The Social Media Crash Course for Creators

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So you want to build your brand.

Where do you begin?

Social media is a great place to start. It’s easy, its free, and (almost) everyone uses it. There is an art to it, though. Each platform has their own purpose and their own quirks. Once you get the hang of how they work and what content works best, it’s amazing what you can do.

Here is a crash course on the three most used platforms.

My first piece of advice, keep all the names the same or as similar as you can. Consistency is key in branding. It also makes it easier to use the same profile picture and banners across the platforms. This makes it easier for people to find you.

Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

Facebook: the Gatekeeper

Facebook is the gatekeeper for social media branding. This is your starting point. You want to make sure that you do everything right while creating the page because some things cannot be undone.

The first question you will get when creating the page is if you are a business/brand or a community/public figure. The first option is for anyone who is looking to build their business’ brand. If you plan on offering any kind of product or service, this is a good option for you. If you are looking to build your personal brand, take the second option.

The next step is naming your page. Make sure it is informative and easy to remember. You will also want to make sure you can use some variation of it on any other accounts you use. For example, my Twitter and Instagram names match my website.

There are some things that you can change after the page is created, but this is no longer an option after you reach 200 followers. Keep that in mind.

Now, on to content. Facebook is good for all kinds of content. Big posts, small posts, pictures, videos. You can share blog posts and other website links. Talk about what you are interested in, share your thoughts on certain debates within your industry, show people what you are doing. Whatever content you put on other platforms, you can put it on Facebook.

Some free tips:

Get people talking. More conversation means more eyeballs on your post.

Avoid the words “like”, “comment”, and “share”. Facebook will show fewer people those posts.

Facebook live is a great way to interact in real time with your followers.

Photo by Freestocks.org on Unsplash

Twitter: the Conversationalist

Twitter has developed an interesting reputation. It has its fair share of trolls, but it also has some people who are looking to help others. The reason I stay is because of the creative community. Twitter has a plethora of writers, gamers, game developers, and all around creative people. If you notice that a lot of people in your field (or with your interest) are on Twitter, you should definitely consider joining the party.

Setting up your Twitter account is simpler than setting up a Facebook. Unlike Facebook, you can update your profile information at any point after it is created. I recommend not changing your Twitter handle, though, as it could cause confusion. You can change your username at any time and still be found. I have seen many people do this to match the season or signify they are attending a certain event.

Twitter can be used to share your thoughts as they come. I tweet a lot of quotes from other people. What I mainly use it for, though, is to talk to people.

At its core, Twitter was made for conversations.

Twitter is full of communities, and in these communities, people love to talk. Finding your people isn’t difficult. Start with the people you know in the industry. Find the thought leaders. Find the people who are active on Twitter. Join their conversations. Add in your thoughts and opinions.

Whatever you do, be polite. Remember that you are talking to a human being. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it on Twitter.

Also, use hashtags. They can help draw people to you, as well as help you find other people to follow. A quick Google search can help you find the hashtags commonly used in your industry. You can even create your own hashtag for your brand (just make sure no one else is using it)

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Instagram: the Showoff

Instagram is all about pictures. You can show off what you do and show off what you love. This can be as personal or as professional as you want it to be. I often post pictures of what I am working on or of quotes that I like.

One thing to remember is that links in Instagram posts are not clickable. This can make sharing blog posts difficult and sharing links from multiple sources, impossible. You can attach a link in your profile and refer to that link, though.

There is one way to get around this. It is something Instagram is perfect for.

Microblogs.

This is especially good for writers. It helps you learn how to convey information in three short paragraphs. This can be in relation to your blog post or you telling the story behind the picture. The possibilities are endless.

Hashtags are popular on Instagram too. There is a limit to 30 per post, but they serve a similar purpose as on Twitter.

Now that you know the basics, it is time to get started.

There are plenty of other things you can do to build your brand, like blogging (more on that later), YouTube (keep an eye out for more), and LinkedIn (I’ll get to this eventually).

If you have any questions or want me to go into more depth on any of these topics, let me know.

Until next time!

My Battle with Writer’s Block

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I have competed in NaNoWriMo every year but one since 2011, to varying degrees of success. And by varying degrees of success I mean I have never won but I did finish some of the stories. This past year, though, I had an interesting experience.

Plotting started a few months before November. I had already been chewing on the idea for a while and it was finally the way I liked it. I developed the characters, laid out how I wanted things to unfold. I was ready to go.

64 pages and 23 days in I finally gave up. There were maybe 12 pages that I was okay with. Everything else I hated. I tried at least six different ways but could not for the life of me get it started. I liked the world, I liked the characters, but everything else I couldn’t stand.

So I shelved the story and tried to move on with my life. This is one of the worst cases of writer’s block I have ever had. Not counting the time I finished a story and then could not look at it again for a year.

I could not for the life of me figure out what the problem was.

I continued playing around with the idea every so often for the next few months, hoping I would find some way to make the story come to life.

That is when it happened. Two side characters who had been creeping along the edge of the narrative stepped forward, bringing with them the few pages of another unfinished story. One of them had existed since the beginning and the other showed up in one of the attempted introductions. Both were important to the story, though I could never quite figure out their motivations.

I was a little confused when they came up to me. We all sat down with a cup of tea and they told me the whole story. Their story. Piece by piece things started clicking together. It took some time and a two hour Skype call with a friend to iron out some of the details, but the story was finally ready to be told.

The main cause of writer’s block is because the story is not ready to be told. Either it needs more work or you personally are not ready to write it yet. Anxiety and insecurity can play a big part in this. I will dive further into this topic at a later date.

The good news is, there are ways to cope with writer’s block. Take a break. Try it from a different angle. Talk it through with another writer or storyteller or creative person. Drop your characters down a hole and see how they get out of it. Take them to the circus.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on writing. Just because you are stuck, just because it doesn’t look like things are working out the way you want them to, doesn’t mean it’s the end. Writing is hard. It is also very subjective. Keep an open mind and don’t lose hope.

You can do this.