Happy Friday, my friends! I wanted to mention a few things to you before we dive into today’s post with Katie Orr (who has some GREAT advice on writing and social media…)
First, since it’s Friday and we recently talked a good bit about networking and getting involved in the blogging community, I want to point you to Lisa-Jo and her 5 Minute Friday link up. The idea is that you write about a topic for just 5 minutes and then share it – no editing for hours or pouring over phrases – just write. Lisa-Jo has developed a thriving community and it’s a simple, powerful way to connect as well as refine your writing.
Second, I’ve sent out the Blog Planning Kit rough drafts to the testers. I hope to launch the kit to you, the subscribers of How They Blog, on July 8. However, it will be a private launch – meaning I won’t post it on the blog, I’ll only email it to subscribers (you can subscribe right now over there in the sidebar —>). The best part is, you all – because you’ve been so wonderful and supportive – will get a special deal. I haven’t determined the final price yet, but you’ll get over 50% off, for sure. So be certain to get on the email list so I can let you know as soon as the Blog Planning Kit is available!
Finally, Katie made that awesome pinnable image over there –>. If you’re on Pinterest and you feel so inclined, I’d love it if you’d pin it and help spread the word.
Onward and upward. Without further ado, here is today’s goodness…
Katie Orr on Writing and Social Media
1. How do you keep social media from running your life? Is it a struggle for you? Any social media management tips?
I don’t have any specific boundaries. I just know when it is becoming too much God is faithful to show me and — if I choose obedience — I back off.
I really felt the social media tension when I first started taking blogging seriously. It can be very frustrating to put your heart and soul — and lots of time — into a post, then look at your numbers a see that all of ten people read it. Social media can help get the word out about a post, but it felt really weird at first and sort of anti-humble to promote my own stuff. I finally realized that if I am going to take the time to write “professionally” I need to do a bit of promotion so that others can read it!
As my numbers have changed, I don’t feel as much pressure to share my posts. There are plenty of days which go by and I’ve not tweeted about a post once. I’ve learned that if the Lord wants a post to be read, it gets shared. He doesn’t need me to schedule a bazillion tweets to get the word out.
As far as tips, I am not the picture of perfection when it comes to all the social sharing rules. I know that “they” say you should promote other’s posts more than you promote your own, but I just don’t have time to read posts! So, while I would love to promote others more intentionally and consistently, it is typically just on-the-go tweeting as I have a moment or two. So, I guess the choice to be OK with most of my tweets being “selfish” is a way I keep from social media running my life.
I also have much of my social media “needs” delegated out. I’ve not been behind the @donotdepart handle or Facebook page for well over a year now, and the @hellomornings handle and the Facebook page are also managed by others. All of them do a MUCH better job than I ever would, so this works out great.
I’m a huge fan of pre-fabricated tweets. So, if I am a part of some sort of launch or other social media blitz and they don’t provide them, I try to remember to ask if they can provide a few. Then, I plug those into Hootsuite and forget about it!
As for my own posts (as I mentioned in my last post) I love Buffer. It really is a great timesaver. When I have 5 minutes to read a post, or promote my post for the day, I can easily buffer 5 tweets/Facebook updates without much effort, then walk away. There is a great site, Twiteroid/, that will analyze when your Twitter followers are online the most. With a click of a button, you can set your Buffer to post at those times! It does all the thinking for you. Once you get this set up, Buffer does all the work of spacing out your posts for you. Love.
Again, I LOVE the Buffer Chrome extension (which you can get here)! I just highlight the sentence I want to go in the tweet, and push the button. It grabs that text and a shortened URL for the post. All I have to do is add any hashtags or mentions I might want to include. Done.
2. What is your writing process? When do you write? How long does it take you to create a post?
I am finally getting to the point where I can create a post in one sitting, under 30 minutes, but it has taken me every bit of the 3 years I’ve been blogging to get to this point! And this is only for certain types of posts that come easier to me. The time it takes really depends on the type of post and the audience.
The writing process in NO WAY comes easy to me. I really wish I had paid more attention to my grammar teachers way back when. I hated English class, and I still struggle with knowing where to place a comma. Little barriers like punctuation really slow me down, so I try to just write and forget about what’s correct, then return later to edit.
The best posts are those that stem from a moment, so when the idea or emotional message strikes, I try to stop what I’m doing and start writing. Obviously, with three little ones, I am not able to do that every time, but when I can it’s awesome. I also work best under a deadline. I have a ton of half-drafted posts that will one day get published … whenever it fits a good deadline! Looking back, I find it a miracle that I ever finished writing Focused15 on my own. One of these days I’ll finally write another one.
My writing process is most certainly on-the-fly in this stage of life, though I look forward to the days when I can have more concrete writing times and better laid-out plans! For now, it works.
3. Do you have a blogging mentor or accountability group (formal or informal)? How have you created and fostered those relationships?
Nothing formal, though Kat has certainly been a blogging mentor. For my first posts at Inspired to Action she had some great tips and guidelines for posting that I still go back to. Things like asking a question at the end of the post and linking back to the post so email subscribers know how to comment. Brilliant!
I’ve also learn much from co-authoring a book with Lara. When God placed the idea for the book on my heart I knew I couldn’t write it on my own (remember … deadlines!) and if I did, it wouldn’t be all that readable or engaging. I’d like to think that Lara’s gift of writing has rubbed off on me just a little bit, as we continue to write our studies together. but I also love how she is able to pack such meaning in so few words. The first time I guest posted for Lara way-back-when and she told me to keep posts under 400 words … well I thought it might just be impossible! It was a great “exercise” for me to try and I’ve since adopted this less-is-more point of view.
4. What is the best blogging advice you’ve received? (OR) What is the best blogging advice you could give?
Most of us can see right through when you are trying to be someone else. You don’t have to have flowery language and brilliant ideas all the time. If God has called you to write, He has called you to fill a certain footprint in the blogging world that only you can fill.
We don’t need another so-and-so, we need you to enter this community with the uniqueness God has hand-formed you for.
Secondly, I would say don’t forget to be vulnerable.
There is certainly a place for expertise in the blogging world, but no one has it all together. We live in this day of technology with every bit of information we could ever hope for, and all the “shoulds” of budgeting, and motherhood, and homemaking, and blogging even, become oh-so burdensome. It is a breath of fresh air to read a post where the author is honest about what she is NOT, and points to Jesus in her mess.
Ultimately, this is what we all need: Jesus. Not 10-tips to such and such with a pinnable image and an engaging question at the end.
Third (more practical) go to a blogging conference. It will be worth the investment in every way! I’ll be at the Declare conference, and have my eye on a few others, (and Kat, Lara and Amanda will be at Declare too) and I’d love to see you there!