Overload. Burnout. Addiction. Whatever you call it, social media overwhelm is real and reduces our capacity to connect…ironically.
I heard a stat the other day saying we look at our phones an average of 150 times per day. I don’t know if it’s true but when I’m deep-down honest with myself I wonder how many times I look at my phone. A lot. And why? Much of the time I’m not doing anything. Opening apps, refreshing feeds, seeing if that was my phone that buzzed.
And that’s just checking what other people are posting. What about posting itself? How much time do I spend thinking about social media? If I’m deep-down honest…more than 150 times per day. Thinking about strategy, researching tactics, and testing tools can be a full-time job if you let it.
So what can be done about social media overwhelm?
Oh, lots. First of all, you can take the extreme approach by avoiding it, banning it from your life, removing apps from your phone, or doing a social media detox. All those things are fine—but extreme. If you’re trying to grow your platform going off social media, although good for your mental health, doesn’t help you grow. What if there was a way to have the best of both worlds? Limit the time you spend on social media/in the digital world but be present when you’re there?
Yes, I’m trying to paint a picture of you being intentionally social rather than mindlessly scrolling. Not a crazy thing! I think you can do it!
Here are my top five tips for avoiding social media overwhelm
Create a strategy
I do this for a living so of course I’ll recommend building a social media marketing strategy. This isn’t hard but you do need to spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of social media. Why are you there? What are your goals? Who do you want to connect with? Figure these things out and everything gets easier from here. (Want some help? Here’s my Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers.)
Create a posting schedule
Your posting schedule (also known as a content calendar or social focus) is a lifesaver. Instead of showing up going “I need to post today but I don’t know what to dooooooo,” you say “OK, so my focus today is encouragement so what do I have that’s encouraging? On one of the accounts I manage I created a basic posting schedule to help me come up with content but to also remain consistent. Mondays: Contests or opportunities, Tuesdays: General knowledge, Wednesdays: Ask a question, Thursdays: Contests or opportunities, Fridays: Article share. See? There’s a posting schedule, just like that. (If you want to go deeper, here’s my article on how to create a content calendar.)
Choose your focus (ahead of time)
You can’t be everywhere. So which network will you focus on? There is a lot of advice out there for which networks have the biggest payoff but you will need to decide for yourself what works. A couple questions to consider when choosing your social networks: Where are you most comfortable online? Where are your clients/readers most comfortable online? (You can go deeper on choosing your social networks here.)
Whoa. But we writers are solitary creatures! Yes, but we also tend to get in our heads and spiral. When you’re feeling social media overwhelm creep up, get help. This could be by speaking with a mentor or colleague, taking a course/learning a new skill, or hiring someone. The point is, get help. (Here’s a great story about a time I was asked for help and we ended up re-launching JenniMarie’s photography business.)
Use scheduling tools
Use them like they’re going out of style. USE TOOLS! They not only help you organize your social life, but if set up right, they allow you to focus on what you need to and filter out the rest. The right scheduling tools will keep social media overwhelm at bay and help you reach your social and business goals. (Here are my 15 best apps for freelance writers, including my favourite social media scheduling tools.)
OK! That wasn’t so hard was it? Now get out there and be social!
Here’s my roundup of 15 best apps for writers. Let me know if I’ve missed anything!
The beauty of smartphones is you can work on the go and have amazing tools at your fingertips to keep you at the cutting edge of the writing game. The downside of smartphones is the sheer volume of options. How do you know which apps are time savers and which are time wasters?
I should say right off the bat these are my personal choices, customized for the type of freelance work I do. So know that when I say “best” this is subjective. They may not work for you—fair! But if you’re looking for some apps to try out I hope this is an awesome point to help you cut through the overwhelm, maybe save some time testing apps, and get back to your writing!
There is so much pre and prep work for freelance writers. If we don’t stay organized we’re doomed! These are my best apps for freelance writers who want to keep their stress levels down and their desks clutter-free.
I wrote about my love affair with Trello and how it is helping me stick to my blogging content calendar. However, I also use it for my freelance writing. I create a board for each client and include due dates, assignments, research, etc. and another board for one-off freelance gigs. It’s so much better than flipping through my notebook or digging through email threads trying to remember the focus of an article, when it’s due, or who to send it to.
I didn’t choose Basecamp, Basecamp chose me. This project management software is perfect for teams, so if you’re one of a team of other writers, editors, project managers, designers, developers, etc. you will LOVE this tool. Each project has it’s own space and to-do items and discussions live within the project so you don’t have to do a lot of emailing (I mean, you can if you want). I love that you can put your thoughts into the Basecamp project when you have them, then come back to it when you’re working on it and see all your brainstorms, uploads, photos, (whatever!) in once place.
Part of my content strategy is sharing useful articles with other freelance writers and also seeing what people in my industry are talking about. Feedly is how I discover and track content from around the Internet. You set up your lists based on RSS feeds from blogs you want to follow or allow Feedly to suggest blogs based on keywords. As new posts are available, Feedly pulls them into your feed and you devour them as you have time. You can save articles for later, push them to your social sharing apps, and more.
Even if you’re working with editors you still need your writing to be as clean and correct as possible when submitting work. There are loads of tools you can use but I like to keep my editing simple. These are my best apps for freelance writers to help with editing.
For the most part I use Microsoft Word for writing, and I keep my language and grammar checking on with my customized settings but off for auto-correct. Part of my process is to go through my work, reading aloud before submitting.
This is such a neat tool for helping you rework long, rambling sentences and making stronger word choices. It also helps you change passive voice to active voice (IMPORTANT!), which not only strengthens your writing but also communicates your message better.
Yes. You need to care about grammar. You don’t need to go out and police others’ grammar, but you do need to check your own. This app helps you find mistakes and improve your writing.
When I started freelancing I didn’t need to provide my own images, but these days it’s more like 50/50. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to produce high quality images, you just need to know which tools to use. Here are my best apps for freelance writers for creating awesome images.
The moment I heard about Canva I knew it was for me. It’s a web-based photo editing tool where you can create branded images, beautiful graphics, and more using pre-made templates or designing your own. It’s easy to use—kind of like a scaled-back Photoshop—and allows you to store your brand colours, images, and templates to use over and over.
Can’t take your own photos? Don’t have time to shoot? No problem. This free stock photography site offers more than a million images and videos including illustrations and vector graphics. It’s worth checking out.
Social Media Planning and Scheduling
I don’t know if you’ll ever get the same answer when asking what someone’s favourite social media tools are. People’s needs and preferences range so much, plus there are always new apps to check out. I’ve tried a LOT of them and will give you my personal best apps for freelance writers who are trying to plan and schedule their social media.
I wrote about this app when I explained how to find and use hashtags but it’s worth mentioning again here. It’s such a great tool! There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
There’s a lot to love about Hootsuite. I used to use it for all my social media but I’m finding it has certain limitations so I’m using a couple new tools, which I’ll outline below. However. I’m still team Hootsuite for all of my Twitter management. I schedule posts, track analytics, and keep an eye on the Twitter lists I follow. It’s easy to organize and keeps me sharp.
This is a new tool in my arsenal but I’m done with my testing and think it’s a keeper. This is a “productivity enhancement tool,” which is a fancy way of saying you can manage your social media for multiple platforms from its dashboard. In this way it’s a lot like Hootsuite but where it has a leg up is the content library. Here, I can add evergreen posts and create a schedule around the different libraries. What does this mean? I can not only schedule my social media but I can have it repeat on whatever schedule I desire. I have all my evergreen blogs set up in Recurpost and they now drip out to my chosen social networks on the schedule I set. It is awesome!
Like Hootsuite, this is a social scheduling and planning tool. Unlike Hootsuite, it’s a visual planner. What does this mean? You can plug in your social media posts for the next week, month, whatever, and see how it looks as a collection—this is especially powerful for Instagram. You can also save images, captions, and hashtags in the tool for easy re-use. Once your post is scheduled it either publishes it for you sends a push notification (on Instagram) when it’s time. I’ve used this tool for the past month or so and so far, I like it. The visual plan helps me see how each image works together and helps me stay on brand.
If you’re like me, then you’re working on multiple computers, devices, and networks on any given day. What this means is you need everything within easy access. Yes, you can drag your external hard drive around but you can also put everything you need in the cloud. Here are my best apps for freelance writers for working in the cloud.
If you use Google Docs, Forms, and Sheets, then you already know how awesome a partner Google Drive is. You can keep all your documents, images, and whatever else in one web-based place. You can share documents or folders with the click of a button and you can collaborate on documents with ease, adding comments and track changes as needed.
This is similar to Google Drive but more people use it (at least in my circles). Used more for file sharing than anything else, this is a great way to send huge files back and forth. I use it in my podcast editing work and find it not only easy to use but quick and efficient. I have multiple Dropbox folders for different reasons and I can customize which folders download to which computer so it stays clean and simple.
You need secure passwords and you also need to log into different accounts a zillion times per day on different devices. And, if your day-to-day work is anything like mine, then you’re logging in and out of various client accounts all the day long. There is NO WAY you’re remembering all those passwords and you are NOT keeping them in your phone or on a notepad. You need them in a password safe. I love LastPass because I can use it on any computer or device and only need to remember ONE password. All the rest are stored in the password safe and are there when I need them.
Well, that’s my roundup of best apps for freelance writers. Hope you can find something awesome to help make your writing life more efficient.
Do you have any suggestions for best apps for freelance writers? Let me know! I’m always looking for new favourites.
Let’s face it. Social media marketing can be overwhelming. The more experts and gurus you listen to, the more steps there seems to be to reach the social media success train. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don’t have time to be social.
Because you’re busy and looking for help NOW we’re going to dive right in. Take what you need and do it NOW. Pro tip: Don’t do this all at once, pick what you can do first and work on it first. Then come back and pick another to work on. Then another. Look at it like building blocks—do what you can, master it, then move on to the next step.
Five Step Social Media Strategy
Decide on your objectives
Your options are endless here, but the key is choosing a goal. What are your social media goals? Why are you posting? You need something to keep you focused on the big picture so you keep moving towards your writing/business targets.
A few objectives ideas: build your online profile, build brand visibility, networking, reach new clients/readers, stay connected with current clients/readers, launch products/books/services.
Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that objective move on to another, then another.
Choose your social networks
I know you know. You don’t have to be everywhere. However. You do need to be online. It’s where the marketplace is. So you must choose where to spend your social time/energy. There is a lot of advice out there for which networks have the biggest payoff but you will need to decide for yourself what works. A couple questions to consider when choosing your social networks: Where are you most comfortable online? Where are your clients/readers most comfortable online?
My two cents. If you’re a writer and trying to build your platform as a writer, I recommend Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as your networks of concentration.
Yes people are saying Twitter is on its way out and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where you meet other writers. You know who else you meet on Twitter? People looking for writers. How you manage Twitter is an art in itself (which I plan on writing about soon) but once you have it set up, you will understand why I won’t let Twitter go.
Twitter is for quick interactions. It’s great for sharing helpful links, meeting new people, and getting ideas. However, it’s not a place to sell. You build relationships on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.
Yes people are saying you have to pay to play to get any traction on Facebook and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where the largest concentration of people who are on social media are. Facebook. Join the conversation.
If you think of Facebook as a place to host/advertise events, join writers groups, and share your blog posts and article clippings, it may start to make more sense. However, this is not a place to vent your personal feelings about in-the-moment happenings. Yes you see people doing that all the time, but they’re not trying to build a professional brand and they’re using their personal profile to do that. If you think about your professional goals and aligning what you post on Facebook with them, you’ll know what you need to do.
Yes people are saying Instagram’s shadow ban and algorithm change are messing everything up and yes it’s not the same as it was a few years ago. However. This is where your future fans and readers are. Trust me on this. It’s time to figure Instagram out.
Instagram is a wonderful place to connect with people as you build your brand. How? Consistency and engagement. That means YOU are consistent and YOU are engaging with others. You can share your writing, post prompts or inspiration, and behind-the-scene peeks at your writer’s life. Images have a way of connecting people with you that words alone don’t. However, this is not a place to post your entire vacation photo album—not when you’re building your professional brand. This is also a place where you do need to engage and be active. If you don’t post and interact with other posts, you don’t grow.
Looking for the quick fix? Here are the main points.
Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
Link to your website
Include keywords about your services
Be clear on your location/contact info
My biggest tip for optimizing your social profiles is consistency across platforms. Each network has its own rules for how long your bio can be, what sort of profile image works, and where your website link goes, but if you can keep more or less consistent then you’re on the right track.
Interact with your audience
We talked about this a bit in the social media section but it needs repeating. The point of social media is to be social. I know, you don’t have time to be social. Do you have 15 minutes? Spend 15 minutes a day checking into your two or three chosen social networks and leave comments, reply to comments, and lend your expertise whenever convenient. Trust me, this will expedite your brand building like nothing else will.
Reminder: You’re not on social media to sell. You’re here to be social. Offer value, compliments, and help. Sales will follow.
Build your promotion strategy
All along we’ve been talking about how you DON’T sell on social media. But you do need promotion. There is a difference.
In most cases, clients/readers need to know, like, and trust you before they’ll hire you/buy your book. In a virtual world, how do you make this happen? You need a strategy for converting warm leads into clients and retaining existing clients.
If you can stay in touch in a consistent, helpful, positive way, people who visit your website or connect with you on social will get to know you and will develop trust in you and your brand.
You’ll need to figure out a few things you can do to make people feel special, noticed, and important. Here are some ideas.
Passive ways to stay in touch
Posting regular blog/website content
Posting regular social content
Share real-life tips and tricks from behind the scenes of your business
Commenting on/liking/sharing others’ posts on social media
Active ways to stay in touch
Build an engaged email list and connect consistently
Send handwritten notes or cards
Live streaming—doesn’t get much more personal than that!
Send an article you think your contact would appreciate (personal touch)
Become a connector—in helping your connections cross-promote or develop business otherwise (even if it’s without you) you will build so much good will
Share gratitude and compliments—recognize others, say thank you, give sincere, public displays of affection
Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that strategy move on to another, then another.
There, of course, is more. But you don’t have to do it all today. If you’re feeling like you don’t have time to be on social media or you’re overwhelmed with where to start, then please implement this five step social media strategy. It WILL help you! And if you are just plain stuck then I can help. All you have to do is get in touch.
How to find hashtags, how to use hashtags, what are hashtags, and everything in between.
This is a guide for how to find hashtags and how to use hashtags to grow your audience. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you.
Up until 2007 I only knew of # as “pound sign.” Then one day, when I was living in England, I was given a gate code.
Maybe it was a button called hash. I don’t know, maybe it’s a British thing.
The five minutes at the gate staring for the hash button was one of the longest, most awkward feeling I’ve had in some time. I can’t remember how I got out through the gate in the end, maybe someone came over and showed me which button was hash. Sigh. Canadians, amiright!?
Fast forward and everyone knows what # means. We just don’t know how to find hashtags
OK maybe my wording isn’t quite right. We see hashtags everywhere but we don’t know which ones to use or how to use them right. I know this because I’ve been to a bazillion social media events and that question comes up every time.
And I’ve heard all sorts of answers to the question. All sorts. No wonder everyone’s so confused. When there’s a cloud at the pulpit there’s a fog in the pew kind of thing. Blind leading the blind. Oh, and what about hashtag strategy?
Perhaps you’re getting the sense we have a lot to cover here. You would be correct. This is going to be at least a four-part series. Here’s how I see it going.
How to find hashtags
How to use hashtags on Instagram
How to use hashtags on Twitter
How to create a hashtag strategy
But we could go deeper.
First, what are hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase used on a social media platform preceded by a hash or pound sign (#)
That’s it. And I know if you see them around and don’t use them much you are thinking “why would I have to find hashtags? Anything’s a hashtag. #hashtag is a hashtag.
Yes. But if you’re trying to grow your audience on social media using the right hashtags in the right way can be a key strategy to growth. SO. How do you find those hashtags?
Hashtags are essential because when used properly, you gain targeted and engaged followers
How to find hashtags
OK, so yes you can make up your own hashtags, but if you’re looking for engagement or want others to discover you, then you should use hashtags other people in your target audience are using. And don’t get me wrong, you can use your own branded hashtags but that is a whole other subject. Right now let’s focus on helping people find you slash your great content by using the right hashtags.
There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.
When I’m more organized this is a fun site to use. You can type in words to the search bar and it displays the top hashtags using fancy charts. How fun!
When you hover over the results it also displays popularity and correlation to your original search term. This is a great way to research hashtags ahead of time.
One last comment about hashtags and yes, I’m repeating myself because I’ve heard this push back SO MANY TIMES. Yes, you can make up your own. Yes you can do it to be funny or ironic. However, if you’re using hashtags to be discovered by people you don’t already know or who don’t already follow you, this approach doesn’t really serve you. So yes, go ahead and #makeupyourown but don’t be surprised if nothing happens.
Next time, I’ll outline using hashtags for Instagram because there are a lot of rules to follow and it can be confusing! By special request I’ll also cover the Instagram shadowban, which some swear by and others swear is a hoax. Ooooh drama!
But I’m a writer! Who cares about what a social media manager is!
I heard of the social media manager title years ago, but never considered I would or could be one. I figured it was for someone else, someone who went to school for new media or social media management (things that didn’t exist when I did my bachelor of journalism). But then my LinkedIn job suggestions started getting…obvious. Here’s a splash of what I see whenever I check in to see what’s new and who’s hiring.
Social Media Coordinator
An Open Letter to _______’s Future Marketer
Client Success Coach
Social Media Manager
Marketing and Events Coordinator
Brand Publishing Specialist
Keep in mind these are the jobs posted in the past seven days in my area, which LinkedIn thought I’d be a good match for. If you’re a writer but have collected different skills, experience, connections, etc. you may have a different snapshot. But do you see what I’m talking about?
Two reactions come to mind I must choose between.
Wow, this social network doesn’t know me at all
When did I become a social media manager?
So I begin wondering, what’s a social media manager and is it different from what I’m doing now?
Well I’ll cut to the chase, all 10 of these postings are about the same. The type of work, the skills involved, the experience required, everything. No matter if it’s administrator level, coordinator level, or management level. Now that’s confusing!
This tells me a few things. First, I need to understand all the ways people think of the skills I have—calling myself a writer without attaching any of the other keywords strips out nine of these jobs. Wow. Yet all require the exact same skills. OK…
Wondering what a social media manager is? Want to be one? Here’s what’s in the social media manager’s toolkit.
Fluent in social—all social (paying attention to social trends, dos and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not)
Strong writing skills (with a specialization in content marketing/copy writing)
A people-first approach to everything (a service mindset, which not only has you listening to your customers and industry chatter but being engaged in your community)
Graphically inclined (not a pro, but you need the basics of design and video production)
Comfortable with social selling (and understanding how this is done)
Competent at SEO and analytics (yes you will have to run campaigns and reports)
Confident public speaker (yes you will have to use Instastories and Facebook Live—you may even have to speak on a panel…in person)
An understanding of human behaviour (you don’t have to have a psych degree but you do need to understand what works and what doesn’t, what people want and what they don’t)
Reasonable budgeting skills (show me the money! Er…show your clients how you’re spending their money!)
Adaptable (this industry is like a river—moving fast and constant, you have to keep up with the changes and adapt as necessary)
Curious and savvy (in order to succeed as a social media manager, you need to know what works—but if you’re ahead of the curve you’ll be able to move your clients’ business strategies forward faster and won’t be distracted by fleeting trends or vanity metrics)
Strong grasp of marketing (specifically strategy and digital, email, and funnel marketing)
If this seems like three jobs in one, you’re right. And if it seems like a lot of different skill sets wrapped up into one, you’re right again. But this seems to be where the industry is at these days and if you want to compete, you need at least a cursory knowledge of these tools.
Keep in mind the typical day-to-day tasks a social media manager executes each day are a little less overwhelming: writing and scheduling posts, running ads, replying to fans, and creating graphics.
See? Not so bad. However, the only way this works is with a strong foundation—a strong social marketing strategy. This is where the real value of a social media manager comes in. If you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client, you are going to see great results. So stay at it and invest in yourself!
Are you looking to level-up your business on social? Need a social media manager? Let’s chat! Respond in the form below or message me on social. Let me know what problems you’re looking to solve and I’ll be happy to send you a quote.
Are you like me? Just discovering you’re really a social media manager (and that’s why you’re so tired)? I’d love to commiserate with you!