• Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media.
    Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    I once knew a woman who couldn’t go into an LGBT bar on her own. She didn’t even like going in with someone else unless she’d had a drink first. Alcohol became her crutch because she never dealt with the original problem. Which was fear of walking into a social environment alone, and maybe feeling judged and self-conscious.

    It was perfectly obvious what the solution should have been – go in alone anyway, without a drink. When you’re so used to doing something, it becomes second nature.

    I admit I haven’t quite reached the level of second nature when it comes to marketing myself on social media. I still don’t like it much. There are a number of reasons. For one thing, a site like Twitter is enormously distracting, so it can become counter-productive to spend much time there. I end up forgetting what I was supposed to be doing.

    Another thing about social media is that there’s already a lot of marketing there. And if you need to market yourself – a book or service – it can seem almost impossible to post anything that rises above the general noise.

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media

    There’s also the fear of being annoying – a lot of people don’t like marketing posts. They’re okay in moderation, but in the writing and book end of Twitter, marketing tweets are in abundance. (And this is one reason why if you’re marketing a book, you should have the best cover design, so it stands out from the rest.)

    Authors and editors are often fairly introverted people. But if we want to find readers or clients we have to market ourselves on social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or somewhere else, we need to make people aware that we and our work exist.

    One of the downsides of being a writer and working with fiction is having an overactive imagination. This means you can dream up all kinds of nightmare social media scenarios that might result from posting. If we take Twitter, it can be a bit of a minefield. It can also be very difficult to get any engagement when you do post. And some of the engagement tactics are not to everyone’s taste.

    Follow trains, which can run foul of Twitter’s Terms of Service, don’t appeal to everyone. They can also lead to a lot of notifications. #writerslift hashtags can end up with a long thread of self-promotion, which can be demoralising if you don’t feel your own posts can compete.

    You struggle to be heard and you’re ready to throw in the towel. You know you could try other strategies but they don’t always appeal. Like sharing too much about your private life. Or giving too much away about your feelings. Or talking about your opinions or political views.

    Posting personal content

    It’s true that posting more personal content can allow potential readers or clients to get to know you. This is why a social media account that only posts marketing messages will be harder for others to connect with.

    I recently heard about trauma marketing. This is where you use personal trauma to market yourself. This plays to the victim culture that thrives on social media, but it’s also manipulative and drowns out and cheapens serious trauma. Monetising trauma for financial gain and marketing does seem pretty icky – unless it relates to the topic of your book. In which case, it makes more sense.

    Imposter syndrome, perfectionism, failure

    If you’re struggling to post on social media, you might want to ask yourself why. Are you afraid people won’t notice? If that is your fear, then the worst thing you’d expect is not to get any engagement. Perhaps you suffer from imposter syndrome or perfectionism – you might be afraid to post links to your website because you’re not confident about either your site, your content, or both. This is likely to be even worse when you’re just starting out. But the more you put off posting, the worse your fear will get.

    If you avoid posting, you never deal with the problem, and your voice and your work go unheard.

    The fear is driven by avoidance of pain

    Humans are primarily motivated by two things – pain and pleasure. Pain takes precedence since it’s connected to our survival. If we anticipate pain because a tiger is coming our way, we will work hard to get away. If we anticipate a flame will burn us, we’ll avoid it. If we think a social media post will bring a ton of trouble on our heads, we won’t post it.

    Even if we want success, we also fear it. Because we anticipate, rightly, that not everything that comes with it is good. It brings negative attention, extra responsibilities, extra work. It pitches us into situations where we are constantly in danger of failure, complete with an audience to witness our falls.

    There’s also the fear of the unknown and the new, the things we’re not yet accustomed to. When it comes to social media, it’s best to jump in and get in the habit of posting. If you write a blog, try doing it often enough and reposting links to older content so you develop a routine. The more you do it, the less painful it should become.

    Mix personal and helpful posts between the marketing

    It’s also worth mixing up non-marketing posts with personal posts and posts that are helpful and add value for readers. If your posts seem helpful or you show yourself to be helpful to others, they will remember you more and engage with you more often. You can also post fun stuff – if you’re selling a service, your clients need to feel you’re approachable and friendly.

    And if you do attract controversy from a post, it’s not always a bad thing. There will always be people who agree with you or who just agree to disagree.

    Which platform(s) would suit you best?

    There are courses and mentorships you can do on social media marketing. Some are more helpful than others. But it’s worth deciding first what platforms you prefer to use. If you like visual marketing and social media sites, Instagram and Pinterest might be better. Pinterest is the biggest image search engine outside Google, with a higher income demographic.

    Twitter is good for microblogging or threading tweets. But it’s also a 24-hour news site, and you will quickly find yourself sucked into staying on the platform for longer than you intended. This is particularly a problem if you struggle to find time for your writing. You don’t need added distractions. Yes, the site has a big writing community, but sometimes that too is a big distraction.

    There are also plenty of writing groups on Facebook, plus writers on Instagram. I’m less familiar with these two.

    One thing that’s really important to point out here is that spreading yourself too thinly over multiple platforms could be a real mistake. It partly depends on how efficient you are and how well you manage your time. You could use scheduling tools and have particular days you post on a platform. You could use one or two platforms more often and others only once or twice a week.

    If you fear posting on social media, ask yourself why. If you’re worried your posts will look silly, there are plenty of silly posts on social media and people aren’t looking for perfection. If you’re worried your blog posts and website aren’t good enough for people to see yet, it’s still worth throwing yourself in there and posting anyway. You could just be suffering from imposter syndrome and some traffic to your site could build up your confidence.

    Fear of marketing yourself on social media is no joke. Many business owners are held back by it, never reaching their full potential. The same is true of authors.

    One of the most important things is to remember social media is designed to reward users and keep them on the site. It’s meant to be addictive. So, if you’re a writer or you have a small business, you need to be careful you don’t spend too much time there. Social media blockers like Cold Turkey can be very useful in terms of managing your time on these platforms.

    Cat looking at laptop photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

    Other IndieCat blogs you might like

    Social media blockers

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    How to order the stories in a collection

    Why your book cover design matters

  • Conquer your email inbox

    Conquer your email inbox
    Conquer your email inbox

    If there’s one thing I don’t recommend, it’s letting your email inbox hit over 1200 emails before you start clearing it out. Furthermore, I don’t recommend only clearly out about 300 and feeling you’ve achieved something. Instead, I want to talk about taking time out from your normal routine to do a bit of email housekeeping.

    Email housekeeping

    So, what do I mean by email housekeeping? It’s not just about clearing out all those newsletters you subscribed to, but were never opened… and they are still sitting there for the day you will blitz them all. And it’s certainly not about responding to people you should have emailed ages ago. Yikes, that would be a very bad situation. And fortunately a situation I’ve more or less avoided.

    You need to set a few hours aside if necessary. Don’t be tempted to just do a few dozen. It’s time to bite the bullet.

    If you have an inbox that scares the bejesus out of you, and it’s not just about what to delete but what to do with the rest, read on…

    Start at the bottom

    I cleared out all 1200 emails by starting at the bottom rather than the top. I cleared out the newest stuff I knew I didn’t need. But then I went to the very earliest of the unread emails and worked my way through them. Sometimes, when you know you don’t really want to receive an email from a particular company or newsletter, you can do a search for that emailer and mass delete. With any luck, that will get rid of quite a few.

    But what about those emails you thought would be really interesting to read – but you never had the time? Well, now’s your chance to read them. From the bottom up. If you find they’re not so interesting after all, you can go for another search and mass delete. But if they are interesting, create a file for them and move them over there. Open them before you do so because they might not be worth saving. But the ones that are should totally be filed away.

    Use a filing system

    Make sure your file names are explanatory. If your file names aren’t clear, your eye will pass over them in future and the entire contents of those folders will be forgotten about.

    Be patient. Don’t give up. There will be times when it seems like a slog. I recommend putting on some music. Take short breaks. Do not abandon the task for another day.

    Take the opportunity to unsubscribe from any newsletters that are no longer helpful. Pay particular attention to heavy spammers. I have one email list that drives me round the bend because it’s related to a discussion list. I’ve already unsubscribed from part of it, but the rest still arrives in my inbox. Unfortunately, I need it for my work.

    But that means that anything else that isn’t useful is going to get the boot.

    An empty inbox is a perfect inbox!

    If you’re someone who is always on top of their email inbox, you will never understand the absolute bliss of an empty inbox. I mean, empty for the first time in years. Or the obsession with keeping it that way. Every unwanted email becomes an abomination that has to be removed as soon as possible.

    You might notice times when you’re slipping up. There’s a pile in there. Don’t fall back into complacency, only attending to the most important and ignoring the rest. Read, file, or delete.

    I now deal with all the emails in my inbox at the very least first thing in the morning and last thing before I switch off my PC. Not to mention several times during the day.

    I realise there are people who’ve always done this. I would deal with some things, but potentially interesting email newsletters were often left for another day.

    No more! I have conquered my inbox. It is currently at zero. There’s a filing system that makes sense. I like this too much not to keep it that way.

  • Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    Social media icons: don’t make this mistake on your author website.

    A while back, I watched a great webinar on website design by Gill Andrews. I ended up buying her book, which has bite-sized chapters which get straight to the point.

    One thing she made me do was to remove the social media icons at the top of my website. And I’m here to tell you: don’t make this same mistake with your author website.

    I was reminded of this yesterday in the middle of a business mentorship thingy from Ash Ambirge. I was one of the lucky beta folks who signed up, so I’m currently wallowing in all sorts of useful information.

    Anyway, she also recommended removing these icons from the top of your business website page.

    But, ha, thanks to Gill, I’d already ticked that one off my list. The icons were gone.

    Gone, gone, gone.

    Which is just as well because two of the three accounts were neglected and the other one is my nemesis. (My nemesis, if you’re interested, is Twitter.)

    So, what’s the problem with your site visitors seeing your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram icons?

    Well, apart from the fact you might be neglecting some of the accounts, so do you really want potential readers going over there? Guess what? That’s not actually the worst of it, though it’s not great.

    No, here’s the bigger reason.


    Social media icons are outbound links

    If your social media icons are the first things they encounter when they land, they might just be tempted to click one of those icons.

    And, folks, that would be terrible.


    Those icons are outbound links. They are teleporters. Your visitor has now been teleported to another site.

    Slap yourself with a wet kipper.

    Cause you and I both know those social media sites are designed to be addictive.

    How many website visitors are already longing to go back and check their Twitter or Facebook account anyway, to see what’s happening?

    Far. Too. Many.

    Don’t give them any more excuses than they have already.


    Teleporting new visitors to Twitter is bad!

    If you’re an author with a website, you don’t want your new website visitor to be offered a range of teleportation destinations that takes them AWAY.

    It’s like installing a revolving door with the word ‘exit’ in Twitter and Facebook icons.

    Because that’s what you’ve installed – a revolving door. Or, an exit right next to the entrance.

    Or, just a plain old teleporter (and believe me, they’re old to those of us who watched the original Star Trek, or who’ve spent time in Second Life).

    Don’t do it!


    Think you can compete with Twitter? Ha!

    I know having people follow you on social media would seem to make sense, but that’s not what’s likely to happen.

    Seriously, it won’t.

    Because… you can’t compete with cat videos and the latest news.

    Your website visitor will forget about you right after they go ‘check out’ your social media account. Those top trends will catch their attention, or maybe you’re tweeting a hashtag that interests them.

    Then, click, they’re gone!

    Yes, your website may still be open in one of their browser tabs, but so are a million other things.

    A million other things they will never return to.


    Here’s the solution – remove the teleporters!

    So, what do you do on your website?

    First up, you remove those teleporters at the top of your home page.

    The ones that present an invisible doorman who says, “Hey, nice to see you, now here’s the way out!”

    Remove them.


    Don’t wait until whenever.

    Get rid of them.

    And here’s the bigger reason why. It’s not just that most website visitors will spend mere seconds on a site before they leave (and you don’t want to push them out the door any faster). No, there’s another very good reason.


    New visitors need time to get to know you

    If they’re new to your site, they don’t know you yet. So, why would they follow you? There are so many people to follow. So many shiny accounts.

    You need to ensure that you hook their interest in you first.

    That means your website has to hold them for longer than a few seconds. You want to entice them to pull up a chair and browse your site.

    You want them to get to know you and your work.

    And you want to remove anything that will push them out the exit fast.

    This also means you need to watch where you place outbound links.

    You want your website visitor to have time to look around before they get tempted with anything clickable.

    So, where do you put social media icons?

    I have personally removed them completely for the time being, but you can put them at the very bottom of your page, in your footer. That way, your visitors have the chance to read your content first.

    And if you’re finding social media addiction is interfering with your writing time, here’s an old post I wrote on social media blockers. I use Cold Turkey – the free version. There’s a paid version too which I haven’t used.

  • Some thoughts on customer service

    Some thoughts on customer service
    Some thoughts on customer service

    Some thoughts on customer service

    Customer service is something that matters a lot to me. Both in my small virtual world micro business and my editing work. If a client spends even a small amount, they’re entitled to value for money.

    I learned a lot from my micro business selling clothes for female avatars. Most customers and clients are polite, the odd one is perhaps not, but they all deserve the same courtesy. One thing that’s important is to establish what the client or customer’s problem is. And then to find the best way to fix it. This sometimes means offering options.

    I was reminded of this some time ago when I was on the end of a rather abrupt customer service person. I subscribed to a stock photo service and found I couldn’t access the stock I’d favourited. I’d contacted the service before, and they suggested I clear cache and that should sort it. Eventually I did, and it didn’t.

    Because I felt the photo stock was perhaps not best for my business or brand, I mentioned when I contacted them that I was thinking of unsubscribing. This was a side note to my general query.

    I didn’t say I was definitely unsubscribing.

    Mostly, I just wanted access to the photos. Because I’d paid for access and there was a problem at their end, not mine. I was friendly and polite. However, within minutes I noticed that my subscription was marked to end in about twelve days. The customer service person had decided that I was definitely unsubscribing, without actually confirming it.

    I just wanted the photos and to see if there was anything new I might want to download. So, when I was notified that the problem was resolved, I went in and downloaded everything even faintly of interest. I hadn’t really exploited my subscription as much as I should have. So I was going to make the most of it in the final days.

    But… they lost a customer.

    I might have stayed on another month, or more. I’d already delayed unsubscribing for months, always hoping to see new photos in the colours I was looking for. I felt there was still some reason to stick around.

    If I had been handling the issue from the customer service side, I would have handled it very differently.

    First up, there was a problem with multiple customers not being able to access stock. So that had to be resolved. It was definitely not the customer’s fault.

    Secondly, I would have told the customer how to unsubscribe rather than making an executive decision for them. I would also have pointed the customer to the current survey asking clients about the kind of stock they were looking for. And I would have made it clear that they could unsubscribe or resubscribe at any time.

    Instead, they gave me the opportunity to test the boundaries of what I was allowed to download, and it turned out to be more than I realised.

    I’d been flirting with the idea of switching to a different service. In the meantime, I saved some money.

    Since then I’ve ditched most photo stock, opting for a more streamlined look with templates. But that customer service experience shows why it’s not a good idea to act in haste.

    It’s something for editorial service providers to bear in mind too. Read a message carefully. Find out what the client really wants. Offer options.

    Don’t pull out the rug from under them because you’ve just lost some business.

    Looking for feedback on your manuscript?

    If you’re working on a novel and you want feedback, I offer a number of services. Check the link below:

    Developmental Fiction Editing Services – IndieCat Editorial