have in his quiver.

jongibbs
Jun. 22nd, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
I can see how some folks might consider it a necessary evil. I think the key is to decide to have fun with it - or at least to try to have fun with it anyway.
barry_king
Jun. 22nd, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
Quiver of evil. I like that. It's got legs. Spiky, chitinous, EVIL legs....
knittingknots
Jun. 22nd, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Twitter is a great place to get to meet people, but to be honest, twitter used well (and, unfortunately, I am kind of fail at this, cause I don't blog nearly enough) is the interface between you and getting your blog and ideas known...It's where you increase your network contacts...find blogs worth reading, make friends, pick up on trends, and get a pulse on things...

After that, I love LJ's concept, because it's easy to feel part of a community you can be a part of in a deeper way than at Twitter. I have accounts at Tumblr, Blogger, Twitter, FB, here, and a few other places, but my top fav places are Twitter and LJ.

jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about Twitter. It's great for pointing people in the direction of things (and having other people them point them out to you), but it's nowhere near as personal as a blog.
msstacy13
Jun. 22nd, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
We've talked about this before, I think,
and I've mentioned one of my favourite lines from literature,
which sounds almost like something your old gran might have said-
A door unbust is always open to bustin'
but you can't unbust a door once you've busted in.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Lol, I have no idea what that means :)
msstacy13
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
In this context,
I mean that once you've created a public presence,
you cannot uncreate it.

The line comes from The Invisible Man.
A group of townsfolk want answers,
and are about to break in to get them.
One among them makes this remark.

But before they can decide what to do,
the invisible man comes out and reveals that he is invisible.
He, of course, can never unreveal this fact.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
Got it :)
dmoonfire
Jun. 22nd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
I have my main blog on my website, but I use mirrors to copy it over to Facebook and LiveJournal. And a link on Twitter. If it doesn't sync, I probably won't use it mainly because I don't want "yet another account" to manage. And, if it doesn't use OpenID, I usually hesitate to add "yet another username/password" to manage.

Now as for the content. I know I suffer from a lack of focus. I do computer games and writing and I'm not an expert in either one. I suffer in that I don't think I have that many interesting things to say. I don't really have a book out there, everything I say comes off as wishful thinking or a novice speaking as an expert.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC)
When I do my blogging presentations, I tell people: 'Only having your blog on your website is like selling your house and putting the 'For Sale' sign in the bathroom.' :)

Mirroring your blog can work, but personally, I don't leave comments on a mirrored post in LJ if I have to go to someone's website to do it.
dmoonfire
Jun. 23rd, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I wouldn't make people comment on one blog either. I haven't quite gotten the ability to pull down LJ and FB comments into my main one, but I get 95% of all my comments on my LJ mirror. Only the geekish types response on my main one. :)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
I've seen LJ posts with a "Mirrored from my website [Blogger's website address], please comment over there." notice.

If it were me, I'd be happy for folks to comment at all :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
'There seems to be little interest in a heartfelt give and take.'

I'd say that's more true of the 'faster' social media, like Twitter and Facebook, but I'd say there's a pretty good sense of community here on LJ.
writerjenn
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
My philosophy is: Go where you're interested in going, and participate regularly even if not daily. An online presence that's half-hearted and with outdated info doesn't do much for anyone.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
'An online presence that's half-hearted and with outdated info doesn't do much for anyone.'

Absolutely.
wordsrmylife
Jun. 23rd, 2011 01:41 am (UTC)
I'm with you about the dual nature of the on-line presence (and I just followed you on Twitter). I've noticed that most of the writers who only have a blog on their website are more established. They don't need to be in the community, because people will go to them. In addition to the methods you mention, another way to add to the folks who know you is to comment on other people's blog posts. If they like what you say, they're more apt to follow you back.

I do think a blog needs to be more than a publicity tool. It should convey the author's thoughts about certain topics of interest, which also helps give a sense of who the author is. And that, I would argue, is the primary point of a blog--to offer visitors an idea of the person behind the words or images.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Commenting on other people's blog posts is a huge help.

PS: Thanks for the Twitter follow. I followed you back :)
dendrophilous
Jun. 23rd, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
My main blog is on my website, but (obviously!) I copy it to LJ. In fact I started it on LJ and I still get most comments here--I worry that my website looks like no one ever comments. :)

Facebook I keep for family/RL friends and classmates. I don't hunt down writing people though I'll happily add them if they request it.

After a rocky start with Twitter I really like it. I tried having separate business and personal accounts (that's a whole other issue with online presence) and now I mix it all together. It's just fun and casual.

I have to admit that despite having a LJ since 2003ish and various websites since before then (I think), the whole idea of unpublished authors having websites and blogs for publicity still seems weird to me. Friends who write, yes. But no agents, editors, or fans are looking for me yet.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
I don't really think of blogging as a publicity tool, though I've certainly used it that way from time to time.

For the most part, though, I think it's more of a way to connect with people who share the same interests, in the same way that attending a writing conference or joining a writing group helps you connect.
paulwoodlin
Jun. 23rd, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
I think it's been interesting here on LJ, but as I indicated in my own account, I spent more time on it than was profitable. When I have an actual book coming out instead of just writing one (or three), I'll get more serious about it again.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. Blogging can be a time-suck, but then, so can watching TV :)
jakobdrud
Jun. 23rd, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
Hi, I'm Jakob and I'm on the internet...

I love LJ, as it's a great medium for all kinds of thoughts, pictures, comments, crazy ideas, and socializing. Most of all, it's a platform for deeper thoughts, and not just socializing, and that's something I like in my interactions with other people. Oneliners are fun, but it's the deeper content that does it for me.
So far LJ's been my primary online presence, and I'll stick to that or the time being.

I did, however, sign up for a Twitter account very recently, and I'm discovering how it's good for sending quick messages to friends in something close to realtime. Also, it's much more suitable for handheld devices than LJ.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
There's definitely a place for Twitter's concise messaging. To be honest, I'm not sure about Facebook. Of the two, I'd say Twitter's more likely to still be around in ten years.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
I hear what you're saying, but I don't believe writing and developing an online presence are mutually exclusive, any more than writing and watching TV, or writing and family time are.

After all, you have to have some fun, right? :)
(Deleted comment)
bondo_ba
Jun. 23rd, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I like it because I enjoy making friends, but too many of my sales have come from people who'd never heard of me to really worry about whom I know all that much. Still, I love to have a place where people can understand what makes me tick - and what ticks me off.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2011 08:03 am (UTC)
And what you think of those 1,000 movies we're supposed to see before we die, right? :)
bondo_ba
Jun. 24th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
Precisely!
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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