Do you have an online presence as a writer? This is something that seems to come up a lot, whether at writing conferences, chatting with your writing group, or googling online tips on how to get yourself out there and get published. I guess maybe the more apt questions is: should you have an online presence as a writer?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as borrowed solace expands and I myself am now entering into a new realm of the internet that I have never ventured into before—that of podcasting. My answer to both of the questions asked in the last paragraph is a resounding “yes!”
Perhaps I am biased as an editor of an online literature journal, but in my experience, much of the writing world is moving to being primarily online. Most people have probably even googled someone to find out the scoop on them even if they are not famous, or a writer, so imagine how many people might read a blurb about you somewhere and want to learn more about you! I believe that you should try to make sure you come across in the best light that you can when sharing your writing and, in essence, yourself with others, and the reality of this is that having a presence online is a big part of presenting yourself well.
For most writers, having some sort of website or blog serves as a great home base for anyone who wants to learn more about you. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy! When I went to my first writing conference almost five years ago, I didn’t have a website. I did, though, have my Odyssey landing page which had all of the online writing I had done up to that point in one place. When I realized that I needed to get some business cards, just in case I needed them (and I did!) and scrambled to put something together the week before the conference, my Odyssey page is what I listed next to my phone number and other prudent information on the cards. It wasn’t the most professional thing, per se, since the web address wasn’t a nice clean “name.com,” but it worked! (and I updated to just regular old AddeyVaters.com later)
If you are hesitant to start a website or are technologically challenged, you can create something very similar to what I had at Odyssey with a free blog hosting site such as WordPress or Wix (both platforms that I and the other editors have used at different times). Your website address will end up being something like “name.wordpress.com” if you go the free route, but that is a perfectly serviceable place to start if you would like to build up your web presence! Starting with something is better than nothing, and it’s always smart to set the groundwork for marketing yourself in the future.
If you decide to create a website, it can be very helpful to dip your toes into the social media pool by having at least one platform that you use in a more professional capacity, too. I would recommend starting out with Twitter. Twitter has a lively writing community with lots of hashtags that are easy to use, and that get yourself out there. I even think it’s fun to get involved in the conversation! By creating at least one professional writer profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, you can ping back and forth with your website, linking to your website on Twitter and vice versa. Many journals will publicize the writers that they publish on social media, and you can in turn link to any relevant publications you have on social media and on your website.
I always find that it’s helpful to start putting yourself out there and developing your own presence online from scratch. It’s something that will only help down the road as you establish your writing and get more tools in your toolkit that you can use to promote yourself. All it takes is a first step—for me it was creating my own website after that first writing conference which morphed into what is now borrowed solace and the work that goes into getting not only my writing, but the writing of all of our wonderful contributors, out there.
Are you in favor of developing a web presence as a writer? What tools of the trade do you use to get yourself out there and promote your writing?