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?