Social Media

  • 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.

    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

  • Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique.
    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    Procrastination is a problem that besets most writers at some point. Why is it so hard to sit down and write? Why is it more tempting to rearrange your pencils, tidy your desk, check Twitter or another social media app? All of this has a massive impact on productivity. And since most writers don’t have the luxury of being full time, they have to fit their writing in around other activities, including nine-to-five jobs. This means they have to maximise their writing time. While there are numerous apps that can help with blocking social media distractions, in this post we will look at how you can boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique.

    Why do people procrastinate?

    But first things first – what is going on with procrastination? It’s a common problem that isn’t just confined to writers.

    One sad truth is that while most people dream of success – including writers – they don’t necessarily dream of the hard work that’s involved. It doesn’t help that you hear overnight success stories that don’t always show the long hard slog to get there. Writers are already gifted with imaginations – they can picture the book deal, the reading events, the signings. What they can’t or won’t picture so well is the more monotonous task of writing, rewriting, and editing. It’s solitary work that requires time away from others. And this connects with one of the two main human drives – the desire to avoid pain.

    Humans are primarily driven by two things – the desire for pleasure and the desire to avoid pain. Dreams of success relate to pleasure. The hard work and delays relate to pain. Because the work involves sacrifice – you have to give up watching TV and browsing social media. You have to say no to that night out at the pub. It’s not that you can’t have any fun, but writing a book takes a lot of hard work, and the book doesn’t write itself while you’re chatting to people on Twitter.

    Success is scary

    That brings us to another problem that also commonly hits business owners and freelancers when they’re trying to get off the ground. Success can be desired, but it can also be feared. This is why there can be a lot of self-sabotage going on. You sometimes see writers panicking when their books are about to be published. It’s not that they’ve changed their minds, but as well as the possible success they are facing potential pain in the form of poor sales or bad reviews. They are now committed and there’s no way to back out. If they’re a newer author, it will be all the more intimidating.

    Perfectionism

    And part of this relates to perfectionism. Is the book good enough? Which in turn leads back to pain – will I get bad reviews? Perfectionism can really bog people down, leading to procrastination, never being quite ready, or finding ways to avoid the task. As a writer, you probably know that what you put on paper rarely lives up to what’s in your head. Certainly not in earlier drafts. The frustration of bridging that gap can lead to you putting off the work. You avoid the pain by looking for something more pleasurable instead – like dreaming about your story which is much easier than writing it.

    All of this, along with the usual social media distractions, gets in the way of productivity. And if you’re failing to get the writing done, you feel a loss of confidence, and perhaps a sense of failure. This is also counter-productive.

    It’s easy to get stuck in a negative loop of endless procrastination.

    But there’s another issue too – writing a book can seem like a huge endeavour. Especially when you add in rewriting and editing. To deal with procrastination and the massive overwhelm you might be facing, it’s worthwhile looking at the Pomodoro Technique of time management.

    Pomodoro – what is it?

    Actually, it’s a tomato. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. In the late 1980s, Italian student Francesco Cirillo developed a time-management technique involving a tomato-shaped timer. This technique breaks tasks down into 25 minute time intervals. Each interval is known as a pomodoro – after the timer Cirillo used. These intervals are broken by short breaks of three to five minutes. This makes work more manageable, less intimidating, and more achievable.

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    Here’s an example for writing tasks:

    • Make sure you have a goal or set of goals you want to tackle in the work session
    • Decide on what you’re going to tackle – for example, a scene in your book or short story
    • Set the timer for 25 minutes – this can be any timer, or an Alexa app, or an online timer
    • Get to work (and turn off social media to avoid distractions)
    • Stop working when the timer goes off and if you’ve completed your task, tick it off
    • If you have fewer than four ticks, take a break of three to five minutes
    • This break is also timed with an alarm going off to mark the end of the break
    • Then you return to your task or the next one for another 25 minutes, before another break
    • You should aim for four 25 minute work periods with breaks in between
    • After that, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes before starting again

    Beware of the social media rabbit hole during breaks

    All of this depends on the overall writing time you have to play with. It might be tempting to go and check out Twitter during a break, but this can disrupt your concentration. Once you start checking emails and social media, even if you don’t check it for long, you might take a while to get your concentration back. A short break can lead to lost time that goes well beyond a few minutes. And then you’re staring at the word-processing screen again, frustrated that you can’t get back into your story. Beware of misusing your breaks, unless you are good at managing yourself.

    If you finish a task before the end of the 25 minutes, you can use the extra time to review or edit your work.

    Set goals, then rinse and repeat

    If you’re really stuck for time, you could just do two hours and repeat again the next day. Be sure to set out your goals before you start and check off whether you accomplish them. A rough draft of a scene is a good goal. Reworking dialogue or filling in some location details in a rewrite session is also a perfectly good goal. By breaking writing into chunks of time, the task becomes more manageable. Yes, you should have the longer goal of writing an entire book. But you also have the shorter goal of dealing with it bit by bit.

    Examples of a Pomodoro timer

    pomodoro.io is a website that offers a Pomodoro timer with the ability to list the tasks you want to tackle.

    You can also try out this YouTube Pomodoro timer – the channel has other timers you can check out.

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    Other IndieCat posts you might find useful

    Social media blockers – how to block social media distractions that interfere with your writing.

    How to establish a writing routine – writing is like a muscle that needs to be built up over time.

    When is your novel done? Or, do you want to write and rewrite it forever?!

    When dialogue ruins your scenes – because it can you know! It can make or break scenes. Find out how.

    When is the best time for a developmental edit? Since developmental edits are not beta reads, this is a good question.

  • 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.

  • Need Freedom from social media distractions?

    Need Freedom from social media distractions?

     

    Need Freedom from social media distractions?

    Need Freedom from social media distractions?

    Have you ever considered just how much social media and the internet rule your life? Are you at the beck and call of whatever is happening on your mobile phone? Do you feel anxiety when you switch off devices, check out of email, or switch off notifications? Do you need freedom from social media distractions?

    If you’re a writer or editor, you might have realised by now that social media can be your worst enemy. Those shiny sites with their 24-hour news cycles, followers, likes and shares create an addiction that is hard to break.

     

    The days before constant electronic stimulation

    For anyone old enough to remember the days before social media, there’s often a strong feeling of nostalgia.

    I have a strong nostalgia for the 1990s when it comes to the amount of time I had back then to read books and write.

    When I look back on the last two decades, I see the steady erosion of focused time and the meteoric rise of endless distractions. It’s not that we didn’t have distractions back then, but they didn’t come at us with a 24-hour global cycle, complete with massive public squares like Twitter.

    The internet has been great in other ways – the ability to study courses online that are based elsewhere, even thousands of miles away is one of my favourites. There’s been an enormous expansion in opportunities for learning.

    But with that expansion has come a closing of the attention span window.

    To put it bluntly, our devices and our social media apps now control us in ways we never dreamed. They undermine the very dreams we tweet about – for example, the desire to finish writing a book.

     

    Social media undermines our productivity

    How many people spend too much time scrolling through the Twitter writing community hashtags and checking out ‘rivals’, while worrying over their own low engagement and follower count?

    Yes, marketing is important when it comes to writing and publishing, or even running an editing business.

    But if you want to write a book, or do a good job as an editor, you also need to shut off all distractions.

    I’ve mentioned some useful social media blocker apps before in this post over a year ago. Since my phone has never ruled my life, my main issue has always been Twitter, YouTube, and the general ability to Google things too easily. And all of this is done on my PC. Yes, as a writer or editor it’s useful to be able to Google things, but sometimes you want to shut things down completely.

    Having said that, I usually just shut down Twitter and YouTube. That alone takes care of a lot of the problem.

     

    Freedom – a subscription-based blocker

    But today I was looking at some of the social media blocker alternatives and I stumbled across Freedom, a paid app with over a million users. There’s a free trial version which I might try – otherwise, it’s a subscription-based blocker, for $2.50 a month across all devices.

    The Freedom website quotes scientific research on our problem with online distractions:

    • That we lose 23 minutes every time we check our email, check a feed, or respond to a notification.
    • This is because it requires 23 minutes of our time to refocus and get back on task.
    • Multitasking is 40% less productive (something that was recently hammered into my head in a copywriting course).
    • Apparently, multitasking may even affect your IQ negatively by 10 points.
    • Willpower actually requires effort and energy and we deplete it fast.
    • Distractions are habit-forming – yes, and social media is designed to become an addiction, which then exploits this phenomenon.

    Freedom offers a free trial which provides you with seven trial blocking sessions. I don’t know whether it will prove to be better than Cold Turkey. I think Cold Turkey seems to be somewhat less complex in its user interface. It’s a very easy app to use and I’m still using the free version.

    In the meantime, here’s another video on how to use Freedom after you sign up: