How to Promote Your Writing on Social Media

When you’re a freelance writer it might seem a bit strange to promote your writing to others on social media but it’s an important step in marketing your work and showcasing your skills.

How to promote your writing on social media

Your first thought might be that you can’t share your freelance writing either because it won’t make sense to your social media followers, you’re ghost writing and it’s not exactly OK to take credit for ghost writing or you’re under a confidentiality clause. All very possible and very important reasons why you should not be sharing your stuff! But that doesn’t get you off the hook. Maybe you can’t share your freelance work but you can promote your writing on social media.

What writing you ask? Here are a few ideas.

How to promote your writing on social media

  1. You can write a blog and share individual articles on social media as they publish

    Write and publish articles on your website or on a platform like Medium. Whatever it is, you can share articles on LinkedIn, tweet links to them on Twitter, post about them on Facebook, talk about them on Instagram…you’re creating content, putting your work out there and engaging your followers all at the same time. Blogs are brilliant.

  2. What’s your area of expertise? Create tips and tricks to help your followers improve in that area and post about them on social media

    Maybe you offer a tip per week on Instagram or perhaps it’s a Facebook Live video each month…whatever it is you’re showcasing your skills on social media and helping potential clients get to know, like and trust you.

  3. Have you written a book? Then why not talk about that on social media

    Develop a content calendar and rotate through different ways to talk about your book—talk about who it’s for, what the benefit is to the reader, publish excerpts, put it on sale, etc.

  4. Post about what you learn

    Maybe you can’t post about the exact freelance work you’re doing but maybe you can post about ways you’ve learned to make it easier, more efficient, etc. Have you learned about a new place to get great gigs? Why not share about that? How about a new hack to get your brainstorms down in a quarter of the time? I’m sure people would love learning about that! When you share about things you learn you become a resource for your followers—someone they want to hear more from.

  5. If you can post your freelance work—do it! Share them all over social media

    When you share your latest article or post try and talk about it in a way that is interesting rather than “Here’s an article I wrote, check it out!” While that works every now and then if you become someone who drops links and just expects your followers to read it because you wrote it. Try and engage them by describing what’s in it for them if they take the time to click the link.

When you're a freelance writer it might seem a bit strange to promote your writing to others on social media but it's an important step in marketing your work and showcasing your skills.

For more ideas about promoting your writing check out these articles

What is an Author Platform?

If you Google “What is an author platform?” you’ll see many, many sort-of answers. Because this isn’t a simple question. But I’m still going to try and answer it.

What is an Author Platform

In a nutshell, a platform is the sum total of ways you, the author, can sell your book.

But…what does that mean? What is an author platform? That answer doesn’t tell me anything!

Hah! I know. And people in general assume a platform is how many social media followers you have, and maybe at one point that was it, but since you can buy followers you can still have loads of followers and not sell any books. So that can’t be the only thing that makes up your platform.

I mean, it will make some of it.

But here’s a few other things that make up a well-rounded platform.

What is an author platform?

  • Social media followers and existing contacts/fans/readers/email subscribers—30%
  • Knowledge and expertise on your topic—25%
  • Personality and follow through—25%
  • Previous work (articles, books, etc.)—20%

It kind of makes sense, right? When you pitch an agent or publisher they need to know you can motivate your existing readers, reach new readers and build strong relationships with your readers.

A common follow-up question to what is an author platform is: does this apply to all authors?

Hah! Kind of?

From my research I’ve learned while almost all non-fiction authors need a platform, not all fiction authors do.

Although it’s overwhelming to think about building a thriving team of superfans when it’s hard enough to getting words on the page the more I think about it the more I understand why it’s necessary. Publishing a book isn’t the hard part (although, like, that’s not simple)—selling your book is.

Think about it this way: let’s say you’re putting together a workshop and you’re partnering with a local venue as the host. Well, is it 100% up to the venue to sell the thing out? No, of course not. Sure they can help by spreading the word to their customers but it’s up to you to bring in your friends and fans. The ability to draw people in shows the strength of your platform. So make it strong.

One other thing to think about when asking what is an author platform is to consider everything you do as a contribution to your platform. In-person connections are often stronger than online ones so don’t take those for granted. Think about the associations you’re a member of, the clubs you participate in and the hobbies you have. If you think those could be channels to sell books then make sure they’re strong connections. Contribute to them and make yourself a valuable member.

Wondering how to grow your platform? Here are a few ideas from Writer’s Digest.

  • Find out what your target audience is reading and publish articles or blogs in those outlets
  • Publish a body of work on your topic in a blog, newsletter, podcast, video blog, etc. to grow organic followers and fans over time and help you build authority in your niche
  • Attending events (or speaking at these events if possible) where you can expand your network
  • Find meaningful ways to connect with your target audience—put on events, run challenges, have promotions, etc.
  • Partner with people in your niche (either peers or influencers) to grow your reach and pick up new fans

If you Google "What is an author platform?" you'll see many, <em>many</em> sort-of answers. Because this isn't a simple question. But I'm still going to try and answer it.

Other posts about platform building and non-fiction writing

How to Get Your Email List Started (and What to Send)

If you’ve been a freelance writer for any length of time I’m betting someone has told you it’s time to get your email list started. I’m right, aren’t I?

How to Get Your Email List Started

And I know you’re thinking about getting your email list started and you would but…what on earth do you send? Right!? Am I reading your mind right now?

Maybe you’re wondering if you should wait till you have a certain number of subscribers before getting your email list started? Well, there is no reason to wait. I mean, even if you have one subscriber it’s worth diving in. First of all, they don’t know how many people are on your email list and second of all, by getting started you will get into the habit of emailing your list and will be an old pro by the time you build it to whatever number you had in your head.

Three ideas for getting your email list started and what to send to your subscribers

  1. Share your latest article, video, podcast, etc.

    Tell the story of whatever it is you’ve published this week and add a link so your subscribers can jump over and see it for themselves. It’s an easy way to let people know what’s going on without putting on too much pressure.

  2. Write an exclusive article or essay about a topic the people on your list want to learn more about

    This may seem like a lot to take on but it’s an excellent way to create value and connect with your audience. If you don’t know what they want why not ask?

  3. Curate a list of articles based on your audiences’ interests

    Again, you need to know what your audience is interested in if you want to provide a list of valuable articles and resources from around the web but if you nail the topic your email subscribers will love you! And since you do tons of research for your freelance writing anyway, collecting links of great articles should be second nature.

These are a few quick ideas to get you started with emailing your list. But maybe you’re still not convinced you need an email list. I get it! You’re a freelance writer, what do you need with email subscribers? Well I have a few reasons why getting an email list started is in your best interest. I published my article over on Story Board in an article called Why Freelancers in Marketing and Communications Should Have an Email List but here’s the quick version. Check out the post for the explanations:

  • An email list nurtures potential clients who aren’t ready to hire you…yet
  • An email list helps people who are on the fence about hiring you
  • An email list is a great way to stay in touch with previous clients
  • An email list helps you build authority in your niche
  • An email list helps you avoid the freelancer feast or famine cycle
  • You own your email list

If you've been a freelance writer for any length of time I'm betting someone has told you it's time to get your email list started. I'm right, aren't I?

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Feedback vs Criticism: Dealing With Negative Comments

We all need input from others to help us improve but when dealing with negative comments it’s important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism. And no, you don’t have to take every piece of advice you receive. But maybe you should take some of it.

Feedback vs Criticism Dealing With Negative Comments

When deciding if something is feedback vs criticism it all comes down to motivation. This isn’t always easy to discern but once you know the difference it will be easier to identify.

Feedback vs Criticism

Feedback is a response or reaction to an activity. It can be negative but its intention is to correct and/or inspire positive change. Feedback is specific and precise.

Criticism speaks in general terms relying on statements like “always” and “never.” It assumes motives for behaviour and applies sweeping blame and judgment.

Another difference between feedback vs criticism is feedback focuses on behaviour/problems and is most often given in private whereas criticism focuses on the personal and is often given in a public setting.

The best way to tell if you’re receiving feedback vs criticism is to determine what the intention of the negative comment is. If it’s intended to shame you or is a personal attack this is criticism. If it’s intended to solve a problem and help you improve then it’s feedback. You still don’t have to take the feedback but at least you know it’s coming from a good place.

Many of us hold back from publishing or putting ourselves out there online and on social media because we’re petrified of negative feedback and critical comments. We’re already insecure enough—and our self-talk works hard to keep us humble. The last thing we need is rejection from Internet strangers.

Except we need to put ourselves out there. Because professionals publish their work; they put themselves out there.

I love the way Jeff Goins puts it in You Can Be a Critic or a Creator (But You Have to Choose One):

Professionals make things every day and then they share them. That’s how they get better—by making things. Amateurs, on the other hand, wait for their big break and hide in the shadows until someone discovers them. Incidentally, they are the ones who are quick to criticize those making things. Which one would you rather be: the brave creator, or the cowering critic?

But what if you are the brave creator and still receive negative comments? If it’s criticism you can ignore it but if it’s feedback here are a few strategies for dealing with it effectively.

How to respond to negative feedback

  • Recognize it’s not personal and be polite in your response
  • Respond in a way that lets the person know s/he’s heard
  • Don’t rush to reach or take the feedback at face value
  • In a day or two, embrace constructive feedback
  • Keep your response short, simple and sweet
  • If needed, apologize and sympathize in your response
  • Insert a little marketing into your response if possible
  • As soon as possible move the conversation offline

Publishing in the digital age means we can receive instant feedback and so we need to develop thick skin. Learning to recognize the difference between feedback vs criticism and responding (when appropriate) in an effective way will not only help you improve but also help you grow your fan and follower base.

We all need input from others but when dealing with negative comments it's important to know the difference between feedback vs criticism.

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Writing Contests and Why You Should Consider Entering

Entering writing contests is good practice for writers. And the cash prizes and publication are nice too.

Writing Contests

While you may not feel like you have time to be dallying around entering writing contests there are some good reasons to do so, aside from money and publication. First, if it’s the right contest, it can give you exposure to your future agent, editor or publisher. Second, writing to deadline and according to a set of guidelines keeps you sharp. Third, if you win you can say “award-winning writer” on stuff. I mean, isn’t that worth the entry fee alone?

Of course there are scams out there so you do need to vet each contest and check things like the rules and who’s judging. You also want to make sure the entry fee is reasonable and you’re not signing away all your rights by entering the contest. But once you feel like it’s on the up-and-up then enter with abandon!

Where to Find Writing Contests

Here are a few of my favourite stops when looking for new writing contests to enter.

  • Poets & Writers has a searchable database of writing contests, which includes any creative writing contests they’ve published in their magazine during the past year. These contests are vetted before being entered into the database so it’s a trustworthy resource
  • The Writer is a wealth of resources for writers and keeps an up-to-date contest listing on their website. You can even join their mailing lists where they’ll send the contest details to you so you don’t miss a thing
  • Submittable has a great weekly roundup of publishing and journalism news (Called Submishmash Weekly) and, of course, up-to-date contest listings. I find a lot of great opportunities here. And you can sign up for their weekly round up too, which saves you having to remember to check for updates
  • Writer’s Digest has an updated contest listing for any Writer’s Digest Contest. They’re listed from soonest submission deadline to latest and cover a wide range of writing contests
  • If you’re looking for Canadian writing contests Heather McLeod has a nice roundup of listings organized by date. These are recurring contests so check the links for updated details
  • Speaking of Canadian writing contests, CBC Books also put together a guide to writing prizes for Canadians. Organized into fiction, non-fiction and poetry, there are tons of recurring contests listed and this is a post worth bookmarking
  • Writers Write has a small list of upcoming contests for fiction and poetry writers. Listings go till the end of the year so it’s worth checking out
  • Reedsy has a robust contest search, which is updated each week. Search by genre, location and sort by entry fee or prize money

While you may not feel like you have time to be dallying around entering writing contests there are some good reasons to do so, aside from money and publication. First, if it's the right contest, it can give you exposure to your future agent, editor or publisher. Second, writing to deadline and according to a set of guidelines keeps you sharp. Third, if you win you can say "award-winning writer" on stuff. I mean, isn't that worth the entry fee alone?

I hope you can find awesome writing contests to enter this year! But if checking out websites is still too much to ask I have one more place you can go to find great contests—I’ve created a Writing Jobs and Contests Twitter List. All you have to do is follow the list and check it every now and then. I mean, you’re on Twitter, right?